In this, Abe has shown a masterful ability to keep his eye on the ball. Pursuing Japanese national interests notwithstanding secondary issues that have proved a problem for other national leaders. It has not been a total success story. Japan's relations with South Korea remain chilly at best. Though given the history between the two countries and Abe's emphasis on Japan's national interests and sense of identity, that is perhaps not too surprising.Overall though, Shinzo Abe has proved a fairly remarkable figure and national leader. Relative to his times, he has been a giant and he will likely be missed.
Very Interesting analysis. What do you think are the main challenges facing Japan’s next leader.
Thanks for your kind comment. As to your follow-up, the list is long. In terms of economics, Japan's population is, in demographic terms, the oldest on Earth. This has enormous implications for future productivity, the national debt, and Japan's overall global competitiveness. However, as an island nation, Japan has a very strong sense of national identity and group cohesion bordering on insularity and this makes it highly resistant to the levels of immigration necessary to offset the demographic challenge. To be sure, Japan also tends to be highly adaptive and will imitative of outside cultures. Still, it is unclear how Japan will square the circle. Even Abe only managed the problem - albeit expertly so - he did not solve it.Similarly, Japan national security interests remain complex. Because of its aging demographic, Japan's draft age population is shrinking. Throw in its pacifist tendencies and anti-war (American imposed) Constitution and Japan will find it difficult to maintain top of the line armed forces.Into this is the increasingly hostile position of China, the poor relations with South Korea, issues with North Korea and America's recent erratic approach to the Pacific rim and Japan has some very knotty foreign policy problems. Again, Abe managed these well, but as Disraeli said, "Finality is not in the vocabulary of politics" and these issues will go on.This just scratches the surface, but it should give you some idea of what Japan faces heading forward.
Indeed. It seems many of these issues are shared by western nations including the UK. The UK, although not to the same extent as Japan, also has an ageing population although admittedly it is better at encouraging immigration (some may say too much looking at the recent spate of anti immigration populism). I think on China also, the UK finds itself in a challenging position, also being an island nation. Politics is so interesting. I am still on the introductory text of Burke’s writings on the French Revolution (which takes up half the book) but it has really provoked a lot of thought in my mind.
On the first part, yes, in general the West - as the most economically advanced society - is aging the fastest. It is a consistent pattern - as societies advance economically, their birthrates tend to decline and their populations age. Japan is the most pronounced because it is an island nation with a strong sense of national identity. Thus it is even more resistant to the kinds of immigration that tend to offset the overall demographic trend.Also, yes, it is not as simple as that makes it sound. Immigration has offsetting disadvantages, not least its cultural effects. Britain, as a creedal nation, tends to absorb immigrants somewhat more easily, but it is all relative. However, it is not a simple matter and in fact, industrialized societies tend to absorb low income and low education immigrants when what they really need is better educated immigrants with a potential to more easily be absorbed by the larger culture.Finally, bravo on starting with Burke!! You will not read a more profound and thoughtful thinker. Excellent choice!! We are living in the age of Locke and Rousseau - and Burke is the antidote to that.
Although from my Brief reading Ahead into history, I can see that politics has always tended to swing between the liberal camp and the Conservative camp. Although the current Age of populism confuses things.
Well, it is a bit more complicated than that. Though your point about populism is well taken. Still and all, though, I do not know where you are from, but my hunch is that as you explore political philosophy more deeply, you will find that the relationship between ideas, and the labels that people ascribe to those ideas, is more complicated than you think.Just as a very small example to illustrate my point, I offer my answer to this question: Are you a conservative or a liberal? ↗My answer appears under my Nightdrot nom de guerre and was rated MHO. Hope that helps to clarify my point.
Well yes the ideologies politics swing between won’t always be exactly the same. But generally I think it follows a pattern, context might change the ideology too.
My point was more that conservatism, liberalism, and other such philosophies are actually more complicated than people think. For example, in the United States, the public tends to believe that Republicans are conservatives and Democrats are liberals. In fact, it is more complicated than that.To start, the parties are not ideological parties as you tend to see in Europe. Rather, they are lose knit coalitions of various demographic, interest, geographic and other groups. Then what Americans call conservatism is not, historically understood. Rather, the American political debate is actually an argument between two general strands of liberalism. This with periodic upsurges in populism - which does confuse the picture as populism is not a schematic philosophy or ideology, as you rightly noted.So then to say that politics tends to "swing from the liberal to the conservative" is an oversimplification. Not to mention that it does not completely explain things like the French or Russian revolutions. The upshot being that the ideas - and their interaction - are more complicated that the simple either/or dichotomy you postulated.
