A Nation of Ideas

My contention is the need for a new start or focus on ideas as Israel reaches a new year of age. All societies need a basis in their self-image. Positive ones are the best. If you choose ones that people debate and or criticise, then as a society you’re making things unnecessarily difficult.

I was thinking a while ago about the propaganda effort Winston Churchill used to maintain British morale in the Blitz of 1940. Misleading, but useful. He was referring to a Britain in a world that was long gone. He subordinated reason effectively, to the ‘heroic myth’. The glory he talked about in radio broadcasts while Londoners took shelter in the London Underground WAS there, in the basic sense. But the reality behind it, the reality behind the glory of the Queens Jubilee (say Victoria I), that was irrecoverable because it was based on material and military strength which had all been spent. There is always the danger, not just of the military policy oriented Churchillian posturing and rhetoric, but even more broadly in public policy of any society. The immediate, chief, danger is of course like the drug addicts’ or alcoholic’s dilemma. Wariness is advisory to all politicians, governments, or institutions, playing up to patriotism and certain fears or prideful instincts. Because it can be a trap.

It’s not just a stereotype or political jibe, that the Right, or reactionaries of the political Right-wing, are stuck in the past. It can be true, even of modern Right-wing political figures today. This usually has bad consequences for citizen and foreigners alike. No matter what realm of policy. Why implement an idea tried and failed? Most social conservative policies are a case in point, dating back to the era of Victorian Britain. You can’t say there is a financial argument, because they cost more in money, usually, than socially inclusive policies. Why have a military hawkish policy if you want peaceful relations with neighbours and low defense spending? How can you argue for recognising the past but not support museum grants because it’s public money? How can you say you care about ordinary people but denounce social welfare payments as ‘hand outs’ and savage away welfare state programs?

A nation is hardly going to progress forward if contradictatory policies and lack of new ideas is accepted. Don’t reactionaries realise that for most people the status quo sucks? If inequality is increasing, as it has been in Israel since the 1980s, how can you argue for more liberalising of the labour market? That means lower wages and worse conditions as more people are pushed onto individual contracts. And ‘worker insecurity’ is seen as positive because it ‘contributes to the health of the economy’ as Alan Greenspan in the USA once shamefully said.

Like a parent, a nation as a whole should be concerned about new ideas and policies that improve overall, everyone’s lives and prospects. Hardly controversial, except for some VERY selfish people. Not long ago, especially in the 1960s, Israel was said to be the ‘light unto the nations’. Well, that has dimmed somewhat, even for its own population. Which is no secret, and we saw the Israeli Labor Party and Social Protest Movement highlight these issues recently.

The best security money can buy is in collective payment and community interests. Let the 21st century for the Middle-East be Israel’s.

About the Author
Rhoderick Gates is a freelance journalist interested in politics and world affairs.