18 February 2013

This House Believes That Love Still Exists…

Floriane: If you received an “I love you” card today with a chubby cupid and lovely little hearts, what was your reaction? Most people are really pleased of course, but some people say: “Yuck, that’s so kitsch!” Why? Well, for them, for me, Valentine's Day is just another commercial rip-off... In today’s debate, Maxence and Quentin over there will try to convince you that love still exists; they are FOR the motion that love still exists. Nicolas and myself, Floriane, we will have you believe that “love” does not exist anymore, it is just a gimmick used for commercial purposes; we are AGAINST the motion.

Maxence: Valentine's Day was originally a pagan ritual that had nothing to do with trade. In its current form, Saint Valentine's Day is a celebration of love dating back to 1496. Of course, in the context of our consumer society, it has been taken over by merchants (just like Christmas) to sell their over-priced trinkets: chocolates, silly cards, perfume, flowers, etc. But you don’t have to buy gifts to show someone you love them!

Nicolas: I agree that Valentine's Day is ridiculous; you should show you appreciate your partner every day of the year! Advertising is a powerful thing though because you feel you do have to buy something on the 14th of February… Just imagine the consequences if you forget to give your girlfriend or boyfriend something… Yikes!

Quentin: Saint Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to share a special moment with your partner or to declare your flame. This celebration is really nice, despite the crass commercialism. But it’s not because of that “consumer society” aspect to the celebration that love does not exist on Saint Valentine’s Day! Love is for real on the 14th of this month just like on every day of the year!

Nicolas: But, if love does exist, it should be spontaneous, surely? It does not need a special day; Valentine’s is much too contrived and a bit ridiculous! In fact, I think “true love” does not exist at all, especially on a particular day. Advertising just uses so-called “love” (i.e. sex!) to boost demand for things; it creates a desire to buy a product, that’s all.

Maxence: Shopkeepers have spoilt Valentine’s Day a bit, but they have not got rid of love itself! Love is a wonderful feeling, a mixture of magic and desire… It’s also about commitment and trust; if love did not exist, would we want to marry and have kids?

Floriane: Don’t make me laugh! There’s no “love at first sight”, there’s no whirlwind romance, there’s no poetry of ecstatic longing… If true love did exist, people would also stay married! Most couples get divorced nowadays, and people who stay married do so for tax purposes or “because of the kids”! No, Valentine’s Day is just a means of making us believe love exists. But it is not the only one! Did you know you can find “true love” on the Internet too? More and more desperate people register on dating sites. I think these sites show just what the true nature of “love” actually is: “love” is just a mix and match computer program! “Love” is the name of an online supermarket for lonely bodies and tired souls

Maxence: But dating sites are proof that love does exist! It’s just a modern way of finding it that’s all! It is possible to meet someone that you can appreciate, who might become the great love of your life! The main advantage of online dating is clear: it gives you the opportunity to contact people who, like you, want to meet other people! You are sure to find someone who is compatible

Nicolas: For me, dating sites are traps for the gullible; statistics show most people were well disappointed when they finally check up their soul mate in the flesh! Man, you must be real naïve and desperate to hope for love and romance on the Google box! I mean, what’s love got to do, got to do with it?! It’s all about ripping off lonely people and them not getting any looove!

Quentin: On these sites nothing is left to chance, you can target the characteristics that interest you or search the options which allow you to choose your contacts quickly and efficiently and to find people who match your criteria, increasing your chances to start a relationship on a solid basis. Virtual meetings offer the opportunity to interact with many people, but also to stop the exchange without difficulty if the feeling isn’t mutual. The selection criteria are extensive and include religion, intellectual level, nationality, social background, income, geographic location, or type of meeting wanted, etc.

Nicolas: Are you kidding me!? Where’s the romance in all this?! Your list sounds just like I’m going to have to order a pizza or open an online bank account or something, not find the love of my life!

Quentin: In real life, finding true love is quite hard for some people and internet can be a means of helping them find it. 25% of the people who meet online stay together...

Nicolas: That’s a figure given by Meetic and co. just to give people hope. These sites use the same method to make their money: bait the lovesick bachelor or single girl by giving them free access to the profiles of other users, and then make them pay for services such as contacts, sending or reading messages, chat, etc.

Quentin: Sure, but it costs less than sleazy night clubs! What counts is the result: real relationships are started online!

