See particularly Triangle Papers nos. The vague and persistent feeling that democracies have become ungovernable has been growing steadily in Western Europe. The case of Britain has become the most dramatic example of this malaise, not because it is the worst example but because Britain, which had escaped all the vagaries of continental politics, had always been considered everywhere as the mother and the model of democratic processes.
Its contemporary troubles seem to announce the collapse of these democratic processes or at least their incapacity to answer the challenges of modern times. Certainly appearances remain safe in most West European countries but almost everywhere governing coalitions are weak and vulnerable while alternative coalitions seem to be as weak and possibly even more contradictory.
At the same time decisions have to be taken whose consequences may be far-reaching while the governing processes, because of the conjunction of contradictory pressures, seem to be capable of producing only erratic results. These difficulties are compounded by the existence of Europe as a problem. The whirlpool of each national 11 j 2 The Crisis of Democracy governing system has more and more restrained the margin of freedom on which progress in European unification can be built.
The European bureaucracy, which had been for a time a useful protective device for making rational solutions more acceptable, has now lost its role. Contradictions at the governing level therefore tend to grow while governments are forced to be much more nation-centered and much less reliable. Each country, of course, is substantially different. The main characteristic of Western Europe is its diversity. The Overload of the Decision-Making Systems The superiority of democracies has often been ascribed to their basic openness. Open systems, however, give better returns only under certain conditions.
They are threatened by entropy if they cannot maintain or develop proper regulations. European democracies have been only partially and sometimes theoretically open. Their regulations were built on a subtle screening of participants and demands; and if we can talk of overload, notwithstanding the progress made in handling complexity, it is because this traditional model of screening and government by distance has gradually broken down to the point that the necessary regulations have all but disappeared.
Western Europe 13 There are a number of interrelated reasons for this situation. First of all, social and economic developments have made it possible for a great many more groups and interests to coalesce. Second, the information explosion has made it difficult if not impossible to maintain the traditional distance that was deemed necessary to govern. Third, the democratic ethos makes it difficult to prevent access and restrict information, while the persistence of the bureaucratic processes which had been associated with the traditional governing systems makes it impossible to handle them at a low enough level.
Because of the instant information model and because of this lack of self-regulating subsystems, any kind of minor conflict becomes a governmental problem. These convergences and contradictions have given rise to a growing paradox. Decisions do not only bring power; they also bring vulnerability. The modern European state's basic weakness is its liability to blackmailing tactics.
Another series of factors tending to overload all industrial or post-industrial social systems develops from the natural complexity which is the result of organizational growth, systemic interdependence, and the shrinking of a world where fewer and fewer consequences can be treated as acceptable externalities. European societies not only do not escape this general trend, they also do not face it with the necessary increase of governing capacities.
Politicians and administrators have found it easier and more expedient to give up to complexity. They tend to accommodate to it and even to use it as a useful smoke screen.
The eclipse of the nation ()
One can give access to more groups and more demands without having to say no and one can maintain and expand one's own freedom of action or, in more unpleasant terms, one's own irresponsibility. This judgment about the European nation-states' decision-making capabilities may be surprising since European countries, like Britain and France, pride themselves in having the best possible elite corps of professional decision-makers, in many ways better trained or at least better selected than their American counterparts.
The seeming paradox can be understood if one accepts the idea that decision-making is not done only by top civil servants and politicians but is the product of bureaucratic processes taking place in complex organizations and systems. If these processes are routine-oriented and cumbersome, and these organizations and systems overly rigid, communications will be difficult, no regulation will prevent blackmail, and poor structure will increase the overload.
For all their sophistication, modern decision-making techniques do not seem to have helped very much yet because the problem is political or systemic and not a technical one. One of the best examples of their failure has been shown in a recent comparative study of the way two similar decisions were made in Paris in the s and in the s: Western Europe 15 the decision to build the first Parisian subway and the decision to build the new regional express transit system.
This comparison shows a dramatic decline in the capacity to take rational decisions between the two periods. The s decision gave rise to a very difficult but lively political debate and was a slow decision-making sequence, but it was arrived at on sound premises financially, economically, and socially. The s decision was made in semisecret, without open political debate, but with a tremendous amount of lobbying and intrabureaucratic conflict.
Its results', when one analyzes the outcomes, were strikingly poorer in terms of social, economic, and financial returns. It seems that the elite professional decision-makers backed up with sophisticated tools could not do as well as their less brilliant predecessors, while the technical complexity of the decision was certainly not greater. The only striking difference is the tremendous increase in the level of complexity of the system and its dramatic overload due to its confusing centralization.
