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The French need a revolution The meaning of Bastille Day has been forgotten

Someone call the firemen. (Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty)

Someone call the firemen. (Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty)


July 14, 2023   5 mins

You have to wonder what Indian PM Narendra Modi, guest of honour at the Champs-ElysĂ©es military parade today, will be making of the political fever in France. The tremulous mood was captured well in his counterpart Elisabeth Borne’s recent interview in Le Parisien: the government will roll out “massive measures to protect the French” this Bastille Day she said. Hardly the right tone for a celebration — more suited to, say, Kyiv than Paris. Usually, Bastille Day celebrations mean picking which firemen’s ball to attend in the evening. But Madame Borne seems to believe they will all be needed to put out rioters’ fires instead. The rest of France, she acknowledged, has the same worry.

We already know that the “sale and carrying of all fireworks with their launch mortars” has now been forbidden until Saturday morning, though councils and cities will be allowed to have their official displays. All city-surface public transport (buses and tramways) came to a halt at 10pm yesterday (9pm in Lyon) and are not running today — a measure intended to protect the drivers and their buses. Around 130,000 police, gendarmes and auxiliaries are on patrol. “The order is to immediately arrest any troublemakers,” announced Home Secretary GĂ©rald Darmanin, a man who has Elisabeth Borne’s job in his sights and doesn’t care who knows it. An additional “40,000 firemen will be deployed” he added, confirming that Bals des Pompiers will indeed be off the table, except in villages and very small towns. The whole day will have a Jacques Tati feel, with a side order of apocalypse.

How did France get there? It’s a well-known trope of professional French-watchers abroad to moan that “the French live in a paradise and say they live in hell”. Cue patronising theories on how we don’t know how good we have it. And it doesn’t help that the type of French people doomscrolling through such analyses in foreign broadsheets would, to mangle Orwell’s great quotation, feel more ashamed of standing to attention during La Marseillaise than stealing from the modern equivalent of a poor box. It’s easy to love the status quo when the status quo serves you, and to concur with sophisticated foreigners when they peddle the upscale touristy clichĂ©s you profit from.

The truth is that France, a country that built herself (not always unsuccessfully) on fits of revolutionary violence punctuated by stretches of authoritarianism, has rarely been satisfied with her lot. Talleyrand, the shrewd defrocked bishop who led France’s foreign policy from Bonaparte’s first victories to the Congress of Vienna, used to say Qui n’a pas connu les annĂ©es qui ont prĂ©cĂ©dĂ© la RĂ©volution ne sait pas ce que c’est que la douceur de vivre (“Anyone who hasn’t lived through the years leading up to the Revolution does not know what the sweetness of life is.”)

Note the elegiac past tense. The great movies of the Thirties harked back to the Belle Époque; those of the Fifties to the interwar years. It’s no coincidence that the intervening disaster of 1940-1944, when France was occupied by the Nazis, saw the PĂ©tain collaborationist government inspired by the ideologues of the RĂ©volution Nationale, the young and eager theoreticians of French fascism. Part of their own particular anger came from feeling they needed to brutally overthrow a national rudderless langueur that had cushioned the country from the worst but condemned it to a slow but inexorable decline. (It’s always been hard to make lines move in France, hence the strikes that spoil all of Europe’s holidays.)

Looking back, the country that taught the rest of the world, from Kossuth to Lenin or Pol Pot, how to rĂ©volutionner, rarely liked the end result of her recurrent, temporary frenzies. The denunciation letters sent to magistrates in the years before the 1572 St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of Protestants show the same eager zeal that brought a steady stream of suspects to the tender mercies of Fouquier-Tinville during the Terror, or of the Milice and the Gestapo in 1940-44. (“I know X, who says he’s a good Catholic, really belongs to the RPR [Religion PrĂ©tendument RĂ©formĂ©e]”, one neighbour writes, coveting the poor man’s possessions, in the time-tested style of snitches everywhere.) The popular, Protestant-turned-Catholic King who attempted to reconcile the French after the Wars of Religion, Henry IV, was only assassinated for his pains. His successors learned their lesson.

Duff Cooper, the wartime minister, compulsive diarist and one-time Ambassador to Paris, wrote in his elegant biography of Talleyrand that there was a historical reason for Britain and France’s divergent political systems. The British aristocracy had peacefully seized power in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, in effect ushering in parliamentary monarchism, whereas the Fronde of French nobles, led by Louis XIV’s own cousins the Duchess of Montpensier and the Duc de CondĂ©, failed miserably 30 years earlier. Crucially, it scared the 15-year-old Louis XIV so much that his policies for the next six decades were devoted to creating an absolutist, centralist model where the smallest decision rested on the King alone. And a great deal of that rigid Colbertian model remains, reworked by Napoleon and adopted by La RĂ©publique. Ask yourself, then, where the contemporary heritage of the RĂ©volution truly lies?

