Aux militants honnêtes, aux homme et femmes de bonne volonté, je vous avertis ; il y a des gens qui s'investissent et se mobilisent en politique pour de mauvaises raisons : désir de faire une carrière politique et d'obtenir un poste d'élu, désir d'obtenir un poste rémunéré au sein de l'organisation du parti, recherche de contacts au sein du parti dans un but professionnel, désir d'obtenir un privilège de l’État, désir de préserver ses privilèges étatiques, etc. Par delà les partis, par delà les étiquettes, par delà les idées, ces gens, les cratophiles, sont nos adversaires.
Vous pouvez collaborer avec eux quand cela est utile ou nécessaire, mais vous ne devez jamais oublier qu'ils ne sont fondamentalement pas en politique pour les mêmes raisons que vous. Ils ne se battent pas pour une cause, ils ne luttent pas pour un idéal, et quand vous vous opposerez au pouvoir, ils seront toujours de son côté et vous écraseront sans pitié. Car ils sont les piliers du pouvoir et de l'ordre, les fondations humaines de l’État, l'incarnation de sa logique et de sa volonté, qui le servent et le préservent de ses ennemis.
Or les ennemis de l’État, c'est nous, les militants de la liberté.
Cette question est la question que se posent toujours les comités de jeunesse de parti, notamment, évidemment, quand ils font face à un manque de membres actifs. En effet, la base d'une jeunesse de parti est constituée d'étudiants dont l'année se divise en : périodes de cours où ils doivent étudier, périodes d'examens pendant lesquelles ils doivent réviser, vacances où ils travaillent ou voyagent. Il se peut en outre que ces étudiants travaillent en parallèle de leurs études durant les périodes de cours et d'examens. Ils ne leur restent donc, en dehors de tout cela, que le temps libre, qui leur est, évidemment, précieux. L'engagement représente donc un coût, un sacrifice, pour le membre : coût direct (le temps dévolu à l'engagement) et coût d'opportunité (ce qu'il pourrait faire à la place de l'engagement). Tout le travail d'une jeunesse de parti consiste à mettre en place les structures et l'organisation qui transforment un coût (1) en un investissement et (2) en un gain.
(1) Pour transformer l'engagement en investissement pour les membres, une seule option : leur proposer d'acquérir des compétences. La formation que peut proposer une jeunesse de parti pour transmettre des compétences peut s'axer autour de trois options : (a) formation théorique, (b) formation politique et (c) formation technique.
(a) consiste à fournir des connaissances (des savoir que) à travers des présentations ponctuelles, des conférences, des journées de formation, des ateliers, etc. Le type de connaissances peut concerner un bon nombre de disciplines comme la philosophie politique, l'histoire des idées, la science économique, l'histoire politique, l'histoire économique, etc.
(b) consiste à fournir des connaissances sur comment faire de la politique (des savoir-faires politiques) qui peuvent être de deux types (b1) savoir-faires politiques et (b2) savoir-faires politiciens. (b1) signifie essentiellement apprendre aux membres à communiquer en politique. (b2) signifie inviter des élus pour qu'ils parlent de leurs activités d'élus. Je ne vous cache pas que je trouve (b1) plus important à transmettre aux membres que (b2).
(c) consiste à fournir aux membres des savoirs techniques généraux comme par exemple : apprendre à rédiger un PV, apprendre à modérer une AG ou un groupe, apprendre à effectuer un travail de graphiste, apprendre à gérer un groupe de travail, apprendre à réserver un espace dans la ville pour un stand, apprendre à rédiger un tract, apprendre à débattre, etc. La décentralisation des tâches du comité au membres (le principe de subsidiarité interne au parti) permet entre autres de réaliser cela.
(2) Pour transformer l'engagement en gain, on peut utiliser trois stratégies : (a) fournir de la satisfaction immédiate à travers l'engagement, (b) fournir des prestations en échange de l'engagement et (c) créer un sentiment d'appartenance au groupe/d'identification au parti.
(a) La seule manière de procurer de la satisfaction immédiate aux membres à travers leur engagement consiste à mettre en place une bonne ambiance, une convivialité, au sein du parti. On parvient à cela, entre autres, en organisant les relations sociales et les rapports de pouvoir au sein du parti de manière horizontale.
(b) On peut fournir des prestations en échange de l'engagement des membres qui peuvent prendre trois formes différentes : (b1) des moments festifs, (b2) des plaisirs intellectuels/culturels et (b3) un cercle social qu'ils apprécient.
(c) On peut créer un sentiment d'appartenance au groupe/d'identification au parti en : (c1) donnant (davantage) aux membres le contrôle sur le parti (on est toujours davantage de soucieux de ce qui est nôtre), (c2) en établissant une ligne politique dans laquelle ils se retrouvent et (c3) par des moyens symboliques (le parti est associé à des symboles que les membres peuvent adopter facilement). (c1) nécessite une démocratisation des structures de prise de décision et d'organisation du parti. (c2) nécessite l'écriture d'un document programmatique commun. (c3) peut passer par l'établissement de rituels ou représentations communes.
Je conclurai en rappelant que nos concurrents dans la capture du temps libre de la jeunesse sont : les sociétés d'étudiants, les clubs et les associations. Nous devons donc fournir non seulement les mêmes prestations que ces entités, mais davantage pour les surpasser, si nous voulons maximiser notre capture du temps libre de la jeunesse.
Le présent document est une synthèse des conclusions auxquelles nous étions parvenues avec les réformateurs de la JS genevoise. Elles ont été appliquées avec succès jusqu'à ce que le comité oublie une règle d'or : la politique c'est avant tout de la communication, la communication passe inévitablement par les médias et les médias ne s'intéressent à vous que si vous vous démarquez du reste du troupeau.
How should we do political philosophy? What do we presuppose when we try to answer a political philosophical question? How many constraints from our actual world and reality should we take into account in our works? What are ideal and non ideal theory? Which one is prior to the other?
These are some of the questions that arise in the debate about ideal and non ideal theory and that I will try to answer.
I will first discuss what could be considered as relevant constraints for political philosophy in order to define then what is ideal theory and what is non ideal theory. Secondly, I will show that non ideal theory is prior to ideal theory.
1. The relevant constraints for political philosophy.
In order to find what would be relevant constraints for political philosophy, I think that it is useful to consider the methodological canvas developed by Pablo Gilabert and Holly Lawford-Smith1. In their article, they introduce the concepts of hard constraints and soft constraints2.The hardest constraints are for them logical constraints, less hard are physical and biological ones, softer are economical and cultural ones, and finally psychological and motivational ones are the softest ones. After reconsidering these different types of possible constraints they reject psychological (except pathological) and motivational constraints from the category of constraints that should be taken into account by political philosophy, because “the fact that people do not want to do something does not mean that we should think getting it done is infeasible, it just means we should think about how to change incentive structures and thereby change people's desires”3. Hard constraints are said hard because they are impossible to be modified or unlikely to become possible to be modified in a probable future and soft constrains are said soft because they are (in some way) possible to modify.
