If you’ve never read it before, I highly recommend The Walrus as one of the best Canadian “general interest” print mags out there (they post back issues online). In the June issue they published a piece by former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow titled “A House Half Built” on the shaky future of Canadian federalism that I thought to point to, in part because of our national holiday tomorrow, and in part because I was reminded of it again by this recent discussion on Ulises Mejias blog Ideant about “Socialist Software”.
The part of Romanov’s piece that stuck in my mind was actually not by him, but a quote by former Saskatchewan deputy Attorney General, John Whyte:
“A nation is built when the communities that comprise it make commitments to it, when they forego choices and opportunities on behalf of a nation…when the communities that comprise it make compromises, when they offer each other guarantees, when they make transfers, and perhaps most pointedly, when they receive from others the benefits of national solidarity. The threads of a thousand acts of accommodation are the fabric of a nation….”
Now if I was really smart I would somehow connect this back to the great discussion that unfolded on Ideant, but I’m not, and I have to go enjoy my July long weekend (plus our washer just exploded and we’ve water all over the basement, oy vey!). But I am left with a nagging feeling that the social interactions fostered by ‘social software’ are all too solipsistic, or at best are an “echo chamber,” and that the way in which we interface with them, sitting in front of screens typing away, allows us a safety that one does not get when there is real territory, real resources, real people involved, staring you in the face. But then I’m also someone who always thought Samuel Johnson’s refutation of Berkely was pretty good too. – SWL