The current issue of The Nation opened its pages to the teen-age son of Tony Judt, the historian who died a year go, after his last work Ill Fares the Land was published.
In June, Daniel Judt, a junior at the Dalton school in New York, was invited to a two day conference in Paris in honor of his father. At the conference, Ronald Dworkin, professor of law and philosophy at NYU, said that the reason why we have forgotten how to talk about society in terms of ethics and morality rather than efficiency and productivity, is that we have a misconception of the meaning of freedom.
“Liberty is now commonly defined - especially in the United States - as the right to be free of restriction from a repressive state. Even if its actions benefit you and your community, your liberty is being infringed upon.” (The derogatory notion of the ‘nanny state’.)
Daniel Judt goes on to say: “Government is designed to provide safety, security and prosperity to citizens; it needs to ask things of us in return.” He calls for a high school course on the political questions of the day that would enable students “to realize that ethical and moral questions, not questions of money and production, are the true political questions.”
According to Judt: “In Dworkin’s view, if the course worked as intended, people would realize that the right policies to pursue are those of social democrats. I agree with him (as did everyone in that conference room, and as do most reading this magazine).”
As the Tea Party presses on with its brain washing of the American public, it’s time for The Nation to break free of the curse of McCarthyism, and start openly promoting social democracy. Otherwise it will be found wanting with respect to the up-coming generation.