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Morphology of contestations

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The morphology of challenges defines forms of action. Social has forms that represent a specific system of social organization. There are therefore forms of homogeneity in the actions undertaken.

There are a significant number of words that describe different social situations. For some authors, they are not as distinct as one might expect.

The word protest initially means "testify" from the word "Protestantism". Protester comes from the Latin word "protestare", it is the protest of his good faith. Protest is an affirmation that in Protestantism is a space of the religious who criticizes Catholicism which has overdeveloped the sacred, it is not turned towards violence. It is, first of all, a testimony because it is based on its most contemporary dimension, namely Protestant etymology. The principle of Protestantism being a statement of faith in the sense that it testifies in a different way to the notion of protest: values are perhaps not necessarily what one thinks, condemnation of the excesses of Catholicism. This is a criticism of Catholicism. We also see the emergence of very modern notions such as human dignity, free will and opposition to the world in order to build a better world.

There is a humanistic interpretation of society. It is a positive dimension which, through the rereading of the texts, will make it possible to re-examine the biblical texts and to arrive at new religious institutions and new practices. The Protestant religion will be an institutional religion with the creation of a Protestant community.

This reflection is an important question because it engages us on topical issues such as overall cohesion and collective practices.

Beyond indignation, there is the construction of a collective sense. It is a paradigm of change. This change can take multiple forms with a high symbolic form.

In the concept of protest, there is a question of exchange, because the more intense the protest, the more limited the dialogue. Thus, protest is an alternative to those who take action.

From conflict to subversion[edit | edit source]

Le conflit[edit | edit source]

Julien Freund.

Political science is obliged to grasp this vocabulary and the forms of societal behaviour that are characterized by protest. Thus, the first notion that appears is the notion of conflict.

Conflict is interesting because it goes beyond protest, which can be interpreted as a post-protest stage.

Julien Freund (1921-1995), a Strasbourg philosopher, develops questions of political legitimacy and violence by re-reading. It articulates a reflection on the morphology of conflict and the notion of conflict:

  • act something other than protest: conflict is not necessarily an accident. The best proof to take is Marxism which is not an accident of history, but which was built in the thought of conflict.
  • Conflict is a profound conflict of interest that engages conflict. It identifies a strong tension in the notion of conflict between those who believe that public space is appropriate and those who support change. Positions have been made by feeding on the contradictions of society: they naturally bring conflict. There are several types of conflicts.
    • Social: a social conflict is the shaping of a bargaining structure by conflict; trade unionism is inherent to any democracy, the union is a representation of interests that will negotiate these interests with governments on the basis of the social conflict. For Marxists, it is the expression of a contradictory mode of production. It is a balance of power that takes root in changes that we refuse
    • of class
  • any society is inherently conflictual: conflict is itinerant to society, it is progressive, i. e. it is not necessarily negative. History shows that every society has forms of conflict. The faster a society undergoes rapid change, the more it becomes increasingly excited at a rate that it does not control, the greater the risk of potential for conflict, it is a mismatch between times that are accelerating and a human capacity that has difficulties in adapting, in the case of strong social and political transformations, man develops resistance and opposition to change. It's a concept of discordance.
  • Conflict is inherent in the conception of public space. The conflict projects into the question of public space in the philosophical and political sense of the term. By joining this group of individuals, it is part of a potential for conflict.

Thus, conflict is, therefore, a possible form of social relations, i. e. social relations are by their very nature conflictual.

Are there not specific forms of conflict in our modern societies? There are multiple causes: The nature of the conflict is linked to the speed of change in a society: today, we are in societies of extreme speed. Time zones favour rapid changes. There is a risk of being overwhelmed by speed. Frictions of resistance to change appear. Conflicts will pit the advocates of modernity against those who believe they can benefit from the structure of change. There is a concept of temporality discordance from which tensions emanate, making society a place of conflict. The exchange takes place in the public space. It registers the conflict, exchanges and possibly the rules of conflict management. Overflows are possible but remain a possible form of social relations. Management is carried out within the socio-political framework of the public space. Conflict is not external, but internal. The objects of conflict are very numerous, it is not always to understand the origin, but rather the evolution.

