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Communitarianism: Read the original document from the French Ministry of National Education

4 June 2020 Investigations   7201  

It represents a very small card in the jungle of administrative recommendations issued in France on the occasion of deconfinement, but it is a huge step in the fight against communitarianism. This three-page document issued by the Ministry of National Education, under the title of “Coronavirus and the risk of communitarian withdrawal”, is at once unprecedentedly clear-sighted on the complexity of the “spectrum of radical ideas of communitarianism”, on the “techniques and ways of proceeding” of the various “radical groups” carrying out “anti-democratic and anti-republican” projects and on the “conduct to be adopted” to thwart the “separatist” aims of such groups, whether they are “communitarian, authoritarian or unequal”.

Here is the English translation of the original document in French:


Coronavirus and risk of communitarian withdrawal

Today, the violence of the pandemic caused by a new virus exposes us to uncertainty on multiple levels (medical, social, economic, cultural, etc.). The Covid-19 crisis can be used by some to demonstrate the inability of States to protect the population and try to unsettle vulnerable individuals. Various radical groups are exploiting this dramatic situation in order to bring in new members and disturb the public order. Their political project may be anti-democratic and anti-republican. These societal counter-projects can be communitarian, authoritarian and unequal.

As a result, some students’ questions and reactions may be abrupt and marked by hostility and distrust: radical questioning of our society and republican values, mistrust of scientific discourse, rebellion against governmental action, etc. However, now more than ever, we need to build a society of trust, solidarity, meaningful and which offers students pathways to positive socialisation.

1. Issues

– Fighting against communitarian withdrawal that undermines the values of the republican pact and against all manifestations of separatism;

– Fighting against misinformation, conspiracy theories, rumours and fake news about Covid-19 used for mercantile and political purposes;

– Supporting school staff confronted with students’ withdrawal reactions.

2. Conduct to be followed

The School is the ultimate place for the transmission of republican ideals. The role of the School was reaffirmed in the National Plan for the Prevention of Radicalisation (PNPR), “Prevention to Protect”, presented by the Prime Minister on February 23, 2018; ten measures fully involve the actors of national education.

Identify discourses or signs of communitarian withdrawal

– Taking into account the whole spectrum of radical ideas of communitarianism (ethnic, religious, cultural, social, political, mystical…).

– Identifying frequent semantic shifts between “community” and “communitarianism”. The term “communitarianism” is used to signify a drift opposite to the republican ideal, which gives primacy to the rules of the group over the universalist and integrating French republican law. Communitarianism can then be seen as a threat to social cohesion in France. Conversely, “communities” in France are ancient and express social ties. Belonging to a community, or even several communities, is a positive, even essential link for the construction of a person’s identity and the development of the individual’s values.

– Paying attention to infringements against the Republic that must be identified and punished

– Mobilising everyone’s vigilance: teachers in class, assistant principals and education assistants in the corridors and courtyard to spot remarks outside the republican sphere that are at odds with the values of the School and that attack social cohesion.
Identifying the communication techniques of radical groups that rely on a variety of approaches:

– Stirring up fears, for example, by describing the emergence of Covid-19 as a “punishment sent by God on whomever He wills”. The coronavirus is interpreted as a heavenly punishment;

– Exploiting vengeful satisfaction: some extremist groups welcome this health disaster by exploiting the course and effects on the customary mode of revenge;

– Exploiting the pandemic as an apocalyptic omen;

– Participating in a Manichean vision of the world (good scientists and bad, faithful and the ungodly, etc.);

– Deliberately generating confusion and antagonism (Islam/Islamism, community/communitarianism, identity/nationality, religion/secularity, etc.);

– Criticising all speeches of authority, especially scientific ones, and at the same time using them to discredit speeches that are hostile to their theses.


– Alerting the management team so that they can

– Make a report in the “Facts Establishment” application ;

– Inform the education authority inspector, director of the services of the Ministry of National Education in liaison with the departmental unit of State services dedicated to this action and set up by the prefect.

3. Proposal of pedagogical activities

– Addressing questions on the new geopolitical situation related to the pandemic, showing both the complexities of international relations and the place of France.

– Supporting a debate in the framework of a moral and civic education session that progressively sets out, from primary school to secondary school, the fundamental rules of life in a state governed by the rule of law. Evoking the specific features of French law and its values: the indivisibility of the Republic in article 1 of the Constitution or the uniqueness of the French people, recognized in the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Council, secularism also present in article 1 of the Constitution, and equality between women and men, recognized in the preamble of the 1946 Constitution and thus integrated into our constitutionality block.

– Organising an intervention of the Values of the Republic academic teams, on the principles of freedom, equality, fraternity and secularism, for an accompanying action, or even local training, namely when the establishment is located in one of the particularly sensitive neighbourhoods identified in the plan put in place since February 2018.

– Hosting a debate, for example around the France Culture programme entitled “A propos des origines animales du virus” with the infectiologist Didier Sicard, which can be listened to by the students and a request for a summary can be made. (Cf. the intervention on France Culture)

– Strengthening students’ critical thinking skills through media and information education, which helps to prevent conspiracy at school, so that they succeed in resisting the temptation of a simplistic reading of the world and the propaganda videos circulating on the Internet.

The above recommendations are applied in the establishments under contract while respecting their specific character.