A very great thinker, often forgotten and of whom we will no doubt hear about only on the occasion of his death, Zygmunt Bauman (a war hero in the Red Army war, who later became a communist philosopher in Warsaw, before leaving his own party and Poland in 1968, victim of one of the numerous manifestations of Polish anti-Semitism, to become professor of philosophy in Great Britain) set the pace with new and extremely topical concepts to understand what is going on in the world today.
After he had explained how the modern democratic State went from the role of “gardener” to that of “gamekeeper,” he theorized the consequences of the ideology of absolute freedom into which market democracies have entered, and he described a world composed of selfish individuals, who have become mere consumers, using the metaphor of “liquid modernity,” from 1998 onwards.
Such societies are extremely fragile. Picture a boat, designed to transport solid matter, whose cargo would suddenly become liquid: The less the boat’s resistance to roll with the first storm.
This metaphor increasingly applies to the economic, financial, cultural and ideological evolution of the world. And also to the political development of democracies: Public opinion can change at any time from one end of the spectrum to the other, by « liquidating » their leaders. We saw what it was like with the Brexit, Trump’s election, Italy referendum. This will happen, if nothing changes, with the French presidential election.
Nothing should be taken for granted; the conservative primary in France, in which a candidate was chosen by voters considerably older than the national average, does not prejudge any outcome in the results of the Presidential election. And the Republican right should be reluctant, as should journalists, to consider the election of Francois Fillon has won in advance.
Public opinion is versatile, disloyal, and selfish; and it does not aspire to be stable, loyal, altruistic, when voters are made to behave as consumers, and they are only given the opportunity to see the show of the candidates’ egos, and the tactics resulting from them.
From that perspective, those who are in the best position are politicians, whether men or women, that embody new products, with a promise that is all the more attractive because it is vague. A little bit like those surprise gift boxes that we increasingly love to offer and receive.
In this game, those in the best position are Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, yet, they are light years away from one another: Both hold a promise of renewal; both symbolize the desire to ‘turn the table round,’ a form of quiet revolution, in order to put an end to a discredited political class; both are careful not to have a program that is too specific. Thus, as I write, and despite what the polls are telling us, I believe they are the two candidates who will survive to the second round of the presidential election. We must be on guard against such situations; and it would be wrong if these two candidates believe that victory is a certainty. This is not at all the case. And even if one of them wins, he will be the victim of the same whims the day after his election, if he does not clarify his program.
It is critically important to make our world less liquid, to add valuable perspectives to it, and rules of law, it is in particular essential for France to require candidates to provide at least a framework for a credible program. This would have the drawback, for them, of disappointing all their voters who would gain nothing from this program, by making them politicians like any other politicians, begging for votes in exchange for promises. This will have the advantage for the country to support a democracy which respects its own principles and rules, invariant and firm, and which constitute its greatness.