I think the dominant force does roughly swing between the 2 in Europe where parties are more ideological. Events like the revolution you mention are outliars.
There will always be variants of ideologies and differing interactions between the 2, with varying outside forces also.
You almost have no classical liberalism in Europe. Rather you have conservatism - in some countries mixed in with strands of classical liberalism juxtaposed to "radical" liberalism. ("Radical" here not meaning as the term is used in contemporary parlance - i. e. extremist. Rather as the ancient Greeks used the term - meaning "to the root of.")There is almost no constituency in contemporary Europe for the kinds of "that government is best which governs least" classical liberalism to which you refer. This again making my point that the picture is far more complex than the either/or you initially suggested.
Liberalism is liberalism. Classic or not.
No, it is not. They conduce to very different policies and outcomes. This not least why they have different terms.A serious study of political philosophy recognizes the importance - both theoretical and practical - of these distinctions. They are not just names that someone airily made up.
It is. They are both called liberalism. One isn’t called donuts.
Then tell me the distinction. Why the different references in terminology. What does "radical" liberalism do differently and where does it split from its classical origins? What is the practical policy impact of those differences?
I didn’t say they were the same. But they are both on the left side of the political spectrum.
How does that work? Communism and liberalism are both on the left side of the spectrum - but they have very different implications.Besides, the terms "right," "left" and so forth, are not terribly helpful. The usage comes out of the French revolution, when supporters of a republic sat to the left of the Speaker's chair in the National Assembly, while supporters of the Church and the monarchy sat to the right. While these are common usage in contemporary politics, they actually don't say very much. (Thus the Communist/liberal distinction above.)Here again, you are greatly oversimplifying complex ideas. This then leading to profound misunderstandings and unintended outcomes.
Actually in Britain, political analysts, politicians, civil servants, advisors all use the term left and right wing and political spectrum. It is not over simplifying, it is a way of mapping out complexity. None of these ideologies are the same, I never said that.
It is because they are. This is part of the problem afflicting Western politics. People are commonly misusing terms and assuming that their ideas will conduce to certain outcomes that do not necessarily follow.To use your British example - where does the late Lady Thatcher stand on the philosophical spectrum? Also, in that connection, you have yet to answer my earlier question: What is the distinction in theory and practice between the classical and radical strands of liberalism?
I am not assuming anything. Are you saying the elites of Britain are oversimplifying?
Where people stand on the spectrum would be subjective.
Yup. Ditto the American and Western elites generally though not universally. I cannot speak to contemporary British writers and thinkers, but in the States I can recommend George Will. I suggest his books "Statecraft as Soulcraft" and "The Conservative Sensibility" - especially the former.Then you will begin to get some idea of the fine and highly consequential philosophical distinctions. Specifically how you - and much of the public generally - are confusing common usage with important philosophical distinctions. This having happened over time and is not a recent phenomenon.Also, you still have not answered my questions.
Well I don’t think it’s useful to a society for everyone to be a deep philosophical thinker. You also need people who can practically make things happen without too much thinking.
P. S. On your last point. Oh no it is NOT!!! Congrats. You are now slipping into the realm of relativism.Nope. Sorry. Words have meaning and ideas have consequences. You are a prisoner of the latter because to you the words are meaningless in any objective sense. The paradox being that if you are right, then your argument makes even less sense.
Well, you may not think it useful, but without it you get sloppy thinking and miscommunication on a massive scale - or about what we have. Deep analysis and a common vocabulary are the most conducive to understanding and deeper analysis.Oh, and you still have not answered my questions.
If you ask 2 people to give their opinion of a certain politician and exactly where they stood on the political spectrum, you will get 2 different answers. In non populist times, they probably won’t differ too wildly but they will never be put in exactly the same place by 2 different people. We are not drones, we all think differently. Hence the reason there’s different ideologies in the first place. Secondly, society would not function if everyone was a deep philosophical thinker. I agree it’s good to have a good common educational base for everyone but in a real world, you cannot have everyone study politics and practice deep philosophical thought and to do so is counter productive.
