“Polarization over a short period of time fuels radicalism and sometimes promotes populism”

Tribune. The speed of information allows greater transparency in political life and greater responsiveness. At the same time, it is shaking up democracy, which needs a long time. This confrontation between these two times is vital to irrigate democracy. The long time is that of foresight, of debate on projects; time is short, that of people’s daily lives, which cannot be programmed and requires precise and often immediate responses. Understanding the complexity of reality is even more difficult in a period when short time tends to ostracize long time.

The short time, that of emotion, seems more empathetic, while the long time, more forward-looking, often appears cold and distant. Short time makes it possible to focus on an event, a topical subject, to describe its substance, and to create more or less radical collective dynamics on specific subjects.

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The long time allows to identify the contradictions between the different subjects which have an impact on life in society, and to understand them in all their complexity. The conclusions drawn from them may seem far removed from the immediate concerns. They are very often less drastic and can feel a bit soft.

A polarization over the short term generates a competition of causes, feeds radicalities, and sometimes promotes populism. Conversely, a long-term polarization can also move away from reality and promote another radicalism, that of a better fantasized world, in which the contradictions would have disappeared behind the purity of the analysis and a well-constructed project. All the questions facing our societies – security, health, retirement, employment, ecological transition, etc. – are affected by this conflict between short time and long time.

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Politicians as a whole, whether in power or in opposition, pay very little attention to the work that institutions can carry out on a certain number of these questions, and in particular those which bring together within them organized civil society: the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE), the High Council for the financing of social protection, or the Retirement Orientation Council.

Unlike some reports from specialists, the work of these institutions is collective construction. Despite their faults, they make it possible to understand and think about the articulation between short time and long time. They can be supports for involving a larger part of society in the necessary transformations. However, the reflex of political leaders in power is not to rely on this work and even less on the actors who have contributed to it. The pensions file was a good example, even to the cartoon.

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