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Front républicain, “faire barrage”, “ni RN ni LFI”, arc républicain… Like all French individuals, I hear these expressions always. This chatter with out phrases: as a result of, and that is to be deplored, and it is usually to be feared, these phrases don’t say a lot, if something. It is, on this lightning election marketing campaign, a manner of speaking for the sake of claiming nothing, or of sprinkling a little bit speech, a little bit broad-mindedness, with negotiations in a rush and in line with the legislation of opportunism. To chat is to speak for the sake of speaking; to say one thing is already to behave. It is, by way of the ability of concepts and the language that expresses them, to have a maintain on actuality, and maybe additionally to hope to alter it a little bit.

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Democracy isn’t just about alliances between events, it’s everybody's enterprise. It should have the ability to be skilled as an area for debate, agreements and disagreements, and never be decreased to the distressing merry-go-round of empty formulation, phrases with out content material, ways with out imaginative and prescient, within the deafening absence of any recognition of the shortcomings and errors made. These elections have a historic dimension; they take a look at the solidity of the establishments and the Constitution, they need to be the take a look at of convictions and the capability to acknowledge one's wrongs, however they solely scale back it to a race of small horses. To the purpose that, generally, I come to confuse political commentaries with sports activities commentaries.

This short-term view of every week, a month at most, can be a forgetting of the previous: those that as we speak are frightened by “the rise of the RN”, “the extremes”, the place had been they, what had been they doing lately? In latest many years? Because what now we have seen in latest days comes from afar: how did Presidents Sarkozy, Hollande, then Macron not see, perceive and bear in mind the sensation of downgrading, abandonment, despair of residents who believed in social mobility by way of faculty, by way of work, and who aspired to what democracy promised: equality for all, safety in all places and the fitting to consumption for all?

It is a little bit straightforward to unite towards enemies, it permits one to not be pressured to render accounts. And but, the republic, as a result of, as its etymology signifies, it’s the factor of all, the public rescalls for accountability from those that compose it. I pay attention rigorously, however I don't perceive a factor mea culpano admission of errors, of lack of braveness. I solely understand the noise of those ready-made phrases and these lodging with out grandeur.


An obsession with means, with none imaginative and prescient of ends: governing however to alter what? Building a barrier however to restore what? Beating somebody can’t change politics. It is lower than a program, definitely not a political ambition. Hesitating between sporting feat and army confrontation, this vocabulary can solely irritate dissensions, when quite the opposite, they need to be heard in an effort to carry them and appease them. Some even go as far as to summon de Gaulle and post-war France. But what’s missing to breed this nationwide unity is… de Gaulle. What the political universe lacks is personalities.

I’m additionally struck by the inconsiderate use of the time period values: “our values”, “contrary to our values”… As if the easy assertion of the phrase made it pointless to element its content material: what values ​​are we speaking about? And above all, what actions do they require? What limits do they set? To this hackneyed phrase, purely incantatory, clear on itself, as a result of it doesn’t decide to something concrete, I want that of “principle”, within the sense of “principle of action”, particularly that which instructions to do or to not do, to refuse or condemn. This instantly makes one accountable – concretely, exactly. “My principle is not to do, to do…”: that is clearly extra “compromising” than the supposedly emotional affirmation of “values”, with out additional precision.

Principles slightly than values

There is a widely known idea in philosophy, that of “performative statements”, put ahead by the linguist John Austin (1911-1960). These statements have the particularity of conducting an motion on the very second they’re pronounced. For instance: “I promise you”, “I leave my watch to my brother”, “I declare the session adjourned”, “yes, I do” throughout a marriage ceremony…

In such conditions, saying is doing. The affirmation is equal to motion. No want so as to add something: “I promise you”, whether or not I fulfill this promise or not, it’s solely contained within the truth of getting formulated it. It already resides in my speech. These performative statements, which carry out the motion in the mean time of claiming it, are the other of chatter.

Politicians' statements ought to be extra of this order: performative, within the sense not of a self-staging punctuated by overplayed indignation however of a refusal to keep away from. This would imply changing ready-made formulation with phrases that define actions: what we are going to do, what we are going to now not do, what now we have not been in a position to do. Not “reforms”, which no candidate who has come to energy undertakes any extra, not pious needs – “universalism, republicanism, secularism” – with out concrete implications. Nor guarantees ensuing from compromises if not compromises, nor easy slogans honed for the conflict.

But phrases, ideas, thought-about, weighed, that we will talk about, criticize, argue, thus respecting what democracy ought to be: a agoraan meeting of residents, rulers and dominated, media and politicians, pushed by a requirement for probity. Sobriety should even be that of language, demanding to restrict the usage of formulation with out phrases, in addition to technocratic speeches with out sincerity or incantatory messages and not using a precept of actuality.

Those in energy should say what they’ve carried out, for higher or for worse; those that aspire to grab it should say what they are going to do. To say is to do, and that is what a member of parliament is pressured to do: not simply “to run” or “to represent oneself”, to type an alliance or to withdraw, to go on tv units, however to element missed actions, to suggest a imaginative and prescient for greater than every week, and above all to really feel invested with a single legitimacy: that of being the spokesperson for residents, of carrying the voice of the French, of all French individuals. It continues to be essential to have heard it, revered it and to have tried to reply to it.

*Laurence Devillairs is a thinker.