The country’s current frustration is in great part due to the kinetic immobilism practised by Emmanuel Macron over the past six years. His whirl of activity — world travel, walkabouts and international initiatives — nevertheless produces no movement. Fond of invoking de Gaulle, Macron, who wears the costume fashioned in the Constitution of the Fifth Republic, is in fact the GĂ©nĂ©ral of May 1968, reduced to calling in men in uniform, (though GĂ©rald Darmanin is no Jacques Massu). He has filled the National Assembly with pale clones of himself — though not yet the Senate, which currently wears the protective colouration of a senior chamber with a junior role, but would actually be well-equipped to restore proper democracy.

The logical conclusion is that France is due an actual revolution, not a fancy parade and a formal garden party in the park of the ÉlysĂ©e palace. The problem is that most of the French have forgotten how to go about it, and find themselves divested of all institutions of remembrance. French unions are weak — especially compared to the election-winning 1936 Popular Front. So are the political parties, their final signs of life extinguished by Macron’s centrist clarion, “en mĂȘme temps de droite et de gauche”. And they don’t teach children their history in our schools — what’s not been cancelled is disdained by professors who believe chronology, personalities and linear history are irrelevant.

The French workplace was long the everyday replica of the absolute monarchy, and largely still is. France has no Dilberts, but instead a healthy industry of kitchen aprons and fridge magnets that decline 10 ways in which “MĂȘme quand il a tort, le boss a toujours raison [Even when he’s wrong, the boss is always right].” It’s a phrase one should never forget when dealing with the French. Therefore quiet-quitting is the order of the day, not rebellion. The last revolt of the banlieues was, despite activists’ efforts, non-political. It was driven by anomie, a lack of opportunities, and the consumerist instinct. As always, France’s self-destructive passions have lost a balance between the individual and the collective that was never very strong in the first place. No Bastille Day holiday, quiet or riotous, will change this for now.


Anne-Elisabeth Moutet is a Paris-based journalist and political commentator.

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Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

France and Britain have one thing in common… formerly smart, well dressed people of dignity and style now replaced by tattooed rough sleeper/dole queue look alikes.

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 year ago

Give it a rest

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  Robbie K

That’s the problem, not the answer.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Robbie K

give it a rest ” My Liege” please…

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  Robbie K

That’s the problem, not the answer.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Robbie K

give it a rest ” My Liege” please…

Ian Cory
Ian Cory
1 year ago

That’s an interesting point. I’m old enough to remember the Great Train Robbery of 1963. When the police started to round up the usual suspects, most of which were convicted and found guilty, I recall the press pictures of them, with blankets over their heads being led into court, with their blazers, sports jackets,collar and tie clearly visible. One picture of Ronnie Biggs after his arraignment showed him in a smart suit and tie. Even criminals in those days had more sartorial class than the “tattooed rough sleeper/dole queue look alikes” you’ll see in any public space today.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Cory
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Cory

So true! In an epic old Radio 4 interview, Bruce Reynolds described as to how he had his suits made at Kilgour, French and Stanbury, shoes, hats at by Lobb, and his shirts, hosiery and gloves by Turnbull and Asser… and even hats at ” Herbie J”!

Ian Cory
Ian Cory
1 year ago

Now a tracksuit from Sports Direct would suffice!

Ian Cory
Ian Cory
1 year ago

Now a tracksuit from Sports Direct would suffice!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Cory

So true! In an epic old Radio 4 interview, Bruce Reynolds described as to how he had his suits made at Kilgour, French and Stanbury, shoes, hats at by Lobb, and his shirts, hosiery and gloves by Turnbull and Asser… and even hats at ” Herbie J”!

Robbie K
Robbie K
1 year ago

Give it a rest

Ian Cory
Ian Cory
1 year ago

That’s an interesting point. I’m old enough to remember the Great Train Robbery of 1963. When the police started to round up the usual suspects, most of which were convicted and found guilty, I recall the press pictures of them, with blankets over their heads being led into court, with their blazers, sports jackets,collar and tie clearly visible. One picture of Ronnie Biggs after his arraignment showed him in a smart suit and tie. Even criminals in those days had more sartorial class than the “tattooed rough sleeper/dole queue look alikes” you’ll see in any public space today.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Cory
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

France and Britain have one thing in common… formerly smart, well dressed people of dignity and style now replaced by tattooed rough sleeper/dole queue look alikes.

Peter Hall
Peter Hall
1 year ago

I lived near Nice for a year. France lacks energy and opportunity and most people have no disposable income. The state takes almost everything in taxes and spends it on a generous and difficult to navigate welfare state and an economy dominated by large corporations. The individual has little freedom, squashed by an emphatic system. Or so it seemed to me. I love France and the French and hate to see it ripped apart and slowly dieing.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

The French do breed excellent jump racehorses and some very good flat fillies…. and…. errr….. um…

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

…”lacks energy and opportunity and most people have no disposable income.” Can the same be said for most Western European countries, these days?

