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Steps to an Ecology of Soul: Chapter 5


The demise of the public space

As we seek to find new ways of being in relationship in all dimensions of our lives, whether that be in personal connections, in groups or as members of much larger entities, it is useful to know something of the background to the position in which we find ourselves. In many traditional cultures there were places and occasions when the community gathered together to discuss, to administer justice, to pass on knowledge and to maintain coherence within the community. Much of that has been lost.

During the course of the 19th century, the creation of wider educational provision provided an industrial workforce with the minimum requirements to work in the factories. This was education as an instrumental purpose dressed up in the fig leaf of the mission to civilise and enable citizens to participate in their society.

The link in the past was to a stable society, a moderate level of educational attainment, and a limited opportunity for members of the working class to enter the ranks of the middle class. Now, we have a very different class system and class structure in place, and there is much less of a public space that we all agree on and share. Further, whilst we all take advantage of living in a secular state, it is little discussed and few people know how fragile it actually is in the face of fundamental extremist appeals of all kinds.

Ecology of Soul Chapter 5