Liberté, égalité, fraternité

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

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Liberté, égalité, fraternité, French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 for "Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

, equality
Social equality
Social equality is a social state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in a certain respect. At the very least, social equality includes equal rights under the law, such as security, voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, and the...

, fraternity
A fraternity is a brotherhood, though the term usually connotes a distinct or formal organization. An organization referred to as a fraternity may be a:*Secret society*Chivalric order*Benefit society*Friendly society*Social club*Trade union...

 (brotherhood)", is the national motto
A motto is a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization. A motto may be in any language, but Latin is the most used. The local language is usual in the mottoes of governments...

 of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and is a typical example of a tripartite motto. Although it finds its origins in the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, it was then only one motto among others and was not institutionalized until the Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 at the end of the 19th century. Debates concerning the compatibility and order of the three terms began at the same time as the Revolution.

Origins during the French Revolution

Credit for the motto has traditionally been given to Antoine-François Momoro
Antoine-François Momoro
Antoine-François Momoro was a French printer, bookseller and politician during the French Revolution. An important figure in the Cordeliers club and in Hébertisme, he is the originator of the phrase Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, the motto of the French Republic.-Life:-"First Printer of...

 (1756–1794), a Parisian printer and Hébertist
The Hébertists were an ultra-revolutionary political faction associated with the populist journalist Jacques Hébert. They came to power during the Reign of Terror and played a significant role in the French Revolution....

 organizer. In 1839, the philosopher Pierre Leroux
Pierre Leroux
Pierre Henri Leroux , French philosopher and political economist, was born at Bercy, now a part of Paris, the son of an artisan.- Life :...

 claimed it had been an anonymous and popular creation. The historian Mona Ozouf underlines that, although Liberté and Égalité were associated as a motto during the 18th century, Fraternité wasn't always included in it, and other terms, such as Amitié (Friendship), Charité (Charity) or Union were often added in its place. The emphasis on Fraternité during the French Revolution led Olympe de Gouges
Olympe de Gouges
Olympe de Gouges , born Marie Gouze, was a French playwright and political activist whose feminist and abolitionist writings reached a large audience....

 to write the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen , also known as the Declaration of the Rights of Woman, was written in 1791 by French activist and playwright Olympe de Gouges...

 as a response. The tripartite motto was neither a creative collection, nor really institutionalized by the French Revolution. As soon as 1789, other terms were used, such as "la Nation, la Loi, le Roi" (The Nation, The Law, The King), or "Union, Force, Vertu" (Union, Strength, Virtue), a slogan used beforehand by masonic lodges
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

, or "Force, Égalité, Justice" (Strength, Equality, Justice), "Liberté, Sûreté, Propriété" (Liberty, Security, Property), etc. In other words, Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité was only one slogan among many others. During the Jacobin
Jacobin Club
The Jacobin Club was the most famous and influential political club in the development of the French Revolution, so-named because of the Dominican convent where they met, located in the Rue St. Jacques , Paris. The club originated as the Club Benthorn, formed at Versailles from a group of Breton...

 revolutionary period itself, various mottos were used, such as Liberté, Unité, Égalité; Liberté, Égalité, Justice; Liberté, Raison, Égalité (Liberty, Reason, Equality), etc. The only solid association was that of Liberté and Égalité, Fraternité being ignored by the Cahiers de doléances
Cahiers de doléances
The Cahiers de Doléances were the lists of grievances drawn up by each of the three Estates in France, between March and April 1789, the year in which the French Revolution began...

as well as by the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a fundamental document of the French Revolution, defining the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid...

. It was only alluded to in the 1791 Constitution, as well as in Robespierre's draft Declaration of 1793, placed under the invocation of (in that order) Égalité, Liberté, Sûreté and Propriété (Equality, Liberty, Safety, Property), as the possibility of a universal extension of the Declaration of Rights: "Men of all countries are brothers, he who oppresses one nation declares himself the enemy of all." Finally, it did not figure in the August 1793 Declaration.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a fundamental document of the French Revolution, defining the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid...

 of 1789 defined Liberty in Article 4 as follows:
"Liberty consists of being able to do anything that does not harm others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every man or woman has no bounds other than those that guarantee other members of society the enjoyment of these same rights."

Equality, on the other hand, was defined by the 1789 Declaration as judicial equality (art. 6):
The law "must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in its eyes, shall be equally eligible to all high offices, public positions and employments, according to their ability, and without other distinction than that of their virtues and talents."

