John Dewey's The Public and its Problems Ch.4 Ep#4
Welcome to Reviving Virtue, a podcast where we face the urgent challenges of today's world by exploring the crucial role of uncovering together a coherent moral narrative for our time. I'm your host, Jeffrey Anthony, on a quest to tackle Liberalism's quandary and paved the way towards a more unified society. Join me on this journey as we delve into ethics, philosophy, and community building, seeking to create a common understanding that fosters human flourishing and harmony. Welcome to Reviving Virtue. Welcome to episode number four and today's episode. We dive into the fourth chapter of John Dewey's The Public and its Problems, aptly titled "Eclipse of the Public."
Dewey opens this chapter, acknowledging the declining optimism about democracy in his time. Attributing, both its criticism and praise to a misunderstanding of democracy as a singular idea, rather than a product of technological and social evolution, he argues that inventions such as the printing press the railway, the Telegraph. And the rise of mass manufacturing and urbanization inevitably lead, to some form of democratic government. He emphasizes That criticism of democracy should take into account the circumstances under which it has evolved and should focus on practical alternatives rather than absolutes. Now Dewey takes us back to the roots of American democratic polity.
Born out of the genuine community life in small local centers, primarily focused on agricultural industry. These communities valued personal work, skill ingenuity initiative, adaptability and sociability. Political units were small and their goals were localized; maintaining roads, schools and community peace. The state was seen as an assembly of these units and the national state was a Federation of these states.
However, Dewey points out an important change in our democracy, the transformation of the electoral college. Dewey's critique of the evolution of the electoral college presents a striking narrative for today. According to Dewey the electoral college originally intended as a body of, of distinguished local individuals selected by local citizens. Who would then use their personal judgment to elect a leader, has completely changed.
Today, it functions more as an impersonal tallying mechanism. Electors once known and respected figures in their communities, are now largely anonymous, to the majority of voters. Instead of exercising personal discretion, they're expected to vote in line with the ticket predetermined in some somewhat private gatherings.
This departure from the original intent of the electoral college, Dewey suggests, reveals the transient nature of the conditions that give rise to our democracy. But here we face a critical question. Why do we continue to adhere to this system. The 2020 election brought this question into stark relief.
As we witnessed attempts from the Republican Party to manipulate the electoral college to their advantage. This incident underscores the risks of clinging to systems that originated in a vastly different era. Attempting to shoe horn them into a complex modern society without consideration for our unique and evolving circumstances is dangerous.
Indeed. There have been efforts to reform the electoral college system. Notably in the 1970s. There was a significant push to abolish it. Everyone realized, this is not working anymore.
We're a much more complex and big country, why are we using this old model? So the proposed amendment known as the Bayh–Celler amendment passed the house of representatives in 1969. But it was filibustered in the Senate in 1970 with opposition, primarily coming from Southern senators. It's not primarily only coming from Southern senators, right. The opposition was largely rooted in concerns about the shift. of, political power from smaller rural states to more populous urban areas. These senators concerned about losing their political influence blocked the amendments progress, and the electoral college has remained unchanged since then.
For shame. This historical context, sheds light on the complexity and challenges of reforming deeply ingrained systems within our democracy. Dewey's work, implores, us to consider the evolution of these systems and to question whether they continue to serve our society effectively.
Let's explore this a little bit further. Let's imagine our democracy as a complex of river system and the electoral college has a dam initially constructed for managing the flow. Back in the day when the rivers flow was relatively manageable, this dam was built to protect the smaller settlements downstream to ensure equitable distribution of the water. It was a strategic move, it was innovative and it fit the era and it was perfect for that time. But let's fast forward to today. These small settlements have now flourished into sprawling metropolis, and the river has grown exponentially more powerful.
Our dam, however, remains the same. What was once a tool for balance and fairness. Has now turned into a restricting barrier that doesn't quite fit the evolved landscape. And here's the kicker, instead of upgrading the dam to match the increasing river flow. There are groups who figured out how to game the old system.
They've learned to tweak the controls, diverting the water, our metaphor for democratic power, to certain areas, favoring specific interests. Over the first three episodes, we often talked about systems and structures and the necessity for the systems and the structures to be constantly assessed and reassessed. To ensure they are working for our society, our public, today.
The electoral college, like the dam, is a system that's not kept up with the changing needs of our nation. It's an outdated structure, ripe for manipulation, and it stifling the democratic values of agency, creativity and courage. So it's time for us to have a serious conversation about this old dam of ours, the electoral college. Is it still serving us or is it becoming a liability? And this conversation, isn't just about practicalities.
