Public Opinion as Sensus Communis in Brčko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Authors: Enes Pašalić
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Public opinion researches in Brchko District of Bosnia and Herzegovina are sporadic or non-existent, although public opinion is an essential precondition to understanding democracy itself and also an important factor in examining the legitimacy of political practice. The public opinion should be based upon a rational argumentation so the political “voluntas” is transformed into “ratio”.
Totalitarian state, mass culture, and mass media have brought into question the idea of rational citizen,
bringing out the limits of modern ratio in such a way that public opinion is reduced to “common sense”
of ordinary citizens. Even though Kant opined that truthfulness of opinion is not subjectively or objectively valid, nevertheless he assumed that there is something “rational” in a way of thinking which
is led by everyday concerns, which is what we call “Sensus Communis”.
Sensuscommunis is a post-rational truthfulness and justice which doesn’t have to be reasonable, nor objective, or logical. It represents the mindset of ordinary people and constitutes the moral being of citizens. In the context of District residents, the research was made based upon their judgment of the living conditions, social relations, nation, religion, and the work of public institutions In syncretic Sensus Communis of District’s residents, where traditional, modern and postmodern values are intertwined, premodern social relations of lord and servant are dominant, together with ascriptive social relations, feelings of national endangerment, declarative religious traditionalism without transcendent origin, sucking up to public institutions and their representatives, followed by empty ritualism, mimicry, and personal fanaticism. In the opinions of District’s residents, it’s hard to find a correlation between declarative and real behavior, so the Sensus Communis manifests as a schizophrenic solipsistic form – a form of a simulacrum.
It seems that Brcko, just like Faustus and Dorian Gray, has made a pact with the Devil, the alliance which makes it possible that reality and fiction, the sign and signed, the representation and represented,
the picture and a real thing, change their places so that the reality exists in a fictional beauty of speech,
signs, representations, pictures, while the corruption and evil of reality is overtaken by imaginary, away
from the public’s eyes.