The transcript of the talk I gave at the RSA with Prof Etzioni is now online, and the Community Links’ You Tube page has some of my discussion with David Robinson’s team out in East London. The core of Prof Etzioni’s argument, which has influenced me a great deal is that we need to work on new ways of having what he calls a ‘moral dialogue’ with each other, to establish new norms of behaviour and living. This has to fill the gap – some would say a gulf – that opened with the breaking down of the norms and traditions of the 1950s and 1960s, which in actual fact, few of us would want to go back to. But Prof Etzioni’s message is optimistic; using the example of the debates as wide ranging as Iraq, gay marriage, the environment and the smoking ban, he argues here;
‘I think by now I’ve succeeded in illustrating what I mean, the way whole societies, local communities and increasingly actually trans-national communities, can have more conversation despite as huge as they are, and despite that they’re often heated and emotional. At the end of the day very often they lead to new shared understanding and new voluntary enforcement’
My argument is that this is the kind of conversation that political leaders and parties have to take on help lead if we’re to foster the kind of solidarity which I believe is the key to social progress in the two decades to come.