No. 7




Politics and its codes

11 June 2003


RiTo No. 7, 2003

  • Rein Raud

    Estonian Institute of Humanities, professor

One of the goals of the discussion is to show that the theory of collective responsibility (like many other similar groups of theories) is demagogical and harmful, designed to disenfranchise people and free those in power from primary responsibility over what happens in a state.

Such theories are vested in political code – meaning the argot and rhetorical techniques used to describe societal realities and move reality in one or another direction – they act as filters between what people know and the political environment. They always present reality from one specific angle and always have a clear agenda. Political languages are a very influential way of shaping and regulating society. If any of them become too dominant or even hegemonic, it becomes impossible to describe contradictions still smoldering underneath the surface and this starts to eat away at society as whole from within. The authorities have no other recourse but to become repressive and start implementing a policy that runs counter to the desires of the majority. The wider its base (the more populist the ruling parties), the more readily the repressive authority is accepted. But certainly its attitude toward freedom of speech will go downhill, since intellectuals who partake of this freedom the most have the best prospects of seeing right through the government’s machinations.

In Estonia, the threshold of alienation is near and in some aspects, has already arrived. For example, in foreign policy, not only did 80% of people see the government as implementing a policy that went counter to their desires, the government declared openly that public opinion did not interest it.

This is a dangerous road, since one sphere of life can be followed by others. The reason for this situation is that even though running Estonia as an experimental state could pay off after some time and the political line was accepted by a large part of the populace, society has reached a phase where experimental politics should be replaced by a symbiotic one. This is not desirable for circles that are the most interested in maintaining the experimental phase, which is also the reason why rhetoric championing a symbiotic state is repressed or neutralized. But restoring the balance of political knowledge is necessary to preserve Estonia’s dynamic development, prevent brain drain and create a working and coherent, living environment based on pluralistic views.

Full article in Estonian