Last weeks’ summary: In 2012 EVT, Everstate (the ideal-type corresponding to our very real countries created to foresee the future of governance and of the modern nation-state) knows a rising dissatisfaction of its population. Everstate is plagued by a deepening budget deficit and an increasing need for liquidity, with a related creeping appropriation of resources while the strength of central public power weakens to the profit of various elite groups. An outdated world-view that promotes misunderstanding, disconnect and thus inadequate actions presides to its destiny. Henceforth, the political authorities are increasingly unable to deliver the security citizens seek. Risks to the legitimacy of the whole system increases. Alarmed by the rising difficulties and widespread discontent, the governing authorities decide to do something. Of the three potential scenarios or stories that follow, we now start the second, “Panglossy: Same Old, Same Old,”* after having seen the end of “Mamominarch: Off with the State.”
(The reader can click on each picture to see a larger version in a new tab – a navigating map of posts is available to ease reading).
In 2012 EVT, as Everstate’s governing authorities and more specifically national representatives start thinking they should do something to face the various difficulties they meet and notably the rising discontent, a new period of elections opens up. Thus, what matters to the national representatives now is to win the elections for a new term. It is not anymore a fear of losing power because their legitimacy as efficient rulers (being able to deliver what they have been elected for) is questioned. They need now to convince citizens that they are the best to represent the nation and govern it and that they are better than their usual competitors.
As political parties are built around a programme and according to specific lines of thoughts, the rationale of the electoral competition asks them to follow the core of those programmes to demarcate themselves from their adversaries. When each party was formed, this formation led to the construction of a unique program upon which various national representatives and parliamentary groupings agreed. This program was also built to allow for the mobilization of electors needed to see the representatives elected. However, as with the way ideological and normative belief systems and socio-political models are constructed, this mobilisation was done in the past. The problems it sought to answer are past challenges. Furthermore, it could only be built according to the socio-political model and normative framework of that time. Over time, with each election, each of the two programmes has evolved but could do so only within relatively tight boundaries. Hence, the two main parties about to dispute the elections in Everstate are both abiding by the modernizing norm, constructed around materialistic improvement, each representing, as in most of the liberal world, two ends of the same spectrum, one of social-democrat inspiration, the other with a more conservative stance.
Thus, now, if the real severe problems faced by the nation must be considered, solutions can nevertheless only be envisioned within the framework of those existing programmes, as well as within the existing socio-political model and norms. For the two major classical parties, trying to change their framework and their programme in a very substantial way would mean risking changing the existing mobilisation forces and upsetting existing parliamentary groupings, thus risking losing the elections, which, ultimately would imply not being in power.
Battles are thus pitched on relatively minor points, when seen from the point of view of the huge challenges the nation must face. From the point of view of many people who are not only electors, but also those very people who seek security, experience pressures in their everyday life and are increasingly dissatisfied, such battles contribute to further de-legitimise whoever will become the nation’s representatives, thus the government, and indeed the existing parties’ system.
Meanwhile, a combination of apparent renewed optimism, notably expressed through better statistics, for example a slightly rising consumers’ spending, especially abroad, through bullish financial markets and stock exchanges worldwide, a slow down of protests both within Everstate and worldwide, with a fear that those protests could start again, tends to comfort the potential nation’s representatives in the validity of their old aims and programmes and in their wish to come back to the situation ante, i.e. before everything started to unravel. Chief among those aims, Everstate must obtain economic growth again. The crisis is severe, indeed, but it is certainly temporary as those optimistic signs show. Unfavourable, negative trends are still at work, and those must be faced and stopped. But the goal is clear and the framework for doing so is pristine, and it may only work, as it has always worked since the parties were created.
The rise of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), prompted by the current modernising and materialistic paradigm, only fuels this vision. Be they upheld as a threat against which one must struggle or as new partners with whom one must cooperate, their recent success is one more evidence of the correctness of the existing system. As a result, the awareness of the new pressures that had started to emerge recedes and those are considered as not really important or, if they are, their timing is uncertain, thus, if ever such threats materialise, it will be later.**
Hence, nothing fundamentally changes. On the contrary, habits and the existing system, once the new national representatives are elected and the new government starts ruling are even more entrenched, almost ossified.
Yet, something unexpected, dismissed by observers, is also happening during the months leading to the election. To be continued…
* The name for this scenario, Panglossy, comes from the famous character Pangloss in Voltaire‘s work Candide ou l’Optimisme (Candid : or, All for the Best – 1759). Candide is an attack on Leibniz’s optimism, seen as absurd in the light of the many ills of the world. The absurdity of optimism is notably conveyed through the explanations for the series of catastrophes met that Pangloss, Candide’s preceptor, gives and that always emphasise that “all is for the best.”
** Note that the absence of interest existing on timing and the sparse research on this factor may only ease the ability to deny reality.
A frontispiece of Voltaire’s Candide (Paris : Sirène, 1759). It reads, “Candide, or the Optimism. Translated from the German by Dr. Ralph.” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.