We live in a digitalised universe that is artificially constructed, manipulated and no longer some natural or traditional one. At all levels of our life we seem to live more and more with the thing deprived of its substance. You get beer without alcohol, meat without fat, coffee without caffeine…and even virtual sex without sex. Virtual reality to me is the climax of this process: you now get reality without reality…or a totally regulated reality. But there is another side to this.
Be that as it may, something radical is happening. Now, a number of new terms are proposed to us to describe that. The one most commonly used is paradigm shift, denoting that we live in an epoch of shifting paradigm. So New Age people tell us that we no longer have a Cartesian, mechanistic individualism, but a new universal mind. In sociology, the theorists of second modernity say similar things. And psychoanalytical theorists tell us that we no longer have the Oedipus complex, but live in an era of universalised perversion. My point is not that we should stick to the old. But these answers are wrong and do not really register the break that is taking place. If we measure what is happening now by the standard of the old, we can grasp the abyss of the new that is emerging.
It is precisely a desperate attempt to avoid the trauma of the new. It is a deeply conservative gesture. The true conservatives today are the people of new paradigms. They try desperately to avoid confronting what is really changing.
In fact, all big breaks were done in such a way. Nietzsche was in this sense a conservative, and, indeed, I am ready to claim that Marx was a conservative in this sense, too. Marx always emphasised that we can learn more from intelligent conservatives than from simple liberals. Today, more than ever, we should stick to this attitude.