The Real Existing Real Reality 2022. Article 1. From the Victory of Neo-Liberalism to the Self-Destructive World Society

скачать Автор: Kiss, Endre - подписаться на статьи автора
Журнал: Journal of Globalization Studies. Volume 15, Number 1 / May 2024 - подписаться на статьи журнала


Endre Kiss, University Eötvös, Budapest, Hungary

The present study ‘The Real Existing Real Reality 2022’ consists of two related articles. These are reflections on societies, and perhaps the world on the road to self-destruction. The author wanted to add a subtitle to the article ‘The three-quarter time waltz of the self-destructive society, the new social structure of the Three Societies and a war, where good can at least fight against evil.’ In this work we discuss the currently urgent issue of how to interpret the rapidly increasing peaceful and non-peaceful transformations in the definitive global world. We point out the common features of the current events. Our title (The Real Existing Real Reality 2022) goes back to Boris Ponomarjov's phrase about ‘real existing socialism,’ which should have been higher than all ‘utopian’ concepts. All references to ‘reality’ seem to have two different directions. In the first case, ‘reality’ is more valuable than utopias (as in Ponomarjov). In the second case, reality is poor and negative compared to the ideas. But we have actually to deal with a third case. ‘Reality’ becomes the highest value, because the possession of the definition of Reality becomes the real goal of the present war. In the first article, ‘From the Victory of Neo-Liberalism to the Self-Destructive World Society,’ we show the ‘real’ process, and not yet reflected, of the political and social transformations. The triumphant neo-liberalism has appeared in every point and as the personification of every value in the current discussions.

The greatest problem of the present is to identify liberalism with the monetarist economic system. The really existing socialism of the 1970s and 1980s was the subject against which a classical political liberalism of the human rights, a neo-liberal epistemology (Karl R. Popper) and a market-economy neo-liberalism could unite. Real socialism did not misunderstand this new situation. It has simply not recognized it. A new description of global society is only possible with a hypothesis of three ‘societies’ of this global world. The first society would be the society of the good will, for which the value-oriented life of this year (1989) can no longer be an open problem. We define the second society as the one that is not fundamentally constituted by the good will described above. We see the third society in that political class or elite whose power came into being in the year 1989. The ‘third’ society is the object of self-identification of the ‘first’; the ‘first’ is the product of 1989. The ‘second’ society, as the majority, lived in the shadows for a long time after 1989, its emancipation began after the first elementary shocks (economic crises or the imperialist turn) of globalization. When we talk about the further social embedding of these Three Societies, the phenomenon of public debt seems to be one of the most relevant constitutive factors of our society in the plan. The correlations are more than obvious. The third society suggests to the first society that the heavily indebted state is not a really relevant social fact. It also suggests that today's world economy is the realm of normality, in which only the bad and undisciplined policies of individual governments or the oil price are the real movers.

Keywords: self-destructive society (in the globalization), three societies structure, optimality of global development, state-debt-globalization, logic of difference, imperial globalization, global actors, fundamentalism, permanent post-communist transformation.

Based on so many years of research on globalization, we try here to capture the true face of globalization itself, on the one hand, and the distortion of the process that we call ‘globalization,’ on the other. The first sentence deals with the problem of the self-destructive society, which is a clear consequence of globalization in the general context of indebted states. The second movement is a new phenomenon in the social development of global societies (i.e., societies in the age of globalization), which we categorize as the unfolding of the Three Societies. The structure of the Three Societies is also a clear consequence of globalization, but not only structurally and therefore objectively, in the Weberian valueless sense, as in the case of a self-destructive society. The structure of the Three Societies is already a consequence of the manifest distortion of a possible optimal global development. From a scientific point of view, the third sentence is the alien and non-legitimated emergence of imperialism in the already prevailing structure of globalization. In other words, this phrase can also be described as the description of a potential Third World War.

Especially from the perspective of globalization research, but also without it, one can see what many interpretations perceive, that the unipolar world that has prevailed since 1989 is coming to an end. The simplest and equally the most complex settings are identical. The replacement of the unipolar world by the multipolar world is not a metaphysical necessity and this replacement can take place in several ways. However, the ways in which it takes place depends in turn on people who, especially under the conditions of globalization, can ascend to become powerful actors for objective and structural reasons.

The Self-Destructive Society

An important element of the new order of international politics (the ‘new world order’) is the actual and therefore new interpretation of ‘identity’ and ‘difference’. By 1989, the logic of the neoliberal turn had exchanged the basic semantics of identity and difference within socialism and Christianity. This means that neither the solidarity of socialism, nor the brotherly love of Christianity can diminish the harsh power of difference. The neoliberal identity consists in nothing more than the unconditional respect and guarantee of the freedom and rights of the individual (which, to a certain extent, can become merely a formal framework of social differences and social rules). In these cases, difference is not just a difference, a value, or an ideology, but can become an essential, if not ontological, feature of social existence in general.

The recent view of society was based on good intentions, or at least confidence in the future. A welfare society has been elevated to the status of a generally accepted political program. Of course, this is not to say that the welfare society of the 1960s and 1970s is responsible for the self-destructive society that became more and more defined in the 1980s and 1990s. Yet one followed the other, that is certain.

A fundamental tendency of a self-destructive society is a high level of state debt that makes it impossible for the economy to catch up, even under the most favorable conditions. Achilles cannot catch up with the turtle. A self-destructive society is, therefore, a society that is unable to maintain (via the regular state institutions) the highly developed, post-welfare level of civilization that it has once achieved. And this is not simply a matter of economy. If a coal mine is closed down because of inefficiency, it will not lead to social self-destruction. But when the state is forced to withdraw significantly from the fields of education or healthcare, the self-destructive tendencies become immediately apparent. Therefore, the fundamental problem of a self-destructive society is not simply economic, and it is precisely this moment that makes it so difficult for public opinion or everyday consciousness to understand this connection. The perhaps most profound factor in understanding the global world cannot be hidden behind false everyday economic realities. Therefore, it is pure ideology to declare the state debt solely in economic terms. The fundamental problem is therefore not just the economic recession, as the latter can only be followed by an economic boost when more favorable circumstances arise.

