Prof. Ilie Badescu: The Path to a Good Society and its Obstacles. Lecture at the International Conference on Sociology organized by the Romanian Academy (24-26.10.2013)

Conferinta Internationala Sociologie Casa Academiei Romane - Ilie Badescu Sociologia Azi 10.2013The Path to a Good Society and its Obstacles[1]

by Ilie Badescu

And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. (Luke, 18: 18-19)

Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. (Luke, 18: 17)

Pentru sinteza in limba romana accesati Obstacole sociale în calea către o societate bună

The Path to a Good Society and its Obstacles[1]

The Coming of the Third Capitalism

Ilie Badescu

And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God. (Luke, 18: 18-19)

 What is a good society? Some people considers that a good society equates with the welfare state, some other will think it equates with a “just society”[2] and so further. Referring to the concept and idea of a good society, Andrea Nahles argues: “When we started the initiative for the Good Society – during what became the most severe economic crisis since the 1920ies – our starting point was: There is an alternative. We do have a choice. We do not have to go back to unbalanced growth that leads into crises. We do not have to accept high levels of inequality and anxiety in a market society. Instead we can build a Good Society”[3]. Her idea is that the good society is different from the market society but she remains nevertheless attached to the materialist hypothesis. The traits of a good society in her vision are the followings: social justice, sustainability and security. These preconditions support “the right of everyone to achieve their own unique way of being human”[4]; many will lay the sign of equality for such a society with lot of things and riches and stuff from this world. They all appear to have fallen into an error. The stuff and riches they got in this world are provisionally, but a good society should still last even after they and their riches have passed away and it has left of them in this world no more but moth and rust. A good society must be always here and there, easy to be noticed and found out so that everybody could look for it, use it as a guide for attainment a way of being that uplifts you at that place where “no thief approacheth, neither moth corupteth”[5] (Luke, 12: 33). A good society is an intransient society and therefore it cannot be of a material nature which is transient but of a spiritual nature which is long-lasting, imperishable. So what is at the same time imperishable and guiding and trustworthy and rewarding and pacifying and reassuring and so on? Who does much the more than God that bears testimony and vouches for such over-positive attributes permanently beyond us and at the same time at our disposal, simultaneously un-destructible and non-subtractable? Therefore we have to remind Weber lesson upon what is the good capitalism opposed to a bad, booty capitalism. And Weber[6] concluded: the good capitalism is that brought forth by profoundly faithful capitalists, who look for God in all and over, who lay their riches at God’s feet, for His glory and unto His glorification[7]. They knew all the time which is the way towards a good society because they had the One with them to be asked and give them correct answers[8]. A good society is made up by good men who know goodness out of the One who is all over good and such is for good. We may conclude therefore that within a concrete society there lay a latently good society and a manifestly bad society and along with them it is given also their difference as a social inner distance. The way towards a good society equates with the way towards gradual actualization of the latent spiritual order that makes of our collective life a good society. The only thing is that collective life is carrying out alongside the ray’s length of the social circle and on the same time at different degree of spiritual intensity so that the obstacles on the way toward a good society depend on the social ray’s length and the scaling frame of reference. That is why I proposed the concept of inner social distance. This covers different obstacles distributed alongside the ray of social circle and at different steps of the spiritual scale. The obstacles are distributed on the axis which subtends the social ray, from the global circle of general society to the small circle of the family. On the other hand it is obvious that society moves up and down on the vertical dimension which measures the degree of spiritual intensity. We may catch sight of two type of social order, or better said of two dimension of the social order: a horizontal one and a vertical one. The horizontal dimension of societal order is disclosed to us by what we came to call hegemonic modernization (or globalization) and the vertical one by what we call glorification, that is to say, a way of being that uplifts us spiritually towards the image of God from inward us, confirming so our divine root and image. The rupture of the two dimensions within our daily life leads to a bad society and assign to the path toward a good society an obstacular character. Hegemonic modernization (globalization) and the obstacular character of the path toward a good society are co-evolutionary movements, they move together, imparting traits from each other. We shall speak about such obstacles[9] on the path to a good society against the background of modernization-globalization. It is obvious that in such a perspective the globalization is the ultimate phase of the modernization process, that is, it may be defined as the last modernization. This is another meaning of the concept of post-modernization. In that acceptance, we may conclude that the globalization comes to change its shape and meaning as soon as it regains its plenitude, that is to say, immediately it has passed over the rupture and recovered the unity of the two dimensions of a good society: horizontal and vertical. From that moment on we shall speak of a new type of globalization, which we propose to call co-existential globalization. Therefore, we may speak of the double globalization ascribing a negative character but to the hegemonic globalization[10], no matter of what is the nature of hegemonism (be it either of a political nature, or of economic nature, or financial or ideological or military). The hegemonic globalization is therefore an obstacular globalization and it induces a multitude of obstacles on the way towards a good society. We are therefore requested to analyze the obstacle in the path to a good society also from such a perspective.

