by Alex Carey
In the nineteenth century Matthew Arnold described the aim of literature as to perceive life ‘steadily’ and ‘as a whole’. In the twentieth century the social sciences have challenged this traditional role of poets and writers as the most influential source of enquiry and reflection upon human life and values. It is my contention that the producers of our social science have largely abandoned Arnold’s goal. In consequence all of us now see the world more unsteadily than we need and, in a double sense, in a manner more partial and fragmented.
I would argue that the abandonment of an interconnected view of the community is deeper and more dangerous than ever before. Its cause is not due to a natural inevitability but is held in place, almost artificially, by the bitter divisions of our world. This predilection for division, a division which maintains a binary morality of them and us, finds its traditional expression in the terms ‘communist’ and ‘anti-communist’. I would suggest that this division has become a kind of global disease that scars and corrupts the best and most humane aspects of our liberal Western traditions.