Changing ideas of democracy, knowledge and justice | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

Throughout history, transition from one era to another, from one century to another posed fresh challenges that required rethinking on assumptions seen in earlier times as ‘natural’. Among the various challenges that the twenty-first century posed before the world, the three that most call for a serious revision of earlier assumptions relate to the settled ideas of democracy, of knowledge and of economic justice.

For people in the twentieth century, democracy was the highest form of political arrangement. Nations struggling for freedom from colonial rule struggled for a representative government. Their hope was that governments formed by people’s representatives would reflect the aspirations and needs of the people they represent.

In theory, the hope was well-founded; in practice, it was grossly belied. The laws related to electing the representatives, creating the institutions to oversee the process, placing the representatives under a people’s audit and making them accountable, have been ridden with incurable deficiencies.

The idea served its purpose to a great extent; but by the end of the century, it had lost its sheen and in country after country, one saw authoritarian governments acquiring power. Initially, this looked like an aberration; but soon it came to be seen as a norm although it is unthinkable that vast masses given the authority to elect governments that they want to have, been happily choosing governments that want to reduce their right to choose.

The second challenge is that of almost complete dislocation of the foundations of knowledge. What was accepted by the world as universal knowledge based on reason and logic has now become an old order. In the academic world, this condition is described as ‘epistemic change.’ Episteme, the building block of knowledge, has undergone a fundamental change in such a manner that now scientists are compelled to speak not of ‘universal of physics’ but at least two sets of the laws operating on matter. Matter itself has been challenged as the only kind of substance of the cosmos.

The situation in social sciences and Humanities is even more open to multi-polarity of norms as against uniformity of norms. The ‘universal standards’ have been revised to adjust to these new interpretations of space, time, motion and matter. Post-truth is one, though bizarre, expression of the multiplicity of references with which reality is being represented in human thinking today.

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