France Today: The Move Away from Critical Thinking

Source: Cécile Alduy, specialist of French Renaissance literature and contemporary French politics, Le Monde, December 7. (Please note that this article was written before the run-off election on December 13.)

France has a new image. This is no longer tolerant France – the fatherland of the ideal of “liberty, equality, fraternity” celebrated by Barack Obama – but a France that uses its fears to close itself off and justify xenophobia and authoritarianism. And so we are doubly in mourning, for our dead and for our values….

The Front National makes a point of being against intellectuals and for “common sense.” Feeding on prejudice, it is the party that puts the most thought into the power of words. In celebrating the most inflexible prefabricated ideas, it is the party that puts the least stock in thinking as a critical activity….

Its discourse is a brutal negation of those things for which France is rightly admired throughout the world: its critical spirit, its rational thinking and its historical research.

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One response to “France Today: The Move Away from Critical Thinking

  1. If the ‘populist’ notion of ‘common sense’ stands for that which is widely and perhaps ‘uncritically’ assumed to be ‘taken-for-granted’, does it come as a surprise that the FN ‘makes a point of being against intellectuals and for “common sense”’? Or is unexceptionally everything deemed to be subject to the scrutiny of the ‘critical spirit’? (Apropos, isn’t this kind of ‘discourse’ reminiscent of the lamentable credo of ‘Common Sense Revolution’ in the Michael Harris era?)