THE CRISIS OF DEMOCRACY: REPORT ON THE GOVERNABILITY OF DEMOCRACIES TO THE TRILATERAL COMMISSION
CHAPTER 2: WESTERN EUROPE
The vague and persistent feeling that democracies have become ungovernable has been growing steadily in Western Europe. The case of Britain has become the most dramatic example of this malaise, not because it is the worst example but because Britain, which had escaped all the vagaries of continental politics, had always been considered everywhere as the mother and the model of democratic processes. Its contemporary troubles seem to announce the collapse of these democratic processes or at least their incapacity to answer the challenges of modern times.
Certainly appearances remain safe in most West European countries but almost everywhere governing coalitions are weak and vulnerable while alternative coalitions seem to be as weak and possibly even more contradictory. At the same time decisions have to be taken whose consequences may be far-reaching while the governing processes, because of the conjunction of contradictory pressures, seem to be capable of producing only erratic results.
These difficulties are compounded by the existence of Europe as a problem. The whirlpool of each national governing system has more and more restrained the margin of freedom on which progress in European unification can be built. The European bureaucracy, which had been for a time a useful protective device for making rational solutions more acceptable, has now lost its role. Contradictions at the governing level therefore tend to grow while governments are forced to be much more nation-centered and much less reliable.
Each country, of course, is substantially different. The main characteristic of Western Europe is its diversity. But across the widely different practices and rationalizations, two basic characteristics hold true about the basic problem of governability:
• The European political systems are overloaded with participants and demands, and they have increasing difficulty in mastering the very complexity which is the natural result of their economic growth and political development.
• The bureaucratic cohesiveness they have to sustain in order to maintain their capacity to decide and implement tends to foster irresponsibility and the breakdown of consensus, which increase in turn the difficulty of their task.
The superiority of democracies has often been ascribed to their basic openness. Open systems, however, give better returns only under certain conditions. They are threatened by entropy if they cannot maintain or develop proper regulations. European democracies have been only partially and sometimes theoretically open. Their regulations were built on a subtle screening of participants and demands; and if we can talk of overload, notwithstanding the progress made in handling complexity, it is because this traditional model of screening and government by distance has gradually broken down to the point that the necessary regulations have all but disappeared.
There are a number of interrelated reasons for this situation. First of all, social and economic developments have made it possible for a great many more groups and interests to coalesce. Second, the information explosion has made it difficult if not impossible to maintain the traditional distance that was deemed necessary to govern. Third, the democratic ethos makes it difficult to prevent access and restrict information, while the persistence of the bureaucratic processes which had been associated with the traditional governing systems makes it impossible to handle them at a low enough level. Because of the instant information model and because of this lack of self-regulating subsystems, any kind of minor conflict becomes a governmental problem.
These convergences and contradictions have given rise to a growing paradox. While it has been traditionally believed that the power of the state depended on the number of decisions it could take, the more decisions the modern state has to handle, the more helpless it becomes. Decisions do not only bring power; they also bring vulnerability. The modern European state's basic weakness is its liability to blackmailing tactics.
Another series of factors tending to overload all industrial or post- industrial social systems develops from the natural complexity which is the result of organizational growth, systemic interdependence, and the shrinking of a world where fewer and fewer consequences can be treated as acceptable externalities. European societies not only do not escape this general trend, they also do not face it with the necessary increase of governing capacities. Politicians and administrators have found it easier and more expedient to give up to complexity. They tend to accommodate to it and even to use it as a useful smoke screen. One can give access to more groups and more demands without having to say no and one can maintain and expand one's own freedom of action or, in more unpleasant terms, one's own irresponsibility. 
Beyond a certain degree of complexity, however, nobody can control the outcomes of one system; government credibility declines; decisions come from nowhere; citizens' alienation develops and irresponsible blackmail increases, thus feeding back into the circle: One might argue that the Lindblom model of partisan mutual adjustment would give a natural order to this chaotic bargaining, but this does not seem to be the case because the fields are at the same time poorly structured and not regulated. 
One might also wonder why European nations should suffer more complexity and more overload than the United States, which obviously has a more complex system open to more participants. But overload and complexity are only relative to the capacity to handle them, and the present weakness of the European nations comes from the fact that their capacity is much lower because their tradition has not enabled them to build decision-making systems based on these premises. This judgment about the European nation-states' decision-making capabilities may be surprising since European countries, like Britain and France, pride themselves in having the best possible elite corps of professional decision-makers, in many ways better trained or at least better selected than their American counterparts. The seeming paradox can be understood if one accepts the idea that decision-making is not done only by top civil servants and politicians but is the product of bureaucratic processes taking place in complex organizations and systems. If these processes are routine-oriented and cumbersome, and these organizations and systems overly rigid, communications will be difficult, no regulation will prevent blackmail, and poor structure will increase the overload. For all their sophistication, modern decision-making techniques do not seem to have helped very much yet because the problem is political or systemic and not a technical one.
One of the best examples of their failure has been shown in a recent comparative study of the way two similar decisions were made in Paris in the 1890s and in the 1960s: the decision to build the first Parisian subway and the decision to build the new regional express transit system. This comparison shows a dramatic decline in the capacity to take rational decisions between the two periods. The 1890s decision gave rise to a very difficult but lively political debate and was a slow decision-making sequence, but it was arrived at on sound premises financially, economically, and socially. The 1960s decision was made in semisecret, without open political debate, but with a tremendous amount of lobbying and intrabureaucratic conflict. Its results, when one analyzes the outcomes, were strikingly poorer in terms of social, economic, and financial returns. It seems that the elite professional decision-makers backed up with sophisticated tools could not do as well as their less brilliant predecessors, while the technical complexity of the decision was certainly not greater. The only striking difference is the tremendous increase in the level of complexity of the system and its dramatic overload due to its confusing centralization. 
It is true that there are many differences among the European countries in this respect and one should not talk too hastily of common European conditions. There is quite a strong contrast, for example, between a country like Sweden, which has developed an impressive capability for handling complex problems by relieving ministerial staffs of the burden of administrative and technical decisions and by allocating considerable decision-making powers to strengthened local authorities, and a country like Italy, where a very weak bureaucracy and an unstable political system cannot take decisions and cannot facilitate the achievement of any kind of adjustment. Nevertheless, the majority of European countries are somewhat closer to the Italian model and Sweden seems to be, for the moment, a striking exception. This exception does not seem to be due to the size or type of problems since small countries, like Belgium or even the Netherlands and Denmark, are also victims of overload and complexity due to the rigidity and complexity of group allegiances and to the fragmentation of the polity.
The governability of West European nations is hampered by another set of related problems which revolve around the general emphasis on bureaucratic rule, the lack of civic responsibility, and the breakdown of consensus.
A basic problem is developing everywhere: the opposition between the decision-making game and the implementation game. Completely different rationales are at work at one level and at the other. In the decision-making game, the capacity to master a successful coalition for a final and finite agreement is a function of the nature and rules of the game in which the decision is one outcome. Since the same participants are playing the same game for quite a number of crucial decisions, the nature of their game, the participants' resources, and the power relationships between them may have as much validity in predicting outcomes as the substance of the problem and its possible rational solution. In the implementation game, however, completely different actors appear whose frames of reference have nothing to do with national decision-making bargaining and whose game is heavily influenced by the power structure and modes of relationship in the bureaucracy on one hand, and in the politico-administrative system in which the decision is to be implemented on the other. It is quite frequent that the two games work differently and may even be completely at odds. A gap can therefore exist between the rationality of the decision-makers and the outcomes of their activity, which means that collective regulation of human activities in a complex system is basically frustrating. Such a situation is reproduced and exemplified at the upper political level where all modern democratic systems suffer from a general separation between an electoral coalition and the process of government. A completely different set of alliances is necessary to get an electoral majority and to face the problems of government. The United States and Japan also have these problems, but they are especially acute in West European countries because of the fragmentation of social systems, the great difficulties of communication, and the barriers between different subsystems which tend to close up and operate in isolation.
