Public space, The emergence of connections

by Alexandre Casey, TEDxEcublens Reporter

For most of the time, the human spent his life in what has been called “Community” bound via physical proximity. Those densely-knit clusters(1) of social interactions mainly composed of kin, friends and neighbours from the same village were the basics relationships we could have. Therefore, only a few individuals on the top handling all the power could see the big picture and influence, decide the direction where the nation would head.

They were the only ones able to see beyond the mount’s peak. That was until 1789 were in France, the crystallization of centuries of thoughts envisioned by the Philosophes des Lumières happened. This event liberated a nation from Monarchy, and de facto cut off the power given by divine right. Human beings, as a society had to find out how to make decisions. Hence, was invoked reflections on new ways to govern and lead a country, how to substitute. It was then decided to release the power to the folk albeit, it took a while to be a reality. The question was then set, how can we have a space where everyone talks about its nation, where we have to discuss, make decisions about topics vastly broader than our community, the society? This new portmanteau word “society” has been and still is used to promote certain politics which try to unify a nation as one; like communism, democracy and so forth.

One of the way society has been made is by creating a public space in a democracy which acts as an area where everyone should be able to express their opinions and debates on decisions for the community, this came to life by the creation of L’Assemblée Nationale in France in 1789. Therefore, people debating in the assembly where not only united by physical proximity but rather the same convictions, ideologies. Throughout this event until now, not everyone has been able to express themselves freely; for example, until 1848 France ha a system for voting which was the selective suffrage. The principle was that you have to earn to a certain amount of money, le cens, to be able to vote and express yourself. Another example is the prohibition for the women to vote which remained in France not later than 1944.

Today, in the Occident at least, we find universal suffrage, everyone can vote and is equal but what has mainly changed is not the nature of the public space but rather its form or at least some chunks of it. Of course, there is still part of the debate which takes place in assemblies or in a polling station but in the everyday life of most citizens, the affiliation to a community with the same interest, ideologies, origins mostly happened via the cyberspace. Therefore, we are now able to obtain easily more information, to know more about other points of views, we are not or less confined to the angles we have been taught.

To resume, we have now the tools and the possibilities to extend and diversify our connections to other mindsets in conjunction with the liberty to debate and call into questions what was before the divine will.

[1] Net surfers don’t ride alone

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