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

It sounds like the United States.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

It sounds like the United States.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

I think the theme of the article was:

“ The truth is that France, a country that built herself (not always unsuccessfully) on fits of revolutionary violence punctuated by stretches of authoritarianism, has rarely been satisfied with her lot. ”

The anomie of the banlieues, the fact (as you’ve noticed, Peter) that the individual has little freedom plus the disastrous immigration policy, all point to the fact that the French (unlike the English) had no history of self-government, until after 1789 which led to the Terror (“fits of revolutionary violence”) which resulted in Napoleon (“stretches of authoritarianism”). This seems to summarize their history, including the Nazi zeal of Vichy.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

The French do breed excellent jump racehorses and some very good flat fillies…. and…. errr….. um…

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

…”lacks energy and opportunity and most people have no disposable income.” Can the same be said for most Western European countries, these days?

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Hall

I think the theme of the article was:

“ The truth is that France, a country that built herself (not always unsuccessfully) on fits of revolutionary violence punctuated by stretches of authoritarianism, has rarely been satisfied with her lot. ”

The anomie of the banlieues, the fact (as you’ve noticed, Peter) that the individual has little freedom plus the disastrous immigration policy, all point to the fact that the French (unlike the English) had no history of self-government, until after 1789 which led to the Terror (“fits of revolutionary violence”) which resulted in Napoleon (“stretches of authoritarianism”). This seems to summarize their history, including the Nazi zeal of Vichy.

Peter Hall
Peter Hall
1 year ago

I lived near Nice for a year. France lacks energy and opportunity and most people have no disposable income. The state takes almost everything in taxes and spends it on a generous and difficult to navigate welfare state and an economy dominated by large corporations. The individual has little freedom, squashed by an emphatic system. Or so it seemed to me. I love France and the French and hate to see it ripped apart and slowly dieing.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

Don’t say that ffs, I’m going on a driving holiday there in a couple of months. That’d be great wouldn’t it, to get my car burned out by some French arsehole who thinks molotov cocktails and Sartre are a useful guide to life.

Catherine Conroy
Catherine Conroy
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I think you’ll find the French arsonist arseholes have never read Sartre.

Catherine Conroy
Catherine Conroy
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I think you’ll find the French arsonist arseholes have never read Sartre.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

Don’t say that ffs, I’m going on a driving holiday there in a couple of months. That’d be great wouldn’t it, to get my car burned out by some French arsehole who thinks molotov cocktails and Sartre are a useful guide to life.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

“The last revolt of the banlieues was, despite activists’ efforts, non-political. It was driven by anomie, a lack of opportunities, and the consumerist instinct.”
Similarly, my name for the 2011 disturbances is the Shopping Riots.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago

“The last revolt of the banlieues was, despite activists’ efforts, non-political. It was driven by anomie, a lack of opportunities, and the consumerist instinct.”
Similarly, my name for the 2011 disturbances is the Shopping Riots.

Christopher Darlington
Christopher Darlington
1 year ago

The entire world needs a revolution, or at the very least a general strike.

Christopher Darlington
Christopher Darlington
1 year ago

The entire world needs a revolution, or at the very least a general strike.

Willie Grieve
Willie Grieve
1 year ago

Incomprehensible. What’s she trying to say?

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Willie Grieve

I don’t know, but as usual with Mme Moutet’s scribblings it’s interesting and entertaining.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

To interesting and entertaining, i’ll add stylish and brave; the latter being for accepting the inevitable flack that will come her way once the French see themselves in the mirror she’s held up to them.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

To interesting and entertaining, i’ll add stylish and brave; the latter being for accepting the inevitable flack that will come her way once the French see themselves in the mirror she’s held up to them.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
1 year ago
Reply to  Willie Grieve

She could be trying to say that there is no such thing as ‘French’ any more. Sadly, a familiar story.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

She’s saying rather the opposite.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“The problem is that most of the French have forgotten how to go about it (revolution).”
“French unions are weak compared to … 1936.”
“They don’t teach children their history in schools..”
“Professors believe that chronology, personalities and linear history are irrelevant”
If you read it again, she appears to be reporting a decline in Frenchness, but has hope because of a core of ordinary people who just want to go about their lives as normal.
This is just like the UK. The leaders and politicians in all parties, as well as academics and many young people, are trying to wipe out our old ways and start afresh. Follow UnHerd closely and you will see who is winning.
In South Wales today, as I type, people are barricading roads around a hotel which has been emptied ready for an influx of immigrants. Meanwhile, Mark Drakeford is attending the official opening of Swansea Mosque – about 10 miles from this hotel.
Who is losing their Britishness, or indeed Frenchness? The ordinary people are.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

If you read it in greater depth, you’ll have noted the wistful tone regarding the authoritarian tendencies stretching back to Louis XIV (and even further) which the French have failed – despite intervening events, to throw off. In other words, the French are continuing to be French, despite the efforts of some groups at certain points in history.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Louis XI and those splendid cages at Loches perhaps?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

He never really got over his father’s relationship with AgnĂšs Sorel.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

That’s an interesting idea, which I have never heard!
She’s also buried at Loches I think.

Louis choosing Cléry-Saint-André over St Denis was also very unusual.
All in all one France’s greatest Kings wouldn’t you agree?