 

The double globalization and the obstacular globalization. As a matter of fact, the contradictory character of globalization appears when it is analyzed on this side of iron curtain and beyond it. We are requested, therefore, to take into account this double shape of globalization and to denounce the hegemonic meaning of such a process by proposing instead as we have already mentioned a new concept: the co-existential globalization. That new shape of globalization seems to result also from the pressure of the local conditions not only from and as the effect of ignoring the vertical dimension of society. R Robertson referred to the pressure of globalization against the local condition and he proposed a new term: glocalization. I propose to go forward in this type of analysis by introducing our own perspective on the obstacular character of globalization. We shall speak therefore of the obstacles that globalization raises on the path of eastern society to a new type of social order designated by the concept of good society. Therefore, glocalization “means the simultaneity – the co-presence – of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies. (R Roberstson, “What is glocalization? – Definition from WhatIs.com”. Searchcio.techtarget.com. Retrieved 2013-09-03)”. Our task: to analyze the forms of such a co-presence, the ways an eastern type of society embraces this clash. If we admit that global product, as it is for instance, the world capitalism, or dot.com, therefore, the virtual world space, or McDonald’s restaurants etc. are transformed into another shape under the pressure of glocalization then have to picture their glocal shape not their global shape.  By proceeding so we discover that what reveals to be stimulating within western type of society acts as an obstacle in eastern society. It is our charge to analyze the obstacular shape of globalization in eastern society. We called such a global picture as it appears while it is seen from eastern and southern part of the planet co-existential globalization. It is different from the hegemonic globalization. Immanuel Wallerstein introduces the second concept in analysis of the world system, namely the concept of “hegemonic forces within the world system” which act as cultural domination applying negative labels (biased definitions) unto those cultural manifestations which are ideologically in contention with the basic assumptions of the system[11]. Among other aspects of hegemonic globalization Grosfoguel mention also “the dominant forms of knowledge” against which there emerge “border epistemologies” and “insurrection of subjugated knowledge”[12]. We shall emphasize, therefore, the obstacular globalization under its multiple shapes of the obstacles on the way to a good society save to ignore the inner derived obstacles[13], that if from the local conditions exclusively. We shall present the social obstacle in the way towards a good society as they are seen from within Romanian society so that our assertions could not be extrapolated beyond such an eastern type of society. It is possible therefore that for one who shall change the observatory place such assertions to relativize themselves or to become doubtful and disputable or even contestable.

 

1. The first obstacle: the empty dream, the forms without substance. The first obstacle in the way towards a good society equates with a strange failure in defining correctly the social enemy. The political elite started its political trajectory by defining one dimensionally the social enemies of society reporting them only to the past. There was accounted for social enemy, on the way to a good society, but the communism so that, the communism being removed, the ruling elite proclaimed that society entered a sort of social Paradise. There was a dream but it was empty. Nothing real was in it. The political elite cherish illusions for the future and such sentiments were sowed in the popular mind. Everybody was then invited to feel and to believe that post-communist society was suddenly a free society, a happy society, a careless society as in the well-known evangelical story of the reach man, who, while saw his barns laid up, said to his soul: “o, my soul, take thine easy, be easy, drink, eat and be merry”[14], but overnight all that richness he has provided revealed not to be for him. His barns revealed to be but self-delusion. The “revolution of hope”[15] ended into an involution of trust resulting in a public disappointment. Likewise happened at the beginning of modernity when the agents of modernity used to report the enemies of modernization to the past, considering therefore the traditions and the rural structures as the enemies on the path toward the new modern society. There was what Raoul Weiss used to call the middle modernity which produced most of the modernist stereotypes on the traditional society and on the so called moral backwardness of those societies compared to a modern type of society. The middle modernity instated the prejudices that dominated afterward the European mental space namely that rural peasant structures and traditions are the general enemies of the advancement to a good society. The modern society started to be equated with the good society and the traditional society has come to be equated with a wrong society. Likewise happened, as we have already mentioned, at the beginning of transition from communism to capitalism when people has come to report the social enemies of the reform but to the communist past by absolving the present time and the new social agents of any responsibility for the obstacular path towards a good society.

 

2nd obstacle: eastern revolutions were not determined by a new technology. A backward capitalism? The eastern transition to capitalism was not based on a new technology while, moreover, the old industry came to be totally destroyed. The lack of a new technology made of the eastern capitalism a super-structural one, destitute of binding with the social structure itself. Max Weber used to call such a type of capitalism the pre-modern, booty capitalism. There emerged a lag between the social structure and the backward type of capitalism. The start of modernity in eastern societies was depicting the following scene: an advanced capitalism and a backward social structure. Unlike that era, in the post-revolutionary period, after 1989, the situation is reversed: there was set up a sort of “backward capitalism” (`peripheral capitalism[16]`) against the background of an advanced social structure. Between the primitive capitalism and economy of social working force a discrepancy emerged and such a discrepancy is one of the social obstacles which arise and oppose to the development of a good society.

