France, the State, the Republic, the Nation… The use of each of these words suffers from being done in an undifferentiated way, as if they were interchangeable and therefore perfect synonyms. Regarding them, as in general, the use of the right word, while knowing that the real cannot be reduced to words, nevertheless allows us to think better and thus to serve action.
The bond that we forge with each of the realities expressed by these different words cannot be identical, they cannot call for the same moral, civic, emotional commitment. France has indeed a side of the Republic, it existed through various political regimes which were its expression. It will also be able to remain beyond the Republic which, if it is an expression of democracy, is not the only one, as many of our European neighbors attest. Likewise, the State is not the nation, it is its political expression, and therefore cannot call for the same respect as what it is a manifestation of.
In his war diary, Bernanos made remarks which have lost none of their acuteness or their relevance. Of course, they must be placed in the context which saw the emergence of the French state. “France has been stolen from the French, since it was put into their heads that France was solely the work of the State, not theirs, that the only duty of good French people was to facilitate the task of ‘State. Whatever the apparent evidence of such a principle, whatever its weight on our conscience, we will not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by it. Our history was made differently (…). When the State becomes God, it is because it has become incapable of fulfilling its human task in a human way, it hides behind its Myth ” (1).
→ EXPLANATION. Separatism, what will change the law
Recalling these distinctions does not intend to lead to any lack of civility but can help us not to make mistakes in our attachments. Any power can be tempted to seek its foundation in a horizon which is superior to it, a believer is not fooled by this. The International Theological Commission drew our attention to this matter. “The State cannot set itself up as the bearer of ultimate meaning. It cannot impose either a global ideology, nor a religion (even secular), nor a single thought. The domain of the ultimate meaning is taken over, in civil society, by religious organizations, philosophies and spiritualities, in charge for them to contribute to the common good, to strengthen the social bond and to promote the universal values which are the basis of ‘political order itself’ (2).
The distinctions that I think it necessary to recall may shed light on the reflection when the bill on separatism and secularism is going to come up for debate in Parliament … here too, the difficulty of specifying the subject of this bill. on the work that still needs to be done. Admittedly, it would be unfair to expect a project to be precise in all its points, however, it will be necessary that the vocabulary, the ends and the means be specified, at the risk of leading the French people to harm. locate the membership to which we are called.
→ TO LISTEN. PODCAST – Marlène Schiappa: “Secularism is the glue of citizenship”
Citizenship, which calls for political adhesion, because it is reflected in reason, is of a different order from moral obedience which, for its part, cannot be applied to laws, even just and necessary, but always circumstantial. Confusing these registers, on the part of a State, far from consolidating it in its authority, weakens it. On this subject, we can recall other distinctions made by Karl Jaspers at the end of the Second World War. “We can undoubtedly hold all the nationals of a State responsible for the consequences of the acts of that State. Here it is a community which is reached. But this responsibility is defined and limited, it does not imply the moral and metaphysical implication of individuals ” (3).
(1) Georges Bernanos, The Humiliated Children. Journal 1939-1940, Folio n ° 303, Gallimard, 1949, 2000, p. 69 and 72. (2) International Theological Commission, In Search of a Universal Ethics, Cerf, 2009, n ° 95. (3) Karl Jaspers, German Guilt, Éditions de Minuit, 1948 (reed. 1990), p . 53.