I agree with Gilabert and Lawford-Smith that the hardest constraints are logical constraints and that in second come the physical and biological constraints. A political philosopher who would reject these constraints would practice total ideal theory and would look like an omnipotent god, able to redefine and rebuild the world as he wishes. But what could we learn from the non taking into account of these fundamental constraints about our world? What could we learn for example from a world with flying human beings or with circles which are triangles in the same time? Of course one can imagine ethical problems that could matter in a world where for example the possibility of becoming immortal exist but only for a little number of persons, but the fact that these problems are not actual problems for our actual world and are not likely to become so in a probable future make these problems amusements for the pleasure of novelists and their readers, but not an appropriate activity for political philosophers. So, as we can see, what matters for political philosophers is what is an actual problem in our actual world or is likely to become in a probable future4. It does not mean that considering unlikely futures is always a non political philosophical task. For example, there are utopias, like Utopia from Thomas More (1516), or dystopias, like 1984 from George Orwell (1949), or mixed (ambiguous) cases, like The Dispossessed from Ursula Le Guin (1974) or The moon is a harsh mistress from Robert Heinlein (1966), that imagine unlikely future in order to raise questions about our actual world. In that cases, considering unlikely futures is a tool to talk about our actual world.
There is however one exception that I could imagine to this point: the case of someone who wants to judge God (or gods if he is polytheist). Indeed, for a political philosopher who believes in the existence of a god that would have created our world, it could make sense to imagine how this god should have created the world and to compare the result to the actual world in order to judge the moral burden of the god in question. Nevertheless, this is a very specific case where total ideal theory seems justified.
I agree with Gilabert and Lawford-Smith that economical and cultural constraints as soft constraints, constraints that can be modified, but I disagree with them when they consider that psychological constraints (except pathological ones) are not constraints that philosophers should take into account. Like Rousseau, quoted by Rawls about that subject, I think that political philosophers should “consider if, in political society, there can be any legitimate and sure principle of government, taking men as they are and laws as they might be5”. Indeed, I think that psychological features are parts of what make human beings what they are.
I would like to quote David Friedman about this question: “It is no more than a slightly exuberant exaggeration to say that a government functions properly only if it is made up exclusively of saints, and an anarchy fails only if it is inhabited exclusively by devils6.” I think that we should consider that human beings have some psychological features, which would be that they are neither saints nor devils, because both hypotheses seem implausible. The more a philosopher shows that his theory – about how the world should be – works with evil human beings, the more plausible can be considered his theory. But to consider that psychological constraints do not matter for the political philosopher is a mistake, for it could lead to the idea that you just need to modify the psychology of human beings, using the necessary means in order to get to the ideal world. I fear that it is an idea that can lead to re-education camps and other uses of the force to coerce people in order to adapt their minds (their psychology) to the supposed intelligent design of utopias designers (this is what Friedrich Hayek would call constructivism).
Moreover, think it is not only necessary to take into account some realistic perspective about the basic psychology of human beings (as the fact that they are not completely altruistic and cannot become so), but also to apply this view of human being to the state, because the state is composed by people (functionaries and bureaucrats) and because these people share with other human beings the same weaknesses and imperfections. For these reasons, I consider psychological constraints as relevant hard constraints.
However, I do agree with Pablo Gilabert and Holly Lawford-Smith that motivational constraints are not to be taking into account for the political philosopher. Motivational constraints mean actually political positions and views of people: for example if a majority of people is not motivated to legalize drugs, then it just means that this is their political view. Political views can be changed and are only the results of political forces that are in action and in conflict. Motivational constraints are then just a way of talking about political feasibility. But political feasibility is not the affair of philosopher but the affair of activists (by activists, I mean people trying to change the world and to make it better). Obviously, one can be a philosopher and an activist, but these are two different roles and activities in his life. Political philosophers are concerned by what is true, good and right, and not by what is politically feasible. Of course, political philosophers have an influence on the becoming of the world (and so on what is politically feasible), but it is hard to see how discovering what is true, good or right could harm the society (have a bad influence on what is politically feasible). Indeed, for a libertarian, what is right is the principle of non aggression and defending this kind of principle does not seem a priori to have the power to harm society7. Political feasibility is then a concern for what I would call total non ideal theory, but not for political philosophy.
Between total ideal theory (the philosopher who thinks without any constraints about how should be the world in order to judge God or the novelist) and total non ideal theory (the activist who thinks about what would be politically feasible), there is ideal theory and non ideal theory. Ideal theory is the activity of defining what would be a just world considering the existence of hard constraints (logical, physical, biological, psychological) and non ideal theory is the activity of defining what would be right in our actual world considering the existence of soft constraints (economical and cultural).
2. Non ideal theory is prior to ideal theory.
How do we find what is an ideal world? As I am a rules-utilitarian, I think that we can find what is an ideal world in thinking what would be the institutions that would maximize the well-being of all the individuals8. How do we find what kind of reforms or changes we would need in our actual world? As I am a rules-utilitarian, I think that we can find what would be these reforms in thinking about how to reform the institutions in order that they would maximize the well-being of all the individuals. The important point is that we do not need the knowledge of what would be an ideal world in order to imagine what could improve our actual world. For that reason I do not share the position of John Rawls when he asserts that “until the ideal is identified non ideal theory lacks an objective, an aim, by reference to which its queries can be answered9” The position of Rawls is only the consequence of his deontologist positions: Rawls needs a set of principles in order to evaluate the world and to offer reforms proposals. On the opposite, the rules-utilitarian can evaluate the actual world in exploring if the actual institutions maximize or not the well-being of all individuals. So from the rules-utilitarian perspective, there is no conflict between ideal and non ideal theory and we can get a critical perspective from both of them.
However, non ideal theory is more important that ideal theory, because ideal theory is discovered through non ideal theory: there is an epistemological hierarchy between them, or alternatively said, non ideal theory is epistemologically prior to ideal theory. An ideal world is the result, the addition, of the reforms of all the aspects of our actual world, of all the processes of thinking what changes would maximize the well-being of all individuals: the sum of all the steps give us the picture of the complete stairs. It's only when we have the picture of the stairs that we can see how far we are from the top and how long is still our path to the ultimate goal.
To discuss this view with an example, let's take the problem of access to vital minimum in supposing the validity of free market anarchism. In (most of?) our actual Western10 societies, the state is providing to poor people (at least to the ones who are citizens from this state) an access to the vital minimum. From the ideal theoretical perspective, we do not need the state in order to provide to poor people an access to vital minimum, because in an ideal world the individuals are enough rich not to need help from others in order to access to the vital minimum or there are enough individuals who are rich enough and altruistic enough to provide voluntarily this access to the vital minimum to poor people. So from the ideal perspective, poor people do not need help from the state. But from the non ideal perspective, it is plausible to think that the actual suppression of this help for poor people would not maximize the well-being of the individuals because some poor people would not have anymore an access to vital minimum. Actually, the ideal world would be the result of the addition of many reforms in all fields of human activities that would lead to the increase of wealth for individuals (which would decrease the cost of altruism and increases the external cost11 related to the existence of people not having access to the vital minimum – for example the feeling of guilt). So the non ideal perspective is prior and more important than the ideal perspective, because it gives us an idea of what would be a fair order of transitions and reforms.