Floriane: It’s just so sad; a machine to find love?! Whatever happened to falling in love with the fleeting image in a café mirror, with the souvenir of her rare perfume, with the sweet way she giggled?

Maxence: You sound like an old romantic! So you do believe in love, then?! No, let’s get real here: meeting people online is practical for busy people, for shy people, for ordinary lazy people too. It’s also cheaper than having to take someone to the restaurant just to see if they might perhaps fancy you! At least an Internet date is clear! And you can get romantic from the comfort of your home. The worst thing that might happen is that you will not get a reply to your email. Our ancestors had arranged marriages, and our parents’ generation did not have the advantage of the internet to choose carefully their partner, they took whatever they could find in their town (hence the high divorce rate). Our generation wants relationships to be based on mutual respect, which means having to know someone really well; true love comes from this, not from some over-the-top romantic whatever. Meeting someone online is a good way of avoiding long-term disappointment

Floriane: If love exists, I think it is changing for the worse

Quentin: Love does still exist; we just have a less simplistic notion of what’s involved. We still want passion and affection and friendship, but we - especially women - want to be in control: we want to decide with who we want to be, when, and why. We are much more open-minded than before and I believe the mentality of people is becoming pretty good. Maybe we have learnt to accept that love is not necessarily forever and nor is marriage? John Gottman, the famous American psychotherapist, says a couple can only stay in love if there is also friendship and lots of humor. I agree!

Floriane: That’s the end of our contribution to the debate today, thanks for listening! We wish you a very romantic Saint Valentine’s Day, hoping you find the love of your life or of the next week at least! Are there any questions or comments? Would someone from the floor like to speak before we vote?

VOTE: the motion was carried by a small majority.

4 February 2013

The UK Government wants to put off Bulgarians and Romanians coming to Britain. By Lucile Lestang

“Please do not come to Britain because it rains all the time, there are few jobs and the pay is bad” is the basic thrust of David Cameron’s proposed negative campaign to dissuade Romanians and Bulgarians emigrating in droves to the UK.

What is the reason for such an anti-patriotic campaign? Well, the fact is that in January 2014, seven years after becoming European Union citizens, Romanians and Bulgarians won’t be under emigration restrictions anymore. Several British politicians are therefore afraid about a possible massive wave of immigrants from these countries because the unemployment rate in the UK is increasing. Is Cameron shooting himself in the foot, after the UK spent billions trying to improve the country’s image abroad? Is this an after-Olympic-party hangover? Is the UK going back to its xenophobic and anti-EU ways? Or is he being pragmatic and realistic; what do you do when thousands of people you do not need turn up wanting a piece of the action?

The Guardian, dismayed by the attitude of the Government, launched a spoof mudslinging-at-yourself campaign; it asked its readers to send in mock posters for the erstwhile campaign. The response has been enthusiastic and shows up rather well the cynicism of the UK Government. It also reveals, through the usual self-deprecating British humor, the pessimism many feel about their country's future…

3 February 2013

This House Believes That The Auvergne Should Become an Independent Nation!

Anne-Sophie is FOR the motion: Hello everyone and welcome to today’s debate! We hope you have had a good meal, a typical tasty meal from the Auvergne?! The issue we will be discussing today is: can the Auvergne become independent from France, in other words, is it possible for us, the Auvergnats, to become a separate nation-state?! Also, how independent can regions like the Auvergne be within the European Union? Antoine and I are separatists; we agree with people who think that the Auvergne should become a proud independent nation. We want self-government, and that, for obvious and very numerous reasons! We want you to vote for the motion. Pierre and Floriane over there are against the motion; they want the Auvergne to continue to be some sad appendix to a thing called “France”! We all come from Clermont-Ferrand, in the Auvergne, so we are all aware that something has to be done about this region…

Antoine is FOR the motion: I think we need to define first of all what a “nation” is... To me, there are three main elements to being a nation: a common history, common interests to defend, and the willingness to actually be a nation. As regards willingness to form a nation, you, the public, already know the answer: we are proud to be Auvergnat!

Anne-Sophie: Plus, the people of the Auvergne have a glorious history: Vercingétorix, good food, and excellence in rugby are just three examples of our rich cultural heritage!

Pierre is AGAINST the motion: Sure, the Auvergne has its own history, but so do all the other regions of France! It’s not because they have their own heritage that they should become independent! This silly idea of independence would bring an end to the Republican unity of the nation, which would be terrible!