It's also a deeply ethical one, a matter of our civic virtues. The process of discovering these virtues and creating new moral narratives begins with reflection, dialogue and engagement. We need to ask ourselves what values are important to us as individuals, as communities and as a society. What virtues do we want to foster in ourselves and in each other? Well one option is reflection. So let's look at this. It involves introspection and inward journey to understand our own values, our own ideas of right and wrong.
Our own conception of the good life. It might involve reading, meditating, or simply spending time in nature. But reflection cannot be a solitary activity. We need to engage in dialogue with others.
To understand their perspectives, their values, and their aspirations. This dialogue, could take various forms. Public forums, town hall meetings, show social media discussions, or even casual conversations over a meal. The goal is to listen. To understand and to appreciate the diversity of experiences and viewpoints that make up our society. getting off my script, I'm reminded of a recent conversation I had with someone in my house here.
They were visiting for coffee, and I made a comment that, if I was mayor. Yeah. I couldn't do this just as being mayor, but I would argue that we should get rid of all drive-throughs in the city of Tucson, there'll be no drive-throughs if you've ever been to Tucson and you see what's here, I'm sure it's like most, every town USA.
Just littered with drive-throughs and now they have double lane drive throughs . But why would I say this? Because we're losing these unanticipated, these unmediated. interactions with people. In our community. We're atomized in our cars.
We're atomized through the social media where we are now, a lot of us are now working from home. When you remove the spaces in our community, for happenchance collisions of people, to just happen to have a talk. To sit down and talk just to be around other people, you don't even have to be directly engaging with them. That's one of the, that's one of the main ways to form the glue that keeps a community together. we don't have that, we don't really do that much anymore. I getting back to my script, but how do we find the time to engage in this society? And late modernity is guided by this insatiable demand to work and always have our time filled.
Hartmut Rosa's social acceleration theory speaks to this point. Our modern world, he posits, is characterized by an ever increasing pace. We are constantly on the move, constantly striving for efficiency, constantly trying to do more in less time. This constant haste. Can leave us feeling disconnected, isolated, and unfulfilled. It can hinder our ability to engage in the kind of reflective and dialogic practices that are necessary, for the cultivation of virtues and the creation of new moral narratives.
Dewey's insights into our democratic system and Rosa's, social acceleration theory, intersect in a rather profound way. Rosa's theory points out a paradox at the heart of modern society. Despite our enormous gains in efficiency and speed -hey, we can go through those drive through lanes really quick now - we seem to be perpetually short on time. As Rosa explains, this isn't because we're just doing things faster.
It's because we're doing more of them in the same amount of time. He writes " the heightening of the pace of life, that the temporal scarcity of modernity, arise, not because, but rather, even though enormous gains in time through acceleration have made registering in almost all areas of social life." He contends that the acceleration of the pace of life of the growing scarcity of time is a consequence, of a quantitative increase, that seems to be logically independent from the processes of technical accerlation. In essence, we're not just moving faster, we're also trying to cover more ground, produce more goods, communicate more messages, complete more tasks in the same amount of time the more we try to do, the more, our time resources become strained.
Creating a sense of chronic time scarcity, despite our technical advancements, this accelerating pace of life has consequences for our democracy. It affects how we engage with each other, how we participate in our communities and how we understand and shape our shared values and moral narratives. We need to create spaces in our lives for resonance. For meaningful connections and dialogues that can help us to cultivate virtues and create new moral narratives. We need to balance our drive, for more with an appreciation for the here and now for the values of slowness, and deliberation. For the importance of community and shared purpose.
Rosa and his book "Resonance A Sociology of Our Relationship to the World," brings in a theory of three axes of resonance. The horizontal axis of social relationships, the vertical axis of our relationship with ideals and values and the diagonal axis of our relationship with art nature and material objects. These axes of resonance, offer a potential framework for how we might cultivate virtues and create new moral narratives. They underscore the need for meaningful connections and dialogues in multiple dimensions of our lives. I reviewed them briefly, now, but we'll explore this concept in depth with a future podcast, if not several, and hopefully we'll have Dr.
Rosa on the show for a deep discussion on the issues now onto the three axes of resonance. In terms of the horizontal axis, we need to foster meaningful resonant relationships with each other. This isn't just about having more interactions, it's about having deeper, more meaningful ones.
It's about fostering a sense of community, of shared purpose, and mutual understanding. It's about listening to each other, understanding each other's perspective, and appreciating the diversity of experiences and viewpoints that make up our society. The vertical axis invites us to connect more deeply with our ideals and values. This is where the reflection and dialogue about virtues come into play. What values do we hold dear? What virtues use do we aspire to embody? How do these ideals and values shape our actions? Our does our decisions, our visions for our society. Engaging with these questions can help us to cultivate virtues and create new moral narratives.