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3rd obstacle: two types of horizontal capitalism or about the the disabled capitalism. The western type of capitalism moved forward based on a new technology as its main cause. And its advancement followed closely the evolutionary stages of technological change.  At the start of western modernity the railway, for instance, was the technology which brought about a huge increase of investment with a side effect of a speculative bubble. Likewise has just happened in the wake of the dot.com explosion due to the new technology of the internet. Eastern type of capitalism has evolved in a totally different way. It was brought about by an ideological incentive and due to a wish of synchronization with the West. Nothing of a technological nature determined the capitalist transformation of the East. The new social order was instated by the very beginning with such a deficit, bearing in itself such a void. Therefore, the eastern capitalism was not induced by a technological revolution but by an ideological revolution. That was the pattern of its evolution nowadays and yesterdays. The new type of the Marshall Plan, after the fall of communist regimes in the east area was itself but an Ideological Marshall Plan not an economic one as it was in the western area at the end of the Second World War. Wallerstein used to call that type of capitalism which displays such an endemic deficit “peripheral capitalism”. Theories of peripheral capitalism set forth that the poverty of the countries which are situated in the periphery of the World System is not a consequence of a weak integration in larger systems, as they are UE or North Atlantic Countries System, but because of the wrong way of integrating in the system. Peripheral capitalist countries appear as if they are locked in the system not integrated within the system. It is a great difference between being “locked-in” and integrated-in the system. Being that such a sort of capitalism remains endemically at a primitive stage, I called it backward capitalism.[17] It has not by itself and within its own nature a potential for development so that such an incentive has to arise from another sources. Marx believed that such a source is the technology itself. Max Weber, on the other hand, taught us that such a source cannot be but a spiritual (religious) one. Otherwise, the capitalist development will permanently fail to take off. There will be capitalism but not development. It shall be capitalism without development. Therefore, what lacks in Eastern area is not only a new technology but also a spirit able to renovate the capitalism itself. And such a spirit has its own source in the religious life of the new class and in its availability to capitalize the rent of identity as we shall try to demonstrate further in this paper. Concluding, we shall underline that the second type of capitalism, i.e. the backward capitalism, is a severe obstacle in the way towards a good society. For Romania the issue can be drew into light on the other facet also. “By about 140 years Romania succeeded to keep the average rate of economic growth above the world average rate, although the discrepancies related to productivity and life standard have increased”[18].  After 1989, “for the first time in XX-th century, Romanian economy knew a growth rate under the world average rate for one decade long”[19]. Here we can speak, obviously, of a backward capitalism at least by comparing it with that of the first capitalist historical cycle, previously to the period of the communist domination. On the other hand we have to notice that both type of capitalism, the western type and eastern backward capitalism carries within them a disability, a sort of spiritual deficit so that they are not able to recover the structural breakage between vertical and horizontal dimensions of social order. The horizontal order relies on the core-periphery relationship while the vertical order relies on the uplifting relation of individuals and society with God Himself. Lacking such a vertical relationship, the capitalism, regardless of its spatial reference frame or type, reveals to be but a disabled type of capitalism. Such a generic trait makes of post-modern capitalism the main global obstacle on the way towards a good society. The development of the eastern societies cannot be stemmed from the geoeconomic relationship between East and West as the theories of modernization (by westernization of eastern societies) set forth. A. G. Frank, the author of the development of underdevelopment theory, rejects thesis that underdevelopment is the past of the developed countries because “the now developed countries were never underdeveloped, though they may have been undeveloped”[20]. On the other hand Frank rejects also thesis that underdevelopment is due to the “dual system” so that the part in contact with the west countries is the developed one and that part that had no contacts with the west are underdeveloped. On the contrary, just the integration appears to be the main cause of underdevelopment so that Frank’s view is strongly related to our own hypothesis that we are requested to take into account those internal characteristics of the peripheral capitalism itself. These ones exactly can be defined by a proper concept that myself I called backward capitalism. The problem is not to transform society in accordance with its own capitalism (capitalist sector) but to replace its type of backward capitalism with the other type, the western genuine developed type of capitalism whose spirit appears to have been deeply rooted in the religious ethos. I would rather call it the Weberian type of capitalism based, as I’ve just mentioned, on a religious rooted spirit of capitalism, a capitalist spirit with religious roots. This will be the real path to a good society and that is our own position as to the character of eastern type of capitalism. I incline to consider that the eastern societies need a new revolution that I would rather call identitarian capitalist revolution of society. This new revolution will result in what can be labeled by this new term: “identitarian capitalism” being that it is profoundly related to the capitalization of the identity rent and of the religious ethos. Such a type of capitalism is possible but by relying on a new bourgeoisie which is spiritually deeply rooted in such a religious ethos. That is the third type of capitalism and I called it identitarian capitalism being that it allows to each people of the planet to capitalize the rent of identity, a sort of quasi-rent due to the ability of taking advantage from those intangible assets commonly called “belonging to a certain country and culture”.

