John Ralston Saul

A disinterested democracy:
balancing individual good and common good

Nipawin - Friday, February 15, 2002 - by: Mario deSantis


"Government is the only organized mechanism that makes possible that level of shared disinterest known as the public good"

John Ralston Saul



US policies

The Canadian dollar has decreased in value with respect to the American one in the last generation. When I came to Canada in the late 60s the Canadian dollar was priced over the American and now it is worth just above 62%. The loss of value of the Canadian dollar with respect to the American one doesn't constitute per se, a reason that we have lagged economically behind the United States, and in fact we use monetary policies to steer the economy. One reason that we have lagged economically behind the United States is that we have had our own currency, our own sovereignty, but our economic policies were directly reflecting the policies of the United States.




I describe this economic problem as the lack of originality on our part to do the best for Canada and this problem has been compounded with the lack of political leadership to do the best for the country. We have been copycats of the United States' policies and since we have been copycats of the United States there is no way we can overcome them on their own game for their own selfish interest.




I mentioned sometime ago that to have economic policies to attract foreign investments in the absence of our own savings is not in itself a good economic policy. We cannot copy what the United States is doing economically, if we do we are bound to have an economy subservient to the United States since the United States is a more powerful economy. Also, to copy the United States means to subscribe to the Free Market for the benefit of corporations and fortunate sons. Therefore, what we all need is to change our priorities of our social and economic policies.




I find that the fundamental problem of our social systems rests on the present tenet of the Free Market: making money with money. Our social systems must change not under the tenet to make money with money, but under social polices which distinguish individual good from common good.


Partially because of the collapse of the Enron Corporation, the United States is presently passing legislation to eliminate soft money from their electoral campaign financing. Democracy means to have an ever changing balance and understanding of the individual good and the common good, however the elimination of soft money from campaign financing is not enough to restore democracy.


As long as we pursue political interests to support individual interests we are not going to have any democracy. Once you entrench business lobbying within a political system, then we have no democracy. Politicians must be above their own individual good and must behave on behalf of the common good.


Retired military generals shouldn't be allowed to exploit their past military and political relationships to become heads of big corporations, and former U.S. presidents shouldn't be allowed to pursue their selfish interests in the military and energy industries. I subscribe to the understanding of Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul when he says that we need to follow our individual interest in our normal activities, but we must follow our individual disinterest for our own common good, that is for politics.
  Pertinent articles in Ensign
  Our leaders hide themselves behind the facade of the BIG LIE: the Free Market. Defrauding Bubbles, Bankruptcies, Mega Mergers, Efficiencies, Innovations, Productivity by Mario deSantis, February 13, 2002
  BOOK REVIEW: John Ralston Saul, The Unconscious Civilization, Penguin, 1997 by Rowland Croucher, March 1999