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This chapter discusses the performative character of France’s liberation from German occupation. It analyzes writings by Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Albert Camus expressive of their hopes for transforming the French state into a socialist workers’ democracy after the war. It also discusses Camus, Simone Weil, and Hannah Arendt on the possibility of transforming empires into democratic federations, as well as the prospects for transforming the United Nations into a true international democracy or union of peoples. The chapter offers a critical genealogy of the concept of self-determination, using the writings of Kant, Mazzini, Marx, and Proudhon to argue against the idea that there exists a necessary relationship between territorial sovereignty and political self-determination. It pays special attention to Kant’s and Proudhon’s reflections on federalism as a way to organize postnational democracy or democracy on a global scale. The chapter offers a critical analysis of the territorialist assumptions underlying the interstate systems created by the League of Nations and United Nations systems. It also suggests that after the war France itself was a not quite sovereign state with a precarious hold on its colonial territories, especially Indochina.

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