Read e-book online Cultures of Optimism: The Institutional Promotion of Hope PDF

By O. Bennett

What are the services of optimism in smooth societies? How is desire culturally transmitted? What values and attitudes does it mirror? This publication explores how and why strong associations propagate 'cultures of optimism' in several domain names, comparable to politics, paintings, the relatives, faith and psychotherapy.

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Political apathy, low voter turnout and general disengagement are seen not as inevitable and acceptable features of modern representative government, as both Weber and Schumpeter had suggested, but as a symptom of profound political alienation and, as such, a failure of democracy itself.

For Rousseau, it was important to draw a distinction between the ‘will of all’, which represented the totality of often conflicting individual desires, and the ‘general will’, which could be understood as that which would direct people’s actions if they were always to act in the interests of the common good. The pursuit of the ‘will of all’ could only lead, in the end, to social fragmentation and the destruction of community, but acting in accordance with the ‘general will’ would produce co-operative and cohesive societies, committed to the collective development of all.

Furthermore, the independence of these sources must be protected by law. Fifthly, citizens must be able to engage in ‘associational autonomy’, that is to say, to form independent associations and 36 Cultures of Optimism organisations, through which their rights and legitimate interests can be pursued. 34 Of course, it is much easier to set out the basic qualifying conditions for a polyarchal democracy than it is to judge whether a particular country meets these conditions. 35 Estimates of the total number of democracies in the world today therefore vary, as different analysts set the entry bar higher or lower.

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