The Politics of Contentment

  • Guy Arnold


The function of governments in the past was the well-being of those they represented. Television has brought the world’s problems into every living room in the North and this development, coupled with an outward-looking humanitarian-ism which is a form of danegeld paid to compensate for the wealth and power disparities between North and South, has distorted any sense of what governments can and ought to do. The huge demands placed upon the United Nations in the wake of the Cold War are a case in point. After a long period in which it was unable to act effectively because of the superpower constraints upon it the world body is now expected to solve every upheaval and crisis although none of the major powers has suggested giving it either more resources or more authority. The most likely outcome for this absurd expectation will be the collapse of the United Nations, which will simply become the scapegoat for the world’s ills. Pressures upon the governments in the rich countries to take action are not supported by any willingness to pay higher taxes; in the long term such attitudes can only lead to policy failures whose most likely result will be a withdrawal of involvement in the troubled areas of the world except where action is seen to be essential to the well-being of the North.


Contented Class Basic Freedom Power Disparity World Body Chief Constable 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Galbraith, John Kenneth, The Culture of Contentment Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992, p.10Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ibid., p.40Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Observer 20 July 1992.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Independent 7 December 1992.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Independent 28 May 1992.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Independent 30 July 1992.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Independent 14 May 1992.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Independent 21 May 1992.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Observer 3 January 1993.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Independent 28 July 1992.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Independent 4 January 1993.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Guy Arnold 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guy Arnold

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