Two different models, however, are predominant in Western Europe. One model, which has worse consequences for governability, is the bureaucratic model associated with a lack of consensus. This is the model exemplified especially by countries like France and Italy, where a very sizable part of the electorate will always vote for extremist parties, of the left and to some extent of the right, that do not accept the minimum requirements of the democratic system. In these countries social control is imposed on the citizens by a state apparatus which is very much isolated from the population. Politico-administrative regulations work according to a basic vicious circle: bureaucratic rule divorced from the political rhetoric and from the needs of the citizens fosters among them alienation and irresponsibility which form the necessary context for the breakdown of consensus that has developed. Lack of consensus in its turn makes it indispensable to resort to bureaucratic rule, since one cannot take the risk of involving citizens who do not accept the minimum rules of the game. Generally, when social control has been traditionally achieved by strong bureaucratic pressure, democratic consensus has not developed fully and consensual breakdowns are endemic possibilities. All European countries retain some of these traditional control mechanisms.
However, an alternative model is exemplified by the countries of northwestern Europe where a broad consensus has been achieved early enough and constantly reinforced, thus preventing the state bureaucracy from dominating too exclusively. Sweden, with its strong local decision-making system, with its consensual labor-management bargaining system, and with its ombudsman grievance procedures against the bureaucracy, is the best example of such a model.
Nevertheless, a general drift toward alienation, irresponsibility, and breakdown of consensus also exists in these countries and even in Sweden. In time, group bargaining has become more and more routinized, that is, more and more bureaucratic, and workers, if not citizens generally, have also tended to feel as alienated as those in revolutionary Europe. In Denmark, the Netherlands, and Britain, the social democratic consensus is breaking down while the relationships between groups have become so complex and erratic that citizens are more and more frustrated. Politics become divorced from the citizens' feelings and even from reality. Vicious circles therefore tend to develop which bring these countries much closer than they ever were to the countries of continental Europe. Even Sweden has been affected , at least in its labor relations. 
All these problems are certainly multiplied by the new dimension of international problems which has made the European national state a somewhat obsolete entity. One could obviously conceive of a federal European system which could rely on strong decentralized local and regional decision-making systems, thus reducing the overload on the top, the bureaucratic nature of the intermediary processes, and the citizens' alienation. But efforts at unification have tended to reinforce the national bureaucratic apparatuses as if these traditional nervous centers of European affairs could not help but harden again. Thus, Western Europe faces one of its most impossible dilemmas. Its problems are more and more European in nature, but its capacity to face them relies on institutional instruments of a national and bureaucratic nature that are more and more inadequate but that tend at the same time to harden their hold on the system.
Personalization of power in Western Europe also has been used in national and international affairs to fight the bureaucratic entanglements and to foster citizens' identification when participation could not work. Its results, however, are always disappointing. Leaders become prisoners of their image and are too vulnerable to act. They become public relations figures, thus creating a credibility gap and broadening the misunderstanding between citizens and their decision-making system.
One should not, however, overemphasize the general drift toward irresponsibility and impotence in individual European states and in Europe as a whole. Problems are threatening, the capacity to handle them seems to have diminished, but there are still many areas where government performances are satisfactory compared with those of past governments, those of other Trilateral areas, and those of the rest of the world. European societies are still very civilized societies whose citizens are well-protected and whose amenities and possibilities of enjoyment have not only been maintained but extended to a great many more people. In addition Europe suffers less from social disruption and crime than the United States.
There are growing areas, nevertheless, where governments' capacity to act and to meet the challenge of citizens' demands has been drastically impaired. Almost everywhere secondary education and the universities are affected as well as, frequently, metropolitan government, land use, and urban renewal. This impairment of capacities is becoming prevalent in more countries in bargaining among groups, income redistribution, and the handling of inflation.
In order to better understand these general features of the socio-political systems of Western Europe, and to be able to suggest general orientations for the discussion of possible change, we should first try to concentrate on the social, economic, and cultural causes of the present crises. Causes and consequences, however, are basically interrelated, and it is impossible to disentangle them. Therefore, we will try to focus successively on some of the major problem areas which can be used for a better understanding of the present situation.
First of all, we will try to assess the general socio-economic context, which can be characterized sociologically by the explosion of social interaction and economically by the disruptive effect of continuous growth. We will then try to analyze the general collapse of traditional institutions, which may be the immediate background of the crisis. We will then move on to the problem of cultural institutions, focusing especially on the intellectuals, education, and the media. We will conclude by reviewing a last circumstantial problem which has had an accelerating impact — the problem of inflation.
In every developed country man has become much more a social animal than before. There has been an explosion of human interaction and correlatively a tremendous increase of social pressure. The social texture of human life has become and is becoming more and more complex and its management more difficult. Dispersion, fragmentation, and simple ranking have been replaced by concentration, interdependence, and a complex texture. Organized systems have become tremendously more complex, and they tend to prevail, in a much more composite and complex social system, over the more simple forms of yesterday. Because of the basic importance of the contemporary complex social texture, its management has a crucial importance, which raises the problem of social control over the individual.
Europe is in a very special situation because it has a long record of traditional social control imposed upon the individual by collective authorities, especially the state, and by hierarchical religious institutions. Certainly these authorities and institutions had been liberalized over the centuries since the time of absolutism. Nevertheless, a strong association between social control and hierarchical values still persists, which means that a basic contradiction tends to reappear. Citizens make incompatible claims. Because they press for more action to meet the problems they have to face, they require more social control. At the same time they resist any kind of social control that is associated with the hierarchical values they have learned to discard and reject. The problem may be worldwide, but it is exacerbated in Europe, where social discipline is not worshipped as it still is in Japan, and where more indirect forms of social control have not developed as in North America.
European countries, therefore, have more difficult problems to overcome to go beyond a certain level of complexity in their politico-administrative, social, and even economic systems. There are differences in each country, each one having maintained a very distinctive collective system of social control. But each one of these systems now appears to be insufficient to solve the problems of the time. This is as true for Britain, which was considered to have mastered forever the art of government, as it is for Italy, which could have been an example of stable "nongovernment." France, also, has a centralized apparatus less and less adequate to manage modern complex systems and becomes therefore more vulnerable. To some extent Germany benefits from the deep trauma of nazism, which has forced more basic change in the management of its social texture, but it is nevertheless under the same kind of strains.
The impact of economic growth can be better understood in view of these basic strains. It was believed in the fifties and early sixties that the achievement of economic growth was the great problem for European nations. If only their GNP could grow for long enough, most of their troubles as divided and nonconsensual polities would gradually disappear. This fact was so overwhelmingly accepted that for a long time the official line of the communist parties was to deny the reality of the material progress of the working class and to argue that capitalist development had brought not only a relative but also an absolute decline of workers' income. However, certain facts had to be finally faced: namely, the tremendous economic gains made during the past twenty years by all groups and especially the workers. But the consequences of this were to be the opposite of what had been expected. Instead of appeasing tensions, material progress seems to have exacerbated them.
Three main factors seem necessary to account for the paradox. First, as it happens everywhere, change produces rising expectations which cannot be met by its necessarily limited outcomes. Once people know that things can change, they cannot accept easily anymore the basic features of their condition that were once taken for granted. Europe has been especially vulnerable since its unprecedented economic boom had succeeded a long period of stagnation with pent-up feelings of frustration. Moreover, its citizens have been more sophisticated politically and especially vulnerable to invidious comparisons from category to category.
