Chronic. The action of the government is marked by a drift of freedom that worries even within the ranks of the majority. This erosion of freedoms, undoubtedly unprecedented in France on the scale of recent decades, goes beyond some controversial provisions of the so-called “global security” bill, examined these days by the deputies, and on which the media attention is focused.
Indeed, it is surprising that the government of a democratic country manifests, with the same legislative impetus, the will to prohibit de facto the dissemination of images of the police by journalists and individuals, and that of allowing surveillance of the population by drones, in a dizzying variety of situations (recourse to facial recognition not being at this stage not excluded).
Research is no exception to this liberticidal drift. Adopted by the Senate on November 20, the Research Programming Act (LPR) is strongly denounced for the risks it poses to academic freedoms, the autonomy of research and the security of scientific employment.
Without this tripod – which seems to have been acquired since the post-war period, but which is in fact constantly weakened – we would not know today that climate change is a reality, that it is caused by our activities and that it represents an existential danger for human societies. Neither would we know that agricultural intensification is a major factor in the erosion of biodiversity and that, again, it is a grave peril we face.
There are plenty of examples. More than any other field of research and because they often clash with powerful economic interests, the environmental sciences value the independence, freedom of action and speech of the learned world.
First, the LPR extravagantly penalizes possible student demonstrations or protests on campuses (one year in prison and 7,500 euros in fines) – heckling which is an integral part, whether we like it or not, of university life. It dismantles the powers of the National Council of Universities (CNU), responsible for qualifying candidates for university posts.
One of the amendments adopted by the Senate on the night of October 29, with the support of the government, even intended to limit academic freedom to “Values of the Republic”, which we feel could take a painful turn much faster than we think. After the debate among researchers and the opposition, this formula was nevertheless abandoned.
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