Such a period not only does not improve the accumulated emancipatory values, but it often cannot even ensure a simple subsistence, if not survival. The self-identity of the state, society and the citizen is questioned, if not challenged. As a result, the state, society, and the citizen either have no opportunity to improve emancipatory values, or they are even forced to spend, or even directly destroy these values. This self-destructive society is the core new reality of our decades, and it urgently calls for a reformulation of the fundamental categories of societal life.

Within this framework, it would in principle be necessary to analyze the present relationship between globalization and politics as specific social fields or specific subsystems. In a strict sense, politics of the present, as a living system, is not the same as it was a few decades ago. But we are excused from this task by the fact that politics, the political subsystem and the political classes seem to be slowly finding their proper place within the network of globalization (and also the new world economy). Thus, a closer examination of the sphere of politics slowly becomes possible, even without enumerating the totality of the new historical co-ordinates.1

The quality of democracy is a fundamental issue for globalization, the new global world economy, and the new political system slowly adapts to these new coordinates. This is firstly a functional and structural moment. It can be and it should be, because global operations can only evolve and function on the basis of democratic liberalism or liberal democracy. In this sense, liberal democracy is the ‘modus vivendi’ of globalization. But its functional and structural features should not make us forget the original value components of liberal democracy, which serve to ensure the exceptionally strong legitimacy of the political system before the functional and structural dimensions are fully developed.

The Bias of Self-Destruction

The end of the Soviet world regime and Gorbachev's destruction of the Soviet Union as a superpower and its magnificent ideology became not only a decisive, but also an irrevocable fact of today's universal history. As an ultima ratio, it may appear differently in each different interpretation of historical eras. However, it is self-evident that the ultimate value of world history can hardly be attributed to any other process. Although this concrete fact of the ‘end of history’ has not yet lost its universal quality, it seems that this Gorbachevian ‘end of history’ is itself a part of a higher, universal process of transformation. In the blink of an eye, all ideological basis disappeared with the end of the divided world. At the same time, a new reality emerged: the reality of a self-destructive society.

The Gorbachevian ‘end of history’ exploded the ‘moment of truth’ in the social order of prevailing Socialism. But it is also a cosmic and colossally ironic gesture, a ruse of reason, that this moment of truth has also become a reality for Western societies. As the Great Enemy said farewell, the self-image of Western society was also removed from its overall determining framework of bipolarity, which had previously provided the Western part of the world with a position of comfortable and unchallenged superiority. The neoliberalism at least triumphed through the Gorbachevian end, but it was the constructive Human Right face of the neoliberalism. The ironic gesture or the ruse of reason (a classic ‘List der Vernunft’) was then the breakthrough of the other face of the same neoliberalism, with its monetarist attitude, which amplifies the self-destructive tendencies in an extraordinary way.

Bankruptcy of the economy is therefore not necessarily self-destructive, but bankruptcy of the institutions that used to be supported by the state is necessarily self-destructive. Therefore, the fundamental problem of a self-destructive society is not simply an economic one. The state debt is not the same as economic recession. The latter can only be followed by an economic boost. From this perspective, the self-identity of the state, society and the citizen is seriously questioned. A certain level of state debt makes all societies self-destructive.

The self-destructive society is the new core reality. The ‘West’, the developed world, should be considered as the winner of Gorbachev's farewell because it has profited in an extraordinary way from the global transformation of the world economy. On the other hand, even the ‘West’ itself has had to struggle with the consequences of this self-destructive society due to the growing importance of the debt challenge. At the same historical moment, the former ‘second’ world did not get the financial support it needed to establish its new political democracy and competitive market economy. The old or new ‘third’ world arrived and reached the nethermost point resulting in mass poverty and migration.

Three Societies Structure as a New Class War

Our contemporary world of the last decades is therefore a world of the victorious neoliberalism and at the same time a world of self-destructive societies. The same world has given rise to various modifications of political identity, resulting in numerous new phenomena. The changes within the individual states or societies can at the same time become almost completely international. The structure of one state is quite similar to that of many other states, and also to a virtually assumed structure of a world society. This is because even functioning democracies sometimes resemble dictatorships in certain respects.

The gradual heterogenization and fragmentation of the identity problem made it almost surprising that Francis Fukuyama, in his book of 2018, so unambiguously brought the identity problem back to the center of the discussion. This attempt was delayed, the extensive differentiation of identities passed the earlier stage for which this approach would still have been adequate. Fukuyama's mistake, however, was not only a fundamentally theoretical matter, but it was also a belated political step to influence the intense and, increasingly widespread, inadequacy of individual states and societies and the intellectual apparatus of the US international policy.

While Fukuyama describes the then existing reality through a characteristic of earlier arenas, the lines of a newer type of group formation become visible in the universe of the identity problem. This new group formation is already empirically tangible, although neither the press (acting as a representative of public communication) nor the publicly conducted empirical-sociological research pays much attention to it. However, for this reason they have not yet entered the phase of empirical experience, because the individual groups that could be called types here are still fluid. But since they are no longer fluid, they are not identical with the sociological types we are aiming at. It is about a decisive, if not historic, new typology, but this in no way means that earlier sociological descriptions would necessarily lose their partial legitimacy.

At this point, confronted with a generous social transformation, we cannot but refer to the fate of the empirical social sciences in neoliberal science policy. Since this science policy does not primarily favor empirical social research, it is becoming increasingly difficult to come across correct research results, even for the most striking new empirical phenomena.

