Should the record of Hollande's mistakes and Stalin's horrors make us give up on changing lives? In her book, Natacha Polony refutes the end of History and rejects laissez-faire merchant. A new world is possible, based on the sovereignty of peoples, and therefore of nations. 

Change the life : we remember that the famous Rimbaud formula had given its title to the program of the Socialist Party in 1972, then to its anthem, sung in 1977 at the Nantes congress: "Don't believe in tomorrows that sing anymore/Let's change life here and now/The future is being invented today…”

There can be no sovereignty of the people without sovereignty of the nation

If the future was invented during the Mitterrand years, the change in life was postponed to a later date, that of 2012, in a slightly more prosaic form: “Change is now. » The result is known to everyone and Natacha Polony is clearly not convinced that the more martial slogan of the 2017 winner, “En Marche! do more justice to the poet's exhortation and hope. The important thing is therefore to say under what conditions life, and above all political life, could change. This is indicated by the subtitle of his work, presented in the form of a dictionary whose 82 entries constitute a coherent whole: “For a democratic reconquest. If democracy is to be reconquered, it is because we have lost it. We live in its appearances, but what we know by that name is “an oligarchic political organization validated by universal suffrage”.

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It is significant that Natacha Polony's dictionary opens with the somewhat forgotten, if not repressed, word ofalienation, which she intends to put back in honor to think about our present. We have lost democracy because we are doubly dispossessed of ourselves. First of all, there is the European Union whose law takes precedence over national law since the Costa judgment, even though it is reduced to an economic space without political substance. Faced with this major contradiction, Natacha Polony recalls that citizenship is inseparable from nationality and that there can be no sovereignty of the people without sovereignty of the nation. In the absence of a European nation and citizenship, abandonment of sovereignty empties citizenship of all substance and discourages citizens from going to the polls. The " good governance " has already replaced the “government of the people, by the people and for the people”. There is also, and more profoundly, through neoliberal globalization, which destroys all identities, the reduction of man to an economic agent governed according to the utilitarian principle of self-interest: the autonomy of the political subject who takes his destiny into his own hands is then undermined by the heteronomy of the consumerist individual whose imagination is confiscated and whose desires are directed by advertising. Against this reduction, favored by the development of modern individualism, Natacha Polony forcefully recalls this old Aristotelian truth that man is a political animal.

A socialism without barbarism

We are certainly not obliged to follow it in every way. That in a few decades hundreds of millions of human beings have been rescued from starvation should lead not to blissful applause of globalization, but to nuanced criticism of it – and at the very least deserves not to be dismissed in a few sentences. a little quick, if not casual. Similarly, when Natacha Polony relies on the high rate of abstention to question the legitimacy of the winners of the elections, while seeing in Mélenchon's "clearance" "the electoral translation of an immense aspiration for more democracy", we want to tease her a little: we must not forget, dear Natacha, that the populist offer did not fail the voters and that Mélenchon's "clearance" began by clearing Mélenchon himself...

However, if the theses of Natacha Polony often cross those of the left, they do not marry their dogmatism, nor sectarianism, nor blindness. To readers in a hurry of Lévi-Strauss, Polony shows that Islamist barbarism is not that of another civilization whose otherness should be respected, but that it proceeds from the deculturation of individuals who come from our civilization and reject her. To poor readers of Bourdieu, she shows that by universalizing the model of symbolic domination that any holder of cultural capital is supposed to exercise, we end up not only rendering the school incapable of accomplishing its task, but also to forget “the main domination, the economic and political domination”. Should we see in this a profession of faith in Marxism? Certainly, Natacha Polony rejects the illusion according to which the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the Soviet empire would have put an end, at the same time as history, to all class antagonism, but the Marxist concept of class struggle must nonetheless be rethought afresh: these are unprecedented fractures that oppose the beneficiaries of neoliberal globalization and the others, and the conditions that would allow them to achieve class consciousness do not seem to not united. On the question of immigration, she insists on the need not to dissociate it from an integration which itself presupposes a necessarily long and difficult acculturation for individuals who grew up in archaic and patriarchal socio-family structures. Regarding multiculturalism, the author highlights that if a society can be multiethnic without any contradiction, the division of society into closed communities exposes the public space to become a place of confrontation.

Selling point: this book displeased Laurent Joffrin

It will have been understood without difficulty that the socialism which Natacha Polony claims to claim is not that of the party which bears this name. It is a libertarian socialism which fits in the tradition of Proudhon and in the spirit of George Orwell or, closer to us, of Jean-Claude Michéa. Like the latter, Natacha Polony is a free spirit. His freedom of spirit, combined with the lucidity of his gaze, the rigor of his reflection and the quiet strength of his conviction, shines through all the pages of Change the life. This book displeased Laurent Joffrin who devoted to it in Libération an editorial full of gall. It's natural and that's one more reason to read it.