Meanwhile, the diagonal axis of resonance, invites us to deepen our connection with the world around us. This could involve engaging with art spending time in nature, or simply being more mindful of our everyday surroundings. It's about nurturing a sense of wonder all and reverence for the world, we inhabit. This too plays a crucial role in our cultivation of virtues and the formation of new moral narratives. Creating new moral narratives , isn't an overnight task. It's a complex multifaceted process, that will form the core of our exploration throughout this podcast series.
Now let's dive back into chapter four of the public and its problems. All right. So here we go. It's extraordinary, to read Dewey from a century ago, and to see him articulate something like, like, like this , that it feels so pertinent today. As we look at this next part of chapter four. Dewey highlights much like our contemporary digital age, the technological revolution of his era, railways, telecommunications and newspapers and e-commerce.
It was a double-edged sword. On one hand, these advancements were herald as catalyst for diversity and innovation. On the other, they were inadvertently fostering a new, somewhat disconcerting uniformity in society. Through these conduits ideas spread in a level of interdependence was created far beyond the simple face-to-face communities of yesteryear. This shift led to the emergence of political states of unprecedented size and diversity. Dewey observed, that our modern state unity is due to the consequences of technology, employed, so as to facilitate the rapid and easy circulation of opinions and information.
A statement that echoes with a chilling resonance in our current climate of social media and global interconnectivity . I mean, if do we thought things were interconnected back in the 1920s? I mean, and the speed of which, information flowed. I mean, I don't know what he would think of today. Actually. I do have a pretty good idea what he would think today. Because we're reading this book and it applies perfectly to the fears, he's envisioning and some of the techniques we need to practice in order to avoid falling into traps that we have fallen into.
The challenges this presents for us today is navigating the paradox between unity and diversity. The rush to integrate to consolidate can often overshadow the unique contributions, of individuals diverse backgrounds. Do we warns us in many respects, the consolidation has occurred so rapidly and ruthlessly.
That much of value has been lost, which different peoples might have contributed. This insight, coupled with Hartmut Rosa's theory of social acceleration allows us to see why our society appears to be fraying at the edges. What we're witnessing is an era of accelerating standardization. A tendency towards a one size fits all model. That risks promoting mediocrity.
The challenge will be unpacking in this podcast is how we reclaim and cultivate the richness of our collected diversity, in an era of relentless sameness, how do we ensure that our democratic society truly mirrors our values, our aspirations and our shared human experience? We must focus on how to cultivate virtues and create new moral narratives, that honor both unity and diversity. It's about finding resonance in our contradictions and forging paths toward a more meaningful and diverse democracy. In the words of Dewey, the public is so bewildered, that it can not find itself. We are, in essence, a, public in a state of confusion, a society lost in the complexity of our own creation. The intricate systems of technology, industry, and governance that were built have become so multifaceted and intertwined that they are far beyond the grass of the average individual.
Our societal labyrinth, with its twists and turns of interconnected systems has left us feeling disoriented, and disconnected. From the very mechanisms that are supposed to serve us. Dewey's reflections on the public's disillusionment with politics feels eerily relevant today As if we've been staring into a century old mirror, He describes a widespread skepticism, regarding the efficacy of voting.
A sentiment that is echoed by many in the present day. Dewey writes " What difference does it make? Whether I vote or not? Things go on just the same way. My vote never changed anything." Now that was Dewey quoting what someone else would say around him, during his time . Many of us today are grappling with a similar sense of disenfranchisement. Feeling like our voices are barely whispers in the grand cacophony of the political machinations. Moreover Dewey he zeroes in on the paradoxical attitudes within big business, an insight that continues to hold water today. In fact, I think it's more powerful today.
Big business, denounces the materialism of socialists while simultaneously viewing themselves as the custodians of prosperity. A term that as Dewey observes, has taken on an almost religious color. This tension between various factions, all strive for economic control and influence, is still very much at the heart of our political debates today. In Dewey's own words, " They're denunciations of the materialism of socialists is based simply upon the fact. That the latter want a different distribution of material force, and wellbeing, then that, which satisfies those now in control."
These power dynamics as all, as they are, continue to shape our society and our political narratives pushing us to contemplate more deeply on how we might foster a more equitable and inclusive democracy. And yet, I amidst this disillusion and disconnect lies a challenge, an invitation to redefine the relationship between the public and politics. It's in the wrestling with these knotty problems in the questioning of old structures, and the creation of new narratives that we might just find our way out of this societal labyrinth. Because as disorienting as the maze might be, it's also a testament to our capacity for complexity and growth. And maybe.
Just maybe, It's through navigating this complexity, that we'll find the path forward to a more responsive and representative democracy. Oh man. As we work through this book, it is striking just how much has not changed in our politics and how pertinent Dewey's observations still are even a century after he wrote them. Oh, it's not after a century.
