“World public opinion in the Depressive Society” by José Vilema


The Modern Society has become a “Society of Risk” for the reason of occupying itself in the discussion, to caution and to regulate risks that it originated itself. Conventionally it is recognized that the time in which we live represents the decline of an Era. Many will say with some conviction that this may be right, but it is in reality a policy of fear, encouraged and nurtured by the mass media that dilutes the possibility of to build a new public space where one can dialogue.

And this may not seem to us, in the first instance, surprising because the bad news around us, from inequalities, ISIS, climate change to policy anomalies, Brexit, the rise of democratic populism, impeachment as democratic protest, demonstrations in the United States against the new President Trump, and so on.

We have entered an L’ere Du Vide, as Gilles Lipovetsky called it, devoid of security in the many spheres, from politics, social, economic to environmental and cultural. This weakening of society leads us to permanent isolation by motivating the belief of the Self, instead of the us and of institutionalized narcissism.

Suffering due to a lack of direct social relation makes the individual incapable to act in relation to the other, and thus takes refuge in the virtual environment of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp, etc., looking for comfort with himself refraining from everything that is around him.

This character, of human despair, projected a new form of socialization and individualization unpublished. This represents the rupture with what was instituted from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. There is less dominance in human relations and more flexibility in virtual relationships, thus building a new public space (virtual) and a global public opinion. In this way, in the place of the citizen, the Being of a society subject to the social rules and laws that regulate it, grow up a frightening stimulus, the “right to be himself” in opposition to the relations with the Other and with society.

The elevation of affective subjectivity, of self-projection and of the called “right to be ourselves”, of enjoying life to the fullest, raising the valuation of individual personalization, that is, individualism symbolizes a objection of “cosmofilia” and “cosmo citizenship”. The individual wills it’s occupied by the desires and interests of classes by strengthening the individual perspective.

The institutions have become palliative. Indifference has grown. No matter the politician, the state or the religion, because everything has become “reflexive” because of the proliferation of information, as Anthony Giddens points out. We all call ourselves “Je suis Charlie”, but we are not interested in the tax increase debate. Belief in churches, in governments, has been lost. For this reason, one lives out of the space of decisions, losing critical awareness, starting with social structures such as family, work, church, army, etc. Everything is palliative.

This time of loneliness, abandonment, despair and, above all, anguish coined a morbid Depressive Society that obeys the “System” that colonized the “Lifeworld”, as Jurgen Habermas argue, because there are no alternatives other than “suicide” political-social.

It is because of this Age-of-Malaise that has been possible, strikingly, as economic consequences that devastate and cause irreversible climate change. These global dangers, no worse, create global affinities because we belong to the same Metastatus, as I call it.

Actually, it reaffirmed a pertinent aspect which it had raised a long time ago. It is indispensable a Politics of Humanity that is not a State politics, but a politics of Metastatus that is beyond all legal and political dimensions, transcending territorial space and anchoring itself in the idea of a common space of action, responsibility and, above all, conservation.

This politics of Metastatus transcends the capacities of a Nation-State and establishes itself in a metapolitics, for it does not concern itself solely with who is being directly governed, but with whom it lives in this pluriverse (non-universe) of which we are all inside. For example, the ecological crisis, terrorism, the free movement of people and goods, global warming, espionage and cyber attacks, are several examples that I could formulate, because they’re aspects that can not be resolved within of the Nation-State, but rather of the Metastatus. Certainly, the farmer in South Sudan is not concerned with the farmer of the Philippines or Uruguay, but both belong to this Metastatus of which the Nation-states, in which each farmer is inserted, are inside.

Therefore, the recognition of the “World Risk Society”, as Ulrich Beck has called it, is a major breakthrough in order to curb the degradation of this common space. It is commonly said that responsibility for the state of nature is in the hands of ministers and managers, but the realization of the side effects of products as well as production processes put human life at risk.


About José Vilema
José Vilema is Researcher at the Center for Research in Political Science (CICP) of Évora University.
Postdoctoral in Legal-Political Theory
PhD in Legal Theory, Politics and International Relations


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