The Fifth Republic Must End

 

The presidential elections have come and gone in France. Legislative elections will come soon. I’ve made some dark remarks on events, but sparsely — I think it’s too early to talk about it in detail. Few now speaking seem to take the situation in France seriously enough. To me, it seems obvious that suffering and humiliations will multiply in France. I have seen much excellent coverage of the elections; I recommend John O’Sullivan in National Review. For people less concerned with the elections and more concerned with what’s happening in France, I recommend an essay by Chris Caldwell on French critics of the French governing classes. The best author to read is the wise Pierre Manent in a journal I recommend, American Affairs.

But our own @Claire Berlinski, whom I admire so much, said “Macron vanquished Le Pen.” The depth of futility in that statement — the desperate fantasy of that sentiment — the unbending silence it invokes — was too much for me. I decided to write against everything that stands for, what Manent calls “the fanaticism of the center.” I will warn of the coming disaster like the prophets did in previous ages.

The facts of the election

Let me begin in the American way, by stating the facts of the matter. Emmanuel Macron won some 20.7 million votes and defeated Marine Le Pen, who won 10.6 million. It was a 66-34 election. The LePen name, as well as the Front National party, are poisoned in France. To round out the voting, I’ll add that 4 million votes were blank or null. Add up the tallies, and that’s about 35.5 million votes total, or a turnout of 74.5%, in a country with a population of about 65 million.

Here’s what these numbers mean. First, turnout was remarkably low for France (6-10% below recent elections); a more conventional turnout would be around 80%. Further, turnout was lower than in the first round of balloting, which was 77.7%. This is unheard of in a generation at least. Wasted votes should be accounted for as well: There were less than a million wasted votes in the first round of balloting, at a higher turnout. There were more than four times more protest votes in the second round of balloting, making up 11.5% of the votes cast That lowers turnout significantly — and uniquely.

In 2012, there were only half that number (2.1 million) of protest votes. In 2002, when the previous Le Pen had to be exorcised from the body politic, only 1.7 million. A quarter of the electorate disliked the election, even more on the second round than the first. A ninth of the voting electorate couldn’t bring themselves to vote for either candidate. The party politics of the Fifth Republic is losing a significant part of its democratic consent.

Second, let’s talk about the Le Pen curse. Nobody in this world or the next believes that Macron could have won 66% of votes against anybody but a Le Pen. So let’s recall the previous Le Pen election in 2002. Back then Jean-Marie Le Pen, father of the current nightmare of all respectable people, won 4.8 million votes in the first round and 5.7 million in the second (going from 16.8% to 17.7%). His opponent, Jacques Chirac, went from 5.6 million to 25.5 million (going from 19.8% to 82.2%). Already you could see the fracture of the parties and the democratic incompetence of the oligarchic politicians of France. Nevertheless, that year, France rallied. Respectable people wanted to exorcise the specter of fascism. Turnout also leapt that year, from 71.6% to 79.7%. (Wasted votes that year were under a million in the first round, same as now — but they almost doubled in the second round then, whereas they more than quadrupled now.)

If you wanted to talk about vanquishing the far right, that was the moment to do it, not in 2017. If you wanted to gloat about how respectability outperformed the polls, that was the moment — not this. These days, comparatively, things are miserable. France cannot summon the numbers — people do not care. And there are twice as many voters willing to associate with the specter of fascism haunting France. They don’t care about the press or public opinion either. The Le Pen name has risen from the grave once and it might do it again.

Perhaps the respectable people believe they have duped democracy and things will be as they want them now, because Macron has been elected. This 30-something president, the youngest ever, does worst with French 30-somethings, where Mme. Le Pen won more than 40% of them. Old people love him or at least loathe her. How about the young? In the first round of balloting, the candidates running against the two major parties of France won a majority of the youth vote, although Le Pen has only won a third of them. There is reason to worry there, too. But the oligarchs of France may not care — perhaps the political collapse of the last 15 years means nothing to them. The failure of the parties and the party leaders, the failure of the presidents in both respectable parties, the failure of the electoral system in 2017 — the political system that produced Macron.

The last Paladin of the oligarchy

Perhaps people think this man is a new hope, but he is the dying gasp of the Fifth Republic. On Ricochet’s own GLoP podcast, some of the insanely funny guys were saying Macron is anti-establishment, or an outsider at any rate. You must understand that to be a hilariously funny remark. An irony. A witticism. The ugly truth, of course, is that he is a creature of the governing classes.

