Every Democrat, every Republican must be alarmed and resist. We are switching from “the rule of law” to the law of a state giving itself all the rights. The bill with the title as grotesque as it is chilling “global security” is shuddering. Many of its provisions, on the powers conferred on municipal police, the support given to private security agencies, the abusive generalization of the use of drones, and the serious attacks on student unionism included in the law on the programming of research sign an extremely worrying liberation from the road. All crowned by rogue provisions which distort the fundamental principles which govern freedom of expression in France. The verbal outburst of an irresponsible Minister of the Interior asking journalists to stipulate the right to exercise their profession with the prefectural authority condemns the hypothesis of misappropriation.
But we do not cross the red lines with impunity. The law relating to the freedom of the press of 1881 is an absolute one, which is at the basis of the civil liberties which have been wrested from a hard struggle. She was struck by the two texts under discussion, the one called “global security” and the one called “strengthening of republican principles”. One seeking to prevent journalists and citizens from noting cases of police violence, the other to extract from the law of 1881 the offenses of incitement to hatred in order to hasten the procedures and increase the penalties.
The history of press freedom is closely linked to the conquest of democratic freedoms and social rights. There is no corporatism here. Indeed, journalists ‘freedom to inform is the condition of citizens’ right to know. Peoples have started a revolution in the name of this freedom, particularly in France, and each revolutionary episode since 1789 has been, without chance, the occasion for a flowering of press titles, vectors of democratic expression. The law of 1881 is a law of republican consolidation built against the gravediggers of the Commune, supporters of a moral order based on censorship and popular repression. By providing a legal basis for articles 10 and 11 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen – which are the basis of freedom of conscience, opinion and expression – it links freedom of the press to freedom of expression, guaranteed for every citizen, “Except to answer for the abuse of this freedom in the cases determined by the law”.
Wanting to attack one of these freedoms inevitably amounts to attacking the other. This is exactly what the government is working on, thus signing its transformation into a counter-revolutionary and anti-republican force. It took over a century to translate these rights into law. Will it take a few years to get them out? This is a properly reactionary policy, to the applause of the far right, which would shamelessly use these new laws if it unfortunately got into business.
Fortunately, the company, in its rights, shows its just anger despite the rules of confinement and the police traps. And all of the country’s editorial staff stood up against these unprecedented attacks on freedom of the press and of expression.
Liberalism, unable to generate popular support, is irresistibly won over by authoritarian impulses. A jump has just been made to a safe shoreless tomorrow. The right to demonstrate, trade union rights, freedom of information, secularism have all passed to the liberticidal crusher even though the Republic, under a permanent state of emergency, becomes a reactionary signifier. Everything must be done to obtain the withdrawal of this text, and to defend and develop democratic freedoms. The refounded Republic can and must only be democratic and social.