Michael Ignatieff is a writer, broadcaster and professor of human rights. His practical experience of leading the Canadian opposition convinced him that when political rivals are turned into enemies by the dead hand of party discipline, the art of political persuasion dies, building of consensus and compromise becomes impossible, and democracy suffers. So is it time to take the rhetoric of war out of politics?
Photo Credit: David Chan
Frans de Waal
Dutch primatologist Frans de Waal has spent his life studying chimpanzees, bonobos and other non-human primates. He suggests that politicians should take a closer look at the way male chimps reconcile after fights, often at the instigation of an older female. He also argues that we ignore primates’ innate sense for fairness and co-operation at our peril.
Photo Credit: Catherine Marin
Lawrence Lessig, Director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University, wants to see a fundamental shift in the way US politics is financed. He says that both parties listen mainly to the concerns and agendas of the biggest donors, the 0.05% at the top, and this is preventing them from addressing properly the issues that matter to the majority of the electorate.
60 Second Idea
Frans de Waal proposes to spend one day without the use of language. People would still be allowed to express themselves vocally, such as by screams, laughs, gasps and other sounds, but the use of words would be prohibited. This would make us more aware of the immense role of body language and illustrate how often words distract by all the lies we tell, the grandstanding, the gossip.
In Next Week’s Programme
People power: how much do we really have? With Chinese professor of International Relations Zhang Wei Wei, American historian Anne Applebaum and Egyptian writer Tarek Osman.