Are ‘traditional social and political ties’ weak? Have they always been so and will they be so in the future? These are questions that certainly cannot be answered in one page.
At first sight, the thesis is credible when one sees how political parties today struggle to convince people, how trade unions have hard times to achieve some minor victories, how social movements disappear as fast as they have emerged. And yet, beyond stating the obvious, we should wonder why this is happening? And if an ‘anarchic form of social network’ can do more than a proper organisation.
Let me try to give some examples of social movements today and yesterday and what they have achieved.
Take the ‘indignados’ in Spain. They do not exist anymore. It probably is wrong to say they had no influence, they first of all led to the emergence of a new political party, ‘Podemos’ that is now in government. But these government policies are not precisely in accordance with the demands of the movement.
Take ‘Black Lives Matter’, without central organisation, but certainly with influence among the population, though much less at government level.
The Arab spring had huge successes in Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan … but how lasting? Who is in power right now?
Take the ‘Nuits Debout’ or the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ in France, without any doubt with consequences at the level of politicization of large numbers of people. But at the political level?
And take the women’s strike of 8 March 2020, a very successful global demo, certainly with an impact on the general public, but with lasting changes?
As for the ‘Fridays for future’, the youth movement fighting climate change, it certainly contributed to more awareness of the urgent problems this planet is facing, though at the political level, again, its influence is not visible.
Or take a political party, MAS, ‘Movimiento al Socialismo’ in Bolivia that just won the elections with an absolute majority! This will, again, change the country!
And finally, take the ‘movement’ that does not want to be a movement and in which I have a long experience, the World Social Forum. It will celebrate in January 2020 its 20th anniversary, but what has it achieved?