Estado Social Real

Book written in 2015 by António Pedro Dores, antonio.dores@iscte-iul.pt, published in Portuguese in 2020

The Welfare State is an ideological entity that is causing political damages these days. It covers the social and political resignation regarding the strategic defeat of the leftwing parties. After the 80´s, the progress, former leftwing maxim since the end of WW II, turn into resistance.

The former so-called reactionary politics, as the conservative and the liberal politics, start presenting themselves as progressive. Universal rights deliver become a failed hope, even in rich countries. Moralistic leftwing stands of the politicians, and of the unions´ vanguards show powerless.

Is it leftwing parties and ideological resistance accomplice or impotent, regarding the present situation? Why does the continual collapse of capitalism not empower anti-capitalist ideology or movements?

Living USSR leadership, Gorbachev called for social democracy rule. He was followed by Lula da Silva in Brazil, and Bernie Sanders in the USA. The call and the experiences that followed it should be assessed. It is difficult to do so because mainstream professional social sciences are also social democrat. Social sciences are trapped in ideological Cold War Manicheism, as one can see clearly in the comments of Ukraine war 2022. Social sciences borders divide by hierarchized disciplines, and subdisciplines. Social sciences also oppose ideologies, under the opposition of mainstream scholar non-ideological theories and critical theories. Few space is left to heterodox knowledge, as scientific knowledge is. The ongoing war for funding, prestige, and elite services conducted in science fields is not alien to this state of affairs.

It is very important to make sense of western politics of science (Dores, 2021, Reeducar o Século XXI). Scientific approach to empirical data should avoid the takeover of politics and Manicheism wars. One must make it clear the differences between science policies – privatization of schools, universities, research centers, think thanks, etc. – and science politics – cartesian division of science labor and concepts, on one hand, ideological Manicheism struggles, on the other hand.

Science politics result from civilizational situation, the semi-millenary imperial state-economy mission of exploitation of the Earth, and its resources, including its human resources. Social policies result from capitalist situation. Karl Marx´s capitalism refer to the processes of inclusion of English and European people as row material to develop imperial mission: freed human resources. Capitalism is a strong instrument to secure much older imperial insane and immoral self-attributed mission. It crashes in 1929 and a New Deal prevail, strengthen by WW II victory. Capitalism was explicitly adapted by Western Europe during the Cold War, detaching social democracy from real socialism.

The social integration politics of the second half of 20th century , adding to free workers new status as consumers and citizens statuses, evolved according to Keynesian expectation. The 1973 oil crises stagflation comes as a surprise. An informal and non-negotiated new New Deal comes with Reagan-Thatcher progressive conservative politics. Women, young people, foreigners, activists, etc., struggle for social integration at the sometime businesses take all the benefits of growing productivity and dislocating industry to new sites out of the reach of revolted youth. Tax heavens and cuts on social policies become the rule.

What´s is wrong with this renewed political framework, now called neoliberal rule? For sure, it means weakening of the rule of law, human rights, and democracy. War, as war on drugs, on terror, on debt, on virus, on Russia and China, has been present all the time, even Cold War is over. Imperial rule is fueled on fear, reducing people to human resources by poverty, hierarchization, discrimination, and justification distracted from the basics needs.

The question is not to decide what comes first, the economy, or the politics, income, or democracy. The question is to come to terms about what is freedom about? Is it about working professionally, or is it having a word on avoiding violent situations? Is it the question about moral composure of capitalism, organized by merit, or is it the question on how to organize anti-imperial ways of living? 

Estado Social Real was written for my personal reflection on the relevance on what I was being doing for 30 years, professionally, as a sociologist teacher. After the extraordinary EU institutional political reaction to the global financial system bankruptcy without popular opposition (except in Greece), the powerful society I experienced during the 1974-5 Carnation Revolution come to my mind.

The scarce money flew all over the world for the bankrupted banks and the invoice was served (again) to the taxpayers. My memory on IMF´s intervention in Portugal´77 was the leftwing slogan “The rich should pay the [IMF´s] debt”. And now, 2010, here we are in a situation where tax payers are paying the banks´ robberies from around the world. 

I felt the need to tear apart my former believe that science should not mix with politics.

I discovered I was stucked by a professional ideology that close the professional borders of thinking. I was astonished to understand that the claimed irrelevance of social, and sociological theories is contradicted by the name of the politics followed in Europa: Social State is there for some raison. It means, according to Habermas, the right of the state to intrude in more and more aspects of personal lives of everyone. Social sciences´ missions, such as social integration, struggles against poverty and inequality, appear to me at a new light. Social workers appear to me as Panoptical wardens of the alleged free society. Computer sciences turn it all in the Chinese social credit.

