A short note on consensus

Tuesday, 14 Jun 2005

Brian Eno:

I’ve been developing this idea of the last few weeks that what we should be moving towards a type of consensus that does not claim to derive its legitimacy from moral or political or historical argument but entirely from the fact that it is a consensus. So I want an end to this morass of philosophy which keeps assuring us that one day there will be a final and unarguable basis upon which we will be able to organize and judge our actions – 3,000 years of that has yielded very mixed results indeed – and I want to embrace a future where all that matters is that we have made certain agreements between each other […]

While originally written about Europe’s hesitant stance over Serbia, Bosnia, etc., this statement is universally applicable. Mutual agreement between parties is valuable in and of itself; is the single most valuable aspect of consensus; is what defines consensus in the first place. It also is what makes a consensus relevant. Whether the consensus has legitimate basis in being derived from first principles makes no immediate difference to its usefulness; certainly, it is preferrable to have one which is not, rather than none at all.