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Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 15

I have had the chance of sharing my Philosophy studies with thinkers as E. Levinas, P. Rocoeur or J.F. Lyotard. But suddenly, I have found myself as a « philosofer’s field » creating the first accommodation centre for drug addicts with the abbot Pierre apart from the Emmaus communities.

Then, I have started to go with the staff in charge of big enterprises because I have been required to manage the suicides in the working place ; going from drug addicts to managers, I have believed that I have changed of trade.


In fact, my studies are aimed to the human’s dimension, a matter in which philosophers have been working since millenniums.

Of course, the topic of the intergenerational solidarity is far from the human’s field.

As a philosopher I want to ask and question these notions of generation and solidarity.

I think that only the men, between the warm-blooded mammals, have invented the notion of generation (subjected to confirmation by experts of the animals’ world). All this means that it is a mental construction, a particular point of view about the world, about the rest and about himself and, as a construction, this feeling of generation could be destroyed one day. We are maybe near that day.


First, I want to tell you a story. A merchant of photographic machines had his shop placed in front of a secondary school. Between the 1950s and the 1980s he has taken some cliches when students went back home. The result was so relevant : in the 1950s there clearly existed three groups of population : smalls (10-13 years old) which wore shorts and a satchel at the back ; olders (14-17 years old) which wore trousers (often jeans) and a briefcase ; parents, that come to pick up the small children (everyday clothes). Over the years, the shorts of the small children got longer, and little by little adults wear like teenagers. Differences are attenuated and the ages are mixed. The last stage is reached when, on the pretext of « jogging », adults wear the « babygros », a tracksuit made of foam rubber created, in a first moment, to infants.

Anyway, from the point of view of clothing, also the generational differences are liquifinding.


Equally, the solidarity has a history. D. Hume, a Scottish philosopher, underlined that the solidarity is, firstly, an inclination (a partiality) that is felt by our parents, our relatives and our fellow men (family, neighbours, colleagues). In one second we can extend the solidarity field, knowing how to live in a society.

However, we are attending to a radical modification of these basis :


-          The familiar basis descomposes and recomposes.

-          The notion of neighbourhood doesn’t have any more the same obviousness that it used to have essencially in the rural habitats during the previous centuries ; new neighbours appear, maybe virtual neighbours of social networks of the Internet, neighbours 2.0. but, in fact, they don’t replace the local and dissolved life. In particular, they can disappear with only one click.

-          The fellow men were people who had shared with you the same way along your life : common school, spare time shared since childhood… Also, this aspect is becoming more and more rare, and new provisional and precarious similarities are invented : like these punctual meetings whose aim is only to take part in a meeting, even without the religious, political or cultural pretext that justified long ago pilgrimages, demonstrations and conferences. On the other hand, I want to believe that you have different points of view apart from the fact of being here making part of a group (a professional, close history, civic involvements, values…). But all this is becoming more and more rare and early people will only join a group to be together ; some people, in the same place, a fleeting instant ; (e.g. the « fast dating »).

-          « If we gargle today  « networks », « connexions », « relations » is because real nets, lasting connexions, close relationships have disappeared. » (Z. Bauman Identity)


In conclusion, it is observed that, wanted or not, a solidarity crisis means a backward movement in the attitudes and aspirations of the communities ; these communities aren’t any more the starting point of a generosity movement towards the other one but a return point, an isolation point.

What kind of misfortune has our generations permited to reinvent religion wars, particularly in the Near East ? Of what are we guilty ? And how can we create the conditions of a revival of the extended solidarity ?


This turbulence of the social link, that guides young people to look for further, in the ONG, a place of caring action, is contemporary, even of a deeper mouvement, of a mutation of our world. To take up again the expression of Z. Bauman, we have come in a liquid world where anything any more is solid. The eldest institutions could disappear, enterprises created in 1881 are bought back or fused with the yesterday’s rival, ancien states brush the bankruptcy, empires fail… And this situation affects everyone in a personal way.


