The French left has long been considered a political force of testimony and social protest unsuited to the exercise of supreme responsibilities. It has stubbornly acquired a culture and governmental credibility. This posture has fed an apparatus that has thrived for decades on the gap between opposition discourse and government practice to finally precipitate its downfall.
How did we come to this and how can we revive the progressive idea?
A first response echoes the sociological basis of the left. It has shrunk according to its base of activists and permanent staff, maintained by the conquered territories of the communities, further removed from the realities of the world of work and protected from the contingencies of professional life. Its executives have thus embraced the desynchronized paths of citizens, made up of lives of mandates and jobs linked to communities. In doing so, the left has cut itself off from the habits and rhythms of the working classes, from their relationship to the social order in particular.
Embracing the cultural spectrum of a more established intellectual bourgeoisie, open to the fevers of radicalism and post-modernist thought, the offer of the lefts has gradually repudiated its heritage
Embracing the cultural spectrum of a more established intellectual bourgeoisie, open to the fevers of radicalism and post-modernist thought, the offer of the lefts has gradually repudiated its heritage. That of the Enlightenment and compromises, of Reason and science, to engage in the shadow lined with a few millennial reflections and a differentialist chiaroscuro made of “hyper proximity” where reign the dominion proselytizing individuals, clientelism and corruption. She is also subject to a triple iron law.
On the one hand, the global populist movement that has dragged us into the “post-truth” era. It atomizes the people by considering it in a sum of individualities grouped into social or ethnic communities. The contradictory passions, liberticidal beliefs or particular interests of the latter are activated at election time by political staff recruited to crystallize the largest share of the electoral market.
The left has thus prospered for four decades on the spoiled fruits of decentralization, equipped by territorial marketing professionals, ready to mobilize for conquest, cognitive reflexes and even conspiratorial tendencies.
On the other hand, the power of large firms and the influence of beliefs, which interact by amplifying the phenomenon. Some seek to capitalize on “trends” that dress their nihilism with the veneer of values of “respect” for “differences” and “well-being” to aggregate all the contradictions of the global market. Among which, those attached to the displacements of populations whose pressure on the natural ecosystems is more the object of an awareness of the elites than that which is exerted on democratic constructions.
Finally, “governance by the needs” of a multicultural society disaffiliated from the Nation in the conception carried by Ernest Renan. Without soul or particular spiritual family, reduced to an addition of autonomous pasts, relieved of sacrifices and repented glories. And, in the present, bound by the simple desire for endless consumption.
What path for the left in this dislocated world?
First, we need to rediscover the defense of a common interest. That of a people without mythification but endowed with the “ordinary decency” dear to Orwell. The one that clings to the way of living at the end of difficult months, to “trime” and to early risers, of wage labor and precariat. From this common decency was born the invention before the time of economical ecology, reuse, recycling and mutual aid. It is due to the social conditions of the heart of the middle class where necessity makes virtue.
Then, to put an end to this moral insensitivity of the protected bourgeoisie which, in a new betrayal of the clerics, wishes to promote the emergence of a society with creolized trappings from which it nevertheless wishes to free its relatives from the supposed benefits. If the primitive communities, Christian and Jewish, established before the emergence of Islam, abruptly left the East in the space of a few decades, a free and documented debate on the history of this renunciation of “diversity” should enlighten us on the conditions necessary for our own cohesion in the West, subject to a brutal change of cultural matrix but also social and territorial.
Should we finally pretend to “live together” silence the choices constrained sooner or later by the scarcity of resources and climate change by deporting them to “the richest”, men, equipped with jet-skis, between two Sunday barbecues. These infantile regressions aim to overcome the virtues of liberal democracy to assume a transition to our industrial economy. Revived with the social actors, it must mobilize the compromises necessary for the revision of our ways of life.
Aude de Castet is Normandy regional delegate and national spokesperson for Territories of Progress. Jean-Marc Pasquet is regional delegate for Ile-de-France and national prospective delegate for Territories of Progress.