Bastille Day II

I usually have a post on Bastille day which is the one day a year I let my Francophilia run wild, and I write a love letter to France. But I have a second Bastille day post in 2014 because things are not so good in France. And is so often the case, the problem is self inflicted.

Our sister republic, France, is in trouble.

The EU is a failure, the French political class is the architect of the disaster, and they dare not admit how bad it is, so the French are paralyzed.

Emmanuel Todd, above left, whose work Jim Bennett and I used in America 3.0 has been vocal about this problem. I had a post up the other day with a lengthy discussion by Todd in English on this topic.

Daniel Hannan, above right, recently posted a shorter clip, three minutes, in which Todd shows a sound appreciation of the distinctiveness of the Anglosphere:

I sympathize with the British dilemma entirely. Britain’s position is horrible when you think of it. They are very close and very dependent in terms of trade from a dying continent. Continental Europe is an aging continent committing suicide under German leadership, a very common European thing. But culturally, Britain belongs to this much wider Anglo-American world.

Britain therefore has an alternative, at least potentially, to becoming enmeshed further in “European Project.”

For France, alternatives are harder to find.

But Todd is a patriotic Frenchman. He is not content to say nothing while his country is slowly destroyed, while the EU under German leadership fails to take any action to prevent the decline of the Continent in general, and of France in particular. Todd proposes that France pull out of the Euro, and take the consequences, to get back their autonomy.

Craig Willey is an EU affairs journalist, who blogs about Emmanuel Todd. He links to what he calls the definitive Emmanuel Todd rant on the subject, which is in French. However, Willey provides a translation of a short passage which captures the force of Todd’s opposition to his country sleepwalking into stasis and national extinction:

Fuck, we’re here, breaking our own balls, in a mass of non-decisions, with Brussels, with Frankfurt, in humiliating negotiations, without any prospects, with an infinitely crap history in sight, and all of a sudden [we break free of the euro-regime], that’s it, we’re in the shit, together, as Frenchmen, we roll up our sleeves and we try to get through it. Isn’t that beautiful? And democracy is reborn. And at first, we’re a little bit poorer. But we’re going somewhere, and our children are going somewhere.

I heard the ring of French greatness there. Contrary to some self-congratulatory American conservative mythology, French history is usually marked by stubbornness and a refusal to surrender, especially in the service of national survival or a compelling cause.

Let’s hope the French heed Todd’s message.

(I was struck by this passage in an other way. I have had similar thoughts about the transition we are going to have to suffer through to dismantle the legacy state and economy of America 2.0. To paraphrase Todd: “We break free, we’re in the shit, together, as Americans, we roll up our sleeves and we try to get through it. Isn’t that beautiful? And freedom and prosperity are reborn.” Yes. I like that very much.)

The rest of Europe also needs to find a better way than being smothered under the current EU regime. As Jim Bennett and I wrote in our essay America, England, Europe – Why Do We Differ?:

The peoples of Eastern and Central Europe must probe their own historical roots, to determine which “continuities” should be cultivated, and which need to be overcome.

Anything more than a free trade area and a set of specific cooperative projects is more of a stretch than Europe can stand. The first task is to stand down from the ruinous Single Currency project. The second task is to put a stop to the misguided and destructive attempt to create a European federal state. When these failed projects are put aside, a realistic European collaboration can be constructed.

France is, in its own way, an individualistic country, with greater cultural affinity for the Anglosphere than for the countries of Central Europe, which have more sharply declining birth rates, and an authoritarian tradition.

Further, as Theodore Roosevelt said:

The ancient friendship between France and the United States has been, on the whole, a sincere and disinterested friendship. A calamity to you would be a sorrow to us. But it would be more than that. In the seething turmoil of the history of humanity certain nations stand out as possessing a peculiar power or charm, some special gift of beauty or wisdom or strength, which puts them among the immortals, which makes them rank forever with the leaders of mankind. France is one of these nations. For her to sink would be a loss to all the world.

I quoted him last year on Bastille Day. And I heartily agree with TR on this point.

And a France which is true to itself will find that a “special relationship” with the Anglosphere in the years ahead is a better alternative than being subject to a German dominated EU.

Of course, we will have to work out a lot of details!