 

4th obstacle: conflict between revolution and evolution. The transition discloses a strange lack of synchronism between the sudden institutional and political revolution, and continuous spiritual evolution of a country. From such a lack of synchronism emerges a critical culture[21] that opposes to that rapid social change which refuses to take into consideration the social costs, and whereon the political elite are ready to accept. By paraphrasing Zeletin, we may underlines that the start of the social transformation after the 1989’s revolution presented the following scene: bellow, an economic and political base, proper to the backward (peripheral) type of capitalism, „which has been moving at a rapid pace” (bringing about what Naomi Klein called the „disaster capitalism”[22] induced by what she called the Shock Doctrine, that is, by the free market policies); above, a spiritual factor, the popular mind being included, „which hasn’t been completely lagging behind”, as Zeletin argued, but which has been simply refusing the direction proposed by the agents of this booty capitalism. „And thus, our society is presently made up of two perfectly inimical superposed layers” (Zeletin, 1991: 276): “revolutionary” booty capitalism and an evolutionary reactive popular mind. The first one is deconstructive the second one is constructive and this conflict appears to be a sever obstacle on the path to a good society. An agent willing to smooth the transition out lacked in eastern area. Such an absence could explain the involution of rural society toward the profile of a backward agrarian society. Getting such an understanding of things we may conclude actually that the „cultural movement is a machine for producing enemies to that type of social order” (Zeletin, 1991, 267) which is relied on the destructive booty capitalism. So the enemies of the good society are not those agents recruited from cultural movement and from the reactionary movements but recruited from the booty capitalism itself and from that top down type of reform, the two types of agents, both, giving support to the “shock doctrine” and therefore to “the disastrous capitalism” in eastern area. These are obstacles on the way towards a good society and also towards the third type of capitalism as a factor of salvation and therefore of moving people forward towards a real good society.

 

The fifth obstacle: one-sidedness of social change. The fifth obstacle is referring to the one-sidedness of social change. If you want to change some structural traits of a certain society you have to destroy something first and afterwards to create anything else instead. If you believe that you may create without eliminating what has proved to be obsolete you will fail but if you think that you may limit but to destroying what is useless and obsolete you shall lose what you have just failed to create. Therefore, one-sidedness of social change will give you either a failure or a loss. An act of social change is a combination of courage to destroy and of capacity to create. Schumpeter called such a phenomenon, creative destruction and defined the process of capitalist development as being properly a destructive capitalism. In the history of modern capitalism there have been recorded data proving that XVII-th century was the century of the „project makers”. They sincerely believed that their creative projects get energy to change and to make a better society. This century was entirely a utopian one just because such project makers were not connected to the real process of social change. They ended by failing in all they attempted to do. On the other hand, those agents of what Weber called booty capitalism emphasized a great power of destruction so that finally they got exactly what they failed to create: a sort of capitalism which ultimately will finish by destroying those who had brought it about. If in the former situation you have started from an empty dream, in that second situation you ended by getting an empty dream. You have destroyed a lot and got nothing save promises, actually an empty dream. This is what Naomi Klein considered to be the shock capitalism. To conclude: the one-sidedness of social change has two alternative facets: to destroy without creating a new structure, or to project a new structure ignoring to eliminate the obsolete one. Between these two facets of social change it is an abyss so that one agent couldn’t any longer encounter another one. Such a denouement announces a sixth obstacle which refers to the identity crisis in a transitional society and to a wrong philosophy regarding the resolution of such a crisis.

 

Sixth obstacle: the failure to capitalize the “identity rent”.[23] The sixth obstacle covers a lack of fellowship capacity, the capacity of capitalizing those intangible assets that result in what was called identity rent (T Postolache). The political elite which had the capacity of assuming this rent of identity showed itself also able of leading people towards a good society. The case of Luxemburg is an example of such a capability of national elite, Postolache says. By relying country’s strategy on the capitalization of identity rent, that is, assuming the consciousness of the fragility and weaknesses of a small state, surrounded by other much more powerful states, the Luxemburgish elite succeeded to raise the standard of life by far above the European average[24].  Inability to capitalize the identity rent reveals to be, therefore, another social obstacle on the way towards a good society.

