Nature & Culture
Editorial

ALEXANDROS STAVRAKAS

Underlying every contemporary notion of change is the unmovable and stubborn conviction to the opposite, namely, the preservation of our economic, social and natural reality the way we know it. Our post-political liberal projects have an unprecedented capacity for incorporating and processing any dissenting attempt, producing models of behaviour that, whilst retaining the claim of progress, function only to reinforce and strengthen the current cultural, political and social conditions. The triumph of capitalism lies precisely in this phenomenal ability to absorb any oppositional voice and rephrase it in its own terms.

Our contemporary obsession with preserving our way of life originates in the conviction that this world is the best possible one, which naturally follows from the lack of any realistic, consistent or desirable alternative. The imperative for preservation resides on the self-assurance of the prevailing cultural and ideological coordinates; any centrifugal tendency is eagerly absorbed. Instead of negotiating our conditions altogether, we resort to impotent adjustments within the pre-existing structure, thus reinforcing and perpetuating it. We seem to be given the freedom to move, but it is always only within the limits of this structure and always taking great care not to disturb it.

The post-modern liberal fear of seaming or sounding in favour of any particular opinion, stance or attitude has produced an imbecilic leveling off, a refusal to analyse and to criticise. Our notion of equality has degenerated into a culture of equivalence, thus closing off all possibilities for understanding, exploration, discussion. Our obsession with retaining a face of pseudo-civility has resulted in refraining from coming too close to anything or anyone, in fear of actually experiencing their immense complexity and having to in one way or an other, ‘engage’ with it or them.

All that remains for us to do is tolerate. Tolerance is not acceptance – it is withdrawal. What many still refuse to understand is that the opposite of tolerance is not dismissal, rejection, condemnation – the opposite of tolerance is active engagement. And although engagement may, potentially, result to dismissal -as much as it may, in fact lead to acceptance-, it is still infinitely better than the patronising charity of tolerance.

The double blow to both notions is to launch an enquiry that, on the one hand exposes and interrogates the intuitive certainty of our world, re-phrases our reality in terms that re-negotiate not only our place within this given world, but the very principles of this world itself and, on the other, it does that by taking clear and concrete stances, by not being afraid to take sides, to commit, to go all the way. The first principle concerns the content, the second concerns the ethos. We believe that both are equally important in detaching ourselves from our current promiscuous ideological abstinence.

It is time we accepted full responsibility for the consequences of our decisions. It is time we regained faith to dedication and stopped outsourcing our liability. It is time we acquired knowledge and consciousness of our actions. It is time we assumed the full weight of our existence, personal and political. It is time to reposition action to the locus it belongs to: ideology. It is time we reconsidered our unwillingness to be ideologically committed and we opposed the vulgarism of disclaimers.

The aim of Bedeutung is to inspire this reinvestment of our life with meaningful and deliberate political activity. Bedeutung’s themed issues will take a stance on major contemporary issues ranging from man’s relation to nature to the role of the intelligentsia, the concept of humans rights, the belief in the transcendental. We will approach these matters from a rounded perspective that combines abstract analytical thought, reference to current political and social affairs and artistic creation. Bedeutung will occupy the space between thought-without-action and action-without-thought. It will stand in the middle of the area that separates endless analytical discourse and direct inflexible inarticulate action.

During the course of this publication, we will invite prominent thinkers, public intellectuals, academics, artists, and writers to contribute to the emergence of a discourse that favours ideas, opinions, criticism and analysis, reflection and thinking.

In this spirit, our first issue is dedicated to the notions of nature and culture. Drawing from the current environmentalist hype, we set out to reiterate the coordinates of this duality: what do we perceive as nature, what we consider to be culture, what their relation is and how our perceptions of this relationship which, ultimately, dictates the relationship between ourselves and our world, lead to the adherence to or repudiation of contemporary political and activist movements.

This issue’s purpose is not only to analyse the distinction of nature and culture in abstract philosophical terms, but, also, to provide a concrete analysis of our contemporary perception of nature and the place of human activity and creation. We examine this primordial relationship that always oscillates between dependency and dominance and we asses the merits of our necessary interaction with both our natural and our cultural environment.

We are hopeful that this publication will contribute to a more thoughtful, more responsible and more critical approach and understanding of our position, our role and our world, thus reinstating our status as citizens and not subjects, both terms in the larger, ethical sense.

  • About

    Alexandros Stavrakas was born in Athens, Greece. He studied politics, philosophy and economy, followed by graduate studies in philosophy at the LSE and anthropology at UCL. He has written articles, translated, lectured and worked as contributing editor. He is the Editor of Bedeutung Magazine.