Conflict is impossible to suppress because it is something that is intrinsic to society, it cannot be suppressed.

Oppose the struggle to the fight. For Freund, there is an excessive form or the question of violence comes up again.

  • the struggle: violence must be dealt with through a separate process, which is unpredictable. The class struggle is, for example, a structured struggle, it escapes unpredictability because it is a construction, class consciousness and conflict are a construction of the notion of conflict, it is something precise that has forms and is structured. In demonstrations, the function of the order service is to structure those who are going to demonstrate, it is necessary to create a structure of order, so the demonstration allows protest. Therefore, the only structured form of struggle is class struggle.
  • combat: places it in more or less settled types of conflicts, but often can be resolved. For example, wars are regulated combat. The purpose of combat is to control violence and contain it within a certain limit. Weber's view is that modern states are based on the legitimate use of violence.

Freund also contrasts two types of situations in the use of violence:

  • polemical state: comes from the word "polemos", which refers to the art of warfare. There is open violence between managed states. Companies will have to channel the conflict.
  • Agonal state: society is obliged to transform violence and make it operational in order to avoid destruction. How a society substitutes security for violence? Basically, this is how society redistributes conflict in competition by making it a mode of societal functioning. Thus, society captures violence to institutionalize it by abandoning the concept of enemies in favour of the concept of adversaries, abolishing pure violence and channelling it by eliminating adversity. Another social order legitimizes society on its own. The rivals no longer behave as enemies, but as adversaries by renouncing violence, but in an institutionalized structure of adversity. The weakest is the one who cannot respond to this concept of social adversity in the modern state.

The problem is that agonal state is not easy to maintain, because there is the risk that competition can degenerate on clean violence.

Sport is, by its very nature, in a space that is totally within the management of individual violence, but at the same time, it is a space where violence can return at any moment; on the one hand, there is the desire to channel sporting violence to meet the objectives of the modern state. In addition, these sports reactivate individual violence. The contradiction is to manage sporting events without violence and to be subjected to the violence that emerges through sport.

The riot[edit | edit source]

Driver riot in Minneapolis, 1934.

The concept of riot is a degeneration of conflicts because it can be regulated by institutions regulating conflict.

This concept is for philosophers the degeneration of conflict, referring to "emotion". We're on the emotional field. It is historically perceived as dangerous because it is driven by emotion, that is, non-rational behaviour; it is immediate. They are often constructed on the basis of rumours: they carry the emotional dimension into the public space.

They are brutally unleashed and go beyond social prohibitions and legal and moral conventions. They develop without calculation and without means, without mercy, without reasoning. Its problem is the difficulty of controlling it. It is a space for transgression of values.

The riot is the birth of a form of gratuitous violence that has a recreational dimension. It is linked to objective characteristics such as poverty, unemployment, feelings of marginalisation and insecurity.

The whole history of philosophy and classical theory is to say that what makes political art is reason. Aristotle and Plato postulate that politics will become an art, i. e. the ability to act, by introducing reason, because what is political is the divestiture of emotion.

All classical philosophy will be to say that political art is the discourse of rationality.

Riots are a way of expressing oneself, a reaction to the provocation of policies and marginalization. Thus, today the discourse and the one of emotion.

Subversion et révolutions[edit | edit source]

Subversion is interesting because the prefix "sub" has a dimension of overcoming something. It is thought, it is about process and action, but also about reversal in opposition to the riot, it is about thinking the way of reversal through intentionality. It is a change through a process that refers to means and rules, the means available to reverse the process.

It is the constitution of a force for action to transform from military and geopolitical discourse:

  • Ideological encirclement: making an ideological barrier to prevent the development of an opponent's ideas;
  • Political encirclement: working with decision makers, but also restricting their freedom of action and marginalizing them;
  • Strategic encirclement: create an unfavourable environment for the opponent to limit his action.

It is a conceptualization of the opponent's control in order to make him bend. Subversion is about changing things by different types of means, including force.

