Age of indifference

The inaugural lecture of the 12. Visegrad Summer School was given by Josep Ramoneda. “Democracy is under threat” – that was the main point made by the philosopher. Obviously, freedom and fundamental rights – even if inherent and inalienable are not given for granted but demand a constant care. To Ramoneda - even though the current dangers are of a less obvious nature than authoritarian regimes they are not less serious. That is the culture of indifference. Ramoneda explained it in five points. Firstly, it’s the deconstruction of society that is followed by an erosion of public sphere. Secondly, he blames the rejection of the anthropological concept of a human as a political animal. Hence, a contemporary individual isn’t seen as a necessary participant of politics. Moreover, he criticises the dictatorship of relativism that destroyed some rational hierarchy and priorities. Nowadays either society and the media lost, so to speak, “decorum” and as a result they got indifferent to injustice or people’s suffering as long it became a content of a daily infotainment. In addition to that the current societies feed by media enjoys, as Ramoneda said: fiestas of indifference. Rational knowledge has been rejected. Instead people devote themselves to small pleasures of individual, peaceful life. Finally, society ignores the losers who suffer from injustice. As long the individual strategies and the logics of consumption are the only reasonable solutions of the age of indifference, values such as common good, solidarity or social responsibility are downplayed.

To conclude, the age of indifference means a throughout political, economical, moral, ethical and finally anthropological crisis. The current society’s perspective is limited to the present day – past has been rejected while in the future “there is no alternative”.

What is Ramoneda’s answer? “There has to be a place for the Kantian imperative between fundamentalism and relativism”. In order to rebuild the public space and minimalise the huge injustice of the current world order, the society needs a rational answer – not the populists’ wishful thinking.

Ramoneda’s eloquent lecture inspired many interesting questions. Olha Luchka, a participant from Ukraine asked about the role of media in tackling the current problems. This lead the Spanish philosopher to criticise the current media landscape. While they should play one of the main roles in the democratisation of politics, media are rather subject to governments or big business. Thus, they are a part of the establishment and support the current domination of financial markets over the real, participatory democracy.

Ziemowit Jóźwik