Anne-Sophie: There are also economic and social aspects to the issue…

Antoine: Put simply, we want to work, in a sustainable way, and we want our region to develop, to become a great place to live in. And this is a crucial point in our debate: because, obviously, the French government has failed in its task of meeting our needs here in the Auvergne. We are isolated, with few motorways and no high-speed train lines, there is a higher unemployment rate than in most regions, and the greatest number of jobs is in the industrial sector, which is declining. The only solution to this deplorable situation is independence! With real decision-making power, an Auvergne government would be much more efficient, and economic activity would at last take off!

Floriane is AGAINST the motion: I agree we need greater efficiency in local government, but I don’t think the situation is as critical as you say it is...

Antoine: Yes it is! There is only one major company in the Auvergne, Michelin, and it is located in Clermont-Ferrand, the region’s center. Apart from Clermont-Ferrand, which part of the Auvergne is really economically viable?

Floriane: Rubbish! What about Louis Vuitton, Volvic, the Banque de France, Limagrain, Cantal cheese and lentils from Le Puy?!

Anne-Sophie: But what Antoine means is that the entire region could become even more economically dynamic with independence, though Clermont-Ferrand is obviously the most dynamic place because 44% of the region’s inhabitants live there, that’s 430,000 inhabitants. There is great potential for tourism, especially “green tourism”, and winter sports in Super Besse and Lioran. The Auvergne receives help from the European Union to develop its agricultural, gastronomic, cultural, scientific, and tourist assets. In other words, who needs France?!

Pierre: More dependence on the EU rather than on France? What’s the difference?! That’s no solution to our development problems either! No, becoming independent would only make the Auvergne’s isolation even worse. I think a good compromise would be to copy what has already been done in other European countries like Spain or Germany. Both these countries have more self-government in their regions than we do here in France. Across the Rhine, it’s a federal system that seems to work really well... What do you think?

Anne-Sophie: From my point of view, to adopt a federal system like the Germans would already be a big step towards the emancipation of all of the regions of France. However, I still believe independence for the Auvergne should be our ultimate goal.

Antoine: In fact, the real question, if you think about it, is what do we want for Europe: federalism or souverainism?

Floriane: Federalism adapted to Europe would be a sort of “united regions of Europe”, in which regions would have more importance than States.

Pierre: States would still have quite extensive powers, but each region in a more federalist European system would have a real government that would define its own policies on health, education, transport, etc., and receive funds, if needs be, directly from the European Union to develop its infrastructure and economy.

Floriane: The idea of souverainism is more a “Europe of Nations” in which each State has more power to decide what happens within its territory than the EU does. Brussels would have less say in a souverainist Europe than in a federalist one.

Antoine: I think more federalism could be a solution to the EU crisis. The fact is, in Europe, today, most of our decision-making and administrative systems are inefficient. Giving more power to the regions would make politicians and the people more involved in regional concerns, and policies therefore more efficient and appropriate. Indeed, the economic health of an entire nation depends on local initiative. What I mean is that entrepreneurship has to be promoted everywhere in the country, not only in the regions that are already developed. With federalism, every region could propose appropriate solutions and policies to local problems. More regional development and regional decision-making would boost the economy of the EU as a whole. Of course, this would need competent politicians at the regional level of course…

Pierre: The attractiveness of a region like the Auvergne depends on planning, such as the creation of real transport hubs. In order to promote entrepreneurship, as you say, important subsidies are required from the French Government, subsidies that Europe alone couldn't afford. Without these French Government subsidies, the Auvergne will never become attractive to investors...

Anne-Sophie: That's not true. European subsidies are all we need! There’s the ERDF, European Regional Development Fund, to promote regional competitiveness and employment, and the ESF, European Social Fund, to improve employment prospects and reinforce economic and social cohesion. The Auvergne region is already more or less financially independent thanks to these funds from Europe. From 2007 to 2013, the region got more than €206 million of ERDF, to reinforce regional firms’ competitiveness, as well as the region’s attractiveness. These European funds improved our employment figures, and contributed to paying for initiatives like the reorganization of several train stations. From 2007 to 2013, the Region received more than €38 million of ESF money  too, for the creation of jobs. We think that with these European subsidies, we could become independent, or at least France could adopt a more federal system...

