La troisième voie : épitaphe

Le dernier demi-siècle a vu la fin de la politique idéologique dans de nombreux pays du monde. Il y a d'abord eu l'effondrement apocalyptique du fascisme lorsque Hitler a entraîné l'Allemagne avec lui dans un suicide collectif. La disparition du fascisme a été suivie par la désintégration plus progressive du communisme après la mort de Staline et les révélations faites par Khrouchtchev sur les crimes de Staline. Les révolutions manquées en Hongrie en 1956 et en Tchécoslovaquie en 1968 ont laissé prévoir l'échec ultime de l'Empire soviétique en 1989.

Tandis que ces pseudo-religions s'effondraient, une idéologie bienveillante de démocratie sociale dominait une majeure partie de l'Europe. Sa principale doctrine portait sur la croyance que l'Etat pouvait offrir une croissance économique stable et une protection sociale pour amortir les effets secondaires négatifs des marchés libres. Elle n'a pas fait l'unanimité, mais elle a représenté la plus grande force politique de l'Occident pendant plusieurs décennies. Les Démocrates chrétiens, voire même les partis conservateurs, ont adopté ses principes.

Mais au début des années 1980, la démocratie sociale s'est essoufflée. Elle avait simplement trop bien réussi pour demeurer un moteur de changement. De plus, elle avait introduit de nouveaux éléments rigides, notamment la bureaucratisation et ce phénomène mortel des années 1970, la stagflation, une stagnation économique et un taux de chômage élevé associés à une inflation galopante.

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