Roger Mucchielli (1919 - 1983) develops three issues of subversion. These are techniques that are justified by the nature of the conflict. They are the result of know-how that can trigger violence if necessary, which makes it insidious:

  • demoralizing the targeted nation: breaking down morale;
  • discredit authority: conduct communications campaigns to present the opponent as a danger;
  • neutralize the masses: build the modalities to prevent the masses from supporting the dictator concerned.

The media is an important tool for manipulating public opinion. Subversion is of the order of staging. The use of the media makes it possible to create public opinion which, through broadcasting, can change reality as we perceive it. By making a reality, we create an opposition and the conditions for the destruction of a regime.

Subversion is a whole system of interest because it is a device that makes it possible to change the nature of political regimes.

The contemporary revival of contestation[edit | edit source]

The concept of counter-power[edit | edit source]

Du contre pouvoir.png

Over the last twenty years or so, contestation has resurfaced in a different way.

The book The Counter-Power of Miguel Benasayag and Diego Sztulwarkal discusses the analysis of the evolution of models of struggle in the contemporary world. In the 1970s, action could only be thought of in relation to the question of constructing ideology. Today we've moved on. The previous generation failed the great utopianism by thinking that taking power could change things, it is an observation of the failure of its generation. On the contrary, today there is a generation emerging that develops its discourse from below and no longer from the top-down. The problems of today's planet stem from past failures. By integrating the institutions, activists have embourgeoisised themselves with their utopianism.

The paradox is to no longer hide from great ideologies for change, but we must no longer have large programmes, which makes it possible to have projects and be more active in society and to make it evolve.

How to build political effectiveness? Wouldn't it be elsewhere than in subversion?

Instead of trying to conquer power at the heart, we should perhaps look at what is happening today on the ground mobilizations. The future is not the conquest of power, but the counter-power. What will change tomorrow is the fact that the people on the ground will begin to mobilize on major issues. The challenge is no longer to lead power, but to build a counter-power. A critical look at major societal issues is a protest mode.

Numerous ambiguities appear notably with regard to violence, which in a contested relationship with institutional violence is justified and finds legitimacy in confronting institutional violence. The better world requires more equality, but in order to build the better world according to Marxist precepts, it is sometimes necessary to resort to violence. We need to rethink the conditions of action from the bottom up in the use of contested violence to challenge the main orientations of our society.

This book provides an understanding of current forms of contestation. For Benasayag, there is a paradigm shift in the social struggle, which is a shift from traditional trade unionism, which is the defence of interests specific to a societal demand that is all the more interesting, since it can call into question the major thought patterns of individuals.

The new civil protest movements[edit | edit source]

Ulrich Beck wrote Power and Counter-Power in a Globalizing World[1] published in 2003. He questions the new paradigms of social contestation. The hypothesis is based on methodological cosmopolitanism, it is the idea of saying that we are entering a globalized society which modifies all the rules of functioning and social fields. As a result of the changes in the information society, we have entered a globalized society. The global society that brings together differences is cosmopolitan.

The observation is to say that if we have entered cosmopolitanism we have entered into new notions because society is globalised. This changes all the rules of operation and exchange, the nation-state is no longer the only major actor, politics makes one that goes beyond the nation-state; the state is depoliticized, moving towards a global infrapolitization of societies leading to a cosmopolitan global society that integrates cultural differences. If we are aware that we belong to one world, it is quite clear that the nature of contemporary fighting is different from the preceding ones.

The concept of the nation-state is therefore outdated, as the fights become global. The nation-state is depoliticized in economic globalization. The result is a global civil society where politics has lost its effectiveness and cosmopolitical stakes:

  • poverty;
  • risks;
  • inequalities;
  • global warming.

These are the new questions emerging from cosmopolitan society. It is a society that faces totally new challenges and has no management elements because it is another form of thinking that needs to be invented. The state sovereignty of the nation-state no longer answers these questions.

It develops what would be the new form of the political state. The places of sensitivity for collective action are the new struggles: product boycotts, ecological policies... In reality, the conflict has not disappeared, but resurgence on other forms by de-describing the old forms of political mobilization.

It must be understood that this cosmopolitical philosophical position will be able to take a considerable step forward because all the barriers are lifted. Tomorrow's stakes are not about state sovereignty.

