The society we have been living in is, in fact, not as modern as we think it is. Bruno Latour’s book ‘we have never been modern’, is a very good read on the said topic. We know that society has evolved and changed, according to time and development. However this progress is entirely based on the past events. For example, Pakistan, the achievements of and after independence and its progress, every aspect of its decisions and other relevant laws are all adapted from their previous ancestors, the colonial rulers, the British.
We, moderns, believe that science has helped us change and evolve as a society, separating us from our old and premodern ancestors. However, Latour contradicts by asking what the world would look like without the notion of ‘modern’. According to him, modernity is based on faith, in the belief that modernity exists and that the society we live in is modern, just like we believe in Karma.
Modernity and being modern is a concept, which is differentiated by Latour, by drawing a distinction between nature and society and, human and thing, the distinction between our ancestors and us. Our ancestors used to believe in myths, they considered shooting stars as auspicious or inauspicious (based on their locality and elders perception) events, and many other concepts now proven. Shooting stars after discovery and research by means of technology visiting the space, the scientist discovered that shooting stars are in fact not stars, they are rocks and dust from space, that fly into the earth (gravity) and look like a fireball, seemingly like a star, they are called meteors or meteorites if large by size.
The change in our belief of things has made us modern. Things like astronomy, myths, and other now proven aspects of science are all concepts of the elders. For example, how we the ‘moderns’ think that aliens could exist or that there is life outside of earth’s perimeter, however, in a few years time I think they’ll be considered a myth or a concept for movies and then those people will consider themselves ‘modern’.
Modernity is due to the set of systems we believe and follow; maybe that’s why third world countries are still not considered as part of the modern society, due to their lack of systematic approach, and no proper chain of command. Third world countries lack technology, science, politics and nature, however the first world countries have all four in good and running conditions. The country’s progress is measured by these four criterias, and then labeled as modern or developing.
“the modern Constitution allows the expanded proliferation of the hybrids whose existence, whose very possibility, it denies” (We Have Never Been Modern, Bruno Latour, page 34.)
A hybrid is a mixture of artifacts and reality. According to Latour, global warming, deforestation, and black holes, are all hybrids. They are a reality we need to consider, and these realities have consequences and repercussions. Nature and culture according to Latour, are to be considered two different things, and that the distinction between both should be reconsidered and that we as ‘moderns’ need to redefine what modernity really is. Latour explains how science has recognized the difference and the connection between the two, and also discusses our connections with the pasts.
Latour also discusses Quasi Objects as the “strange new hybrids” which the modern constitution denies. Latour in simpler terms states that modernity is not some great revolution and that we still aren’t free from the past, it’s just that we’ve chosen to neglect it. Which we know is not a very wise decision. “We have never left the anthropological matrix – we are still in the Dark Ages or, if you prefer, we are still in the world’s infancy.” (We Have Never Been Modern, Bruno Latour, page 85.) He believes that focusing on the quasi objects will help us develop our networks and be modern in real terms, and not just by words.