There is not enough public debate about the morality of markets – the common life of citizens being constantly depleted for profit; so I paid close attention to last week’s stooshie about the screening of the ‘Old Firm’ game; even our First Minister asked Sky, in the interest of public health, to let everyone watch it. That Sky put profit before the public good was no surprise at all – but it was disappointing how placidly this was accepted; even after the worst market failure in eighty years (2008), the ‘entitlement’ of ‘market thinking’ has hardly moved.
If the only advantage of wealth was the ability to buy luxury items, fancy holidays etc, it wouldn’t matter so much – but we live in a society where almost everything is put up for sale – even the right to watch a football match; that is why recent decades have been especially hard for poor families.
Whilst a market economy can be a useful tool for organising productive activity its values must not be allowed to seep into wider society – because it’s amoral. In the coming decade (after my time), I think we’ll see versions of a post-capitalist, ‘wellbeing’ economy; whether any commodity is ‘marketised’ or not, will be a moral decision – based on wide public debate – centred around what’s best for the common good.
For instance: Scotland’s forthcoming football decider with Serbia would be entirely under the control of supporters; to prevent anyone watching the game – a breach of human rights. Got to get our priorities right.
Andy Burnham’s defiance of arrogant London rule was my ‘memorable event’ this week – spirited dissent has become rare/exciting. This is another instance of Covid bringing to light long-term flaws in UK governance. The centralisation of power has been my main ‘beef’ with the SNP for over a decade: their decision to govern Scotland with a missing layer of democracy at community level. Another Covid lesson is that local, community-led networks are by far the most effective in supporting the physical and mental health of communities. Yet Scottish Govt’s ‘Review of Local Governance’ has disappeared again, as if by design; without leadership, without energy, and perhaps most tellingly – without spirited dissent.
Sadly, one of the defining features of Scottish society is the large number of citizens – addicted to alcohol or drugs – who live and die on our streets. The success of the Thorntree Street Centre in Leith (12 residents) has encouraged the Rowan Alba charity to launch a community share offer towards a second centre (7 residents); impressive values.
I often use the term ‘wellbeing’ to denote how we ought to live; but as psychology lecturer, Tim Lomas writes – my interpretation will be highly influenced by the values and traditions of western cultures. This piece is about the Global Wellbeing Initiative, which is gathering positive aspects of wellbeing from around the world.
This editorial in the Weekend FT is called, ‘The death of austerity should not be mourned’. We are experiencing financial disruption not seen since 1945 – yet the IMF’s clear message is that fiscal tightening in the aftermath, will harm, not heal, economies. Is there going to be an opportunity to change things?
This is a review by the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland of a biography of Boris Johnson by Tom Bower. Called ‘The Gambler’, the book makes a good stab at what makes the PM tick – “But by the end, we’re not wondering why he behaves this way, but rather why we all put up with it”.
A materialistic scientist, Freud denied the very existence of ‘spirit’ in humans; Jung, an intuitive mystic, proclaimed its primacy in all human affairs; surprisingly, Albert Einstein goes with Jung:
“The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science….the core of the true religious sentiment. In this sense, and in this sense alone, I rank myself among profoundly religious men”.