The 18th century can be thought of as a reflection on our way of being together. The group both liberates and alienates. The Encyclopedistes warn us that ‘esprit de corps’ – the ancestor of solidarity – cuts both ways: inside religious groupings, it becomes a spirit of obscurantism in the service of despots who take advantage of the faithful using false idols and the consolations of ever-present false hope. But still, groups have an identity that is their own – they have their own spirit; there is something that unites humans who come together for a purpose. D’Alembert and Diderot are the first to hint at the notion of a nation with a unifying character that is both a protection and a liberation; an identity that is more than the sum of individual parts – as Aristotle had suggested at the level of the mere city. Later, that spirit became Marianne guiding the French nation or Robespierre’s Supreme Being.
read the entire article here Charlie Hebdo: We no longer dream of the Republic. France needs a renewal of faith | openDemocracy.