There is quite a strong contrast, for example, between a country like Sweden, which has developed an impressive capability for handling complex problems by relieving ministerial staffs of the burden of administrative and technical decisions and by allocating considerable decision-making powers to strengthened local authorities, and a country like Italy, where a very weak bureaucracy and an unstable political system cannot take decisions and cannot facilitate the achievement of any kind of adjustment.
Nevertheless, the majority of European countries are somewhat closer to the Italian model and Sweden seems to be, for the moment, a striking exception. This exception does not seem to be due to the size or type of problems since small countries, like Belgium or even the Netherlands and Denmark, are also victims of 1 6 The Crisis of Democracy overload and complexity due to the rigidity and complexity of group allegiances and to the fragmentation of the polity.
A basic problem is developing everywhere: the opposition between the decision-making game and the implementation game. Completely different rationales are at work at one level and at the other. In the decision-making game, the capacity to master a successful coalition for a final and finite agreement is a function of the nature and rules of the game in which the decision is one outcome. Since the same partici- pants are playing the same game for quite a number of crucial decisions, the nature of their game, the participants' re- sources, and the power relationships between them may have as much validity in predicting outcomes as the substance of the problem and its possible rational solution.
In the implementation game, however, completely different actors appear whose frames of reference have nothing to do with national decision-making bargaining and whose game is heavily influenced by the power structure and modes of relationship in the bureacracy on one hand, and in the politico-administrative system in which the decision is to be implemented on the other. It is quite frequent that the two games work differently and may even be completely at odds. A gap can therefore exist between the rationality of the decision-makers and the outcomes of their activity, which means that collective regulation of human activities in a complex system is basically frustrating.
Such a situation is reproduced and exemplified at the upper political level where Western Europe 1 7 all modern democratic systems suffer from a general separation between an electoral coalition and the process of government. A completely different set of alliances is necessary to get an electoral majority and to face the problems of government. The United States and Japan also have these problems, but they are especially acute in West European countries because of the fragmentation of social systems, the great difficulties of communication, and the barriers between different subsystems which tend to close up and operate in isolation.
Two different models, however, are predominant in Western Europe. One model, which has worse consequences for governability, is the bureaucratic model associated with a lack of consensus. This is the model exemplified especially by countries like France and Italy, where a very sizable part of the electorate will always vote for extremist parties, of the left and to some extent of the right, that do not accept the minimum requirements of the democratic system. In these countries social control is imposed on the citizens by a state apparatus which is very much isolated from the population.
Politico-administrative regulations work according to a basic vicious circle: bureaucratic rule divorced from the political rhetoric and from the needs of the citizens fosters among them alienation and irresponsibility which form the necessary con- text for the breakdown of consensus that has developed. Lack of consensus in its turn makes it indispensable to resort to bureaucratic rule, since one cannot take the risk of involving citizens who do not accept the minimum rules of the game. Generally, when social control has been traditionally achieved by strong bureaucratic pressure, democratic consensus has not developed fully and consensual breakdowns are endemic possibilities.
All European countries retain some of these traditional control mechanisms. However, an alternative model is exemplified by the 1 8 The Crisis of Democracy countries of northwestern Europe where a broad consensus has been achieved early enough and constantly reinforced, thus preventing the state bureaucracy from dominating too exclusively. Sweden, with its strong local decision-making system, with its consensual labor-management bargaining system, and with its ombudsman grievance procedures against the bureaucracy, is the best example of such a model.
Nevertheless, a general drift toward alienation, irre- sponsibility, and breakdown of consensus also exists in these countries and even in Sweden. In time, group bargaining has become more and more routinized, that is, more and more bureaucratic, and workers, if not citizens generally, have also tended to feel as alienated as those in revolutionary Europe. In Denmark, the Netherlands, and Britain, the social democratic consensus is breaking down while the relationships between groups have become so complex and erratic that citizens are more and more frustrated.
Politics become divorced from the citizens' feelings and even from reality. Vicious circles therefore tend to develop which bring these countries much closer than they ever were to the countries of continental Europe. Even Sweden has been affected, at least in its labor relations. The European Dimension All these problems are certainly multiplied by the new dimension of international problems which has made the European national state a somewhat obsolete entity. One could obviously conceive of a federal European system which could rely on strong decentralized local and regional decision-making systems, thus reducing the overload on the top, the bureaucratic nature of the intermediary processes, and the citizens' alienation.
But efforts at unification have tended to reinforce the national bureaucratic apparatuses as if these traditional nervous centers of European affairs could not help but harden again. Thus, Western Europe faces Western Europe 19 one of its most impossible dilemmas. Its problems are more and more European in nature, but its capacity to face them relies on institutional instruments of a national and bureaucratic nature that are more and more inadequate but that tend at the same time to harden their hold on the system.