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité actually finds its origins in a May 1791 proposition by the Club des Cordeliers
The Cordeliers, also known as the Club of the Cordeliers, Cordeliers Club, or Club des Cordeliers and formally as the Society of the Friends of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen , was a populist club during the French Revolution.-History:The club had its origins in the Cordeliers district, a...

, following a speech on the Army by the marquis de Guichardin. A British marine held prisoner on the French ship Le Marat in 1794 wrote home in letters published in 1796
The republican spirit is inculcated not in songs only, for in every part of the ship I find emblems purposely displayed to awaken it. All the orders relating to the discipline of the crew are hung up, and prefaced by the words Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, ou la Mort, written in capital letters.

The compatibility of Liberté and Égalité was not doubted about in the first days of the Revolution, and the problem of the antecedence of one term on the other not lifted. Thus, the abbé Sieyes considered that only liberty insured equality, unless the latter was to be the equality of all dominated by a despot; while liberty followed equality insured by rule of law. The abstract generality of law (theorized by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

 in the Social Contract
Social Contract (Rousseau)
Of The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is the book in which Rousseau theorized about the best way in which to set up a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society which he had already identified in his Discourse on Inequality...

) thus insured the identification of liberty to equality, liberty being negatively defined as an independence from arbitrary rule, and equality considered abstractly in its judicial form.

This identification of liberty and equality became problematic during the Jacobin period, when equality was redefined (for instance by Babeuf
François-Noël Babeuf
François-Noël Babeuf , known as Gracchus Babeuf , was a French political agitator and journalist of the Revolutionary period...

) as equality of results, and not only judicial equality of rights. Thus, Baudot considered that French temperament inclined rather to equality than liberty, a theme which would be re-used by Pierre Louis Roederer
Pierre Louis Roederer
Comte Pierre Louis Roederer was a French politician, economist, and historian, politically active in the era of the French Revolution and First French Republic...

 and Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution . In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in...

, while Necker
Jacques Necker
Jacques Necker was a French statesman of Swiss birth and finance minister of Louis XVI, a post he held in the lead-up to the French Revolution in 1789.-Early life:...

 considered that an equal society could only be found on coercion.

The third term, Fraternité, was the most problematic to insert in the triad, as it belonged to another sphere, that of moral obligations rather than rights, links rather than statutes, harmony rather than contract, and community rather than individuality. Various interpretations of Fraternité existed. The first one, according to Mona Ozouf, was one of "fraternité de rébellion" (Fraternity of Rebellion), that is the union of the deputies in the Jeu de Paume Oath
Tennis Court Oath
The Tennis Court Oath was a pivotal event during the first days of the French Revolution. The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789...

of June 1789, refusing the dissolution ordered by the King Louis XVI: "We swear never to separate ourselves from the National Assembly
National Assembly
National Assembly is either a legislature, or the lower house of a bicameral legislature in some countries. The best known National Assembly, and the first legislature to be known by this title, was that established during the French Revolution in 1789, known as the Assemblée nationale...

, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the realm is drawn up and fixed upon solid foundations." Fraternity was thus issued from Liberty and oriented by a common cause.

Another form of Fraternité was that of the patriotic Church, which identified social link with religious link and based fraternity on Christian brotherhood. In this second sense, Fraternité preceded both Liberté and Égalité, instead of following them as in the first sense. Thus, two senses of Fraternity: "one, that followed liberty and equality, was the object of a free pact; the other preceded liberty and equality as the mark on its work of the divine craftsman." (Ozouf)

Another hesitation concerning the compatibility of the three terms arose from the opposition between liberty and equality as individualistic values, and fraternity as the realization of a happy community, devoided of any conflicts and opposed to any form of egoism. This fusional interpretation of Fraternity opposed it to the project of individual autonomy and manifested the precedence of Fraternity on individual will. In this sense, it was sometimes associated with Death, as in Fraternité, ou la Mort! (Fraternity or Death!), excluding Liberty and even Equality, by establishing a strong dichotomy between those who were brothers and those who were not (in the sense of "you are with me or against me", brother or foe). Louis de Saint-Just
Louis de Saint-Just
Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just , usually known as Saint-Just, was a military and political leader during the French Revolution. The youngest of the deputies elected to the National Convention in 1792, Saint-Just rose quickly in their ranks and became a major leader of the government of the French...

 thus stigmatized Anarchasis Cloots' cosmopolitanism
Cosmopolitanism is the ideology that all human ethnic groups belong to a single community based on a shared morality. This is contrasted with communitarian and particularistic theories, especially the ideas of patriotism and nationalism...

