When Worlds Collide #72: Open Science and Closed Societies: Can it work?

When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday broadsheet newspaper on 30 June 2013

“Let us drink to the success of our hopeless endeavour,” was a favourite toast of old Soviet dissidents. As things turned out, ‘people power’ of millions of exasperated individuals eventually brought down the system. It partly collapsed under its own weight.

Since the Iron Curtain crumbled, the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries continue to grapple with many challenges – such as enhancing real pluralism, safeguarding the public sphere and preventing a relapse to the bad old days of state diktats and propaganda.

Totalitarianism – in which the state holds total authority over a society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life – isn’t quite dead. In the twenty first century, it has got a makeover and gone global.

And it keeps tripping open societies…

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