That's why I would here agree with Karl Marx about the idea that not everything is possible anytime but that there is an order (probably not a teleological order though) in which we can get to the ideal world, or, as Christian Michel says: “Every phase of development is necessary for the next to happen. One could not have conceived a libertarian society at the seventeenth century, in a time where knowledge and techniques attained in the next centuries, the separation of spiritual and temporal powers, the rise of a civil society, the prosperity brought by industrial revolution, and so on had not informed the moral consciousness of people. The evolution is still not achieved. We are not at the end of History12.” Alternatively said, actual economical and cultural constraints do matter to determine how far and how quick we can go in direction to the ideal society.
To conclude, I have tried in this essay first to define the appropriate constraints that political philosophers should adopt in their works. I have then defined what is ideal and non ideal theory and showed that non ideal theory is prior to ideal theory. It seems to me that the importance that this debate about ideal and non ideal theory has taken in contemporary political philosophy is linked to the predominance of a non rules-utilitarian approach (maybe because of Rawls' influence I guess). Nevertheless, the priority of non ideal theory on ideal theory is an essential point that has to be pointed if one wants to use the rules-utilitarian approach in an effective and correct way.
1 GILABERT Pablo and LAWFORD-SMITH Holly, “Political Feasibility : a conceptual exploration” in Political Studies, volume 60, pp. 809-825., Political Studies Association, 2012.
2 Ibidem, p. 813.
4 However, we can imagine thoughts experiments without biological realistic constraints that could be useful to think about moral theories. For example, we could imagine a world with human beings that can eat fat food without any health consequence for their body and consider what it shows us about the hierarchy of values when we consider the value of good health and the value of pleasure. But I think is only means that moral theory has its own presuppositions and appropriate constraints that differ from the ones of political philosophy.
5 RAWLS John, The law of peoples, Harvard University Press, p.13., London, 1999.
7 Of course, it is probable that more of the majority of political philosophers is not currently libertarian, so, if we suppose that libertarianism is a valuable position, what they say or write could indeed be (or is already) harmful for the society. The problem is then not to express what is true or right, but to express what is wrong or unfair. But it is also likely that this expression of non truths cannot be changed in another way than in having this political philosophical debate.
8 This point shows us that the whole enterprise of political philosophy presupposes some moral philosophical answers about what is a valid and sound moral theory, which presupposes itself the meta-ethical realist theory about moral judgments.
9 RAWLS John, The law of peoples, Harvard University Press, p.90., London, 1999.
10 By Western societies I mean West Europa, Canada, United-States, Australia and New-Zealand.
11 This idea of external cost of poverty on other people has been developed by Milton Friedman in his book from 1962 Capitalism and freedom.
12 CANLORBE Grégoire, Entretien avec Christian Michel, [https://www.institutcoppet.org/2015/01/23/entretien-avec-...], Institut Coppet, 23 January 2015.
- CANLORBE Grégoire, Entretien avec Christian Michel, [https://www.institutcoppet.org/2015/01/23/entretien-avec-christian-michel-par-gregoire-canlorbe], Institut Coppet, 23 January 2015.
- GILABERT Pablo and LAWFORD-SMITH Holly, “Political Feasibility : a conceptual exploration” in Political Studies, volume 60, pp. 809-825., Political Studies Association, 2012.
- FRIEDMAN David, The machinery of freedom, [http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.ca/], 1973.
- RAWLS John, The law of peoples, Harvard University Press, London, 1999.
Comme on parle pas mal de l'imposition des entreprises ces temps-ci (RIE III oblige), je me propose d'aborder cette question sous un angle plus général (et pas seulement concernant le cas, un peu trop précis à mon goût, de la RIE III).
Imposer les entreprises est une idée assez étrange en fait, car on se heurte immédiatement à un voile d'ignorance sur qui paie cet impôt. En effet, l'entreprise est d'abord une abstraction qui s'incarne concrètement en des corps multiples : collaborateurs (du haut et du bas de l'échelle des salaires, du plus humble salarié au plus haut manager de l'entreprise en passant par la catégorie des cadres), actionnaires (quand l'entreprise n'est pas détenue par son ou ses créateurs) et entrepreneurs-propriétaires (quand l'entreprise n'est pas entrée en bourse).
Les gens de gauche souhaitent en général augmenter l'imposition des entreprises car ils imaginent (ou du moins espèrent) que cet impôt sera payé soit par les actionnaires, soit par les entrepreneurs-propriétaires, soit, enfin, par les collaborateurs du haut de l'échelle des salaires (managers ou cadres). Mais comment être sûr que ce seront bel et bien eux qui paieront cet impôt ?
Lorsqu'une entreprise doit payer un impôt, elle peut en effet le payer en prenant l'argent sur le revenu de ses collaborateurs, de ses actionnaires ou des entrepreneurs-propriétaires. En fonction des rapports de force internes (Castoriadis parlerait ici du degré de lutte des classes), elle peut donc faire payer cet impôt par ses employés du bas de l'échelle des salaires par exemple en baissant leurs salaires (ou en ne les augmentant pas), ce qui, a priori, semble ne pas être l'effet souhaité par les gens de gauche...
Mais l'entreprise peut aussi payer cet impôt en réduisant ses investissements ou en augmentant les prix pour les consommateurs (ses prix de vente). Dans ce dernier cas, ce sont donc les consommateurs qui paient l'impôt sur l'entreprise. A nouveau, cela semble être un effet pervers (ou du moins non souhaité par les gens de gauche quand ils défendent cet impôt)... Plus précisément, c'est le degré de concurrence sur un marché qui détermine dans quelle mesure une entreprise active sur ce marché pourra faire payer l'impôt par les consommateurs ou pas. Plus la concurrence sur un marché est forte, moins une entreprise peut faire payer cet impôt par les consommateurs (toute hausse des prix ferait perdre à x une part du marché en faveur de y), et plus elle doit tout de même investir pour améliorer la qualité de sa production (pour éviter à nouveau de perdre des parts de marché au profit de ses concurrents ayant amélioré leur offre).
Par conséquent, imposer l'entreprise ne semble pas à même de réaliser les objectifs que se fixent les gens de gauche. Pourquoi ne pas donc en finir avec cette imposition opaque (si ce n'est aveugle) et remplacer l'impôt touchant les entreprises par une hausse de l'imposition des personnes physiques ? Un libéral pourrait alternativement proposer une suppression de l'impôt sur l'entreprise adjointe d'une baisse des dépenses de l'Etat, mais évidemment c'est tout de suite beaucoup plus compliqué à réaliser politiquement.
J'entreprends la publication sur mon blog de mes travaux rédigés lors de mon semestre à la University of Toronto (comme je le fais souvent lorsque je considère que ces travaux s'inscrivent dans la ligne thématique de ce blog). Ces travaux ont évidemment été rédigés en anglais, la langue parlée à Toronto, et je me permets en conséquence de les publier en cette langue.
Bonne lecture !
Brexit : an ethical defense
“Received wisdom among academia has been that the EU is a force for good that should be defended at all costs. Respected colleagues are incredulous that anyone with their education and professional insights could think otherwise and remain part of the academic 'in' crowd. In such an environment, it is very difficult to challenge this orthodoxy.1”
Isaac Tabner, University of Stirling (June 27 2016)
“The world of tomorrow is a world of empires, not a world of small nations.2”
Guy Verhofstadt, Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 to 2008 (June 20 2016)
“To decide Brexit by referendum is a bad idea. Putting the decision in the hands of UK voters is putting the decision in the hands of a body that is probably incompetent to decide that question. (…) The UK might instead put the decisions in the hands of a more competent body. We want elites to keep voter ignorance under control.3”
Jason Brennan, Georgetown University (June 28 2016)
“No tyrant ever supports divided or decentralized power4.”
Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr., Founder of the Ludwig von Mises Institute (March 10 2015)
Since the vote from the majority of the British population in favor of leaving the European Union (EU) that occurred on the 23rd of June of this year, a current popular view presents this vote as immoral. The fact that many5 defenders of the Brexit were moved by their rejection of the immigrants and by xenophobic thoughts seems to be the biggest moral intuition that feeds this view about the supposed immorality of the Brexit.
In this work, I intend to challenge this supposed immorality and to show that the Brexit is actually morally defensible and valuable. Indeed, the empirical fact that many supporters from the Brexit were moved by xenophobic feelings is not a philosophical argument against Brexit. In fact, one can support a good position for bad reasons and I think that we should consider the xenophobic vote that composes partly the supporters of the Brexit in that perspective.
I will use a version of rules-utilitarian theory that considers that a sound moral principle is a principle that maximizes the well-being of all individuals in its consequences.
My defense of Brexit will be structured in two parts. First, I will argue that the EU is morally condemnable because the EU is a federal state. I will show that any federal European state is morally condemnable because it necessary violates two important moral principles that are (1) political power needs to be decentralized and (2) a bigger number of states in competition is a good thing. I will thus argue in favor of these principles and show how the EU violates them.
Second, I will answer to the main arguments against Brexit: (1) Brexit threatens the unity of United Kingdom, (2) the EU preserves peace and so Brexit would threaten this peaceful project and (3) the EU leads to prosperity and Brexit threatens this productive system.
The Brexit is likely to be the first big step of many other public and academic debates about other possible exits from members of the EU. In that perspective the debate about the morality or immorality of the Brexit seems to me to be an important issue for political philosophy.
I. Argumentation against a European federal state.
Any European federal state is morally condemnable. The EU is a federal state, of course not a huge federal state as the federal state of the USA for example, but still a federal state. Indeed, one has to consider that there is a federal state since the moment when national or provincial states members of a political super-entity have to respect decisions that have been decided at the level of this political super-entity beyond them, which is the case of the EU. As the EU is a federal state and as any European federal state is morally condemnable, then the EU is morally condemnable. Obviously, I have now to show why any European federal state is morally condemnable.
Any federal European state is morally condemnable in itself because it necessary violates two important moral principles that are: (1) Political power needs to be decentralized. (2) A bigger number of states in competition is a good thing.
I will now argue in favor of these two principles and try to show why they are sound principles.
1. Political power needs to be decentralized.
First, I will propose a definition of what is political power: political power exists since you have a group of people instituting the use of the force as a way of organizing their social relations (or at least a part of it) among them and eventually among other people living on a (more or less clear) territory and attributing a legal monopoly on this use of the force to the institution they create6. Alternatively said: x and y institute a monopoly on the force, that can be said legal and used, and this monopoly concerns x and y7 but also eventually z8.
Why do we need decentralization of political power? I will take for granted that freedom has an important value thanks to its consequences and show now how decentralization favors freedom. This idea is thus expressed by Milton Friedman: “The preservation of freedom is the protective reason for limiting and decentralizing governmental power.9”. Indeed, the smallest a state is, the easiest it is for the inhabitants of this state to control the decisions and actions of the government and to limit its abuses and excesses. A smaller state has less resources (incomes from diverse direct or indirect taxes) and so less means of coercion (police, army, medias, money to influence people, etc.). Its members (from the ministers to the basic little bureaucrats) are closer to the population and share more of their way of living and so are less likely to act against the population.
Moreover, smaller states are not only good for the inhabitants, but also for the inhabitants of other countries. As Murray Rothbard puts it: “Decentralization is itself a good. (...) the more states the world is fragmented into, the less power any one state can build up, whether over its own hapless subjects or over foreign peoples in making war.10” Indeed, the less resources has a state, the less likely it is to be able to conduct a war or invade another state and submit its population.
Furthermore, there is an epistemic argument in defense of decentralization: a smaller state (and so a smaller government) tends to make less mistakes than a bigger state because it has a better access to the will and preferences of the inhabitants living on its territory. That argument works also for the decentralization inside of a state.
So, from that perspective, the best possible state of the world is a state that has the size of a small group of people, like a village, a neighborhood or a small municipality, and every reduction of the size of the state is a good thing.
This principle of decentralization also applies inside of a state. As Milton Friedman says it: “Government power must be dispersed. If government is to exercise power, better in the country than in the state, better in the state than in Washington.11” He means here that inside of the states you need to decentralize the political power and to give more power from the central government to more regional governments, and more power from the regional governments to local governments.
The whole logic of the EU consists to do the exact opposite of the principle of decentralization in centralizing the political power in a political super-entity that takes decisions further from the individuals. Thus the politicians and bureaucrats from the EU are far less controllable by the individuals living in the EU than the national politicians and bureaucrats. So the EU is not decentralization but centralization of political power.
Let's now turn about the second principle that the EU violates.
2. A bigger number of states in competition is a good thing.
Why do we need a bigger number of states in competition rather than a smaller number of states in competition? Because the existence of a plurality of states in competition in Europe has good consequences. It leads to “a jurisdictional, fiscal and regulatory pluralism which is itself useful in opposing laws that are especially damaging to commerce12”. Indeed, if someone can leave his state to go to another, it is an incentive for the states to adopt policies that make its inhabitants want to stay and not want to leave.
Some authors go further. Sheldon Richman explains that without the fragmentation of Europe in a plurality of states the Old Regime of inequality of rights could not have been suppressed. He says thus: “The key was decentralization. Without it the liberal revolution could not have occurred13”. Indeed, it is this fragmentation of Europe in many states that gives the possibility for innovation and refutation of accepted truths. Joel Mokyr explains in that sense that in a Europe fragmented in a plurality of states “when somebody says something very novel and radical, if the government decides they are heretic and threatens to prosecute them, they pack their suitcase and go across the border14”. Of course he is expressing himself about the Old Regime of Europe, but this is actually still true. This author thinks furthermore that the non existence of a central and single power in Europe explains how the industrial revolution was made possible and why it happened there and not in another place. So the thesis means that the whole civilization would be funded on the opposite of a European federal state: the existence of competition between a diversity European states, pluralism and decentralization.
This argument about industrial revolution is in fact an epistemic argument in favor of the competition between a plurality of states that goes like this: the suppression of pluralism of political models and frameworks tends to reduce the discovery of new models of producing in reducing the competition between producers and limiting their possibilities of creation15. Institutional/framework competition is indeed not only a way of protecting freedom, but also a tool for improving each political model. So if state x adopts the improvement A, it creates an incentive for states y and z to adopt this improvement or to imagine or develop another improvement in order not to lose its inhabitants. This seems to be the virtue of competition between states, and this is what is threatened by the EU project.
Until now we have seen the two principles that the EU or any European federal state necessarily violates. These are direct arguments against the EU, but I would like now to try to answer the arguments proposed by the defenders of the EU and to show why they are not sound arguments.