Actually, they may differ, but they likely will not know what went into their thinking. They are operating without any frame of reference and are prisoners of ideas they do not understand. As John Maynard Keynes put it, "Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist."As to your latter point, it may not be necessary for all to be philosophers, but it would not be a bad idea for those who deal in ideas - especially politics - to understand the pedigree, and thus the implications, of the ideas they espouse. Not to mention sharing a similar vocabulary so that they might actually be able to communicate.Really, this is astonishing. You are making an argument about ideas, but then suggest that the distinctions between ideas don't matter and that the tools of ideas - words - are all arbitrary and subjective.
No that is not my argument at all. Something is clearly getting lost in translation here. Sharing a similar vocabulary comes from a strong common educational base. In an ideal world, everyone is both a strong thinker and a doer. But that is not possible. The world needs deep and strong philosophical thinkers but If everyone was like that, the world won’t go far.
There is more to it then you seem to understand. In any case, it does not require an ideal world, but it does require some understanding among those who deal in ideas to understand the pedigree of the ideas and the meaning of the words that they use.An example, you still have not answered either of my questions. They are pretty basic and it suggests that you are not as deeply read in the ideas and the history of the ideas to which you refer. Suffice to say, I do not mean to offend - and you deserve great credit for reading Burke. It suggests that you are serious. However, you do not yet appear to be particularly knowledgeable about the ideas that you are debating. Thus making for the dialogue of the deaf to which you referred at the opening - and incidentally proving my point.
Yes to those who deal in ideas. That’s not everyone is it?
I think you are missing my point. I’m not disagreeing with the principles of what you are saying.
On your first point, we were discussing politicians, journalists and elites. Suffice to say, they deal in words and ideas regularly - if too sloppily.As to the rest, if we are agreed, then why do you persist in replying. I trust you have made your point. You need not explain it further. Grant, I see serious points of disagreement, but if you don't, then you are effectively arguing with yourself. For my part, I see some mistakes in your thinking, but I also think you deserve applause for trying to be a serious thinker. More than most bother to even try and I merely add that you still have some work to do.
That is not what I was discussing. I was making a general point. I used them as an example earlier on. I don’t mean to offend but I think you sometimes lack trying to see things from others perspectives. Although admittedly that is more difficult over written text. A flaw of modern technology.
well, I don't mean to offend, but it is up to the writer to make their point clearly. This being hard to do when the writer does not have a grasp of the pedigree of his own ideas and treats terminology in a cavalier manner.Remember, it is not what you want to say. Rather it is what you want the other person to hear. That being very hard to do when you treat words and ideas as interchangeable with one another.
Yes but there are advantages to making those points diplomatically as every good politician does.
Agreed. However, I don't see how that applies in this case.This is a discussion forum and we were having a perfectly civil conversation. There is nothing inappropriate to my pointing out that you need to develop a knowledge of ideas and a surer use of terminology. If cannot say that in the context of this discussion, then the conversation begins as it ends. Pointless. The gravaman of this discussion having begun with defining and outlining the differences in liberalism and that they are not all the same thing. Indeed, that the various strands often conduce to very different policies and outcomes.
Also although populism has affected much of the western world, I don’t think it’s effect has been as extreme in the UK as it has been in the USA. The UK by and large (living here), I can see still has a general respect for society, established rules, norms and order. Yes, it’s attacked more by populism And there are some effects but it’s not severely shaken by it.
Well, it is relative to the culture. Actually, populism has manifested itself differently in the UK than in the US.See also Brexit, the Scottish and - to a lesser degree - Welsh independence movements. (Especially in the relatively recent rise in the SNP to a position where it has overtaken the LDP as the largest of the UK's smaller parties.) These all hardly bespeak a respect for established institutions and norms. Thus how populism is manifesting itself in the UK. Also, much of the appeal of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is populist in nature.So I would beg to differ with you a bit. Populism is very much impacting the UK, but in the forces of hyper-nationalism and Brexit.
