The Political Turn

Politics is back on the agenda.

For some, history ended in 1990. We arrived at a final, stable, interminable age of Capitalism, a vantage point of predicting the future where every next year was supposed to be better than the last, and constant progress could happen without changing the society. In fact, at that very moment, society stopped to matter, as the profound enabling of the individual meant that we can just pursue our own well-being, leaving the idea of progress to the workings of the market, which took care of itself.

It was not very unlike what people thought before the death of God, but a radical departure from the ideas of enlightenment, when, humans became political animals with the slogan of daring to know. It is paradoxical, as at the moment of complete empowerment of the individual, a logical progression of the enlightened ideas, we chose - choice being the main theme here - to give up our powers to transform societies any further and accept the autonomous workings of the market as the road of eternal bliss.

However, history is back, as we stare in the face of a breakdown of our carefully manicured world. It is time of the breaking of the states in the Middle East and Africa, and strange and remote as they may appear from our tranquil neighbourhoods in the West, they are not devoid of impact. The scenes of refugees walking across Hungarian motorways, or indeed the poignancy of the tragedy of dead Children washing up from the Mediterranean, jars our complacent lives. Human swarm, as David Cameron called it, has a Mosaic implication - it is the first sign of an impending profound change.

It is rather a long way from breaking of the Berlin Wall to the point when every country of Europe may explore building fences to keep away from each other, and the spirit of the intervening years, when expansion of economic activities, measured in the GDP became the sole indicator of our well-being, is already waning. As we ushered in the Millennials in public life at an accelerated pace of the celebrity culture and start-up economy, they brought their new ideas of politics and how to arrange the society. And, yes, instead of going out of fashion, the idea of society came back to conversation, perhaps because the surging individualism wrecked our family lives and gnawed at the fundamental human ability to cooperate and collaborate. On the precipice, we may be discovering the needs to go beyond the pursuit of self, an issue Plato sought to argue with Thrasymachus two millenniums ago, and interrogate these old ideas with millennial values.

Those who panic at the impending political turn, and arguing that this would stop progress, have got it wrong. The great periods of human creativity, from Ancient Greece to modern-day Silicon Valley, came after resurgence of political emotions and grand dreams of changing society. Stewart Brand and the Hippies were the true precursors of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, though they have borrowed the rhetoric of changing the world to consolidate a power status quo. In summary, apolitical humans do not create - they just vie for entitlements with each other within a confined existence. Opening of the genie bottle of politics upset the order, but allows possibilities of creation. Exiting the mere consuming selves ignite the producers in us, turn us from spectators to participants in life. So, history may not have ended, and the world may indeed change again.



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