“What remains of a just”, the tribute of François Sureau to Jean-Denis Bredin

Those who did not astonish the world by their exploits, nor tired the other consciences by the noisy exposure of theirs, and of which we nevertheless felt, when they were there among us, all the importance, what do we remember? really of their passage? Jean-Denis Bredin left with this discretion, this politeness which seem to condemn a world which was no longer quite his. There was, moreover, he had confided in it, never lived completely happy. At the Bar, many were those who spoke of him saying ” Jean-Denis », While we have never called Badinter other than by his last name. It was not only the effect of the well-known desire to appear closer than is to a prominent figure. To say ” Jean-Denis “, In Anglo-Saxon, it was familiarly evoking reserve and freedom, when to say” Badinter », In the French fashion of yesteryear, it was to bring out the Republic and its transcendences. There was also involved in it a je ne sais quoi of protector with regard to the most intelligent, the best of us, but whom we knew to be inhabited by doubt. ” In the end everything is sorted out, said Cocteau, except the difficulty of being, which does not get better “.

An anti-Chateaubriand

If he left great books, both erudite and removed, for us there remain fragments of man, through which we break into his past, approaching by touches of an elusive reality. When he talks about him, Bredin is an anti-Chateaubriand: not the man who even before turning forty decided to devote thousands of pages to recreating his life, but the one who hardly dares, as in the ‘amazing Too well bred, open the door of a detail. Was it a detail? It was quite the opposite, and the only remaining mystery, that of destinies.

Jean-Denis Bredin, lawyer engaged against injustice

These scraps of memory, coming from him and clinging to our mourning clothes, are infinitely precious to us today. Not only his personal peculiarities, but above all what he was deeply attached to. What goes with Jean-Denis Bredin, many of us want to hope that it is not forever. For method, civility, nuance, the habit of thinking against oneself; for substance, the love of freedom which must remain the rule while we can see that it is becoming the exception, confidence in man, a discreet, stubborn resistance to the requisitions of powers and horror of injustice. He did not deceive himself on the size of the establishment, on the very institutions, showing Mendes to Riom, ” tried for patriotism “. He showed incomparably, in ” a court at attention ” politicians, men of action, prey to forces which threaten them in their flesh, in their spirit, so that they find themselves, within the space of injustice, governed like the others. To see the play of institutions on the side of those that the machine can crush, perhaps this is what we call being a man of the left, after all. Already removed from the practice of law, he took up his pen again to castigate the frightening security retention by which our legislator made it possible to keep a convict in prison after the expiration of his sentence. He wrote about it then with sorrow carried by the style more overwhelming than big words for those who had decided these infamies.

“That left has vanished before our eyes”

He saw the essential behind the figures from which everything separated him, like this Caillaux with a monocle, flamboyant and bragging, which inspired his greatest book. Like him, for a while, Bredin was radical. It was not to join the party of arrangements, but to want to reconcile individual freedom and social justice. This left has vanished before our eyes, as if swallowed up by the moloch of police repression on the one hand, “societal” demands on the other. This mendesist will have seen the disappearance of representative democracy, this lawyer the presumption of innocence, this great jurist the very spirit of our laws. I do not believe, however, that he died in despair. At the end of the magnificent book he wrote on Bernard Lazare, the defender of Dreyfus, he showed him exposed to the silence of oblivion, but convinced of having accomplished himself by listening to his conscience, ” the supreme jurisdiction, the only one ”, said Péguy.

“Neither anarchist nor prophet, simply a righteous”

Unlike Bernard Lazare, Jean-Denis Bredin was neither an anarchist nor a prophet, simply a righteous person. He had learned to love, as he had written while praising Marguerite Yourcenar, “ all freedom, all light, even received from suffering ”. He had often wondered if he had not received from another mysterious this love, and, and with this love, the courage to ask God to account for misfortune, foolishness and death. He had dismantled the comedy of appearances. Pronouncing the customary discourse on virtue, he had said, in remembrance of the ” Case “:” I am the Truth, terrible and superb, which does not tolerate any shadow. I am the perfect innocence and who points out all the culprits “. Coming from a people who were also his, this innocence was embodied two thousand years ago in Palestine, but in this incarnation he could not believe. ” I would have liked to meet you », He writes in his« Letter to God the Son “. ” We will not stop looking for you until death, until the day when, perhaps, you will finally explain to us why you never wanted to talk to us “. That day has come, and our sadness trembles for it with hope.


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