Let’s assume that a person really wanted to understand a foreign philosophy, a different way of setting up a society. If that was the case, I would recommend listening to Suzanne Guerlac talk about the philosophy of Henri Bergson.
This is a dense program, but Suzanne is articulate and the interviewer asks probing intelligent questions, so if you have an hour where you really want to listen closely, I heartily recommend this program. It is especially powerful when Suzanne starts talking about how the evolution from a closed society to an open society is not an easy evolutionary transition, that Bergson thought it would take some sort of fundamental change in way of being to occur. Imagining that sort of thing is difficult. Yet those moments occur. Think Solidarity in Poland. Think the fall of the USSR, the sudden destruction of the Berlin Wall. In those moments, I suspect that an open society emerged, however briefly, before a closed society reasserted itself. Fits and starts. Evolution and change may not be orderly.
So, open societies. What would that look like? Listen hard to Guerlac’s discussion of love and livingness as something new, not love that arises with an object that is loved by a subject who loves, but when love arises in reference to all living things. Pretty amorphous stuff. And for those of you who need a lot of structure, this is not going to be your cup of vegan broth. But if you want to stretch a bit, and you want to commit the energy, I think this program will stretch you.
Against the Grain appears to be a wildly intelligent program. My friend Gar Lipow is the latest guest. Gar is talking about climate change and economic exploitation. Suzanne is so last week.
If you make it through the Open Society talk and thinking in time ala Bergson, and you want to think more about open societies, you could check out the mp3s at Audio Anarchy . The Anarchy Tension series is a good place to start if you have an open mind. You may come to the conclusion that this is simple utopian sophistry, that might be true, but it may also be true that if/when an open society emerges, this could be one of the ways that it will happen. This might be the shapeless shape of a certain kind of open society.
See some of you there.