Pierre: I think a good compromise between federalism and souverainism would be for us in France to copy the Germany model…

Antoine: I admire the German federal system too because it encourages grass roots (that is “à la base”) initiatives to economic problems. It is not “top down” decision-making like in France, where it is still essentially Paris that decides what happens everywhere! Like I said, more power to the regions would encourage a more competitive regional economy. And we all know that economic competitiveness is what France as a whole lacks! To my mind, federalism would be a real solution to the EU crisis, since it would boost economic activity without increasing the deficits of the European governments.

Floriane: Well, from what we have heard from both sides, it would appear that what most of us think is that if the Auvergne is to become wealthier, not to say happier, we need a more federal system in France and in the EU; we need more self-government by the regions just like in several other European countries. In fact, greater decentralization of power in every EU member country would make communication between Brussels and every European citizen much easier, creating a stronger European Union from the bottom to the top, without the interference of State governments!

2 February 2013

This House Believes That We Should Wear a School Uniform!

Rémi is for…

As you know, in the UK the wearing of a school uniform is obligatory. For boys, it is usually grey or black trousers, a white shirt, a jacket, and black shoes. For girls, it’s the same except they have to wear skirts. Does that sound horrible? No, of course not, that’s how many people dress anyway! Let me say to you that I’m 100% in favor of wearing a uniform at school, and my opinion is shared by the majority of the pupils in this school! What a shame the wearing of a smart school uniform is not obligatory in France…

A school uniform is a great leveler; what I mean is that it puts everyone on the same level. It wipes out social differences, and differences in wealth between people. Some kids wear Levis, even Armani, to show off how wealthy their families are. Other kids can't afford to dress like that. How rich or poor you are should not be important in a school, a place of learning. A uniform would be the answer to discrimination, mockery and bullying. A uniform shows that everyone in a school, whatever their parents’ situation, is part of the same group: the school. If we had a school uniform here, distinctions of wealth between pupils would no longer be made, which would be a great step forward for the better integration of everyone…

A uniform shows adults that you are a pupil, and it shows them, and the pupils from other schools, that you belong to a particular school. This is how it should be! You are what you are, and you should be proud of the fact. And what you are - a pupil - is who you are. You will be an adult soon enough and you can then wear all the fancy clothes you want to show what a great individual you are…

From a practical point of view, the uniform is great too. Spare a thought for our parents! One uniform is cheaper than having to buy us clothes for every day of the week. The US Department of Education makes sure that the average cost of uniforms for one whole year is no more than about $250 (€190). What is your yearly clothes allowance?! Plus, think about it, if you wore a uniform, your parents would no longer have to moan at you every morning: “you’re not going to school dressed like THAT I hope?!”

The US Department of Education carried out a survey on what introducing a uniform might bring to a school. To the question “from your point of view, would a uniform increase school pride and sense of community?” 80% of the teachers said “yes” and 40% of the parents too! I feel that teachers, parents, but also pupils of schools in France would also answer “yes” to the same question. A school uniform shows pupils they belong. Isn’t it important for you to feel that you belong? How many hours of your life do you spend here, at school? Isn’t it important to know that your presence is valued? If it is, then you would wear a uniform with pride because it represents the school which you are proud to belong to. And a uniform would represent the school which is proud to have you…

The same survey also shows that parents and teachers strongly agree on the fact that the uniform eliminates competition between pupils, and improves the learning environment. Great news for our teachers in Massillon, surely?! It would be great news for us too.

So, what are we waiting for?! With all these arguments in favor, I don't see what you can say against having a school uniform in Massillon; it’s a really positive initiative, it makes obvious sense… I would say it’s meaningful, even urgent. Vote in favor of having a school uniform at Massillon!

Jules is against…

OK, thanks Remy! You make introducing a school uniform at Massillon sound really positive. Unfortunately, you are being way too idealistic, and much too naïve. We are not in the UK, not in the US of A. This is Clermont, France. Today…

Can you imagine us walking around town in a silly-colored jacket and tie?! We would be laughed at! You talk about getting rid of inequalities and discrimination, but in this town we would be discriminated against because of our uniform! As a uniform shows what school you belong to, it also shows if you come from a privileged background or not. It would just make the rivalry between schools worse. And, unfortunately, a uniform simply doesn’t wipe out prejudice even within a school… Kids will simply find other means of denigrating each other!

You said having to wear a uniform would reduce the cost of one’s wardrobe. But a uniform is very expensive! Not everyone can afford to buy a new uniform or a good quality one. Some will have silk neckties whereas others will have cheap nylon ones. Also, people will show their individual personalities and even their wealth through things like jewelry or a fancy cell phone. So the uniform would just be a token gesture to us all being equal at school, it will not really hide the social differences.