A second factor has to be taken into consideration: the special role played by radical ideology in European working-class politics. At a simple level, the European revolutionary and nonconsensual ideologies of working-class parties and trade unions were associated with the economic and cultural lag that did not allow the working people a fair share in society's benefits. But ideology is only partially a consequence of frustration; it is also a weapon for action. And in the European context, it remains the most effective available instrument for mobilization. When ideology declines, the capacity of the unions to achieve results also declines. The processes of orderly collective bargaining, even when they bring results, tend to be also so complex and bureaucratic that they produce disaffection. Rank-and-file workers do not recognize themselves in such a bureaucratic process and they tend to drift away, which means that the more trade unions and working-class parties accept regular procedures, the weaker they become in their capacity to mobilize their followers and to put real pressure on the system. Thus, they have to rediscover radicalism. This is much more true for the Latin countries, which had never achieved a satisfactory bargaining system, but radical drift has also been very strong in northwest Europe. Generally, even if workers have become better integrated in the overall social system, they nevertheless remain basically frustrated with the forms of bargaining which do not allow them much participation. Therefore, a radical ideology is necessary to enable them to commit themselves to the social game. This situation is especially strong in many countries where it can be argued that working-class groups have not benefited from prosperity as greatly as they should or could have. Conversely, those countries where blue-collar-workers' progress has been comparatively the greatest and the steadiest, such as Germany, are also those whose resistance to inflation and to the ideological drift is the strongest.
A third factor may be more fundamental. This is the most disruptive consequence of accelerated change. It is true enough that change often brings greater material results and that people have been able to recognize and appreciate their gains, although they might have denied them for a long time. But accelerated change is extremely costly in terms of disruption. It means that many branches and enterprises decline and even disappear while others undergo tremendous growth. People are forced to be mobile geographically and occupationally, which can be accounted for in terms of psychological costs. They have had to face a new form of uncertainty and are likely to compare their fates more often to the fates of other groups. Tensions, therefore, are bound to increase.
Moreover, these processes have had a direct and profound impact on the modes of social control operating in society. And this is where Europe has been much more vulnerable than either the United States or Japan. In a society where social control had traditionally relied on fragmentation, stratification, and social barriers to communication, the disruptive effect of change which tends to destroy these barriers, while forcing people to communicate, makes it more and more difficult to govern. The problem has never been so acute in North America, which has always been on the whole a much more open society; and it is still not yet as developed in Japan, which has been able up to now to maintain its forms of social control while undergoing even more economic change.
Wide differences of course persist between the very diverse European nations. Italy and to some extent France have been less directly perturbed because they have remained more hierarchical in their social texture.  Throughout the world individuals have lost a great deal of their traditional frames of reference and have not found substitutes in their relationships with the collective group. Everywhere anomie has increased for young people; groups are more volatile and social control is much weaker. At the same time, the direct effect of economic and geographical disruptions requires proper handling; it requires the imposition of collective disciplines which these disruptions make it impossible to generate. 
A no-growth economy is, of course, no solution, as Britain has clearly shown. No country can isolate itself from general change. British society may have suffered less disruption than the continental countries, but it is now, in counterpart, the victim of its poor economic performance. British people may still be individually less tense than people on the continent, but they are becoming collectively demoralized. Egalitarianism and mass participation pressures have increased as they did elsewhere and the gap between promises and expectations has widened even more, leading to repeated and frustrating clashes between the bureaucracy and various sectors of the general public, to poorer and poorer government performances, and to widespread feelings of political alienation.
The contradiction regarding social control has been amplified by the near collapse of the traditional authority structure which was buttressing social control processes. The collapse is partly due to the disruptive effect of change, but it can also be viewed as the logical outcome of a general evolution of the relationship of the individual to society.
Everywhere in the West the freedom of choice of the individual has increased tremendously. With the crumbling of old barriers everything seems to be possible. Not only can people choose their jobs, their friends, and their mates without being constrained by earlier conventions, but they can drop these relationships more easily. People whose range of opportunities is greater and whose freedom of change also is greater can be much more demanding and cannot accept being bound by lifelong relationships. This is, of course, much more true for young people. It has further been compounded by the development of sexual freedom and by the questioning of woman's place in society. In such a context traditional authority had to be put into question. Not only did it run counter to the tremendous new wave of individual assertion, but at the same time it was losing the capacity which it had maintained for an overly long time to control people who had no alternatives.
The late sixties have been a major turning point. The amount of underlying change was dramatically revealed in the political turmoil of the period which forced a sort of moral showdown over a certain form of traditional authority. Its importance has been mistaken inasmuch as the revolt seemed to be aiming at political goals. What was at stake appears now to be moral much more than political authority—churches, schools, and cultural organizations more than political and even economic institutions.
In the short space of a few years, churches seem to have been the most deeply upset. In most of Europe, a basic shift was accelerated which deprived them of their political and even moral authority over their flocks and within society at large. The Catholic church has been hit the hardest because it had remained more authoritarian. Yet as opinion polls have shown, religious feelings and religious needs persist. They may even have been reactivated by the anxieties of our time so that eventually churches will be able to regain some of the ground they have lost. In order to succeed they will have to open up and abandon what remains of their traditional principles.
This may have been already achieved since the authoritarian pattern is vanishing. The crisis is much more apparent within the hierarchy than among the laity. Priests are leaving the churches at an increasing rate; they cannot be replaced, and those who stay do not accept the bureaucratic authority of their superiors and the constraints of the dogma as obediently as before. They are in a position to exact a much better deal, and they get it. Conversely, they feel less capable of exerting the traditional moral authority they maintained over laymen. It may be exaggerated to pretend that the age-old system of moral obligations and guidance that constituted the church has crumbled; it is still alive, but it has changed more in the last decade than during the last two centuries. Around this change the new effervescence that has developed may be analyzed as a proof of vitality. New rationales may emerge around which the system will stabilize. But it seems clear enough already that the traditional model, which had been for so long one of the main ideological strongholds of European societal structures, has disintegrated. This is certainly a major change for European societies. Such a model provided a basic pattern for the social order and was used as a last recourse for buttressing social control, even in the so-called laicist countries like France where the Catholic church was supposed to have only a minor influence. The impact of the basic shift of values will be widespread. Even the nonreligious milieus, which had maintained similar models of social control despite their opposition to the Catholic principles, will not be able to resist change any better even if at first glance they seem less directly affected.
Education as a moral establishment is faced with the same problem and may be the first example of this corresponding similarity between opposing traditions. Whatever philosophical influences were exerted over it in particular countries, education is in trouble all over Western Europe. It has lost its former authority. Teachers cannot believe anymore in their "sacred" mission and their students do not accept their authority as easily as they did before. Along with the religious rationale for the social order, educational authority does not hold firm anymore. Knowledge is widely shared. Teachers have lost their prestige within society, and the closed hierarchical relations that made them powerful figures in the classroom have disappeared. Routine makes it possible for the system to work and the sheer necessity and weight of its functions will maintain it in operation. But the malaise is deep. The dogmatic structure disintegrates; no one knows how to operate without a structure and new forms do not seem to be emerging. We are still in the process of destructuration where generous Utopias still seem to be the only constructive answers to the malaise.
Higher education, which has had a more spectacular revolution, may have been partly revived, but in many countries and in many disciplines it is still in chaos. European universities do not offer any kind of institutional leadership. They are not real institutions for their students. Very few teachers will be able to propose positive and non-ideological models of commitment to values which can be acceptable to students. Consequently, the universities' potential cannot be used as a stimulant for change in society and young people's energies are easily diverted toward meaningless and negative struggles.
Other institutions are also, if less severely, perturbed by this collapse of moral authority. Among them the army, at least in its roles as training school for organizational disciplines and symbol and embodiment of patriotic values, has lost its moral and psychological appeal. Defense may be more and more entrusted to professional armies that may remain reliable. But the conscript army as a school for the citizen and as a model of authority is on the wane. It has lost all sense of purpose. It is really isolated from the mainstream of human relationships. Thus, another stronghold of the moral fabric of Western societies disappears.
Curiously enough the problem of authority in economic organizations, which had always been considered the most difficult battlefield of industrial society, seems comparatively less explosive. Difficulties have been reactivated during the upheaval of the late sixties. Economic sanctions and the visibility of results, however, give participants some acceptable rationale for collective endeavor. Nevertheless, European enterprises are weaker as institutions, on the whole, than their American or Japanese counterparts. They lack consensus over the system of authority as well as over the system of resources allocation, and they even often lack enough agreement regarding the rules of the game in conflict situations.
