WHAT IS A PEOPLE
by Alain Renaut
Grasset, 270 pages, 17,90 euros.
or most o the rench, the political structure on the le t-right opposition. There, says the philosopher Alain Renaut, a deep clea age, which passes within o the partisan ormations: one that separates "republicanism" o liberalism (it comes to political liberalism, and non-economic). As much by their historical roots than by their content, are two ery di erent ways o de eloping democracy. And it is trying to clari y these di erences that the book identi ies the question posed by its title: that is a ree people The subtlety o the demonstration and its theoretical detours through Locke, Rousseau, Benjamin Constant, Tocque ille, Rawls Habermas and a ew others, are o this reading a somewhat stimulating intellectual game. Can only regret that the author consents only on rare occasions to discuss concrete and ery current problems which are re lected in watermark behind the philosophical speech whether it be school, "at Community le el" risks, choices in
matter o secularism or turnout yet.
The opposition between the Liberal and the Republican base, there are two di erent conceptions o reedom. irst, it is a "negati e" reedom: that which enables each to choose as it sees it way o li e, to ha e its own moral and religious con ictions and that preser es a pri ate sphere, the widest possible inter entions, constraints and the eyes o the public power. The State shall only ensure the coexistence o these indi idual reedoms, and remain neutral with regard to the de inition o "property". The Republican, he is considering a "positi e" reedom: the possibility or a society to go ern itsel , directly or through a representati e system. Which implies, on the one hand, the need or e eryone to participate in orientation and control o the power exercised collecti ely
and, on the other hand, the existence
a "common good" superior, to which it is important to guide citizens, including through education.
In rance, note Alain Renaut, the "Republican" adjecti e is de eloped all sauces, usually to justi y more antilibérales positions. In this unction polemical, "republicanism came relay Marxism", and produced a language o lange public debate. I he is satis ied that only the liberal way allows to approach the ideal o a " ree people", the author recognizes that each o the two options there are risks o dri t. Tocque ille had been diagnosed with those o liberalism: a company atomized, composed o cells closed on their own, disregarding the collecti e destiny, under "so t despotism" o a tutelary power which was not yet the wel are state. Republicanism, in his desire to make the " irtuous" citizens and recognize that at gunpoint, between them and the State, the legitimacy o intermediary bodies or communities, it can lead to dictatorships o type Jacobean or arious orms o social control.
What then is the proper dosage would de ine a " ree people" Alain Renaut re utes the crossing the arguments o the di erent types o communitarianism, who see the belonging to one community (ethnic, religious, pro essional or otherwise) an opportunity or an indi idual to participate in a collecti e debate who prepares it to integrate into the national debate: there is no indication, in e ect, that the community is always a step into the consciousness o "citizenship", and not a actor o isolation and con inement.
Made real decisions
The most realistic way, said Alain Renaut, is located on the side o liberalism ("non-negotiable" indi idual reedoms, the moral neutral State), pro ided that the correct taking into account main reproaches him are Republicans (dri t o indi idualism to sel ishness, atrophy o the ci ic unctions). It would there ore be to multiply, rom the top at the bottom o society, participatory structures, in which indi iduals would imply not on the basis o their membership in a community, but because that they would o er them a real grip on the decisions, as well as better isibility on collecti e action and the areas o agreement between competing interests. In short, to ensure that the company regained a little ground on the State.