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

There’s not a huge number to choose from, but at least he wasn’t as liable to being manipulated than most; so yes.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

There’s not a huge number to choose from, but at least he wasn’t as liable to being manipulated than most; so yes.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

That’s an interesting idea, which I have never heard!
She’s also buried at Loches I think.

Louis choosing Cléry-Saint-André over St Denis was also very unusual.
All in all one France’s greatest Kings wouldn’t you agree?

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

He never really got over his father’s relationship with AgnĂšs Sorel.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I think you guys are arguing about what’s for dessert on the Titanic.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Take a deckchair.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Take a deckchair.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Louis XI and those splendid cages at Loches perhaps?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I think you guys are arguing about what’s for dessert on the Titanic.

0 0
0 0
1 year ago

That mosque is at the corner of my street. I wish we’d known Dripford was there. We could have started a small riot… He’s not popular around here.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

If you read it in greater depth, you’ll have noted the wistful tone regarding the authoritarian tendencies stretching back to Louis XIV (and even further) which the French have failed – despite intervening events, to throw off. In other words, the French are continuing to be French, despite the efforts of some groups at certain points in history.

0 0
0 0
1 year ago

That mosque is at the corner of my street. I wish we’d known Dripford was there. We could have started a small riot… He’s not popular around here.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“The problem is that most of the French have forgotten how to go about it (revolution).”
“French unions are weak compared to … 1936.”
“They don’t teach children their history in schools..”
“Professors believe that chronology, personalities and linear history are irrelevant”
If you read it again, she appears to be reporting a decline in Frenchness, but has hope because of a core of ordinary people who just want to go about their lives as normal.
This is just like the UK. The leaders and politicians in all parties, as well as academics and many young people, are trying to wipe out our old ways and start afresh. Follow UnHerd closely and you will see who is winning.
In South Wales today, as I type, people are barricading roads around a hotel which has been emptied ready for an influx of immigrants. Meanwhile, Mark Drakeford is attending the official opening of Swansea Mosque – about 10 miles from this hotel.
Who is losing their Britishness, or indeed Frenchness? The ordinary people are.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

She’s saying rather the opposite.

Maarten
Maarten
1 year ago
Reply to  Willie Grieve

Something about the individual and the collective I think. I believe the French people need to grow up and stop blaming their “parents” aka their president, for their own short comings. They seem to be in an eternal state of adolescence ready to put the country in chaos for their own selfish benefits but unable and unwilling to make it better for all. The French are risk averse always have someone else to blame. For example for all sport activities in France you need a medical certificate from your doctor stating you are able to run or cycle or play football. If anything goes wrong you can blame your doctor not yourself. This is for things you do in your own free time! The French individual is rarely held responsible for anything and self initiative is not stimulated as the boss is always right. In the French hierarchical educational system, children are not stimulated to think for themselves as the teacher is always right and are quickly tagged into “bac general” or “bac pro”. The moment you are in a bac pro you earn a minimum salary “le smic” with very little opportunity to grow or develop yourself. These people feel trapped in this system and want the system to change not realising this change can only come from themselves.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
1 year ago
Reply to  Maarten

You hit the nail on the head. Until citizens realize that their life is their own to succeed or not, and no one owes them a living, they will always remain adolescent. World elites are pushing the utopia of a Nanny state, and as far as I can see only middle America is keeping the light on for rugged individualism.

Simon Tavanyar
Simon Tavanyar
1 year ago
Reply to  Maarten

You hit the nail on the head. Until citizens realize that their life is their own to succeed or not, and no one owes them a living, they will always remain adolescent. World elites are pushing the utopia of a Nanny state, and as far as I can see only middle America is keeping the light on for rugged individualism.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Willie Grieve

She is trying to say that :
plus ça change, moins ça change.
today’s France very much ressembles the country it was before WW2. Incompetent administration, morally corrupt politicians and a system where from school to the grave « the boss is always right Â». Can it get anymore stifling ?
Now, for the lack of opportunities, have a look at Germany right now with 60 % of the 2015 Merkel imported Syrians still living off government money. FreibÀder 
..aka public open air swimming pools have become like the banlieue with you Middle Eastern men bring chaos.
The only time in its history when France made a giant leap was from 1958 onward to 1968 with General de Gaulle. The rest is a slow but sure downhill, at least with people who had seen the devastation of war.
We now have a child president, a mockery of a parliament and a senate who thank God for it, plugs the holes left by parliament 
.not all though which explains why the country is slowly sinking. Not to mention the far left and Melenchon who is fit for a padded cell.
The French have this love of the providential man, and this man is 

Édouard Philippe, the former Prime minister about whom every French citizen seems to have forgotten he is the one we have to thank the yellow jackets for : raise on petrol prices and this ludicrous speed limit from 90 down to 80. Macron, for all his faults, was against it. This guy is full on lurking for the top job in 2027. Not with my vote. I am voting with my suitcase.
Edouard Philippe is the text book example of these Lord Humphrey 
..French style 
..who have always ruled from Paris without knowing where the rear end of a cow is.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Willie Grieve

I don’t know, but as usual with Mme Moutet’s scribblings it’s interesting and entertaining.

