Sunday, October 12, 2008

In an ideal world....

I've heard this phrase a great deal recently. "In an ideal world.." in my experience is a phrase all too often used to dismiss perfectly sensible and practical solutions for society's ills and to subsequently propose whatever ill-conceived compromise the speaker has in mind. When we're spending a budget, there may not be a solution that satisfies all the constraints, and then of course a debate has to take place to prioritize those constraints.

But the quality of debate is NOT a constrained quantity: we can debate at as high or low level as we like! And that means we should keep in mind ideals at all times. Deconstruction of "truth", "deception" and "religion" may make pleasant poetry, but in politics there are real effects and real consequences that cannot be excised by application of inverted commas. Rather than form an opinion and then cherry-pick evidence that appears to support it, one should look for evidence and then form an opinion. Not idealistic at all, this is a strategy that seems to me to be quite mundane.

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