Perhaps surprisingly, new social structures are also global in two ways. Their structures stand out with visible similarity in most countries of the global world because they exist in every state. Nonetheless, they also have another mode of existence, which is not constituted by existence in the individual states; they also exist as an unmediable global entity. It is not a mechanical addition of this phenomenon in the individual states, it also exists in these homogeneous and uniform forms globally, both empirically (because of the strong networking of global living environments and states), as well as virtually and conceptually. In the categorization of this new grouping, the individual differences between states and societies are gradually becoming more irrelevant. Therefore, they have two modes of existence, one separate in each state and then one hourly direct. The contours of the three social structures are therefore doubly global. Their outlines can be empirically perceived in most states of the global world, but they also lead to a self-sufficient global ‘cross-existence’ among the individual states. If one tries to imagine a global world society in concrete terms, one will have to see that the structure of these structures, this trinity, can also be clearly read in this one virtual world society. This common existence in all global states, and this is the decisive factor here, is of course anything but a mechanical addition to what is going on in the individual global states. The new structure with this double global mode of existence, we would call the ‘Three-societies’ structure.

The first group (also called ‘the first society’) we would call the society of good will (in German: ‘Gutmenschentum’). Its most important purpose is the strong longing for a value-oriented life, which this society sees anchored in the splendor of the turn of the years 1989–1990, celebrated by the victory of human rights and the voluntary retreat of real socialism.

The second large group (also called ‘the second society’) includes those for whom the concrete and specific value orientation of the first group is not characteristic at all. This group generally rejects the current elite and has no coherent integrative ideology. Useful Marxism has perished; the right, especially to the right of the so-called middle right, is marginalized beyond populism and/or suspected totalitarianism. This second group is today already more or less the numerical majority; this group is ‘the people’ in the metaphorical sense. However, it represents the majority that has not been abolished in identifiable social groups and is therefore only able to help break through new social structures.

The third large group (also called ‘the third society’) is what is colloquially known as ‘the elites’. This intellectual reconstruction of this group has been extremely difficult. It is a very fortunate moment that this circumstance does not decisively hinder our theoretical reconstruction, because we can proceed in the same way as Galileo Galilei did with the celestial bodies at that time. He did not know some satellites that revolved around the Earth, but he was still able to hypothetically imagine these celestial bodies with mathematical and physical methods, and even to calculate their orbits precisely. In what follows, we reconstruct the nature of these new elites using Galileo's methodology. We anticipate not only the theses of our work, but also future empirical research, by recalling here those semantic developments that in our time were related to the designation of the elite or the general culture of power. It is striking that a term such as ‘background power’ has gradually migrated from the dictionary of populism, if not from the same lexicon as extremism, into the linguistic mainstream of every medium. A remarkable counterpart to this process concerns the semantics of the ‘deep state’, which first appeared in the context of the Watergate trial. This term has also lost its critical-populist and, above all, revealing potency, and has become practically harmless, ‘descriptive’, that is a self-evident part of public language.

The current ruling elite derived its political and originally also almost universal legitimacy from the equally unique world-historical turn in which the Soviet Union, through ‘perestroika’, radically overturned its hitherto decisive and prevailing political attitudes into the opposite on a world-historical scale. We must object that the former Soviet Union actually had many difficulties (as they do everywhere today), and that by abolishing modern politics due to Brezhnev's long illness, it also gathered many opponents against itself. Of course, we do not think that the turn to perestroika would have been a matter of, or simply a consequence of, these difficulties. In this context, too, the realpolitik level must be separated from the theoretical level. Perestroika remains a world-historical event which, among other things, had also strongly affected the structure of the later three societies. Later generations will not necessarily be able to understand the former status quo exactly, that is to realize the situation before perestroika in a spiritual sense. For it was precisely those attitudes that the Soviet Union not only changed through perestroika, not only reformed, but radically transformed into their opposite, which were not simply arbitrary positions. They were exactly those turtle knots that the world, literally the whole post-1945 world order, was carrying on its back. Such a world-historical turn is unprecedented in world history. This does not change the fact that this turn of events, as already indicated, undoubtedly had its many causes on the purely political level, because for the same reasons it would not at all have to follow that the Soviet Union would actually carry out this turn in this concrete form. The fact that it did, is a clear historical/theoretical, i.e., also historical/philosophical fact, which can by no means has be ascribed solely to political science or history. But it also means that the roots of the three-societies structure can be traced directly back to this world-historical turn. The elite targeted in this structure, both in its nation-state and in its direct-global (or global-immediate) form of existence, drew its legitimacy in the exercise of power from the world-historical turn of 1989. The unprecedented success of this turn, the unlimited possibilities for the legitimate consolidation of the exercise of power under immaculately democratic conditions, cemented the corpus of this elite, which in its permanent popularity was able to successfully exclude any other political alternative as totalitarian or at least populist. Over time, it has been able to stylize itself classically ‘organically’. The ‘organic’ view or ideology is more than suspect and ideologically burdened in critical historical science. This elite quite easily has the attribute of being ‘organic’ which is not challenged by anyone. It has been able to transform itself into the establishment with which the ‘first’ society, that of the ‘good people’, the ‘do-gooders’ (Gutmenschentum), could voluntarily, happily and intensively identify. With or without justification, this ‘first’ society sees in this elite, a mythological world-historical hero who defeated communism and brought human rights liberalism to deserved power on its own. At the same time, however, it is also the elite that the ‘second’ society (the impoverished and partly already marginalized majority) defines itself as the ‘normal’ and legitimate society and fights for its rights and legitimations.

The Mutual and Interconnected Relationship between the Three Societies

The third society is the ideal of self-determination and the longed-for identity of the first society. The first society is the product of the year 1989. The individual elements of the second society exist after 1989 without distinctive self-determination, even without a determined will for self-determination. This is what distinguishes the second society from the first. It waited a long time and had hopes for the post-1989 world. For a long time, it did not revolt either against 1989, or against the 1989 elite. It lived in an increasingly eroding expectation and represented the continuation of previous provisions unaltered in politics, culture, religion and society. These elements, also as individual components, now appeared as the second society after the global economic crisis of 2007–2008. At that time, the second society, now mature, also appeared in the twofold way mentioned earlier. First of all, it articulated itself as a new society in each state; it had already articulated itself as a cohesive global phenomenon that would perhaps also form a unified group in this global horizontality.