, declaring "Cloots liked the universe, except France."

With Thermidor
Thermidorian Reaction
The Thermidorian Reaction was a revolt in the French Revolution against the excesses of the Reign of Terror. It was triggered by a vote of the Committee of Public Safety to execute Maximilien Robespierre, Antoine Louis Léon de Saint-Just de Richebourg and several other leading members of the Terror...

 and the execution of Robespierre, Fraternité disappeared from the slogan, reduced to the two terms of Liberty and Equality, re-defined again as simple judicial equality and not as real equality upheld by the sentiment of fraternity. The First Consul (Napoleon Bonaparte) then established the motto Liberté, Ordre public (Liberty, Public Order).

19th century

Following Napoleon's rule, the triptych dissolved itself, as none believed possible to conciliate individual liberty and equality of rights with equality of results and fraternity. The idea of individual sovereignty and of natural rights possessed by man before being united in the collectivity contradicted the possibility of establishing a transparent and fraternal community. Liberals
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 accepted liberty and equality, defining the latter as equality of rights and ignoring fraternity. Early Socialists
Utopian socialism
Utopian socialism is a term used to define the first currents of modern socialist thought as exemplified by the work of Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, and Robert Owen which inspired Karl Marx and other early socialists and were looked on favorably...

 rejected an independent conception of liberty, opposed to the social, and also despised equality, as they considered, as Fourier
Charles Fourier
François Marie Charles Fourier was a French philosopher. An influential thinker, some of Fourier's social and moral views, held to be radical in his lifetime, have become main currents in modern society...

, that one had only to orchestrate individual discordances, to harmonize them, or they believed, as Saint-Simon
Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon
Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon, often referred to as Henri de Saint-Simon was a French early socialist theorist whose thought influenced the foundations of various 19th century philosophies; perhaps most notably Marxism, positivism and the discipline of sociology...

, that equality contradicted equity
Equity (economics)
Equity is the concept or idea of fairness in economics, particularly as to taxation or welfare economics. More specifically it may refer to equal life chances regardless of identity, to provide all citizens with a basic minimum of income/goods/services or to increase funds and commitment for...

 by a brutal levelling of individualities. Utopian Socialism thus only cared about Fraternity, which was, in Cabet
Étienne Cabet
Étienne Cabet was a French philosopher and utopian socialist. He was the founder of the Icarian movement and led a group of emigrants to found a new society in the United States.-Biography:...

's Icarie
The Icarians were a French utopian movement, founded by Étienne Cabet, who led his followers to America where they established a group of egalitarian communes during the period from 1848 through 1898.-European roots:Étienne Cabet was born in France in 1788...

 the sole commandment.

This opposition between liberals and socialists was mirrored in rival historical interpretations of the Revolution, liberals admiring 1789, and Socialists 1793. The July Revolution
July Revolution
The French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution or in French, saw the overthrow of King Charles X of France, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, who himself, after 18 precarious years on the throne, would in turn be overthrown...

 of 1830, establishing a constitutional monarchy headed by Louis-Philippe
Louis-Philippe of France
Louis Philippe I was King of the French from 1830 to 1848 in what was known as the July Monarchy. His father was a duke who supported the French Revolution but was nevertheless guillotined. Louis Philippe fled France as a young man and spent 21 years in exile, including considerable time in the...

, substituted Ordre et Liberté (Order and Liberty) to the Napoleonic motto Liberté, Ordre public. Despite this apparent disappearance of the triptych, the latter was still being thought in some underground circles, in Republican secret societies, masonic lodges such as the "Indivisible Trinity," far-left booklets or during the Canuts Revolt in Lyon. In 1834, the lawyer of the Société des droits de l'homme (Society of Human Rights), Dupont
Jacques-Charles Dupont de l'Eure
Jacques-Charles Dupont de l'Eure was a French lawyer and statesman.He is best known as the first head of state of the Second Republic, after the collapse of the July Monarchy.-Early career:...