The problems are more difficult when the social system has maintained some of the rigid features of a former class society and when authority is supposed to be imposed from above. The situation is considerably more touchy in Italy and to some extent also in France than in Scandinavia and Germany, where discipline has long been internalized.  Nevertheless, the problem remains more acute in Europe than in the United States, where people have gradually learned newer forms of social control, or in Japan, where older forms of social control persist and readjust to present requirements in a very active fashion.
Two important series of consequences are derived from this institutional weakness. First, the integration of the working class into the social game is only partial, especially in the Latin countries and in France. Second, the weight of the organizational middle classes of middle executives and supervisors constitutes a conservative, eventually paralyzing force.
The lack of integration of the working class not only prevents direct bargaining and understanding, which makes the European enterprise more vulnerable, but it is at the root of the widespread reluctance of young people to accept the humiliating, underpaid lower-blue-collar jobs. European entrepreneurs have found an easy solution to the workforce problem by turning to migrant workers from Southern Europe and North Africa. However, this policy, which had been highly successful for a while and which has fed the industrial development of Western Europe during its boom years, has brought new and difficult problems in the community life of West European cities. Gradually another factor of instability has developed since foreign workers have begun to question their place and range of opportunities in the social and economic system.
Efforts at promoting working-class jobs and upgrading and integrating blue-collar jobs into the mainstream of industrial development have usually failed because of the weight of the hierarchy. And the middle- most hierarchical categories have slowed down the modernization of the institutional fabric of economic organizations. Their attitudes, furthermore, help maintain in these European organizations the rigidity of social control that prevents modernization and growth.
Indeed, if European enterprises look more healthy than European churches and schools, this is also because they still rely more on the old model of social control. One may surmise that economic organizations will have to follow suit after the others, which probably means disruption. Differences between countries remain considerable. Sweden, for instance, is well ahead in the development of a new model while Italy is in a stage of partial disruption.
Another basic source of disruption of Western societies comes from the intellectual world. Daniel Bell has rightly pointed out the basic importance of culture in the coming of post-industrial society. Knowledge tends to become the basic resource of humanity. Intellectuals as a social group are pushed into the forefront of sociopolitical struggles and the relationships of the intellectual world to society change radically. But neither Daniel Bell nor any other futurologist has foreseen the importance and the painfulness of such an ongoing process of change. There is no reason to believe that the contemporary cultural revolution will be more peaceful than the industrial revolutions of the past.
We seem to be, as a matter of fact, in a cultural crisis which may be the greatest challenge that confronts Western societies, inasmuch as our incapacity to develop appropriate decision-making mechanisms—the ungovernability of our societies—is a cultural failure. Europe, in this respect, is the most troubled and the most vulnerable of the three Trilateral areas, primarily because the strength and centrality of its intellectual tradition makes it more difficult to develop new models.
The first element of the crisis is the problem of numbers. The coming of a post-industrial society means a tremendous increase in the numbers of intellectuals, would-be intellectuals, and para-intellectuals. Not only do older intellectual professions develop, but newer ones appear, and many nonintellectual jobs become professional. But the more intellectuals there are, the less prestige there is for each. Here again we come to the real paradox: The more central a profession becomes, the less prestige and influence its average member will have as an individual. There would not be any problem if the socialization and training process would be geared to the new state of affairs. But people continue to be trained in the traditional aristocratic ethos of the prestigious roles of yesterday. They are thus prepared to expect a completely different pattern of activities and relationships with the outside world than is actually the case. Moreover, the cumulative effects of their individual endeavors to promote and modernize their roles tend to diminish and routinize them.
A new stratification thus develops between those persons who can really play a leading role and those who have to accept a humbler status. But this stratification is in turn a factor in the malaise because in many countries, particularly France and Britain, the happy few acquire and maintain their positions by restrictive monopolistic practices.
Another factor of discontent comes from the importance of the aristocratic tradition in Western Europe's cultural world. According to that tradition, intellectuals are romantic figures who naturally get a position of prominence through a sort of aristocratic exaltation. This attitude is still very much alive and dominant at a subconscious level. Yet intellectuals as agents of change and moral guides in a period of fast changes should be and are effectively in the vanguard of the fight against the old aristocratic tradition. Thus not only are they working to destroy the privileges that they unconsciously crave, but many of them undergo a moral crisis for which a radical stand is often an easy solution.
The internal upsetting of the traditional intellectual roles, whose new occupants discover that they do not meet the expectations which had prompted their own personal commitments, is increased, if not multiplied, because of the existence of a very strong displacement within the intellectual world itself. While a long tradition had given the humanities an honored position, the new trend favors the new intellectual professions that may be of more practical use. The more post-industrial society becomes intellectualized, the more it tends to displace traditional value-oriented intellectual disciplines to the benefit of action-oriented ones, that is, those disciplines that can play a direct role in policy-making.
Value-oriented intellectuals do not disappear or even decline, however. They find new and rapidly-developing openings in the fields of communications. But such a reorientation may be morally painful since it can be viewed as somewhat debasing. In any case, the opposition of the two cultures, described by C.P. Snow, has shifted greatly. It has become a battle between those persons who play the audience, even if it is a protest type, and those who contribute to the process of decision- making. Thus, the basic crisis of the intellectual world is a crisis of identity in a rapidly changing world where the basic mechanisms of regulation have been put severely into question.
Many other factors, of course, are at work. The cultural world may be considered as a sounding board for the other forms of malaise of Western societies. But one should emphasize that this sounding board plays a very important, autonomous role of its own, first of all because it reinforces the uncertainties and driving anxieties it is expressing and, second, because it projects on the whole of society the crises of identity its members are experiencing.
Notwithstanding the many differences between countries, one can clearly recognize a general drift in the art and literary worlds toward a protest and even revolutionary posture. It has clearly shaped the cultural context in which the younger generations move.
The importance of such a trend should not be underestimated. True enough, one can correctly dismiss its immediate political influence and recognize the superficiality of its fashionable aspects. But it has a meaning and an influence at a deeper level. It is an expression of a basic weakening of Western Europe's sense of purpose, capacity to lead, and to govern itself. Above all, it is the source of a profound divorce between the ruling people and the young talents.
Even if it does not affect the general public, which tends to react against highbrow pessimism, the overall mood of Western societies is shaped by a general cultural tendency. West European values are not rejuvenated in a convincing way. No model of civilization emerges from the present- day drifting culture, no call for reform and pioneering. Ritualism and self-pity remain the basic undercurrent behind the arrogant radical criticism that prevails on the surface. Vague Utopias certainly do not counterbalance the stronger apocalyptic nihilism that forms the texture of our vanguard culture. On the other hand, there is no possible dialogue between the ruling elite and the new generation. Fragmentation and stratification, which were stifling traditional class society, seem to perpetuate themselves through new cultural cleavages. Other regulatory mechanisms which we cannot distinguish yet may be at work. A new blossoming may well follow this long hibernating process. But we must face the fact that we are now in the most vulnerable part of the cycle of change or, to put it a better way, of the process of transition to post-industrial society.
The vulnerability of the cultural world and its importance for the whole of society is compounded because of the central role it plays in two basic subsystems of modern societies: education and the media.
Education exemplifies some of the same basic contradictions as the world of culture. The prestige of teachers has decreased with the tremendous increase of their numbers while their expectations are still greatly influenced by the traditional liberal flavor of their calling. And they are, even more than other intellectuals, directly confronted with the revolution in human relations that perturbs their traditional mode of social control. At the same time, with its cultural drift society has lost the stimulating moral guidance it requires. As a consequence the transmission of social, political, and cultural norms has been very deeply perturbed, thus feeding back into society as a whole. Already research results show the extent of intellectual breakdown and disorientation that prevails in many sectors of the population. People's behavior is not touched, really, but they can no longer rely on a coherent rationalization of its context, and they feel at a loss to find out how they relate to society. Anomic rebellion, estrangement from society, and alienation certainly have dangerously progressed because of this cultural void.
