Scholars' Association News
Issue 23
August 2012


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File: Digital Citizen
Regression via today's Neomedieval Culture
by Maria Maghiorou*

Whatever the potential of the Internet to support democracy, it is futile because users neither can nor want to function as citizens. It is not the highest degree of political apathy, but instead a regression to the spiritual activity of infancy, and a mental retreat which reduces human beings to mere living creatures, thus their thoughts and attitudes to the animal level of a herd.

Together with the collapse of social concepts and values that have shaped the Western type of social being, the need and the skill for critical thought and self-criticism has also collapsed. This resulted in the majority of people over-complying as well as the ever-increasing multiplication of violent reactions on the part of citizens and bullying on the part of people in authority.

The so-called narcissist culture does not imply that people became more selfish, but that the shrinking of their mental and spiritual function to animal level has led them to their minimal self, which denies autonomy, waiving their right to freely acquiring an identity. Their only wish is to join the herd, like returning to the bliss of the womb, and they can only experience autonomy as lifestyle.

The spirit of our time is well-tuned to the ideology of ‘neoliberalism’ which leads people to consider ‘cultural difference’ as a claim for individual freedom and ‘open society’ as a form of social and political freedom. Today’s ‘citizens’ leave public affairs to the connoisseurs, utterly unsuspicious of the submission of the latter to the totalitarianism of new medievalism.

‘Neoliberalism’, having nothing to do with liberalism, is extinguishing not just the public sphere but the general interest which is the primary role of the state. An attempt is being made to conceal the lack of legalization of global governance through the participation of NGOs in national and international decisions, as if the particular interests of ‘civil society’ could replace the social not to mention general interest.  

In the context of new medievalism, demanding that the notion of ‘we’ is replaced by a ‘liquid’ society, people are being asked to function as ‘liquid’ citizens, thus utterly complying with the minimal self. ‘Neoliberalism’ not only diverts from but also threatens the third sphere of liberal trisection, finances, with the financial markets having usurped the role of politics.

And yet a new Renaissance could emerge if we lifted the ban on play spirit which, according to Johan Huizinga, is synonymous with civilization. So, the Greek thought, in the form of playful ethos, will once again allow understanding of the difference between the mental and spiritual sphere of Freedom, Order and Beauty – synonyms for play – and the sphere of reason, ethics and aesthetics of the Western being, as well as of today’s regression to bestial sub-reasoning.

* Maria Maghiorou holds a PhD in Political Science.
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