The rent of identity cannot be efficient as long as it is not assumed by the whole political and intellectual elite. The rent of identity is a sensitive system of thought that gives support to the sentiment of belonging and to a new type of capitalism which is motivated not by increasing money itself but by increasing the reflexivity of the national society, its prosperity and progress. That system of common thought is a tendency resulting from a large participation to a wide common spectrum of ideas, researches, analysis, symbols, faith, values and projects. Those who take part to this trend, who think and feel together, contribute by themselves to a fulfilling result. They bring about the essential value chains of sharing acts that makes up the nervure of a society well integrated.

 

The 7th obstacle: the cultural segmentation of value chain of identity reproduction. The identity is not a static element. It is a process through which identity is incessantly produced and reproduced socially so that we may speak of a latent identity or a manifest one, that is to say, an identity which is gradually actualized in the manifestations of different individuals and social layers. The segmentation of such a “value chain”[25] of sharing acts, i.e. of imparting a sense of belonging to the new generations, resulting in the reproduction of identity, is one of the most severe risks and obstacles in the way towards a good society. A part of this spiritual chain has linked those individuals and groups who contribute to the social construction of reality based on the common symbols, common values, deep traditions, myths and religion of a certain people. Another part of the chain’s rings appears to be committed in deconstructive acts that lead to a weakening of cultural identity. The acts of such de-constructivist agents can be accounted for by their destructive effects upon that amount of assets which compound the identity rent. One part reveals to be constructive, the other part is deconstructive and what is relevant is the peculiarity that it becomes impossible for those two parts of the social chain to be united in what Schumpeter called creative destruction as a process of social and economic innovation. Therefore, we need to consider such segmentation as accounting for one of the most severe social obstacles in the way towards a good society. From such segmentation there emerge two intellectual attitudes, two types of cultures, two types of sociology and even of economics: a legitimizing attitude, a globalizing deconstructive culture, on the one side, and a critical culture, accompanied by a reactionary intellectual attitude. Both of them are „characteristic of peoples in a state of transformation” save that for western type of transformation we may report a unity in duality while for the eastern type of society such a unity lacks and we have instead of it a severe segmentation and consequently a loss of identity. Paradoxically, the criticism is an element of the new cultural constructivism while the legitimism turns up to be an element of the cultural deconstructivisme. On the other hand, the criticism cannot be considered but a step „characteristic of peoples in a state of transformation” but a mechanism of the cultural machine in the periphery of the capitalist system. If such a mechanism lacks the cultural machine is locked.

 

8th obstacle: the privatization through expropriation. Another type of obstacle is to ignore the reaction of community expressed through that special form of property, that in the interwar world period they used to call it the property of labor, like in that assets pertaining to the peasantry labor. The socialist Agricultural Production Cooperatives (APC) produced not only the yearly crops but also the agricultural equipment: tractors and all of the agricultural instruments and possessions: buildings, animals stock etc. All this assets has belonged to the peasantry labor which in this way has become the only owner (property subject) of them. By facts and by law the peasantry labor appears to be the single owner of all sorts of agricultural equipment within all APCs of the country. After revolution all this equipment was privatized by the state and so the peasantry labor, therefore, the peasants, ended by being expropriated. The entire agricultural stock was so expropriated. Likewise happened with the industrial stock which as a matter of fact was the wealth of the national labor, therefore of the entire nation. The enforcement of the Law 15 for industrial privatization and the Law 18 for the agricultural privatization reveals to have been the starting instruments of the expropriation of labor being that national and sectorial labor was the only legitimate owner (subject of propriety) after the fall of communism. Such a path for the capitalist privatization generated not only a profound social injustice but also the seeds of a sustainable poverty and underdevelopment within such a society. This kind of privatization revealed to be, therefore, an obstacle on the way to a good society. It created a double periphery: an industrial periphery against the west industrial centers and an agricultural periphery against the local industrial and urban centers.

 

9th obstacle: the double periphery. This double periphery is a severe obstacle in the way to a good society. What does it mean double periphery yet? On the one hand, it interpreted as meaning a time lag of the backward societies in the attainment of the same stages of capitalist evolution as the forward western countries. On the other hand, the peripheral condition is reported to a structural signification, designating a subaltern position[26] of eastern and southern societies in rapport with the west and northern societies. Relying on the first interpretation, the Eastern European periphery is considered to be the “Western European past”[27], so that the Western society must be considered the teacher of the Eastern society. Based on such an assumption we are invited to believe that eastern success is depending on the rapidity of removing everything that is related to the present situation of the country and much more to its own past even to its ethnical specificity. Here it is the mechanism of double periphery: by accepting that the peripheral situation is a normally one (that is, it is considered to be a consequence of backwardness) leads the social actors to accept also that the obstacles in the way of development are but internal elements, either they are cultural or social elements, and consequently must be removed, get discouraged. The potential opposition between the external pressure and the internal reaction is so transferred into an internal conflict between what there has come to call “innovators” and “reactionaries”, traditionalists and modernists, past-oriented people and progress-oriented people. There emerge so an internal war for the men’s mind, as E Service[28] called it.

