This is really most amusing from Mark Bittman over in the New York Times. For those who haven't heard of him he's supposed, really, to be a food writer. But every column seems to come out as a call for a revolution in society. Larded, of course, with references as to how this will make food better so as to justify his niche and position. But his latest column really rather manages to trip over itself:
The world of food and agriculture symbolizes most of what’s gone wrong in the United States. But because food is plentiful for most people, and the damage that conventional agriculture does isn’t readily evident to everyone, it’s important that we look deeper, beyond food, to the structure that underlies most decisions: the political economy.
Progressives are not thinking broadly or creatively enough. By failing to pressure Democrats to take strong stands on everything from environmental protection to gun control to income inequality, progressives allow the party to use populist rhetoric while making America safer for business than it is for Americans.
You see what we mean, it's a bit of a leap from conventional agriculture to gun control really. And he ends with that call to revolution:
It’s been adequately demonstrated that more than minor tweaks are needed to improve life for most people. Let’s try to make sense of where the world is now instead of relying on outdated doctrines like “capitalism” and “socialism” created by people who had no idea what the 21st century would look like. Let’s ambitiously and publicly philosophize — as the conservatives do — and think about what shape a sensible political economy might take.
The big ideas and strategies for how we should manage society and thrive with the planet are not a set of rules handed down from on high. To develop them for now and the future is a major challenge, and we — progressives and our allies — have to work harder at it. No one is going to figure it out for us.
Well, there's a certain problem with those big ideas and strategies really. A problem that he himself mentions earlier:
We don’t all agree on goals, and we don’t agree on whether things are working or in need of repair.
So, if we don't agree on the goals then how can we have big ideas and strategies to get to wherever it is that we disagree about? The column's headline is:
What Is the Purpose of Society?
And that's where we really, really disagree. We don't believe that there can possibly be a goal for society. Not one that we all agree upon and then have big ideas and strategies to reach.
Except, of course, that the goal of society is for us all to be able to do whatever it is that we wish to so long as in our doing so we don't damage others' opportunities to do the same. And we're deeply unconvinced that this goal is going to be reached by anyone having big ideas and strategies: unless it's the one where we tell the people with the big ideas and the strategies to get out of our lives and go and do something more interesting with their own.