Reflections on Outrage

From Mirada Global, an essay by José Antonio González Pizarro of the Universidad Católica del Norte, Antofagasta, Chile:

From the moment that Stephane Hessel’s little book Indignez-vous (Time for Outrage) was published, the press has tried to fit the different social movements into Hessel’s premises: Propositions concerning a more equalitarian society, with economic as well as social democracy, where justice can be appreciated not only in the prevalence of the interest of society over individual interests, but also in the fair distribution of wealth. It is a testimonial text, where the author clearly explains how the new post-war France began to rise in the midst of the struggle against the Nazi invasion and the Vichy collaboration. We must, however, add that the text doesn’t adapt to Europe’s current reality. The welfare State and State-regulated economy represent nostalgia for the old and historical reference for the young.

These are times of harsh pragmatism. I recall Spain under the rule of the PSOE and the shock caused by Felipe González when he denationalized the shipyard and naval industry and modernized the peninsula by joining the at the time western European institutions, starting with NATO. But all the same, Hessel stirs the conscience of the social values that made possible the post-war Europe. Values that aim at principles that were established as objectives. Their validity lives on in the social imaginary that promotes the search of a more equalitarian socio-political order. Let’s return to the ideas and events pointed out by Hessel.

What can we say about the rebellions that turn into revolutions because of the magnitude and intensity against dictatorships of either kind, whether they are the product of a military coup with popular support or through an increase in monarchic authoritarianism in Arab countries? How can we visualize the national anti-systemic movements —not against globalization as such— but within each country, such as the 15-M in Spain or the movement of Chilean students against the educational model?

Hessel puts the non-violent movements —with Mandela and Martin Luther King— in perspective, all the way to Palestinian agitation in the Gaza strip and the terrorist violence of Hamas against the state of Israel. In his pages we can find four characteristics that help shape the text and make European social movements understandable: a) democratic society rests upon its citizens; b) control of the means of production and communication agencies by the State through their nationalization and denationalization of those elements, and not by the powerful; c) prevalence of the values that aim at the improvement of the Being facing his commitment with what has been collectively built, and d) defense of this society, or if not, the commitment to fight for a socially integrated society.

The ideology proposed by Hessel is an ideology built by everybody, where everybody counts, there the horizon is to ensure that everybody is included and that there integrity is respected, because what drives people are the deeply rooted values of freedom and justice.

Read the rest here. Also available in Spanish.

Tim Reidy

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