It feels like we live in the “age of anger”. Anger was a predominate feeling in the “French yellow vest movement” spurred by sharp increases in petrol prices. In Germany the notion of “Wutbürger” had a short career to express anger of citizens against, against whatever could arise anger. There are plenty of issues of course that will cause arousal in public politics. The more a government enacts change, be it necessary or not, the more it is to arouse its citizens. Parliamentary democracy is thought to solve this through majority voting of the equally represented in parliament. Minority rights have been installed to safeguard the majority to become too overwhelming, but any close decisions on hotly debated topics are likely to cause substantial anger within a society.
This is far from being an issue only in Western democracies. Pankaj Mishra claims, this is a world-wide phenomenon and history provides ample examples for it. In his book on “The age of anger” he challenges the predominantly Western political theory, deriving from an opposition of Voltaire’s and Rousseau’s political thought to hold the individualisation and globalisation of an economic model, traditional capitalism, responsible for the rise of anger across the globe.
This critique of capitalism is now translated into French. Several movements of anger in France probably find some unifying roots of seemingly unrelated outbreak of anger, violence and subsequent repression. Old arguments of critics of capitalism stand up again. The challenge to democracy comes from the extreme right even more than from the extreme left. Re-imagining capitalism is needed more than ever to safe the survival of democracy. Participative democracy like in Bürgerräte in Germany or deliberative democracy practiced by President Macron in France are an important part to stimulate involvement of more people in the preparation of decision-making. Not perfect as procedures, but small steps ahead to confront and address anger of the citizens and people at large.