Ecce Homo

When, recently, I praised Western democracy and liberty I didn’t mean to be cocksure. Rather the article was intended as a memento: democracy and even more so liberty are things we can all too easily damage or destroy. And in my eyes, we are already moving down a slippery path that leads us straight away from Karl Popper’s Open Society. Probably, the damage already done cannot be repaired without much time and effort. Atavistic battles of Good against Evil have replaced open debate. Ritual and symbolic acting all too often supplant consideration of facts and arguments. And an increasingly isolated caste of professional politicians who never did anything but politics seems to be acquiring a taste for authoritarian decision-making and shortcuts past facts and opposing opinions. The political left has been absorbed by radical proponents of »identity politics« and other one-topic pressure groups who distract the real left from their goals or work directly against them. Political liberalism on the other hand has sunk into a state of zombiism. Nothing seems left but a stale cartoon (to quote from »Chickenshit Conformist« by the Dead Kennedys); a sad, empty husk that does not exude even a faint whiff of its former content. The ordinary citizen appears to be numbed by pessimism, anxiety, conformism, hostility – and the mundane task to make ends meet. Many (including yours truly) have receded into a sullen passivity or indulge in an aping pseudo-activism, many others find themselves »cancelled«. And journalism is as dead as punk rock. I’m afraid all this is nothing totally new. Only our pace down that sloping path has increased, accelerated by a virus. And I wonder where we’ll still let us be driven.

Published on 29 December 2021

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Heyoka
Photo: shadows on the wall