Personalization of power in Western Europe also has been used in national and international affairs to fight the bureaucratic entanglements and to foster citizens' identification when participation could not work.
Its results, however, are always disappointing. Leaders become prisoners of their image and are too vulnerable to act. They become public relations figures, thus creating a credibility gap and broadening the misunderstanding between citizens and their decision-making system. One should not, however, overemphasize the general drift toward irresponsibility and impotence in individual European states and in Europe as a whole.
Problems are threatening, the capacity to handle them seems to have diminished, but there are still many areas where government performances are satisfactory compared with those of past governments, those of other Trilateral areas, and those of the rest of the world. European societies are still very civilized societies whose citizens are well-protected and whose amenities and possibil- ities of enjoyment have not only been maintained but extended to a great many more people. In addition Europe suffers less from social disruption and crime than the United States. There are growing areas, nevertheless, where governments' capacity to act and to meet the challenge of citizens' demands has been drastically impaired.
Almost everywhere secondary education and the universities are affected as well as, frequently, metropolitan government, land use, and urban renewal. This impairment of capacities is becoming prevalent in more countries in bargaining among groups, income redistribution, and the handling of inflation.
Causes and consequences, however, are basically interrelated, and it is impossible to disentangle them. Therefore, we will try to focus successively on some of the major problem areas which can be used for a better understanding of the present situation. First of all, we will try to assess the general socio-economic context, which can be characterized sociologically by the explosion of social interaction and economically by the disruptive effect of continuous growth. We will then try to analyze the general collapse of traditional institutions, which may be the immediate background of the crisis.
We will then move on to the problem of cultural institutions, focusing especially on the intellectuals, education, and the media.
Services on Demand
We will conclude by reviewing a last circumstantial problem which has had an accelerating impact — the problem of inflation. The Increase of Social Interaction In every developed country man has become much more a social animal than before. There has been an explosion of human interaction and correlatively a tremendous increase of social pressure. The social texture of human life has become and is becoming more and more complex and its management more difficult.
The Affinities of Norberto Bobbio
Dispersion, fragmentation, and simple ranking have been replaced by concentration, interdependence, and a complex texture. Organized systems have become tre- mendously more complex, and they tend to prevail, in a much more composite and complex social system, over the more Western Europe 21 simple forms of yesterday.
Because of the basic importance of the contemporary complex social texture, its management has a crucial importance, which raises the problem of social control over the individual. Europe is in a very special situation because it has a long record of traditional social control imposed upon the individual by collective authorities, especially the state, and by hierarchical religious institutions.
Certainly these authorities and institutions had been liberalized over the centuries since the time of absolutism. Nevertheless, a strong association between social control and hierarchical values still persists, which means that a basic contradiction tends to reappear. Citizens make incompatible claims. Because they press for more action to meet the problems they have to face, they require more social control. At the same time they resist.
The problem may be worldwide, but it is exacerbated in Europe, where social discipline is not worshipped as it still is in Japan, and where more indirect forms of social control have not developed as in North America. European countries, therefore, have more difficult problems to overcome to go beyond a certain level of complexity in their politico-administrative, social, and even economic systems. There are differences in each country, each one having maintained a very distinctive collective system of social control.
But each one of these systems now appears to be insufficient to solve the problems of the time. This is as true for Britain, which was considered to have mastered forever the art of government, as it is for Italy, which could have been an example of stable "nongovern- ment. To some extent Germany benefits from the deep trauma of nazism, which has forced more basic change in the management of its social texture, but it is nevertheless under the same kind of strains.
The Impact of Economic Growth The impact of economic growth can be better understood in view of these basic strains. It was believed in the fifties and early sixties that the achievement of economic growth was the great problem for European nations. If only their GNP could grow for long enough, most of their troubles as divided and nonconsensual polities would gradually disappear.
This fact was so overwhelmingly accepted that for a long time the official line of the communist parties was to deny the reality of the material progress of the working class and to argue that capitalist development had brought not only a relative but also an absolute decline of workers' income.
However, certain facts had to be finally faced: namely, the tremendous economic gains made during the past twenty years by all groups and especially the workers. But the consequences of this were to be the opposite of what had been expected. Instead of appeasing tensions, material progress seems to have exacerbated them. Three main factors seem necessary to account for the paradox. First, as it happens everywhere, change produces rising expectations which cannot be met by its necessarily limited outcomes. Once people know that things can change, they cannot accept easily anymore the basic features of their condition that were once taken for granted.
Europe has been especially vulnerable since its unprecedented economic boom had succeeded a long period of stagnation with pent-up feelings of frustration. Moreover, its citizens have been more sophisticated politically and especially vulnerable to invidious comparisons from category to category. A second factor has to be taken into consideration: the special role played by radical ideology in European working-class politics.