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
1 year ago
Reply to  Willie Grieve

She could be trying to say that there is no such thing as ‘French’ any more. Sadly, a familiar story.

Maarten
Maarten
1 year ago
Reply to  Willie Grieve

Something about the individual and the collective I think. I believe the French people need to grow up and stop blaming their “parents” aka their president, for their own short comings. They seem to be in an eternal state of adolescence ready to put the country in chaos for their own selfish benefits but unable and unwilling to make it better for all. The French are risk averse always have someone else to blame. For example for all sport activities in France you need a medical certificate from your doctor stating you are able to run or cycle or play football. If anything goes wrong you can blame your doctor not yourself. This is for things you do in your own free time! The French individual is rarely held responsible for anything and self initiative is not stimulated as the boss is always right. In the French hierarchical educational system, children are not stimulated to think for themselves as the teacher is always right and are quickly tagged into “bac general” or “bac pro”. The moment you are in a bac pro you earn a minimum salary “le smic” with very little opportunity to grow or develop yourself. These people feel trapped in this system and want the system to change not realising this change can only come from themselves.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Willie Grieve

She is trying to say that :
plus ça change, moins ça change.
today’s France very much ressembles the country it was before WW2. Incompetent administration, morally corrupt politicians and a system where from school to the grave « the boss is always right Â». Can it get anymore stifling ?
Now, for the lack of opportunities, have a look at Germany right now with 60 % of the 2015 Merkel imported Syrians still living off government money. FreibÀder 
..aka public open air swimming pools have become like the banlieue with you Middle Eastern men bring chaos.
The only time in its history when France made a giant leap was from 1958 onward to 1968 with General de Gaulle. The rest is a slow but sure downhill, at least with people who had seen the devastation of war.
We now have a child president, a mockery of a parliament and a senate who thank God for it, plugs the holes left by parliament 
.not all though which explains why the country is slowly sinking. Not to mention the far left and Melenchon who is fit for a padded cell.
The French have this love of the providential man, and this man is 

Édouard Philippe, the former Prime minister about whom every French citizen seems to have forgotten he is the one we have to thank the yellow jackets for : raise on petrol prices and this ludicrous speed limit from 90 down to 80. Macron, for all his faults, was against it. This guy is full on lurking for the top job in 2027. Not with my vote. I am voting with my suitcase.
Edouard Philippe is the text book example of these Lord Humphrey 
..French style 
..who have always ruled from Paris without knowing where the rear end of a cow is.

Willie Grieve
Willie Grieve
1 year ago

Incomprehensible. What’s she trying to say?

Maurice Austin
Maurice Austin
1 year ago

I found this fascinating, but self-contradictory. In essence, the authoress (yes, I am that old-fashioned) is saying that all the upheavals in France in the past – including the ones formally called “Revolutions” – have left the French feeling cheated and unsatisfied.
So, she seems to conclude, they need another one. Odd.
In fact, their pride in their bloody and unproductive upheavals seems to me to be the problem. The storming of the Bastille and all that followed has been one long sanguinary disaster. A polity that bases its values almost entirely on the gleeful overturning of tradition and authority can hardly expect its own authority to go unquestioned. France constantly condemns itself to perpetual instability just by being post-1789 France.
The US has held itself together largely by paying lip-service to the Revolutionary War, while at the same time setting in stone the values and institutional ideas they inherited from the British – including an eighteenth-century monarchy, albeit elected.
The French, in contrast, walk the talk, and they pay for it on a regular basis.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Maurice Austin

What about the Les Trente Glorieuses: 1947–1973?

That can hardly be described as sanguinary can it?

ps. Nor do males routinely urinate on the side of the roads as they used to! And women now shave their armpits! Quelle horreur!

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago

Ahhhhhh !!!! les 30 glorieuses !!! Why don’t you add up France victory 

.25 years ago at the football World Cup. There is so little to celebrate that the French love a little stroll in the time tunnel

.we were once
..ain’t anymore 
..boooooboooo.
les 30 glorieuses were just catch up and rebuild after a war that left 2/3 of the country in ashes compared to 1/3 for WW1. Maybe we need another of those wars where we can enjoy the perks of rebuilding. Ukraine is going to have such a fun time

.one day
..more like the 60 glorieuses by the look of it.
Be serious for one sec. I was a kid at the end of the 30 glorieuses that finished with the 1973 oil crisis. Parent’s friends were experiencing losing their jobs after years of buying second homes, skiing trips 
.etc. It felt it would go forever. It didn’t.
if you’re interested, Claude Sautet, a famous 
then,
..French director caught this very well on film, showing French society from 1968 ( Les choses de la vie ) all the way to ( Francois Paul et les autres ). An American will fall asleep in 30 sec watching one of his movies, a Brit might last 10 minutes. But it does catch the reason of this continuous somber and mostly 

complicated mood. I was a kid then like I said but I could wait to get out.
I think 1974 was the last year France had a balanced budget. I wouldn’t mind going into debt if it was for some decent public service

but forget that one too. We have the performance of the US public service for the cost of Sweden’s.
What does this tell you

les 30 glorieuses were just a short wet dream.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruno Lucy
Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

