After analyzing the decline of industrial society, Alain Touraine decrypts the new world shaped by information and communications technology, where power becomes total. How can you resist? To each of us to be the defender of fundamental rights of the human subject.
What can we face the domination of financial capitalism, the decline of belief in progress that makes the future threatening the depressing spectacle of political parties out of breath? How to stay involved in our lives, whether personal or collective? Taking the prevailing defeatism against the foot, Alain Touraine, ninety years, one of our greatest sociologists whose monumental work has been translated worldwide, offers an incisive analysis of the issues we face, challenges saddle the “subject” creator himself, and invites us to “take the floor” and our “put in motion” . After The End of companies (Seuil, 2013), his new book, We human subjects that seems to Threshold’s editions, in this sense, a kind of manifesto.
With the end of the industrial society, we are, in your opinion, entered a “post-social” era. What do you mean?
Earlier companies industrialization thoughts are essentially political terms. Textbooks evoke absolute monarchies, the rule of law, the Nation, the State and the philosophers who have described them, Machiavelli Tocqueville through Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu and Rousseau, are called philosophers of law or political philosophers. With the industrial revolution, everything was upset: the companies were impressed by their ability to create, transform and even destroy themselves through their techniques, their machines, their capital. For the first and probably only time, they are described in economic and social terms, through work, class, labor, competition, investment. These companies ‘social’, we come out. This was the meaning of the title of my previous book, The End of companies : The End of companies that believe in social terms
. “The challenge is to control the power, process, manufacturing minds.”
What kind of society do we go then? You récusez the term company “post-industrial” …
I do so all the more easily that I was one of the first with Daniel Bell in the USA, to use the term “post-industrial society.” We wanted to show that new technologies, those of information and communication, revolutionizing our experience with such a large impact as steam or electricity. But the development of the electronics is not sufficient to explain the change of our societies. It upside practices, but he leads, by itself, a true transformation of society? I do not believe him. The consequences however are considerable. In industrial societies, the power mainly focused on the control of goods, capital, materials, machinery. In short, the control of the world of objectivity. With the emergence of information and communication technologies, it goes something unheard of: they are building technologies and subjectivity processing that allow to act on the human actor himself. The issue of power becomes to control, process, manufacture minds. The idea is not new, of course. We have experienced in the twentieth century’s experience of totalitarianism whose objective was also mind control by speech, image, staging or the cult of personality. And the repression of any opposition. Obviously I do not claim that we are all living today in totalitarian societies. But I advance the idea that power becomes total.
How you set this to “total”? What are the forms
The main systems of power exerted in this world tend to control both the objective world, economic – that of property – the subjective world – the representations, opinions, consumption. It is indeed a new form of society. I distinguish three main types. The most obvious is the closest to the former totalitarian movement: the totalitarian party-state in which the Soviet Union was the model and whose most important example today is the Chinese Communist Party-state . The second type concerns the Western world where financial capitalism has managed to impose its domination. This new capitalism has broken with the real economy, the majority of available capital being used in activities that have no productive economic function, which may even be illegal – arms trafficking, drugs – and aimed reinforce the privileges of those in power – young Americans say 1% of the population. The third form of total power finally, refers to what I call the “post-nationalist tyrannies” that eliminated parties born of decolonization. This situation is familiar to us since 1979, with the capture of Khomeini to power in Iran. It is the Islamic world where it governs in the name of religion. Sociologist Jean Duvignaud opposed Christianity, a religion, to Christianity, a religious society. Islam in these countries, has become the equivalent of Christianity.
“We live in a world where we know that there is no principle sacred creator external to man. “
You can see, in our Western societies, the challenge to oppose this total power. How to resist him?
Faced with this total power, his opponents must invoke something stronger even than the total. And it is universal. It is not enough to oppose the political, social or cultural, must be called to something of a different nature: the human being in its ability to transform its environment, but also to create itself. When this capacity was still low, men have had to place creativity outside of themselves, in a sacred principle outside. God, King and Progress. Today we can no longer rely on God, nor King, nor on Progress. We live in a world where we know there are no sacred creative principle external to man. We have a heightened awareness of ourselves, of our ability to create ourselves as “subjects”, to transform us and even to destroy us, through the use of nuclear weapons, the destruction of our environment and our climate system. The postwar period was dominated by the killing of the “subject” on one side by the structuralists, the other by the Marxists. I want to rehabilitate. And waving like a flag of “subjectivity” that is, for everyone, the management of the subject in him, the movement by which an individual becomes a social actor able to promote and defend fundamental human rights, universal, when they -ci are violated.
“The fundamental rights and freedom and equality. And dignity that results. “
What are these basic human rights?
French view, I am led to highlight the triptych “Liberty, equality, fraternity”. On the proviso that no one mentions brotherhood. For a century it was replaced by solidarity. As for me, with the same respect I have for the brotherhood, I would also replace “solidarity”. Indeed, we have an urgent need for mobilizing forces that put us in this movement and an enforceable ethical vision to all systems of power. That’s why I chose a word that we hear everywhere that the Pope François employs all occasions: dignity, a word both concrete and order of ethics. In new companies is no longer around economic issues forms of collective action: trade unions and workers’ parties have disappeared or are falling. It is in the ethical field, in the image of everyone to form itself, in what it accepts or rejects the name of his dignity, that develops a collective consciousness: I want to be treated like a human being I want us to respect myself, my dignity to be respected, I do not want to be humiliated. Fundamental rights are thus freedom and equality, two words linked by a hyphen, complementary and inseparable. And dignity that follows.
To defend these fundamental human rights, you appeal to new forms of mobilization …
The new collective movements must be both ethical and democratic, that is to say in total conflict with the authorities. As they were in Berlin in 1989, in Beijing on Tiananmen Square that year and 2011, with the Arab Spring. This requires that those with acceptable living conditions out of their lethargy, resumed speaking, restore priority to the rights on interests, respect for oneself and the other on a lazy political and cultural relativism. In France for example, only a large minority – 40-45% – lives in the globalized world, in global networks. Roughly speaking, in the region of Paris and of Lyon. Have we thought enough about this situation? Earlier this year, after the attacks against Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Hide Vincennes, four million people took to the streets. Studies have shown that they have a level of education rather than the average, they were more numerous in university towns. Conversely, some people have no market. Do you know what is the city where we have the least market? Hénin-Beaumont, the city of Marine Le Pen. This is the National Front, the opposite of an ethical-democratic movement. A Dunkirk city that will badly, only 3% of the population took to the streets. In Le Havre, 4%. Correlations are clear. The FN advantage of these situations. When the rural world collapses, you see people rushing toward him. And I observed with concern the uproar that invaded this country, those calls sovereignism, this eulogy of France defined by an essence, rejection of others considered inferior because it is different. We need to engage urgently in thinking about these issues and put us in motion.