At a simple level, the European revolutionary and nonconsensual ideologies of working-class parties and trade unions were associated with the economic and cultural lag that did not allow the working people a fair Western Europe 23 share in society's benefits. But ideology is only partially a consequence of frustration; it is also a weapon for action. And in the European context, it remains the most effective available instrument for mobilization.
When ideology declines, the- capacity of the unions to achieve results also declines. The processes of orderly collective bargaining, even when they bring results, tend to be also so complex and bureaucratic that they produce disaffection. Rank-and-file workers do not recognize themselves in such a bureaucratic process and they tend to drift away, which means that the more trade unions and working-class parties accept regular procedures, the weaker they become in their capacity to mobilize their followers and to put real pressure on the system.
Thus, they have to rediscover radicalism. This is much more true for the Latin countries, which had never achieved a satisfactory bargaining system, but radical drift has also been very strong in northwest Europe. Generally, even if workers have become better integrated in the overall social system, they nevertheless remain basically frustrated with the forms of bargaining which do not allow them much participation.
Therefore, a radical ideology is necessary to enable them to commit themselves to the social game. This situation is especially strong in many countries where it can be argued that working-class groups have not benefited from prosperity as greatly as they should or could have. Converse- ly, those countries where blue-collar-workers' progress has been comparatively the greatest and the steadiest, such as Germany, are also those whose resistance to inflation and to the ideological drift is the strongest.
A third factor may be more fundamental. This is the most disruptive consequence of accelerated change. It is true enough that change often brings greater material results and that people have been able to recognize and appreciate their gains, although they might have denied them for a long time. But accelerated change is extremely costly in terms of disruption. It means that many branches and enterprises 24 The Crisis of Democracy decline and even disappear while others undergo tremendous growth. People are forced to be mobile geographically and occupationally, which can be accounted for in terms of psychological costs.
They have had to face a new form of uncertainty and are likely to compare their fates more often to the fates of other groups. Tensions, therefore, are bound to increase. Moreover, these processes have had a direct and profound impact on the modes of social control operating in society.. And this is where Europe has been much more vulnerable than either the United States or Japan. In a society where social control had traditionally relied on fragmentation, stratification, and social barriers to communication, the disruptive effect of change which tends to destroy these barriers, while forcing people to communicate, makes it more and more difficult to govern.
The problem has never been so acute in North America, which has always been on the whole a much more open society; and it is still not yet as developed in Japan, which has been able up to now to maintain its forms of social control while undergoing even more economic change.
Wide differences of course persist between the very diverse European nations. Italy and to some extent France have been less directly perturbed because they have remained more hierarchical in their social texture. Everywhere anomie has increased for young people; groups are more volatile and social control is much weaker. At the same time, the direct effect of economic and geographical disruptions requires proper handling; it requires the imposition of collective disciplines which these disruptions make it impossible to generate.
No country can isolate itself from general Western Europe 25 change. British society may have suffered less disruption than the continental countries, but it is now, in counterpart, the victim of its poor economic performance. British people may still be individually less tense than people on the continent, but they are becoming collectively demoralized. Egalitari- anism and mass participation pressures have increased as they did elsewhere and the gap between promises and expectations has widened even more, leading to repeated and frustrating clashes between the bureaucracy and various sectors of the general public, to poorer and poorer government perform- ances, and to widespread feelings of political alienation.
The Collapse of Traditional Institutions The contradiction regarding social control has been amplified by the near collapse of the traditional authority structure which was buttressing social control processes. The collapse is partly due to the disruptive effect of change, but it can also be viewed as the logical outcome of a general evolution of the relationship of the individual to society.
Everywhere in the West the freedom of choice of the individual has increased tremendously. With the crumbling of old barriers everything' seems to be possible. Not only can people choose their jobs, their friends, and their mates without being constrained by earlier conventions, but they can drop these relationships more easily.
People whose range of opportunities is greater and whose freedom of change also is greater can be much more demanding and cannot accept being bound by lifelong relationships. This is, of course, much more true for young people. It has further been compounded by the development of sexual freedom and by the questioning of woman's place in society. In such a context traditional authority had to be put into question.
Not only did it run counter to the tremendous new wave of individual assertion, but at the same time it was losing the capacity which it had maintained for an overly long time to 26 The Crisis of Democracy control people who had no alternatives. The late sixties have been a major turning point. The amount of underlying change was dramatically revealed in the political turmoil of the period which forced a sort of moral showdown over a certain form of traditional authority.