It's just under a century. Excuse me about that. The same frustrations, the same disillusionment, the same struggles for power and control.
it's as if we've been caught in a time loop, repeating the same political dance over and over again. It's both fascinating and disheartening to see how these systemic issues persist, how the sociopolitical landscape seems to have evolved in ways that are superficially different, but fundamentally the same. It's almost like it's intentional... Our politics, it seems, is still very much a battleground of competing interests.
Where the voices of a few often drown out the needs of the many, we're still wrestling with the same paradoxes of contradictions that Dewey pointed out. The materialistic, denouncments of big business to skepticism toward the efficacy of voting, the struggle for a more equitable distribution of resources, and yet to miss these recurring themes, we also see a society that is constantly evolving, constantly adapting, constantly striving for something better. Dewey's work serves as a reminder that while our political systems may be stubbornly resistant to change, they are not immutable, and we must be self-reflective and aware of our agency.
That we possess the ability to change and to break this loop. Our task then is not to just lament the unchanging nature of politics. But to understand it, to question it, and most importantly, to challenge it. And maybe as we delve deeper into Dewey's insights, we can find some inspiration for new ways of thinking about our politics. We have new tools, new knowledge and new perspectives that Dewey would not have foreseen. And it's with these that we must navigate our current political landscape.
Drawing from the wisdom of the past while boldly forging our own path forward. In a sense, I am realizing as we move through The Public and Its Problems, we're not just reading Dewey's words, we're living them. Wrestling with the same problems he has wrestled with. Grappling with the same questions he posed. And perhaps, in doing so we can find a new answer, new solutions, new metaphors, and new ways of engaging with our politics, that can break us free from this cycle of repetition.
And, in the process, we might just reinvigorate our democracy with the fresh sense of purpose. relevance and, possibility. As we dive deeper into this, into this chapter, we come across this concept of an inchoate public. A term he uses to describe a populace that is so overwhelmed by the vast remote and intricate forces shaping society, that they're essentially disoriented. Dewey observes I quote " An inchoate public, is capable of organizing only when indirect consequences are perceived.
And when it is possible to project agencies, which order their occurrence." This sense of this disorientation, of feeling the impacts of societal forces without being able to trace them back to their origins or exert any meaningful control or influence over them, paints a picture of a public that isn't Dewey's words, "amorphous and unarticulated. This sense of disorientation isn't too far from what we see today. Our society is now even more complex and interconnected. With global events impacting our communities, in ways that are often hard to predict, or understand. As Dewey notes, " Man, as he has often remarked has difficulty in getting on either with or without his fellows, even in neighborhoods, he is not more successful on getting on with them, when they act at a great distance in ways invisible to him."
Now, to make matters, more challenging the traditional political principles that people once relied on have become less straightforward and more intricate. Even topics like free trade have broken down, into countless sub issues and policies, details that the average voter struggles to grasp. Quoting Dewey " For the average voter today, the tariff question is a complicated medley of infinite details." You can see, he even talked about that in 1927, we're still talking about that today.
" This complexity can lead to a sense of disillusionment, right, with the voters feeling that their beliefs and convictions are too insignificant to influence these vast intricate systems." Let's bring this to 2023. let's take a moment to consider the concept of free trade. The vast interconnected networks of global trade are challenging to navigate, even for those of us who dedicate our lives to understanding them.
yet, these systems significantly impact our everyday lives, rippling through our communities, our economies, and our political landscapes. A poignent example can be seen in our immigration dynamics. Specifically the influx of immigrants from the south, into America. To fully grasp the situation we need to comprehend that is that it isn't just about individual choices to migrate. It's part of a larger systemic issue intricately tied to our actions and policies here in the United States. Title 42, a public health provision invoked in 2020 during the global COVID-19 pandemic allowed us authorities to rapidly expel migrants at the border.
It's termination has led to a surge of immigrants seeking refugee within our borders here in the United States. But the true genesis of this wave traces back to our shores. To decisions made within our halls of power.
Imagine the U.S. as an economic storm. A powerful system with its winds of Neoliberalism sweeping across the borders and creating turbulent conditions far away. Our trade policies such as NAFTA, have set in motion, a sequence of events that have reverberated far beyond our borders. The workings of global finance under the temptress dynamics of Neoliberalism exploit's the labor abundance in Mexico and the Global South.
This relentless exploitation translates into the production of goods that flood U.S. markets. While simultaneously draining the wealth from those labor rich regions.
This is intentional. This economic extraction, exasperates, local conditions, thrusting these communities deeper into violence and extreme poverty. It is akin to a relentless storm, sweeping away resources and leaving behind a ravaged landscape. And we blame them. The repercussions of this systematic exploitation manifest as a desperate exodus, forcing people to escape their homes and a quest for safety and better living conditions, which we have here in America.
