Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
But more recently, I've been pondering something more basic than the technology itself and that is: what is it for something or someone to be 'modern'? Is it simply a comparison of old and new, of bad and better, or is there more to this?

At least as early as 1965 sociologists were contrasting "modern" societies with "traditional" societies. Now they are also contrasted with "post-modern" aspects of society.

Traditional meant that business was conducted according to social custom. Modern meant it was conducted according to "rational" ideas of "efficiency".

Modern meant that legal disputes were settled on the basis of written law impartially administered. Traditional meant that disputes were settled according to local custom and social hierarchy.

Modern meant that position was determined by merit. Traditional meant that position was determined by birth.

Modern meant that laws and practices were universal in nature. Traditional meant that they were local and particular.


Obviously this was an idealization of both categories. The extent to which the modern conception was an idealization was brought to the fore by the post-modernists, who were only too happy to demonstrate how modernist conceptions were in fact class based constructs. Etc.

The above description is a pair of cliches, one from 1965 and the other from 1997 or so.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jan 1st, 2011 at 04:55:11 PM EST

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