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Uladzimir Matskevich: “I walked in St. Petersburg like Diogenes with a lamp, looking for a teacher”

02.10.2015  |  Society   |  Yauhenija Burshtyn, EuroBelarus,  
Uladzimir Matskevich: “I walked in St. Petersburg like Diogenes with a lamp, looking for a teacher”

The Flying University started its sixth season from “The main question: What can we know about the unpredictable, or what we know about the future?”

It was the name of the lecture given by Uladzimir Matskevich, philosopher and methodologist, the head of the Board of the International Consortium “EuroBelarus”. “EuroBelarus” Information Service attended the first class.

The future we predict

As Tatsiana Vadalazhskaja, candidate of sociological sciences, senior analyst in the Centre for European Transformation (CET), noted when opening the series of public lectures of the Flying University, new season is going to be unusual.

- This year we decided that we should stop for a while in order to have a chance not to fall in the bustle that usually covers our problems, but address the main. We invite you to the area of thinking “here and now”.

This year’s series of lectures is called “The main question” because we are in the era that requires not only knowledge and quick actions, but also answers to tricky questions. We found ourselves in time of real and unreal war at our territory; in situation when images of what should be lost their value or ability to attract us, when we don’t trust each other.

New season will be dedicated particularly to the search for wording this very “main question” as well as answers to this question. During the course of the first lecture Uladzimir Matskevich thought about the answer to the question about the future, or, rather, about the way to come to this future.

- I knew that I would have a lecture, new its location, time, and subject – I knew the future. But I didn’t know that I would come to this lecture from the funeral of my friend, colleague, and opponent Uladzimir Leanidavich Abushenka, - the founder of the Flying University started his speech. – That’s why my knowledge about the future, the present two weeks ago was knowingly wrong.

According to Uladzimir Matskevich, several things help knowing the future to some degree: plans, projects, and programs. However, their realization often rests on natural reality, where reasons and laws are working; and they allow us extrapolate something we see in the past and in the present to future. It is impossible to reach full knowledge with that.

However, there is a diverse irrational layer of human existence where one can put dreams, phobias, utopias, anti-utopias, and foretellers…

How many votes will Karatkevich collect?

- I spend all my life in arguments, and one of their main aspects is the different attitude towards the future. Let’s consider current presidential elections. I argue with those who attend them and with those who demonstrate boycott. They try to convince me that “what if during these elections something extraordinary happens”; “what if a million goes to Ploshcha? What will we do?” – tells me one analyst. We won’t do anything cause it is the sphere of utopias and fantasies. Someone else tells: “What if Tatsiana Karatkevich will suddenly get 25% of votes, and Lukashenka will get 48%? Then they’ll have to announce second tour”. Again, these are mere fantasies, based on a different analysis. If it is impossible to imagine a million people at Ploshcha judging by observation on street activity conducted over many years, then we cannot count how many votes will Karatkevich get; this conclusion is absolutely irregular.

Uladzimir Matskevich told about forecasts of the future that are based on analyzing the games, when there is a certain theatre of actions, or a base, and when there are those who act independently, in isolation from other “actors” and who are trying to rule. By gathering the information and analyzing the situation they get a certain picture of the world. However, methods of analysis and goals are different, that’s why they get different pictures. They also make decisions in accordance to how they see the base.

When we act in a social world, we are guided by the actions of our visa-vis. And with the help of certain reflection on the games we can predict people’s actions. However, it is not enough for more serious conclusions; when we won’t only win or lose, but when we need to build something together. It is above strength of one person; joint struggles of others, mutual interest, and striving for cooperation is required. And the main thing is something what Kim Khadzeeu called “towardness”, where value and national orientations and even irrational things are arising.

About teachers and Belarusans that are worth attention

When it was time to ask questions, Tatsiana Vadalazhskaja asked why it is now when we should think of future as of the “main question”?

- What we need to have is the basis of what we have. Everything we do is from the future. Thus, the main question is whether there will be use from what we do, etc.

Some other listener, who introduced himself as a dissident, asked, what can be offered to those who agree with the theses of “towardness” and how one can join it.

- Start studying, and that’s it. You know, I am very irritated with the stupidity present in today’s media, not to mention partial books and complete illiteracy of mass conscience. If we are a modern country, we shouldn’t be deprived of anything useful and good that there is in life. If we think that we can build the future using the intellect of the 16th century – the “golden age” of Belarus – no, we cannot! We are living in the 21st century, so we need to use the knowledge that is useful for solving today’s problems.

I studied in St. Petersburg, and walked in the city like Diogenes with a lamp, looking for a teacher. I looked over the most prominent people, who I knew from media; some of them had lines of those who wanted to be their students. Whereas today’s students attend lectures and don’t know who reads them, who wrote their textbooks and what for.

- Will someone from the scientists study the works handed over by Mikola Krukouski, the philosopher and scientist? – asked some woman.

- There is an editorial board that is working on the anthology of modern Belarusan thinking. I am its member and I suggested including the texts of Mikola Krukouski to this anthology. But no one apart from students can continue the work of the teacher.

You know, today all our Belarus is holding on the honest work of different people – from collective farms to the Academy of Science. Since plans, projects, and indicators are at such a low level that they are not suitable either for forecasts or even for games about the future.  The same concerns libraries that buy not what the future generations need. Tatsiana (Vadalazhskaja) started a year of Belarusan thinking with the small simple program “Quote your own!” – because we don’t know Belarusans that are worth attention. As “EuroBelarus” Information Service has earlier informed, public lectures will be taking place weekly on Wednesdays at 18.30. Next time, on October 7 listeners will hear Ales Smalianchuk with “Post-war collectivization in Western Belarus in the light of oral history” (the results of the first expedition of the Belarusian Oral History Archive dedicated to collectivization).

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