The real social state, and the social sciences it funds, are not desirable. They have never been desirable. Remember the 60´s and 70´s revolutionary “breaking the wall” of schools, universities, and factories. Youth than was against all the system. The same system, the social state and its´ social sciences, is today presented as the final goal of declining leftwing parties. Social theories are to blame on this, since all professional people, one way or another, take social sciences disciplines as scientific (unquestionable) representations of immutable modern human nature, the best one supposably can get.

The book influence in my life

The states ruled by neoliberal politics are what is left from the former welfare state. The worker’s movements are not any more known for the hope for the future. Leftwing is now known for resisting as if welfare state (the standard of living of the richest countries) was the best one can get. The book deals with the astonishment regarding the reactionary call of leftwing personnel and parties: the call to engage in returning to the rule of former welfare state.

This book is about how hope vanish as one stay waiting in vain for the state deliver promise welfare. Real welfare state is not what it seems to be. Welfare state does not control capitalism. What welfare state does is to conform to the imperial global intenational apparatus that continue fulfilling the semi-millenary mission of taking the Earth as raw material to produce wealth.

What is new on the book is to point out social sciences professionalization as one strong, hidden, component of welfare state. The way state and social sciences work together help to cover up the divide and rule imperial over the Earth and humanity.

States result from divide and rule imperial strategy, as social sciences´ disciplines, and ideologies divide. Through schooling and universities, social sciences teach professional people to divide and rule on a hierarchical professional pyramid we all wrongly know as natural and indispensable for humankind living.

To unite humanity and social sciences against imperial way of living one need, in the first place, to have clear mind about the ways we accept all sort of divisions without questioning them.

I wrote Estado Social Real (real welfare state) in 2015 to organize my ideas about what I was doing and what I should do. The time passing by, and I felt it as a confirmation of my insights in politics. So, I continued my research. 2016´s Michael Kuhn´s book on “How Social Sciences Think…”, and 2018´s Jim Schofield book “The Real Philosophy of Science”, was pivotal to me to link politics to my everyday teacher work. I wrote another book (Reeducar o século XXI – libertar o espírito científico; 21rst Century Reeducation – free the scientific spirit) about science policy. It becomes a huge success in my mind and life. I am happy with I have written. I know what I must do, now.

Still, it seems incomprehensible to my students, and my political and professional friends. Becoming professionals is an addiction. Who cares about imagining new ways of living? Myself, I still do the same I ever done before. I talk to students that come to me by marks useful for their graduation.

The book

Since the 80´s, progress arguing cross the right-left political border. Reagan-Thatcher parties claim for progress. Not anymore social progress, as it was the case for the New Deal and its European counterpart, the welfare state. “There is no such thing as society” – Thatcher dixit. From the 80´s on, the revolution and the progress presented technological advancements that will solve all the problems. Workers movements were in the way of progress and should be dismissed.

Shouldn´t sociologist and social scientist contest such a political view? Without society what would be the subject of social sciences?

“Society first: then it comes modernization” is the name of the first chapter of Estado Social Real. It contests the scientific and commonsense adopted hierarchy of state and, economy (struggling each other), and submitted societies. It shows the people reduction to individual human resources. Logically, social science needs to prioritize society, its main subject, or disappear. Why social sciences do not act for society survival, for its´ own survival? Societies, also, seems dormant, hypnotized, stuck.

The hope of post-revolutionary Portuguese people to become equal to modern welfare states, like France or Germany where many Portuguese emigrants make a living, cannot be renewal after 3,5 decades of experience. 2010´s EU internal colonial politics shamed and extorse the PIGS, the southern Europe nationalities. The welfare states of the rich countries are still unavailable to people outside rich countries. Poverty and wars are still around us, as before, and state remedies do not work enough to stop them. Human caused crises, as financial crises, still happen not only in third world countries. Can we trust states and markets alliance over our heads?

Social sciences are old enough to ask what the point of their existence is. Why social sciences accept without of resistance the imaginary and false hierarchy that present society as inexistent, and isolated individuals dependent from the state-markets games?

Social sciences incorporate both the disciplinary hierarchy (economics as queen of social sciences and political science as the most popular in the media), and the professional reduction of social sciences to the lowest level of prestige. Would it be neoliberalism that freed the capitalism the problem we face? How could capitalism be freed from the revolt of human resources, the proletariat, if people did not comply with their professional duties? Can people avoid reduction to individual CV open to deliver whatever job is offered?  By the way, what kind of propose social sciences teachers and professions are used for?

Social state refers directly to society and to social sciences. The New Deal and the Marshall program to Europe oppose communist society. Social state will rule as worker friendly state till the 80´s. Sociology, and social sciences, toke the place of former religious ideology and the Soviet ideology.

