The cruelty of the present

Any knowledge that we have documented up until now is inescapably organized, slotted and labelled under the light of the present. Through the light of the present, we distinguish between what we now call Classical, Medieval, Enlightenment, Modern, Post-Modern ages. We put stamp on these pasts without them being able to respond or refuse. Through the light of the present, we ascribe certain parts of the world as developed, developing, under developed, and we measure how far back in time the rest of the society is grappling with ‘development’. Also, by assuming the linear, continuous, and exponential progression of knowledge, the present is generally described as the most developed, the most sophisticated state of affairs. The ‘yesterday’ is the irrational, the slow, the laggard. The ‘today’ claims to be the sober, the nimble, the enlightened.

The present is also where the paradoxes are increasingly relevant. Tsoukas (2005): ‘more information, less understanding; more information, less trust; and that more social engineering, more problems’.

Similarly, the present never ceases to be the most insecure moment to live—despite the ever tighter border control and more discriminatory airport security check. As commonly found in the introduction of many business discourse, our times is that which is ‘turbulent’, ‘uncertain’, and ‘chaotic’. Our times is that which, in the political arenas, the past (history) is molded by the present into the shapes that are desired by those who seek and are in power and control.

The present is cruel, that is, since the present time is always being our nearest state before our death as we move approaching our destined date.


Tsoukas, H. (2005). Complex Knowledge: Studies in Organizational Epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.