Deprecated: Function get_magic_quotes_gpc() is deprecated in /home/customer/www/ufppc.org/public_html/libraries/fof30/Input/Input.php on line 99
United for Peace of Pierce County - UFPPC statement: La République is not dead after all
Print

UNITED FOR PEACE OF PIERCE COUNTY

"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."

LA RÉPUBLIQUE IS NOT DEAD AFTER ALL

January 15, 2015

The French Revolution of 1789 gave birth to the hope of a new way of living together: a Republic in which citizens would live according to the universal principles of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.  It was a truly radical revolution that expressed the utopian visions of the Enlightenment, an event of global proportions, and the movements to which it gave birth have affected the politics of every country on earth.  Its notion of the sovereignty of the people was far more radical than anything seen in American history, though documents like the Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen of August 1789 were in fact influenced by Americans like Thomas Jefferson, in Paris as Minister to France at the time.  Today, though, while Left traditions in France have continued to uphold the universalist ideals of the Republic, many contemporary intellectuals look askance at the very notion of universalism.  Certainly, the history of France has often betrayed and insulted universal values, so much so that the famously pessimistic and cynical French have in recent years seemed to sink into a Slough of Despond worthy of John Bunyan’s hero.

So it came as something of a revitalizing shock to see the French people respond positively and en masse to the dramatic events of last week.  On January 7-9, 2015, in three separate incidents carried out in retribution for perceived insults to the prophet Mohammed, murderous Islamist assassins attacked satirical journalists of Charlie Hebdo, police, and Jews shopping at a kosher supermarket; seventeen people lost their lives.  The attackers were all citizens of France and born in France.  The attack was the worst in France since the Algerian War and had many people asking:  Est-ce que la République est morte ?

But public demonstrations of grief and concern began on the evening following the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and culminated in the largest demonstrations ever seen in the history of France on Sunday, January 11.  More than four million people marched in demonstrations of solidarity with the victims, and the marches were, visibly, expressions of support for what the French call the ideals of the Republic, chief among them la laïcité, a word generally translated as 'secularity' but imbued in the French tradition with a positive cast combining personal freedom with civic spirit, tolerance, and concern for others.  On Sunday, at least, there were no, or almost no, ugly demonstrations of prejudice or panic.  On the contrary, the awe-inspiring size of the demonstrations made it evident that what was being expressed went far beyond sympathy for impertinent far-left cartoonists.  A genuine spirit of fraternité prevailed in France’s most important public spaces.  What Je suis Charlie expressed in France seemed to be a deep and widespread determination that transcended politics, a desire to defend the difficult ideals of the French Republic in spite of the shortcomings and social failures that have marked the country’s history.

Whether this élan of solidarity can overcome the ugly currents of prejudice, racism, and insular nationalism that have in recent years sent the approval ratings of the far-right Front National under the leadership of Marine Le Pen soaring is far from certain.  A certain jingoism that can be felt in the growing pressure to call the struggle France is engaged in a war does not bode well, and the massive social dysfunction related to a failure to accept and assimilate millions of Muslim citizens of France is leading many to say that the country is at the edge of a vertiginous precipice.  The positive response of the French people has, for the moment, calmed the demons.  But only this is certain:  These are dramatic, historic days, and how the situation develops will have consequences that go far beyond France.

UNITED FOR PEACE OF PIERCE COUNTY

"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."