Cis a risk that has become, alas, almost structural to democracy, namely the experience of its deceptive condition and, in reaction, the reactivation of a resentful temptation among citizens who “feel” primarily despised, humiliated, powerless, downgraded and who react by becoming radicalized, by becoming binary, by making democracy and its institutions their “bad object”. There are many things to say about the multiplication of socio-economic inequalities, their systemic reinforcement, which, of course, produce objective conditions of suffering, of self-erosion.
We know to what extent the first challenge of the social State of law is precisely to remain indivisible, to associate formal declarations of law with concrete capacities, the power to act and to transform the cultural and economic worlds in which individuals evolve. From the moment it tends to do the opposite, to reproduce devices for the reification of individuals, the latter perceive themselves, which is psychically untenable, as replaceable, interchangeable, supernumerary, useless, and modernity becomes the place of a new fabric of indignity.
Produce critical forces
However, Hermann Broch clearly identified, in his major post-war essay The theory of mass madness, that resentment was not born of the absence of only material structures of “support” (in other words of socio-economic inequalities) but that it stemmed from a more intimate, more emotional moral bankruptcy, from a loss of values , or rather of a system of inverted values, with, at its center, a “feeling” which becomes the only possible rational, and this all the more so as it is fed by sad passions.
To avoid locking oneself into this system of “closed” values, care must be taken to produce all the possible critical forces, the force of sublimation in mind, individually and collectively. How? ‘Or’ What ? There are a thousand and one ways, but let’s focus on the right to democratic experimentation, because it alone conceals protocols precisely capable of articulating both the singular individuals that we are and the collectives that we need to make these individual rights. Should we still leave it a real place in our democracies, with real issues of access to the modeling of the general interest.
Since 2003, and Act II of Republican decentralization, local authorities have been granted the right to experiment, enabling them to adapt national laws and regulations to local situations. In other words, elected officials, and often at the initiative of citizens, groups from civil society, can experiment with systems that are intended to transform the general norm, but first demonstrate their operationality. A way here of making democracy “live” in a continuous, very effective, creative way, of combining doing and thinking, of inventing new legitimacies, of being resolutely “irreplaceable” insofar as everyone can participate in his invention. A possibility that remains one of the pillars of the democratic act as such.
In a word, to regain a power to act and to transform, to return to the need for reflexive and critical democracy, one that improves itself and brings this reform to life in a non-strictly chaotic way. These are so many mini-social contracts ironed out with the very idea of this regime, protocols which make it possible to reinvest trust in institutions, and more clinically speaking, which preserve individuals from resentment. This right to experiment is totally underused, although it is one of the ways of developing capable citizenship.
Cynthia Fleury is a philosopher, professor and holder of the Humanities and Health Chair at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, holder of the GHU Paris Philosophy Chair in Psychiatry and Neurosciences.
“Place de la République” in Lyon | A day of debates on the notion of republic and citizenship
The world organizes on Saturday January 22, 2022, at the Hôtel de ville de Lyon, a day of conferences, debates and workshops on the issues of the republic and citizenship in France.
“Republic Square” | Conferences, debates, workshops
Saturday, January 22, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Lyon City Hall, 1, place de la Comédie, 69001 Lyon
This forum is produced as part of the “Place de la République” event, organized in partnership with the City of Lyon.