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Pandemic or energy sobriety, the government indulges in the infantilization of “its” citizens to solve two great challenges of this century. Very heartbreaking.
On paper, the state is trying to set an example. If we ministers do not follow what we ask the French people, we will be blamed for it. Maybe they’ll be right. But to push the plug a little too far, we risk falling into the absurd. The caricature. The grotesque.
We had already been entitled to the “nanny state,” a term especially used by the essayist Mathieu Laineunder the Sars-CoV-2 bracket. “Blow your nose with your elbow”, “air your home”, “wash your hands”, kept hammering former health minister Olivier Véran in the middle of a pandemic. A pedagogy through repetition. Which we use to address our children and young people. Professor Rémi Salomon continued the lesson on paternalism: “At Christmas we cut the log in half and grandfather and grandmother eat in the kitchen,” he repeated to the French. Also, let’s not forget the scandal with the masks, useless at first because they were missing… sometimes it happens that children are not told the whole truth, there are stories that cannot be told.
In extraordinary circumstances, extraordinary measures. When the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron uses the term “war”, as of March 2020, he gives himself the right to speak to his citizens as he sees fit and to punish them if they do not behave. not like what the government expects of them. In the same way that adults punish children. Problem, the exceptional drags out. The pandemic is over. Make room for the environment and energy sobriety. Here the government again chooses infantilisation.
So believe in this expansion of the state into our lives and our daily livessome ministers play the main characters in a bad vaudeville: Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy, takes out the turtleneck and promises not to turn on the heat in Bercy until the temperature drops below 19 degrees. The Prime Minister, she puts on a down jacket. As for Gilles Le Gendre, the deputy of the Renaissance, he admits to replacing the dryer with the drying rack. Do we expect this from those who lead us? Of our political elites? “Every nation has the government it deserves”, defended the writer and philosopher Joseph de Maistre. I dare to believe that the French expect a better show.
The government overreaches in injunctions related to gestures that are a matter of common sense. He would do well to insist, with equal enthusiasm, on expert reports that describe the state of our planet with precision, data and figures. Our leaders must never obscure the purpose to which they are asking the citizens to sink air conditioning or turn off the light. In short, ministers and elected officials approach the French as you would an adult.
We could only laugh about it. Only making fun of “abysmal” mediocre communication. But that would be to forget that this normalization, this internalization of the paternalistic state has consequences for the individuals themselves. By becoming too accustomed to infantilization, citizens expose themselves to ever stronger dependence on the state, to the loss of all critical thinking and autonomy. “The last thing politicians need is empowered citizens,” wrote economist Thomas Sowell.
Yes, the state must inform us. Consequences and risks associated with such and such behavior. The state must set rules. Otherwise it’s anarchy. But the state must not mother. Should not invite themselves into all chapters of our lives (including the most intimate), with “don’t do this, don’t do that” under the pretext of acting in the name of our best. As soon as the state knows better what is good or bad for each individual citizen, it means that the same state thinks instead of its people. A frontal attack on democracy.