Liberalism and the State

  • Christian Roy


In English translation (1964), Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Society framed the definition of its topic in North America and elsewhere, expressing a key insight that remained marginal in France, where it first arose in the 1930s in a Southwestern faction of the Personalist movement led by Ellul’s lesser-known mentor Bernard Charbonneau, pioneer of the Green movement. Ellul’s analysis was taken up by political philosopher George Parkin Grant, buttressing his defense of Canadian nationhood against US hegemony as the vortex of technology’s drive toward a “universal homogeneous State”(Kojève/Strauss). Grant was first noticed in France in a review of his Technology and Empire (1969) by Daniel Cérézuelle, founder of the Société pour la Philosophie de la Technique as a second-generation member of the Bordeaux School. Beyond such cross-fertilization, some differences with Grant remain about the role of the State, despite related understandings of liberalism as the matrix and chief vector of technology.