The cosmopolitical contestation that shatters the national framework is producing a new militancy: emergence of the active minority of the contestation, thus in a tense climate emerges from the mobilizations of the "without". New spaces, but also actors of society are mobilizing.

Since the classical forms of protest no longer correspond to the stakes of these struggles.

The immediate pendulum effect is that the traditional forms of contestation break down because they are based on corporatist bases that are no longer at the scale of the problems.

We are witnessing a shift in the struggle today, particularly with the arrival of young people who are mobilized on issues that ask them about their future.

We're changing the modes of action. The modes of action are renewed through mobile social groups:

  • young people;
  • working women;
  • the middle class;
  • those with strong cultural capital to mobilize.

The associative dynamic is also the fact that we are going to choose our own cosmopolitan cause. We are not committing ourselves to something of the order of ideology, something that acts legitimately but to defend. One chooses his cause in resonance with his own reflection.

There is a reinvention of public space and the emergence of direct democracy. It's all in the moment. Mobilization will be effective because they are renewed action forums with instant media coverage in the sense that the media are all the more powerful.

In all industrialized countries there is an increase in the power of associative militancy which seeks something pragmatic, as well as a rapid and effective participation in social debates without being crushed by the weight of structures, there is a capacity for selection, we have to choose causes, the one in adequacy with the meaning of our everyday life.

Moreover, there is the emergence of counter-expertise with intermediate solutions. There is a mobilization effectiveness that challenges lobbying.

Now, there is a very broad repertoire of action that allows us to create unconventional actions that take on "punch" aspects to show the limits of institutional arrangements and that do not fit into a structural logic.

The use of the Internet makes it possible to highlight spaces that were until now little visible and also allows for the sharing and exploitation of data instantaneously and directly to create an international counter-power from public opinion. It is a new investment in public space that marginalises trade unions. They are reactive and rapid mobilizations that allow for quick complaints outside of a structural logic extending beyond civil society. It is the fabrication of an instantaneous direct democracy.

Since then, mobilization has been around the "without", it is emotional humanitarianism.

The new protest movements bring together three types of population:

  • People in situations of suffering;
  • Activists of "sans" associations (politicized individuals);
  • Contact persons ": activists or supporters required by the organization because of their individual skills or what they represent.

It is a renewal of the forms of action that make it possible to question the publicity of the struggle. The anti-globalization struggle has a very strong publicity and media capacity.

Politics being constructed in an institutional social system, there is always a risk of political recuperation, it is a paradox that all these new movements know.

The interest of the internet is that this tool offers the ability to speed up processes. This produces efficiency and shakes up institutions on priority issues and stimulates activism. The Internet provides a great capacity for expertise and community mobilization in the immediate future. It is a new form of direct democracy that produces efficiency and shakes up political parties, corporations and international firms on issues of priority.

The ability to make things public forces companies to take an interest in current issues. This capacity enables mobilization to obstruct international debates.

Conclusion - Future conflicts: towards a new form of subversion?[edit | edit source]

Aren't we going towards something to go towards something more violent? There is a return of subversion with renewed forms.

The experts note a radicalisation of the discourse in the extreme left which advocates a return to subversion that must return the political engine to change things. Reappears a binary discourse between oppressants and oppressed with a challenge to traditional democracy saying that it is no longer a democracy. It is a call to subversion that revives the old ideas of urban guerrilla warfare in the name of the need to paralyze the existing system and to think of individual and collective action as a way of transforming our societies.

The Tycoon Group was founded in the 1990s and self-dissolved after 9/11. He wonders what is at stake in theoretical reflection around reflection.

There would be an uprising that comes because the present is defined without a way out. No alternative seems possible either to the left or to the right. If there are no social solutions, we are in a sense of despair, so subversion must be used. As a result, urban guerrilla warfare must be updated. We are going to update the guerrilla warfare: it is necessary to reconnect with the theories of insurrection to paralyze the existing means.

There are new forms of subversion that take up old processes, but also bring some innovations.

Can these protest movements be part of the current democracy?

Annexes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Pouvoir et contre-pouvoir à l'ère de la mondialisation ; en poche chez Flammarion, Champs-Essais, 2008,