, a liberal sitting in the far-left during the July Monarchy
July Monarchy
The July Monarchy , officially the Kingdom of France , was a period of liberal constitutional monarchy in France under King Louis-Philippe starting with the July Revolution of 1830 and ending with the Revolution of 1848...

, associated the three terms together in the Revue Républicaine which he edited:
"Any man aspires to liberty, to equality, but he can not achieve it without the assistance of other men, without fraternity

The triptych resurfaced during the 1847 Campagne des Banquets
Campagne des banquets
The Campagne des banquets were political meetings during the July Monarchy in France which destabilized the King of the French Louis-Philippe. The campaign officially took place from 9 July 1847 to 25 December 1847, but in fact continued until the February 1848 Revolution during which the Second...

, upheld for example in Lille
Lille is a city in northern France . It is the principal city of the Lille Métropole, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country behind those of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium...

 by Ledru-Rollin.

Two interpretations had attempted to conciliate the three terms, beyond the antagonism between liberals and socialists. One was upheld by Catholic traditionalists, such as Chateaubriand or Ballanche, the other by socialist and republicans such as Pierre Leroux
Pierre Leroux
Pierre Henri Leroux , French philosopher and political economist, was born at Bercy, now a part of Paris, the son of an artisan.- Life :...

. Chateaubriand thus gave a Christian interpretation of the revolutionary motto, stating in the 1841 conclusion to his Mémoires d'outre-tombe:
"Far from being at its term, the religion of the Liberator is now only just entering its third phase, the poilitical period, liberty, equality, fraternity

Neither Chateaubriand nor Ballanche considered the three terms to be antagonist. Rather, they took them for being the achievement of Christianity. On the other hand, Pierre Leroux did not disguise the difficulties of associating the three terms, but superated it by considering liberty as the aim, equality as the principle and fraternity as the means. Leroux thus ordered the motto as Liberty, Fraternity, Equality, an order also supported by Christian socialists
Christian socialism
Christian socialism generally refers to those on the Christian left whose politics are both Christian and socialist and who see these two philosophies as being interrelated. This category can include Liberation theology and the doctrine of the social gospel...

, such as Buchez. Against this new order of the triptych, Michelet supported the traditional order, maintaining the primordial importance of an original individualistic right. Michelet attempted to conciliate a rational communication with a fraternal communication, "right beyond right", and thus the rival traditions of Socialism and Liberalism. The Republican
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 tradition would strongly inspire itself from Michelet's synchretism.

1848 Revolution

With the 1848 February Revolution, the motto was officially adopted, mainly under the pressure of the people who had attempted to impose the red flag
Red flag
In politics, a red flag is a symbol of Socialism, or Communism, or sometimes left-wing politics in general. It has been associated with left-wing politics since the French Revolution. Socialists adopted the symbol during the Revolutions of 1848 and it became a symbol of communism as a result of its...

 over the tricolor flag
Flag of France
The national flag of France is a tricolour featuring three vertical bands coloured royal blue , white, and red...

 (the 1791 red flag was, however, the symbol of martial law and of order, not of insurrection). Lamartine opposed popular aspirations, and in exchange of the maintaining of the tricolor flag, conceded the Republican motto of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, written on the flag, on which a red rosette was also to be added.

Fraternity was then considered to resume and to contain both Liberty and Equality, being a form of civil religion (which, far from opposing itself to Christianism, was associated with it in 1848) establishing social link (as called for by Rousseau in the conclusion of the Social Contract).

However, Fraternity was not devoid of its previous sense of opposition between brothers and foes, images of blood haunting revolutionary Christian publications, taking in Lamennais' themes. Thus, the newspaper Le Christ républicain (The Republican Christ) developed the idea of the Christ bringing forth peace to the poor and war to the rich.

As soon as 6 January 1852, the future Napoleon III
Napoleon III of France
Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte was the President of the French Second Republic and as Napoleon III, the ruler of the Second French Empire. He was the nephew and heir of Napoleon I, christened as Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte...

, first President of the Republic, ordered all prefect to erase the triptych from all official documents and buildings, conflated with insurrection and disorder. Auguste Comte
Auguste Comte
Isidore Auguste Marie François Xavier Comte , better known as Auguste Comte , was a French philosopher, a founder of the discipline of sociology and of the doctrine of positivism...

 applauded Napoleon, claiming Equality to be the "symbol of metaphysical anarchism", and preferring to it his dyptich "Ordre et Progrès" (Order and Progress, which would then become the motto of Brazil, Ordem e Progresso). On the other hand, Proudhon criticized Fraternity as an empty word, which he associated with idealistic dreams of Romantism. He preferred to it the sole term of Liberty.

