France and its intellectuals

France and its intellectuals


Our columnist Mathieu Bock-Côté is currently staying in France, from where he observes French news from a Quebec perspective.

France is the land of intellectuals. 

By this I mean that intellectuals are not confined to the margins of public life, to a few confidential journals, or to educational institutions. superior. 

They are at the heart of the city. The life of ideas structures public space, on the various radios, on television, in weeklies and dailies.

Intellectuals take part in public life.


For better or for worse. 

The best when they manage to give meaning to political debates, revealing the nature of the controversies in which we are collectively engaged.

The worst when they pollute the public debate with their ideological neuroses, replacing the debate on realities with debates on the words that we have the right to use or not. 

That we allow me to take my colleague Sonia Mabrouk as an example. 

Every morning, she leads the big interview for the morning show on the Europe 1 radio station. She receives politicians there, most of the time. But it also receives from time to time great intellectuals, to give a little relief to the events which punctuate the presidential election. The public loves it. 

Because it is necessary, precisely, to take a little height from time to time to avoid being devoured by everyday life. And at noon, on CNEWS, where she hosts a two-hour program, she also receives some to invite them to comment on the news from an unexpected angle. 

Obviously, you have to have the means intellectuals to interview them! 

Fortunately, she is not the only one to do this in Paris! 

What about us? Our story is not the same. There is a form of anti-intellectualism in Quebec society. Intellectuals are suspected of despising the people, and this is not always wrong. 

Often, when they intervene, it is in this safe spacewhat is the federal public radio, in a few selected programs, where the debate consists in making then speak different shades of the left. They lock themselves in a parallel world that they are the only ones to understand. 

And yet, I am convinced of one thing: Quebec has something to learn from France in this area. . 

Our pragmatism is our strength, of course, but also our weakness. We are a concrete people, down to earth. But sometimes, too concrete, and too down to earth.

We struggle to have an overall vision of our society, our past, our present, our future. As a result of this, we pay the price in our democratic debates, as we see when a crisis hits us.


There is no was not always so. Fernand Dumont, Jacques Grand'Maison, Michel Brunet have long played a vital role in the public space. Today, Guy Rocher is the last heir to this tradition. 

However, there is no shortage of men and women to take over. 

We still have to invite them, make room for them.

In this regard, Quebec should take inspiration from France.  

When will the Macron's entry into the campaign? 

Emmanuel Macron is expected to embark on the presidential campaign within two weeks. This will obviously upset the presidential campaign. Will the presidential candidate plummet in the polls upon entering the arena, as some believe? I doubt. Will he continue to dominate them as he is now? We'll see. As the situation in Ukraine becomes increasingly worrying, he takes advantage of his globally advantageous international posture to dominate domestic politics.  

Éric Zemmour in second place&nbsp ;

Éric Zemmour could well dynamite French political life. Bearer of a political vision associated with the national-conservative right, he threatens both the classical right, of Valérie Pécresse, and the populist right, of Marine Le Pen. The polls now announce it in the second round of the presidential election. This scenario was deemed unthinkable until recently. At the moment, it dominates the spirits. Some see it as a politico-ideological revolution, whatever the result of the presidential election.   

When the world looks at Ottawa

Canada, as we know, does not pass for a very tumultuous country. Perhaps that is why the siege of Ottawa fascinated part of French public opinion. Some wanted to see an insurgent people there. Others saw in it a delirium that justified strong repression. We were particularly interested in the freezing of the bank accounts of truckers. It must be said that in France, this seat would probably have been broken much more brutally.

France and its intellectuals

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