René Lenoir is someone who could never be labelled as an ideologue and who has spent his whole career as a high-level civil servant. His books, especially Les Exclus ("The Excluded", Paris: Le Seuil, 1974), are important works of reference for those who are interested in social issues. It is therefore important to take heed of the appeal he makes here.
René Lenoir does indeed make a heartfelt appeal, painting a dramatic picture of French society, which - quite apart from having sunk to swallowing the neoliberal line - is having to deal with major social problems verging on a full-scale crisis.
"Most French people are disoriented, disillusioned or anxious", says Lenoir, who criticizes the way that politicians care more about their careers and party than the public interest, the proliferation of government departments and commissions, the increasing numbers of civil servants, the nightmarishly labyrinthine social security system... and, above all, the "total absence of proper political debate" in France.
Recalling the well-known cry of Michel Rocard (later French prime minister in the 1990s),"Wake up comrades, capitalism has won!", René Lenoir replies "Well no, dear Michel: capitalism has won as the means of production, but not as a way of running society."
Criticizing the lack of plans and the general feeling of despair in the country, René Lenoir issues a call: "French people, wake up: vote, join trade unions and be active politically!"
It is definitely not enough, he stresses, to rely on the country's elite. He calls on the French to vote, to join trade unions and be active so as to change the situation and generate a new collective dynamism. He warns, however, that just mobilizing from time to time about particular issues will not be enough. People must make a commitment for the long term. Our future depends on this.