PERSONAL: Male. Education: M.Phil.; Oxford University, D.Phil.
ADDRESSES: Office—Balliol College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3BJ, England. E-mail—sudhir. [email protected]
CAREER: Fellow and tutor in politics, Balliol College, Oxford, England.
Intellectuals and the French Communist Party: Disillusion and Decline, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1991.
Political Traditions in Modern France, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1994.
From Subject to Citizen: The Second Empire and theEmergence of Modern French Democracy, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1998.
Intellectual Founders of the Republic: Five Studies inNineteenth-Century French Republican Political Thought, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor) The Jacobin Legacy in Modern France: Essays in Honour of Vincent Wright, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: A fellow and tutor in politics in the philosophy, politics, and economics program at Balliol College, Oxford, Sudhir Hazareesingh has produced several penetrating works on the political culture of France. His first, Intellectuals and the French Communist Party, published in 1991, outlines the decline of the French Communist Party (PCF), beginning in the mid-1970s. According to Hazareesingh, some of the reasons for the breakdown of the party include the increasing ineffectiveness of the party's organization, the difficulty of functioning within a liberal democracy, and the arrogance of French Communist intellectuals who could not live up to their self-proclaimed slogan of "workerism."
Jack Hayward in the Times Literary Supplement, said that Hazareesingh writes "stylishly and by means of penetrating example" about the persistently self-assured attitude of communist intellectuals even as their party went into "irreversible disintegration." Hayward noted that the French Catholic Church, the other "great authoritarian sub-culture" has also lost its hold on its followers, and wondered what would fill the "intellectual void" left by the decline of both Communism and Catholicism. According to Hayward, Hazareesingh is a "worthy obituarist" of the Communist cause and "has cleared the ground of the nonagenda."
Hazareesingh's second book, Political Culture in Modern France, is a more general study of French political history. Here the author asserts that "history exercised a vital influence in shaping the structure of political argument"; he spends a great deal of time describing the many instances of compromise and negotiation in France's political culture. Hazareesingh also notes that there are significant aspects of continuity between the various political regimes he outlines. According to James F. McMillan in the Times Literary Supplement, Hazareesingh assumes the conventional idea that ideology has been very important in French politics; McMillan felt, however, that Hazareesingh "does not always convey the powerful hatreds and antagonisms which characterized the political traditions in question."
McMillan complimented the author's handling of the history of the French Communist Party, which Hazareesingh contends in Political Culture in Modern France has become "a retirement home for old men and women." McMillan also found "useful" the chapters on socialism, the Etatiste tradition, and Gaullism. McMillan, however, found errors and omissions in Hazareesingh's chapters on clericalism and social Catholicism, and felt that the author should not have omitted mention of feminism and regionalism as significant political forces. Still, said McMillan, this book "should help to illuminate some of the specifics of French political culture and stimulate further interest."
In the Journal of Modern History, David L. Schalk commented that Political Traditions in Modern France could have benefited from a more astute editor. He felt, for example, that the second chapter, "The Political Role of Intellectuals," is out of place and that the repetition of "stock phrases as mnemonic devices" should have been omitted. Schalk also noted that the ordering of chapters does not seem logical and wondered why Hazareesingh ends only with an account of the decline of French Communism and not with an overview of the subjects he has discussed in the book. Schalk did compliment Hazareesingh, however, on his handling of subjects like the Republican tradition, the National Front, and French fascism. Schalk called the book "richly detailed, lucidly and often wittily written, clearly argued, and superbly documented."
In 1998 Hazareesingh published From Subject to Citizen: The Second Empire and the Emergence of Modern French Democracy. This book offers a reevaluation of the importance of the period of the Second Empire under Napoleon III that began following a coup d'etat against the radical republican government and resulted in the development of French democracy. An overview of the intellectual ferment that characterized this transitional period, From Subject to Citizen examines the written record of political debates among such groups as Bonapartists, republicans, liberals, Jacobins, and moderates. Hazareesingh argues that the various debates of this contentious era allowed Frenchmen to sort out what would finally emerge as the doctrines of individual liberty, democracy, and civic responsibility.
From Subject to Citizen is, on one level, an examination of the interchange between the central state and local politics. Eugen Weber, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, called the book a "useful corrective" to the common historical interpretation that the Second Empire was only an "unfortunate hiccup" between two revolutions. Weber, however, felt that Hazareesingh relies too heavily on the intellectual records, to the exclusion of other factors such as "mass awareness, perceptions, [and] participation." Weber also noted that Hazareesingh writes too much as if "France" were a single entity going "beyond geographical and formal definitions. . . . A word about local liberties would be wise to show some sensitivity to local context," the critic asserted. On the other hand, even if the author dwelled too much on the thoughts of intellectual elites, Weber added that "[Debates do] suggest, facilitate, legitimate and, as such, deserve to be remembered."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, October, 1999, James R. Lehning, review of From Subject to Citizen: TheSecond Empire and the Emergence of Modern French Democracy, p. 1390.
Choice, February 1995, pp. 1000-1001.
English Historical Review, April, 1999, D. R. Watson, review of From Subject to Citizen, p. 475.
History: The Journal of the Historical Association, January, 2000, Roger Price, review of From Subject to Citizen, p. 180.
Journal of Modern History, June, 1996, pp. 470-471; June, 2000, Stephanie Gerson, review of From Subject to Citizen, p. 539.
Social History, October, 1999, Michael Hanagan, review of From Subject to Citizen, p. 325.
Times Literary Supplement, July 17, 1992, p. 27; June 26, 1995; March 19, 1999, p. 27; March 15, 2002, James F. McMillan, "The Empire the French fFrget: New Views of Napoleon III," p. 6.*