The Global Economic Crisis of 2007–2008 is a boundary between two epochs, even though we know that in the development of global processes, each time limit is likely to be only a relative one. For the moment that was so decisive for the constitution of the second society and qualified the whole development to such an extent, that it was precisely in this crisis, and because of this crisis that this large part of society finally lost its trust in the third society, which (trust) the first society still has today and apparently also wants to muster.

The crucial question of the present is currently before our eyes. What will be the historical fate of the second society, if it is already on the way to representing the majority? For a variety of reasons, however, it is still the case that neither adequate scientific nor political instruments are available to record this second society. This problem does not necessarily touch on the widespread and highly articulated assumption that today one can no longer do anything essential with the categories of ‘left’ and ‘right’. In general, we are convinced that a world of thought that has dominated political structures for centuries cannot proceed in such a way that, at a given time, one simply declares that one can no longer do anything with this distinction. I would like to talk in more detail later about the reasons for this position, which we do not share. However, our train of thought also follows that this changed attitude means that one can only use these categories from a careful distance. For the three societies theory is a very suggestive demonstration, if not already a proof, of both sides of this fact.

On the one hand, the contrast between the second and the first society appears, at least in an isomorphic position, to the classical left-right polarity, even if the arguments are not only not identical with the earlier arguments but are also largely not yet fully formulated. So, there are gaps in the reasoning. On the other hand, even in this initial phase, it is still the case that in the second society both groups or remnants of the left and the right parts of society can be found (original leftist goals and right-wing claims). This thesis shows us, almost paradigmatically, that the left/right division is right in one dimension and wrong in the other, but at least we can say that the division as such still exists for this reason. After all, our example shows that this division is no longer constitutive in one important context of the description of present reality, while it is indeed constitutive in another equally important context of the description of the same reality. A precise examination of this fact is critical, because one of the most decisive features of our time is that false interpretation and inadequate terms can critically weaken social orientation, often even in a non-trivial ways. Many linguistic strategies emerge that attempt not only to initiate the current theoretical language, but also to figure as the most up-to-date theoretical language with new normative demands. Not only is reality gradually becoming more complex, but also the artificially circulated new confusion (from IGIL(S) to DAESH) can make this complexity even more opaque. And so far, we have not talked about the primitively instrumental, the directly manipulative or the openly cynical and Orwellian terminology.

Theoretically, it is of no small interest that the world-historical turn that determined the emergence of the Three Societies Structure in 1989 ultimately took place under the sign of anti-totalitarianism. It tried to abolish the duality of anti-fascism and anti-communism, in which construction, however, the right and left positions were deliberately not easy to distinguish from one other. The anti-totalitarianism articulated here also contributed to increasing incomprehensibility of the use of the left/right distinction. It is absolutely characteristic that Hannah Arendt's interpretation of totalitarianism was rejected immediately after 1945, and that the same theory came into intellectual fashion in the 1980s. The positive genesis of the three-societies structure can probably be traced back to the world-historical turn of 1989, but it is really striking that its crystallization can be associated with the crisis of 2007–2008.

At the most general level, this development seems to be the result of a global responseIt is about the reaction of the 1989 new beginning to the world crisis of 2007 and 2008. Most of its provisions are associated with this comprehensive response. It is about the inseparable unity of a world-historical victory and its crisis. However, while the world society (as well as its component individual societies) was able to experience the world-historical victory uniformly and at the same time positively, this is no longer the case with its crisis. All societies, all groups and even all individuals, experience the crisis differently, so that the consequences of the crisis would have to be reconstructed much more laboriously than those of the world-historical victory. 2 One of the difficulties at this point may stem from the fact that numerous dimensions of global transformation are associated with the component of political institutions alone. In this case, again, identity cannot be reduced to the single dimension of the political system. For so far we have had to talk in detail not only about political realities, but also about the attraction of life under the sign of values, or about the sometimes millenarian hope of a finally good society.

When we talk about the further social embedding of these Three Societies, the phenomenon of public debt appears to be one of the most relevant constitutive factors of our society in the plan. The correlations are more than obvious. The third society suggests to the first society that the heavily indebted state is not a really relevant social fact. It also suggests that today's world economy is the realm of normality, in which only the bad and undisciplined policies of individual governments or the oil price are the real movers. Since then, the third society has had it even easier. After the Great Depression, the climate crisis dominated the room, then came the migration crisis in 2015, then Covid in 2020, and now the war (and in the next future, energy). Who could or should sue the realities of social or economic life from the third society (the elite)? Who could have the legitimacy to do so? The third society also suggests, with great energy, that the decline in the importance of the state is a liberating act (‘States are always on the way to totalitarianism anyway’). It suggests that today's individual is swimming in a permanent stream of ever more far-reaching liberation and emancipation; now the individual can already change his or her gender in kindergarten of Angela Merkel or think about sexuality in addition to the Brothers Grimm's folk girls. At the same time, and indeed, the second society is the clear loser of the increasing indebtedness of the state. However, for the elites that emerged in 1989 (who are essentially identical to the third society), the drastic weakening of the public sphere caused by the debt may have been more of an advantage, if not a particular advantage. These advantages are ‘relative’, which could then be converted into ‘absolute’ advantages without any visible difficulties.

