Subject of Previous Essay Competitions

  • 2011-2012: “Si vous désirez la sympathie des masses, vous devez leur dire les choses les plus stupides et les plus crues.” (Adolf Hitler) – La connaissance du passé permet-elle d’éviter la répétition de la violence et des crimes?

  • 2010-2011: À votre avis, pour quelle(s) raison(s) des extrémismes montent-ils en puissance en Europe?

  • 2009-2010: How do you conceive your role as a citizen, with the rights and duties it entails?

  • 2008-2009: "Yes we can" (Barack Obama)

  • 2007-2008: "What constitutes a nation is not speaking the same language or belonging to a shared ethnographic group, but having done great things together in the past and wanting to do so again in the future" (Ernest Renan (1823-1892))

  • 2006-2007: You have just taken part for the first time in democratic elections, or will soon be called on to do so.  Voting at elections in Belgium is both a right and a compulsory duty.  What do you think about that? Does the obligation infringe your freedom?

  • 2005-2006: Is public opinion manufactured by the media, or do the media simply reflect public opinion?

  • 2004-2005: "The Nazi period was proof that people can be cultivated without being civilized" (a quotation from Ernest Vinurel’s book Rive de cendre)

  • 2003-2004: "Mercy which compromises with tyranny is barbarous" (Robespierre - Speech on the judgment of Louis XVI, given before the Convention on December 28, 1792)

  • 2002-2003: "Men put up too many walls and don’t build enough bridges" (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

  • 2001-2002: Are wars provoked for political, economic, social, cultural, religious or other reasons?

  • 2000-2001: "Tolerance is weakness, not strength" (Günther Grass)

  • 1999-2000: Socio-economic inequalities do more to create forms of exclusion than the ways of life linked to ethnic or philosophical differences.

  • 1998-1999: The policy of exclusion is bound to lead to infamy, because it denies the other’s status as a human being.  That being so, how do you conceive your role as a citizen?

  • 1997-1998: Our society is again caught up in a whirlwind of violence.  Are we moving toward a dual society?  Is there an ideal society to which you would be prepared to commit yourself?

  • 1996-1997: How do you envisage the future of this country?
    • How do you think that the rights and duties of citizens should be conceived?
    • What do you think of certain recent calls which could lead to anonymous denunciations?
    • Do those calls encourage you to make comparisons with Nazism and other totalitarian systems?

  • 1995-1996: Are the humanist traditions of justice and equality and their most recent achievements in the process of disappearing? Three factors are combining to make them disappear:
    • 1) The invasion of ways of living and communicating and of economic models which make money and the power money gives the goal of life.
    • 2) The emergence of all kinds of fundamentalism and fanaticism.
    • 3) Uncontrolled chaos in the destabilized Eastern countries, where capital and competitiveness are taking root and the human being is forgotten.
  • What do these factors suggest to you? What spirit of resistance should inspire us, and what types of solidarity should we build to resist those factors?

  • 1994-1995: "No freedom for the enemies of freedom" (Saint-Just)

  • 1993-1994: Reflections on violence

  • 1992-1993: What is man?

  • 1991-1992: Freedom through nationalism? The year 2000: where are we going? What do you want?

  • 1990-1991: Public-spiritedness

  • 1989-1990: Democracy: what has become of our human rights?

  • 1988-1989: "The right to judgment" (according to Spinoza)

  • 1987-1988:
    • 1° What to think about the crucial problem of preserving historical memory?
    • 2° Responsibility does not mean subjecting man to the obligation to reply.
    • 3° A threshold of tolerance for accepting the other’s differences?

  • 1986-1987: Recent history and totalitarianism

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