The media are not in as great a crisis as education is. However, they have been transformed by the explosion and expansion of communications and the new role played by value-intellectuals. The media's influence on politics and governability is much more direct than that of education, and the media play a most decisive role in the present drift of Western societies. They are a very important source of disintegration of the old forms of social control inasmuch as they contribute to the breakdown of old barriers to communication. Television, particularly, has played a major role in this respect. It has made it impossible to maintain the cultural fragmentation and hierarchy that was necessary to enforce traditional forms of social control. Its impact has been more recent and more difficult than in the United States or Japan because of the much stronger resistance of fragmented and stratified European societies. Its use is still more differentiated according to social categories or classes. Nevertheless, the strength of the appeal of television is such that it has forced a complete change of public and social life, and has also indirectly helped the press to restructure itself. The main impact of these changes, of course, is visibility. The only real event is the event that is reported and seen. Thus, journalists possess a crucial role as gatekeepers of one of the central dimensions of public life.
The media have thus become an autonomous power. It is not new to talk about the Fourth Estate. But we now are witnessing a crucial change when the profession tends to regulate itself in such a way as to resist pressure from financial or governmental interests. Television, which is heavily influenced in many countries by governmental control, works much less openly than newspapers; self-regulation, however, is everywhere on the increase. This could be viewed as tremendous progress. But at the same time these mechanisms of self-regulation of the media tend to be strongly biased. If journalists can create events, they have a structuring impact on public and social life. And if their basic logic in creating events is to reach the widest possible audience, they will tend to bias the social game in such a way that public figures will have to play for this audience much more than for real outcomes. This has many consequences:
First, the media become a tremendous sounding board for the difficulties and tensions of society. Movements and fashions take broader proportions. It is much more difficult to escape the whirlpool of public relations events and to concentrate on more basic problems. Second, the media deprive governments and to some extent also other responsible authorities of the time lag, tolerance, and trust that make it possible to innovate and to experiment responsibly.
Third, the pressure of the media makes it extremely difficult to solve a basic dilemma of modern complex systems, which has been brought to light as the counterintuitive effect.  Systems operate in such a way that very often the general outcome of individual action runs counter to the will of the actors and to the general intuition one may have in advance. Thus it is imperative to give much more importance to systems analyses than to the immediate and apparent views of the actors, which is evidently the bias of the media. The more this sounding board emphasizes the emotional appeal of the actors' "life experience," especially as biased by the techniques of the media, the less easy it is to force a real analysis of the complex game on which political leaders must act. Finally, the emphasis on direct evidence appears to be as loaded with ideology and manipulation as old style oratory. Journalists' autonomy does not lead necessarily to transparency and truth but may distort the perception of reality.
Here we find the problem of journalists as value-oriented intellectuals who tend to be governed by the game of catching the audience's attention and are responsible therefore for the acceleration of the cultural drift. In the long run, this problem may be much more important than the problems of financial and government interference in the media, which are everywhere tending to recede.
In politics, however, the public relations effect is quite different from the North American one since the ruling elite and the educated audience play a major role as an important screen. They constitute the primary audience of the highbrow publications, which in turn tend to structure the problems that will finally reach the broader audience. Public relations of a public figure will be conditioned by the existence of these two levels. This means that there is a very serious buffer against too immediate reactions. But this does not mean a suppression of the public relations distortion, only a transformation of its conditions. At any rate the pressure for change that is against secrecy and protection of leaders seems to be more on the increase. The only ready answer to counterbalance it is the use of bureaucracy for real action, which means that the gap between the decision-making system, distorted by public relations problems, and the implementation system, protected but also bound and biased by bureaucratic machine-regulating mechanisms, will tend to increase, thus triggering constant new waves of frustration and anger and diminishing the amount of trust people will give to their leadership.
Inflation can be considered a direct result of the ungovernability of Western democracies. It is an easy answer to the tensions of growth. The less a society is capable of facing them, the readier it is to accept inflation as a less painful solution. At the same time it is an independent source of disruption which exacerbates conflicts and still diminishes the capacity of groups and societies to act. Present-day inflation, therefore, ought to be considered, even if very briefly, as another independent variable to be analyzed as a supplementary cause of disruption.
It is no wonder that the countries whose social fabric is the weakest, those whose model of social control is still based on hierarchy, fragmentation, and distance, have always been much more vulnerable to inflation. In the 1960s, however, a reasonable sort of equilibrium had been found according to which the anticipation of growth was reasonably matched with actual growth while Keynesian policies were stabilizing the system. The golden age of economics, however, was shorter in Europe, Germany excepted, than in North America. In any case, no country can now resist the tremendous pressure of the new turbulence in the world.
Present-day large-scale inflation has been for a time remarkably well accepted. It has had a strong distorting effect on the economic and social position of individuals and groups. But its impersonal operation prevents direct complaint. Furthermore, the groups which usually speak the loudest are those which are likely to benefit from the process. One can even claim that the combination of public feeling, trade union pressure, and governmental intervention has tended to operate in favor of low salaries. Thus, professional salaried middle classes, which were certainly privileged, have lost some of their advantages. It is not as unfair an outcome as one would immediately tend to believe.
The problems of inflation, however, change their nature when the so- called double-digit numbers seem to become a stable feature of the economic picture. The costs seem then more and more unbearable. Not only do distortions appear, but social relationships become unstable. Lack of trust prevents the necessary regulation of large and small economic and social subsystems. More people, moreover, anticipate a crisis, and the governments' margin of freedom is reduced to the lowest level. We can observe this in Britain and in Italy. Between unemployment and inflation there does not seem any middle way. Basically, governments appear to be unable to induce groups which are in strategic positions to accept sacrifices. European unity is not much of a real help since it is much easier for any government to dump on the outside world the consequences of its own weaknesses. European countries' foreign economic policies tend to be, on the whole, not only uncoordinated but even erratic.
There are, however, some positive elements in the picture: Germany's understanding that it cannot retain its prosperity alone; France's surprisingly better economic results; and Franco-German cooperation. While these factors may not yet be inspiring for the presently weaker countries, they may be a new point of departure and, if some success develops, they will play a very important symbolic role for the development of the new capacities Europe requires.
Inflation and its twin evil depression finally make the problem of governability an immediate and practical one. And the basic question is: Are the European countries ready to meet the challenge of the new situation, to develop in time of crisis the institutional capacity they could not develop in time of prosperity? To make an educated guess on this very crucial problem, one must now focus more closely on the role and structure of political values in present-day Western Europe.
Behind all these governability problems of modern Western societies lie some more basic problems of values. Participation, people's consent, equality, the right of the collectivity to intervene in personal affairs, and the possible acceptance of authority seem to be the preliminary questions to debate before giving a reasonable diagnosis and proposing possible solutions.
The relationship of values to behavior and especially to institutionalized behavior is much more complex than is usually believed, which makes the interpretation of opinion polls highly questionable. Above all, there is a wide discrepancy between professed values—what we can get through opinion polls and even attitude surveys—and actual behavior— what people will eventually do when problems force them to choose. Not only is there a discrepancy but the nature, importance, and even direction of this discrepancy are difficult to understand and therefore to predict. For instance, shortly before the French students' revolt in May 1968, opinion polls gave an almost idyllic representation of students' docility, conformism, and even satisfied apathy.
However, at an unconscious level, we can surmise that there is a rationale in people's behavior which is buttressing the maintenance of the social games and their social and cultural characteristics, and these rationales can be considered as more stable and meaningful value orientations. These value orientations, however, cannot be easily made evident. It will be a task for new generations of social scientists to set these problems in more operational terms. For the moment, we can only present some hypotheses that cannot be supported by data and represent only educated guesses which have been elaborated by confronting the problems to be solved -- governability problems -- with the institutional patterns and what we know of their evolution and the professed values of people about them.
