Have inequalities disappeared from Western democracies?
Depending on your personal knowledge, the subject (subject of philosophy, general) invites you to dynamically inventory crossovers of themes between economic liberalism (Gini coefficient, etc.) and sovereignties, states of contemporary societies in the West and French discrimination… However, this deployment of knowledge and general knowledge cannot do without certain problematic aspects isolated in each part of your analysis. In this correction document, they are here more than suggested and their mention allows you to compare your analysis plans with the one that was better to use.
Problematic » Democracy » and » inequalities « : Is democracy as isonomia (the law is the same for all), isegoria (equal participation in business) and isocratia (equal participation in power) well applied today?
» Democracy « : term of Greek origin : demokratia, demos meaning people and kratos authority. It is the government of the people by itself. Democracy as a form of government is an invention of Solon in Athens in the fifth century BC. The eulogy can be read in Pericles’ Funeral Oration .
» Inequalities »: From the Latin inequalis: deviation, irregularity. In the West, inequalities persist. But in Western democracies, contemporary types of inequality are mostly characterized by income inequality, which reflects the sometimes historical particularities of specific population categories. Democratic progress is being made in terms of equality of suffrage. The subject therefore invites us particularly to take an interest in new feudalities that generate economic inequalities within the political organization of Western democracies. The subject therefore has a strong economic coloration and the treatment of its main problem requires an interest in the large ensembles (in the order of the plan, economic globalism), before insisting on certain particularisms (France). For this subject, the careful reading of the document provided during the test was quite central (Serge Halimi).
Elements for an introduction:
Nowadays, in most Western countries, indirect democracy is practiced as Francis Fukuyama noted in The End of History after the fall of the Soviet empire in 1991. The law is the same for all and, since the French Revolution of
1789, all citizens participate in business through voting (women’s vote granted in 1917 in the United States, and in 1944 in France). But yet, the space for political decision-making seems to be moving away from the citizens.
First party: The Democratic Occident : en panne d’égalité? THE THEMES TO BE FAVOURED IN THIS PARTY
1) (International) democracy : a regime breakdown?
Isocratia has been theoretical since ancient times. Critics of direct democracy during ancient Greece, such as Plato, relied on a first crisis of confidence when Socrates was sentenced to drink hemlock, inflicted by the People’s Court (for corruption of youth). Thus, democracy can turn into a dictatorship. Georges Burdeau shows how democracy, over the centuries, has become the weapon of the elite. Thus, the arithmetic equality of citizens has been abandoned in favor of the « nation », an abstract and theoretical body embodied in the representatives elected by the citizens.
Today, it is believed that a return to direct democracy cannot be practiced because, if in Greek antiquity slavery allowed the elite to devote themselves entirely to the affairs of the city, today the worker is sorely lacking in time. Politics would therefore remain the business of professionals. Nevertheless, some experiences of direct democracy remain, particularly in Switzerland where the Swiss constitution provides for the establishment of a Landsgemeinde (People’s Assembly) which meets once a year to vote on laws.
Democratic progress is being made in terms of equality of suffrage. But we could also speak of new feudalities in view of the political organization of Western democracies.
2) A power or powers?
There are two forms of power: moral power and shared power. Moral power concerns individual consciences that have prescribed their own laws such as, for example, politeness. Shared power, on the other hand, concerns the public domain where each citizen acts for the common good. In the latter case, power is indivisible. Yet democracies are characterized by several independent powers and there has been talk in the twentieth century of the emergence of a « fourth power » (the media). Is it not a question of
reality, of a diversion of the power of all for the benefit of a few? And what roles do the media incriminated by Serge Halimi play from this point of view ?
3) The West too liberal (counterpoint to Serge Halimi’s text)?
Social dumping and the relocation of companies to low-wage countries force developed countries to distinguish themselves. To resist, the West must develop innovative know-how. The States concerned must support research, which appears to be the wealth of the nations of tomorrow. However, some large multinational groups remain deaf to this call and respond to current situations with short-term strategies.
