The Constitution of Social Bases for the New Cultural-Identitarian Movements

The rise of the new cultural-identitarian movements is not the result of a new importance of religion in the social and political life of those countries where these movements become prominent. It is the result of new political coalitions which have become possible since the old state classes have lost their capacity to bind major social forces to their dominant political project through clientalism. It is also not a radical break with the class alliances which supported the state-dominated regimes. The secular state classes had recruited themselves from the same middle classes which now become prominent in the new larger and more powerful cultural-identitarian movements. The rise of these new movements is the result of excluded segments of the middle classes becoming more powerful and vociferous because of the loss of resources, hence clientalist power, as well as the moral standing of the increasingly failed secular state classes. The process of the rise of new cultural-identitarian movements reflects shifts in the composition of the middle classes, as shown by the contribution of Sebastian Schwecke, for example. This process goes with new alliances of these reinforced segments of the middle classes which largely influence the choice of overarching ideologies which can function to establish political majorities. The shift in relations can stabilise alliances where important elements no longer accept empty promises for an easy and immediate improvement of their economic situation. The old secular state classes have been confronted by three new contenders who could potentially join a political alliance: the old private sector (in India called ‘the traders’), the marginalised poor, especially the younger people (in Algeria: the hittistes, those leaning against the wall), and dropouts, especially those who left secondary education and were intellectually equipped to adopt pre-existing ideas about cultural nationalism.1 These groups found no other political tendency capable of challenging the secular statist

nationalists apart from the cultural nationalists. These cultural nationalists were present in the national liberation movements but were marginalised because of the preference of the colonial powers to negotiate independence with the more ‘reasonable’ secular nationalists.2