By William Irvine
Among Justice and Politics is a heritage of the 1st fifty years of the Ligue des droits de l'Homme—the League of the Rights of guy. this is often the 1st book-length research of the Ligue in any language, and it truly is proficient via the lately to be had information of the association. based through the Dreyfus Affair, the Ligue took as its mandate the safeguard of human rights in all their kinds. The relevant argument of this book—and the purpose on which it differs from all different writings at the subject—is that the Ligue usually didn't dwell as much as its mandate due to its simultaneous dedication to left-wing politics. via the overdue Thirties the Ligue was once in disarray, and via the Nineteen Forties a couple of its contributors opted to shield the Vichy regime of Marshal Petain.
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Extra info for Between Justice and Politics: The Ligue des Droits de l'Homme, 1898-1945
Scarcely was there a public meeting of the League without someone reminding his colleagues that the League did not engage in politics precisely because it was above politics. Orator after orator, at section meetings, federation meetings, and above all, national congresses insisted that the League was above politics, outside politics, and unconcerned with politics. Its ideal was justice, a noble ideal that could only be tarnished by contamination with partisan issues. Indeed, the League owed its moral authority precisely to its detachment from politics.
Gabriel Monod had a penchant for lugubrious moralizing, which was not to everyone’s taste. But on this issue he had raised an important point of principle. To dismiss it as “so-called liberalism” (a phrase that would in time attain a disquieting currency within the League) was at best glib. It was also somewhat facile to dismiss the notions of “liberty and tolerance” merely because they were currently falling from the lips of those who ordinarily cared for neither principle. As with the case of the affaire des fiches, important and transcendent values did not automatically lose their legitimacy merely because they were adopted by and for the wrong crowd.
Its principles were eternally valid and, by virtue of its historical significance, it had political and emotional weight that no new Declaration, transparently drafted to deal with contemporary con- ici on ne fait pas de l a politique 25 cerns, could ever have. Adroitly, therefore, they proposed for the 1936 congress, a “complement” to the old Declaration, a gloss on the historic original that would tease out of the 1789 text the appropriate applications for the present. Article 17, for example, would remain but be reinterpreted to mean that private property was sacred only when it was not used to oppress the people.