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  • Bastile Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on July 14th, 2014 (All posts by )

    As I wrote last year:

    France is our sister country: a brilliant, beautiful, eccentric, difficult and troublesome sister, but still our blood, and our lives are bound up together, and we could not do without her. And when a real threat to the family emerges, we end up on the same side. The Anglosphere is interwoven with France in countless ways, despite everything that has brought us into conflict. The West would not be the West without France. Much that is great and beautiful and cultured and pleasant and delightful and inspiring in the world would not exist but for France.
    I love my country, and the English speaking world, 365 days a year. But one day a year I admit my love for France as well.

    Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

    Vive la Republique.

    Vive la France!


    Chaliapin Sings the Marseillaise.

    Tremble, tyrants!

    H/t: Helen


    12 Responses to “Bastile Day”

    1. morgan Says:

      Sorry Lex, I can’t share your enthusiasm for the French and its revolution. I know I’m a distinct minority, but I view it as a bloody tragedy and the model for such “revolutionaries” as Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, and assorted bloody thugs, including fellow Chicago thugs Bill Ayres and Mr Obama. I’ll pass on any celebration of Bastile Day.

    2. Lexington Green Says:

      Morgan, you overstate the case. I cannot really blame the people who knocked down the gates of the Bastille for Bill Ayers misdeeds two centuries later. The connection is too attenuated.

      Nonetheless, I agree with the thrust of what you say 364 days a year. See this post:

      I remember the Vendee, and the spoliation of the cathedrals, and the massacres of the innocent, and Edmund Burke’s great oratory, and the dawn of modern tyranny, and all the evils of the Revolution on the other 364 days.
      One day a year I cheer for the Rights of Man and the Republic, and newly minted citizens dragging the aristocrats who despised and scorned them to the guillotines, and the fear struck into the hearts of crowned despots who tottered on their thrones, and the hard-handed sons of peasants and blacksmiths commanding the cheering, singing armies of the Revolution, with their tricolor cockades and ragged clothes, their skirmishers swarming amidst the battle smoke, their charging columns bristling and gleaming with bayonets, sweeping the invaders in a tumbling rout back over the frontiers.

      The people who deposed the Bourbons and a crushing aristocracy deserve some credit from us, at lease one day a year.

    3. Bill Brandt Says:

      Something I think the French have been contrary…..just to be contrary.

      Starting with deGaulle taking France out of NATO and yet enjoying its benefits.

      I would agree about France – during the time of Lafayette up to WW2.

      Why do you you think the French during the post war era have been so difficult?

    4. Lexington Green Says:

      France was always integrated into NATO defensive plans. There was no real doubt where they stood on the defense of Western Europe. If war with the USSR broke out, they were in on our side and everybody knew it.

      They were difficult for a bunch of reasons. For one thing, they did not particularly respect the quality of American leadership after Eisenhower. Another thing is their domestic politics has a large communist element which had irrational sentimentality toward Soviet Russia, so they would do things for domestic public consumption that did not make much sense. Yet another thing is they simply did not like being cut down from a nominal world power to a medium sized European country stuck between two colossi. They did not want to be stuck with the decisions of either the USA or USSR and have no say in their own fate. They learned the exact opposite lesson from Suez from the British response. Britain decided that the alliance with the USA was more important than anything else and to never get crosswise with the USA again, though sitting out Vietnam (wisely) challenged the relationship. The French learned that the Americans are no better than the British before them, that no Anglo-Saxon can be trusted, that France, despite her diminished capabilities, must carve out her own place as best she could. France also disliked the mix of hardball on one hand and cloying moralism on the other from the USA. France preferred to simply engage in self interested foreign policy, including selling weapons and securing access to oil and other raw materials, and not bother with a pretense of liberal uplift.

      There is more. But that is some of it.

    5. Jonathan Says:

      not bother with a pretense of liberal uplift

      The postwar French, at least after Suez, combined ruthless self-interestedness with irritating public sanctimony. I give de Gaulle great props but he was a nudnick. France was Israel’s main ally before the Six Day War, then reversed itself and started lecturing Israel about human rights for the poor, oppressed oil-rich Arabs. Official France’s behavior during the period leading up to our invasion of Iraq was consistent with all of this. That’s a big reason why people from English speaking countries tend to be contemptuous of France even though many of us have positive experience with the French as individuals.

    6. Lexington Green Says:

      Everyone engages in public sanctimony. The problem with the Americans is sometimes they believe their own Holy Joe talk.

    7. Jonathan Says:

      The problem with the Americans is sometimes they believe their own Holy Joe talk.

      That’s a cultural characteristic. And sometimes the talk is right.

    8. Bill Brandt Says:

      I believe – in the late 40s – France was in danger of becoming Communist – as to whether they would have been in the Soviet orbit or more like Tito – is open to speculation – although knowing the French – more like Tito IMO.

      Lexington – good response – they can be aggravating but it helps to see things from their perspective. I am wondering too if some of this is fueled by resentment of the Anglosphere – there was a time when French was the language of diplomacy and all those who aspired to being in polite society.

      I try to remind people now and then that if it weren’t for the French most likely the American Revolution would have failed, and the signers of the Declaration of Independence hanged or imprisoned. They helped us at some critical times. Although I think their help was fueled less by friendship with us, and more with animus with Britain.

    9. Lexington Green Says:

      Sometimes the talk is right. Yes. Cynicism with a thin veneer of moral preening is not always the best approach. It sometimes works for the French. But it’s not our style.

    10. morgan Says:

      Lex, I’m not blaming the people who knocked down the Bastile Gate but those who followed sure set the tone for the likes of Bill Ayres

    11. Lexington Green Says:

      Morgan, modern tyranny can trace a lot of its heritage to the Revolutionary government in France.

      That is why I only celebrate the French Revolution 1/365 of the time.

      Ours I celebrate one way or another every day, including with my “blog name.”

    12. RonaldF Says:

      Lexington – I hope you put up a good Liberation Day entry. I too love France for all its good and despite its bad. People seem to little realize that De Gaulle saved France from a military and/ or communist dictatorship. That is why he had to play aloof. He always had our back. France now plays the biggest role in helping failed African states. We will withdraw for the next two years – discarding experienced troops for an illusion of peace. May the Good Lord protect idiots.

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