A society based on doubt and inertia

Every now and then we are assaulted by voices warning us that the end of human society as we know it is nigh. The problem of pollution has grown to such an extent that it poses a greater threat than the radioactivity released in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Climate change is bringing calamity and destruction; nationalist fanatics are gaining ground; a «Big Brother» society has transformed everyday life into an Orwellian nightmare; stored atomic bombs may not yet have exploded but they have eliminated any notion of a safe world. Our entire modern era has been founded on questioning values and ideas. On the one hand we have the disintegration of the state, the family, ownership and the traditional role of male supremacy, while on the other there is the fear of the new and the mistrust of progress, despite the benefits resulting from major technological advances. For a whole century now we have been struggling with new threats. We have become accustomed to living in the shadow of danger, quivering at our gloomy prospects, panicking and then forgetting all our worries and focusing on the here and now. Pain, pleasure and death are all interlaced in the present. We have long since severed our ties with the past. And the future is murky and inauspicious. But we carry with us a certain morality, an aesthetic sense, a political outlook firmly rooted in the present. Our memory is weak and fragile. We do not want to know. We do not want to think. We doubt everything. We just live for today, with an outlook that fosters deviation, confusion, nihilism and resignation. Perhaps this is why our public life is in constant turmoil, fixated with money, rotten from top to bottom. Our collective conscience as a society no longer serves as the fundamental touchstone of human existence. First came the crossfire of scientific theories, which subsequently splintered into a number of different theories regarding the subconscious, the unconscious, the libido and the superego; which were in turn supplanted by individualism, inertia and the vicious circle of materialism. Production skyrocketed, followed by rampant and directionless consumerism. No civilization has ever had a destiny so blind, mechanical and destructive. And so we have witnessed the birth of civil movements which aim to change our society, but without political restructuring. But antidotes to the side effects of progress cannot be found without bringing politics into the equation. This is perhaps the greatest weakness of today’s mass social movements.

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