In this perspective, the first and most central hypothesis concerns the concept of rationality and its relationship to the structure of values. Western Europe, as the Western world generally, has lived during the last two or three centuries with a certain model of rationality which has had a decisive influence on values, at least by giving them the basic structure within which they could be expressed. This kind of rationality, which can be considered as the most powerful tool humanity had discovered for managing collective action, is founded upon a clear distinction between ends and means and an analytical fragmentation of problems within a world that could be considered infinite. Within such a framework people can define goals according to their preferences (i.e., their values). Society's technical knowledge could then provide them with the necessary (and sufficient) means to implement their goals. Every problem can be redefined in such a way that ends and means may be clearly separate and so that a rational solution could easily be found. Of course, collective action implies several participants with different orders of preferences. But in the economic sphere analytical structuring will help sort out single deciders to whom others will be linked by definite contracts (into which they will enter according to their orders of preference). And in the political sphere democratic procedures organized around the twin concepts of general will and sovereignty give the rationale for the same logic.
Of course difficulties can arise with this model of rationality, and they may be (reluctantly) recognized. It will be necessary, therefore, to resort to manipulation, compromise, and even coercion in order to arrive at a decision. For the elaboration of decisions, democracy can be viewed as both the least evil and most ideal embodiment of rationality. In order to achieve implementation of these decisions, bureaucratic means are supposed to insure accurate and impersonal compliance. Conflict over means may be another worry, but good leadership and energy will finally overcome the obstacles. If there are failures, they are due to the weakness of human nature and have to be tolerated as such.
As a general consequence a stable dichotomy has always persisted between the ideal objectives which pertain to the logic of values and the muddy, messy world of reality, which is the realm of unsavory "political" deals. But the discrepancy, although perturbing, does not shake this fundamental model of reasoning. On the contrary, the more ideals may be compromised in practice, the more idealized and the more worshiped they will remain in the domain of values.
The system has worked well enough as long as societal change was slow, the intervention of public authorities rather limited, and the fragmentation and stratification of society strong enough to insure a pragmatic acceptance of social order and established authority. But once the explosion of communication and social interaction has disturbed the necessary barriers that made societies more simple and therefore more manageable, this basic pattern of rationality disintegrates.
First, there is no way to order goals either rationally or democratically. Furthermore, the quality and authenticity of preferences and goals becomes questionable. It is all very well to say that people should choose according to their preferences. But where do these preferences come from? The context of influences that is exerted over them appears to be determinant. Manipulation becomes a sort of basic fear which pervades the democratic creed. At the same time, social sciences begin to question this preference model by showing how people do not have a priori wants but discover goals from their experience; that is, they learn what they want by trial and error and implementation schemes. Finally, ends develop only through means.
Second, ends do not appear in a vacuum. They are part of structured universes which also encompass means. Furthermore, they are interrelated and conflictual. None of them can be pushed very far without interfering with other ends. Finally what are ends for one individual or one group are means for other individuals or groups.
Third, the breakdown of barriers means that people participate in very large structured sets where this unilateral, rationality scheme becomes terribly oppressive. If means, according to the logic of this scheme, are the domain of inescapable rational techniques, the 95 percent or 99 percent of human beings whose universe does not go beyond these means do not have the possibility to participate in a meaningful way in the government of their daily lives. If rational techniques can provide the one best solution, they cannot even discuss the relevance of their experience for the common good.
Fourth, rationality was always tempered by the limits of tradition and custom, and by the fragmentation of the problems. If limits disappear, if therefore rationality wins too much, if established authority—whether religious or social -- crumbles, rationality explodes; it becomes in a certain sense irrational.
If with this brief analysis of the crisis of modern rationality as a goal-structuring scheme we revert to our problems of governability of Western democracies, we can draw a first set of conclusions. There is no wonder that the concept of rationality has been put into question. Its own success was bound to make its contradictions explode. The cultural and moral breakdown of the late sixties therefore has expressed something important for the future. Whatever its vagaries and the dangerous threats it is presenting to the democratic way of government, it has above all exposed the illusions of traditional rationality and may help us learn a new kind of reasoning where professed values will not be the only guide for moral action.
The search for a broader kind of rationality, as well as the search for new kinds of social and organizational games that can embody it, is the major problem of Western societies. New social and psychological Utopias, such as the community drive, the encounter group philosophy, and the self-government dreams are useful tools for this search as well as dangerous illusions. Conversely, political reemphasis of local and regional ties may be as much a conservative "retro" fashion as a necessary axis for the renewal of governmental processes.
European societies, and U.S. society as well, are engaged in this impossible search. European societies start, however, with a handicap, inasmuch as they are still much more involved in the former model of rationality, while the rapidity of change is destroying the customary protections that were counterbalancing its rigid use. These difficulties are closely linked with social stratification problems, especially the social gap between the world of decision and the world of execution and the parallel but nonidentical gap between the educated and the noneducated classes.
If we distinguish core political beliefs from principles of action, we discover a rather paradoxical situation which may be emphasized as one basic characteristic of our contemporary scene. While those principles of action that seemed formerly immutable appear to be deeply shaken, forcing people to open up to existential bewilderment about the meaning of their action and their social identity, core political beliefs about which changes had been always hypothesized remain much more stable.
While people commonly feel that the usual way to achieve goals is not acceptable any more (one cannot order people around even if one pretends one can or even does), and while community feelings seem much more important for young people than the real content of any goal, the basic tenets of the democratic and Christian creed are still very much alive and color revolutionary as well as conservative enterprises. In this respect four clusters of values seem to me as predominant now as they have been for a long time.
First, the freedom of the individual is the cardinal value which is not only unanimously shared but seems to be rediscovered again by any kind of new movement whether extremely radical or conservatively religious. It will be immediately argued that these movements have widely different conceptions of freedom. But this is not so certain if one remains at the level of values or core political beliefs. The only fundamental distinction one can see at this point is the opposition between the European conception of freedom— which is a sort of freedom-from, that is, emphasizing the inalienable right of the individual not to be interfered with—and the American one—which is rather a freedom-to, that is, the inalienable right to take initiatives and to lead others if they so wish. European freedom-from antedates political democracy and has deep Christian roots. It has different forms according to the European country, with some orientation of the more Protestant countries toward the freedom-to concept; but, on the whole, there is much more convergence than one would think across countries and across class barriers and political groupings.
Second, equality, whatever its ambiguity and possible threats, remains a dominant value orientation all over Western Europe. European egalitarianism, however, shows again a difference from the American variety. It is still a stratified kind of egalitarianism. People may require equality with their peers most punctiliously while they may accept inequality between statuses and strata. Contrary to North Americans, they might be shocked by differences of treatment that do not recognize people's status while they would not mind the differences between statuses per se.
Order and efficiency may be more surprising items to put among the core political beliefs of West Europeans. One cannot escape being struck, however, with the importance of these kinds of values in the political process. Whenever the development of freedom threatens to bring chaos, the demand for order is immediate, even violent. It is not a lost or dwindling part of core political beliefs whatever the possible evolution of its forms in the direction of more tolerance. The special West European form of order, however, has a more social and less juridical connotation than in the United States. Things (and people) have to be put in their proper place for society to operate. Due process is not the cardinal element of this belief. Furthermore, efficiency may be added to it inasmuch as it has a legitimating connotation. Order is the way to achieve efficiency, which is the condition of a well-functioning society. West Europeans still value the good "efficient" scheme more than the concrete results. Order is the burden of the white man; efficiency may be the demonstration of it in a modern rationalized society.
Finally, I would emphasize dualism as a fourth cluster of core political beliefs. Contrary to Eastern countries, West Europeans never had a unitary conception of legitimacy. Church and State opposition antedates modern left-right conflicts. Group cooperation may be dreamed of as a possible unanimous harmony, but it has never been practiced without the due protection of dualism. Free choice can be preserved only if the existence of an opposition preserves the independence of individuals who could be otherwise too dependent on the predominant power to be able to assert their rights. All situations where such an opposition disappears have to be avoided as paternalistic, feudalistic, and oppressive. Conflict may be handled most painfully through such dualism. Real conflicts may be stifled and distorted, but one feels that the price is worth paying since prior harmony is always suspect. This core belief, which is completely foreign to Japan, is widely shared in North America, but the American form of it emphasizes checks and balances more than conflict and dualism. Absolute power in this conception is evil and must therefore be checked, but this does not necessarily imply the division of the citizens. In Europe this division is the center of the game, and one can tolerate a greater abuse of governmental prerogatives since government will be paralyzed by the division of society.
