In his new and awesome book, Charles Taylor the famed canadian philosopher has this to say about the virtues of medieval carnivals in which the order of all of society was turned upside down for a day, so as to let off some steam:
it was the eclipse of this sense of necessary complementarity, of the need for anti-structure, which preceded and helped to bring about the secularization of public space. The idea that a code need leave no space for the principle that contradicts it, that there ned be no limit to its enforcement, which is the spirit of totalitarianism, is not just on e of the consequences of the eclipse of anti-structure in modernity. That is certainly true. But it is also the case that the temptation to put into effect a code which brooks no limit came first. Yielding to this temptation is what helped bring modern secularity, in all its senses, into being. (pp. 50-51)
As usual, Taylor’s analysis is deep and insightful. I don’t know how many predecessors he had in this particular matter, but he puts the point very well. This naturally leads one to the thought that our current societies need some mechanism that would emulate the defunct carnivals.
Taylor points to the division of powers or Mai 68 as such ersatz. But in keeping with or times, i would suggest that what would best replace this old “anti-structure” would be continuously changing societies, societies and governments that were set up specifically to include structural change in them. We are not very far from this, but still not there. Our constitutions still claim to set up governmental structures that should stay as they are. We need flexible constitutions instead. We’ll see.