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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Ordinary People

I've been reading "Take It Personally" by Anita Roddick, which my friend N loaned to me. Its a book about being an activist and countering various modern global economic trends. On page 13, she writes
If civilization is going to survive, business and policy-makers must move on, to find within themselves more developed emotions than fear or greed. I believe we can only do that by letting ordinary people take more responsibility for running the world, and that means opening up these powerful and unbending institutuions to a whiff of democracy.
This phrase "ordinary people" caught my attention because I had read it somewhere else recently and had been thinking about it. There's something I don't like about the phrase. Partly I think its not precise enough, and partly I think it buys into the value system that one is supposedly criticising. Who might such "ordinary people" be? I don't think that she would want to imply that the world should be led by people who are either uninterested in politics or unskilled in communicating with others and creating consensus and other such important leadership skills. To say that more "ordinary people" should be in charge is to suggest that those who already are in charge are extraordinary. People with a lot of money and/or political power are extraordinary, but often mainly by virtue of that power, and ordinary in many other ways.
The first page of the book says that
Proceeds from this book are going towards supporting visionaries, grassroots groups, and non-governmental organizations who are debunking the myths created by the World Trade Organization.
I would say that these people and groups are not "ordinary", but as she suggests, should be supported and celebrated.

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