Everyone Gets Their ‘Real’ Chances – but Very Few Their ‘Real’ Profits

The phenomenon of differences in social benefits is one that can quite easily be compared to differences in income and, subsequently, wealth. Just as one of the weakest points of today's neoliberal world is the gigantic differences in income and wealth, so it is the same with ‘relative’ and ‘absolute’ social advantages. For this degree of difference is in itself the institution of the irreversibility of differences. From a theoretical standpoint, it is enough to think of all the privatization that is taking place in the shadow of the national debt; everything, from all dimensions of education to health care, from the private army to a nuclear reactor in private hands, can become private property. The international press recently reported that private individuals of American origin (who, of course, have the right not to reveal their names publicly for confidentiality reasons) were behind a certain aid operation. At this point, we must also briefly mention the fact that some goods, among them the common human, the culturally sacred or the commonly acceptable goods, should not have been private property, as is the case with a car, for the most fundamental reason. Of course, it is the mass of value of these goods that is the problem that comes to the fore, not only the differences in wealth and of wealth, but rather the new embedding of these ‘new’ private owners, which makes it practically impossible to think of reversing this process in the foreseeable future. Inequality and all the qualitative problems of privatization therefore seem to be practically irreversible. And, of course, justice and ethics also come into play: Neither democratic nor liberal visions should have thought of irreversible inequality on an extreme scale. It goes without saying that the term ‘privatization’ or ‘private property’ can have very different meanings depending on the individual historical contexts. To a large extent, the starting point determines the discussion. Depending on how economic relations are embedded in a state, the connotations of this term are also different. But also very different phenomena and very different ‘goods’ are impacted by this process. There are even highly problematic, if not scandalous, phenomena and goods among them, even those that are theoretically not secured at all in the context of privatization. The simple fact that the media of mass communication are in private hands cannot legitimize a single philosophy or political theory. However, this connection is not only relevant for us in general, but also in the context of the Three Societies. In the coordinated interaction of the first and the third societies, the second society appears as a constant opponent of the other two societies.

The third society, with or without reason, cannot imagine that the second society will truly endure its gradual lockout, its gradually deteriorating social situation, its increasingly virtual social and other rights, its impoverishment or its deprivation without any resistance. The indescribable passivity was indeed the case, although the many reasons for it can also make this somewhat understandable. The ‘third’ society cannot believe that the suffering is being endured in silence. The situation is similar with Gorbachev's perestroika. This perestroika provided the decisive condition of being (the true condition humaine!). In the normal state of the East-West conflict, a process appeared before the public consciousness, which was at the same time also a world-historical turn. This turn was not only a very positive change for the origins of this third society, it was simply a miracle, the origins of this third society were the elites of that time, and these elites suddenly received everything they were fighting for, moreover, they achieved everything unexpectedly and without much suffering and effort, and this turn of events made these same elites and their values even more popular and loved by all.

This mental state, which can be called a specific anxiety, motivates the third society. This is a specific type of ‘politische Angst’ (political fears), which appears in large numbers and in different terminological forms in the individual mass psychological conceptions, without them having been systematically treated as a subject of self-sufficient research. Assuming that the third society, as usual, proceeds from its own ideas and anticipates the behavior of the other groups according to its own pattern of behavior, it must actually think that it is rather impossible for the majority (the second society in our terminology) to accept a situation in which it (the second society) had to renounce its long-cherished historical achievements in favor of an indistinct conglomerate of promises, of which practically nothing concrete could be realized (see as evidence the NATO problem as a promise).

It must be firmly assumed that the third society must have become aware of this enormous victory and this huge increase in its own power, at least to the extent that the second society has become aware of its fundamental losses. At the same time, the first society has little choice but to fully believe the third society's interpretation of the second society.

Media Distribution in the Three Societies Structure

Each new society, but also its sum, the society of the ‘Three Societies,’ lives in a new and hitherto unknown world of mediatization. The situation of the Three Societies can therefore be read quite instructively from their relationship with this mediatization. The third society is in every respect the property of the entire media world. This is where McLuhan's paradox comes into its own. The third society uses this terrible media superiority to keep the first society in its enthusiasm for 1989, in other words, in its happy self-identification with this event and thus also with the third society. Its media world is professional (it has probably read much more McLuhan and media psychology than the students or the alternative intellectuals). This media world acts consciously in the extreme. The situation is similar to that of the media in politics. Capital accumulated in advance is necessary in order to enter politics and, by extension the media world. In the cosmos of the Three Societies world; and this is again a theoretically relevant step, the state and private capital sets coincide completely. It must be remembered that it cannot be possible in any other hemisphere of the world. The resulting media conglomerate (again a new and interesting move!) does not at all consider the real existing second society as its target group at all. It treats the second society as a secret adversary or as a hidden danger, according to Franz Werfel's motto: ‘Not the murderer, but the victim is to blame!’ But it also does so because, for no particular reason, it does not believe that the second society does not necessarily rave about the whole existing social order. In short, the media conglomerate ultimately treats as non-existent, and in global politics, as if there were subjects that are practically non-existent, that are not named and whose interests do not exist.

When we spoke earlier of a colossal media superiority in favor of the third society, however, we did not ignore the equally colossal rise of the social media. These media have become a reality today and have already proven to be a very effective weapon in the hands of the second society. This new media complex emerged very directly (it is a pity that McLuhan did not talk about this media development from below). From the very beginning, it was possible to experience how living language and communication have left their mark on social media, and this is why social media remain in close interaction with the current processes that dynamically shape the identity of the second society. This complex gains its unique significance as an alternative to those mainstream media whose lost popularity was linked to the great turn of 1989, or in other words, to the third society. How this group (or the mainstream) of the once particularly dazzling, even ‘beloved’ media lost its unique position is a concrete story, precisely because of their unique and real existing credibility and love, they were bought up step by step and their original focal points were also reversed step by step. There is no doubt that social media is a great alternative, but they cannot take over all the relevant functions of the mainstream media, because for many different reasons they cannot always develop the discussion processes to exactly address the last points. It is quite visible in the current military conflict in Ukraine. Although all media take on the other forms of the social medium, the possibilities of a truly social medium remain far behind the non-social or the only seemingly social media. But that really does not mean that they are ineffective because of this.

