The question that defines 2021 may be the famous question the Jewish Governor Pontius Pilate posed to Jesus in the Gospel of John: What is truth? In fact, in this terrible year, from vaccines to fake news, all the most controversial issues are ultimately about “authenticity.” Far beyond postmodernity, we seem to have lost the common values that formed the main body of our society in the past.This is not necessarily wrong. The philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger pointed out how the traditional value system was destroyed by an overly rigid historical structure. These structures, whether scientific or economic, are always shaped by the times and societies that determine their results. Therefore, as we enter the new year, the question about the truth becomes: Who can we trust in 2022?
We must put aside any pretense of immutability and look for answers in history. But in this endeavor, we cannot just leave our lives to experts, even if the language of technology and science does require an in-depth understanding of super-professional courses.
As citizens, we all have the right to discuss the social impact of scientists’ discoveries and conclusions, even if we may not be able to reproduce their experiments or follow their mathematical explanations. The same is true for the COVID-19 vaccine: every honest and coherent argument on this issue should be carefully considered. Experts cannot and should not take the attitude of “let us do our work” to ignore citizens’ worries, issues and disputes about issues that directly affect their lives. Just as the suggestions of economists alone were not enough to solve the 2008/9 economic crisis, the discoveries and suggestions of scientists alone cannot end this devastating pandemic. Such economic or public health crises require various social institutions to respond, and these institutions can jointly provide solutions suitable for specific field purposes. We call these agents “public agencies.”
Usually, the modus operandi of a democratic country is more painful than the modus operandi of an authoritarian regime. The “Cause of Technocratic” model is a model in Western history. It has achieved many successes, but it has also paved the way for countless atrocities and injustices. Although many scientists are often inclined to believe, science cannot replace democracy or religion. Therefore, the only feasible solution is to find the elusive truth within the social community.
If, as the philosopher Richard Rorty explained, “truth” is “what your contemporaries let you say at will”, then the truth in the human world is not eternal, but current The product of a social agreement. This is evident in the story of the pioneers of messenger RNA technology, which allowed the production of several leading COVID-19 vaccines. Biochemist Katalin Kariko and immunologist Drew Weissman have been working hard for many years to obtain funding for their mRNA research. Only after the mRNA-driven COVID-19 vaccine changed the course of the pandemic did the scientific community realize the importance of their work sex. How can we avoid ignoring these key scientific breakthroughs, or the equally important social turning points and political opportunities in the future?
It’s not easy: the consumerization of communication technology, social media relations, and social atomism divide us and focus on ourselves, making unity a concept of the past. Our current lack of a common identity is so desperate and destructive that in his American Utopia (2016), the acclaimed cultural theorist Frederick Jameson proposed the creation of a parallel structure: one An army composed of all citizens. The challenge is to build a true community network to start building an alternative, truly democratic society. Those who, like Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, tried to provide the first tools to build such an alternative, were quickly obstructed and silent, raising questions about the feasibility of such a project.
Therefore, the mantra of 2022 must be: Let us return to society! We must believe in ourselves, our innate ability to live together, we are “political animals” (political animals). As the philosopher Paul K Feyerabend suggested, we need to “conquer abundance”, that is, the irreducible abundance in life, and oppose all the abstractions that build a globalized technocratic world of markets method. To quote the writer and philosopher Gilbert K Chesterton (Gilbert K Chesterton): “A madman is not a person who loses his mind, but a person who loses everything but his mind.”
Nothing new can be invented: we must start with what we already have and what we already are. In 1999, urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg wrote an unforgettable book “Great Places” about “Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons in the Community Center And other meeting places”. The message of this book is simple: “The third place-where people can gather together, put aside their work and family concerns, just hang out for pleasant company and lively conversation-is the core of the community’s social vitality. It is also the grassroots of democracy”. This message is still valid-those are the places created by the community (yes, it is clearly symmetrical to the “soul creation” that John Keats talked about in his famous letter). On more complex layers, you can add churches, mosques, and synagogues in traditional societies to this list. Why not? There are also political parties, trade unions… everything is going on. Even before the pandemic hit, these places had lost ground. But now, as we work hard to restore a certain normality, disruptive innovators such as Mark Zuckerberg have proposed a new platform (“Multiversum”), which will undoubtedly divide us further. Therefore, Oldenburg’s physical “third place” is more important than ever.
No matter what meaning and form it may have in different cultures, “dialogue” is the core of the concept of community. The Internet is pure magic-it can spread many aspects of this conversation to all parts of the world. But it cannot convey the face, smell, gesture, touch, and general perception of a place, all of which add meaning to the conversation. As the American philosopher Judith Butler once pointed out, “The rapid development of social media allows for forms of irony that do not fully support deliberate debate.” So in the new year, to return to society, we should have A decent, humane conversation, that is, we want to bring the conversation back to the places we lost.
This kind of dialogue is not so much a practice as it is an attitude. For most of us, a new round of inflation and the ensuing economic struggle seems imminent once again. So, how does “dialogue” help us?
It certainly won’t provide us with a solution, but it can prepare for the emergence of a collective answer—an answer based on a sense of common justice and a fairer sharing of sacrifices.
The pandemic inevitably prompts us to reconsider our sense of community-it shows us that in the face of a crisis of this magnitude, our only real way out is to be united. In fact, we now know that mutations will continue to occur, and the pandemic will not really end until people in the global south have enough access to the vaccine.
So, by 2022, can we still trust our public institutions?
If we can, not only because they continue to provide protection, but also because they maintain the community network we call society. Is this a utopian view?
Yes, and not—because, contrary to the powerful mainstream colloquial saying “no choice,” our history shows that there is no reality, but a complex mixed interpretation that concretizes many possible visions of the world. In 2022, what we cannot believe is an ideological realist narrative that serves a one-sided world story.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.