Saturday, August 13, 2022

Politics without ideas?

The 1st year politics module that I regularly teach is about political ideas. I have, in the past, received feedback from students saying that they don't think it's really political. This comment isn't usually developed sufficiently for me to be clear what exactly is meant by this or what might make it seem more political to them. Nonetheless, I have responded by making politics one of the ideas covered. Determining what is and is not political presupposes having some idea of what politics is, which means doing some political theory.

There's an interesting piece in today's Guardian, however, about the decline of ideas in politics. 'Big ideas' from the likes of J. M. Keynes, Milton Friedman, or F. A. Hayek were partly responsible for significant changes in society. Yet, the author claims, today's politicians seem to lack any similar ideas. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why my current students don't always recognise the relevance of ideas to politics. 

In any case, the author goes on to suggest that this lack of ideas is partly responsible for the rise of identity politics as an alternative, before ending with the snappy remark that "politics without ideas is possible, but not necessarily desirable". Maybe I'll have students discuss this remark, to see what they make of it.

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