The second chapter of the book title is “social theories as professional ideologies”. That is an answer to the purpose of social state to pay for social sciences universities. I understand why leftwing social sciences teachers prefer to present themselves as powerless individuals and sensitive people, as all professionals do. As everybody else, university professors must manage to split person and individual, the former as part of society and the latter as part of the state and the markets. Since the 30´s, at Harvard-USA, sociology become an initial education to new professions, such as those needed to control poor people struggles for survival in a way it does not affect New Deal politics.

The new high standard metropolitan, and isolated, energy consuming American way of life become a worldwide propaganda reference opposed to factory dependent working soviet life till communism is achieve. One of the differences between the two societies was equality: USA model presume the existence of losers over whom middle class must work to have access to market goods. USSR warranty everyone income from any job the state finds to each one.

Portuguese 1974 revolution open a choice window between western and soviet propaganda. Even for revolutionary people, consumer life is much attractive than working life or poor peoples´ life. The main political parties (center, social democrat, socialist) support integration into European Community. That is why social sciences become needed to democratic Portuguese society: to claim that war, poverty, famine, were problems of the past, of the fascist regime and its backwardness. The job of those professions supported by social sciences is to develop capitalism the way USA deliver to Western Europe, presenting structural problems as defects that can be ruled by public policies that free successful professional lives from ugly sights on excluded people´s lives.

Working class social 19th century call to revolution turn into social integration call into USA like or USSR like societies. Political challenges in the western world politics develop as peace, human rights, youth, women, ecological claims that run separately from each other and jealous of working-class representative’s state protagonists. NGO become lobbies as industry lobbies, except that weaker and ineffective, even they are hopeful runned by social sciences theories.

Blair´s third way, inspired by referenced sociologist Anthony Giddens views on politics, turn crime and poor people management as main discriminative policy in a way to cancel conservative politics, delivered by Labor Party. This way, professionalization of sociology prove to be useful to help to pursue the new-deal-welfare-state strategy after its exhaustion, at the 80´s. Mainstream political decisions accepted some professional sociological suggestions. Blaming neoliberalism should be blaming of sociology, and social sciences success.

This also means that social theories are much more influent that it seems at the university courses, not so much prestigious as natural sciences courses.

Can one denounce social theories as fake? Can one denounce social theories as non-scientific, misleading, religious like? It seems easy to do that, since pos-modernism trends already do that. Social science teachers do disperse their professional responsibilities and those of their students claiming they do not know, for sure, what to believe. For them, society is so tricky subject that no one can be sure it exists out of the power of some powerful people talk for it. Public sociology or public social science is the way some found to push forward the notion of the existence of society, repressed by neoliberal professionalism, around the fame of scholars that can engage on public discussions, as proposed by Habermas.

Decades of experience of “free media” show that the constraints to controversial thinking close above people, especially when war card is shown (on drugs, on terror, on Islam, on pandemic, on Ukraine). Surveillance society is managing its way using our cell phones as Panopticon cells.

It seems no way out to the complicity of people with the educated individuals one brings into life. Oppression to personal freedom and will seems natural and unavoidable. Social state is the ultimate Weber´s iron cage. Can one get out of it?

“Would it be possible to find ecological social sciences?” is the title of the third chapter. Maybe the environment come to save us, or at least to save life, from destructive global mainstream human activities. Lack of human good will can provoke environment geological response, some call Anthropocene. Is it a curse or a hope?

Social sciences are not natural science. They are separated and incompatible. To deal with nature is different to deal with people. Nature is presented as inert. People are sacred and can turn into human resources. That is way social science do not present in any circumstance the relevance of environment in peoples´ lives. It seems one can equally live in Mars or the Moon or in the Earth, as some propaganda explicitly claim.

Sciences that claim such a non-sense, as social sciences do, are they science? No one claim social sciences are science. They prefer low professional “realistic” profile.

Can one insist, with Comte, Marx, Parsons, and others, to follow the route from philosophy to science regarding social thinking? Doing so, wouldn´t be indispensable to stop the epistemic separation of nature and humankind? Doing so, wouldn´t be indispensable to become harsher when it comes to interdisciplinary thinking? Why interdisciplinary theories are so fragile or even inexistant?

The next two chapters recall how pessimist-optimist Manicheism and Rousseau-Hobbes Manicheism disperse social scientists in opposite parties, as political pluralist, and ideological tactics to divide and reign in the scholar and professional worlds. “Centripetal science” chapter offer the characteristic of today mainstream science policies that oppress full science (centrifugal science). Centripetal science avoid the presence of the perspective to organize systematically trans-partisan e transdisciplinary knowledge production and diffusion.

 “Lessons of law and biology” chapter presents bridges from social sciences theories outside the social sciences borders that can support centrifugal science politics.

