Collective Amnesia (forgetfulness)

Introduction

There is a view that the past is a burden that must be forgotten in order that a new life can come forward:
"...Today, disparaging the past is a mark of intellectual respectability......forgetfulness of the past must be actively cultivated, so that the future may emerge in which human beings can shape their lives as they please..."
Francis O'Gorman as quoted by John Gray, 2017

Religions like Christianity allow for erasing the past by the acts of confession, penitence, etc
"...A Christian narrative or redemption in  which past evils and crimes can be nullified by a dramatic act of moral renovation..."
John Gray, 2017

The 2019/2020 fad of destroying statues, like confederate identities in the US, imperial figures and slave traders in UK and elsewhere, can be seen as a reach an act of penitance and purification. However,
"...destroying statues will not correct past or present wrongs, it polarises society and exacerbates social conflict..."
John Gray, 2017

Examples of rejection of the past include
- the Taliban (Moslem) destruction of ancient Buddha monuments in Afghanistan
- Mao's Cultural Revolution in China
- debate on immigration
- cultural appropriateness, etc

Organisational forgetfulness

A similar thing can happen in organisations, ie
"...breathless desire is to forget. It is to draw a veil over histories, cultural narratives from the past, artefacts and achievements bequeathed to us by predecessors, and identity shaped by time, in preference are unknown material and ideological prosperities alleged to come..."
Francis O'Gorman as quoted by John Gray, 2017

"...The mobility, validity and ceaseless innovation are the ruling imperatives in the turbocharged economy that shapes our lives. Anybody who is unduly attached to a particular place or occupation, or identifies themselves with a specific community, is being left smouldering in a derelict zone and will soon be forgotten. In this environment, the ideal character is someone without any definite identity, a bundle of desires and perceptions that respond to fleeting opportunities without needing to fashion a coherent life story. In a world supposedly brimming with infinite possibilities, infinite adaptability has to be the paramount virtue..."
 John Gray, 2017

The idea of dissociation from the past effect of making the present permanently provisional
"...As the process of change accelerates, the future to which all activities is directed becomes more indeterminate and eventually indefinable. Any clear idea of the destination fades away, and all that is left is the sensation of movement..."
John Grey, 2017

 

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