This lecture vents anger at the abuse of the black-and-white scheme of political dialogue. It seeks to take issue with (b)latent abuse of words by politicians who should know better. It focuses on three aspects in particular. First, it takes issue with the nature of the political debate, drawing on some of the ideas of Mouffe and explores the extent to which political strife as evolved into moral strife; the stuff of good and evil. Second, it explores the abuse of the idea of freedom of speech, perceived as the be all and end all of a democratic Rechtstaat. Can we learn anything from Mill here? Finally, it suggests that the emphasis on political dialogue comes with a cost: the explicit refusal to explore the grey area of what constitutes societal problems and pleads for a nuanced and, hence, critical attitude.
This lecture was given within the framework of the 2011 School of Critical Theory organized by the Centre for the Humanities in Utrecht. The programme was titled ‘G-local Cosmopolitanism: The Social Responsibility of the Artists, the Academics, and the Media’, and offered trans-national and interdisciplinary approaches drawn from the humanities, social sciences, law, philosophy and international relations. Its focus on the development of cross-national European perspectives in these areas, allows for the innovative use of key notions of cosmopolitanism across different national, cultural and disciplinary traditions. The school consisted of three clusters, which focused on Cosmopolitanism and the social responsibility of the Artists, Cosmopolitanism and the social responsibility of the Academics, and Cosmopolitanism and the social responsibility of the Media.