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Fake news remains hot. Recent cases in the UK show old media creating fake news as well, seemingly based on the political outlook of their targets. If these cases are not treated in the same manner by social media platforms, they show the fight against fake news to be political in nature. What to do?
How did it come to be that we live in a democratic rule of law – and the majority of the world population doesn’t? How did this happen? What does that say about our culture? And can we perhaps derive what a culture needs for democracy? What are the cultural conditions for a democracy to come into being and to function?
There are some characteristics that most if not all forms of identity politics share. These are 1) a peculiar relationship between the self and the collective, 2) a tendency to measure marginalisation, 3) a strong focus on the concept of power and 4) the lack of some utopian vision. Let’s go through these characteristics one by one.
“The truth is that the masses grew out of the fragments of a highly atomized society whose competitive structure and concomitant loneliness of the individual had been held in check only through membership in a class. The chief characteristic of the mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relationships.”
Cicero, his Roman contemporary Cato the Younger, and his Roman philosophical successors, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, went some way to developing Latin Stoicism, which stood some distance from its Greek predecessor, tempered as it was with Roman values and martial culture, which in an imperial, militaristic power such as Rome, was quite different to that of the intellectual, comfortable lives of many Athenian Greek philosophers.
In my honest opinion, Hungary is not ready for capitalism and civil society. Every attempt beforehand to establish these was more or less amateurish and resulting in more of a feudal outcome where we copied a Western nation without harmonizing any differences between the two states. Those who voted for Orbán did not vote because of hate and fear, although the campaign to demonize immigrants worked like a charm, they voted for FIDESZ because they wanted to receive a familiar sense of safety that they did not get from Gyurcsány or the previous cabinets since 1989.
We are faced with a large minority from an Islamic background, a significant amount of whom cherish beliefs and conduct themselves in ways that threaten the foundations of European civilisation. Not simply because they oppose our values, but that the simplest, most radical solution that comes to mind, is even more of a threat to us and our values. We appear stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. If Europe fights, it loses as a culture, it will die; if we try to swim away, we drown. But perhaps there is a third option.
“It does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces action, but it constantly opposes your acting; it does not destroy, it prevents birth; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, it represses, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupifies, and finally it reduces each nation to being nothing more than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”
While Islamists subvert their societies in a religiously inspired manner, Muslim street youths do so in a more earthly fashion. The latter is highly advantageous to Islamists because, in the end, it is the subversion of non-Muslim societies by people who primarily identify as Muslim.
“When the world becomes too large to be controlled, social actors aim to shrink it back to their size and reach. When networks dissolve time and space, people anchor themselves in places, and recall their history. When the patriarchal sustainment of personality breaks down, people affirm the transcendent value of family and community, as God’s will.”
The people of Syria have a huge task ahead, and they may need our help in achieving it. However, it is a task that has been completed before, and can be completed again. The worst thing for Europe to do is take away the young and energetic, the bright and vibrant, the intellectuals and determined; for it is those people that Syria requires in this hour of need.