But let's be clear here. The individual's embarking on this harrowing journey are not just passive victims. They are navigating a treacherous landscape. A direct outcome of global financial logics that siphoned wealth from their communities into the larger global financial system.
The pain and adversity they face is not an accidental by-product, but a direct, calculated consequence of these exploitive mechanisms. In essence, the prosperity of the Global North is built on the deprivation of the Global South. It's an uncomfortable truth, for some, but one, we must confront. If we want to understand the intricate web of consequences, that our choices and actions precipitate. By acknowledging this reality. We edge closer to organizing an informed and empowered public, capable of influencing these vast intricate systems and understanding.
our responsibility. Let's move on. Let's punctuate a myth that snaked its way into our national discourse, on purpose. The concept that immigration is a zero-sum game.
Where every gain by an immigrant must equate to a loss by an American. This is zero-sum perspective, not only distorts economic truths, but it also cultivates division and mistrust within our societal fabric. Economists like Giovanni Peri have meticulously dissected the impact of immigration illuminating the reality that immigration fortifies the cumulative wealth of the host nation. In his groundbreaking paper "The Effect of Immigration on Productivity: Evidence from U.S. States," published in the Review of Economics and Statistics in 2012. Peri's findings dispute the claim that immigration results in job losses or curtailed work hours for American workers.
On the contrary immigration actually amplified total factor productivity, a crucial measure of an economy's efficiency. Furthermore, his research shows that even a modest 1% increase in employment due to immigrants, catalyzed, a half percent rise in income per worker in that state. Do you understand that? So for every time there was a 1% increase in employment because of immigration, that led to a half a percent rise in the overall income of every worker in the state. Peri's research accentuates the significant contributions that immigrants make to our economy.
Encouraging task, specialization, efficiency, fostering technology adoption, and driving economic growth. These findings refute the widespread narrative, that immigrants are here to snatch your jobs. A narrative that crumbles under the scrutiny of empirical evidence. However, as we delved into our opening episode, objective facts often yield to the weight of socially constituted narratives and moral stories. Hence our collective mission is to weave new moral narratives that reflect the reality of our lived experience today. Rather than perpetuating these myths and misconceptions that lead to violence.
And, and, and societal degradation To lend further credits to this argument, a 2017 report, from the national academies of science, engineering, and medicine concluded that immigration has an overall positive impact on the long run economic growth in the U.S. I mean, I could just like stuff for days. I wrote about this when I was in my grad program. You can literally hundreds of research papers out there that show immigration into the United States increases our productivity. Increases the wealth of our nation. It creates more jobs.
I just don't even know sometimes. All right. I'm not advocating for that, the transition is always seamless or devoid of challenges. Indeed, there can be short-term disruptions and adjustments. This always happens. There's a creative destruction happening.
As new things emerge, old things, start to fall away. And there's a push and pull like everything in life, right. So there's always this tension there. But this is part of life, The idea that not allowing immigrants to come in is going to fix this is actually the opposite, It's going to make things worse.
My God. but the narratives that immigrants are ursuping, our jobs or siphoning our resourcesis a reductive oversimplification that obscures the broader picture. It's a narrative unsupported by the data or economic theory, unless you are a libertarian, and it disregards the dynamic and adaptive nature of economies. The zero-sum mentality is a perilous snare. It engenders a sense of scarcity, competition, and fear, while pitting us against each other. It blinds us to the opportunities for growth, cooperation, and mutual benefit.
This fear in turn, strips us of our agency, creativity and courage. Submerging us into a state of powerlessness, conformity and cowardice. I mean, just look at so many people on the Right . It's cower and fear of the immigrant. When in reality it is making their lives better.
But this narrative that's being driven by the right. They own the moral narrative right now, and this is why our country is, falling apart because the left is not leading on creating some new moral narratives. We're part of the problem in this. OK moving on, once we discard The zero sum lens through which we view immigration, we can start to appreciate the potential benefits, a vibrant culture, a more diverse and innovative economy and a society continuously rejuvenated and enriched by fresh perspectives and ideas. Rather than perceiving immigrants as threats, we can acknowledge them as contributors to our shared prosperity.
This perspective, isn't merely more accurate, according to economic theory, it represents a more optimistic, and inclusive vision for our society. A vision that I firmly believe we should aspire to transform into reality. What are some virtues that we can take out of this discussion we're having today? So let's start with empathy. This virtue is about understanding and sharing the feelings of others. It allows us to see immigrants, not as threats, but as individuals seeking a better life. Just as any one of us, would this perspective encourages a more compassionate approach, toward immigration policy.