Jealousy is not a cause of bullying. Kids are sometimes a bit jealous of those who wear fancy shoes or trendy clothes, but more often those who dare to have “style” are admired! It is not a way of showing how rich you are, it’s more a way of showing your personality, of showing that you are not like others. And it’s not just rich kids that wear nice clothes. In the UK, bullying happens if you dare to be different, to wear something that looks different, in other words if you go against the mentality that the wearing of a uniform imposes! The uniform is the cause of bullying!

The uniform is totally accepted in the United States and the UK; it is part of their way of life and of their teaching methods. In France, I don’t think that pupils would like these methods. They would go against our mentality. I have asked my classmates, and most of them feel it would be ridiculous to have a uniform. The uniform is a means to suppress an individual’s character. And that is anti-French! I couldn’t imagine having to be like everybody else, could you?

A school uniform goes against your freedom of expression because it is imposed; it does not allow you to show your personality to the world. Isn’t being a teenager all about finding out who you are and being able to assert your character through interaction with those around you? A uniform, in a way, stops you from growing up. Being lost in the anonymous crowd, you become passive, obedient, and conformist. You become obedient, you do not have to take responsibility for yourself or for others, and you do not have to get involved in what is happening around you. Do we want to instill a fascist mentality in this Nation’s youth?!

Why is a uniform imposed on prisoners? Having to wear a uniform is part of their punishment, a reminder that they have lost their right to freedom, a reminder of their status as prisoners under the authority of the prison guards. What sins have we, the pupils in Massillon, committed that we have to be punished by wearing a uniform!? Is our school a prison? Are our teachers prison guards? At least prisoners know why they are in prison. At least the rules of the prison are not arbitrary; prisoners understand why the rules exist. At least the prisoners know they might get out early for good behavior! We do not have a choice about being in school; let us not make it into a place of punishment, with rules we do not understand, sadistic teachers, or ugly, ridiculous, dehumanizing uniforms! (show extract of Pink Floyd’s The Wall).

A uniform that is imposed doesn’t make you the same as everyone else… it makes you into no one!

Marianne is for…

You seem to be saying that the wearing of a uniform is humiliating, that it is dehumanizing? I think you’re totally wrong, it’s the complete opposite!

The uniform is practical, essential indeed for some jobs. Also, it allows everybody to recognize someone’s function, what his rank is.

For the person wearing the uniform, it shows him he belongs, what he is and who he is. A person can be truly himself - feel valued - when he knows his place in society, don’t you think? A uniform is not about losing your personal identity, it is more about esprit de corps, being accepted as part of a group, and it signifies one’s hierarchical position in that group, one’s merits. Surely, that is particularly important in a school context, where young people need to feel they belong?

I like the uniform of Scout troops particularly; I think it is well adapted to the life style of children. It’s not ridiculous like a “Hogwarts” uniform! The fact that Scouts have badges on their uniforms is a good way of showing personal merits, what “good deeds” the Scout has carried out for others. It shows a uniform does not hinder individualism, on the contrary: it shows how valued an individual is by others. And, thanks to the uniform, the hierarchy within a group is clearly visible, which avoids the confusion of an “invisible” hierarchy, of not knowing who is who…

The soldiers who are fighting terrorists in Mali are proud to wear their uniforms, the doctors and nurses who take care of us are proud to wear their uniforms, all the courageous firefighters are proud to wear their uniforms… Why would the pupils studying in Massillon not be proud to wear a uniform!?

Guillaume is against…

Uniforms are only necessary in certain jobs. We can’t imagine a doctor, a policeman, a bank accountant, a coal miner, a priest, or a judge going to work without the appropriate clothes. It is fair to say that these clothes, uniforms if you like, are needed by those people to do their job. It is not unreasonable for companies to ask their employees to be well-dressed or to dress in the appropriate clothes needed to execute certain tasks, but I can’t agree with you when you say uniforms reinforce the feeling of belonging to a group. This feeling of belonging is only created when you are accepted in a group, and having to wear a uniform has little to do with that.

