FIGAROVOX / TRIBUNE – Paul-François Schira returns to the statements of Danièle Obono, rebellious deputy for the 17th district of Paris, who..
FIGAROVOX / TRIBUNE – Paul-François Schira returns to the statements of Danièle Obono, rebellious deputy for the 17th district of Paris, who defends racial non-mixing in the courses of the Sud-Education 93 teachers’ unions.
Paul-François Schira is a lecturer at Sciences Po.
“I see an innumerable crowd of similar and equal men who turn without rest on themselves to obtain small and vulgar pleasures, with which they fill their soul. Each of them, withdrawn apart, is like a stranger to the destiny of all the others: (…) he is next to them, but he does not see them; he touches them and does not feel them; it exists only in itself and for itself alone (…)” A. de Tocqueville
Maybe she should be thanked. In a few words, Danièle Obono unveiled a thought that we sometimes perceive confusedly at work, but which is never so clearly expressed. She does us a huge favor, because she asks us, for once, the right question.
“The practice of non-mixing is not dangerous in the sense that it is a practice that meets category needs”.
We expected of course the avalanche of scandalized exclamations relating to the substance of the assertion of the deputy of the Republic. Republican left, conservative-liberal right, from everywhere and even from his own camp, we will have tasted the distancing from the one who, on purpose or by simple clumsiness, encourages in their eyes a form of racial segregation.
But more than the substance of the question - can we authorize the non-mixed racial courses organized by the teachers' union Sud-Education 93 - which has aroused, in the political class, unanimity, let us attach, as is often most interesting, what the answer formulated by the deputy Obono reveals most deeply lurking in the surrounding discourse. Something that the unanimous critics of this position did not seem to want to raise, nor to confront.
To those who, almost unanimously, were offended that the teachers' union was putting the republican model in danger, the deputy wished to appease their scruples. She explained that the course responded to a particular request, from a “category” of the population, which felt singularly affected by a specific phenomenon, “at a given moment”. That he should not therefore worry "the others", those who, from the national community, were not directly concerned.
If this explanation was intended to reassure the French, it produced the exact opposite for us.
MP Obono blandly justified a measure that some felt undermined the republican model in the name of a category need. At the same time, she implicitly replied to her detractors that they did not have to worry since this initiative did not concern them.
But if racially segregated internships are not dangerous for the republican model as long as they meet category needs, one wonders what this republican model consists of.
The critics of the single-sex internship and the deputy Obono do not actually place themselves on the same ground. They don't speak the same language. The former speak of a republican model, one that constitutes our common good, one that brings people together in a home that is familiar to them and that they have learned to love, one that, through custom, history , culture, has created a space for them to live together. The second penetrates into the heart of the dwelling, and claims that it comes down to a cohabitation, that is to say the addition of the members who stay there at a given moment. The common space is reduced to the thin membrane that separates two individuals and their respective individual space. It would ultimately be no more than a rule of the game: “my freedom ends where yours begins”. Apart from that, everything would be permitted. To say that the republican model would be made up of something other than this rule of the game would, moreover, be flirt with the totalitarian pretensions of the last century.
Our era has therefore deconstructed the “we” into as many “I, you, he” that compose it, on the grounds that it was synonymous with totalitarianism.
What Ms. Obono's sentence reveals is, expressly, the vision of a national community transformed into an indefinite space, regulated by a central power, crossed by individuals, occasionally grouped into influence lobbies, whose purposes are all legitimate as such. Individuals have an infinite autonomy, which is limited only by that of their neighbors. The other therefore appears fundamentally as an obstacle, a nuisance, against which one perpetually rubs shoulders, with annoyance, and which it is then a question of destroying, using, or, in the best of cases, of undergoing . Politics would be reduced to the administration of these individual conflicts made so inevitable that individuals are postulated as fundamentally untied from each other. Social relations are then no longer based solely on gain, therefore confrontation: we come together to obtain something from the other. Any other belonging to a common model, to common institutions, which does not respond to the logic of individual or categorical interest, is to be destroyed: to belong is already to enslave oneself, when that does not allow one to use .
It is at the antipodes of the model of the national community, which offers men not only a space of individual freedom - the private space - but also a space which belongs to them jointly: the public space, their common, that no one cannot be appropriated individually or collectively but for which all are collectively responsible, and for which the school, precisely, constitutes one of the first founding institutions. Because it is this space that allows meeting, welcoming, exchange, sharing, and the confidence necessary for self-sacrifice; it's what makes it possible to smooth out the conflicts of egos, to attenuate the clashes of interests, to make men work towards a whole that goes beyond them. The national framework and the culture that inhabits it constitute, at the present time, the only political form that has the relevant scale to accommodate, between the unique and the whole, as many differences as possible, while providing a common space that is not artificial.
"What's a problem with that for you, if it makes them happy?". This is what MP Obono's formula postulates as the sole criterion of citizenship. And if this presupposition has not been the subject of any questioning in the media, it is because it is in reality largely dominant. It is indeed the same criterion which has structured and will structure subjects as varied and disconnected from one another as working on Sundays or the question of PMA, the wearing of the full veil or unisex swimming pools, the question of immigration, that of education, or that of labor market reform. The actors in the debate are split into irreducible, paralyzing interests, among which the politician, embarrassed, would no longer do anything but arbitrate. Whoever speaks in the name of the general interest must first prove that he himself suffers from the same ills as those who are calling for a solution. Who wishes to criticize a measure must first prove that it affects him individually, in his irreducible characteristics: his sex, his professional situation, his skin color, his belief. We therefore reduce the citizen to his identity characteristics, and above all we presuppose his fundamental inability to enter into dialogue with his neighbor, on common ground. By thus atomizing the “we” in the name of individual freedoms, our time paralyzes political power and destroys the civil institution painfully erected over the centuries. It precisely recreates, with the war of all against all, the conditions conducive to the appearance of the totalitarianisms it claimed to avoid. These totalitarianisms which set no other limit to their truths than the power of an opposing camp.
The formula of the deputy Obono, well beyond the basic question, therefore compels us to a powerful intellectual exercise, heavy with consequences, which touches the very foundation of the meaning that we find in calling ourselves French. In the name of what permanence, in the name of what model is it still possible to oppose legitimately, and without trial of intention, to racially segregated internships, if our political horizon boils down to the individual freedom of each , mixed with procedures supposed to guarantee the maximum development of the greatest number? This is probably the political question most particularly necessary in our time.
Lecturer at Sciences Po.
Source: © Workshops in “non-mixed race”: what the words of Danièle Obono reveal