Ideas from 'Political Ideals' by Bertrand Russell [1917], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Political Ideals' by Russell,Bertrand [Spokesman 2007,978-0-85124-731-1]].

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23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / h. Respect
Individuals need creativity, reverence for others, and self-respect
                        Full Idea: What we shall desire for individuals is now clear: strong creative impulses, overpowering and absorbing the instinct of possession; reverence for others; respect for the fundamental creative impulses in ourselves.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 1)
                        A reaction: Interesting that when Russell focuses on morality, he turns to virtues, rather than to rules. He uses 'reverence' where I would favour 'respect'. His concept of creativity is broad, and does not just concern art etc.
25. Society / B. The State / 7. Changing the State / b. Devolution
Democracy is inadequate without a great deal of devolution
                        Full Idea: Democracy is not at all an adequate device unless it is accompanied by a very great amount of devolution.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 1)
                        A reaction: This whole book of Russell's is an appeal for the devolution of power, and for workplace democracy.
We would not want UK affairs to be settled by a world parliament
                        Full Idea: We should none of us like the affairs of Great Britain to be settled by a parliament of the world.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 1)
                        A reaction: The UK is currently (Dec 2018) living with a plan to quit Europe, mainly on the grounds that a European parliament has some authority over Britain. In every country resentment of the government increases with distance from the capital city.
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 2. Social Freedom / e. Freedom of lifestyle
We need security and liberty, and then encouragement of creativity
                        Full Idea: Security and liberty are only the negative conditions for good political institutions. When they have been won, we need also the positive condition: encouragement of creative energy.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 1)
                        A reaction: This sounds like some sort of liberal socialism. The nearest connection I can see is to the 'capabilities approach' of Martha Nussbaum. How do you intervene to encourage creativity?
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 4. Legal Rights / c. Property rights
The right to own land gives a legal right to a permanent income
                        Full Idea: There are many ways of becoming rich without contributing anything to the wealth of the community. Ownership of land or capital, whether acquired or inherited, gives a legal right to a permanent income.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 2)
                        A reaction: I suspect that in the past land was the main source of this right, but now it is more likely to be capital. Land carries obligations of some sort, so income from capital is more fun.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 3. Anarchism
Anarchy does not maximise liberty
                        Full Idea: The greatest degree of liberty is not secured by anarchy. ...[22] The results of anarchy between states should suffice to persuade us that anarchism has no solution to offer for the evils of the world.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 1)
                        A reaction: I've heard Russell described as an anarchist, but this clearly wasn't true in 1917. Presumably liberty has to be protected. That we were watching anarchy between states in 1917 is a vivid observation.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / a. Nature of democracy
Unfortunately ordinary voters can't detect insincerity
                        Full Idea: It is a painful fact that the ordinary voter, at any rate in England, is quite blind to insincerity.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 3)
                        A reaction: Gor blimey yes! Well said, Bertie. Even in the age of television, when you can examine them in closeup, people seem to confuse superficial charm with genuine positive convictions. Why are people better at detecting it in private life?
On every new question the majority is always wrong at first
                        Full Idea: It is a mistake to suppose that the majority is necessarily right. On every new question the majority is always wrong at first.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 3)
                        A reaction: Sounds like bitter experience. This is a good argument for taking time over decisions, and (topical) for a second referendum some time after the first one (if you must have a referendum).
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / c. Direct democracy
Groups should be autonomous, with a neutral authority as arbitrator
                        Full Idea: For maximum freedom with minimum force: Autonomy within each politically important group, and a neutral authority for deciding questions involving relations between groups.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 3)
                        A reaction: This is workplace democracy, and also considerable self-rule amongst minority groups such as religions.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 6. Liberalism
Theoretical and practical politics are both concerned with the best lives for individuals
                        Full Idea: Political ideals must be based upon ideals for the individual life. The aim of politics should be to make the lives of individuals as good as possible.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 1)
                        A reaction: Russell floats between socialism and anarchism, but this foundational remark is classic liberalism.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 8. Socialism
When the state is the only employer, there is no refuge from the prejudices of other people
                        Full Idea: Under state socialism ...where the State is the only employer, there is no refuge from its prejudices such as may now accidentally arise through the differing opinions of men.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 2)
                        A reaction: There is also a strong likelihood in full state socialism that the state will control housing as well as employment. This hadn't come to pass in 1917.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 11. Capitalism
Men unite in pursuit of material things, and idealise greed as part of group loyalty
                        Full Idea: Men combine in groups to attain more strength in the scramble for material goods, and loyalty to the group spreads a halo of quasi-idealism round the central impulse of greed.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 1)
                        A reaction: See the 'greed is good' speech in the film 'Wall Street'. This sounds like a description of the USA, but Russell was very much in England at this stage.
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 2. Immortality / d. Heaven
That our heaven is a dull place reflects the misery of excessive work in life
                        Full Idea: It is a sad evidence of the weariness mankind has suffered from excessive toil that his heavens have usually been places where nothing ever happened or changed.
                        From: Bertrand Russell (Political Ideals [1917], 1)
                        A reaction: Has any religion got an idea of heaven as a place full of lively activity and creative problem-solving? That is what suits us best.