Smart Links 31 March 2012

Commentary on the rise of the secular world, the whisper, happy birthday Karl, and the key to Canada's suvival.

Thinking about what secular is.

youtube -- The Future of the Secular
Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, McGill University treats the term "secular" with several different meanings.


Pdf below -- The Place of Religion in a Secular Age


Guardian -- Is that all there is?
Charles Taylor examines our attempts to fill the God-shaped hole left by the death of belief in his weighty tome A Secular Age, says Stuart Jeffries


New York Times -- The Godless Delusion
We haven’t yet solved the problem of God,” the Russian critic Belinsky once shouted across the table at Turgenev, “and you want to eat!”

Joseph Campbell has argued that religions evolve to embrace what humans know. The new Cosmists.

The Atlantic -- The Holy Cosmos: The New Religion of Space Exploration
Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson are high priests, astronauts are like saints that ascend into heaven, and extraterrestrials are as gods -- benevolent, wise, and capable of manipulating space and time.

The struggle for China’s soul. Thanks to Ken of Tokyo/Hong Kong.

Foreign Policy -- The Revenge of Wen Jiabao
The ouster of Chongqing boss Bo Xilai was 30 years in the making -- a long, sordid tale of elite families and factions vying for the soul of the Chinese Communist Party.

What Obama and Medvedev were whispering about. Thanks to Tony of Victoria.

Dawn -- N-bomb and terrorists
WE have just had the second Nuclear Security Summit, in Seoul. It got surprisingly little attention from the international media although 53 countries attended it.

What would Karl Marx make of capitalism today.

London Review of Books -- Marx at 193
In trying to think what Marx would have made of the world today, we have to begin by stressing that he was not an empiricist.

How Trudeau made Quebec 'independent in a strong Canada' according to Conard Black. (ed's note -- there is nothing like living in the United States to see what makes Canada work).

National Post -- Trudeau's master stroke
As a guest of the American people, my deliveries of the National Post - late and sporadic as they are - comprise my principal connection, here in the tenebrous, alligator-infested thickets of Florida, with Canadian public policy discussion.

Quote worth quoting.

“This is the genius of the Trudeau formula: It was proportionate …. It is, yet again, the confirmation of historian W.L. Morton's description of Canada as a country "strong in moderation and governable only by compromise."

The Place of Religion in a Secular Age.pdf305.71 KB
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Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.