Have you ever thought of the society where all the citizens are politically indifferent? Have you felt comfortable there? Or, have you made any attempts to change the society deeply through? In his work Creating Citizens: Political Education and Liberal Democracy Eamonn Callan, a Professor of Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta, Canada, assumes the existence of such a society.
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He sees it as the one that through several generations has descended from the modern society. He calls it The Brave New World and describes as the one where there is the best distribution of wealth we can only imagine. “… rights to political participation, freedom of expression, religious practice, equality before the courts and the like” (Callan 1) still exist in this society, but when it comes to elections,
“… scarcely anyone bothers to vote. The mass media ignore politics because the consumers to whom they cater do not care. The parties who vie for power are sponsored by more or less the same political elites, and so virtually nothing separates one power from another. Freedom of speech has been reduced to a spectral existence because speech is no longer commonly used to defend a distinctive vision of the good and the right or to say anything that might initiate serious ethical dialogue with another.
That is so because citizens are either indifferent to questions of good and evil, seeing the point of their lives as the satisfaction of their desires, or else they commit themselves so rigidly to a particular doctrine that dialogue with those who are not like-minded is thought to be repellent or futile… but although citizens respect each other’s legal rights they shun contact with those who are different so far as possible to because they despise them. When the transactions across cultural divisions are unavoidable, everyone tries to extract as much benefit from the other (or cause as much harm as possible) within the limits imposed by the law” (Callan 1-2).
I am inclined to believe that the consequences of the political indifference stated by this author are rather realistic and everyone should consider carefully the problem of one’s political socialization as its neglecting might have rather devastating consequences.
The notion of political process may be understood from the three perspectives. First, this might imply everything that takes place in politics, second, thin notion might stand for the very category of politics, and finally, it may be regarded as the change in the political systems of the society.
For years, voting remains one of the most common ways for people to participate in the political process no matter what definition of it they take into account. As policy is always characterized by various shenanigans surrounding it, the voting system often fails to be the only way of people’s participation in the political process. Other ways they apply to include petitions to the government, political lobbying, boycotts, civil disobedience, terrorism, etc.
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My personal participation in the political process takes the form of running various political campaigns and working for different non-profit organizations that bring about social justice issues. Being engaged in such forms of political process I feel not that much concerned with the dirt that the modern politics is full of.
Though the Western politics is considered to be more brutal that the Eastern one, I believe it to be more effective in terms of making one’s voice heard. People in Western countries are more politically involved through ever-increasing role of mass media in political process and close attention of the authorities to the political education of the rising generation.
In general, participation in political processes presupposes one’s responsibility for making significant decisions, and remaining indifferent to politics means giving up: legislation or regulation that is accepted by others cannot be appealed by those who resist to the demand of the modern society to participate in political life. As Thomas Magstadt claims in the third part of his work Understanding Politics: Ideas, Institutions, and Issues, in a democratic state participation in public life is both the opportunity and obligation (Magstadt 353). Each and every who is empowered to be a political citizen should do one’s best not to become the member of the society described at the beginning.
Callan, Eamonn. Creating Citizens: Political Education and Liberal Democracy. Oxford University Press, 2004.
Dalton J., Russell. Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies. Chatham House, 1996.
Magstadt, Thomas. Understanding Politics: Ideas, Institutions, and Issues. Wadsworth, 2005.