30-second soundbites and democracy

'Democracy is not possible without the written word. You cannot carry on an intellectual debate in the market-place of ideas via 30-second soundbites. For that you need books.'
Al Gore speaking at this week's Hay Festival, an event described by Bill Clinton as 'the Woodstock of the mind' (what is it about American politicians?)

* Follow this link for a report on Al Gore's Hay speech.

Now playing - Keith Jarrett's Book of Ways, The Feeling of Strings: 2CDs of improvisations on the clavichord which simply confirm that great music, like great books, should make you question every thing you have previously accepted.

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Pliable said…
After writing this piece I remembered that my copy of Keith Jarrett's Book of Ways was purchased in the music department of the Nordiska Kompaniet in Stockholm, when I was working in Sweden in 2003.

This famous store held tragic resonances because just a few months earlier Sweden's Social Democrat Minister for Foreign Affairs Anna Lindh had been assassinated while shopping there.

Her loss as a politician and European visionary was inestimable. May her memory live on.
Berend de Boer said…
I suppose this was Al Gore's 30s contribution to soundbites.

And that's why he made a movie.
I would be amazed if more than 5% of people involved in politics give a damn about 'intellectual debate'.

In my experience people directly involved in party politics react with puzzlement or bemusement if you try to talk about anything intellectual not directly related to the cut and thrust of practical politics (for example try talking about epistemology or ethics or economics with an member of parliament/congress etc. of ANY party and you will have them looking nervously for their minder within 3 minutes).

Al Gore is a typical example of an amoral professional politico of the type found in any modern democracy (regardless of party) and he does not have a rigorous intellectual bone in his body.

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