Questions of identity are overwhelming our sense of solidarity. It’s no wonder people are disillusioned
‘Solidarity has to come through class.” So insisted Rollie, a member of the audience in the latest of the Reith lectures, given this year by political scientist Ben Ansell, professor of comparative democratic institutions at Oxford, His four Reith lectures, entitled “Our Democratic Future”, explore, respectively, issues of democracy, security, solidarity – last week’s subject – and prosperity, the final lecture this week.
Ansell’s themes grapple with many of the most important political ailments that confront us today. At a time when there are demands for more technocratic solutions that place many social and economic issues outside of political contestation, or for more authoritarian forms of rule, his insistence on “the fundamental centrality of politics to achieving our collective goals” is welcome. But the lectures also feel at times as if they are sliding past the difficult issues. Rollie’s intervention hints at what is missing in the discussion.