 

10th obstacle: Alliances between local oligarchy and multinational corporations. The labeling of Romanians’ instinctive reaction against corporations which come to exploit the resources of Romania is but a facet of double periphery. The labels like legionnaires, new-legionnaires eco-anarchists, put on those who demonstrates against corporations etc. illustrate a large spectrum of official reactions meant to conceal so the attempts to annihilate the communitarian self-defending, anti-systemic manifestations. Such labels are meant to discourage the reactions against peripheral situation. As long as the backing leverage of such political elite is situated outdoor it will strive to make demonstration of its subalternization in the face of the metropolitan elites. The obstacular evolution of post-communist society presents the following characteristic scene: every internal asset appears to be but a simple “annex of capitalism” and must function according to its needs. None of these assets is related to the identity reproduction but to the reproduction of privileges of “superimposed social layers” (Eminescu) resulting so into a heavy alienation of the political and culturally deconstructive elite from the people itself. The few will be dealt but by increasing and preserve their own privileges and power. That reminds us of the “iron law of oligarchy” set forth by R Michael.

 

11th obstacle: absence of middle class and propensity to “oligarchic regime”. The absence of a powerful middle class makes possible a permanent propensity toward an “oligarchic regime”, be it under the form of a political coalition or under the form of oligarchic “presidentialism”, as Linz[29] called it. The current period is one of a hidden struggle between the elements of a burgeoning middle class and oligarchy. The index of insolvency discloses such a terrible clash. In the last two years that index increased from a number of 5o insolvent firms/day to the number of 71 insolvent firms daily. A number of 71 firms becomes insolvent daily. Such an index is ambivalent being that it discloses a clash between winding up a company and recovering its business. The increasing value of such an index is a positive facet of the middle class energetism and endeavor. Such an issue is hard to be solved being that; on the other hand, the government has to assume the challenge of an increasing national default. The government, therefore, must choose between defaulting on its loan or increasing the tax burden and therefore deteriorating the middle class situation. The last result will be that one: “those few – oligarchy – will use all means necessary to preserve and further increase their power”[30]

 

The 12th obstacle: de-capitalization of the country and an abnormal social structure. Romanian position within a buffer zone at the eastern frontier of European Union, on the one hand, and an abnormal social structure, “which hinders the healthy development of national middle classes”, represent another obstacle in the way to a good society. A good society is endangered both by the international conjuncture and by that type of social structure which hinders a good balance within the economy of social forces (being the disequilibrium provoked by the underdevelopment of a middle class). On the other hand, Romanian oligarchy by its policy led to a massive de-industrialization of the country and to a peripherialization of the agriculture. This is essentially a de-capitalization of the country which induced a worsening of social problems and therefore a new hindrance on the path to a good society. The north-south axis of Bucharest, for instance, was and industrial axis. The two poles of this axis, IMGB plant and “Republic” factories counted about 80, 000 people working there. Now there have rest no more than about 4000 employees. The industrial axis of Bucharest was consequently liquidated. Likewise happened with Vulcan factories and another plant on the axis east-west of the capital. The enforcement of the Law 18 of landed property led to the same de-capitalization in agriculture with the consequences of destroying the system of irrigation and of APC (CAP) equipment. From such a situation the path toward a wrong definition of the family small agricultural farms was opened. Intellectual elite inclined to see in that types of social units an enemy of the modernization allowing the idea that such a social layer is condemned to disappear in the wake of a new concentration of landed property. The social rural structure resulted from the oligarchical reform in agriculture was accompanied also by a fragmentation of property so that the average dimension of an agricultural unit exploitation is of about 2.66 ha. The social category of the so called yeomanry (village teachers and priests, the middle sized landowners etc.) acted in accordance with the interest of that type of peasantry relying on the basis of family small agricultural farms. (Likewise did also the small town bourgeoisie and the intellectuals’ class).

Concluding, we shall notice that the path to a good society is a totally obstacular one. To go forth equates with answering to the challenge of the backward capitalism. To go back equates with answering to the challenge of the remnant of communism. To overleap the barriers on the path to a good society equates to only one correct answer: the creative answer. That means: a creative elite not a self-conceited one. All the roads lead but towards one and single finishing line: the creative elite[31] i.e. one elite able to capitalize the only resource of its own solely: the rent of identity. It means to solve the challenge in the terms of a people, together with the people and for the people. Can we figure an alternate way? It does not exist.

