143. Local self-administration
For the family, the life of the commune (municipality) 1 is a benevolent framework, a help and protection. The major part of administering the people’s everyday life must fall to the municipality. Nevertheless, for this to be so, it is necessary that the community should have an effective autonomy, a self-administering capacity, property and responsibility, and should not be permanently assisted and protected by the State and its administrative controls. It must also be free of any colonisation by the political parties, otherwise any local reform will be in vain.
Democracy has corrupted the life of the community through the politicisation of municipal elections : the peaceful parish of the Ancient Regime took on a parish-pump mentality, with its absurd quarrels falling under the thumb of the prefectural administration of the parties. Electoral one-upmanship has put municipalities in debt and thus subjected them still further to the state-controlled organisations of credit. Since there is a natural tendency in democracy to centralise power, the municipality has become the last of the administrative and bureaucratic rungs.
1. In a well-conceived ecology, the municipality enjoys the widest autonomy compatible with the general interest and order. It is better for the State to supervise rather than to administer directly these local municipalities which, composed of families, preserve something of the understanding and prudence that spontaneously rule within families. The municipality must therefore be kept on a human scale. In large megalopoles, it will be necessary to keep a local government on the neighbourhood or district level. The ideal is that they should administer themselves as so many little “ republics ” through their elected councillors and mayor, under the eye and protection of the regional administrative authorities and, if necessary, of the national authorities. Liberty, however, is not licence, and the sovereign authority will intervene vigorously in order to put an end to the abuses and disorders that lay hidden beneath the pretext of local freedoms.
2. The municipality will therefore fulfil its own tasks : in education, by the building and maintenance of schools, the appointment of teachers, and the supervision of the education of the young ; in municipal administration, by highway maintenance, public transport, social aid, hygiene services, leisure activities, hospitals and hospices, etc.; and finally, in justice and municipal policing, by acting within the prescribed limits of competence. Intermunicipal services will be fostered but they will be placed under the real authority of the representatives of the municipalities concerned.
3. The municipality will have its own resources : taxes, the base of which will be freely determined by each municipality, and revenues from municipal property. The budget will be controlled by the provincial public authority, especially loans in such a way that deficits remain exceptional. This requirement will leave small “ non-viable ” depopulated rural municipalities the choice between an economically desirable regrouping or a survival that is certainly more difficult, poorer, and more courageous, but, ecologically and humanly speaking, far preferable.
4. It is from communities that have been allowed to be themselves, depoliticised, pacified and revitalised, that we must expect the solution to so many irksome ideological questions, such as the “ school question ”. Once they are rid of political colonisation and the prefectural stranglehold, the municipalities will no longer know any class conflicts or religious wars and will once again become powerhouses of the communitarian life.
1) A “ commune ” : is a small administrative district (as one governed by a mayor and municipal council) usually in a European country. In France the “ commune ” is the smallest administrative subdivision, coming after the Region and the Department. We will use the term “ municipality ”.