The Career-learning Café
the magazine

points of departure

learning ro autonomy
updated 22nd March 2006




A philosophical discourse on freedom of choice - en route á La Bastille


14th July, 1789!

Peasants stream into downtown Paris, yelling "nous avons trois priorités - liberté! liberté! et liberté!".

Until, that is, some member of the awkward squad pipes up...


"Attendez vous a minute! There’s no real liberté without egalité. I mean, just pensez about it: if people go around asserting liberté, with no idea of egalité, then their liberté becomes somebody else’s futilité! - and that can’t be droit!"

..."Liberté ET EGALITÉ!"

But they are not yet at The Bastille; and as it hoves into view...

"Attendez vous, encore!"

"Sacré Bleu! Maintenant quoi, Henri?"

"I’ve been thinking: there’s no egalité worth having without some feeling for other people’s needs!"
(In another life, Henri would have made a pretty-good careers adviser.)

"Mais Henri, do other people have needs?"

"Oui! We must show care and respect for other people - a sense of attachment to others, a respect for their humanity, a valuing of their rights....".

"...Oh! you mean fraternité!"

"Well, I was trying to avoid chauvinistic language; but - if you can think of women as brothers - yes, fraternité!"

The demands are re-drafted..
"What do we want?

"A society based on a thoughtful analysis of social conditions, which show that there is no worthwhile freedom - or possibility of sustainable choice - without justice; and there can be no defensible justice without some sense - on the part of each of us - of attachment to others; and this means offering due respect to other people’s rights, feelings and property!"

"When do we want it?"


That was, of course, the academic peasants’ shout. By the time they reached The Bastille, normal Gauls had got it down to a stylish three-word phrase. And it was not "liberté! liberté! et liberté!".


Is there something here for careers work and citizenship? Well, if you think that there are not, in this work, issues for access and attachment - as well as choice - you have simply not being paying attention. To acknowledge this is not to make things complicated, it is to face up to the complexity that has always been there. And it is particularly there in the lives of les sans culottes - or, as we Brits refer to them, ‘the excluded’.



Reprinted, with permission, from the Journal of The National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling

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