The political, economic and social changes of our society over the last 30 years have hit some groups of our fellow citizens as a loss of orientation, even a loss of national identity, and a “terrible” crisis. The tried and tested possibilities of improving one another are no longer possible, including stealing things from shared property, the old prejudices suppressed by prohibitions can now be manifested openly, and a comfortable life of an individual, clearly separating private and public life, has disappeared. Keep your mouth shut and keep up on the outside, so long live your beloved conformity, and swear at home. But most importantly – never have the responsibility of a citizen. The “top ones” are responsible for everything. And suddenly there is the election, you have to make a decision and take responsibility for something new. What? Help, people, we have lost the “consensus” – these words spread around.
The change that many are dreaming of today requires a fundamental change in the cultural stereotype, this transparent and, above all, simplistic view of the world around each of us.
As Ernst Gellner wrote that social consensus, which is a precondition for the existence and reproduction of any society, is a function of its culture and not the result of knowing the truth. Social order requires a common culture – a common system of ideas, interpretations and values. Thus, every culture is a systematic prejudice (…) pre-selected, pre-invented and then (directly) a ritual and sanctification of preserved ideas that reliably sustain a specific organizational structure (society, nation?). What to do to make these words of the sociologist read by those who think that it is enough to push corruption downstairs, maintain economic growth, have more nurses in hospitals and then everything will be fine again?
I have bad news for us – it won’t. But we got another chance and you will be amazed – it is the fat virus that looks like a ball for exercises to treat carpal syndrome. The result of its efforts to control our bodies and minds may be a change in the priorities of at least part of society. It will be more interested in what kind of society we are, on what foundations our state is built, what are the main myths and national narratives that control our emotions. And how they relate to the narratives of our neighbours.
The Via Cultura; ICP team publishes opinions, controversies and reflections on all this in the Cultural Oxygen. We even thought a few weeks ago that this may be the beginning of a new way of thinking about the place of culture in Slovakia. Today we are wiser again. Perhaps we will remain wiser, too.