II. Answering the main arguments against the Brexit
1. Brexit threatens the unity of United Kingdom.
Some authors say that Brexit threatens the cohesion of the United Kingdom (UK) as a community16. First, I think that these authors confuse the concept of community with the concept of political society. John Rawls explains the distinction between these two concepts: “While we can leave communities voluntarily (…) there is a sense in which we cannot leave our political society voluntarily. (…) It is a serious error not to distinguish between thee idea of a democratic political society and the idea of community17.” But maybe what they mean is that Brexit threatens the existence of UK as a political society, but it is worth noting that it seems already that it is less problematic, because belonging to a community may seem more important for the individuals in their life than belonging to a political society (this intuitive idea that belonging to a family and to have friends is more important than being a citizen of a state seems rather non controversial to me).
But then the question is: does Brexit threaten the existence of UK as a political society? It seems actually a plausible claim. But what if Brexit was creating an incentive for Scotland, Wales and North Ireland to secede? Should we consider that like something bad? At the opposite, I think that it would be a good thing, because the secession of these four parts of the Britannic state would (1) create smaller states, (2) decentralize political power, and (3) increase the number of states in competition. These three elements are all good consequences, as I have shown in the part I of this essay. I will now talk about a second main argument proposed by the opponents of Brexit.
2. The EU preserves peace and so Brexit would threaten this peaceful project.
The fact that the members of the EU do not war against each other is not the proof that the EU is a peaceful project and this for two reasons: (1) The existence of EU feeds the nationalist movements which could on the long run threatens the peace in Europe. (2) The EU increases incentives to war against other external countries of the EU through (a) the externalization of the costs of war and (b) the reduction of the inter-dependency with other countries of the world. I will now develop these points.
(1) The existence of EU feeds nationalist movements.
The EU has bad consequences for the peoples leaving under its regime at least when we talk about freedom (Part I) and economic consequences (cf. point 3 of the Part II), but as the main opponents to the EU are (for now mostly) the nationalist parties, the EU gives them the opportunity to increase the number of their supporters just by attracting people who are not necessarily nationalists but just against the EU. As Tyler Koteskey puts it: “European far right has benefited thanks to having the EU to blame. Authoritarian, anti-immigrant parties like Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary win support because people feel disenfranchised by EU mandates and powerless to control their futures.18” This process is also reinforces by the transfers of resources through different members of the EU which puts every people the ones against the others19.
(2) The EU increases incentives to war against other external countries of the EU.
(a) The externalization of the costs of war.
Dan Sanchez highlights the fact that “the bigger the military bloc, the easier it is for bellicose countries to externalize the costs of their belligerence”20. Indeed, if x and y are members of the unit (entity) z, but not w, and if x has an interest in fighting against w but not y, then if z is lead by x to fight against w, y will support the costs of the war that otherwise x should support alone. This implies that a bigger state, like a European federal state, reduces the responsibility of the members of this bigger state in letting them not assume all the costs of their potential military fights. So it creates an incentive to war and could lead more easily to conflicts than if x had to assume the whole costs of its offensive military politics, which could prevents it to adopt this politics. As there is not yet a EU army, this process is for now not too strongly present, but the debate about the creation of this federal army is quite actual among.
(b) The reduction of the inter-dependency with other countries of the world.
Dan Sanchez points also the fact that the bigger the economic area of a state is, the less it has an incentive to do trade with more countries, because it is able to produce more, simply by the fact of its size21. It is worth noting that less economic inter-dependency decreases the incentive not to war with another state. By contrast, being more economic dependent from other countries creates an incentive not to war against them. Indeed, to go to war against an economic partner implies the economical stop of the exchanges and so a reduction of the wealth for its inhabitants (at least higher prices because of the reduction of division of labor and a reduction of choices and options on the internal market). Simply put it by Sheldon Richman: political independence leads to economic dependence which leads to peace22.
3. The EU leads to prosperity and Brexit threatens this productive system.
I would like mention first the existence of a huge argumentation from the Austrian School of Economics against central bank and monopoly of the state on the currency. This argumentation applies obviously to the euro and the European Central Bank, but I won't talk more about it especially because the UK is not (directly) concerned by this argumentation23. Here, I will talk fist about the negative economic impact of EU in terms of (1) costs of equalization policy, (2) costs of regulation and (3) limitation of trade.
(1) Costs of equalization policy.
The problem of equalization policy is that it creates an incentive not to be as productive and efficient as much as one could be and reduces thus the responsibility of the actors. It is a sort of incentive for free-riding, or as Doug Bandow puts it “European solidarity means others caring for [those in charge of European countries taking advantage of the equalization policy] after they have wasted everything under their control24“. He adds that equalization policy can seem sometimes convenient, but what most people want is not convenience but pluralism of choices and options. In that system of transfers, UK is clearly a loser. Indeed, Michael Tanner estimates that UK pays 13 billions of pounds annually as contributions to the EU25.
(2) Costs of the regulation.
EU regulations reduce the quantity of exchanges in increasing the costs of production (the producers having to adapt the features of their production) and discriminate some producers in favor of others (bigger producers being logically able to support higher costs than smaller producers the latter are so the main victims of this process). Lobbyist of powerful interests can also influence directly the creation of these regulations in favor of some specific private interests (that can afford the cost of lobbying, which means again discrimination among producers in favor of the bigger producers26). Sebastian Stern asserts even in that sense that “the EU seems like a measure to centralize control in order to make it easier for business to co-opt European politicians who are no located in one place – rather than deal with thousands of politicians in each nation's capital city27”.
Empirically, Michael Tanner estimates the cost of regulations for UK from 2 to 6 percent of their GDP28 and John Phelan estimates the cost of the 100 most expensive EU regulations 33.3 billions a year29.
(3) Limitation of trade.
Of course the EU seems first to favor trade among its members, but it also limits the trade of its members with external actors of the union, which represents important costs of opportunity. Michael Tanner gives the example of the negotiations with India that have been lasting since 200730 and John Phelan gives the example of Australia with whom the negotiations have been stopped by Italy in order to protect its own producers of tomatoes31. This is because the EU new trade agreements works with a collective making-decisions mechanism. This process restrains and slows the adoption of new trade agreements as every member tries to protect its own producers. In leaving the EU, the UK will be able to sign new free trade agreement with other countries and this argument would be of course valid for any member of the EU. Indeed, if the state x is not a member anymore from the EU x has then the possibility to sign independently new free trade deals with other partners without depending on the collective making-deal process of the EU.
At the opposite, there is an argumentation of proponents of the EU like Jacob Levy32 or Diego Zuluaga33 who presents the EU as a kind of free market space, but I think that they make a confusion between two separated elements: the process of reducing some limits to trade and free movement between European countries (and not only between members of the EU) that has indeed existed and the process of building of a European federal state. These two processes have been politically linked together, but it has not necessarily to be so. It is possible, at least theoretically, to have a free market in Europe and no European federal state and it is indeed what seems to me wishful.
