Our World Torn Between The 'Social,' The 'Societal'…

Wednesday, 10 July, 2019 - 07:15 Issue Number [14834]

With the fall of the Soviet Union and its camp, freedom achieved a great victory. The powerful totalitarian empires fell apart on the footsteps on their Nazi predecessor, which had collapsed in World War II.

However, the collateral damage caused by this victory seemed to be huge: the most important was the atrophy of the social issue.

With the end of communism, the ruling elites of the conquering capitalist and democratic countries acted as if they were folding the entire issue. This is reminiscent of the revenge that goes beyond communism to poverty itself: a reversal of the post-World War II approach, manifested in the welfare state, and in the adoption of the Keynesian economy, which overshadows spending and spurs demand to encircle recession and unemployment.

One reason for this trend was to curb the rise of the Communist parties in Italy and France. But the collapse of the Soviet challenge and the decline of the power of the communist parties in Europe made capitalism relax and regain some of its original instincts: its behavior prevailed over social imprinting. Stock markets and tax havens have become the religion of a world without religion, according to a famous expression by young Karl Marx.

The awfulness of the transformations was exacerbated by an unsatisfactory encounter between the astonishingly unprecedented wealth that globalization began to produce on the eve of the Soviet collapse and the rise of monetary neoliberalism promoted by Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in Britain.

Not only was there an additional imbalance in the distribution of wealth; it was accompanied by a gradual reversal of the prevailing value system that made money expel the other values.

The impact of the new situation has been reflected on universities, culture and the attitudes of the youth and the children, but also on the cohesion of societies, especially with the erosion of some old productive and industrial sectors, as well as the disintegration of institutions by deporting the labor force to where wages are lower. We have returned to the reality of the two nations: the rich nation and the poor nation.

The leaders who came from the “center-left”, after the collapse of communism, moved to the “left of the right”: Bill Clinton in the United States. Tony Blair in Britain. Gerhard Schroeder in Germany. Lionel Jospin in France…

The remnants of the old working classes, which used to guarantee the popularity of the Socialist parties, expressed their solidarity with these transformations. Industrial workers decreased in proportion against the paid labor force. Unions have shrunk or fell apart systematically. Labor strikes were therefore marred.

The Third Industrial Revolution changed the productive structure of its societies: the third sector dominated the industry. Services expanded at the expense of traditional production sectors. The inflation of the middle class weakened the sensitivity to economic inflation and the overall conflict. Knowledge has removed the muscle.

The social relapse did not mean a reversal of social criticism. But the latter moved on to other topics, adopted by the “community”: environmentalists, feminists, homosexuals, and human rights advocates. Many of them were organized into associations and societies that multiplied and raised these concerns in the name of the “civil society”. The “activists” eclipsed the “fighters.”

The rise of the “societal” was that of noble values led by middle urban classes, with a liberal orientation and cosmopolitan destination. Their slogans are more "humanitarian" than "class-based": in 1997, they achieved their greatest international victory when the American Judy Williams received the Nobel Prize for organizing a campaign five years earlier to ban anti-personnel mines. When they approach the economic issue, they emphasize the principle of the “right”: the right to work, to housing and to human dignity.

The issue is therefore about the victory of the righteous, the just and the logical. The cultural and intellectual argument and its most prominent tools of social communication platforms have become the upper hand.

The preconceptions of this class-to-intellectual shift emerged early, six decades ago, in the United States: the enemy is the "confiscation" rather than the "exploitation."

White-collar workers, teachers, students, and secretaries came as the new proletariat. After that, this noble sensitivity expanded and transcended the races, ethnicities, and religions to include sympathy with all the human and inhuman beings on the planet.

The duality of wealth and poverty did not disappear, but it is now less visible. Misery is no longer a result of production, but a product of a site outside production. It is the result of exclusion, not integration. Its weak visibility has widened the gap separating its victims from the urban and cosmopolitan environment that influenced the industry of public opinion, political parties and the media of the broad spectrum.

In fact, the current dilemma can be described as follows: socialism, during its rule, did not care about the “societal”. Trade union leaders, for example, were male, and the environment they represented was not immune to racism and xenophobia. Populist and rightist parties’ adoption of labor rules traditionally supported by the Communists has proved this fact.

This was one of the signs of "social" poverty and stagnation, and one of the reasons that facilitated its subsequent transgression. Now the "societal" shows the same lack of sensitivity to the "social". Its exclusiveness is pushing the socialists into the arms of populist movements and exacerbating the divisions within the "people".

Today, there are those who say that the environmental issue is the most qualified to bridge this distance. Who knows?!