This last change of the post-modernism, this ended form have been long time announced by poets : Alice in Wonderland was in a world where « you have to run as fast as you can to stay at the same place. » Now we live in this world ; life conditions change before being transformed in routines. Advantages become handicaps and aptitudes become illnesses.
Lasting relationships have been « liquidated » in favor of flexible linkages, temporal connexions and networks that doesn’t stop changing. We « zap » as well in the sexual and affective aspect as in the aspect of the neighbourhood, of the village and, finally, of the whole society. After making a study, a Scandinavian country propose the « seven years mariage », the average that one couple last nowadays.

We do and will do more and more the experience of an accelerated time, unstitched meetings, momentary engagements and fast breaking of the engagement… Because we are staging the « throwing away », the exchange and the exclusion, throwing away of merchandises, ideas and also human beings. Consummate consomers, it is our turn to exhibit the frontieres of the validity, like these villas in the Andalusian coast that are being sold with « spectacular sea views garantied for two years ». « In this world people prefer claiming for a better present for themselves than a better future for everybody » (Bauman). Consequently, how can we think about the learning’s transmission, the intergenerational responsabilities, the memory’s duties ?

Equally, another author, P. Sloterdijk, points out the acceleration of the merchandises’, signs’ and microbes exchange. He emphasises the fact that  « in a satured civilization by the technique, the adventure doesn’t exist, it only exists the risk of being late. » Everybody in the current world is speeding up. «It only happens something in the detachment queue.» There isn’t anything gained in the lead that wasn’t immediately questioned, on the other hand the support vehicle creates the irremediable ; also, the unique aim of everybody is, simply, not being removed, throwed away.

How can we translate that to the generational field?


Nowadays in France the notion of « generation » creates important controversies ; we love controversies. Because it is a complicated notion ; were born at the same period isn’t enought, being at the same cohort to pertain at the same generation. It is also necessary to share some common facts (the war, periods of economic boom, the computer revolution, the Internet’s development) and all this in a particular moment of our lives, in the « love time » (15-30 years old), period of determinant impregnation. It is the same as was thought yesterday ; but today, apart from the age, everybody makes an effor to remain young, teenager in the love time. So, it is like if in our culture were only one generation, that wants to be eternal.


And without any inscription in a generational waterfall, we all become individuals without history, out of time ; not eternal but stucked in an eternal present. While his history and death were only conceivable for each of us if we think in a human chain : « if the grain die….»

The marketing managers can talk about generations X, Y, or Z, about bayboomers…, about the Internet generation ; they are cosummers’ target segmentations, passiveness’ classifications but not the anchorage’s point of a history, individual and collective projects.


Is it possible to restaure the conditions of a history ? Is it possible to rethink about the past time and dreaming with the future ?


The last modernity (especially since the sixties) had left the future to the responsibility of young generations, asking them how to maintain the link between the shortness of the individual life and « the eternity of the human being, of his ideas, of his conquests ». In addition, young people demanded that responsability. The « Who » sang « My generation » and they asked the older to « release ».


why don't you all fade away,
(talking 'bout my generation)
don't try to dig where we all stand,

The « externable » of the youth was invented (according to Isidore Isou).


Today, a new age is invented, defined by a growing institutionalization : the big age. More and more numerous, « very old » people are taking responsibilities whose professionalization is growing out of the specific structures, that is, out of families. They give to the social plan a new generational reality.


All of you, babyboomers, that were twenty years old in the sixties, must understand that now aged, dadyboomers, they have to maintain their positions. Fifty years after 1968 are necessary to build their a place for them and for their descendants. They have to rethink about an intergenerational solidarity that affirms the differences, that stakes out the path of life.

And in the condition of « rearticulate », (when we talk about the language we articulate) the social field will find a new solidarity : differentiate to understand and being wrong anymore.

Cher up !                                                                                      Dominique CHRISTIAN - France