Jacques Attali, publié le 06/01/2019 à 08:30 , mis à jour à 12:27:20

In every country and in every social circle, everyone is in involved in discussions related to a myriad of problems, which include: the climate, unemployment, terrorism, injustice, health, education, retirement pensions, culture and national identity.

Moreover, in every country and in every social circle, everyone feels that a major reform is absolutely fundamental. Such reform proposals include: overthrow the government, reform the institutions, authorize referendum by citizen initiative, reduce taxes, increase public spending, reduce immigration or conversely welcome more foreigners.

In this complex world, it is tempting to choose, for every problem, a simple solution. Additionally, some would rather take advantage of a problem, whatever it may be, to propose their own obsession as a solution.

We then see that people start with the reform they have in mind in order to address the problem in front of them, whatever it may be: It appears that each of us likes to propose our obsession as a solution to any problem that arises. Thus, unconsciously picking up Woody Allen’s sentence: “I don’t know the question, but sex is definitely the answer.”

For example, we see the most fanatical liberals explain to us, against all logic, that it is because we spend too much public money on reducing inequalities that these inequalities remain so high; and they even go so far as to explain, in the same absurd manner, that reducing public expenditures (since this is their obsession) will improve the situation of retirees, eliminate unemployment, and even reduce the havoc related to the climate.

Conversely, against all reason, we see the most doctrinaire socialists explain that only a massive tax increase on capital (which to them appears too often to be the alpha and the omega of political action) will reduce injustices, improve the situation of retirees, and encourage environmentally sound behavior.

We could repeat the same line of reasoning for any other type of obsession and propose it as an answer to every issue. Thus, for those who swear by referendum by citizen initiative or reducing the number of migrants being welcomed: I have also heard a widely followed polemicist explain to me with the greatest confidence that the world crisis of 2008 had no other cause than the excessive welcoming of foreign workers in Europe!

The starting point for finding a solution has gradually shifted from the problem and has moved more and more toward a predisposed solution that seeks to shine light on any and every problem. It is as if problems were just an anecdotal pretext for advancing a cause.

Nothing is more important than critical thinking. And its foundation implies discovering the real objective of a speech, thesis, book, and a political program or action—especially if such objective is well concealed,

When we are faced with a line of reasoning or explanation, we must start with the proposed solution and ask ourselves whether or not it is the real objective of the discourse. This should be done independently of any link with the problem that would make such solution necessary.

We must subsequently, in a modest and unbiased manner, look for the real causes of the problems that we face. And ask ourselves, very honestly, if we are not influenced by the preconceived solutions that we have in mind.

Then, we will arrive, more often than not, at: much less Manichean answers than we would expect; much more consensual analyses than one might fear; and unexpected agreements with everyone who follows the same logical and honest path regardless of their ideological or political starting point.

Emerge from the vehemence and escape the demonization of others and the victimization of ourselves. Behave as an adult.

It is not necessarily fashionable. Especially in many media outlets whose audience ratings depend on stereotypical arguments and the shock of egos.

j@attali.com

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