That was a really interesting post. Ta.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

That was a really interesting post. Ta.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago

Ahhhhhh !!!! les 30 glorieuses !!! Why don’t you add up France victory 

.25 years ago at the football World Cup. There is so little to celebrate that the French love a little stroll in the time tunnel

.we were once
..ain’t anymore 
..boooooboooo.
les 30 glorieuses were just catch up and rebuild after a war that left 2/3 of the country in ashes compared to 1/3 for WW1. Maybe we need another of those wars where we can enjoy the perks of rebuilding. Ukraine is going to have such a fun time

.one day
..more like the 60 glorieuses by the look of it.
Be serious for one sec. I was a kid at the end of the 30 glorieuses that finished with the 1973 oil crisis. Parent’s friends were experiencing losing their jobs after years of buying second homes, skiing trips 
.etc. It felt it would go forever. It didn’t.
if you’re interested, Claude Sautet, a famous 
then,
..French director caught this very well on film, showing French society from 1968 ( Les choses de la vie ) all the way to ( Francois Paul et les autres ). An American will fall asleep in 30 sec watching one of his movies, a Brit might last 10 minutes. But it does catch the reason of this continuous somber and mostly 

complicated mood. I was a kid then like I said but I could wait to get out.
I think 1974 was the last year France had a balanced budget. I wouldn’t mind going into debt if it was for some decent public service

but forget that one too. We have the performance of the US public service for the cost of Sweden’s.
What does this tell you

les 30 glorieuses were just a short wet dream.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruno Lucy
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Maurice Austin

What about the Les Trente Glorieuses: 1947–1973?

That can hardly be described as sanguinary can it?

ps. Nor do males routinely urinate on the side of the roads as they used to! And women now shave their armpits! Quelle horreur!

Maurice Austin
Maurice Austin
1 year ago

I found this fascinating, but self-contradictory. In essence, the authoress (yes, I am that old-fashioned) is saying that all the upheavals in France in the past – including the ones formally called “Revolutions” – have left the French feeling cheated and unsatisfied.
So, she seems to conclude, they need another one. Odd.
In fact, their pride in their bloody and unproductive upheavals seems to me to be the problem. The storming of the Bastille and all that followed has been one long sanguinary disaster. A polity that bases its values almost entirely on the gleeful overturning of tradition and authority can hardly expect its own authority to go unquestioned. France constantly condemns itself to perpetual instability just by being post-1789 France.
The US has held itself together largely by paying lip-service to the Revolutionary War, while at the same time setting in stone the values and institutional ideas they inherited from the British – including an eighteenth-century monarchy, albeit elected.
The French, in contrast, walk the talk, and they pay for it on a regular basis.

John Walsh
John Walsh
1 year ago

France is on the verge of a racial civil war,although this article managed somehow to avoid the real elephant in the room.

John Walsh
John Walsh
1 year ago

France is on the verge of a racial civil war,although this article managed somehow to avoid the real elephant in the room.

P N
P N
1 year ago

An interesting if somewhat meandering description of the French. But how French are those rioting in the Banlieues? Can someone take on those national characteristics, which Mme Moutet describes, after one one or two generations of living in a multicultural ghetto?

Last edited 1 year ago by P N
P N
P N
1 year ago

An interesting if somewhat meandering description of the French. But how French are those rioting in the Banlieues? Can someone take on those national characteristics, which Mme Moutet describes, after one one or two generations of living in a multicultural ghetto?

Last edited 1 year ago by P N
Jonathan Barclay
Jonathan Barclay
1 year ago

As a British French resident (and citizen) i recently organised a discusison in our local France/UK twinning group on the themne that France is really a monarchy in disguise and the UK a republic in disguise. As Mme Moulet points out this goes back to the 17th century or even earlier. The beneficiary of the current problems will be Mme Le Pen. This may be depressing for those of us glad to not be in the UK during Brexit etc

Jonathan Barclay
Jonathan Barclay
1 year ago

As a British French resident (and citizen) i recently organised a discusison in our local France/UK twinning group on the themne that France is really a monarchy in disguise and the UK a republic in disguise. As Mme Moulet points out this goes back to the 17th century or even earlier. The beneficiary of the current problems will be Mme Le Pen. This may be depressing for those of us glad to not be in the UK during Brexit etc

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
1 year ago

The French are fond of hierarchy in all spheres of life. Revolts are more performative art than an assault on power in my experience.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Right on the money

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Nifty point which is making me ponder!

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Right on the money

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
1 year ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Nifty point which is making me ponder!

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
1 year ago

The French are fond of hierarchy in all spheres of life. Revolts are more performative art than an assault on power in my experience.

Hibernian Caveman
Hibernian Caveman
1 year ago

Interesting article, bringing together isolated bits of French history squatting unconnected in my mind.
Such as how Henri de Navarre, according to “Ten Sixty-Six and All That”, assumed the kingship by saying “Paris is rather a mess”.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Not quite!

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago

Paris vaut bien une messe !
Paris is worth a mass
..aka
.worth relenting my faith.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Not quite!