Paris Commune and Third Republic

Pache, mayor of the Paris Commune
Paris Commune
The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists had taken place, and it is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution...

, painted the formula “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, ou la mort” on the walls of the commune. It was only under the Third Republic
French Third Republic
The French Third Republic was the republican government of France from 1870, when the Second French Empire collapsed due to the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, to 1940, when France was overrun by Nazi Germany during World War II, resulting in the German and Italian occupations of France...

 that the motto was made official. It was then not dissociated with insurrection and revolutionary ardours, Opportunist Republicans
Opportunist Republicans
The Opportunist Republicans , also known as the Moderates , were a faction of French Republicans who believed, after the proclamation of the Third Republic in 1870, that the regime could only be consolidated by successive phases...

 such as Jules Ferry
Jules Ferry
Jules François Camille Ferry was a French statesman and republican. He was a promoter of laicism and colonial expansion.- Early life :Born in Saint-Dié, in the Vosges département, France, he studied law, and was called to the bar at Paris in 1854, but soon went into politics, contributing to...

 or Gambetta
Léon Gambetta
Léon Gambetta was a French statesman prominent after the Franco-Prussian War.-Youth and education:He is said to have inherited his vigour and eloquence from his father, a Genovese grocer who had married a Frenchwoman named Massabie. At the age of fifteen, Gambetta lost the sight of his right eye...

 adapting it to the new political conditions. Larousse
Pierre Larousse
Pierre Athanase Larousse was a French grammarian, lexicographer and encyclopaedist. He published many of the outstanding educational and reference works of 19th-century France, including the 15 volume Grand Dictionnaire universel du XIXe siècle.-Early life:Pierre Larousse was born in Toucy, where...

's Dictionnaire universel deprived Fraternity of its "evangelistic halo" (Mona Ozouf), conflating it with solidarity and the welfare role
Welfare state
A welfare state is a "concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those...

 of the state.

Some still opposed the Republican motto, such as the nationalist Charles Maurras
Charles Maurras
Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras was a French author, poet, and critic. He was a leader and principal thinker of Action Française, a political movement that was monarchist, anti-parliamentarist, and counter-revolutionary. Maurras' ideas greatly influenced National Catholicism and "nationalisme...

 in his Dictionnaire politique et critique, who claimed Liberty to be an empty dream, Equality an insanity, and only kept Fraternity. Charles Péguy
Charles Péguy
Charles Péguy was a noted French poet, essayist, and editor. His two main philosophies were socialism and nationalism, but by 1908 at the latest, after years of uneasy agnosticism, he had become a devout but non-practicing Roman Catholic.From that time, Catholicism strongly influenced his...

, renewing with Lamennais' thought, kept Fraternity and Liberty, excluding Equality, seen as an abstract repartition between individuals reduced to homogeneity, opposing "fraternity" as a sentiment put in motion by "misery", while equality only interested itself, according to him, to the mathematical solution of the problem of "poverty." Péguy identified Christian charity and Socialist solidarity in this conception of Fraternity. On the other hand, Georges Vacher de Lapouge
Georges Vacher de Lapouge
Georges Vacher de Lapouge was a French anthropologist and a theoretician of eugenics and racialism.- Biography :...

, the most important French author of pseudo-scientific racism
Scientific racism
Scientific racism is the use of scientific techniques and hypotheses to sanction the belief in racial superiority or racism.This is not the same as using scientific findings and the scientific method to investigate differences among the humans and argue that there are races...

 and supporter of eugenism, completely rejected the Republican triptych, adopting another motto, "Déterminisme, Inégalité, Sélection" (Determinism, Inequality, Selection). But, according to Ozouf, the sole use of a triptych was the sign of the influence of the Republican motto, despite it being corrupted in its opposite.

20th century

During the German occupation of France in World War II
German occupation of France in World War II
The Military Administration in France was an interim occupation authority established by Nazi Germany during World War II. It remained in existence from May 1940 to December 1944. As a result of the defeat of France and its Allies in the Battle of France, the French cabinet sought a cessation...

