I think that the U.S. does have this very much more open attitude, and I admire it very much and I think it’s very important to the world. But the information and the discussion sometimes come too late, after the effective decision has been made.
Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking.
Here’s what I don’t think works: An economic system that was founded in the 16th century and another that was founded in the 19th century. I’m tired of this discussion of capitalism and socialism; we live in the 21st century; we need an economic system that has democracy as its underpinnings and an ethical code.
More than 30 years ago, when I had embarked upon the fight against child labour, it was not even considered an issue worth any discussion. It was accepted as a way of life in India, much like it was in other countries. Today, no country or business or society can throw this issue away.
When Gingrich attacked CNN’s John King for bringing up his alleged proposal of an open marriage to his second wife, Gingrich accused him of lowering the level of discourse in a presidential debate, suggesting that such a discussion is unworthy of consideration by voters.
Here, the broader issues are already familiar, and discussion has focused at a more sophisticated and detailed level. Within the philosophy of mind, the problem of consciousness is no big news.
I find this in all these places I’ve been travelling – from India to China, to Japan and Europe and to Brazil – there is a frustration with the terms of public discourse, with a kind of absence of discussion of questions of justice and ethics and of values.
If we had had more time for discussion we should probably have made a great many more mistakes.
An American cannot converse, but he can discuss, and his talk falls into a dissertation. He speaks to you as if he was addressing a meeting; and if he should chance to become warm in the discussion, he will say ‘Gentlemen’ to the person with whom he is conversing.
We’ve always had issues up for discussion at Catholic universities.