Mortier, R. (2000). Le rêve universaliste de l'”Orateur du Genre humain”. In R. Mortier, Les Combats des Lumières (pp. 385-394). Paris: Aux amateurs de livres international.
The Universalist idea was not something new or invented in the eighteenth century. However, the transformation of the feeling of being human into concrete political and social systems is something that appeared in the eighteenth century, with the abbé Castel de Saint-Pierre’s Project of Perpetual Peace (Mortier, 2000: 385). The project was not very ambitious and only projected an arbitrary system by a superior international institution capable of imposing its decisions to the sovereign national institutions. Very interestingly, Rousseau’s protector, Mrs. Dupin, asked him to summarise his voluminous works. Although Rousseau found the project unrealistic, he nevertheless took it as the starting point of his own political reflexion and published an Extract in 1761 (Mortier, 2000).
This project, because it was unrealistic, discouraged for a long time any universalistic political vision. However, the French Declaration of the rights of Man and of the citizen renewed the Universalist ideal as it was directed to humanity in general.
Cloots was very impressed by this and made his mission to make the French revolution a model of political organisation to the world because of its principles and its example (Mortier, 2000: 388).
In February 1792 he published La République universelle, ou Adresse aux tyrannicides, par Anacharsis Cloots, orateur du genre humain. He does not believe in a federative system. He proposes a radical unification by a process of spontaneous adhesion (Mortier, 2000: 389). Believing in liberal economics, unity should prevail because of the advantages of being in such a “wide society”. Every man should benefit from the effects of the declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen, and for this we should build a universal republic on the ruins of the thrones. The will is one, action is one, because interest is one (Mortier, 2000: 390).
The republic may be built in several steps though, starting from France, diffusing through Europe. It is a gallocentric universalism (Mortier, 2000: 390). But it is gallocentric because France and Paris are the centres of freedom. Of course, everyone is sceptical towards any “imperialist” expansion from a particular country, even if it is for “freedom”. All things being equal, one can think of contemporary debate about “eurocentrism” and the western values dominating.
The way to achieve this is through propaganda and not violence, freedom is a plant that grows on every soil and if people are ignorant but free, minds should mature through books (Mortier, 2000: 392).
A unique soverign, universal will rise, he prophetises, “one common interest, one common law! One reason, one nation!” (Mortier, 2000: 392).
Cloots was not a realist, and he did not care about the political realities of his time. He made powerful enemies, chiefly Robespierre, who sent him to the guillotine 24 March 1794.