Friday, March 20, 2009

The concerns of MPS president……..

Professor Deepak Lal was called a urgent meeting of The Mont Pelerin Society to discuss the global crisis and in his address to the meeting said:

  • “My greatest fear is that this crisis- and the responses to it- will stall or reverse the wholly benign process of globalization, which dates from the China's opening by Deng Tsiao Ping in 1978, and the reversal of India's Permit Raj in 1991. This has lifted more people from abject poverty than has ever been seen in human history. 
  • It is notable that unlike the bowdlerized Keynes in the back pockets of Western politicians, the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao in an interview with the Financial Times at Davos said his bedtime reading was Adam Smith's The Moral Sentiments
  • As will questions about the moral basis of capitalism. The shameless greed shown by many bankers- who have smashed the institutions they were charged to nurture on the rocks- is leading to a popular backlash against capitalism. This takes us back to questions raised by the great thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, who saw a common morality as providing the cement of society. A morality primarily dependent on a society's traditions and forms of socialization, based on using the moral emotions of shame and guilt, and not reliant on either God or Reason for their acceptance. How can the Victorian virtues embodied in the notion of the English gentleman which are today to be found more often amongst the burghers of Bombay and Shanghai than the denizens of Wall Street “The City” and Hollywood be inculcated? These are virtues which denoted a distinction of character rather than class, and consisted of 'integrity, honesty, generosity, courage, graciousness, politeness, consideration of others."21 They constituted the 'sympathy' which Adam Smith considered the highest virtue which allowed healthy ambition to be combined with an empathetic conscience to promote social stability and order. 
  • …..what is the way to challenge the political correctness which is leading to the abuse of reason in the humanities and many social sciences in our citadels of higher learning and which increasingly provides the intellectual lens through which most politicians view numerous public policy issues? Last but not least, how can the growth of the Nanny State's undermining of Mill's principle of liberty be countered? These are some of the many questions raised by the current crisis which fall within the mandate of the society as seen by its founders”.

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