Its importance has been mistaken inasmuch as the revolt seemed to be aiming at political goals. What was at stake appears now to be moral much more than political authority— churches, schools, and cultural organizations more than political and even economic institutions. In the short space of a few years, churches seem to have been the most deeply upset.
In most of Europe, a basic shift was accelerated which deprived them of their political and even moral authority over their flocks and within society at large. The Catholic church has been hit the hardest because it had remained more authoritarian. Yet as opinion polls have shown, religious feelings and religious needs persist. They may even have been reactivated by the anxieties of our time so that eventually churches will be able to regain some of the ground they have lost. In order to succeed they will have to open up and abandon what remains of their traditional principles.
This may have been already achieved since the authoritarian pattern is vanishing. The crisis is much more apparent within the hierarchy than among the laity. Priests are leaving the churches at an increasing rate; they cannot be replaced, and those who stay do not accept the bureaucratic authority of their superiors and the constraints of the dogma as obediently as before. They are in a position to exact a much better deal, and they get it.
Conversely, they feel less capable of exerting the traditional moral authority they maintained over laymen. It may be exaggerated to pretend that the age-old system of moral obligations and guidance that constituted the church has crumbled; it is still alive, but it has changed more in the last decade than during the last two centuries. Around this change the new effervescence that has Western Europe 27 developed may be analyzed as a proof of vitality. New rationales may emerge around which the system will stabilize.
But it seems clear enough already that the traditional model, which had been for so long one of the main ideological strongholds of European societal structures, has disintegrated. This is certainly a major change for European societies. Such a model provided a basic pattern for the social order and was used as a last recourse for buttressing social control, even in the so-called laicist countries like France where the Catholic church was supposed to have only a minor influence.
The impact of the basic shift of values will be widespread. Even the nonreligious milieus, which had maintained similar models of social control despite their opposition to the Catholic principles, will not be able to resist change any better even if at first glance they seem less directly affected. Education as a moral establishment is faced with the same problem and may be the first example of this corresponding similarity between opposing traditions.
Whatever philosophi- cal influences were exerted over it in particular countries, education is in trouble all over Western Europe. It has lost its former authority. Teachers cannot believe anymore in their "sacred" mission and their students do not accept their authority as easily as they did before. Along with the religious rationale for the social order, educational authority does not hold firm anymore. Knowledge is widely shared. Teachers have lost their prestige within society, and the closed hierarchical relations that made them powerful figures in the classroom have disappeared.
Routine makes it possible for the system to work and the sheer necessity and weight of its functions will maintain it in operation. But the malaise is deep. The dogmatic structure disintegrates; no one knows how to operate without a structure and new forms do not seem to be emerging. We are still in the process of destructuration where generous Utopias still seem to be the only constructive answers to the malaise.
Higher education, which has had a more spectacular 28 The Crisis of Democracy revolution, may have been partly revived, but in many countries and in many disciplines it is still in chaos. European universities do not offer any kind of institutional leadership. They are not real institutions for their students. Very few teachers will be able to propose positive and nonideological models of commitment to values which can be acceptable to students.
Consequently, the universities' potential cannot be used as a stimulant for change in society and young people's energies are easily diverted toward meaningless and negative struggles. Other institutions are also, if less severely, perturbed by this collapse of moral authority. Among them the army, at least in its roles as training school for organizational disciplines and symbol and embodiment of patriotic values, has lost its moral and psychological appeal.
Defense may be more and more entrusted to professional armies that may remain reliable. But the conscript army as a school for the citizen and as a model of authority is on the wane. It has lost all sense of purpose. It is really isolated from the mainstream of human relationships. Thus, another stronghold of the moral fabric of Western societies disappears.
Curiously enough the problem of authority in economic organizations, which had always been considered the most difficult battlefield of industrial society, seems comparatively less explosive. Difficulties have been reactivated during the upheaval of the late sixties. Economic sanctions and the visibility of results, however, give participants some accept- able rationale for collective endeavor. Nevertheless, European enterprises are weaker as institutions, on the whole, than their American or Japanese counterparts. They lack con- sensus over the system of authority as well as over the system of resources allocation, and they even often lack enough agreement regarding the rules of the game in conflict situa- tions.
The problems are more difficult when the social system has maintained some of the rigid features of a former class Western Europe 29 society and when authority is supposed to be imposed from above. The situation is considerably more touchy in Italy and to some extent also in France than in Scandinavia and Germany, where discipline has long been internalized. Two important series of consequences are derived from this institutional weakness.
