The New Freedom: Living with Hope, Skepticism and Irony
As those doing research on complex systems have noted, there are often deeply-embedded patterns (called “fractals”) that provide an enduring structure for many systems—and the more complex the system, the stronger is the role played by these fractals. They keep the system in balance (providing the “glue” of system integration) and enable the system to operate in a relatively efficient manner (the same dynamics operating everywhere in the system). As often repeated by these researchers, “nature” tends to be a bit lazy—making maximum use of a few principles and dynamics. Perhaps, the system called a “human society” also tends to be a bit lazy, relying ultimately (especially under conditions of stress, anxiety and uncertainty) on the “good old ways” in which authority is formed, reinforced and engaged.
The powerful and reoccurring patterns in former Soviet countries, might also be manifest in the dominant epistemology (ideas about truth) of these societies. In this case, the epistemology might have been shaken up after the downfall of the Soviet Union. But, did this change endure. Citizens of the former Soviet Union were accustomed to believing that the truth was whatever was the opposite of the official information. That kept the options simple. With the new-found freedom, came more sources of information, more ambiguities, and more chances to sift and weigh information, ideas, and analyses. This can sometimes feel more like a burden than a gift. In the West, we are hardly strangers to proliferation of information and the increasing complexity that comes with freedom. We used to trust that the neighborhood school was the “right” school for our children because it was nearby; we trusted that our family doctor provided us with the best up-todate care. Now we shop and compare. We feel obliged to be informed consumers of everything from education to nutrition because most of us have had the experience of buying empty packaging. During the early 1990s, Hungarians and Estonians met the duplicity of bureaucracy but not the duplicity of the marketplace. Today, there seems to be greater awareness throughout the world regarding the prevalence of lies and premeditated dishonesty (Ariely, 2012)
Given the foregoing observations concerning the magnitude and unpredictability of changes that have taken place in Eastern Europe, the remarkable lack of violence that occurred during the revolution and pretenses of change. We are now ready to examine the nature of the hope and skepticism that is shared by the citizens of both countries.