Now Brene Brown, a researcher professor at the University of Houston has written extensively about the importance of empathy and building connections and breaking down barriers between people. She often emphasizes that empathy fuels connection while sympathy drives disconnection. I'm going to talk more about Brene Brown later, As I've read and watched a lot of videos that she has out there and her speeches.
And I think that she's missing a critical aspect to her theory that could really that limiting it, but we'll get it to that, maybe in six months or so. So collaboration is the next virtue I want to talk about this virtue is about working together to achieve a common goal. In the context of immigration collaboration means recognizing the contributions that immigrants make to our shared prosperity and working, together to maximize these benefits. This can involve creating policies and programs that facilitate the integration and the success of immigrants in our society. Matthew A. Baum and David A.
Lake, in their book "The Politics of Business", discuss how collaboration can lead to better outcomes and complex systems like economies. Okay. Open-mindedness. This is a big theme for Dewey and it's a virtue. This virtue involves being receptive to new ideas and perspectives.
I'm going to get off my script here. This is terrifying for a lot of people. Open-mindedness. Being receptive, to new ideas and perspectives. This is a critical thing. If you're an artist or a musician, You have to be receptive to new ideas and perspectives.
And then there's within the sub genres of each of those, like in jazz, you have to, you need to be receptive within the same song, you've played a hundred times -it's going to be different. You know, this is a little different than in other areas. And.
and we need to get this open-mindedness this idea of being receptive to be more, embraced by the broader community. I think that has to go back to education. I also think it might be one of the reasons why art and creativity is not focused on as much as it used to be in our public schools. So open-mindedness, it allows us to discard this zero-sum lens we work there's talking about and see the potential benefits of immigration. A more diverse and innovative economy, a society continuously renewed by fresh perspectives and ideas. This is something our government is being strangled by with the gerontocracy.
there's no fresh ideas up there. People are in their seventies and eighties and going into their nineties. So we need to have a, we need the open mindness allows us to challenge our assumptions and prejudices. And to learn and grow from our interactions with others.
So an example here that you could check out Psychologist Carol Dweck's work on "growth mindset" emphasizes the importance of open-mindedness for personal and societal growth. But how to weave these virtues into our daily practice and for these virtues to be an integral aspect of our daily milieu is the real trick. Sticking with the three, we just mentioned let's give some examples.
So for empathy, practice, active listening, when engaging with others. Especially those with a different background or experience. Make a concerted effort to understand their perspectives and emotions without judgment.
Additionally, expose yourself to diverse narratives, cultures, and experiences. Through literature, film and direct interactions to broaden your understanding and appreciation of other people's realities. For collaboration, seek out opportunities for collaborative work in your personal and professional life. This could be as simple as group projects at work or school, or as complex as community initiatives. Remember the goal isn't to win, but to create something of shared value.
Furthermore, encourage a collaborative culture by acknowledging the effort and contributions of others and promoting a sense of shared ownership and responsibility. And for open-mindedness. Practice intellectual humility.
And this love that word, humility is that's my number one virtue, maybe we'll get into that some other time. So back to what I just said. So for open mind, this practical intellectual humility. Except that you don't have all the answers and be open to learning from others.
Challenge your beliefs and assumptions and consider other viewpoints. Engage in dialogue and debates that push your thinking and be willing to change your mind in light of new evidence or compelling perspectives. In the context of our discussion about immigration. These practices could mean listening to the stories of immigrants, advocating for policies that facilitate their integration and its success and remaining open to new research and perspectives on immigration.
The transformation of our society into one that fully embodies these virtues will not happen overnight. It will require each of us to commit to these practices consistently. But if we do, we stand a much better chance of replacing the zero-sum mentality, with a mindset that embraces the potential benefits of diversity and immigration. We can see that the practices of empathy, collaboration, and open-mindedness, aren't just about our individual actions or micro level interactions. These practices have also have macro level implications. Shaping the structures and systems that govern our society.
Now towards the end of the chapter four of the public and its problems, Dewey noticed that the term liberalism, which ones stood for progress and minimal government interference in industry and trade, he has undergone and an inversion. This term wants a beacon for change has been co-opted as a shield for established interest against governmental regulation. This inversion is not just a historical curiosity.
It's a phenomenon that continues to shape our political landscape in our discussions around the adoption of new technologies. Dewey wrote, I quote, " He it is that now wants to be let alone. And who utters the war cry of Liberty for private industry, thrift, contract, and the pecuniary fruit. And United States the name liberal as a party designation is still employed the designated progressive and political matters.
In most other countries, the liberal party is that which represents established, invested commercial and financial interest in protest against governmental regulation. The irony of history, is nowhere more evident than in the reversal of the practical meaning of the term liberalism. In spite of a literal continuity of theory.