Political behavior and political changes do not depend directly on political values but on the possible learning people can do within the constraints of the core political beliefs they adhere to and the principles of rationality they apply. What then may be, more precisely, the impact of social, economic, and cultural changes on these two kinds of societal dimensions?
All over Western Europe the development of social interaction, the disruptive effects of cumulative change, the cultural drift, and the exposure of government to media publicity have made it more and more difficult to maintain social control and to answer the demands of the citizens. Traditional rationality, therefore, disintegrates. But values or core political beliefs are not affected. They may even be reinforced.
The urge for freedom does not level off. On the contrary, it may be intensified by the helplessness of uprooted individuals within a too complex world and their concomitant blackmailing power over weakened institutions. Not only is the demand for freedom exacerbated, but it does not shift from a freedom-from to a freedom-to orientation. The traditional posture still pays off.
The drive for equality, of course, develops; it may progress from a narrow categorical frame of reference to a broader one. But basically the tightness of the social and political game is such that no significant shift can be expected in a near enough future. Conversely, the need for order is reactivated by the chaotic aspect of a generalized blackmailing game. And it is of a more regressive than progressive kind. No learning seems to take place. As usual people ask for freedom for themselves and order for the others. Even dualism may be reinforced inasmuch as the breakdown of rationality and the weakness of government leave the field open for the game of division and opposition.
What is at stake, therefore, is not the democratic creed and the Christian ethos, which are less directly threatened than they were for example in the thirties,  but the contradiction between these core political beliefs and the principles of action that could make it possible to implement them.
Earlier democratic processes had been built on the separation of groups and classes. They relied as much on institutionalized non-communication as on democratic confrontation. Authority was worshiped as an indispensable means for achieving order although it was rejected as a dangerous interference with freedom. Such a model could not stand structural changes that destroy barriers, force people to compete outside traditional limits, and suppress the distance that protected traditional authority. A profound contradiction therefore develops. People tend to try different and more open practices or are being forced into them, but they cannot stand the tensions these practices bring. Since they cannot also stand the authority that could moderate these tensions and bring back order over them, a very resilient vicious circle develops. Little real learning takes place, and authority hides behind public relations and complexity but becomes more vulnerable because it does not dare to assert itself. And the more vulnerable it becomes, the more it generates blackmailing group pressures, the less margin it retains for more responsible longer-term action and the less chance it stands to regain legitimacy.
New patterns of tolerance and mutual adjustment have to be learned and are in fact being learned to deal with these growing tensions and the chaotic consequences they can have if the easy solution of inflation is not available. But this cannot take place yet at the level of values or the core belief system. We can only hope that action will anticipate beliefs, that is, that people will learn from experience instead of obeying already existing motivations. This kind of learning is perfectly compatible with the core belief system although it implies some shift from the freedom- from concept to the freedom-to concept and the extension of the traditional narrow egalitarianism to broader domains. Nevertheless, it would mean the appearance of new beliefs alongside the core system. If such learning does not develop quickly enough, however, there is a growing risk of crisis and regression.
European societies still live on a series of traditional adjustments that are not called into question because they are taken for granted: the persistence of old forms of patronage networks which allow due consideration to forgotten human factors; symbiotic adjustments between opposed social and economic partners according to which conflicts and tensions are maintained at a workable level; implicit bargaining arrangements between groups that cannot face each other squarely; implicit consensus on some sort of professional or work ethic, and so on.
There is, moreover, a longing and a search for earlier community practices to be rediscovered and revived, a longing and search which testify to the need of finding more roots at a time when the acceleration of change destroys the support as well as the constraints around which humanity could find meaning. On the whole, however, Western Europe seems to be worse off than either Japan or North America. Japan still benefits from the existence of a huge capital of collective capacity upon which it can rely. North America does not have this capital of tradition; but even if it suffers from some of the same problems Western Europe has to face, it has had more time to learn, and it benefits from more slack in its social and economic system which allows it to experiment more easily. Western Europe has used up a lot more of its own reserves than Japan and does not have the learning experience and the learning capacity of the United States. It should, therefore, be much more careful with whatever resources is has and invest as much as it can to develop them and learn new patterns of adjustment. It does not have time to wait; it must learn and learn as quickly as possible. A purely defensive strategy would be suicidal because the risk of regression is a very concrete one.
Western Europe has known already a tragic period of regression when the chaotic and effervescent world born out of World War I could not face its tensions, especially those of the depression, and when its needs for order were met by recourse to the fascist and Nazi regressions. Fascism and Nazism can be analyzed as a return to older forms of authority to restore or impose the indispensable order. This was associated with a sudden shift in patterns of behavior reactivating those which were closer to earlier types.
Can Western Europe suffer another such setback?
Certainly not in the same form and in the same direction. There is little left in the present core beliefs in which to find support. There is no strong will, no sense of mission, no real dedication to fight for the restoration of an earlier moral order; there is not so much will to fight for capitalism or even for free enterprise as such. No strong movement can be expected therefore from a right-wing "reactionary" background.
But regression can come also from the left for two converging reasons: The communist parties have emerged more and more as the parties of order, whose leaders are the only ones able to make people work, and there has always been a very strong tendency to develop state socialism and public bureaucracy interference as the easy solution to manage the impossible, that is, to maintain order in the face of unmanageable conflicts.
These affirmations may seem paradoxical. The communist parties generally have lost ground or leveled off almost everywhere in Western Europe. Their ideology does not have the same appearance any more. It looks very much like a routinized church whose charisma has at least partially disappeared. Why should such sedate and moderate parties be a threat to democracy just at the time they are beginning to respect its basic tenets?
The strength of the present communist parties of Western Europe does not lie, however, either in their revolutionary appeal or in their electoral capabilities. They must have enough of them certainly. But their unique superiority is their organizational one. They are the only institutions left in Western Europe where authority is not questioned, where a primitive but very efficient chain of command can manipulate a docile workforce, where there is a capacity to take hard decisions and adjust quickly, and where goods can be delivered and delays respected.
Authority may be heavy-handed in these parties and the close atmosphere they have maintained over their people has certainly been a brake to their development. Turnover has always been considerable. But granted these costs, their machine has remained extraordinarily efficient and its superiority has tremendously increased when other major institutions have begun to disintegrate. There is now no other institution in Europe, not even the state bureaucracies, that can match the communist parties' capabilities in this domain.
True enough, as long as the problem of order does not become central, they are out of the game; but if chaos should develop for a long enough time following a greater economic depression, they can provide the last solution. Most European countries have always had a very strong tradition of state control and bureaucratic procedures to substitute for their political systems' weaknesses. While bureaucracy may be anathema for the majority of people in opinion polls, it is still the easy solution for any kind of problem. This, of course, may be more true for France and Britain, but it is also true in the smaller countries and Germany, which, while it has moved away from state socialism, still has a strong tradition to which one can appeal.
For some of the Western countries the idea of nationalization, after years of oblivion and little ideological appeal, has become an issue again. In time of political chaos and economic depression it may appear as the last recourse to save employment and to equalize sacrifices. The communist parties are certainly better trained to administer the resulting confusion and to restore order to leaderless organizations. They will win then not because of their appeal but by default because the communists are the only ones capable of filling the void.
They have already shown proof of their capabilities. For instance they have shown remarkable efficiency in administering various cities in Italy and France; they have helped to restore order in Italian, French, and even German universities; and they have shown everywhere, even in Britain, how to influence key trade unions by using minority control devices. Their potential, therefore, is much higher at that level than it is at the electoral level or at the revolutionary level. And because of this potential they can attract experts and professionals of high caliber and also increase their capabilities on the technical side.
