Denis de Rougemont, l'avenir est notre affaire

Production : association Penser avec les mains (Neuchâtel) / 2006.

Conception : Roger Favre

Scénographie : Jean-Pierre Zaugg

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Denis de Rougemont, l'avenir est notre affaire

4/6/2007 - 6/7/2007

The exhibition entitled "L’Avenir est notre affaire" (the future is our business) proposed by the BNU from 4 June to 6 July 2007, produced by the association "Penser avec les mains", presents the life and works of the Swiss writer and essayist Denis de Rougemont (1906-1985).

Denis de Rougemont, who is still not well enough known as a writer and essayist, is one of the greatest intellectual figures of the twentieth century, from the Thirties to the Seventies. He was a pacifist, against liberalism, and denounced the damaging effects of overweening technological progress; he set out a number of avant-garde ecological theses. He was opposed to the militaro-industrial system, which he believed denatured the foundations of civil society with a view to mechanising it and enslaving it further.

He headed the Centre Européen de la Culture and in 1950 laid down the foundations for an organisation bringing together European scientists working on nuclear energy - CERN.

Denis de Rougemont left his mark on the century by the power of his thinking on Western civilisation and his commitment to a united Europe. He was a visionary, advocating the creation of a Europe of the regions with a modus operandi inspired by Switzerland's political structures.

From personalism to federalism, Denis de Rougemont - who died on 6 December 1985 - made combating all forms of totalitarianism the foundation for his commitment to a federalist project structured on the basis of the regions, a project he himself described as revolutionary.


1906: Denis de Rougemont born on 8 September 1906 in Couvet, canton of Neuchâtel (Switzerland).

1925-1930: Attended university in Neuchâtel, at the Faculty of Letters; awarded an arts degree (French, German, history, psychology, philosophy).

1930-1938: Moved to Paris as literary director of the "Je sers" publishing house, which went bankrupt three years later. In 1932, he took part in a meeting of young revolutionary groups in Frankfurt, then in the launch of two personalist groups and their journals, "Esprit" and "L'Ordre Nouveau". In 1934, he published "Politique de la Personne" and, in 1936, "Penser avec les Mains". In 1938, he started work on one of his major works, "L' Amour et l' Occident" (Love in the Western World).

1939: Mobilised in the Swiss army, where he founded the "Ligue du Gothard", a Swiss resistance group against victorious European fascism, and drafted his manifesto. After he had written a polemical article in the Lausanne "Gazette", he was sent to the United States at the end of August 1940, officially to give a number of lectures.

1946: Denis de Rougemont published "Lettres sur la bombe atomique" in New York after the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which deeply shocked him. He returned to Europe in April of the same year.

1947-1950: In August he delivered the inaugural speech at the first Congress of the Union of European Federalists in Montreux, which resulted in the Congress at The Hague in 1948. In 1950, he took part in the demonstrations in Berlin that were to give birth to the Congress for Cultural Freedom, of which he was subsequently president (1952-1966).

The 1970s: He contributed to the development of the ecologists' movement and became a founder member of the Bellerive Group, a think-tank on the orientations of the industrial society which carried out pioneering work on the dangers of nuclear applications.

6 December 1985: Death in Geneva.

Bibliographical selection

A few essential works by Denis de Rougemont:

  • Les Méfaits de l’Instruction publique (1929)
  • Penser avec les mains (1936)
  • La Part du diable (1942/44)
  • L’Amour et l’Occident (1939, revised in 1972) (translated in English as "Love in the Western World")
  • L’Europe en jeu (1948)
  • L’Avenir est notre affaire (1977)

To accompany the exhibition (on sale at the BNU):

Roger FAVRE. Qui a peur de Denis de Rougemont?
Editions G d’Encre, Le Locle (Switzerland), 2006.

For more information

Fondation Denis de Rougemont

Denis de Rougemont in Wikipedia

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