To what extent are our institutions fit for purpose?
Café Philo Bristol and Bath
7:30pm - 9:30pm
This is a repeat of the meetup from Bedminster on the 7th of February.
Note venue is Westgate this week not the Ram for previous meetups.
• What we'll do
Institutions: What are they?
What's wrong with them?
What should we reasonably expect?
Thanks to David for framing this months topic…
From the BBC to MPs, from religion to the EU, "institutions" have been in the spotlight over the last decade for their failings; Failing to hold themselves to account, failing to change with the times and failing to represent their stakeholders.
From “noddy shots (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noddy_(TV_interview_technique))” to phone rigging and sensationalised reportage, the BBC (and many, many, more) in the media were vilified a decade ago for all manner of techniques that ultimately misled viewers and readers. In other venerable institutions, many were “found out” to be rigging their expenses, acting in wholly inappropriate ways with staff and those under their care, or just old-fashioned lying.
Barely a single institution today exists unscathed from one or more of these scandals, and yet we have not been able to imagine an alternative that can provide the same services. So, distrust is common, experts in industry and academia shunned, and the individual is told to decide for themselves what they could or should believe. Marriages fail at record levels, celebrities’ pronouncements are weighed equally against the views of those with 30+ years’ experience in their field, and the EU is an institution the UK is legislating to leave.
• What makes an organisation an institution?
• Are Institutions always destined to be ineffective because of ”mission creep” and largesse?
• Are there examples of good institutions from right now or in the past?
a. The formation of local and national governments that provided representative democracy
b. Churches that use their faith and parishioners to spread aid to those most disadvantaged
c. EU laws that impose strict safety requirements on vehicles, chemicals, etc
• How do we tackle the corruption and hubris that has been exposed in so many institutions?
Is there an alternative to institutions for Government; Sports; Global Trade…
• Trust vs transparency:
a. Wikileaks and Edward Snowden are controversial not just because of what they leaked, but how: Can any institutor now succeed in an era where we demand full transparency? Sometimes things need to be said, and dismissed, rather than never said at all. If all institutions are denied our trust unless we know everything, might we be in danger of forcing them to fail?
b. Shouldn’t the Catholic church be praised for all the work it does to alleviate poverty, and not just maligned for the very small number of nasty people it employs?
c. Can any relationship (Marriage, voter and representative, buyer and seller) survive when we judge people on what they say, but ourselves only on what we do?
• Perhaps institutions need reform, not dismantlement, because they give more than they take.But what sort of reform? and how can it come about?
Hope you can join us.
• What to bring
• Important to know