François Ewald’s essay was part of Fondation pour l’innovation politique address to the French presidential candidates. In the essay, Ewald expressed both a feeling of rebellion and an ambition to reverse France’s lag behind other nations, having been caught off-guard by the changes that have taken place in the world since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Today France must adopt a new form of subjectivity and not shrink away from ambitious plans: it must transform globalization into its own universe, and ensure that the civilization which emerges from that process is one acceptable to all. Who should we be in order to become the subjects of globalization? What does it require of us?François Ewald is quite frank about the status of France. Anxious, resistant to change, it seems to favour a sort of insularity which, when combined with the delays it has been accumulating for many years, could relegate the country to the rank of a second-rate power. To remedy this slow and persistent decline sustained by a lack of political courage or by some form of renunciation, the author advocates shock treatment: to give France a desire to thrive in a globalized environment giving rise to a new civilization.
François Ewald outlines a roadmap for this vast project. First of all, globalization must be shaped into a framework for sustainable development—one that produces a solidarity among nations sharing the same project, complete with its risks as well as opportunities. The second imperative is for France to help construct Europe and to abandon its self-imposed isolation so as to embrace the new European horizon of French identity. Another requirement is to promote a new form of subjectivity—that of the world to come—and to give up its self-defeating tendency to indulge in immobilism and the fear of change. France must also realize that health and environmental risks can only be managed on a global scale. Last of all is governance: globalization calls for a new form of governance which political leaders need to formulate, implement and maintain. It is only under these five conditions that France will be able regain the strength to thrive in tomorrow’s new world.