François Dubet on Social Fictions

Here is a short clip of François Dubet explaining that our societies rely on fictions to sustain themselves. My loose translation is below. I provided a more detailed version of this in my review of Dubet’s Les Places et Les Chances.

The principles of justice are fiction. When we say that “we are all equal”, it’s a positive fiction but a fiction nonetheless. When we say that “we are all free”, it’s a fiction, but it is a fiction that is fundamental to democracy. We have to act as if we were free, as if we were equal. We have to recognize the fiction of individual merit. But a society that was based exclusively on this principle (individual merit) would be very brutal and very unequal at the same time.

And societies that have leaned more towards this model of justice are more unequal than others. When Maradona becomes part of the elite, that does not change at all the position of the poor, even if there are 150 Maradonas, but it makes the poor dream.

The history of capitalist societies is not a history of an economic system but the history of the embedding of the economy into society. The only people who believe that there are capitalist societies are the hyper-libertarians (“ultra-liberals, for the Europeans), the Chicago boys, and revolutionaries. Ordinary people know that one can raise salaries, create hospitals, enjoy social welfare, and limit the wealth of the dominant classes

3 thoughts on “François Dubet on Social Fictions

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