Sunday, 30 January 2011

At the French institute in London - can a left wing politician be wealthy?

I finally managed to go to the "coffee concept" at the French institute after thinking about it for a year, or so! It's an informal gathering of people with an interest in French and philosophy who discuss various topics.

I chose the French day discussion - to keep my French alive - and i should rather write this in French... but i finally decided for english because it's easier and quick (checking the accents and spelling is longer in French, French speakers will have noticed).

So the subject of today was "can a politician be a left wing and be rich". The subject was proposed in connection with a certain culpability that French people and politicians feel with regards to wealth compared to the anglo-saxons who are much more at ease.

The points of view expressed were interesting, very different and mixed and we heard about the English labour party, the Americans and their philanthropy and the lack of a public health service, the role of the state and the conception of society as based on egalitarian principles or the liberal model of the invisible hand. We also had examples from countries such as Iran and Albania where social pyramids have been reversed in favour of a class of un-educated religious or not people who have become leaders.

My point of view was that rather than using politics and power as a mean of increasing personal wealth i'd prefer politicians to be wealthy and educated in the humanist tradition of democracy and human values. History provides us with examples of left wing politicians who were from working class backgrounds and built systems of society based on egalitarian principles but who ended being dictatorships of a handful of privileged.

Also wealth is desirable in itself, there shouldn't be anything wrong with it. However wealth should be used for the benefit of the whole society and used to produce benefits for everyone as much as possible. Poverty in this assumption is inevitable because not everyone will be able to benefit from the wealth created by everyone. But at least the intention to do so is stipulated in the economic policies of the society in question.

I wandered how long would it take for Marx to make his appearance in the debate given the French dimension?! It actually took a while, he came into the discussion just before the end...

So i found the gathering very interesting, i managed to speak in French on "society" topics and will return in 2 weeks for another one.

Also baby got a taste of French and of discussions. He was quite all along, doing some movements towards the end probably wanting to express his opinions??? Already???

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