Par Olivier Tonneau, Homerton College, Cambridge

When the attacks of 13 November in Paris are used by the French government to criminalize activists and protesters, when fear is pushing its population deeper into the arms of the Front National, and when the radical Left has almost disappeared from the political landscape, can one retain any hope that the country will find the necessary resources to be true to its ideals? The answer I receive from most of the Anglo-Saxon world is ‘no’. Indeed, I hear, the ideals are themselves part of the problem: France’s self-representation as the beacon of the Rights of Man has hidden for too long the true nature of its society. ... The terrorist attacks suffered by France this year were thus largely perceived as a predictable consequence of religious tensions generated by French republicanism.
I cannot accept this analysis and will go so far as to make the reverse claim: not only do I refuse to give up on France’s revolutionary heritage, I even count on French postcolonial citizens to preserve it from the steady ideological degradation of the overall population. I may be deluded by my attachment to the Revolution, but my hopes are not entirely without reason.

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