The role of the public field in society

The public field is a mental environment where people engage in interpreting both the reality around them and the processes which occur there. Such interpretations, in turn, have an impact on the course of future events and processes. Thus, the public field serves to update people on world events and on the development of society, whilst the public is able to apply its own attitudes to the shaping of opinions which form the public field, as well as to the actual processes and decisions involved.

In a democracy, a working public field is at least as significant as a country’s gross domestic product; it is a measure of mental wealth and freedom. The notion of the public field is based on the premise that not only do the practical and real actions which operate in a society have meaning for, and influence the general, decision-making process, but so also do opinions and symbolic actions.

A shared and efficient public field is a pivotal characteristic of European culture. Mature democracies are distinguishable from pseudo-democracies by their true operation of the public field, by the open display of issues within that field, and by the creative application of experience once analysed. Decision-making is based not on the transient interests of arbitrary interest groups and of foreign businesses, but on the common interests of the country’s permanent residents.

Estonia urgently needs a public field which deals with issues of real significance to all its peoples, and which promotes active discussion of these issues. To that end, it must employ experts to keep the decision-making processes under public control. Estonia also needs to develop fora and seek the advice of specialists who are genuinely able to represent popular interests. For a small country, the operation of its public field is not only a pragmatic but also an existential need. It is also necessary for it to prioritise the issues with which it is concerned. There is little scope to squander scarce human resources on “experiments”.

It is in the interest of a democratic society to keep its public field open and operational. In contrast, totalitarian societies are characterised by the limited scope of their public fields, only persons, texts and interpretations satisfying the interests of the delimiting authority being permitted to function in such, public fields. Censorship operates as a strategy for limiting interpretations.

The quality of its public field has become recognised as a comparative indicator of a society’s democratic well-being. A closed society cannot operate a wide and efficient public field, just as a democratic society cannot function without such a working, public field. Different media channels and internet applications increasingly provide broad opportunities for operation of the public field.

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