Enlightenment thought called for universal reason. Honest man placed culture, science, and intelligence at the center of humanity’s common good. In economics, we first talked about the internationalization of firms that allowed the emergence of world markets and then globalization (or « globalization », anglicism). Can we fight against globalization and why? Isn’t globalization part of a movement of history, inevitable? Economic globalization consists of an increase in the volume of goods and services traded. Traditional commerce , embodied in the theory of absolute advantages of Ricardo (died 1823), considered that one should not produce oneself what would cost less to buy. It is clear today that customs zones have been created over the centuries and that it seems difficult to go back without regressing towards a cautious nationalism. Economic exchanges are necessarily accompanied by cultural exchanges. Since Seattle in 1995, however, anti-globalization movements have gained credibility. The first alter-globalist idea that organizes in consensus at least intellectual is the Tobin tax, named after its designer. The ATTAC association was formed to defend the idea that all foreign exchange transactions should be subject to a small tax in order to discourage very short-term speculation.
Part 2: L’écho du monde occidental: l’étude du cas français. Presentation: The French Equality Model (Beginning of Part One)
All over the world, the so-called neoliberal ideology has imposed itself, almost to the detriment of Keynesian policies. This movement fostered the triumph of capitalism and the market through deregulation. The GATT agreements and the establishment of the WTO have removed the remaining obstacles to free trade. This is how France lost the main signs of its sovereignty. The franc has given way to the euro, borders no longer exist within the European area (Schengen Agreements 1995) and 90% of our laws are derived from secondary European law.
The French exception seems to persist. But despite everything, the main sovereign functions of the state persist. The social tradition of France can be summed up in a few major dates : family allowances in 1932, introduction of social security in 1946,
SMIG in 1950 and introduction of unemployment insurance in 1958. Remember that unemployment and health insurance remain mandatory in France while abroad, as in Germany or the United States, they remain optional. In these countries, the richest remain the best protected. On the contrary, in France, the CMU is developing to fully cover the poorest such as rmIstes. France is organized around a strong state.
THE THEMES TO BE FAVOURED IN THIS PARTY
Inequality? : the object of discrimination…
Discrimination has long been experienced as negative. In sociology, discrimination refers to the distinction that can be made in social life at the expense of a certain group. It then approaches the idea of racism and implies a separation. All means have been good in history to separate social groups. For example, « litteracy tests » in the United States have taken away their right to vote in a roundabout way from African-Americans. In South Africa, the apartheid regime separated the black population from the white population, until Nelson Mandela came to power. Discrimination is a modern concept, emerging with a society that puts equality at the centre of its values.
2) The difficult question of integration into the » French » way
The construction of the French Republic was based on the denial of any discrimination. Article 2 of the Constitution of 4 October 1958 provides that the Republic « shall ensure the equality of all … without distinction as to origin, race or religion ». The thought of the Enlightenment finds its full expression here. There is no human category and, within a nation, there are only French people and no « beurs » or French « of Algerian origin ». Thus, France practices assimilation, that is to say the negation by the national group of the existence of a separate party.
Can there be positive discrimination? Discrimination takes on a positive meaning in
1961 with the advent of » affirmative action » which established a system of quotas for black population in universities and administrations. The idea is that since there is social inequality caused by racial discrimination, these inequalities must be compensated for arithmetically. In France this concept has been adopted in an avant-garde way by the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris. Sciences Po now admits in the first year of the IEP. students on file, not because they belong to an ethnic minority as in the United States but because they are economically disadvantaged. The Institute repairs here the shortcomings upstream of the French education system
3) National education in the face of unemployment and equal opportunities?
Social inequality has been analyzed by Pierre Bourdieu and is apprehended through the network of relationships, education and language proficiency. For Pierre Bourdieu, social determinism persists, i.e. individual social mobility remains
occasional (heirs 1964, reproduction 1970). Today, it is even marked by downgrading (or demotion)
The French education system, through the various laws that govern it, submits to multiple requirements such as those of transmitting knowledge, restoring social justice, giving everyone the ability to integrate and situate themselves in society, get involved in local economic life. Faced with unemployment among young graduates, it is easy to suggest that the French education system has failed. National Education seems to blindly generate the reproduction of certain inequalities in the face of a social phenomenon that goes beyond it? Are we not reducing the tasks of education too quickly to that of training workers? This can lead to the irreversible development of anti-republican inequalities…
Any reflection on the limits to equality within our democracies leads to a reflection on the constitution of our elites. Every society is built around an elite (social, political, economic) which, as P. Bourdieu has demonstrated, organizes its own reproduction. As a result, discrimination affects women, the poor and immigrants alike. Discrimination is then understood as an organized system that serves as a springboard for societies, including Western democracies. Discrimination, i.e. equality , between men and women provides the most evocative story. That said, other forms of discrimination today generated by the internationalization of our economies generate new counter-powers that are just as delocalized (alter-mondialists).
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