Ten things about social pacts

1. On October 17, after discussions between representatives of the government, business and unions to deal with the wave of post-Marikana strikes, President Jacob Zuma announced a new social pact that included improved law and order and a commitment to address socioeconomic issues.

2. The terms "social pact" and "social compact" were used to describe the agreement eventually reached at the second round of the Conference for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) in 1994.

3. The idea of a social pact was used widely in the European democracies with strong welfare states and has since been seen largely as a government reaching agreements with its social partners, capital and labour. It is now applied all over the world and is often measured in terms of social spending.

4. Lucio Baccaro and Sang-Hoon Lim of the International Institute for Labour Studies in Geneva argue that social pacts come about when "weak government … unable … to manage the crisis unilaterally seeks to build a broad societal alliance around its adjustment policies".

5. Social pacts grow from social contract theory, which goes back to the great Enlightenment philosophers of the 1600s and 1700s. The divine right of the European monarchies having been discredited, these thinkers asked what gave cohesion to a society and what allowed the rise of, and gave legitimacy to, a government and the state.


6.  John Locke tackled the matter in his Second Treatise on Government (1689), arguing that the populace delegates its right of self-preservation to the state.

7. In 1762, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "a citizen of Geneva", took matters much further in his ground-breaking Of the Social Contract, or The Principles of Political Right, arguing for a stronger form of democracy in which only the general will of the nation as a whole could give legitimacy to a government.

8. Rousseau was extremely influential on the kind of thinking that drove the political philosophy of the French Revolution. From this and earlier arguments about the natural law that gives each person basic rights, the two declarations of the "Rights of Man and of the Citizen" (1789 and 1793) were developed.

9. The anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon argued in the 1850s that the true social contract was not between the people and the state, but between each person in society.

10. In response to the European Union winning the Nobel peace prize this month and the equivocal results of the latest summit on the euro crisis, the European United Left and Nordic Green Left called for a new "social pact for the 99%" that would entail "much needed social and environmentally sustainable development … This summit was all spin and no substance as the concerns of the citizens fell by the wayside. We must turn the tide and then we can talk about who deserves the Nobel prize."

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

There is a plan for a job in every home

The Western Cape is a successful seeding ground for the DA’s approach to grow small businesses

Educate and respect your audience, says Clara Nzima

Keep your ear to the ground, says Clara Nzima, who rose from production assistant to head of channel

SA’s transition, interrupted

A World Bank report aims to help the country to eliminate poverty by 2030 and to boost shared prosperity

Tardiness, not Constitution, to blame for land crisis

Section 25 of the country’s supreme law is not the reason for the extremely slow pace of land reform

Letters to the editor: June 2 to 8 2017

Readers write in about the opposition, party donors, and the ANC.

Assassination pushes Burundi to the brink

Close ally of President Pierre Nkurunziza, widely believed to be behind a spate of arbitrary arrests and killings of opposition members, gunned down.
Advertising

Ingonyama Trust Board moves to retrench staff

More than 50 workers at the Ingonyama Trust Board have been issued section 189 notices

No proof of Covid-19 reinfection, yet

Some people report testing positive for Covid-19 after initially having the disease and then testing negative. Scientists are still trying to understand if this means that reinfection is possible
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday