Abstracts Esprit 2/2005

An interview with ALEXIS KELLER
Israel and Palestine: what kind of fair settlement in the end?

The man behind the so-called Geneva Initiative that resulted in an informal peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians, Alexis Keller, revisits the background of the effort and the way the negotiations were conducted. Based on this, he recommends a method to overcome any prospective obstacles that may stand in the way of a fair and sustainable peace settlement.

Why we are no longer Jews

Diaspora Jews’ main vocation is not to serve as a reservoir of potential migrants to Israel any more than it is to relay the Hebrew authorities’ views and positions. But, on the other hand, it is about time they realized that it is their responsibility to do all they can to nurture the lively, demanding culture that is a defining feature of diaspora Judaism.

The crisis of the secular state and new religious attitudes

Shaped as it has been over time by a confrontation between the Roman Catholic church and the Republican state, France’s traditional secularism is being destabilized by the advent of new, non-traditional and non-hierarchical religious expressions and attitudes. How do we organize the public life of religions devoid of both a clergy and of formal representatives?

Russia and Ukraine: the democratic gap

If Vladimir Putin thought he had a free hand in Ukraine, he owed it partly to his own authoritarian proclivities and an increasingly deaf ear to democratic aspirations. Another reason is that he had grown accustomed to an all too complacent EU diplomacy. This is a lesson EU diplomats must not forget.

Ukraine and Europe: history starts again

The victory of the opposition candidate in the polls is doing more than bringing some fresh blood to power in Ukraine. What we have been witnessing is a radical transformation of the country as a whole. Unsure of its direction as it had been since independence, Ukraine now is in a position to pick its own way between the EU bloc and neighbouring Russia.

Towards a new public governance in France? The new budget regulations, civil service culture, and practical decision-making

From 2005 onwards, France’s parliamentary budget procedures are undergoing major changes with a switch to programme-based budget management. Any anticipated benefits will only materialize if one looks beyond the mere technicalities of the reform. Comparisons with similar moves in other countries show that they call for simultaneous changes in the ingrained attitudes of the civil service.

China and India’s mutual apprenticeships

It has been a rich cultural interchange between China and India over the past 2,000 years, involving trade, science, and religion. Yet today both countries draw the blinds on this historical reality, just when they stand to learn a lot from each other, particularly with regard to public health and the institution of a democratic polity.

Nehru: a political profile in Indian liberalism

This profile of the prominent Indian leader responds to the notion that practical rationality is but a bad habit typical of the modern West, and one which is bound to be taken over by post-modern concepts or a return to religion. Yet both Nehru’s political action and his personal views remind us that he saw practical reason as an essential foundation for any moral endeavour that we may pursue, whether of a public or a private nature.

A Japanese perspective on modernity. Maruyama’s political thought

As it took its cues from the West and pushed itself hard on the way to modernity, Japan triggered a cross-current of “national” thought that held that “going beyond modernity” would be wiser. And yet some Japanese scholars, such as Maruyama, whose profile appears here, do not consider modernity as a foreign import but rather as a potential that is inherent in Japanese tradition.

Bonding mankind together: putting human rights to good use

It is good form to have a go at human rights “religion” and to excoriate its strictly individualist rationale. Noting that human rights resonate with a number of universal values, Alain Supiot reviews the West’s human rights fundamentalism in its various hues (messianism, communitarianism, scientism) in an effort to envision “a way of putting human rights to good uses” in Western as well as in non-Western countries, with the latter exempt from the need to go through the West’s own historical motions to discover the universal nature of those rights.

Law, religion and the state. About Alain Supiot’s Homo Juridicus

Far from focusing on a stark antagonism between law and politics, in his new book Homo Juridicus, French legal scholar Alain Supiot sheds light on the anthropological function of law. After clarifying the notion of dogma, which refers back to the indisputable beliefs that underpin any society, he wonders what happens when religion and then the state are no longer there to support it. Looking at law as a technique whose role it is to “civilize” other techniques,
Homo Juridicus highlights the dangerous fiction of the supremacy of an exclusively contractual kind of law – there must always be some sort of rapport between contractual and statutory law, as well as between equality and hierarchy.

Published 26 February 2005
Original in French

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