Well euroscepticism has always existed as a force in the UK and there is an argument that joining the EU in the first place was ill thought out and lacked consensus or discussion.
And those euroskeptics would actually claim that it’s the EU who is attacking established British norms.
Also on subjectivism which I also had a think about, in Britain Whether you agree or disagree, we’ve been brought up with this concept and even our education system has taught us that with the exception of certain things where it’s beneficial to have objective standards, we as a society value diversity in opinion and subjectivity.
On the first point, you miss the point. While a degree of skepticism toward "Europe" has always been a feature of British politics, in the 1970s the British public voted for membership, you may recall. It was a populist surge that moved the British public in the opposite direction a generation later. Politics and culture are far more nuanced than you seem to grasp. You seem to deal in simple dichotomy when there are, in fact, a complex array of forces at work. Britain had historically been skeptical of Europe - this manifesting itself in "splendid isolation" and all the rest. However, the decline of the empire, the bloody price of two world wars and various economic forces produced a situation wherein the culture grew more accepting of Europe. What you don't seem to understand - and oh, by the way, I favored Brexit - is that what made a reversal of course possible is that the surge of populist sentiment, AMONG OTHER FACTORS (emphasis added) made a reversal of the post-war consensus possible. Thus a new referendum and a new outcome - and all this at no small price in the stability and cohesion of British society.As to the latter point, the point of giving wide scope and freedom to opposing points of view is so that by debate and discussion over time the society can discern the actual truth. NOT to deny that there is any truth at all.This is the difference between where I - and until roughly the 20th century Western civilization - stand and the moral relativism that you seem to have fallen into. To repeat then, you need to develop a more refined and complete understanding of the terminology and ideas you are using. This then being where this discussion began.
I am well aware of the complex forces. It is hard to convey them on here and makes it harder to convey with your strong presumptions of my views and your strong feelings on your own view and rejection of all other views. I also do not agree that there is a strong breakdown of British cohesion and society and quite frankly, I am offended by that view.
You do not live in Britain.
No, I don't live in the UK, but I have friends their and follow the politics and culture as closely as possible. By the same token, you do not live in the United States but I do not, therefore, automatically discard your views by virtue of that fact. Indeed, it is interesting to get an outsider's perspective.As to British society, I did not say that there has been a STRONG (emphasis added) breakdown. What I did say was that the UK is experiencing a wave of populist sentiment much like the rest of the West. That hardly suggests that the UK is about to fall apart.Indeed, one of Britain's great strengths has been a certain self-restraint and a tendency to stoicism. However, even then, the UK did not get the "Swinging 60s" for nothing. Indeed, much of the criticism that was directed at the monarchy at that time was that it was "stuffy" and "elitist."At any rate, if you are finding it hard to express your views, no one has forced you to continue this discussion. For my part, it has been - at least till now - an intellectually interesting discussion. All I add is that you may not yet fully grasp the concepts you are dealing with. (If nothing else, you are only now reading Burke, an author who I have read and re-read going all the way back to my late high school days. This suggesting that you still have some exploring to do.)That all said, nothing is obliging you to continue the discussion. That said, if you believe that you are not making yourself clear you can hardly blame me for that. The obligation to make oneself clear being upon yourself. Anyhow, my bottom line is that the UK is experiencing a populist wave. That wave manifesting itself - as it has in all countries impacted by it - through the prism of its' unique cultural particularities and historical circumstances. That would, at the very least, seem obvious.
Well I enjoy our discussions. There has clearly been some miscommunication and I apologise for that. You should know that I respect the USA very much as a country too, as one of Britain’s closest allies and key strategic partner.
That's okay. One thing about this format - as indeed e-mail and the like - is that it lends itself to miscommunication. Besides, what did Bernard Shaw say? "The British and the Americans are two peoples separated by a common language."Anyhow, thanks for the kind comments about my old home here. As I mentioned I am quite the ardent Anglophile, so right back at ya.It's been a pleasure.
Yes indeed but still I enjoy our discussions and your expertise. I found 2 friends I can have civil political discussions with. They also both have extensive knowledge of political philosophy. Most people can’t seem to do this - even in real life they just argue.
LOL - as the kids say. Yup, that is mostly what you will find. However, at least for me, when we met, I struck gold!!All the best.
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