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Legal RepublicanismNational and International Perspectives$
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Samantha Besson and José Luis Martí

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199559169

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559169.001.1

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The ‘défense républicaine’: Some Remarks about the Specificity of French Republicanism

The ‘défense républicaine’: Some Remarks about the Specificity of French Republicanism

12 The ‘défense républicaine’: Some Remarks about the Specificity of French Republicanism
Legal Republicanism

Jean-Fabien Spitz

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that, as a political regime fighting for its consolidation, the French republic — in the immediate aftermath of one of the deepest crises it went through, (the Dreyfus case) — tried to articulate a political philosophy of its own that clearly distanced itself from authoritarian and illiberal features. This political philosophy stresses that modern freedom requires some material and social equality as a precondition and, in this aspect, it has an undeniable republican flavour. But the main point is that it also tries to demonstrate that such a combination of civil freedom and equality in material conditions is the kind of social and political regulation which is required by industrializing modern societies, so that the republic is clearly a proposition for the future and a form of open society, not a ‘closed community’ marred with archaism and nostalgia for tradition, brotherhood, and narrow patriotism.

Keywords:   democracy, social Dawrinism, egalitarianism, egalitarian republic, Dreyfus, French republic, open society, closed community

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