All around the globe we are witnessing an increase in popular movements and different forms of resistance. From the yellow jackets in France to the protests in Lebanon, from Hong Kong to Latin America. The motives driving the protests are different. However, there are common elements: social inequalities and the violation of civic and human rights. Again it shows that rising growth rates and the good news from the stock exchanges do not reflect what is really going on in our countries.
Political demands summarised in catchy slogans is certainly a way to build a critical mass of support for demands for political action for a radical change in society. However, the credibility of those whose job is to respond to those demands for change is at stake. No matter what they say, they don’t sound credible. Unfortunately, part of the progressive family is also facing this conundrum. It is finally evident that yielding to neoliberal policies is the cause for this loss of credibility. The crisis of 2008 underscored clearly that there is no third way and no self-regulation of markets forces whose only objective is to make profit for a few: no matter how much the social foundation is eroded or the planet boundaries overshot.
Social movements should be, even when self-contradictory, the new wake up call for policy making. Violent outbursts, physical or not, will not help any progress. It is about the violent experience of survival, of making ends meet and of maintaining a decent living standards.
Pointing an accusing finger at inequalities is necessary, but it won’t be enough to restore citizens’ faith in our democratic systems. Progressives in the North have started developing a programmatic orientation around “well-being”. It is a form of giving a more positive definition and narrative. And it shows results in this part of Europe that are worth considering.
The progressive family has answers to the challenges facing the future of our societies. But it needs not only a narrative, but an inclusive discourse which exposes the lies of the populist narrative from the right of the political spectrum. It will take time, but dialectics have taught us about the ambivalence of processes. History did not end with the fall of the wall. We are facing a huge lack of trust in our democratic system that can only be addressed through the democratic rule of law and policies aimed at sustainable equality. In the meantime social movements and civil society organisations on the ground will work on the most acute social issues and demonstrate that organising solidarity is more than a market slogan used by social business competitors.