“A wise government must be careful not to despise social democracy”

Ie fast-thinking, ready-to-think, can be as harmful to intelligence as fast food is to health. Among the least recommendable dishes that are served to us these days in the media is the opposition between democracy and the street. Reserved ad nauseam, this ready-to-think justifies in advance the happy end of the pension reform, which could only be the victory of democratic good over anarchic evil. But not only does this presentation of things misunderstand the nature of our democracy, but it also contributes to depriving it of one of the legs that allows it to walk: its social leg.

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The “society” targeted by the Declaration of 1789 was ideally conceived as a homogeneous body, composed of free and equal men (even if this ideal was immediately betrayed by the deprivation of women of the right to vote, then by the restoration of the slavery in the colonies and by the exclusion of the poor from the electorate by means of property-based suffrage).

Thus understood as a collection of individuals all alike, political society could not admit any representation other than that resulting from elections, hence the annihilation of all intermediary bodies by the Le Chapelier law and the decree of Allarde in 1791. According to Tocqueville’s ironic observation, “The notion of government is simplified: numbers alone make the law and the right. All politics is reduced to a question of arithmetic..

Social democracy is a remedy for the shortcomings of this purely quantitative conception of political representation. It was born from the shock of the industrial revolution and the observation that society is not the homogeneous body politic dreamed of in 1789, but a “kind of everything”, according to the expression used from the XVIIe century by Vauban to lay the foundations of statistics as a science of states. A whole, not a bunch of individuals.

Also read the column: Article reserved for our subscribers Pension reform: “We do not want this world which glorifies the “work value”, but which creates exclusion and destroys the planet”

This society, whose statistical surveys and nascent sociology revealed in the nineteenthe century heterogeneity and dysfunctions, cannot be maintained without a shared faith in a certain idea of ​​justice. It is this demand for justice that led, in the nineteenthe century, the European countries, faced with the “social question” of the human ravages of the industrial revolution, to lay the first stones of a “social law” aimed at protecting their most vulnerable populations, starting with women and children Workers.

“New Public Management”

At the turn of the XIX and XXe centuries, this new field of “social” has been studied in France by some great jurists (Saleilles, Hauriou, Duguit) and sociologists (Fouillee, Durkheim). In the United States, it was above all John Dewey (1859-1952) who denounced the methodological impasses resulting from the assimilation of society to a collection of individuals, while these find themselves subject to the oppressive power of large corporations. capital companies, to which the law conferred a legal existence and an unlimited economic power at the same time as a limited liability.

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