Also, one should consider that it is not because a political authority tends to adopt a politics that seems good for a while that this political authority will always act like that. So it is quite dangerous to give a lot of power to this political authority just because it seems to be acting, in the short run, in a pleasant manner. In his answer to Jacob Levy, Billy Christmas argues in that sense: “It is increasingly fashionable among libertarians who are involved in the formation of public policy to embrace technocracy on the basis that, at the moment, technocrats seem to favor neo-liberal policies. (…) But they are playing an extremely short-run game: to be successful in the long-run, it depends upon the technocrats one influences as having the same incentives they do now to pursue (partially) liberal policies. But technocrats do not care for liberty, they care for power, and they will only act in duty to the former so long as it serves the latter.34”
Furthermore, I would like to mention that there is an interesting argument that points that real free trade is actually unilateral free trade and not these laborious negotiations between states that we usually consider as free trade agreements. As Vilfredo Pareto says it: “If we accept free trade, treaties of commerce have no reason to exist as a goal. There is no need to have them since what they are meant to fix does not exist anymore, each nation letting come and go freely any commodity at its borders35.” From that point of view, the EU is not firstly a (partly) free trade area, but mostly a sort of protectionism at a continental level and the only genuine free trade would be unilateral free trade. Some authors argue so in favor of direct adoption of a policy of unilateral free trade by the UK36.
To conclude, I will recall that I tried to show that Brexit is a good thing because it is a process that could slow down, stop or inverse the process of the building of a European federal state which is a bad thing. To defend this, I argued first that a European federal state violates two important moral principles which protects and preserves the freedom of the individuals, and second that the EU (or any European federal state) has no good consequences in terms of peace or prosperity. I also argue from the two principles I presented that the political fragmentation of the UK would be a good thing too. I acknowledge that this idea of political fragmentation and pluralism of institutional models that leads to a defense of secessionism in general can seem surprising for many, but the consequences of such a politics of radical decentralization would lead, as I tried to show in this essay, to good consequences. And to conclude this conclusion I would like to quote Murray Rothbard: “If one part of a country is allowed to secede, and this principle is established, then a sub-part of that must be allowed to secede, and a sub-part of that, breaking the government into ever smaller and less powerful fragments... until at last the principle is established that the individual may secede – and then we will have true freedom at last37.” Indeed, from a libertarian point of view, Brexit is not the end, but only a step in order to increase freedom.
1 TABNER Isaac, Don't believe the Brexit prophecies of economic doom, [https://fee.org/articles/don-t-believe-the-brexit-prophecies-of-economic-doom/], Foundation for Economic Education, 27 June 2016.
2 KUMAR Isabelle, Pour ou contre le Brexit ? les arguments de Nigel Farage et Guy Verhofstadt, [http://fr.euronews.com/2016/06/20/pour-ou-contre-le-brexi...], Euronews, 20 June 2016.
3 BRENNAN Jason, “A bad choice for a referendum” in Philosophers on Brexit, [http://dailynous.com/2016/06/28/philosophers-on-brexit/], Dailynous, June 28 2016.
4 ROCKWELL Llewellyn, The libertarian principle of secession, [https://mises.org/library/libertarian-principle-secession-0], Mises Institute, March 10 2015.
5 Marian Tupy points though the fact that “according to a Lord Ashcroft survey, 49% of people who voted to leave the EU did so because they believed 'that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK'. Only 33% percent of the Brexit supporters were most concerned with control over Britain's borders.” (cf. TUPY Marian, The fallout from Brexit, [http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/fallout-brexit], Cato Institute, 3 July 2016.)
6 Milton Friedman gives a very similar definition: “Fundamentally, there are only two ways of coordinating the economic activities of millions. One is central direction involving the use of coercion the technique of the army and of the modern totalitarian state. The other is voluntary co-operation of individuals the technique of the market place.” (cf. FRIEDMAN Milton, Capitalism and freedom, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, (published first in 1962) 1982, p.19)
7 This option would be the case of a social contract and a voluntary explanation of how the state appears.
8 This would be the case of a non voluntary explanation of how the state appears (cf. For example Franz Oppenheimer, Friedrich Engels or Kevin Carson).
9 FRIEDMAN Milton, Capitalism and freedom, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, (published first in 1962) 1982, p. 11.
10 ROTHBARD Murray, The principle of secession, Mises Institute, [https://mises.org/library/never-dull-moment/html/c/473], (published first in 1967) 2016.
11 FRIEDMAN Milton, Capitalism and freedom, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, (published first in 1962) 1982, p. 11.
12 AZIHARI Ferghane, How Brexit could help all Europe, [https://mises.org/blog/how-brexit-could-help-all-europe], Von Mises Institute, 1 May 2016.
14 MOKYR Joel, Why the industrial revolution didn't happen in China, The Washington Post, [https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/10/28/wh...], October 28 2016.
15 BOURNE Ryan, Hayek would have been a Brexiteer, [https://iea.org.uk/blog/hayek-would-have-been-a-brexiteer], Institute of Economics Affairs, 18 March 2016.
16 ASCHROFT Richard and BEVIR Mark, “Pluralism, national identity and citizenship: Britain after Brexit” in The Political Quarterly, pp. 355-359, 2016.
17 RAWLS John, Justice as fairness: a restatement, Harvard University Press, London, 2001, p. 20.
18 KROTESKY Tyler, Americans should welcome a Brexit, [http://reason.com/archives/2016/06/23/americans-should-welcome-a-brexit], Reason Foundation, 23 June 2016.
19 TUPY Marian, The fallout from Brexit, [http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/fallout-brexit], Cato Institute, 3 July 2016.
20 SANCHES Dan, Brexit wins: why that's great news for Europe too, [https://fee.org/articles/brexit-wins-why-that-s-great-news-for-europe-too/?utm_medium=popular_widget], Foundation for Economic Education, 24 June 2016.
23 The UK is nevertheless impacted indirectly by the actions of the European Central Bank and by the existence of euro because as a member of the EU they have to suffer the consequences of a bad economic situation of the other members of the EU, at least through the equalization mechanism.
24 BANDOW Doug, 16 reasons to celebrate Brexit's wins, [http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/16-reasons-ce...], Cato Institute, 27 June 2016.
25 TANNER Michael, Brexit: what now?, [http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/brexit-what-now], Cato Institute, 29 June 2016.
26 He is cited by Tuccille: TUCCILLE J. D., Brexit: a victory for xenophobia? Not so fast, [http://reason.com/archives/2016/06/28/brexit-a-victory-fo...], Reason Foundation, 28 June 2016.
28 TANNER Michael, Brexit: what now?, [http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/brexit-what-now], Cato Institute, 29 June 2016.
29 PHELAN John, Today I will vote to leave the EU (and enter the world), [https://fee.org/articles/today-i-will-vote-to-leave-the-eu-and-enter-the-world/?utm_medium=popular_widget], Foundation for Economic Education, 23 June 2016.
30 TANNER Michael, Brexit: what now?, [http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/brexit-what-now], Cato Institute, 29 June 2016.
31 PHELAN John, Today I will vote to leave the EU (and enter the world), [https://fee.org/articles/today-i-will-vote-to-leave-the-eu-and-enter-the-world/?utm_medium=popular_widget], Foundation for Economic Education, 23 June 2016.
32 LEVY Jacob, No there's not a market liberal case for Brexit, [http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/06/no-theres-not-a-market-liberal-case-for-brexit/], Bleeding Heart Libertarians, 27 June 2016.