 

 

 

 



[1] Paper presented to the International Sociological Conference organized by the Romanian Sociological Association, Institute for Quality of Life in partnership with Institute of Sociology, Romanian Academy, International Association for the Study of Quality of Life, in 24-25 of October, 2013

[2] Dennis P. Hollinger (2002). Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World. Baker Books. p. 166. The issue of just society is approached in the essay of J S Mill where he proposed a vision on a society wherein decision makers together with the all other citizens contribute to the “common good” See: John Stuart Mill (1871). Utilitarianism. Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer. (Among Yahoo answers to the question “What is a just society?”, it seems this one to be relevant: “One which adheres to the morals and ethics of the majority of the populace rather than of a small ruling class”).

[4] Ibidem

[5] Luke 12: 33 (Bible, King James Version)

[6] Weber, Max The Protestant Ethic and “The Spirit of Capitalism” (1905). Translated by Stephen Kalberg (2002), Roxbury Publishing Company, pp. 19, 35;

[7] The issue is related to the theodicy of fortune and misfortune in Weber’s approach of capitalism. The theodicy (how “members of different social classes adopt different belief systems, or theodicies, to explain their social situation.” See: Plye, Davidson, Ralph, James. “Stratification”. Encyclopedia of Religion and Society) within sociology look for answer to this question: “how people understand themselves to be able to be in a right relationship with supernatural powers, and how to explain evil – or why bad things seem to happen to those who seem to be good people”. (see: Christiano, Swatos, Kivisto, Kevin, William, Peter (2008). Sociology of Religion. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc. p. 7)

[8] “the affluent embrace good fortune theodicies, which emphasize that prosperity is a blessing of God…[while] theodicies of misfortune emphasize that affluence is a sign of evil and that suffering in this world will be rewarded in the next” (Plye, Davidson, Ralph, James. “Stratification”. Encyclopedia of Religion and Society)

[9] On the concept of social obstacle see, for instance, Kurt Weyland, “Obstacles to Social Reform in Brazil’s New Democracy”. In Comparative Politics Vol. 29, No. 1 (Oct., 1996), pp. 1-22. In Weyland’s view, “the clientelist networks perpetuate divisions among the poor and hinder broad-based pressure for reform; undisciplined, non-programmatic parties fail to articulate the collective interests of disadvantaged strata; associations of better-off sectors use their established connections to state agencies to oppose redistribution; and the state is internally segmented and ravaged by bureaucratic politics and thus lacks the capacity to promote coherent reform” All these phenomena are social obstacles to “redistributive change”.  http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307

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[10] Frank, Andre Gunder. (1998). ReOrient: Global economy in the Asian age. Berkeley: University of California Press. On the concept see also: International Monetary Fund . (2000). “Globalization: Threats or Opportunity.” 12th April 2000: IMF Publications, and Bridges, G. (2002). “Grounding Globalization: The Prospects and Perils of Linking Economic Processes of Globalization to Environmental Outcomes”. Economic Geography 78 (3): 361–386 See also Globalization”. Online Etymology Dictionary. R Robertson defines globalization as “…the compression of the world and the intensification of the consciousness of the world as a whole” (Robertson, Roland (1992). Globalization : social theory and global culture (Reprint. ed.). London: Sage). Martin Albrow defines globalization as such: “all those processes by which the peoples of the world are incorporated into a single world society” (Albrow, Martin and Elizabeth King (eds.) (1990). Globalization, Knowledge and Society London: Sage, p 8). In Giddens’s view, the globalization refers to the phenomenon by which the distant events “shape local happenings and vice versa”. Thomas Larsson defines globalization as a process of “world shrinkage” and “increasing easy” for global interaction. Th. Friedman has proposed the concept of “flat world” (The World Is Flat: A Brief History of The Twenty-first Century (2005; expanded edition 2006; revised edition 2007) Etc. Etc.

[11] See: Wallerstein (1991): Unthinking Social Science, Cambridge: Polity Press, pp.187-201: 194 (“Nationalism is not usually considered respectable as an intellectual motive, but this negative appreciation of cultural nationalism is itself part of the cultural domination of hegemonic forces within the world-system”). On the hegemonic globalization see also: Wallerstein, Immanuel (2000 [1983]): The Three Instances of World Hegemony in the History of the Capitalist World-Economy, in: Immanuel Wallerstein (2000): The Essential Wallerstein, New York: The New Press, pp. 253-263

[12] See Grosfoguel, R; Colonial Difference, Geopolitics of Knowledge and Global Coloniality: An Introduction, forthcoming in: Review, XXV, 3, Summer/Fall 2002 apud M Boatca, 2003, From Neoevolutionism to World System Analysis, p 75

[13] On the presentation of the theory of obstacles see: So, Alvin Y. (1990): Social Change and Development. Modernization, Dependency, and World-System Theories, Newbury Park, CA: Sage

[14] Luke, 12: 19

[15] Erich Fromm, The Revolution of Hope: Toward a Humanized Technology (1968 by HarperCollins) (“It is a noteworthy phenomenon that in the development of capitalism and its ethics, compassion (or mercy) ceases to be a virtue.”)