Political apathy, which is a natural product of the discrepancies between actual practices and traditional machinery, ensues from inability to identify oneself with definite issues. These are hard to find and locate in the vast complexities of current life. When traditional war cries have lost their import in practical policies, which are consonant with them, they are readily dismissed as bunk. Only habit in tradition, rather than a reasoned conviction, together with the vague faith in doing one civic duty; send to the polls, a considerable percentage of the 50% who still vote.
And of them, it is a common remark that a large number vote against something or somebody rather than for anything or anybody. Except when powerful agencies create a scare. The old principles do not fit contemporary life as it is lived. However, they may have expressed the vital interest of the times in which they arose.
Thousands feel their hollowness, even if they cannot make their feeling articulate. The confusion, which has resulted from the size and ramifications of social activities has rendered men skeptical of of the efficiency of political action. Who is sufficient unto these things? Men feel that they are caught in the sweep of forces too vast to understand or master. Thought is brought to a standstill in action, paralyzed.
Even the specialist finds it difficult to trace the chain of cause and effect. And even he operates only after the event, looking backward. While meantime, social activities have moved on to effect a new state of affairs." This observation serves as a cautionary tale for our technological driven future. It compels us to ask, not only can we do it, but also should we do it? And if so, how should we, it pushes us to ensure that our decisions are guided, not just by what is technologically possible, but by what is socially equitable and politically engaging.
For instance. Take the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies that are redefining our societal structures. While they bring enormous potential progress. They also raise crucial questions about privacy, bias, and job displacement. And, should we do it, just because we can? Dewey's insight also highlights the importance of preventing political apathy in an era of increasing complexity, there's a real danger of people feeling overwhelmed, and disengaging from the political process. This sense of powerlessness and confusion undermines our democracy and obstructs the path to a society that embodies empathy, collaboration, and open-mindedness.
We should consider declining voter turnout in many democratic nations as a sign of this growing disconnect. Finally, Dewey's work reminds us of the role of experts in our society while their expertise is necessary in handling the technical aspects of a societal problem, it raises challenges for democratic participation. Balancing expertise and democratic involvement is a tight rope we must walk, if we are to create a future that serves the collective good. A recent example can be seen in the handling of COVID 19 pandemic. Where the necessity of expert guidance, often clashed with the public sentiment and individual freedoms or ideas of what individual freedoms ought to be.
As we continue our exploration of these ideas in the coming segments. Let's bear in mind, do these cautionary words, let's work to ensure that our embrace of new technologies and systems. Does not compromise our commitment to core societal values. All right. We're coming to the last section here. Thank you for hanging with me.
We're at the end of chapter four. So John gooey states, " Democracy is more than a form of government, it is primarily a mode of associated living. of conjoint communicated experience." That's beautiful. This idea is at the heart, of our discussion today, and the overarching theme of the podcast.
As we navigate an increasingly complex, rapidly evolving society, we grapple with this challenge of fostering a public, that can effectively organize Itself amidst constant flux. Our technological age, defined by mass production, remote markets, and unprecedented communication tools, disrupts traditional structures and relationships, thereby complicating the process of political organization. In the face of these challenges, we must remember Dewey's words, " The public is not an aggregate of individuals. Individuals come to share in the public, when communicating with one another." This communication isn't just about sharing information.
It's about building collective understanding and fostering empathetic connections. In our hyper-connected world, we are exposed to an avalanche of information every single day. Fostering such meaningful communication becomes an even more crucial role. yet, it is also more challenging as the same forces that enable connection can also distract us from the issues that matter. And I off script here and there are certain people in our political apparatuses that use this to their advantage.
Dewey recognize as this problem, he observes the rise of the formidable rivals to political concerns with industrial advancements, offering a multitude of distractions from work to amusement. This isn't merely an old story of bread in the circus, diverting attention. It's a complex dynamic of the modern age.
Where even those with leisure often find themselves consumed by their own specialized pursuits, leaving politics to become another business. Amid such distractions, how can an effective public emerge? As Dewey noted " communication is the cement of society." This takes us back to our core challenge, fostering, meaningful communication, amidst the noise and distractions of our complex rapidly changing world.
Our task isn't just to filter out the noise, it's also to create spaces where people can engage in meaningful dialogue, deepen the understandings of issues and develop a shared sense of purpose. That resonance that we started this episode with. Our technological tools can be powerful aids in this endeavor. But only if we use them thoughtfully, ensuring they serve our collective goals rather than diverting us from them. " The communication of meaning is the heart of community" said Dewey.
