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The French Republic. An invaluable reference work on the the history and meaning of Republicanism in France.
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Speakers deviate in both directions, with some showing anomalously high tendencies to break with past patterns and others showing similarly strong tendencies to preserve them.

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High-novelty speakers are overwhelmingly associated with the left wing and the bourgeoisie, while all of our right-wing speakers, and the vast majority of nobility, are low-novelty. The order in which speakers joined a debate appears to be driving some, but not all, of these effects SI Appendix. While more than half of the top 40 orators show surprisingly high or low novelty, fewer are distinguished by their resonance. The latter were, however, among the key players of the Revolution. They break the system-level novelty bias and are notable not only for keeping the conversation on track low novelty but for speaking in ways that persist forward high resonance.

Committees were a key NCA innovation, allowing the system to manage vast amounts of information without overwhelming legislative debate.

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Committees in the NCA did not appear overnight. Following ref. The two-epoch model is preferred to a single-epoch model, as well as to a linear secular shift model under AIC.

Universalist politics and its crises | Eurozine

Our maximum likelihood change-point in the nature of committee functions occurs in late ; the modal best fit date across all scales is October 31, Allowing the intercepts of the new-item and in-debate speeches, as well as their slopes, to vary produces nearly identical results. In the first epoch, the resonance of new items was indistinguishable from speeches of similar novelty in the system as a whole. However, speech received a resonance bonus when delivered by a committee member as part of a debate.

In other words, committee representatives injected new information in a fashion similar to other delegates new-item speech but had privileged abilities in guiding the subsequent debate in-debate speech. Information-processing functions of NCA committees before first column and after second column the late change-point.

Bottom Scatter plots and fit lines at scale 27 for these speech types, compared with all other speeches. The pattern is different in the second epoch, where new-item speech has anomalously low resonance at high novelty. The turbulent months at the beginning of the French Revolution led to a durable transformation in the very nature of European government Our study of the elite debates at the center of these events focuses on pattern transmission as a proxy for the differential propagation of the ideas these patterns may communicate. This provides an alternate perspective to qualitative analyses, which usually focus on analyzing the logic of particular ideas and arguments over time 17 , Our analysis reveals clear differences between how the left- and right-wing figures created and transmitted patterns of language use.

Indeed, the spatial metaphor of left and right is itself misleading: from the point of view of the debates themselves, the right wing appears as an inertial center, holding off conversation drift, while left-wing speakers produce a wide spectrum of innovations on a much larger periphery, only some of which survive.

These roles become visible without reference to the ideas that are propagated: Robespierre emerges as a high-novelty, high-resonance speaker even before we consider the content of the speeches that made him an icon of revolutionary politics. We also find an emergent distinction between orators and institutional players.

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  • Yet not every ambitious delegate could take this road. While the NCA provided a place for rhetorical masters to thrive, in other words, it also ended up producing a second class of delegate who concentrated on committee work.

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    Deliberating outside the parliament room, committees contributed specialized knowledge and abilities and became indispensable workhorses for the emerging government The information-processing functions that committees took on distinguish them clearly from other forms of speech, while Fig. Both individuals and institutions, in other words, mattered, playing distinct roles in the development of the parliament over time. Yet the private nature of these committees was in dramatic contrast to the public debates in the hall itself—their increasing influence a testimony to the emergent distinction between the spectacle of democracy and the actual ways it functioned in a body and polity too large for direct participation.

    The dramatic and early appearance of a specialized information-processing role for committees foreshadows their appearance in modern democracies, where they emerge endogenously 20 to serve as essential information-management systems The power of these committees continued to grow. While early committees were devoted to technical matters such as monetary and fiscal policy, they were also instrumental to key developments such as the dismantling of feudal and religious privileges. The history of human culture is more than just the rise and fall of particular ideas.

    It is also the emergence of new information-processing mechanisms and media, and roles that individuals and institutions play in creating and propagating these ideas through time. In the language of biological evolution, we must understand not only the characteristics for which an environment selects but the strength of that selection over time and the shifting and heterogeneous nature of the transmission mechanisms.

    By quantifying the flow of word patterns between times and speakers, we see not just the traces of a conscious battle of ideas but also—more important and more clearly—the contours of a new rhetorical space. This latter was neither intentionally produced, nor was it the exclusive property of any one political group.

    New word patterns from the left resonated, but so too did old ones from the right.

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    Political actors did not just take different ideological positions, but played different roles in the propagation of patterns. And together, in both cooperation and competition, they invented new mechanisms for the collective management of information. The AP is the definitive source for parliamentary transcripts of the Revolution, reconstructed from primary sources including transcripts, minutes, and newspaper reports.

    After stop-word removal, speeches are represented as count vectors over a vocabulary of 10, most common words. The resulting corpus contains 4,, words in 44, speeches. See SI Appendix for details on corpus preparation. All of the delegates to the Assembly, and all of the speakers in our data, were male. We use latent Dirichlet allocation LDA 2 to quantify the semantic content of speeches. Many map remarkably well to the semantics of the speeches themselves.

    In addition to identifying subject matter content topics in the ordinary sense, such as discussion of the church, finance, or corruption , they are also sensitive to rhetorical moves e. Having decomposed speeches into topics, we can then track the ways in which these topic combinations deviate from those in previous speeches novelty and are discarded or not by speeches that follow transience.

    Averaging this measure further backward in the debate allows us to see longer trends beyond the back-and-forth of a single exchange,. Any speech can break abruptly from its past, but the new patterns it introduces may not persist. Consider an interjection that other speakers ignore to return to the matter at hand. It would be surprising given the past but equally surprising in comparison with the future.

    In contrast, a rhetorically effective interjection would move the conversation in a new direction that of its own rhetoric. This shift would appear as a surprise asymmetry around the interjection. Novel speeches, which also influence future discourse, are pivot points in conversation.


    The authors declare no conflict of interest. This article contains supporting information online at www. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Published online Apr Alexander T.

    Barron , a Jenny Huang , a, b Rebecca L. Spang , c and Simon DeDeo b, d, 1. Rebecca L. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Email: ude. Edited by Danielle S. But I think you cannot simply dismiss this return of Republicanism as an empty signifier because it is important and significant that this was the symbol and the language that both camps the Left and the Right turned to. It shows us, with particular clarity, what the real stakes of gay marriage were: a fight for the definition of the nation.

    Yet the limits of this concept on the Left, however, have become really apparent over the past year, during which the Socialist government has had to deal with the Charlie Hebdo events, and later the November terrorist attacks as well. CR: There is a lot to say about the Charlie Hebdo events but one of the things that I found really interesting was the absence of any discussion of race in France in this context.

    Universalist politics and its crises

    CR: Exactly, at the least by the self-declared Left. In France, however, there is still a lot of resistance to this and a fear that if you name race, you will somehow undermine the principles of abstract universalism and equality. This question seems to me unanswerable without an understanding of race. So, no, it is not the same thing to make fun of Catholics, Jews and Muslims, given the fundamental power differential among these three groups.

    This was never innocent: not in the past, not today. In any case, in parallel to these conversations regarding the content of Charlie Hebdo , the press and many French political leaders were treating the perpetrators as foreign: when had they travelled to Yemen? Had they travelled to Syria?

    Where were they radicalized? Which foreign imam did they listen to? This is not a way to excuse them but to try to understand how this horrible event could have happened. There has been a lot of really important work in the social sciences that deplores the state of prisons, schools, housing in France and that basically shows how these are deeply-rooted structural, systemic problems. More and more, the failures of this Republican model of integration are becoming apparent. CR: A republican empire. And if you adopt this framework of thought, then everything shifts.