Luc Ferry

Facing the Crisis Building Blocks for a Politics of Civilisation Publication date : May 7, 2009

Luc Ferry is most notably the author of Vaincre les peurs (2006). A professor of philosophy at the University of Paris-VII, he is a former French Minister of Education and President of the Conseil National des Programmes (the official body that determines curricula for French schools). His books have been translated in more than 25 countries; they include Qu’est-ce que l’homme? (with Jean-Didier Vincent, 2000; Odile Jacob paperback, 2001), Lettre à tous ceux qui aiment l’école (with Xavier Darcos and Claudie Haigneré, 2003), Qu’est-ce qu’une vie réussie? (2005), Apprendre à vivre (2006) and Pour un service civique (2007).

“To overcome the crisis we will have to do more than salvage what we can by further expenditures, no matter how necessary or urgent these may seem. The present crisis is not just a chance mishap, brought on by the speculative excesses of some. Its roots plunge deep into the history and civilisation of liberal globalisation — a model now revealed to be untenable.
“The logic of consumerism that has imposed itself everywhere and in all areas is one of addiction. Like a drug, consumerism incites us to use increasingly larger doses at shorter intervals, in an endless spiral whose significance, control and consequences escape us. How did this situation arise, and how can we overcome it? How can we take back control of our destinies? How can we retrieve the collective ideals that correspond to what we, and the world, have become?
“Without underestimating the difficulty of the task ahead, the analyses and propositions presented here defy us to respond, as rationally, clearly and concretely as possible, to the following challenges: to identify those collective aspirations, emerging values and significant measures that will make public actions meaningful and to inspire trust in their effectiveness — specifically, to bring together the building blocks of what we have agreed to call ‘a politics of civilisation’.” Luc Ferry

The author urges us to go beyond a purely economic approach to the crisis, and offers a thorough analysis of its underlying social causes and of the conditions required to overcome it.