First, the integration of the working class into the social game is only partial, especially in the Latin countries and in France. Second, the weight of the organizational middle classes of middle executives and supervisors constitutes a conservative, eventually paralyzing force. The lack of integration of the working class not only prevents direct bargaining and understanding, which makes the European enterprise more vulnerable, but it is at the root of the widespread reluctance of young people to accept the humiliating, underpaid lower-blue-collar jobs. European entrepreneurs have found an easy solution to the workforce problem by turning to migrant workers from Southern Europe and North Africa.
However, this policy, which had been highly successful for a while and which has fed the industrial development of Western Europe during its boom years, has brought new and difficult problems in the community life of West European cities. Gradually another factor of instability has developed since foreign workers have begun to question their place and range of opportunities in the social and economic system. Efforts at promoting working-class jobs and upgrading and integrating blue-collar jobs into the mainstream of industrial development have usually failed because of the weight of the hierarchy.
And the middle-most hierarchical categories have slowed down the modernization of the institutional fabric of 30 The Crisis of Democracy economic organizations. Their attitudes, furthermore, help maintain in these European organizations the rigidity of social control that prevents modernization and growth.
Indeed, if European enterprises look more healthy than European churches and schools, this is also because they still rely more on the old model of social control. One may surmise that economic organizations will have to follow suit after the others, which probably means disruption. Differences between countries remain considerable. Sweden, for instance, is well ahead in the development of a new model while Italy is in a stage of partial disruption.
The Upsetting of the Intellectual World Another basic source of disruption of Western societies comes from the intellectual world. Daniel Bell has rightly pointed out the basic importance of culture in the coming of post-industrial society. Knowledge tends to become the basic resource of humanity. Intellectuals as a social group are pushed into the forefront of sociopolitical struggles and the relationships of the intellectual world to society change radically. But neither Daniel Bell nor any other futurologist has foreseen the importance and the painfulness of such an ongoing process of change.
There is no reason to believe that the contemporary cultural revolution will be more peaceful than the industrial revolutions of the past. We seem to be, as a matter of fact, in a cultural crisis which may be the greatest challenge that confronts Western societies, inasmuch as our incapacity to develop appropriate decision-making mechanisms— the ungovernability of our societies— is a cultural failure. Europe, in this respect, is the most troubled and the most vulnerable of the three Trilateral areas, primarily because the strength and centrality of its intellectual tradition makes it more difficult to develop new models.
The first element of the crisis is the problem of numbers. The coming of a post-industrial society means a tremendous Western Europe 3 1 increase in the numbers of intellectuals, would-be intellectuals, and para-intellectuals. Not only do older intellectual professions develop, but newer ones appear, and many nonintellectual jobs become professional.
But the more intellectuals there are, the less prestige there is for each. Here again we come to the real paradox: The more central a profession becomes, the less prestige and influence its average member will have as an individual. There would not be any problem if the socialization and training process would be geared to the new state of affairs. But people continue to be trained in the traditional aristocratic ethos of the prestigious roles of yesterday.
They are thus prepared to expect a completely different pattern of activities and relationships with the outside world than is actually the case. Moreover, the cumulative effects of their individual endeavors to promote and modernize their roles tend to diminish and routinize them. A new stratification thus develops between those persons who can really play a leading role and those who have to accept a humbler status. But this stratification is in turn a factor in the malaise because in many countries, particularly France and Britain, the happy few acquire and maintain their positions by restrictive monopolistic practices.
Another factor of discontent comes from the importance of the aristocratic tradition in Western Europe's cultural world. According to that tradition, intellectuals are romantic figures who naturally get a position of prominence through a sort of aristocratic exaltation. This attitude is still very much alive and dominant at a subconscious level. Yet intellectuals as agents of change and moral guides in a period of fast changes should be and are effectively in the vanguard of the fight against the old aristocratic tradition.
Thus not only are they working to destroy the privileges that they unconsciously crave, but many of them undergo a moral crisis for which a radical stand is often an easy solution. The internal upsetting of the traditional intellectual roles, whose new occupants discover that they do not meet the 32 The Crisis of Democracy expectations which had prompted their own personal commitments, is increased, if not multiplied, because of the existence of a very strong displacement within the intellectual world itself.
While a long tradition had given the humanities an honored position, the new trend favors the new intellectual professions that may be of more practical use. The more post-industrial society becomes intellectu- alized, the more it tends to displace traditional value-oriented intellectual disciplines to the benefit of action-oriented ones, that is, those disciplines that can play a direct role in policy-making. Value-oriented intellectuals do not disappear or even decline, however.
They find new and rapidly-developing openings in the fields of communications. But such a reorientation may be morally painful since it can be viewed as somewhat debasing. In any case, the opposition of the two cultures, described by C. Snow, has shifted greatly. It has become a battle between those persons who play the audience, even if it is a protest type, and those who contribute to the process of decision-making. Thus, the basic crisis of the intellectual world is a crisis of identity in a rapidly changing world where the basic mechanisms of regulation have been put severely into question.
