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Religion and Society

Communitarian Subjects in a Plural Society

I shall attempt to bring some hard facts to everyone’s attention, with the questions and considerations they suggest.



1. Some data



Both the international media and the different speakers we have been listening to have highlighted the role that the new media, in particular Facebook, have played in the events of the last few months. Many people say that, thanks to their powerful capacity for summoning crowds, thousands of young people [the social statistics are not to be underestimated] have met in the squares of Northern Africa and the Middle East, but also in Spain, to manifest their unease about the situation in their respective societies.



However, we must not forget that the same capacity to summon huge crowds has been behind the urban festivals taking place in various Western cities (the latest case regards last week’s incidents in Germany).


In this sense, and without wanting to underestimate these phenomena, it would seem that young people are responding massively to “protest” as well as “leisure and entertainment” proposals. We cannot in fact forget that these spontaneous gatherings of large numbers of people are taking place at a historical moment where membership of associations of any kinds is down to a minimum. This is why, perhaps, it would be wrong to talk about huge concentrations of individuals.



Besides, I believe that we must not dismiss the real constructive potential of such phenomena. That the Presidents of Tunisia and Egypt have abandoned their Countries is a fact that cannot be ignored. We must, however, understand whether their exiting was due to the protest movements or to other reasons (on this subject, it is instructive to read the paper on the Armée Egyptienne). Perhaps it could be affirmed that these changes may not have occurred without the demonstrations, even though these were not their ultimate causes.


The last point I would like draw attention to is a perplexity about the future: How will these elements evolve? What constructive forces do they present? Will they end up by being reabsorbed into more traditional forms of social participation (such as political parties)?



2. Some Considerations



First of all I think we could ask ourselves about the real consistency of the subjects involved. Are they individuals, even individuals committed to some ideals, or are there also communitarian subjects? Who are those who, from behind their computer screens, can mobilize thousands of young people?



The weakness of these subjects, if it were proved as such, emerges clearly by the absence of a capacity to build, i.e., by the lack of any operative proposals that might really affect the social fabric.


At this point I think it necessary to recall the reality of communitarian subjects and of their enterprises as the effectively constructive factors of a plural society. By talking about communitarian subjects we intend to go beyond the individualistic drift and focus on the person and the network of relationship constituting it. A reference to enterprises, instead, intends to call into play society’s actual needs (education, work, charity) and the answers provided by communitarian subjects.



Which category does best describe the life of a State that places itself at the service of the lives of these communitarian subjects and their enterprises in such a way that “the recognition of the value of the practical/social common good of being together be actualized?” (Botturi, Scola)? Is it secularism? A new secularism?


Perhaps it would be better to change the language register and resort to the “plural society” category , where the adjective plural does not affect the uniqueness of truth but intends to reflect the fact of plurality in subjects who need to play out their responsibility, in a personal ad a communitarian way, in relation to the truth (the logics of witnessing). This responsibility will find in their enterprises a privileged place in which to be practised (for example: Our Lady of Peace in Amman).