A short note, where I’d like to make an observation. Seems to me that the age of enlightenment, or what one could call “its legacy”, was that it revived a radical interpretation of modernity. Descriptions of the enlightenment, if one were to contemplate it within historical periods, seems to ubiquitously situate it in what is known amongst historians as the “Long Eighteenth Century”.
Have you, like me, been getting cross about Brexit? I think there are a number of different reasons why I have been getting cross about it. And crucially, some of these reasons are not tied to the referendum result. Here, I thought to share my reflections. I would like to think that these reflections invite important questions about our understandings of “deliberation” in modern democratic societies. But its real merit may very well be just an opportunity for me to get something off my chest. If you wish to know why it weighs heavily on my mind, let me just say that most of my first year law students could not vote in the referendum in 2016. The future lawyers I train in 2017 did not vote on what will undoubtedly shape decades of their lives. It saddens me quite a bit.
Nonetheless, thought to share a short sketch of some reasons why I have gotten cross and why I think I should “take it easy”. I do not intend this piece to be an analysis of Brexit and its consequences. As reflection pieces go, it is a rather personal and messy one. The reader ought to be wary of presuming too many causal relationships between the various headings.
Recently, I was discussing my views about global inequalities with a couple of international trade law and investment law experts. Their experience and expertise was – both in sum and in comparison to me – rather considerable. Together, they had experience with advising governments in their negotiations at international institutional (eg, UN, WTO), in multilateral and bilateral negotiations (eg, free-trade agreements) and also in public-private partnerships (i.e. government investment in industry).
Rather significantly, after some fairly passionate discussions, they thought my reading of ‘public law’ and ‘economics’ was rather moralistic. That they viewed me in this way was not surprising. What surprised me was that they thought: 1) that I was unaware of my moralistic reading of international economic life; and 2) that their understanding of their jobs – as experts – did not involve moral questioning. They admitted it was rather ‘brutal’, but asserted that it was ‘true’.