My inbox had my daily dose of TEDx Talk and it was George Papandreou Jr. speaking about the future of democracy within the European Union. He made a compelling plea to the European Union, and its allies, to enact more communitarian initiatives hoping to repair the systemic flaws in the political system. He advocated for the development of more global political institutions, which would better complement the global economy. Parochialism is dead and dangerous – and unless checked, it could further destabilize Europe’s, and in turn, the world’s, balance of development.
During his TEDx talk, Papandreou claimed the naysayers were idiots. Now immediately you would think that calling all critics of communitarianism retards might have some bearing. However, doing so would basically be unproductive, as well as unprofessional. Papandreou quickly explained his definition of the term.
Referencing up the ancient greek definition of idiot, Papandreou gave his political yarn a new spin. An idiot referred to an ancient greek representative who was imbued with their own material political power over the welfare of the state. These ‘idiots,’ characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private—as opposed to public—affairs, concerned themselves with only local needs and wants. For Papandreou, idiots were born, and citizens were made through education. We would get to choose who we are.
These ‘idiots,’ layman without professional skill, would never be able to see the larger picture where cooperation, compassion and reciprocity provided a fairer distribution of goods and services, necessary to keep unity and fair trades. These laymen would have to change all that they knew – to rethink how 21st political economies should work. He claimed the old models cannot be applied since the way we operate is so interconnected.
A new way of thinking is not easy for an idiot, ancient or contemporary. They would have to set aside all that they knew, and be open to a new experience, with less power and prestige. They would have to share more, and see themselves in the race and gender of others. Values perhaps would be universalized, although wearing different cloths.
One might say it is the idiot who gives up so much. But in reality, the real idiot is the one who cannot see how having so much excess is creating less for all in the long run.
Maybe we need some more TEDx talks to help.