Having failed to make it into one of the prestigious schools of France, where the ruling classes learn how to be ruling classes, he made it into another one. That’s how he got to work for the government in a fairly prestigious administrative position, until his patrons got him a banking job — he left that to go back into government soon enough, but now a millionaire. Like in America, in France politics and finance meet at the top and the privileges a few insanely rich people bestow on each other are adorned with the self-righteousness of meritocracy. They are just better than people like you — they deserve their wealth because they shoulder the awesome responsibility of running the country while the likes of you get in the way.

Soon enough, he went back into politics, as his patrons acquired for him more prestige and then a job as an economics minister. Always, new and old patrons, businessmen and politicians and political advisors, made his way for him. None of his jobs ever lasted long because they didn’t matter in any sense except increasing prestige without involving much real work. He’s not trying to do anything, other than be the person in the position that will get him the next position. Never has he achieved anything even at the level of someone like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

We’re not talking about the ancient aristocracies that could promote young men of genius into positions of rule: Think about the indomitable opponent of Napoleon, the brilliant UK Tory William Pitt the Younger, Prime Minister at 24. Think about America’s own Founders — men making the greatest republic known to human history in their 20s and 30s. This no longer seems possible in our time.

The French case is merely a show of the ugly self-flattery of the very oligarchies that have failed France. They flatter themselves that by deceiving the democracy, they will save their unearned privileges, unaware of how they have become mutilated because of them. Macron constantly talks about the failures of the previous 30 years, never mentioning that he will not change them, much less that he himself has been made by the very people responsible for those failures at every institutional level. But in this youngish man the corruption of those institutions is revealed — they only serve to create the men the oligarchs want.

This goes far beyond the state and the financiers that hired him. This goes beyond the government. The press loved Macron, and almost nobody cared to think of the ugly truth about this shameful creature of the oligarchy. He has refused, to my knowledge, to say how he got the money to fund his new party. The party, such as it is, will be the socialist party among whose ranks he ascended so quickly. Nobody has succeeded as fast as him within the system — never has the press fawned over so unknown a man. Thus, France has elected as president an unknown man of no ability for governing and without a party, except whatever the old parties he supposedly opposes can offer him.

In a month, legislative elections will happen. In the foolishness that will follow, a mindless coalition government will form, with neither mandate nor hierarchy. Then the suffering will turn to humiliation for France and the humiliation to despair; the supposed new dawn will be merely a glimmer of dusk. There are dark days coming, and who among the respectable or those who believe the respectable will be able to say he acted in good faith?

Anti-semitism

Finally, let us condemn the respectable people out of their own mouths. We are told that the Front National is somehow haunted by fascism. They are for that reason intolerable. One does not know exactly what to believe. Do the respectable say on their moral authority that the people would taint themselves with blood by such a vote? Or that fascism would come to France with the FN? If the latter, then the institutions of the state are worthless. If the former, then the political parties are worthless.

Further, Mme. Le Pen has been humiliated publicly again for defending the official position of France until the last two decades or so: Blaming the Vichy government for anti-Semitic slaughters and the French participation in the Holocaust. That is a historical fiction — the French could not bear the thought of their crimes in the dawn of Liberation. The people hysterical about her statements and enthusiastic about her defeat apparently believe only other Frenchmen might bear the taint of fascism through Vichy. They themselves are pure souls — only the potential or actual FN voters could be evil.

But who has been governing France in these recent decades? Le Pen and her father and their crazy party? Or the respectable people? What life do Jews live in respectable France? The holy anti-fascists run a country from which many thousands of Jews flee every year. A country where vast majorities of Jewish children are kept out of public schools for their safety. A country where crimes against Jews are increasing and fortified synagogues adorned with French law-enforcement prepared for war no longer shock.

What, but their own sickening failure to protect Jews, drives these respectable people to become hysterical at the supposed anti-Semites who do not actually harm Jews? What drives the enthusiasm for the Macron victory, but a desire to go back to running France as they have before, in a way that makes Jews want to run away?

Conclusion

Look at the Fifth Republic. It started with the last great Frenchman, General de Gaulle, and it ends with a puppet, Macron. At 59 years, this is the second longest-lived French regime since the Revolution (the Third Republic made it to 70) and it does not look like it will last. The problems France faces politically get to the core of its organization. The separation between the governed and the governing classes is turning toward oligarchy. The great successes of French administration and the reputation — damn near incorruptibility — of its administrative classes are real assets. But the old weakness of French politics — parties that can neither legislate nor earn the loyalty of the democratic electorate — is coming back. And there is no one to save the parties this time.