In the years around 1989, the media (which were also open to the left) were the leading carriers of the great political openings, of the constant good news, of the realization of liberating steps that were not only considered impossible before, but should not have been considered possible, because the essence and singularity of the transition consisted precisely in a drastic change of direction; in this 180-degree descriptive zig-zag, which made it tangibly impossible that one could even think of such a possibility in advance. It was, of course, a cognitive impossibility to foresee this development. A reality that embodies the exact opposite of what currently exists cannot be anticipated. I am not talking about those who, for whatever reason, secretly knew about this or that part of this diametrical change (a separate question, of course, to be considered). Nor should we believe those who, in retrospect, want to relativize this mutation, this absolute difference, because their goal is clear: to force this unique and not even cognitively predictable turn in retrospect into the Procrustian bed of realpolitik and the language of normality. Moreover, they are fighting against the memory of this event; but they are again fighting for this goal for their own interests, because the forgotten appeal to the great possibilities of this turn deprives a possible reclaim of the lost possibilities of its substance.

Thus, the press around 1989 was the carriers of a unique historical moment. If one considers the great moment of the modern liberal press in the current sense of the word, one should start the research with the 1960s, initially more left-wing and intellectually/politically equally creative. Then came the low points of the 1970s, an ‘unschӓrfe’ relationship (á la Heisenberg), lots of color photos with an impoverishment of content. In addition to the mentality of the intellectuals, the interested young managers appear among the readers, some of whom still take the intellectuals as a model. However, this concrete flattening changes abruptly as the increasingly strong impulses of neoliberalism conquer the space. Neoliberalism is more likely to become anti-totalitarianism and hopeful democracy, much less the theme of national debt, the recapture of social achievements or privatization in the first place thematically. The whole story of the international victory of neo-liberalism, which promised only good for everyone, has changed these media again as if with a magic blow. The positives aspects of this transition also refined the media, they brought daily experiences of joy to the readers and the viewers, and even more, from this unifying positive mood of the rapid growth of long-missed values such as understanding, peace, security, emancipation, human rights, etc., the media themselves also gained an otherwise hardly experienced authority and authenticity. People simply loved the privileged media, in which the great processes were realized, and even more, one also developed a practically boundless trust in them. Incidentally, this moment was the decisive source of the emergence of the first society; this almost limitless trust was instilled in the do-gooders of numerous population groups.

Our description seems to be literary, although it accurately reflects the content of the historical process. Methodologically, it is not irrelevant that only a small part (we deliberately did not want to say ‘fraction’) of society is able and willing to consider the eternal simultaneity of comprehensive mediatization historically. The eternal presence of the media plays strange games with the audience. The emergence and re-emergence of media takes time. It takes a long time for a medium's good reputation to spread. No wonder many promising media ventures fail to survive this long moratorium. But if a medium becomes truly successful in the good sense of the word, this ‘high’ period also lasts a very long time (perhaps even longer than the period of movement on the way up). Many ‘bad’ years must pass before the same audience, step by step, irreversibly perceives that the content and messages of the celebrated medium are no longer so glaring. The results of these reflections could be reflected in the reflection on those concrete questions that were associated with the unique recognition, even ‘love’ for those media that were related to the world-historical turn of the year 1989. This confirms once again that media and mediatization are by no means simple carriers of political messages and activities, but are themselves part of these processes from the very beginning.

Intimacy with the Elites

Therefore, it was about the decisive change in the credibility of the media. In the period between 1989 and today, the elites have used this particular popularity, if not ‘love’, for the media particularly incorrectly. It even seems that they have already realized these mistakes, but because of a delayed perception, they seem to be adhering to the original decision. And this is again a new train of the first society and the three-societies theory. Mistakes are not admitted, the consequences of a bad decision continue, the blame is on the opponent, who always seems to be dragged into the totalitarian corner. Cautious changes, of course, never reach the level of self-criticism!

It was not only the media theory that pointed in this direction. Without a doubt both the professionals and the ‘only’ interested may have learned from their own experience how viable political support for the first society has prepared for them this not only well-trained, but also populous media world for them. This media world has largely personified itself; the credibility of the beloved media has been transferred to individual loved ones and vice versa. A very erratic sign of this transition was the increasing tendency for relevant news programs to be moderated more and more by a single person; one person becomes the center of attention. Today, such phenomena are hardly noticeable, although the question of how a single person can appear equally competent in every area of a program is no less relevant. Larry King interviewed a different celebrity every day.

Nevertheless, the essence of this development is that this media orchestra has learned to adequately hide the increasingly individual and selfish interests of the elites and thus automatically trivialize them and develop an intimate relationship with the elites, which quickly led to the protagonists of these media experiencing and defining themselves as part of these elites. For an attentive observer, such phenomena were by no means hidden, but they were also very often the subject of media criticism (‘lying press’, Lügenpresse). However, it was hardly less relevant that the majority of the population, which had loved and identified with the turnaround in 1989 from the very beginning, experienced these media in a very positive way, and therefore largely diminished the critical potential of this majority and thus its ability to control. So, it was not at all difficult to discover in this large group the primordial phenomenon of the later do-gooder.

Still within the brave new world of the ‘Three Societies’, it will be essential for us to deal with the new concept of the precariat. First of all, it should be noted that this new concept arose in the age of the ‘Three Societies’. It is very difficult to determine more precise dates from either side. The present basis of the concept of the Three Societies existed relatively long before the birth of the term (‘Three Societies’), just as the phenomenon of the precariat was also perceptible earlier than the birth of the term. If you go one step further, it becomes clear that both terms reflect at least partially the same processes. The ‘second’ society is certainly also ‘precariat’ and vice versa, in the broader concept of the precariat, large and summarizing formations of the second society are abolished. If one goes one step further, one can see that the concept of the ‘second society’ has its structural context between the ‘first’ and the ‘third’ society, while the ‘precariat’ without prehistory, theoretical justification and ethical, anthropological and normative dimension, floats completely in the social air and only fixes the very problematic and yet noble existence of this layer. It then becomes apparent that the ‘second’ society has its concrete relations and possible alternatives, even its inner teleology, while all this cannot be said of the precariat. The category of the ‘second society’ is also new, is general and by no means analytically determined in every respect, but self-explanatory analytical hypotheses can be based on it, whereas in the case of the precariat it is not possible to have an intellectual starting point, because, to address just one possibility, one should first clarify socio-scientifically, socio-politically, politically or sociologically what the ‘precariat’ is, and these discussions will be long. Until then, however, there should be no institution to deal with it, if only because no institution is currently obliged to deal seriously with a phenomenon that has not yet been defined. This is also because the ‘second society,’ in its current form, already sends out a strong semantic message. As far as the original semantic message of the precariat is concerned, it can be equated with the zero; at the moment this term is a somewhat empty sign of an intention to describe the new political and social reality in a euphemistical and pseudo-scientific way.