33 ZULUAGA Diego, Hayek would have voted to remain, [https://iea.org.uk/blog/hayek-would-have-voted-to-remain], Institute of Economics Affairs, 17 March 2016.
35 Quoted in AZIHARI Ferghane, How Brexit could help all Europe, [https://mises.org/blog/how-brexit-could-help-all-europe], Von Mises Institute, 1 May 2016.
36 ROUANET Louis, Britain should embrace unilateral free trade right now, Mises Institute, [https://mises.org/blog/britain-should-embrace-unilateral-free-trade-right-now], 27 October 2016.
37 Quoted in RAIMONDO Justin, An enemy of the State: the life of Murray Rothbard, Prometheus Books, 2000, p.165.
- ASCHFORD Emma, 5 myths about Brexit, debunked, [http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/5-myths-about...], Cato Institute, 28 June 2016.
- ASCHROFT Richard and BEVIR Mark, “Pluralism, national identity and citizenship: Britain after Brexit” in The Political Quarterly, pp. 355-359, 2016.
- AZIHARI Ferghane, How Brexit could help all Europe, [https://mises.org/blog/how-brexit-could-help-all-europe], Von Mises Institute, 1 May 2016.
- BANDOW Doug, 16 reasons to celebrate Brexit's wins, [http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/16-reasons-ce...], Cato Institute, 27 June 2016.
- BOURNE Ryan, Hayek would have been a Brexiteer, [https://iea.org.uk/blog/hayek-would-have-been-a-brexiteer], Institute of Economics Affairs, 18 March 2016.
- BRENNAN Jason, “A bad choice for a referendum” in Philosophers on Brexit, [http://dailynous.com/2016/06/28/philosophers-on-brexit/], Dailynous, June 28 2016.
- CHRISTMAS Billy, Brexit and our long-term goal, [https://c4ss.org/content/45592], Center for a Stateless Society,7 July 2016.
- GAVE Charles, Don't fear Brexit: Britain needs freedom not bureaucracy, [https://fee.org/articles/dont-fear-brexit-britain-needs-f...utm_medium=popular_widget], Foundation for Economic Education, 13 June 2016.
- FRIEDMAN David, Brexit and free trade, [http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.ca/2016/07/brexit-and-free-trade.html], 9 July 2016.
- FRIEDMAN Milton, Capitalism and freedom, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, (published first in 1962) 1982.
- FURCHTGOTT-ROTH Diana, 5 good reasons Britons want out of the European Union, [https://fee.org/articles/5-good-reasons-britons-want-out-...], Foundation for Economic Education, 21 June 2016.
- GOWDER Paul, The Brexit referendum was not democratic, Medium, [https://medium.com/@PaulGowder/the-brexit-referendum-was-...], 27 June 2016.
- HABERMAS Jürgen, The players resign, Die Zeit, Nummer 26, [http://www.zeit.de/kultur/2016-07/juergen-habermas-brexit...], 12 July 2016.
- HORTON Richard, “The meanings of Brexit” in Lancet, Volume 388, p.14, London, 2016.
- KROTESKY Tyler, Americans should welcome a Brexit, [http://reason.com/archives/2016/06/23/americans-should-welcome-a-brexit], Reason Foundation, 23 June 2016.
- LAL Deepak, Why I voted leave, The Nassau Institute, [http://www.nassauinstitute.org/articles/article1410.php], 15 July 2016.
- LEVY Jacob, No there's not a market liberal case for Brexit, [http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/06/no-theres-not-a-market-liberal-case-for-brexit/], Bleeding Heart Libertarians, 27 June 2016.
- MOKYR Joel, Why the industrial revolution didn't happen in China, The Washington Post, [https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/10/28/why-the-industrial-revolution-didnt-happen-in-china/], October 28 2016.
- NORBERG Johan, Why libertarians should be wary of Brexit “victory”, [http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/why-libertarians-should-be-wary-brexit-victory], Cato Institute, 12 July 2016.
- PABST Adrian, “Brexit, post-liberalism and the politics of paradox” in Telos, pp. 189-201, 2016.
- PHELAN John, Today I will vote to leave the EU (and enter the world), [https://fee.org/articles/today-i-will-vote-to-leave-the-eu-and-enter-the-world/?utm_medium=popular_widget], Foundation for Economic Education, 23 June 2016.
- POLLEIT Thorsten, Why Brexit better Britain, [https://mises.org/blog/why-brexit-better-britain], Von Mises Institute, 19 June 2016.
- RAWLS John, Justice as fairness: a restatement, Harvard University Press, London, 2001.
- RICHMAN Sheldon, Brexit: which kind of dependence now?, [https://c4ss.org/content/45499], Center for a Stateless Society, 29 June 2016.
- ROCKWELL Llewellyn, The libertarian principle of secession, [https://mises.org/library/libertarian-principle-secession-0], Mises Institute, March 10 2015.
- ROTHBARD Murray, The principle of secession, Mises Institute, [https://mises.org/library/never-dull-moment/html/c/473], (published first in 1967) 2016.
- ROUANET Louis, Britain should embrace unilateral free trade right now, Mises Institute, [https://mises.org/blog/britain-should-embrace-unilateral-free-trade-right-now], 27 October 2016.
- SANCHES Dan, Brexit wins: why that's great news for Europe too, [https://fee.org/articles/brexit-wins-why-that-s-great-news-for-europe-too/?utm_medium=popular_widget], Foundation for Economic Education, 24 June 2016.
- SAUL Jennifer, Brexit: resist the simple 'racism' narrative, Huffington Post, [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-saul/brexit-resist-the-simple-_b_10702820.html], 28 June 2016.
- STERN Sebastian, Supranationalism: the EU as extortion mechanism, [https://c4ss.org/content/43724], Center for a Stateless Society, March 2 2016.
- TABNER Isaac, Don't believe the Brexit prophecies of economic doom, [https://fee.org/articles/don-t-believe-the-brexit-prophecies-of-economic-doom/], Foundation for Economic Education, 27 June 2016.
- TANNER Michael, Brexit: what now?, [http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/brexit-what-now], Cato Institute, 29 June 2016.
- TUCCILLE J. D., Brexit: a victory for xenophobia? Not so fast, [http://reason.com/archives/2016/06/28/brexit-a-victory-for-xenophobia-not-so-f], Reason Foundation, 28 June 2016.
- TUCKER Jeffrey, The weird hobbesianism of brexiphobes, [https://fee.org/articles/the-weird-hobbesianism-of-brexiphobes/?utm_medium=popular_widget], Foundation for Economic Education, 28 June 2016.
- TUPY Marian, 5 thoughts on Brexit, [http://reason.com/archives/2016/06/28/few-thoughts-on-bre...], Reason Foundation, 28 June 2016.
- TUPY Marian, Brexit is bad news for the UE – not Britain, [http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/brexit-bad-ne...], Cato Institute, 24 June 2016.
- TUPY Marian, The fallout from Brexit, [http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/fallout-brexit], Cato Institute, 3 July 2016.
- VAN PARIJS Philippe, Could any good come out of the Brexit vote?, Social Europe, [https://www.socialeurope.eu/2016/09/good-come-brexit-vote/], 16 September 2016.