, this motto was replaced by the reactionary phrase "Travail, famille, patrie
Travail, famille, patrie
Travail, famille, patrie was the motto of the French State during World War II. It replaced the republican motto, Liberté, égalité, fraternité of the Third French Republic.-Institution:...

" (Work, family, fatherland) by Marshal Pétain
Philippe Pétain
Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain , generally known as Philippe Pétain or Marshal Pétain , was a French general who reached the distinction of Marshal of France, and was later Chief of State of Vichy France , from 1940 to 1944...

, who became the leader of the new Vichy
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 French government through a constitutional coup in 1940. Pétain had taken this motto from the colonel de la Rocque's Parti social français (PSF), although the latter considered it more appropriate for a movement than for a regime.

Following the Liberation, the Provisional Government of the French Republic
Provisional Government of the French Republic
The Provisional Government of the French Republic was an interim government which governed France from 1944 to 1946, following the fall of Vichy France and prior to the Fourth French Republic....

 (GPRF) re-established the Republican motto Liberté, égalité, fraternité, which is incorporated into both the 1946 and the 1958 French constitutions.

Other Nations

Many other nations have adopted the French slogan of "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity" as an ideal. These words appear in the preamble to the Constitution of India
Constitution of India
The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. It lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles, establishes the structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions, and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties of citizens...

, enforced in 1950. In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 the political party the Liberal Democrats
Liberal Democrats
The Liberal Democrats are a social liberal political party in the United Kingdom which supports constitutional and electoral reform, progressive taxation, wealth taxation, human rights laws, cultural liberalism, banking reform and civil liberties .The party was formed in 1988 by a merger of the...

 refer to "the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community" in the preamble of the party's Federal Constitution, and this is printed on party membership cards.

The idea of the slogan "Liberty, Equality, Frateinity" has also give an influence as natural law
Natural law
Natural law, or the law of nature , is any system of law which is purportedly determined by nature, and thus universal. Classically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. Natural law is contrasted with the positive law Natural...

 to the First Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

All human being are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are enbowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.



French coins have carried this motto since the beginning of the Twentieth century. Even with the introduction of the euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

 as the unified currency of the European Union, this motto continues to represent France on her currency.

At one point the motto was used to mark churches which were controlled by the state, rather than the Catholic Church.

Some former colonies of the French Republic (such as Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

, Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

, Niger
Niger , officially named the Republic of Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa, named after the Niger River. It borders Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east...

, and Gabon
Gabon , officially the Gabonese Republic is a state in west central Africa sharing borders with Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, and with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. The Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean is to the west...

) have adopted similar three-word mottos.

The motto used to appear on packs of Gauloises
Gauloises is a brand of cigarette of French manufacture. It is produced by the company Imperial Tobacco following their acquisition of Altadis in January 2008.- Cigarette :...


In astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

, this slogan is used to describe the three zodiac signs of the element of Air
Astrology and the classical elements
Astrology has used the concept of classical elements from antiquity up until the present. In Western astrology and Indian astrology four elements are used, namely Fire, Earth, Air and Water.-Western astrology:...

: Aquarius (freedom), Libra
Libra (astrology)
Libra is the seventh astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Libra. In astrology, Libra is considered a "masculine", positive sign. It is also considered an air sign and is one of four cardinal signs...

 (equality), and Gemini
Gemini (astrology)
Gemini is the third astrological sign in the Zodiac, which spans the Zodiac between the 60th and 89th degree of celestial longitude. Generally, the Sun transits this area of the zodiac between May 21 to June 20 each year...

 (brotherhood). The terms are also referred to in the film trilogy Three Colors
Three Colors
The Three Colours Trilogy is the collective title of three films – a trilogy – directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, two made in French and one primarily in Polish: Trois couleurs: Bleu , Trzy kolory: Biały , and Trois couleurs: Rouge...

 by Krzysztof Kieślowski
Krzysztof Kieslowski
Krzysztof Kieślowski was an Academy Award nominated influential Polish film director and screenwriter, known internationally for The Double Life of Veronique and his film cycles The Decalogue and Three Colors.-Early life:...


See also

  • Give me liberty or give me death
  • Life, liberty, and property
  • Brotherhood and unity
    Brotherhood and unity
    Brotherhood and Unity was a popular slogan of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia that was coined during the Yugoslav People's Liberation War , and which evolved into a guiding principle of Yugoslavia's post-war inter-ethnic policy....