“Social science, society and state” chapter presents a complex thinking inspired by centrifugal science. Social sciences should recognize the biological specificities of humankind, the human dependence from the environment, the connections between the different levels of reality: the cosmic, organizational and body levels. Instead, professional social sciences develop blind eye to biology and any natural sciences, present societies out of its technological and environmental frames, as mere institutional systems visited by people willing to join, except when they are mentally ill or enemies.

Criminal world is represented apart from society, purified by criminal justice. Social sciences specialization authorizes all other specialty out of criminology to forget about deviance, to forget about whatever feelings one might live about something wrong one cannot say what it is. Since the II WW, the New Deal, and the real socialism competition for economic growth, stretched ecological world systems. In the same era, social sciences develop its professional centripetal strategic blind eye to natural sciences and environmental questions. Professional perception grew in stratified ways: no one stay responsible for environmental risks that grow exponentially. Still when global warming extreme consequences become experimented by common people no one have a clue what to do about it. Everyone continues to do the same that produce this result. Protest rises about economic changes – like the raise of the fuel price – coming from new environment situation.

Social state is successful to bring together society and state, alliance supported by professions educated by social sciences. This alliance is not able to face new problems: it develops the same irresponsible environmentally routines economically driven.

“Reflexivity and marginalization” chapter mention the sublimation of people´s main purpose in life, survival, is brought by the idea of human as the unique clever being – res cogitans. This cleverness organize economy autonomous from environment, thinking autonomous from otherness: a war against nature. This philosophical discrimination between humancleverness and brut nature is a justification for exploiting nature and the part of humankind that can be assimilated to nature, like infidel, savages, slaves, workers, foreigners, criminals, poor people, and targets of any excluding classification. Marginalization at the bottom of social prestige supports elite privilege discrimination at the top. This social stretching status mechanism allows de wealth accumulation function. This social function is needed to develop Empires. Capitalism launched Empire to a global enterprise and a social integrated kind of societies, including excluded people that plays the role of marginals, eternal natural danger to imperial civilization.

Social theories sublimate the social stretching imperial mechanism through reflexivity divinization (elite and social scientists) and naturalizing the outcasts (meritocracy and poverty traps).  

“Reduction and reification” is the title of the following chapter. Its critic theories focused on managing capitalism. Instead, critic would do better focusing on the way capitalism exploit the Earth to fulfil imperial mission of Faith on value-money diffusion.

Focus on capitalism, an instrument of modern Empire, distract from modern call to the anti-imperial freedom, and self-determination. Freedom and self-determination are not Imperial goals: are not state goals. Modern societies develop strange and self-contradictory concepts of freedom not talked by social sciences, including critical theories. Modern freedom is about the environmental and social damages production presented as freedom against nature-enemy. This kind of freedom comes with working class sacrifice, outcast sacrifice, and elite morality, supported by professional social sciences since the New Deal and European Social State.

Capitalism is instrumental to the much older Empire organization. Abolishing or taming capitalism showed to be ineffective. The empire mindset (in USSR, in professional political parties, in post-colonial countries, within corporations, etc.) guide elites, workers and outcasts to new forms of exploiting the Earth and its human resources. For the moment there is no alternative to the growth politic. This priority result from Earth exploitation to which the capitalism shows to be very useful and effective. To distribute the wealth is a slow up, sometimes reversal, promise. 

The social critic to the social question – the survival of working class under capitalist exploitation – become main structure of the New Deal big state (and of the welfare state or social state in Europe). Social theories (both academic and critic) become central to nature exploitation state, and media propaganda. Its main job is to hide Empire, the nature disqualifying mechanism that also disqualify humanity as human resources. Nation-states, comparative planning work, international community, and modern social concepts – the epistemic split between nature and society, natural science, and social sciences – are built to hide Imperial way of building societies against nature, using capitalism and other social processes, as consumerism, cultural alienation, science control, etc. 

“Social state” is the final chapter. Social state adds to the liberal state (war, police, business) the leftwing functions of the state. This recent part of the state takes care of the life of the people (health, education, poverty support). It substitutes, universalizes, and abolishes former self-organized caring workers institutions. With neo-liberalism period, and the end of universal state caregiving, the caring state functions are used to isolate people from each other, to blame the victims for the incapability of the state to comply with its promises or better life built on meritocracy and poverty traps. 

Modern people, and critical theory, are stoked at a Stockholm syndrome that presents the social state both as an all-powered inevitability against nature chaos, and as elites as social single saviors.  



Citar este post
Antonio Dores (2022, 4 Março). Estado Social Real. Libertação do império (Liberation from the Empire). Recuperado em 26 de Fevereiro de 2024, de https://doi.org/10.58079/qvoo

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