[16] The issue of periphery was firstly approached by Romanian scholars (Zeletin, Motru, Manoilescu, Maiorescu etc.) at the start of modernization of Romanian Countries. Starting with 1949 Paul Prebisch launched the theory of dependent development, but the theoretical thesis of the dependentists had been already formulated by Romanian representatives of the Romanian critical culture by the very beginning of modern era, therefore in the last half of the XIXth century. On the concept of peripheral capitalism see Amin S. (1976), ‘Unequal Development: An Essay on the Social Formations of Peripheral Capitalism’ New York: Monthly Review Press.

[17] The idea of a backward type of capitalism is a facet of the contention owed to A. Gunder Frank’s theory focused on what he used to call “development of underdevelopment” or “lumpen-bourgeoisie” and “lumpendevelopment”. (See: A. Gunder Frank, 1972, Lumpenbourgeoisie, Lumpendevelopment. Monthly Review Press).  (“Most of our theoretical categories and guides to development policy have been distilled exclusively from the historical experience of the European and North American advanced capitalist nations”).

[18] Tudorel Postolache, 2008, Vers un ideal pratiquable, Romanian Academy Press, p. 55

[19] Ibidem

[20] A G Frank, q.w.

[21] On this concept see also I Badescu (1984), European Synchronism and Romanian Critical Culture, Bucharest Scientific and Encyclopedic Press. I demonstrated myself that the peripheral capitalism is due to those internal and external structures of a country that maintain the capitalism of this country in a condition of backward type of capitalism

[22] Naomi Klein (2007). The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Knopf Canada. Naomi Klein argues that the free market policies generated a special type of capitalism that she called the “disastrous capitalism” or “capitalism of disaster”. “The suggestion is that when a society experiences a major ‘shock’ there is a widespread desire for a rapid and decisive response to correct the situation; this desire for bold and immediate action provides an opportunity for unscrupulous actors to implement policies which go far beyond a legitimate response to disaster.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naomi_Klein#cite_note-RandomHouse-16)

[23] On the theory of identity rent see Tudorel Postolache, Vers un ideal pratiquable, Romanian Academy Press, 2008. Romanian scientist refers to what he calls “the Luxembourg strategy” which was relied on the capitalization of identity rent, that is to say, on revaluation of its own identity, by going from the assumption of the consciousness of their own weaknesses and fragilities specific to a very small state, surrounded by countries incomparable more powerful than itself.” (ibidem, p 56)

[24] Ibidem

[25] The concept of value chain was elaborated by Michael Porter (1985), Porter, Michael E. (1985). Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance. New York.: Simon and Schuster. See also: Angel Gurría (5 November 2012). “The Emergence of Global Value Chains: What Do They Mean for Business” and a very important work of Raphael Kaplinsky; Mike Morris (1 November 2001) (PDF). A Handbook for Value Chain Research (Report). International Development Research Centre{IDRC}. http://www.globalvaluechains.org/docs/VchNov01.pdf.

[26] Grosfoguel, R; Colonial Difference, Geopolitics of Knowledge and Global Coloniality: An Introduction, forthcoming in: Review, XXV, 3, Summer/Fall 2002 apud M Boatca, 2003, From Neoevolutionism to World System Analysis)

[27] Boatca, q.w. p 2007

[28] See Elman Service, who relates the “war for men’s minds” unto the West’s struggle to preserve world dominance”. In: Sahlins, Marshall; Service, Elman R. (eds.) (1960): Evolution and Culture, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 118. “the dominance exerted by a more advanced cultural system over a backward one “tends to be the most effective inhibitor of any potential that might reside” in the latter (ibidem: 95).

[29] See: Juan Linz, The Perils of Presidentialism, in Journal of Democracy, winter, 1990. For the Iron Law of Oligarchy see: Robert Michael, 1911, Political Parties, See also: Darcy K. Leach, The Iron Law of What Again? Conceptualizing Oligarchy across Organizational Forms, Sociological Theory, Volume 23, Number 3, September 2005, pp. 312-337. (“Bureaucracy happens. If bureaucracy happens, power rises. Power corrupts.”). ((The Perils of Presidentialism

[30] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_law_of_oligarchy

[31] A J Toynbee, The Study of History, Oxford University Press, 1934 – 1961. Toynbee considers that a “civilization grows when its elite is creative enough to respond to the challenges of the environment and when elite fails to respond creatively to such challenges it is transformed into a dominant minority. The loss of creative capacity leads to the decline of an organization and finally of a civilization.

 

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3 Responses to Prof. Ilie Badescu: The Path to a Good Society and its Obstacles. Lecture at the International Conference on Sociology organized by the Romanian Academy (24-26.10.2013)

  1. Pingback: International Sociology Conference: Towards the Good Society – European Perspectives Bucharest, 24-26 October 2013 | Sociologia Azi

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