Social Responses to Capitalist Crises and Changing Power Relations: The Future of Democracy
Integrative session of RC10 Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management, RC36 Alienation Theory and Research, RC48 Social Movements, Collective Action and Social Change
For many thinkers, industrialization and modernization should lead to a growing middle class devoted to democratic representative government. However, neo-liberal globalization has created vast wealth, but also growing inequality and alienation in many parts of Europe and the United States, along with capitalist crises that engender powerful feelings. Certain groups have become engaged in a variety of progressive social mobilizations, seeking freedom, peace, democracy, and, above all, justice and dignity. The movements of 1968, the Arab Spring, Podemos, and Syriza are pertinent examples. The World Social Forum claims that “another world is possible” and alternative movements are emerging.
But there are many others who feel a growing resentment and anger provoked by the economic stress, anxiety, and cultural change they are experiencing. This has fostered support for destructive forms of violence directed towards both the economic elites above and the perceived “subalterns” below. Nietzsche regarded this situation as calling for punitive revenge, while Fromm viewed it as generating the fury of humiliation, violent destructiveness, and love of death that emerges from thwarted self-fulfillment.
How will the current nature of economic development and property ownership, which is generating environmental distress and increasing inequality worldwide, affect the social bases of obedience and revolt? Will violence precede new democratic institutions? How can existing sociological interpretations apply to the rise of populist and authoritarian leaders today?