A new social contract

Many bizarre things are happening these days. Police beat each other up, judges put down their gavels and go on strike, university professors stop lecturing but still claim their full salaries. Are all these legitimate manifestations of work demands, or do they indicate a society in degeneration? Our parties and political discourse have been overcome by the mundane. Wherever you look, you are struck by paradox: the outgrowth of a broader confusion in which social roles wither and duty takes a back seat to «rightful» demands. Police officers do not hesitate to block the streets, disrupt law and order and topple their trademark hierarchy. Judges, one of the fundamental pillars of the state and social system, stage a work stoppage in violation of the Constitution. The behavior of university professors denies the very nature of their vocation. Rules and principles that have been in place for decades are being questioned. The government’s demeanor over the years has itself fueled this rebellion against the social contract that has glued the country together for decades. Matters could deteriorate further in the future as economic and social pressures grow. Everyone knows, or rather suspects, what will happen next year after the Olympic Games «festival» comes to a close. Society will most likely be stunned by the vast load of obligations accumulated to finance the Games. Under growing economic pressure, incidents like this week’s clashes in the ranks of the police could take on calamitous dimensions and even shake the foundations of our democracy. If this autumn seems paradoxical, next year’s could become a nightmare unless we hasten to redraw the contours of social responsibility. Our political parties must rethink the situation and discuss with the people the terms of a new social pact that will incorporate some of the demands but also clearly define civic obligations.