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago

Paris vaut bien une messe !
Paris is worth a mass
..aka
.worth relenting my faith.

Hibernian Caveman
Hibernian Caveman
1 year ago

Interesting article, bringing together isolated bits of French history squatting unconnected in my mind.
Such as how Henri de Navarre, according to “Ten Sixty-Six and All That”, assumed the kingship by saying “Paris is rather a mess”.

tom Ryder
tom Ryder
1 year ago

French open tennis tournament had hardly any fans, Macron’s Covid cult bankrupted the country, no wonder French people are angry

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  tom Ryder

Let’s set the record. At the beginning Macron embrassed lockdown

.but after feb 2021 he had enough of the rubbish tv doctors were serving him and he ditched lockdown

.reopened schools. France was the least affected by school closures

.although the consequences will be heavy for a whole generation.
Germany had school closure for 

9 months !!! Thanks Angela !! Spiffing move. The school curriculum had already been shortened by one year before the pandemic
.this makes a hell of lot to catch on.
England

.???? While bojo was partying.
The best of the best was of course Sweden where I was lucky enough to be for 3 months since the start of the pandemic. Normal life. Cool Swedish nerves.
But back to France

when a country hails Édouard Philippe as the country’s favourite politician, dear Anne Marie
. As much as I love your editorials

I hardly see a revolution coming.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  tom Ryder

No clue why my answer to you was deleted

.I was just pointing France had kept its school mostly opened in comparison to Germany 
..9 months lost
.when the curriculum had already been cut by year before Covid. This makes it a hell of a lot to catch up on.
i then pointed out how well Sweden had done and getting back to France
..I really fail to see the connection with Paris tennis tournament.
Finally, France is 112 % in debt

yes
.this still doesn’t make it bankrupt. French are angry regardless and there are as many as 66 million reasons for it.
I would see no reason why this post wouldn’t stay on the board.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  tom Ryder

Let’s set the record. At the beginning Macron embrassed lockdown

.but after feb 2021 he had enough of the rubbish tv doctors were serving him and he ditched lockdown

.reopened schools. France was the least affected by school closures

.although the consequences will be heavy for a whole generation.
Germany had school closure for 

9 months !!! Thanks Angela !! Spiffing move. The school curriculum had already been shortened by one year before the pandemic
.this makes a hell of lot to catch on.
England

.???? While bojo was partying.
The best of the best was of course Sweden where I was lucky enough to be for 3 months since the start of the pandemic. Normal life. Cool Swedish nerves.
But back to France

when a country hails Édouard Philippe as the country’s favourite politician, dear Anne Marie
. As much as I love your editorials

I hardly see a revolution coming.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  tom Ryder

No clue why my answer to you was deleted

.I was just pointing France had kept its school mostly opened in comparison to Germany 
..9 months lost
.when the curriculum had already been cut by year before Covid. This makes it a hell of a lot to catch up on.
i then pointed out how well Sweden had done and getting back to France
..I really fail to see the connection with Paris tennis tournament.
Finally, France is 112 % in debt

yes
.this still doesn’t make it bankrupt. French are angry regardless and there are as many as 66 million reasons for it.
I would see no reason why this post wouldn’t stay on the board.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruno Lucy
tom Ryder
tom Ryder
1 year ago

French open tennis tournament had hardly any fans, Macron’s Covid cult bankrupted the country, no wonder French people are angry

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago

Just a suggestion: before the re-opening, wouldn’t this be the right time to convert Notre Dame to a mosque?

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

It happened in Constantinople

..St Sophie !!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

Hagia Sophia.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago



.and in Damascus 
.where John the Baptist’s head is kept

.and revered might I add.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago



.and in Damascus 
.where John the Baptist’s head is kept

.and revered might I add.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruno Lucy

Hagia Sophia.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Ray Andrews

It happened in Constantinople

..St Sophie !!

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
1 year ago

Just a suggestion: before the re-opening, wouldn’t this be the right time to convert Notre Dame to a mosque?

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago

Granted I’m a world away but the photos don’t show heritage French people rioting
.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat L


.and you wouldn’t

.however
.these people,are legally French. How do you deal with this ?
Look at what is happening in the German open air swimming pools

.a very strong tradition after a long and dark winter. 2 cultures really collide there. A lot less spectacular for CNN à or BBC, but trust me, it does make people’s lives miserable.
Integretion is not only getting a job, it is embracing your new country’s values and way of life. This worked with the Poles, Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards. These guys didn’t have any easier. Like any new wave of immigrants, there were not exactly welcomed

.but they bit the bullet and got on with it.
You need no clue to understand why it is not working anymore.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat L


.and you wouldn’t

.however
.these people,are legally French. How do you deal with this ?
Look at what is happening in the German open air swimming pools

.a very strong tradition after a long and dark winter. 2 cultures really collide there. A lot less spectacular for CNN à or BBC, but trust me, it does make people’s lives miserable.
Integretion is not only getting a job, it is embracing your new country’s values and way of life. This worked with the Poles, Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards. These guys didn’t have any easier. Like any new wave of immigrants, there were not exactly welcomed

.but they bit the bullet and got on with it.
You need no clue to understand why it is not working anymore.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruno Lucy
Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago

Granted I’m a world away but the photos don’t show heritage French people rioting
.

