Plus fort que le drapeau, l’engagement !

Alors que dans un mouvement tactique dont on ne saisit pas forcément bien les motivations, Ségolène Royal demande aux francais d’afficher fièrement le drapeau tricolore aux balcons pour le 14 juillet, les blogeurs, à l’image de Versac (dont le sens de l’esthétique ne fera vraisemblablement pas d’ombre à ses talents d’argumentation et d’analyse) et Laurent Gloaguen (plus inspiré) sur Embruns pavoisent et proclament haut et fort qu’au 21e siècle, le drapeau virtuel a lui aussi toute sa place dans l’affirmation du sentiment national dont personne, soit dit en passant, ne sait vraiment de quoi il retourne.


Et oui, comme le remarquait déjà Nietzsche en son temps, et à sa suite Foucault ou Derrida, il n’est pas de signifiant originel mais seulement d’abord et toujours une interprétation. Ne doutons pas que Le Pen, Sarkozy, Bayrou, Royal et tous les autres ont leur petite idée plus ou moins précise, plus ou moins sincère sur la question mais doutons moins encore qu’ils ne sont pas d’accord, pas plus que ne le sont les francais dans leur ensemble. Qu’est-ce que la France ? Qui sommes-nous ? Où allons-nous ? Il y a ici un parallèle à faire avec les questions que se pose en ce moment Grant Mc Cracken, anthropologue de son état, sur son blog : durant des enquêtes auprès de consommateurs européens auxquels il m’avait proposé de participer – à mon grand désespoir, des problèmes logistiques ont empéché notre collaboration, partie remise, j’espère sincérement!- il note la difficulté de saisir les Etats-Unis dans leur complexité/diversité/pluralité ainsi :

“It is interesting to hear Europeans talk about the US. They have a hard time of it. America, is that dream factory of Hollywood or a great university like Princeton, is it Las Vegas or hip hop, is it street people or Disneyland, is it Alice Waters or McDonald’s? What they don’t say (not yet anyhow) is that America is all these things. You can see them shuttling back and forth between partial accounts. Apparently, to call America various is to fail the work of description. Countries can’t be everything.”

Là oú l’on interpelle les historiens, les philosophes et autres intellectuels en tout genre pour nous éclairer sur l’essence de la nation, peut-être faudrait-il d’abord concevoir que ce sentiment loin d’être une vérité historique à recouvrer voire une vérité philosophique aux accents platoniciens est une pratique et une interrogation en permanence ré-actualisée et que les questions posées à son propos aujourd’hui, elles-mêmes, contribuent à définir et altérer. Le drapeau lui-même n’a pas de sens en soi et avant de citer l’exemple de tel ou tel pays européen fier d’afficher cet emblème national nos hommes politiques feraient bien de se renseigner sur leS significationS que celui-ci revêt localement, dans le contexte culturel du pays et son évolution. Ainsi, peut-être le rapport de certains danois à leur Dannebrog (plus vieux drapeau national du monde, soit dit en passant, tombé du ciel en 1219 à Reval/Tallinn) n’est-il pas aujourd’hui aussi exempt de nationalisme que dans un passé proche…

Devant les difficultés théoriques et conceptuelles que la question du sentiment national posent, je choisis donc de renoncer à mon droit de participer (ou pas) à ce débat par définition sans issue et, pragmatique, je rejoins le camp de l’action :



2 Responses to “Plus fort que le drapeau, l’engagement !”

  1. 1 Dansk Defender 02/04/2007 at 4:02 pm

    I am sorry to use the title of your webblog but I do not completely agree with the analysis you’ve proposed. I’ve studied a bit in the Eastern part of France and your analysis in French seems to be quite pessimistic about the use of the French flag as symbol of your conutry.
    Your quotations of greats philosphy masters and sociology professors is the biggest misuse of language to start thinking from zero to go nowhere. Look at the way we use the Danish flag : Danish people are proud of the two-color symbol, so that one can find a flag in every garden from Jutland to CPH.
    I assume French would be inspired to do the same because they can be proud of their great history, their great civilization and lifestyle that achieved to gather people around a common basis of values.
    The picture you publish about Greenlandic forces is nothing compared to the advertisements I saw in France for the army which offer job, opportunities of carrer for young people.

  2. 2 idnca 02/04/2007 at 4:41 pm

    Hej Dansk Defender.
    Thanks for your comment, especially as you are the first one here! Be sure I appreciate even (particularly!) if you do not agree. :-)

    My point was to highlight the difficulty to reduce the ideas and feelings behind the question of national identity – a theme that has recently emerged in the French presidential race – to simple and unequivocal concepts and symbols like the flag. This ambiguity and complexity is what McCracken (not a philosopher neither a sociologist, by the way) refers to in his post. Therefore me quoting. The Dansish flag is precisely an example of that as nationalistic values emerge behind the use of it while it is traditionally perceived as a festive symbol (like for birthdays): more and more it serves to promote a political agenda closer to right-wing values. Thing that one did not see 10 years ago, as far as I know. This relates to changes in Danish society where a growing immigrants from non-European origins have flocked, posing certain questions regarding what danishness and danish culture are or ought to be. The rise of the Danish Folk Party being a parallel case in point.

    But against stereotypes, I bet you a majority of gardens between Jutland and KBH does not display the flag. Now unlike in DK, it is rather unconventional for French to show off their national flags (though we do in sporting events) but I believe this does not impede us from loving our country. My post aimed at pointing the artificial if not superficial nature of Royal’s proposal: the love of one’s culture, history and so one does not necessarily require a flag. In France it does not, for sure. This would be seen as a rather top-down wishful thinking from a politician (Royal had a clear political agenda when she made the proposal) rather than a spontaneous and authentic behaviour by most of the population.
    Isn’t it rather paradoxical that on the one hand Frenchmen are often portrayed as arrogant, self-sufficient and ethnocentric people while at the same time they should be, lastly, more proud of their culture and should thereby wave a flag on July 14th ? No it’s just that we enact it in alternative ways, proper to our history and culture.

    And you know why a majority will never be willing to get along with of that whole flag thing ? Because they relate it to America’s own sense of national identity. And as Philippe Roger has brilliantly described in “The American Enemy, The History of French Anti-Americanism”, anti-Americanism itself is a broadly shared cultural trait of French people across political spectrum…

    Lastly, the Greenlandic Forces’ image was just an ironic joke I got from a Greenlandic friend and which one can even find in my flat !
    By the way, where did you study in Eastern France ? I am myself from Burgundy and studied in Dijon and then in Lyon.

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Let this diversity of opinions be propounded to, and laid before him; he will himself choose, if he be able; if not, he will remain in doubt. "Che non men che saver, dubbiar m' aggrata." ["I love to doubt, as well as to know."-- Dante, Inferno, xi. 93] for, if he embraces the opinions of Xenophon and Plato, by his own reason, they will no more be theirs, but become his own. Who follows another, follows nothing, finds nothing, nay, is inquisitive after nothing. "Non sumus sub rege; sibi quisque se vindicet." ["We are under no king; let each vindicate himself." --Seneca, Ep.,33]"
Montaigne - Essais I, XXVI, Of The Education of Children
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