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  1. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    The title of this post is really great if you read it in Luke Skywalker’s voice.

    • #1
  2. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    It is time for another Bourbon Restoration.

    • #2
  3. Brian Clendinen Member
    Brian Clendinen
    @BrianClendinen

    Basically France was screwed either way. That is what happens to a society who has no beliefs also known as religion. Also I would not call de Gaulle a great FrenchMan he was a Socialist weeny that if I remember correctly had sympathies with communist.

    • #3
  4. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    As a student of the French Revolution, I’m thrilled and not a little scared by this post.  Yes, if we look at it historically, I can see the 5th Republic may very well not be the last.

    People tend to belittle France now, “cheese eating-surrender monkeys”– but many of–most of– the great ideas of the Enlightenment came from France.  And it conquered the world less than 200 years ago.

    When France mobilizes, every man, woman and child, as it did in 1792 ( but didn’t do, really,  in 1914 nor 1939) it is, truly, formidable!   The French can eat a  human heart, as they did with Ravillac the regicide. French rank-and-file soldiers  can pledge their blood as it rises in an instant, as  they did when Napoleon returned and bared his breast to them . The French can bathe in blood, literally revel in it, (witness the Grand Guignol)  as they did at the height of the Terror, and the Night of the Long Knives.

    I think the Gallic character is like a flame:  it can be a benison, it can be a light, it can be domesticated, but in essence it is merciless, it is a force. Put it to thinking and writing, you get Descarte, Voltaire, Rousseau.  Put it to conquest, you get the mobs of 1789 and La Grande Armée.

    So–if you are correct, Titus–what will she do next, our Marianne?

    Qui sait?

    • #4
  5. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    The Gallic character is irrelevant. It could not really stamp itself upon the colonies it left behind or was expelled from. The language, perhaps. But Gallic culture? Reason? Don’t be absurd.

    And in the 20th century, while France did less badly demographically than the rest of Western Europe (and Russia, and…) it is not having enough Gallic children and is doing a poor job of assimilating the non-Gallic immigrants it has been importing.

    Most of the voters in France want to stop that importation. Yet they voted for Macron, who doesn’t believe in French border control and is pretty much on board with the rest of the EU’s priorities, which include punishing countries like Poland and Hungary that try to control their borders.

    While we’re piling on @claire, let’s not forget her astonishing claim that Macron has grandchildren. Since we are speaking of demography, among other things, that is a significant point which Claire glosses over. Macron has stepchildren; two of them are older than he is. Perhaps he does love their children, but that doesn’t exactly make him their grandfather. Macron is by all accounts a genetic dead end.

    Macron is right that the only thing that might stanch the flood of immigrants into Europe is the amelioration of conditions in their homelands. But letting them in now to wreck what’s left of France in the immediate short term won’t do that.

    Titus Techera: . But the old weakness of French politics — parties that can neither legislate nor earn the loyalty of the democratic electorate — is coming back. And there is no one to save the parties this time.

    Don’t worry, Titus. This too shall pass:

    While rich Parisians may not miss the presence of the middle class, they do need people to bus tables, trim shrubbery, watch babies, and change bedpans. Immigrants—not native French workers—do most of these jobs. Why this should be so is an economic controversy. Perhaps migrants will do certain tasks that French people will not—at least not at the prevailing wage. Perhaps employers don’t relish paying €10 an hour to a native Frenchman who, ten years earlier, was making €20 in his old position and has resentments to match. Perhaps the current situation is an example of the economic law named after the eighteenth-century French economist Jean-Baptiste Say: a huge supply of menial labor from the developing world has created its own demand…

    As a new bourgeoisie has taken over the private housing stock, poor foreigners have taken over the public—which thus serves the metropolitan rich as a kind of taxpayer-subsidized servants’ quarters. Public-housing inhabitants are almost never ethnically French; the prevailing culture there nowadays is often heavily, intimidatingly Muslim.

    The European countryside is depopulating. And the population to the south of the Mediterranean is exploding. Here’s Steven Sailer’s World’s Most Important Graph:

    Population 1950-2100-b

     

    “We’ll always have Paris?”

    “What you mean we, kuffar?”