James Kirk
James Kirk
1 year ago

A bit broad brush like, all Scotsmen wear kilts, all lorry drivers eat triple bypass fried food and all librarians vote LibDem. Anyway. never mind the French, when’s our revolution?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  James Kirk

Rubbish. No-one commentates on the French with as much knowledge, insight and style as A-EM.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Totally agree. If you compare with John Lichfield’s 
.even more.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Totally agree. If you compare with John Lichfield’s 
.even more.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  James Kirk

Rubbish. No-one commentates on the French with as much knowledge, insight and style as A-EM.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
James Kirk
James Kirk
1 year ago

A bit broad brush like, all Scotsmen wear kilts, all lorry drivers eat triple bypass fried food and all librarians vote LibDem. Anyway. never mind the French, when’s our revolution?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago

The French secular state has no enduring core, unlike Islam. Which do you think will prevail in the long run? My money is on the people who think there is a God. As Christianity falters and guitar strumming and keyboards and ministers who crack jokes from the pulpet replace rituals that lasted thousands of years, a void is created that will be filled by the more muscular faith.

Philip Richards
Philip Richards
1 year ago

This analysis of riots in the Banlieu doesn’t mention race or Islam. Can that really be correct?

Isabelle Dubois
Isabelle Dubois
1 year ago

The riots took place all over France, not just in the banlieues, and it was not just young people of supposed “Muslim” background or descent. Even in small towns where no riot had ever taken place, violence erupted. Hence why the author does not mention race or Islam.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago

Isabelle

.from the same kind

sorry.
The city of Laval, one of the dullest and quietest city in the country, was almost levelled and if anyone cares to watch, Alain Bauer is the one to look for on YouTube
.unfortunately in French. There is a very interesting and very recent parliamentary hearing. This is the best guy to turn to to have a full understanding of this mess.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
1 year ago

:))) it does
..just look at the tv footage. On top of it 
.it is forbidden
..just the huge elephant no one wants to see. So, in essence, you could single out these kids, because as young as 11 years old were taking part in these riots and then go for another round of riots. The government is simply terrified, so terrified that a pensioner clubbed to death by 3 under aged boys

doesn’t warrant a peep from the authorities or mainstream media. It is only when off mainstream media start making noise that it finds it place on page


.5 !!
Then
..religion ??? at 11 or 17 ? You must be joking. They only call on religion because it gives them a sense of identity that they cannot, or feel they cannot get in France

or simply do not want to identify with French culture. They simply hate the country. And while they wave North African countries flag at football games, they are too freaking scared to go to North Africa knowing too well where this kind destructive of behaviour would lead to

.well
..you know.
Do not forget, wether you believe ( I don’t ) or not, religion determines your cultural way of life and on this subject, the gap between Islam and Christianity couldn’t be wider. There are even in Paris, 18 th arrondissement, cafĂ©s where women are not allowed, a stone throw from SacrĂ© CƓur. Not exactly the French way of life.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruno Lucy
Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart
1 year ago

For anyone who wants to get behind the headlines, Jerîme Fourquet’s recent bestseller La France sous nos Yeux gives a brilliant sense of where the winners (plenty of them) and losers (even more) sit- and while the rioters this summer have come from la banlieu those who tried to gum up the whole country 4/5 years ago were from the vast service sector the rise of which Fourquet documents with extraordinary precision- and in a fine style to boot. Highly recommended

Catherine Conroy
Catherine Conroy
1 year ago

France is no different from other countries in western Europe. Our riots are violent but frankly, the last time we had a revolution, we ended up with Napoleon.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
11 months ago

what about 1830 ? Charles X brother of Louis XVI and Louis XVIII
.gone ?

1848 ? Louis Philipe

gone 
.and then 1870 following the battle of Sedan Napoleon III gone into exile to England and giving way to the 3 rd Republic in a bloodshed starting with the Paris commune.
The 4 th was born on the rubbles of the 2 nd war
..and of the autocratic regime of Marshal Petain.
As to the 5 th
..you seem to forget that the paratroopers were ready to jump on Paris in 1958 had de Gaulle not achieve to take power by legal means. It came very very close to a civil war.
I’d say there are more than one revolution in this padded cell !!
So
..no
..France is not like the rest of Europe. It has an inflated view of itself
..who hasn’t ?

but frankly, the posture doesn’t match the sad reality that’s made of ongoing unrests and a very unhappy people. Why would they be the highest consumers of psycho pharmaceutical pink pills in the world ? And have a look at the happiness index. Telling.
The french believe that a revolution led by the providential man is the key to all problems.
The Germans on the other had, have learned their lesson the hard way and boringly ( according to the French ) plodder along, taking months to get a coalition government with a healthy distrust toward flamboyance. One can say of course that the German economy is soon to be buried

.wishful thinking.

Last edited 11 months ago by Bruno Lucy