“Health Dictatorship” and “Civil Disobedience”: Political Extremists and French Debates on Democracy During Covid-19

Ruth Amossy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper explores a polemical debate that took place in France during the Covid-19 crisis, around two formulas: “health dictatorship” (dictature sanitaire) and “civil disobedience.” It first analyses the arguments that justify their use; it then explores the verbal confrontation where Proponents and Opponents attack each other’s stance, thus shedding light on important issues that underlie the discussion on the anti-Corona health measures: the nature and limits of democracy, the question of authority and obedience in a democratic regime. In the third step, the paper examines the actors behind the roles of Proponent and Opponent, namely, political figures and movements. A difference is drawn between the extremists and the candidates for the 2022 Presidential elections who supported the protest but did not adopt the formulas for fear of compromising themselves. However, the fact that the extremist voices and the voices of ordinary citizens merged in the same protest threatens to whitewash trends that used to be outside the Republican consensus and to bring the French closer to them. This risk calls for a better training in rhetorical analysis allowing the citizens to protect themselves from the manipulation of the authoritarian politicians who pose as the champions of Liberty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-34
Number of pages17
JournalJavnost
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • civil disobedience
  • democracy
  • far-right
  • health dictatorship
  • polemics

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