Also notable is Mr. Hannan’s praise of America 3.0 in his column entitled Europe is dying, says France’s leading demographer, and Britain would be better off with the Anglosphere: “In their seminal book America 3.0, James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus draw heavily on Todd’s researches to explain why free-market capitalism developed in places where families are nuclear and limited. But that’s another story.” We do indeed, and it is a very big story.

We were also blessed to have Instapundit cite to the Hannan column, and note that it contains “a nice plug for Jim Bennett & Michael Lotus’s America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity In The 21st Century.”

Prof. Reynolds also suggests: “Here in the states, that’s a book that every 2016 candidate — or aspiring issues director — should be reading now.”

But of course they should!

11 thoughts on “Bastille Day II”

  1. “… Contrary to some self-congratulatory American conservative mythology, French history is usually marked by stubbornness and a refusal to surrender …”

    I see the USUALLY …


    Hey … I’m a Chicago Cubs fan … anyone can have a bad century or two :-}

  2. 1871, see the Paris commune.
    1815, a return grudge march, and a near run thing, a year after a crushing defeat, after 20+ years of beating the snot out of all the rest of Europe.
    1940, no one was going to beat the Wehrmacht at the top of its game.

    1914, the Marne.
    1916, Verdun.

    The American conservative jeering at French is irritating.

    It seems to have started when the French chose not to invade Iraq with us, which was the right decision.

    That makes the whole pose even more silly.

  3. The Hungarian Review article was excellent. Do you have links to other articles you or Jim have published that are available?

  4. It seems to have started when the French chose not to invade Iraq with us, which was the right decision.

    Others think it started with M. Genet’s unfortunate visit.

  5. Mrs. Davis, did you know you are cited in our bibliographic essay at the end of the book?

    The term CLAD manufacturing, meaning customized, localized, additive, distributed was originated by the commenter “Mrs. Davis” on the Chicago Boyz blog.

    I have other links. I will make a post about them all soon.

    “Others think it started with M. Genet’s unfortunate visit.”

    There has always been some mix of animus and admiration toward France, at least since then. Probably all the way back to the beginning of English speaking North America.

    I am talking about the particularly idea that France is a nation of cowards who are pathetic at warfare. Neither are based on reality. France was the military colossus of Europe for centuries. The courage of the French in World War I was beyond reproach. The US military for many years modeled itself on the French. It is absurd and irritating.

  6. If I recall, the Chirac govt refused to join us in Iraq because it was on the take. Remember de Villepin’s press conference in which he refused to take sides between us and Saddam Hussein? If they had supported us, or at least had demurred honestly, without all the phoniness and sanctimony, I suspect Americans would have been more forgiving or at least less contemptuous.

    France is an important country but not without flaws. Let’s not get carried away in enthusiasm as we once did in hostility.

  7. Well, I’m blushing. Now I’ll have to read the bibliographic note also.

    It was interesting to re-read that thread. What I remembered from it was our discussion about trucking. But reading it again I was struck by my comments about shoes. I am now working with a company that shreds scrap leather (of which there is an amazing amount that is costly to dispose) and then processes it into virtual leather dust and then into 4×8 sheets of leather with proprietary bonding technology to produce a product that is stronger and flawless but with all the other properties of natural leather. It is not hard to imagine additive leather products being produced in a couple of decades.

  8. Jonathan:

    “Let’s not get carried away in enthusiasm”

    Only once a year.

    If the French stayed out of Iraq because they were being bribed, then they won twice. They got paid not to plunge into a huge mess. Clever.

    Mrs. Davis:

    You MUST read the bibliographic essay. It is my favorite part of the book.

    “… a couple of decades.”

    Much sooner. Watch.

  9. I’m waiting for my burger. I’ll stick with a couple of decades. When you get to my age that’s not all that far away.

  10. France mirrors our own country in many ways. They had a can do spirit and a belief that they could conquer any problem. The Panama Canal failure, the Dreyfus affair, the political corruption, the collapse of too much democracy, and the brutal losses of the first World War – all these lead to a downfall of a great nation. Those who would so easily belittle France should look in the mirror and ask if the United States is headed in the same direction. Je n’est sais pas.

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