When we talked about the social question about the yellow vests, a careful reader of Anglo-Saxon area asked us what we meant by this expression.
Social issue today, what does that mean?
The question initially caught us because in continental Europe social issue or soziale Frage are well-known terms in reference to the effects of the rapid spread of western capitalism at the end of the nineteenth century: formation of the proletariat Industrial, child and female labour, urbanization, worker associations, demand for rights and safeguards, strike and revolutionary strike, migratory flows, etc.
The same reader also saw our call to the social question derive from a Marxist approach, so we had to remember scholars of the subject of a completely different approach, certainly not suspected of materialism: the Lectures and the Works of Rudolf Steiner, for example; The texts, now classics of the Critique to capitalism, of a Karl Polanyi.
However, responding to the keen reader, we have become aware that, after the two world wars, the exhaustion of European colonialism, the end or transformation of systems to state capitalism, the emergence of the environmental issue, the completion of Globalization of the end of the twentieth century, the financialization of large multinationals, the formation of telecommunication networks worldwide-perhaps it is now necessary to update also the concept of social question.
The different aspects of the social issue
The starting point could be the natural aspect of the matter: water, air, earth, energy are today the common heritage (Commons) of mankind threatened by global privatization. The effects of this tendency touch the same survival of individuals in a direct and ever more rapid manner in terms such as health risks and climatic or environmental catastrophic events. For this reason it is not possible today to speak of a need for social systems that take into account these aspects, capable of devastating the organized human aggregates.
The environmental question, therefore, understood in the broad sense, more and more questions also the assumptions of thought on which have been incardinating now for more than a century our societies, their certainties and their consequent decision-making processes: they are the presuppositions of reductionist Science, which brings reality back to number, weight and size. From the social point of view, one also attends here a tendency of the international community dominating the centers of the scientific power to reject with radical convictions those different settings of thought (one thinks of the “official” medicine compared to that Homoeopathic…) Which criticise the reductionist perspective, considering its limits in giving exhaustive account of the complexity of the real.
This aspect also assumes a clear social value not only because it influences the way of thinking of individuals and human groups, but also because the centres that process world knowledge are now closely linked, through the developments of Technology, for one verse, to large industrial agglomerates (e.g. Of the so-called “life sciences”, monopolistic groups that produce from agricultural seed to medicinal products, through fertilizers and biotechnology); On the other hand, the political power, which increasingly, vanished from the nineteenth-century ideologies, needs technical-scientific arguments to motivate the assumption of increasingly complex decisions and ever broader social impact.
In this context, it is clear that the transformation is taking place on a political level: the form of the modern national State, developed in Europe starting at least from the fifteenth century, today diffused at the planetary levels, is no longer able to adequately organize a society As complex as ours, in the presence of highly organized multinational economic and financial powers with resources equal or higher than those of medium-sized states.
It derives from this inherent inadequacy of contemporary political systems the growing impression that current forms of political representation, a distinctive element of modern societies, are no longer able to respond in a timely, equitable and coherent manner To the needs of the broader strata of the population. As a result, the very concept of democracy is thereby losing its meaning as it is increasingly clear that the real sovereignty, in the Democratic-parliamentary systems, is no longer in the hands of the voters.
The power of money versus human labor
This perception cannot be considered groundless, where, as was the case in the recent economic and financial crisis which began in 2007, responsibility is documented, in triggering the phenomenon, of narrow centres of power which have Operated and still operate globally altogether outside the democratic control systems, having the economic and political capacity necessary to influence in depth the economic, regulatory and informative arrangements of our mass companies .
This condition, where analysed fully, leads to the conclusion that we are in the presence of political structures and systems no longer able to fulfil their fundamental task, the very reason for the existence of the state: the protection of collective interests on base of shared values.
Hence the even more dangerous impression that human labor itself today is enslaved to more and more circumscribed interest groups which operate in the logic of pure and unlimited profit, without any consideration for the interests, needs, Collective aspirations, impacting in a manner as devastating as unstoppable on contemporary societies and on our collective patrimonies, to return to what was said at the beginning.
More and more it seems that, as a result of these new relations, at the centre of today’s social question it is no longer even an opposition of classes, according to the outdated Marxist optics, but an even more radical and extended opposition between the work of Men and the power of money, money that has subordinated political power and is able to condition culture, science, information, collective lifestyles.
In a certain way, therefore, even if in an increasingly sophisticated intellectually and technologically complex context, the social question appears brutally simplified: on the one hand the daily struggle for a work and a dignified economic survival, On the other hand, the ever-widening and penetrating hoarding of resources and power by the world’s financial capital.
It should be stated that such hoarding could take on increasingly conflicting forms, since, unlike in the late nineteenth century, the “empty” spaces to be subjected to world empires have exhausted, and thus resources now delimited They are the stakes of a global competition among a growing number of actors able to operate globally. As happened at the end of the nineteenth century, but in a potentially even broader form, the social question within our societies could be combined with the risk of further conflicts on a global scale or a sum of localized conflicts in which they are Committed all the major global players.
It is therefore clear that, if you really care about world peace, the first direction in which to operate is that of the reorganization of the organization of our societies, addressing precisely with full awareness the social issue, as it is redrawn to Principle of this millennium.