Study Notes

Charles Maurras (1868−1952)

A Level
AQA, Edexcel, IB

Charles Maurras was a nationalist on the right of the political spectrum and is mainly associated with the concept of integral nationalism.

According to Maurras, “a true nationalist places his country above everything.” Nationalism thereby transcends sectional interests championed by rationalist ideologies such as liberalism and socialism. As a monarchist and a leading counter-revolutionary, his philosophy was a mix of pragmatism and nationalist ideas.

Integral nationalism is closely linked towards those countries that adopt a strong military ethos during their struggle for independence. Once that goal is achieved, it is believed that a firm military presence is needed to ensure the viability of the new state. Integral states are authoritarian in character and marked out by collectivism, statism and militarism. Not surprisingly, Maurras anticipated many of the tenants that later become fascism. It is here that one can make a stark contrast with the liberal nationalism of figures such as John Stuart Mill and the Risorgimento nationalism of Italian theorists like Mazzini.

Charles Maurras firmly believed in the virtues of firm government and social order. As such, he was an ardent supporter of the monarchy and the Catholic Church within French society. His style of nationalism entailed a rejection of those liberal-democratic principles which he believed were contrary to natural inequality within society. According to him, the whole Enlightenment project had led to individuals placing a higher value upon themselves than the nation as a whole. Despite what its supporters claim, democracy and liberalism have a negative impact upon both the individual and wider society. After the destruction and chaos of the French revolution, society should thereby return to a hereditary monarchy. Charles Maurras therefore offered a counter-argument to the ideas first put forward by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and those revolutionaries who sought to implement those ideas.

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