    • #5
  6. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Titus,

    With Macron, EU, and Soros we have same problem. The Consent of the Governed is an option not a principle. Their consent is to be artfully finesed.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Mike LaRoche (View Comment):
    It is time for another Bourbon Restoration.

    Mais, bien sûr, Monsieur!

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    We speak a lot today of the limited capacities of national governments, and of the loss of legitimacy to which that leads. But it will not take long to appreciate the ineffectiveness of the despotism of Rules. Having discredited corrupt governments and idle peoples, European governance meets its own intrinsic weakness, which lies in the fact that it offers citizens nothing but the prospect of an indefinite course pursuing a horizon always pushed back, under the control of arbitrary criteria coming from who knows where, administered by faceless bureaucrats in whose competence one is obliged to believe. Only the representative government of a people formed into a nation is capable of evaluating the appropriateness of criteria and adjusting obedience to the rules. To put it in the language of Greek political science, only such a government is capable of balancing movement and rest in a just, or in any case tolerable, proportion.

    That bit from the Manent piece is very good.

    Titus Techera: The French case is merely a show of the ugly self-flattery of the very oligarchies that have failed France. They flatter themselves that by deceiving the democracy, they will save their unearned privileges, unaware of how they have become mutilated because of them. Macron constantly talks about the failures of the previous 30 years, never mentioning that he will not change them, much less that he himself has been made by the very people responsible for those failures at every institutional level.

    Democracy as dumbshow. But the dumb aren’t as dumb as the elites need them to be. They’ve seen through the smoke and mirrors. Nothing good can come of ignoring their discontent.

    Titus Techera: The press loved Macron, and almost nobody cared to think of the ugly truth about this shameful creature of the oligarchy. He has refused, to my knowledge, to say how he got the money to fund his new party. The party, such as it is, will be the socialist party among whose ranks he ascended so quickly. Nobody has succeeded as fast as him within the system — never has the press fawned over so unknown a man.

    • #8
  9. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    You make Macron sound a lot like Obama. A great nothing was carried to supreme office by invisible hands and presented as a savior.

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Le Pen wouldn’t have fixed this. That’s the other problem. Hopefully the Republicans will figure out a way of splitting off some of her support and field a candidate who isn’t a crook.

    (Chicagoans are laughing at least as hard at the French notion of a corruption scandal as  the French do at the American notion of a sex scandal. No-show jobs for family members? Is that all?)

    • #10
  11. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Mike LaRoche (View Comment):
    It is time for another Bourbon Restoration.

    Bourbon? They should bring back the Capets.

    • #11
  12. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Percival (View Comment):
    Le Pen wouldn’t have fixed this. That’s the other problem. Hopefully the Republicans will figure out a way of splitting off some of her support and field a candidate who isn’t a crook.

    (Chicagoans are laughing at least as hard at the French notion of a corruption scandal as the French do at the American notion of a sex scandal. No-show jobs for family members? Is that all?)

    Yes & yes. The third republic died because it ended up with parties who could not govern. The fourth republic died the same death. The fifth is now heading the same way & people are celebrating a victory for normality. That’s like taking a break to toast your good sense & then returning to sawing away at the limb out on which you’ve stranded yourself, in certainty of taking to wing any moment now…

    • #12
  13. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Mike LaRoche (View Comment):
    It is time for another Bourbon Restoration.

    Bourbon? They should bring back the Capets.

    If you can believe it, in a hacky attempt to talk about the glorious past of France, the past which his class has done wonders to fail to tell the rest of the country about, M. Sarkozy mentioned the first Merovingian kings–Clovis!–in campaign speeches in the run up to losing his own party’s nomination.

    • #13
  14. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    You make Macron sound a lot like Obama. A great nothing was carried to supreme office by invisible hands and presented as a savior.

    Well, Americans like young men who’ve achieved little. I’ve been less worried about Mr. Obama than I would have been about JFK. Although, it should be said, he at least his patriotic service behind him. TR’s another example. There you had energy, for both good & bad, not merely the brilliant aura that Americans like.

    The French Fifth Republic is a different thing–it’s made by old people to be run by old people–there is not quite a cursus honorum, as in Rome, but there is a series of steps to go through, & it takes a long time. Popularity counts far less than in America; because centralization is such a big deal in France–& a great idea in some parts of administration–the system prudently put more of an emphasis on what impresses colleagues in long years work than what might impress the people or the press overnight.

    In the inequality of the governing–as opposed to governed–classes, there is the equality of colleagues at every level going up in the political system.