Nevertheless, the communists do have problems. The most pressing one is the danger of being contaminated by the general trends of the societies in which they have to operate, that is, to be unable to prevent the disintegration of their model of authority. This is why they take such great care to maintain their revolutionary identity. They have been protected by their minority ghetto-like status and as long as they can maintain it, their hard core membership has so deeply internalized their so far successful practices that they can stand the pressure of the environment for quite a long time.
They have a difficult game to play, nevertheless. They must be enough in to be present when high stakes are at issue, while remaining sufficiently out to maintain their organizational capacity. Their basic weakness lies in their difficulty in respecting the freedom-from belief and their incapacity to accept dualism. Can they govern and control societies whose core political beliefs are alien to them? Wouldn't they trigger an extremely strong backlash? It is a difficult question to answer because these societies are in the midst of a deep cultural transformation which affects, with the principles of rationality, the basis of their political strategy.
Let us just suggest that if the takeover would be sudden, an anticommunist backlash would be likely; but if the breakdown would be intensive and profound but also gradual, the communists coming to power could be very difficult to question.
This review of some of the major problems of governability in Western Europe may suffer from an overly pessimistic overtone. By focusing on the more intractable problems one is easily led to overemphasize contradictions and to give the misleading impression that breakdowns are soon likely to occur.
To present a more balanced conclusion, we would put these analyses in a more general perspective. The problems of European societies are difficult to solve but they are not intractable, and European societies, whatever their weaknesses, do still possess a lot of resources that can be mobilized when wanted. They have already shown during the contemporary period considerable resilience and an unexpected capacity to adapt, to adjust, and to invent. Right now they still manage to maintain democratic stability against very difficult odds. And during the past twenty years they have carried through a very impressive mutation that few observers would have trusted them to accomplish. If there was no external constraint, there would be no reason to believe they could not accomplish the second mutation that seems necessary now.
The basic situation, therefore, that should concern us is not so much the intractability of the problems and the incapacity of the European societies to meet the challenge; it is the vulnerability of Europe. Indeed, all European nations have to live through the same impossible situation: They have to carry through a basic mutation in their model of government and their mode of social control while facing at the same time a crisis from within and a crisis from without.
European nations have different capacities and some of them at first glance seem more likely to succeed than others. But none of them has the leeway and resources of the United States or the collective capacity of action of Japan. Furthermore, they are so interdependent that, while they can help and emulate each other strongly, they are partially dependent on the vulnerability of the weakest link in the chain.
The crisis from within revolves, of course, basically around economic and social instability. Inflation at the rate it has reached increases the tensions it had alleviated formerly. Its disruptive effects undermine the basis of the social bond because of the loss of trust and the impossibility to plan ahead. But too much deflation would force an impossible reallocation of resources and/or raise unemployment to an unacceptable level. Countries are therefore in an impossible vicious circle, which it is very difficult for them to break without entering a deeper depression, and whose risks seem impossible to accept in view of the fragility of their social fabric.
Managing such a crisis imposes the need to give priority to short-term considerations and makes it all the more difficult to meet the more basic challenge of the necessary mutation of social controls.
This is, of course, compounded by the consequences of the crisis from without which is not only the crisis of energy and the crisis of the balance of payments but the relative situation of weakness of the European nations whose welfare is for the first time directly dependent on outside pressures from non-Western powers. Here again the failure of one or two countries can be managed with the help of the strongest, but if France, for example, would follow, the whole European system would crumble.
In such a difficult situation, state socialism may appear to be the easiest solution for some countries, especially the Latin ones, since it would give workers guarantees and help spread out employment. But such a course of action, a possibility which must be taken very seriously, would trigger a period of social chaos in which the communist parties would play a decisive role because they would be the only ones capable of bringing back order and efficiency. This scenario, of course, could not apply to the whole of Europe, but it could quickly spread to Italy, France, and Spain and put unbearable pressure on Germany. At that time Finlandization would appear as the least evil.
Such a disastrous drifting of Western Europe is not inevitable. It is not even likely, but the fact that the possibility must be taken seriously is a measure of the present vulnerability of Europe. To prevent it, European nations should try to go beyond their present dire constraints and face at the same time the challenges of the future.
First, they should try to accelerate the shift away from their old model of fragmentation, stratification, secrecy, and distance, which produced an acceptable balance between democratic processes, bureaucratic authority, and some aristocratic tradition, and experiment with more flexible models that could produce more social control with less coercive pressure. Such experimentation, which is bound to succeed in the long run, looks dangerous in the present vulnerable situation when we hesitate naturally to jeopardize what remains of the old means of social control as long as one is not sure of the quality of the new means. Innovation, nevertheless, seems to be absolutely indispensable. It has to be careful innovation but it is the only possible answer to Europe's dilemma.
European nations should at the same time try to reorient the trend of economic growth. They badly need to maintain growth to prevent unemployment and an exacerbation of social conflicts, but they cannot maintain the type of growth of preceding years which has brought more and more costly disruptions and can be considered one of the important causes of inflation. A new emphasis on quality, on collective amenities, on a more careful allocation of space is not impossible. New goals for facing the future can be given priority: modernizing the education process; improving community and regional decision-making; establishing more responsible information systems; radically changing working conditions and restoring the status of manual work; developing income maintenance programs; making public bureaucracies responsible to the citizens and private bureaucracies to the consumers.
The diverse background and history of the different European nations can be viewed as an asset for such endeavors since there exists among them a tremendous reservoir of experience and of capable talents. European interdependence, on the other hand, forces European nations to face the impossible problem of unity. A united Europe was for a long time the ideal dream to help maintain the drive to overcome the outdated modes of government that prevailed in the national state systems. But the advocates of European unity have stumbled too long on the obstacle of the central states' nodal power, which the present crises have reinforced even more, to maintain hope for the near future.
Investments in a European common capacity remain nevertheless indispensable not only for Europe's sake but for each country's capacity to overcome its own narrow determinisms. Can they be made in view of the present pressure? This may be the most difficult question. It may certainly be helped in any case by a better appreciation in the two other regions of the difficulty of their partners' problem and by their willingness to help solve it.
1. When asked what to do with a difficult problem a famous contemporary French politician well known for his skillful use of the system used to sum up this practice by saying, "Let's muddle it up a little more."
2. This seems to be one basic weakness of the Lindblom model in The Intelligence of Democracy: it does not give due attention to the way the field in which adjustments take place is structured and regulated. Sensible partisan mutual adjustments take place only within fields which a minimum of structure and regulation has neutralized. Chaos will only bring chaos. Good "partisan mutual adjustment" systems are a construct, as is any kind of market.
3. See Alain Cottereau, "L'agglomeration parisienne au debut du, siecle," Sociologie du Travail, 4, 1969, pp. 342-65.
4. To some extent Switzerland might be an interesting exception, which is a lasting testimony to the exceptional strength of its decentralized local decision-making system.
5. This proposition is very difficult to substantiate since each country may rate differently on the diverse categories of a very complex social universe. One can argue that class differences are still stronger in Britain and Germany than in France. It seems however that French institutions and organizational systems still rely more on hierarchical mechanisms that their counterparts in Britain and Germany. The crumbling of social barriers in any case has been more spectacular in France and Italy in one of the key areas of modern change, the universities. The influx of students in these two countries has been much higher in the sixties than in Britain and Germany, with a concomitant breakdown of social control.
6. This is certainly one of the reasons for the development of inflation, which is the consequence of the disruption of traditional social regulation as much as it is a cause of it.
7. One should, of course, add that the economic gains of blue-collar workers in these countries have been comparatively much higher, but there is no point opposing the two series of causes, which are intertwined and do reinforce each other.
8. James Forrester was the first to use this formulation.
9. One may argue that they are eroded, but I personally feel that they have fewer defenders because nobody attacks them and even more because everybody agrees so much that they are taken for granted.