Our title (The Real Existing Real Reality 2022) goes back to Boris Ponomarjov's statement about the ‘real existing socialism’, which should have been higher than all ‘utopian’ concepts. As we now know, all references to the ‘reality’ have two directions. In the first case, ‘reality’ is more valuable that utopias (as with Ponomarjov). In the second case, reality is poor and negative compared to ideas. We have, however, to do actually with a third case. ‘Reality’ becomes the highest value for us, because the simple possession of the definition of Reality becomes the secret goal of the present war. A new description of the real global society is only possible with the hypothesis of ‘three societies’ of this global world. The first society would be the society of the good will, for which the value-oriented life of this year (1989) can no longer be an open problem. We define the second society as the one, which is not fundamentally constituted by the good will described above. We see the third society as that political class or elite, whose power has been originated in the year 1989. The ‘third’ society is the object of the self-identification of the ‘first’; the ‘first’ is the product of the year 1989. When we talk about the further social embedding of these Three Societies, the phenomenon of public debt appears to be one of the most relevant constitutive factors of our society in the plan. It also suggests that today's world economy is the ‘realm of normality’ in which only the undisciplined policies of selfish governments, with their reactionary insistence on the ‘national interest’, are the real movers.


1 As we could say somewhat cynically, this is possible because getting to know some of the new features of the political sphere (das Politische) is quite a great success alone, while there is practically not much hope of getting to know all the new features altogether. A partial adaptation of political practice to the new relations has already taken place, so a complete reconstruction of the theoretical relations of the system of politics is not necessary to reveal these relations.

At this point, another field of work opens up: the extent to which world society (and the individual societies of the world) would have been the same in 2007–2008 as they were in 1989.


Behring, D. 1982. Die Intellektuellen. Frankfurt am Main–Berlin–Wien: Dtv.

Benedikt, M. 1997. Kein Ende der Zukunft. Wien: Kant + Turia.

Bernard, F. de 2002. La Pauvreté durable. Paris: Félin.

Blake, R. 1970. The Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher. London: Fontana Press.

Clouscard, M. 2014. Le capitalisme de la séduction. Critique de la social-démocratie libertaire. Paris: Delga.

Csányi, V. 1988. Evolúciós rendszerek. Az evolució általános elmélete. Budapest: Gondolat.

Del Boca, A. 2012. Le Déni d'histoire. Usage public de l’histoire et réhabilitation du fascisme en Italie. Paris: Delga.

Dictionnaire critique des mondialisations. GERM (sous la direction de François de Bernard)

Diner, D. 1985. Imperialismus, Universalismus, Hegemonie. Zum Verhältnis von Politik und Ökonomie in der Weltgesellschaft. In Iring Fetscher és Herfried Münkler (eds.), Politikwissenschaft (pp. 326–360). Rowohlt.

Ehrke, M. 2004. Das neue Europa. Ökonomie, Politik und Gesellschaft im postkommunistischen Kapitalismus. FES and

Elias, N. 1976. Über den Prozess der Zivilisation. Soziogenetische und psychogenetische Untersuchungen 1–2. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Foucault, M. 1971. Die Ordnung der Dinge. Eine Archaeologie der Humanwissenschaften. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Fourastié, J. 1974. La civilisation de 1995. Paris: Gallimard.

Fukuyama, F. 2018. Identity: Contemporary Identity Politics and the Struggle for Recognition. London: Profile Books.

Giddens, A. 1981. Die klassische Gesellschaftstheorie und der Ursprung der modernen Soziologie. In: Geschichte der Soziologie. Studien zur kognitiven, sozialen und historischen Identität einer Disziplin. Szerkesztette: Wolf Lepenies. I. kötet (pp. 96–136). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.

Grinin, L. E. 2009. Which Global Transformations would the Global Crisis Lead to? Age of Globalization 2: 31–52.

Grinin, L. E., Korotayev, A. V. 2010. Will the Global Crisis Lead to Global Transformations? 2. The Coming Epoch of New Coalitions. Journal of Globalization Studies 1 (2): 166–183.

Hardt, M., Negri, A. 2000. Empire. Cambridge – London: Harvard University Press.

Huntington. S. P. 1996. Kampf der Kulturen? Die Neugestaltung der Weltpolitik im 21. Jahrhundert. Wien.

Inglehart, R. 1977. The Silent Revolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Kaempfer, W. 2005. Der stehende Sturm. Zur Dynamik gesellschaftlicher Selbstauflösung (1600–2000). Berlin: Kulturverlag Kadmos.

Kaempfer, W., Neidhöfer, H., Ternes, B. (Eds.) 2005. Die unsichtbare Macht. Berlin: Neue Studien zu Liberalismus-Kapitalismus.

Kiss, E. 1997a. Die zivilisatorische Komponente des postsozialistischen Systemwechsels. In Gerlich, P., Glass, K., and Kiss, E. (eds.), Von der Mitte nach Europa und zurück (pp. 117–125). Wien – Poznan: Österreichische Gesellschaft für Mitteleuropäische Studien.

