A number of prominent bloggers have today launched The Euston Manifesto, a wide-ranging declaration of principle. They themselves describe it as a “declaration of intent” for a “current of opinion” flourishing on the Internet but “under-represented elsewhere”.
As well as being refreshingly well-written, as befits a collaboration of the blogosphere, I find the statements of principle to be unfailingly just. I like that intellectual copyright law extension is mentioned. I like that there is a clear rejection of the knee-jerk anti-Americanism that’s impossible to escape in daily life. I like that atheism is defined as separate from religious beliefs. I like that cultural relativism is wholeheartedly disavowed. I like that the separation of church and state is advocated. I like that there is a good attempt at a definition of the point at which human values trump sovereignty in international affairs. And most of all I like the commitment to a free and open exchange of ideas, on any subject.
Hell, I like it all. Its brevity is remarkable for a document of its scope – the elaborations are specific, rather than for clarification – and as such it requires only a few minutes’ attention to get the broad gist, while providing enough real-world examples to be more than merely abstract.
This kind of document has many advantages for those, like me, who sometimes become muddled by political arguments. It’s relatively easy to bamboozle me with statements which sound reasonable, yet contradict what I thought I believed. The principles so clearly elucidated in this document, which I know I agree with, can provide a bedrock against which to analyse disagreements without getting confused about what I believed in the first place 🙂
The big question, I suppose, is whether TEM will lead anywhere. Producing an excellent document is one thing, but taking that to the stage of actual change is obviously quite different. This is not to say that I doubt anybody’s conviction, and, in fact, given the background of its creators I would be not be surprised to witness consequences far wider than one may expect.
I hope it’s ok to make a few suggestions:
- Could it be published under a Creative Commons license, or similar? I have the PDF on my computer, but am unsure as to what I can do with it.
- A FAQ would be great, even if only to explain the word ‘Euston’…
- Some clarification on the signing process would be appreciated. Currently the signers are listed at the bottom of the document, and they are all well known, or representatives of large organisations. Are little individual bloggers like me welcome to sign, or is there a better way to express support?
- HTML anchors for each principle, for use during political rants 🙂