The shifting unstable relationships in our society fueled by the rapid pace of change and this quote, " Mania for motion and speed," disrupts , these shared meanings as our physical world. Becomes more transient, our attachments, which require stability and constant relationships are undermined. But does this mean that a public and effective community cannot emerge in such a fluid society? Not necessarily. What we need are shared symbols. Shared meaning that resonate with our experience and aspirations, and that can serve as anchors in our fluid world. Let's imagine our society as a vast garden.
Each of us is a seed carrying within us unique experiences, aspirations and perspectives. With time and nurturing, we grow into distinct plants, each bearing different fruits. But the nature of our world, it's rapid pace, it's constant change can often feel like a storm.
Battering our individual plants and scattering, our fruits. Causing us to lose sight of our collective gardens unity. Shared symbols and meanings then can be seen as the garden soil. Providing a common ground that connects us all. Just as a garden soil provides nutrients, anchoring the plants and enabling them to weather the storm.
These shared symbols and meanings nourish our collective identity, providing an anchor in our fluid world. They allow us to weather societal storms to remain rooted and miss rapid changes and to recognize the overarching unity of our garden. Even as we celebrate the individuality of each plant, by cultivating this shared soil, these shared symbols and meanings, can foster a more resilient, more connected community capable of not just weathering the storms of change, but of thriving within them. Virtues and moral narratives play an essential role in shaping these shared symbols and meaning that anchor our societal garden.
Let's consider these virtues and moral narratives as the sunlight and water of our societal garden. They are indispensable for growth and for the flourishing of every plant. The sunlight akin to our virtues, such as empathy, integrity, and courage, illuminates our path.
Guiding us toward the collective good. The water symbolizing, our moral narratives, hydrates to soil. Enabling the shared meaning to permeate deeper into our collective consciousness. Fostering a sense of unity and connectedness.
These virtues and moral narratives, however, need to be updated and made relevant to our rapidly changing world. Just as a gardener, adjust the care of the garden, according to the shifting seasons in our context, this means re-interpreting and re revitalizing our virtues and moral narratives in ways that resonate with our current experiences and aspirations. As we mentioned several times now, the Classic Learning Test being implemented over in Florida is an example of transplanting virtues from 2,400 years ago and jamming them into our modern time without consideration for how our society operates.
What our needs, our desires, our collective wants are. What Aristotle and the ancients wrote are important and provide inspiration. But that is exactly where we need to use our moral imagination, our creative talents, and build new moral narratives for our time that resonate for us. This takes work and it respects our agency, creativity and courage to be and create in spite of the challenges we face and not fall back into shortcuts.
Like importing virtues and moral narratives from an ancient society, ill suited for our current time. By doing the work of integrating virtues and moral narratives into our shared symbols and meanings for our time. We add another layer of resilience to our societal garden. They not only help us weather the storm of change, but also inspire us to aspire toward a more, just equitable and sustainable future. They remind us that each of us, as unique plants in this garden has a role to play in nurturing the whole.
And it's through our collective growth, not just individual growth that our garden truly blossoms. But this takes work and practice, and as Dewey says, applying intelligence. So in closing, let's remember Dewey's cautionary word about the need for communication and his emphasis on the role of intelligence. Without such communication, the public will remain shadowy and formless. Our task as we navigate our complex fluid society is to ensure that our public doesn't remain a shadow. But emerges as a substansive force, shaped by meaningful communication, shared meanings, collective action, and the application of intelligence in the Dewey incense.
Indeed the symbols and meanings we need to foster cannot be abstract ideals disconnected from our realities. They need to be rooted in our collective aspirations for a just and humane society. They need to connect with our lived experiences, resonating with our struggles and hopes and inspiring us to work towards a shared future. This is a challenging task, especially in a society marked by diverse experiences and perspectives. But as a task, we must undertake. If we are to create an effective public.
Dewey's words, offer a crucial insight here, " Democracy is not an end in itself. But a means to a more just and humane society." In the spirit of this insight.
Let's rise to the challenge and seize the opportunity to use our collective intelligence to shape a shared resilient future. Okay, thank you for joining me today. And I look forward to continuing this important conversation with you next week in episode five of Reviving V irtue.
Until then, let's each do our part to nurture our societal garden, fostering the growth of shared symbols, meaning virtues and moral narratives that resonate with our time and aspirations. All transcripts will be available on Patrion for $3 a month Moral Explorer tier. And if you upgrade to $5 a month, the Ethical Pioneer tier, you can listen to the podcast early and receive a private RSS feed, you can subscribe to through your podcast app. You don't have to listen to it through Patreon. I usually finish each episode Thursday or Friday, so that gives you a four or five day window of early access.
And there's one more tier it's the $15 a month and it's the Virtue Champion tier. And this tier gives you a custom made coffee mug every three months. And the customer mug will feature a topic. The first one was going to be featuring the John Dewey series. So thank you.
I'll see you again next week, and be well.