Kiss, E. 1997b. Das Globale ist das Unmittelbarwerden des Absoluten? In Hegel-Jahrbuch, 1996 (pp. 33–41). Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

Kiss, E. 1998. Rhetorics and Discourses of the Post-Socialist Transition. In Ivekovic, R., and Pagon, N. (eds.), Otherhood and Nation (pp. 139–155). Ljubljana-Paris: Edition de la Maison des sciences de l'homme.

Kiss, E. 1999. Monetarismus und Liberalismus. Zu einer Theorie der globalen und geschichtsphilosophischen Aktualitaet. In Bialas, V., Haessler, H.-J., and Woit, E. (eds.), Die Kultur des Friedens. Weltordnungsstrukturen und Friedensgestaltung (pp. 211–226). Würzburg: Königshausen und Neumann

Kiss, E. 2000. Der virtuelle, aktuelle und zukünftige Nationalstaat vor dem Horizont der neoliberalen Erweiterung des internationalen Rechtes. In Drozdowicz, Z., Glass, K., Skaloud, J. (eds.), Von der Emanzipation zur Integration (pp. 63–71). Wien-Poznan: Ősterrechische Gesellschaft fűr Mitteleuropäische Studien/Humaniora.

Kiss, E. 2000. Menschenrechte und Menschen im Strome der Globalisierung. In Woit, E. and Klopfer, J. (eds.), Völkerrecht und Rechtsbewusstsein für eine globale Friedensordnung (pp. 55–64). Dresden: DSS Arbeitspapiere

Kiss, E. 2001. Identitaet und Differenz – Funktionen der Logik, Logik der Funktionen. Über den Anderen, das Anderssein und die Interkulturalitaet. In Schmied-Kowarzik, W. (ed.), Verstehen und Verstaendigung. Ethnologie, Xenologie, Interkultrurelle Philosophie (pp. 359–369). Würzburg:Königshausen und Neumann.

Kiss, E. 2002a. Fin de l’histoire. dans: Dictionnaire critique de la mondialisation (pp. 181–183). Paris: Lavoisier.

Kiss, E. 2002b. Entre le néo-positivisme-néo-liberalisme et le postmoderne. TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 14. URL:

Kiss, E. 2003. Globalization – on its Micro- Middle- and Macro-Level. In Mazour, I. I., Chumakov, A. N., Gay W. C. (eds.), Global Studies Encyclopedia. Moscow: TsNPP ‘Dialog’, Raduga Publishers.

Kiss, E. A. 2010a. Philosophy of Globalization. Age of Globalization 2: 53–65.

Kiss, E. A. 2010b. The Dialectics of Modernity. A Theoretical Interpretation of Globalization. Journal of Globalization Studies 1 (2): 12–26.

Kiss, E. 2010. Self-Destructive Dimension of Globalization. Reflections – Reflekszii. évf. 2: 171–184.

Kiss, E. 2018. The Great Time, the Three Societies in the Globalization and the Three Souls of a Leftist Today. Journal of Environmental Science and Engineering B 7: 344–353. doi:10.17265/2162-5263/2018.09.004.

Kiss, E. 2020a. Some Chapters from the Theory of Unexpected World History. Part I. Scientific journal ‘Discourse-Pi’ 2 (39): 165–180. doi: 10.24411/1817-9568-2020-10211. Original in Russian (Кисс Э. Некоторые главы из теории о неожиданной мировой истории. Часть 1. Научный журнал ‘Дискурс-Пи).

Kiss, E. 2020b. Some Chapters from a Theory about an Unexpected World History. Part II. Scientific Journal “Discourse-P”, 3 (40): 153–170. doi: 10.24411/1817-9568-2020-10310. Original in Russian (Кисс Э. Некоторые главы из теории о неожиданной мировой истории. Часть 2. Научный журнал ‘Дискурс-Пи’).

Mazour; I. I., Chumakov, A. N., Gay, W. C. (eds.) 2003. Global Studies Encyclopedia. Moscow: Raduga.

Schelsky, H. 1957, 1975. Die skeptische Generation. Eine Soziologie der deutschen Jugend. Frankfurt am Main – Berlin – Wien: Ullstein.

Lehtonen, Tr. 2008. Proofreading References. Travis Lehtonen. URL: www.translation.

Leonhard, W. 1990. Die Revolution entlässt ihre Kinder. I–II. Leipzig: Reclam.

Meyer, M. 1993. Ende der Geschichte? München-Wien: Hanser.

Michels, R. 1987. Masse, Führer, Intellektuelle. Frankfurt am Main-New York: Campus.

N.N. (eds). 1998. Democracy. A Foreign Affairs Reader.

Piepmeier, R. 1979. Das Ende der Geschichte. In Oelmüller, W. (ed), Normen und Geschichte. Paderborn: Schöningh.

Polányi, K. 1973. Der Hundertjaehrige Frieden. In von Ekkehart Krippendorf, H. (pp. 38–55), Internationale Beziehungen. Köln: Kiepemheuer-Witsch.

Sorokin, P. 1928. Contemporary Sociological Theories. New York: Harper.

Schmied-Kowarzik, W. (ed.) 2002. Verstehen und Verstaendigung. Ethnologie, Xenologie, Interkulturelle Philosophie. Würzburg: Könisgshausen – Neumann.

Schwarke, Ch. 2014. Technik und Religion. Religiöse Deutungen und theologische Rezeption der Zweiten Industrialisierung in den USA und in Deutschland. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.

Servan-Schreiber, J.-J. 1980. Die totale Herausforderung. Wien–München–Zürich–New York: Molden.

The National Interest, no. 16 (Summer), 1989. Washington, D.C.

Tönnies, F. 1972. Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

Weiner, R. 1982. Das Amerika-Bild von Karl Marx. Bonn: Bouvier – Herbert Grundmann.

Wittfogel, K. A. 1977. Geopolitik, geographischer Materialismus und Marxismus. In Szerk, J. M. (ed.), Politische Geographie (pp. 183–232). Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.