An Intelligible Model of Ambition

“Every stable society rests on a shared view of the world – a way of looking at things which makes it possible to have settled expectations and which provides channels for both cooperation and peaceful conflict. Without such shared beliefs, no intelligible model of ambition is provided for the members of a society. They are thrown into the world merely with fragments of identity. Lacking a viewpoint or core of identity, they find it difficult to pursue any consistent course in life.

Has British society latterly provided its members with such a viewpoint? I think not. Whereas other European societies have in the last two centuries formally adhered to liberal principles, set out in written constitutions, British society has continued to seek unity in manners rather than ideas. It has discouraged discussion of ideology, preferring to rely on civility as the cement of society.”

Larry Siedentop, Democracy in Europe


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