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politicos erga: quis maximam veritatem habeat? July 3, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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On today’s news, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan addressed students on the Internet future. And he put his words wisely: read with your brains, not with your eyes. Determining true and false is becoming increasingly difficult with today’s new media, and we have to be more careful with what we read, so we have to be sceptical and be careful.

Bene dicebat! I agree wholeheartedly with him. It remains to see, though, what is right and what is wrong. Indeed, what do our politicians think to be right? Without a second body of power to check them, the PAP has enjoyed a monopoly of the Singaporean parliament, and, indeed, Singapore. In the process of that, we have seen the ideals which propelled this party into power become slowly eroded.

A diversity of views did not always end up in a ‘fundamental truth’. New media allows wrong ideas to be reinforced, he said.

Did the old media allow the right ideas to be reinforced? What is, here, right? Economical prosperity would be right in the eyes of the politicians. But is working until ‘as long as you wish’ (read: an euphemism for ‘as long as you must’), today’s materialistic culture, political apathy, the reality not agreeing with what is being told to us – is this the right idea which the old media has manage to produce so far? Apart from work ethic and the cruel truth that Singapore is dog-eat-dog, as it is becoming in most places, have all the right ideas come about? Are ‘fundamental truths’ only the truths told to us by those who have power?

No wonder Socrates was executed. Is it possible that through the diversity of views, a better truth can be reached than what has been sold to us as ‘fundamental?’ I don’t think the Government has the best truth, or the fundamental truth. Or perhaps it does have the fundamental truth, but this fundamental truth is one which undermines the very truth of our existence – our humanity. This ‘fundamental’ truth can be summarised as such:

As little pain and as much pleasure as possible. Small pains are worth tolerating for the greater pleasure.

But how many have achieved this greater pleasure? Is it not right for us to use discourse to attempt to find a better truth? The truth cannot be fundamental if what it says is measured in relative terms – with greater pleasure, i want still greater pleasure. And i want even lesser pain. How can this profess to be ‘fundamental,’ when there isn’t an end? Of course, we set the ‘end.’ But with the rising costs of living, when will there be an end?

Dr. Balakrishnan also turned against the net, especially those who do ‘outrageous things’:

It also raises the pitch of political discourse owing to perceived anonymity online. ‘Because you think you are not revealing yourself, a lot of people on the Internet engage in what I call virtual shouting.

‘They want to gain attention and the best way…is to say something crazy, outrageous, scandalous, maybe even defamatory,’ he said. ‘It is a world in which more heat than light is generated.’

Of course, there are people who say defamatory things. But i wonder what he means by ‘crazy, outrageous, scandalous.’ Words like that are so broadly defined that almost anything could belong to these categories. In effect, we could be those generating more heat than light. ‘Light’ is also an interesting metapher…i find it interesting that he would say that whatever we say could bring no information, or his so-called ‘light.’ Are we that stupid? Perhaps this is a well-disguised way of saying that Internet discourse is just so much hot air. There are people who do that, but they are in the minority. But with light must come heat, and we have to tolerate them, in that we know what doesn’t matter and what does. We were given the education, and we’re putting it to good use. Warning top students that ‘the Net has more heat than light’ would mean that the Net is populated by barbarians waiting to eat you. How true is that?

‘How many of us bothered to say: ‘Wait, who said it, where was it published, are you sure it’s accurate?’ That whole layer of homework which is needed is not done.’

Indeed, like the misidentification of a certain politician with the wrong political party.

He said the Government had no problems with it: ‘There is no dirty little secret which the PAP is trying to hide from its people and that’s why the Government is actually very comfortable with new media.

Being comfortable with new media doesn’t mean that selection doesn’t take place. It’s just that you won’t get to know what the dirty little secret is about. What they are confident with is marketing themselves, presenting us their truth, which they take to be fundamental and unsurpassable. But is it? Can we shed light? Or is our light taken to be heat?

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