Every day we abstain from considering and making decisions that are rightly ours to consider and make. We defer that engagement with our world to people considered more ‘expert’ in the apparently germane disciplines, but to the exclusion of all others. And so we build the world around us as it is, with all the grandeur and the despair in it, as a deferred potential and responsibility. Nevertheless, we build it in our own images, because we ourselves become a perpetually stalled potential when we choose this as a reflexive response to all contemplation and decisions about matters more complex than immediate self-gratification.
What is it that we really do when we abdicate our own authority and wisdom? Do we actually comprehend what the consequences are, for ourselves and others, even when we think we don’t care enough to want to have a say?
Perhaps the most telling absence in Derbyshire’s essay was a consideration of the fundamentals in a healthy democracy: well-led parties opposing each other effectively on policy matters to promote robust debate and the emergence of better policy than would accrue from no debate, or discussion by pedestrian intellects only. I forgive Derbyshire’s omission for reasons of brevity and on-topic focus, but it is nevertheless a suitable starting point here.
On the day of Barack Obama’s re-election, one of the Australian commentators in the local election coverage was former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke, who made a characteristically acerbic and yet irresistibly accurate observation: there are no great leaders anywhere in the world at this time.