Many other factors, of course, are at work. The cultural world may be considered as a sounding board for the other forms of malaise of Western societies. But one should emphasize that this sounding board plays a very important, autonomous role of its own, first of all because it reinforces the uncertainties and driving anxieties it is expressing and, second, because it projects on the whole of society the crises of identity its members are experiencing.
Notwithstanding the many differences between countries, one can clearly recognize a general drift in the art and literary worlds toward a protest and even revolutionary posture. It has clearly shaped the cultural context in which the younger generations move. The importance of such a trend should not be Western Europe 33 underestimated.
True enough, one can correctly dismiss its immediate political influence and recognize the superficiality of its fashionable aspects. But it has a meaning and an influence at a deeper level. It is an expression of a basic weakening of Western Europe's sense of purpose, capacity to lead, and to govern itself. Above all, it is the source of a profound divorce between the ruling people and the young talents.
Even if it does not affect the general public, which tends to react against highbrow pessimism, the overall mood of Western societies is shaped by a general cultural tendency. West European values are not rejuvenated in a convincing way. No model of civilization emerges from the present-day drifting culture, no call for reform and pioneering. Ritualism and self-pity remain the basic undercurrent behind the arrogant radical criticism that prevails on the surface.
Vague Utopias certainly do not counterbalance the stronger apocalyptic nihilism that forms the texture of our vanguard culture. On the other hand, there is no possible dialogue between the ruling elite and the new generation. Fragmenta- tion and stratification, which were stifling traditional class society, seem to perpetuate themselves through new cultural cleavages. Other regulatory mechanisms which we cannot distinguish yet may be at work. A new blossoming may well follow this long hibernating process.
But we must face the fact that we are now in the most vulnerable part of the cycle of change or, to put it a better way, of the process of transition to post-industrial society. The Mass Media The vulnerability of the cultural world and its importance for the whole of society is compounded because of the central role it plays in two basic subsystems of modern societies: education and the media. Education exemplifies some of the same basic contradictions as the world of culture. The prestige of 34 The Crisis of Democracy teachers has decreased with the tremendous increase of their numbers while their expectations are still greatly influenced by the traditional liberal flavor of their calling.
And they are, even more than other intellectuals, directly confronted with the revolution in human relations that perturbs their traditional mode of social control. At the same time, with its cultural drift society has lost the stimulating moral guidance it requires. As a consequence the transmission of social, political, and cultural norms has been very deeply perturbed, thus feeding back into society as a whole.
Already research results show the extent of intellectual breakdown and disorientation that prevails in many sectors of the population. People's behavior is not touched, really, but they can no longer rely on a coherent rationalization of its context, and they feel at a loss to find out how they relate to society. Anomic rebellion, estrangement from society, and alienation certainly have dangerously progressed because of this cultural void. The media are not in as great a crisis as education is. However, they have been transformed by the explosion and expansion of communications and the new role played by value-intellectuals.
The media's influence on politics and governability is much more direct than that of education, and the media play a most decisive role in the present drift of Western societies. They are a very important source of disintegration of the old forms of social control inasmuch as they contribute to the breakdown of old barriers to communication.
Television, particularly, has played a major role in this respect. It has made it impossible to maintain the cultural fragmentation and hierarchy that was necessary to enforce traditional forms of social control. Its impact has been more recent and more difficult than in the United States or Japan because of the much stronger resistance of fragmented and stratified European societies. Its use is still more differentiated according to social categories or classes. Nevertheless, the strength of the appeal of television is such Western Europe 35 that it has forced a complete change of public and social life, and has also indirectly helped the press to restructure itself.
The main impact of these changes, of course, is visibility. The only real event is the event that is reported and seen.
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Thus, journalists possess a crucial role as gatekeepers of one of the central dimensions of public life. The media have thus become an autonomous power. It is not new to talk about the Fourth Estate. But we now are witnessing a crucial change when the profession tends to regulate itself in such a way as to resist pressure from financial or governmental interests. This could be viewed as tremendous progress.
But at the same time these mechanisms of self-regulation of the media tend to be strongly biased. If journalists can create events, they have a structuring impact on public and social life. And if their basic logic in creating events is to reach the widest possible audience, they will tend to bias the social game in such a way that public figures will have to play for this audience much more than for real outcomes. This has many consequences: First, the media become a tremendous sounding board for the difficulties and tensions of society. Movements and fashions take broader proportions.
