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Общественное мнение у горизонта столетий

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 29-11-2006
Тематический раздел:
Public Opinion at the Centuries' Horizon (by Yuri Levada) The century horizon is the greatest century boundary open to ordinary sight. The time structure in a "century" case is set forth by imagination, expectation of, etc. not so much practical but of ideological (socio-mythological) character. Transition from the 19th to the 20th century was expected in Europe in the atmosphere of tension and some fabulousness: over the threshold of "the century of progress" which it (the 19th) seemed to be both were expected, the collapse of traditional values (morals, beauty, religion, social order) and bringing about social and technical Utopias. The end of the 20th, the most catastrophic century in humanity's memory doesn't seem a disaster, it is rather perceived as carnival-festival event. Actually all mass processes typical for the 20th century have proved to be controlled, both by social organizations and by specific means of mass influence (mass propaganda and advertising through mass media). On a closer look the behavior of modern "crowds" also depends on ideological and psychological attitudes of mass influence systems.
If the 17th century was considered to be "the Age of Reason", the 18th — the Age of Enlightenment, and the 19th — the Age of Progress, the 20th century was mainly the Age of Nations (this latter symbol being evidently deprived of positive values colouring). Two World wars and all the processes of national self-assertion on the outskirts of Europe and in post-colonial world occurred under this sign. The 20th century witnessed the downfall of all tremendous social constructions that envisaged a certain plan of rational, optimal, just, etc. organization, as it seemed to its developers, to be imposed on society. It's important in this case to draw attention to mass "component" in all the processes, events, and cataclysms of the passing century.
Dictatorship regimes in the 20th century are the regimes of violence towards masses by organized masses (mass parties, movements, systems of mass support). And the dictators themselves are the leaders lifted up and loved by masses, who both order them about and need their support. The essence of the 20th century events have rather been cataclysms and collisions connected with contradictions of modernization processes, "lagging behind" modernization, peculiarities of modernization processes at various socio-cultural levels. It was only in the 20th century that public opinion was recognized as a factor of social life, as well as a subject of special study. There are two principal patterns of modern public opinion. The first one is a pattern of open competitive public opinion where various positions compete. The second one is a pattern of closed public opinion with only one, wittingly true position expressed by the only possible "axis" system of leader-party-ideology. Public opinion polls, at least on political issues, are impossible in closed societies but situation in such environment may be described by other indicators, that is by the same mass (plebiscite) voting, mass expressions of demonstrative support of a leader or of hatred to hostile forces, by absence of protests, by type of political persecutions.
In the destinies and tragedies of the 20th century public opinion plays an important role, not only as a mirror but as organizer, as a factor of cohesion of human multitudes, of making up the illusions, passions, idols, of justification (more seldom, condemning) mass crimes. One may believe that in understanding this century events the criticism of mass reason will sometime play its role ("criticism" in a sense of a classical period, as the analysis of possibilities, bounds, conditions of existence). The specific main character of the XXth century is a mass person.
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