“Democracy is the government of the people exercising sovereignty without hindrance”
Charles de Gaulle
Thank you to Charles de Gaulle for having marked the history of France through its conception and understanding of human dignity, individual and collective freedom, cooperation between peoples. De Gaulle was quoted by many, recuperated by many too. But his beliefs were the opposite of political correctness. He was the first to foresee American hegemony and showed himself very hostile to the loss of sovereignty of the peoples, a possible prelude to American vassalisation.
But let us return to our subject of sovereignty. It is true that each people, in this great concert of humanity, has the right to its sovereignty as the basis of its existence, its space of freedom. But sovereignty cannot be limited to being only a word or an abstract principle. It requires fundamental attitudes.
Vigilance: the sovereignty of the people understood as the exercise of power by the people, that’s good. But at a time when opinions are manipulated by propaganda bodies that flood the networks with false information and targeted advertising, it is important to take a step back and reflect on the modalities of existence of this sovereignty.
Constancy: sovereignty requires constant effort. The sovereignty of a nation exists as long as there are free citizens, ready to defend it, to protect it, to vivify it. The people are made up of individuals, each representing a share of sovereignty.
Firmness: sovereignty has requirements and cannot be confused with any attempt at nationalism. It reinforces the principle of self-determination of peoples and non-interference in the internal affairs of a country.
Vigilance-constancy-firmness are necessary attitudes because sovereignty remains fragile, whether individual, popular or national.
Sovereignty is therefore never definitively acquired, but it is this fragility that fuels individual and national effort in all areas. •
* Lecture at the annual conference of the working group “Mut zur Ethik” (“Europe – what future do we want?”) from 2–4 September 2022.
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