It is much more difficult to escape the whirlpool of public relations events and to concentrate on more basic problems. Second, the media deprive governments and to some extent also other responsible authorities of the time lag, tolerance, and trust that make it possible to innovate and to experiment responsibly. Third, the pressure of the media makes it extremely difficult to solve a basic dilemma of modern complex systems, which has been brought to light as the counterintuitive effect.
Thus it is imperative to give much more importance to systems analyses than to the immediate and apparent views of the actors, which is evidently the bias of the media. The more this sounding board emphasizes the emotional appeal of the actors' "life experience," especially as biased by the techniques of the media, the less easy it is to force a real analysis of the complex game on which political leaders must act.
Finally, the emphasis on direct evidence appears to be as loaded with ideology and manipulation as old style oratory. Journalists' autonomy does not lead necessarily to transparency and truth but may distort the perception of reality. Here we find the problem of journalists as value-oriented intellectuals who tend to be governed by the game of catching the audience's attention and are responsible therefore for the acceleration of the cultural drift.
In the long run, this problem may be much more important than the problems of financial and government interference in the media, which are everywhere tending to recede. In politics, however, the public relations effect is quite different from the North American one since the ruling elite and the educated audience play a major role as an important screen. They constitute the primary audience of the highbrow publications, which in turn tend to structure the problems that will finally reach the broader audience. Public relations of a public figure will be conditioned by the existence of these two levels.
This means that there is a very serious buffer against too immediate reactions. But this does not mean a suppression of the public relations distortion, only a transformation of its conditions. At any rate the pressure for change that is against secrecy and protection of leaders seems to be more on the increase. The only ready answer to counterbalance it is the use of bureaucracy for real action, which means that the gap between the decision- making system, distorted by public relations problems, and Western Europe 37 the implementation system, protected but also bound and biased by bureaucratic machine-regulating mechanisms, will tend to increase, thus triggering constant new waves of frustration and anger and diminishing the amount of trust people will give to their leadership.
Inflation Inflation can be considered a direct result of the ungovernability of Western democracies. It is an easy answer to the tensions of growth. The less a society is capable of facing them, the readier it is to accept inflation as a less painful solution. At the same time it is an independent source of disruption which" exacerbates conflicts and still diminishes the capacity of groups and societies to act. Present-day inflation, therefore, ought to be considered, even if very briefly, as another independent variable to be analyzed as a supplementary cause of disruption. It is no wonder that the countries whose social fabric is the weakest, those whose model of social control is still based on hierarchy, fragmentation, and distance, have always been much more vulnerable to inflation.
In the s, however, a reasonable sort of equilibrium had been found according to which the anticipation of growth was reasonably matched with actual growth while Keynesian policies were stabilizing the system. The golden age of economics, however, was shorter in Europe, Germany excepted, than in North America. In any case, no country can now resist the tremendous pressure of the new turbulence in the world.
Present-day large-scale inflation has been for a time remarkably well accepted. It has had a strong distorting effect on the economic and social position of individuals and groups. But its impersonal operation prevents direct complaint. Furthermore, the groups which usually speak the loudest are those which are likely to benefit from the pro- cess. One can even claim that the combination of public feel- ing, trade union pressure, and governmental intervention has 38 The Crisis of Democracy tended to operate in favor of low salaries.
Thus, professional salaried middle classes, which were certainly privileged, have lost some of their advantages. It is not as unfair an outcome as one would immediately tend to believe. The problems of inflation, however, change their nature when the so-called double-digit numbers seem to become a stable feature of the economic picture. The costs seem then more and more unbearable.
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Not only do distortions appear, but social relationships become unstable. Lack of trust prevents the necessary regulation of large and small economic and social subsystems. Quali sono le associazioni, i gruppi, le persone che ci lavorano, e con quali strumenti? Ma rallenttando la ricerca rischiamo di fermare il progresso.
Quali sono i modi nuovi per fare scienza? Qui sta il problema principale: come previsto da alcuni economisti e sociologi, il lavoro come fonte stabile di guadagno sta scomparendo ed ha preso forma un'enorme classe globale di lavoratori temporanei, con diritti limitati e garanzie sociali ridotte, che vede messa in pericolo l'intera struttura sociale che conoscevamo. Quali sono le nuove forme di lavoro? Quali tutele si possono ancora garantire oggi? Proteggere l'ambiente non significa solo mantenerne l'aspetto, ma richiede la costruzione di percorsi di comprensione culturale e di rispetto, richiede la consapevolezza di dover includere nel termine "ambiente" ogni luogo della Terra, dalla strada sotto casa, al nostro posto di lavoro, fino alla foresta vergine.
Quali sono i trend principali? Viviamo nell'era del mercato globale: possiamo trasferire denaro e beni in tutto il pianeta ma non abbiamo mai risolto il problema della distribuzione della ricchezza.