    This has been travestied utterly with M. Macron.

    Again, I cannot stress how much more Frenchmen like centralized administration than Americans do–how much better administration can be in France than in America (of course, this is much trickier, given the giant size of America…)

    The importance of respectability & seriousness to Frenchmen is hard to convey to Americans. But think of American morality: Divorced people almost never make it even to a party nomination. Aside from the shocking election of 2016, there’s only been one divorced president! Or think about presidents cursing–maybe the nation wouldn’t care, if that came out, but somehow it never does. Or think about a president admitting to, much less than proclaiming, his atheism. Never happened–not once. There is a system of manners for presidential ambition in America; so also in France. Maybe it’s more explicit in the latter than the former–because the class separation is in some ways stronger, but in others simply more open. There are mores involved, too.

    Both America & France have had shocking elections that break with the manners & mores of the past. It is difficult to think through the consequences of these events, because it is very hard to see where public sentiment is in either case; it is also hard to imagine what new ambitions have been unleashed.

    My sense is that America is in better shape, because Americans are more savage than the French. They are harder to shake & harder to scare, easier to rouse to anger & action–in these ways, they are more ferocious in defense of their freedom. In peaceful times, this looks silly, because everything important is simply taken for granted–in crazy times, it can make or break a country.

    • #14
  15. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Informative article.  Thanks. Also thanks for the link to the Caldwell article.  (That’s as far as I’ve read so far.)

    • #15
  16. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Percival (View Comment):
    (Chicagoans are laughing at least as hard at the French notion of a corruption scandal as the French do at the American notion of a sex scandal. No-show jobs for family members? Is that all?)

    Amateurs.

    • #16
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    Informative article. Thanks. Also thanks for the link to the Caldwell article. (That’s as far as I’ve read so far.)

    The Pierre Manent article is also good.  A memorable description of the view of our rulers:

    The only humanly significant realities, the only ones which are entitled to incontestable rights, are the individual on the one hand and humanity on the other; between these two, strictly speaking, there is nothing of worth.

    • #17
  18. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    Informative article. Thanks. Also thanks for the link to the Caldwell article. (That’s as far as I’ve read so far.)

    The Pierre Manent article is also good. A memorable description of the view of our rulers:

    The only humanly significant realities, the only ones which are entitled to incontestable rights, are the individual on the one hand and humanity on the other; between these two, strictly speaking, there is nothing of worth.

    Yes–this is one of the shocking truths that will not be beat into the people into whom it needs beating until associations again stand up for themselves. It is hard to describe the shift in opinions without recourse to harsh words or to philosophical language. Our world of endless yapping-the-mouth or typing-on-keyboards is almost blind to our experience.

    • #18
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Mike LaRoche (View Comment):
    It is time for another Bourbon Restoration.

    Bourbon? They should bring back the Capets.

    The Bourbons were Capetians, if not the so-called Direct Capetians.

    • #19
  20. Penfold Member
    Penfold
    @Penfold

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    never has the press fawned over so unknown a man

    Dang it all, I see others beat me to the same conclusion, that this article could have been written about “The One”.

    • #20
  21. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Yes & yes. The third republic died because it ended up with parties who could not govern. The fourth republic died the same death. The fifth is now heading the same way & people are celebrating a victory for normality. That’s like taking a break to toast your good sense & then returning to sawing away at the limb out on which you’ve stranded yourself, in certainty of taking to wing any moment now…

    You seem to discount the roles of wars. German tanks/blitz and Algerian guerrillas had more than a little to do with it. And if it hadn’t been for de Gaulle’s stature, not sure there would have been a 5th.

    Beyond that, it is probably the deficiencies of what is taught at St. Cyr.

     

    I think your analysis is far better than anything Claire is capable of.

    • #21
  22. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    You make Macron sound a lot like Obama. A great nothing was carried to supreme office by invisible hands and presented as a savior.

    Is it any wonder that Obama took a role in the election of this nothing? Says a lot that so many so-called conservatives are yet again on Obama’s side.

    • #22
  23. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Hang On (View Comment):
    Is it any wonder that Obama took a role in the election of this nothing? Says a lot that so many so-called conservatives are yet again on Obama’s side.

