There are zillions of societies here at Edinburgh University – maybe too many, but it is too early for me to judge. I’m on the mailing list for too many but have joined three:
The film society is very active with several films a week and everyone can be involved in helping select movies. Unfortunately this democratic principle results in a fairly tame programme – bring on Albanian goat-trading movies with subtitles in Urdu.
The hill-walking is active and a good network for meeting others with similar interests. More on them throughout my blog.
Last week the Politics Society hosted Professor Amitai Etzioni, a major figure in communitarianism. He talked on ‘Security First: For A Muscular, Moral Foreign Policy’. Previously I heard Tory MP Ann Widdecombe. I disagreed with most of what she said, especially about climate change. One of her opinions is that contribution of the UK to greenhouse emissions is small compared to China so they needn’t make a big deal of it. The same argument made in little ol’ NZ by politicians of the same hue. But if everyone did their bit then we could start to make some progress.
I heard a similarly disturbing thing at the first Theology and Ethics Seminar last Thursday. Luke Bretherton spoke that political action is ineffective nowadays and that “political consumerism” is an important new form of effective political action. I completely disagreed with him and questioned him fairly robustly. I think it would be surprising to many people around the world that Briton’s traditional political action is not important. We are at the centre of the empire – how can it not matter who governs one of the most powerful countries n the world? On this point I recommend the first half of the book Rebel Sell, which, suggests that good old political hard slog is the way to change things in the world, not by buying organic fair trade coffee.