- W. Justin, Philosophers on Brexit, [http://dailynous.com/2016/06/28/philosophers-on-brexit/], Dailynous, June 28 2016.
- ZULUAGA Diego, Hayek would have voted to remain, [https://iea.org.uk/blog/hayek-would-have-voted-to-remain], Institute of Economics Affairs, 17 March 2016.
Hier, l'actuel président de la Jeunesse Socialiste Genevoise (JSG), Tristan Pun, a annoncé qu'il ne devrait pas se représenter pour un nouveau mandat. Avec la fin de sa présidence se termine une séquence de 5 ans, débutée en mars 2012 avec le commencement de ma présidence et le retrait de Romain de Sainte-Marie, où un groupe de cinq personnes de bonne volonté et un peu idéaliste (Tristan Pun, François C, Muriel Läuchli, Philippe Berger et moi-même) reçut le contrôle de la JSG et en profita pour la réformer en mettant en place (plus ou moins consciemment et finalement assez spontanément) une autogestion du parti par ses membres.
Autant que je le sache, c'est le seul parti à fonctionner ainsi en Suisse ou à Genève et c'est pourquoi je vais m'y arrêter quelque peu car l'exemple de l'organisation de la JSG peut être utile à d'autres.
Le fondement de l'autogestion peut être exprimé en quelques mots : l'Assemblée Générale délibère, le comité exécute. Pour ce faire, une condition nécessaire : l'Assemblée Permanente. Dans l'idéal, l'AG siège chaque semaine, c'est l'AG hebdomadaire, rassemblement de tous les membres du parti, possédant tous les pouvoirs et toutes les compétences, souverains égaux au sein du parti. Ce fut le cas à la JSG durant mes années de présidence, et cela fut changé en une quasi assemblée permanente après ma présidence, avec une assemblée toutes les deux semaines. Dans cette configuration, le comité a des fonctions générales pré-déterminées à réaliser (des fonctions à effectuer nécessaires au bon fonctionnement basique quotidien de tout parti) mais reçoit des instructions spécifiques hebdomadaires, ou bi-hebdomadaires, qu'il doit exécuter aussi complètement que possible. C'est donc l'AG qui décide de l'action du parti, de ses positions politiques, de sa tactique et de sa stratégie. Les membres ne sont pas des créatures passives, mais des acteurs responsabilisés, égaux aux membres du comité. C'est l'idéal de l'horizontalité qui est ainsi réalisé, la suppression de la hiérarchie et des rapports de pouvoir. Le leadership, la force d'impulsion et d'initiative, est partagée par tous, et non détenu par un président soit-disant omniscient ou par une direction aristocratique.
Pour renforcer et préserver l'horizontalité existe un principe de subsidiarité. Tout ce que le comité pourrait faire, les membres peuvent le faire aussi s'ils le désirent. Le comité est le dernier recours, lorsque les membres du parti ne souhaitent pas réaliser une tâche ou une autre. Mais à tout moment, les membres peuvent obtenir l'attribution d'une tâche qui avait été temporairement dévolue au comité. Ainsi, les membres sont responsabilisés et non infantilisés. Ils peuvent être des éléments actifs et non passifs, tandis que le comité ne croule pas sous les devoirs et est ainsi capable d'effectuer son cahier des charges sans accumuler les retards ou les bourdes.
Les membres ont en outre le contrôle de l'agenda politique du parti, car l'ordre du jour de chaque assemblée générale est rédigé en commun (via les réseaux sociaux). Le comité ne pouvant d'ailleurs point refuser une demande d'ajout d'un point à l'ordre du jour. L'assemblée générale ne devient pas ainsi le jouet d'un comité stalinien où ce dernier pourrait faire approuver par quelques momies immobiles ses derniers caprices.
Par ailleurs, les membres gardent le contrôle des positions politiques du parti, de sa ligne, par l'établissement d'un Manifeste, document fondamental, constamment discuté, débattu et amendé en assemblée générale, présentant les prises de position fondamentales du parti. Ce document guide et contraint toute parole publique du comité qui ne peut se permettre de s'étaler sur ses lubies du jour librement.
Concernant les Assemblées Générales elles-mêmes, elles ne sont pas une longue litanie des desiderata d'un comité étalant ses vues de l'esprit et son humeur du jour à quelques statues assoupies, mais un échange vivant et dynamique entre des membres conscients et autonomes. Chaque membre peut exprimer ses vues autant de fois qu'il le souhaite, une éventuelle limite de temps à une discussion étant discutée et acceptée par l'AG elle-même et non le résultat d'un joug de comité : c'est l'Assemblée Participative. Les membres sont des participants, et des décideurs. Le comité ne siège pas physiquement à l'extérieur des membres, il ne se fait pas corps parasitaire et dominant, mais se fond dans le groupe des égaux, chaque membre du comité étant non d'abord un membre du comité, mais bel et bien un membre de l'Assemblée du parti, égal parmi les égaux. Ni le comité, ni le président, n'ont de droit la modération des discussions, mais la modération de l'Assemblée est attribuée en fonction du volontariat des membres au début de chaque AG. Nul pouvoir spécial sur la prise de parole n'est ainsi dans les mains du comité ou de sa présidence. La parole est libre, la parole est partagée, la parole est exprimée.
Quant au Trésor du parti, il est la propriété commune des membres. Ni le comité, ni la trésorerie, n'ont le contrôle des biens communs. La fortune du parti est transparente aux membres-propriétaires qui ont le droit à l'accès aux chiffres et aux comptes à tout moment sur leur souveraine demande et décide de l'investissement des fonds.
Le journal du parti est lui le fruit de la réflexion et de la rédaction commune des membres du parti. Le comité n'empêche pas les membres de s'exprimer, au contraire il les y invite et les assiste dans cette tâche. Le Rédacteur du journal est donc commun.
Enfin, le parti, jeunesse de parti, est aussi indépendant que possible du parti-mère (le Parti Socialiste Genevois), et aussi autonome que possible de la confédération des sections (la Jeunesse Socialiste Suisse). Nulle majorité ou bureaucratie extérieure ne devrait pouvoir s'imposer et supplanter la volonté des membres du parti cantonal (c'est à dire la JSG elle-même).
Voilà, cher lecteur, ce qui fut mis en place dès 2012. Voilà ce qu'est l'autogestion réellement réalisée au sein d'un parti, le pouvoir des membres sur le parti, l'horizontalité complète, le règne de l'Assemblée.
L'autogestion perdurera-t-elle avec le départ de Tristan Pun de la présidence de la JSG ? Les structures et les idéaux survivent-ils aux Hommes ? Nous verrons bien. Mais j'encourage tous ceux qui lisent ces lignes à adopter dans leurs partis et leurs associations le type d'organisation que j'ai décrit ici. Ce n'est pas seulement ainsi que l'on obtient un parti efficace, mais c'est aussi comme cela que l'on crée les conditions d'une expérience humaine riche et savoureuse, loin du carriérisme et de l'opportunisme, du réseautage froid et de l'absence de passion réelle pour la chose politique : un mouvement de militants plutôt qu'un parti politicien et bureaucratique sans force vive.
Cortège du 1er mai 2012 - Fête des travailleurs