    I think in this case, it matters little which side conservatives, especially Americans, were on. It was sort of like the Iran-Iraq War, too bad they couldn’t have both lost. We may see parts of the programs of either of the last French candidates in the run off as being good, but other parts are problematic. It makes sense that some conservatives, once Fillon was out, might prefer for Le Pen to lose. That isn’t saying that they were pulling for Macron to win, but that they saw better long-term advantage with Macron than Le Pen.

    As for Obama, a stopped clock is right twice per day, and it is possible that he might be right once in his life. I do not know that this was the time. At the very least, I doubt that any conservatives supported Macron over Le Pen for the same reasons that Obama did.

    • #23
  24. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Titus,

    Allow me to clarify my thoughts on Le Pen. I was quite angry with Claire’s dismissal of Marine as crazy even to hide it behind Freudian mumbo jumbo. My defense of Marine’s break with her father as brave I stand by. We can’t relentlessly blame for the sins of the past when someone makes an honest effort at redemption.

    However, this is always cautioned by the gravity of the sin. This is a grave sin and still a terror. The past can not be changed. However, with such a sin a second  effort at redemption may be necessary.

    Marine’s retention of her proto-fascist advisors is very troubling. If she were to make a second effort and clear this up, in time, she could come back strong.

    Right now I intend to do a psycho-analysis of Soros as this is the most relevent to the future of Europe.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #24
  25. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Titus Techera: What, but their own sickening failure to protect Jews, drives these respectable people to become hysterical at the supposed anti-Semites who do not actually harm Jews? What drives the enthusiasm for the Macron victory, but a desire to go back to running France as they have before, in a way that makes Jews want to run away?

    Mind if I take a little victory lap here? Many of us having been saying for a while now we have trouble understanding the fear engendered by the supposed latent antisemitism of the French nationalists when the proven antisemitism of the Islamic fascists keeps upping the body count. It just seems… irrational.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that people whose currency is words put too much stock in the (often careless) words of Trump and Le Pen, and too little in the actions of their country’s real enemies.

    I’m just a casual observer of all this, but it seems to me the French are doomed by their arrogant rejection of the “Anglo-model.” Dear heavens, any people who have settled on trusting in central administration to make things right for them is destined for a series of rude awakenings. What the US has done right in this regard is separation of powers and sovereignty of the people. Although, sadly, those have taken a major hit in the last several years.

    • #25
  26. Belt Inactive
    Belt
    @Belt

    It occurred to me that the French election was a choice between ‘Everything is Fine’ and ‘Everything is Wrong.’

    • #26
  27. Belt Inactive
    Belt
    @Belt

    Belt (View Comment):
    It occurred to me that the French election was a choice between ‘Everything is Fine’ and ‘Everything is Wrong.’

    Of course, now that I say that, nearly every election between an incumbent and a challenger can be characterized as that.  Still, there’s an element of clueless pacifism and radicalized hysteria there…

    • #27
  28. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I was with you up until the last point–France cannot be America or even Britain. Neither is Germany–& it’s doing tolerably well–as are the smaller countries–Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, &c.

    France has spasms & a mortal danger because it has the potential for greatness. It is the natural core of Europe. When people talk about Western Civ, well, so far as Europe is concerned, there is Britain & there is France. Britain has charted a course now or at least made its turn, course to be determined soon. But France has delayed the choice.

     

    • #28
  29. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    I think Germany might also see themselves as a key in Western Civ. ;)

    • #29
  30. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Titus Techera (View Comment):
    Yes & yes. The third republic died because it ended up with parties who could not govern. The fourth republic died the same death. The fifth is now heading the same way & people are celebrating a victory for normality. That’s like taking a break to toast your good sense & then returning to sawing away at the limb out on which you’ve stranded yourself, in certainty of taking to wing any moment now…

    You seem to discount the roles of wars. German tanks/blitz and Algerian guerrillas had more than a little to do with it. And if it hadn’t been for de Gaulle’s stature, not sure there would have been a 5th.

    Beyond that, it is probably the deficiencies of what is taught at St. Cyr.

    I think your analysis is far better than anything Claire is capable of.

    Please be respectful of Miss Berlinski, who is one of our brighter stars. I will state again, serious as our disagreement is on this matter, I admire her & cannot but leap to her defense. She has wit & humanity such that Ricochet is a better place for her. Disagreements on political analysis should not becloud that.

    As for the wars: Those are also political matters. Notice especially that both the conflicts you’re considering had long run-ups during which parliamentary democracies could have made up their minds to act & began acting with purpose. The collapse in both cases is directly attributable to the party-political system.

    • #30
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