The French republic is under threat. We are 1,000 historians and we cannot remain silent

The French republic is under threat. We are 1,000 historians and we cannot remain silent

Patrick Boucheron, Antoine Lilti et al write:

For the first time since the second world war, the far right is at the gates of power in France. As historians from differing political backgrounds who share an attachment to democratic values and the rule of law, we cannot remain silent in the face of an alarming prospect that we still have the capacity to resist.

Despite a superficial makeover, the National Rally (RN) remains fundamentally the successor and heir of the National Front, founded in 1972 by people nostalgic for Vichy and French Algeria.

It inherited its programme, its obsessions and its personnel. It is deeply rooted in the history of the French far right, shaped by xenophobic and racist nationalism, antisemitism, violence and contempt for parliamentary democracy. Let us not be fooled by the rhetorical and tactical prudence with which the RN is preparing its seizure of power. This party does not represent the conservative or national right but poses the greatest threat to the republic and democracy.

The RN citizenship policy known as “national preference”, renamed “national priority”, remains the ideological heart of its project. This is contrary to the republican values of equality and fraternity and its implementation would require the amendment of the French constitution.

If the RN wins and implements its declared programme, the abolition of the right to French nationality of those born in France will introduce a profound break in our republican conception of nationality, since people born in France, and who have always lived here, will no longer be French, and their children will not be French either.

Similarly, the exclusion of dual nationals from certain public functions will lead to intolerable discrimination between several categories of French people. Our national community will no longer be based on political adherence to a common destiny, on the “everyday plebiscite” evoked by the 19th-century historian Ernest Renan, but on an ethnic conception of France. [Continue reading…]

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