According to your logic, uniforms will resolve social problems. So more uniforms, fewer problems, right? OK, then, how about the Government imposing a uniform on the whole population because of all the erstwhile advantages you’ve listed? Uniforms are going to reinforce the feeling of belonging to the nation, right? But, would you really be happy living in a society in which everyone looks, acts, thinks the same? Think of Orwell’s 1984, think of North Korea. Do you honestly think a uniform will help people live together better? A uniform imposed by an all-controlling State would in fact create more problems than it would resolve. It would be the mark of a society based on suspicion, hate, and conformity. A totalitarian nightmare…

Nobody should be forced to wear something. As long as my clothes do not offend anyone, I should be able to wear anything I choose. That’s what is terrible about women having to wear the burka; it is, I believe, imposed on them and is part of a sectarian system that denies them their freedom of thought or movement.

Some people think a school uniform hides social disparities. They are right, it does try to hide them, but it cannot get rid of them! Hiding injustice does not resolve it. We need real change in society, not a society lying to itself by pretending we are all equal because we are all dressed the same!

Many people are afraid of the violence in our society. Some call for more authority, better discipline in schools, etc. Imposing uniforms on school children is part of their reactionary mind-set. But more violence does not solve violence. Wearing the same thing as other people cannot make one feel safer, it’s a ridiculous idea.

Some people’s obsession with uniforms only reflects their own insecurity. For them, uniforms symbolize respect for authority and discipline. But, a sense of security comes from people feeling good about themselves as individuals, because they have a good job, a happy family, and many friends…

Transition comment by Lola, the Chair:
The issue of school uniforms brings up the following important question: should people be dictated to? Doesn’t imposing a uniform amount to dictating to people their physical appearance and, in the end, their behavior? The real debate in fact is about the nature of authority in our society…

Nicolas is for…
We, as individuals, need to be controlled by a superior force and I'm going to tell you why. There are 66 million people in this country; how are we supposed to respect each other’s liberties without some kind of real authority? We need authority, a power that punishes those who do not respect the law... As the philosopher Spinoza said: The State exists in order that people can live together without hostility.” And that's why we need authority; we can't live without it!

Chloé is against…
There is often abuse of authority. Sometimes, the State exercises authority not in the interest of all; it imprisons us in the kind of ideology that it wants us to follow. It prevents us from being free and making our own choices. It says it is a guide, but it is often like a dictator. We can't be free if all we do is follow the orders given from above. How can we be certain that these orders are fair or even good for us? Moreover, how can this authority be sure that its orders aren't harmful to us? We need to be able to make our own decisions because they concern us first and foremost.

Sure, we need to have a degree of freedom; let's take the example of everyone in this room: I'm sure that without the authority of our teachers and parents, we wouldn't have reached our level of knowledge and to be able to make an informed choice concerning our future. We can choose what higher education studies we would like to do, but only because of the wise council of our teachers and the benign authority of our parents…

Maybe you're right, but don't forget that parents, teachers, and others aren't always without prejudice or even fair. We are afraid of making choices alone and that's why we are easily influenced. Nevertheless, letting an authority dictate our actions is a kind of cowardice; we need to accept the consequences of our own acts. We are lucky to have liberty, and as human beings we must be proud of that and be responsible because we are able to judge if one thing is good or not by ourselves.

It is in our nature to want someone lead us. People hate the unknown, they fear it. That's why Dostoyevsky, the Russian philosopher, said that there's one thing human beings prefer to liberty, and that’s slavery. Let's take an example: a couple of weeks ago, one of my teachers told me about a survey he had done in his class. He asked them: “What kind of jobs do you want to have when you grow up?” And do you know what they answered? Half of them said that they wanted to be civil servants and to work not far from their parents’ home! These people are obviously afraid of the unknown; being told what to do helps them feel safe…

How pathetic: young people, thinking like retired people! Where’s their sense of adventure?!

But, Chloé, most people seek comfort, not adventure! Letting an authority figure decide what is in our best interests is not that bad if you think about it. Let's take China as an example: the Communist Party there has done wonders with the economy, making people wealthier and happier. Sure, the Chinese are not that free, but at least they are no longer starving.

“If we are not free, life is hateful and death is salutary” said Etienne de la Boétie. The Chinese are living in a system based on fear, and who lives in fear does not know freedom. For Spinoza, the purpose of the State is not to alienate people, but to lead them to reason and freedom. Who holds authority should be determined by the citizens.

I think that wearing a uniform in Massillon should be the choice of the people concerned, that’s us, the pupils. We should be allowed to vote on the issue so that a uniform is not imposed on us but chosen by us, for the reasons we feel are good. I’m not against a uniform per se; I’m for being allowed to choose to wear one or not.

Could a battle like Stalingrad happen again?