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Digital revolution, open society and political culture

by ace
Digital revolution, open society and political culture

The political-administrative systems of the territory are no longer an exogenous variable in the more general process of modernizing political institutions. In the 21st century, the political technology of the State-administration is subject to constant pressure and obsolescence if we think, for example, of the digital revolution, the movements of globalization, supranational regional integration and sub-national decentralization, as a whole, what today is literature designates as “multilevel governance” political processes.

Now, with the digital transformation, there is no longer a vertex for the State, there is, more and more, space for a poly-contextual government, with more coordinative, collaborative and regulatory power. If we want, we need consensus procedures and fictions to escape the incompetence of politics. Furthermore, it is necessary to protect politics from politics itself, from its claim to be competent for everything. Politics no longer has the power to compel, it has aged, it has lost authority. It is overloaded, it is more and more superficial, often on the edge of triviality and lightness. At least "this policy".

With the digital revolution and its particular political disintermediation, the whole government will be primarily self-government and self-limitation. Deepening differentiation without causing fragmentation, should be the goal. Be careful, therefore, with the omniscience of politics, because, once again, your competence is limited and your incompetence unlimited.

For these reasons and to prevent the pulverization from leading us to political polarization, we find substitutes, that is, negotiation procedures, deliberative approaches, if we like, “fictions or false consensus” that work as beacons or restrictions for discussion and that serve to rest political contenders. As is shown, for example, today, in the case of European policy. Let us look, then, at some areas where the transformation of political culture is fundamental for the benefit of politics itself.

Political culture in Portugal is essentially party extraction. First, party exclusivity in the structuring and formation of citizens' political culture, which, moreover, was being fed by the proportional electoral system of closed lists and by the strict control of party leaderships over the selection of candidates for multi-member circles. Secondly, the party rotation of the central bloc, which established a kind of tacit political agreement with regard to the protection of the private interests of the two largest parties and the distribution of the respective benefits. Thirdly, the complacency and the nonchalance of the so-called civil society, which preferred, from a very early age, complicity and games of political party seduction to solve their problems.

This immense, slippery territory grew with time as electoral abstention and political indifference grew. However, the field of recruiting new militants was narrowing, but the field of obedience was widened as a condition of access and survival. It is from this conglomerate of interests, opportunities and obediences, very varied and contradictory, that the political culture in Portugal is nourished around what can be called the party-state and the budgetary equation of the party-state. Today, the recruitment field seems to be limited to party regimentation and tribalization of social networks. We need to get out of this prisoner's dilemma quickly.

The party-state can be defined as the conglomerate or the constellation of interests and powers that live and survive coupled with the various apparatus of state power. In another register, we can define the party-state, in a broad sense, as the set of providers and beneficiaries, direct and indirect, permanent and circumstantial, who live in and around the State and who, through the budget and through it , structure an arterial and capillary network in such a dense and fine way that the “prisoner's dilemma” lives permanently.

In the last sense, we can define the party-state as a field that provides positive expectations, stability, predictability, permanence and security, which raises and stimulates our adhesion, which are also covered by a set of rights, freedoms and guarantees of order constitutional, in such a way that they legitimize and justify the existence of a meta-party beyond the political-ideological divisions of the parties of the system in force.

The party-state is also a training ground par excellence, where the so-called party elites circulate and form and the party leaders are recycled. This training ground is immense, since the party-state has ramifications outside the state apparatus, since it extends to the so-called business sector of the state, in a permanent coming and going between what is inside and what is outside the so-called perimeter budget.

But party elites are "just" the occasional occupants of the party-state. There is an immense range of interests of all dimensions and natures that revolve around the State and that form the socio-political fabric of the party-state: the civil servant who earns his wages, the beneficiaries who receive the social support they receive. due to their special circumstances, retirees who receive their pensions, investors who receive tax benefits, suppliers who contract with the State and await their payments, companies and citizens in general who, through tax or rates, maintain frequent relations with the tax administration, as often as in the form of tax litigation and tax enforcement. It is this gigantic corporation and its political culture of convenience that form what is commonly referred to as the “system inertia”.

The party-state and the constellation of powers that underlie it undermine any attempt to change the budgetary equation that seeks to respond to the structural problems of Portuguese society. The growth of the party-state has been constant over the last forty years and its growth has a lot to do with the movements of contraction and expansion of the budget perimeter. In a broad sense of budgetary perimeter, this refers both to the central state and to the local and regional state and, also, to the so-called autonomous administration of the state. Thus, we have, as a whole, four areas or territories from which the party-state feeds: the Central State, the Local and Regional State, the State autonomous and regulatory administration, the State business sector. The elites of the central bloc circulate, obviously, in the immense territories defined by these four sub-sectors of the State, which is why there is no real reform of the State and the structure of the corresponding public expenditure.

The digital revolution, the platform economy and the transformation of the corresponding political culture may, however, substantially reduce the party-state and the constellation of interests and powers that have been around the state for the past forty years. The main functions of the State are at stake, namely: i] the sovereign state and sovereignty missions, ii] the social state and social protection regimes in their broadest sense, iii] the fiscal state and the entire structure of tax benefits and incentives, iv] the business State and the limits of the State's business perimeter, v] the administrative State, the autonomous administration and the reform of the Subnational State, vi] the financial State and the constitutional limits of the fiscal and financial responsibility of the State.

May economic growth help, notwithstanding the credible, very Portuguese paradox, that higher growth may slow or even postpone state reform. The party-state is not going to give up that easily.

In an increasingly distributed and polycentric society, territories are obliged to learn, to be cognitive and reflective territories. The territorial base will be progressively desecrated, the nation-state will cease to control its territory, while the most radical movements will protest against the state because it does not guarantee its sovereignty. There is, in effect, a very big discrepancy between the need for a collective identity to face global challenges and, on the other hand, individualistic radicalism, the need to affirm our radical difference. It is difficult to reconcile these two dimensions of public space, as radical freedom pulverizes and fragments all forms of organization, from the smallest to the largest. This is also the reason why integration or assimilation policies are at serious risk of being counterproductive, as it is not about identity, but about differentiation and diversity. Cultures, like people, are very selfish and to affirm integration is to awaken civil disobedience. Politics is an easy victim of this circumstance.

In view of this radicality, the world does not fit in existing classifications, typologies or cultures. We need other languages ​​to deal with singularities, differences, exceptions, discontinuities, contrasts. To all this, there is another problem, namely, the “functional overproduction of society” through the technology of modernization of the subsystems that support society and the State. Advances in technology are also considered an intrusion within the limits of the various existing administrative systems. We have taken functional specialization so far, created so many specialized languages ​​and …


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