Today, France is in a perilous state and that is a cause of great concern. Of course, if it were only the French Republic that was in peril, I would not care in the slightest and would cheer the downfall of that horrid failure of a governing system. France, however, is a pillar of modern, western civilization, a cultural treasure for Europe and the European-descended world that must be saved. France today is beset by demographic decline, economic instability and increasing numbers of terrorist attacks by Islamic radicals. The demographic problem is not simply one of having more immigrants but having more immigrants and fewer French. Would France still be France if the population were African or Arab rather than Gallic? I do not think that it would. Would France, the “Eldest Daughter of the Church” still be France if the population were Muslim rather than Christian? I do not think that it would. I would prefer that France remain a country of Gallic people and I would prefer there not to be minarets around Notre Dame. Can this be prevented? Yes, but it will not be easy and the French themselves are part of the problem.
Today the “Front National” is the most popular political party in France, currently under the leadership of Marine LePen. Many are hoping that, just as “Brexit” and the election of Donald Trump (and perhaps the defeat of Renzi in Italy) upset the political status quo, that LePen will surprise everyone and become the next President of the French Republic. I do not hesitate to say that, were I French, she would be my favored choice among the viable candidates. However, I think she will have a harder time than others in getting elected and while the FN may increase their presence in government in the next elections, I do not think they are on the cusp of saving France from the current crisis. I would regard an electoral win by the FN as a step in the right direction, preferable to the other likely alternatives, but one that would nonetheless still be difficult and which would, at best, postpone inevitable decline. The problem is that the root of the current crisis in France, in deed virtually every problem in modern France, can be traced directly back to the Revolution and nothing will permanently be solved until that issue is dealt with.
In terms of the problem with radical Islam, of course the vociferous attack on Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular in France has done immense damage. The churches in France are mostly empty these days, more of a focus for tourists admiring their art and architecture than a place of worship. Obviously, this has weakened the French when it comes to dealing with militant Islam as it is difficult to oppose a religion when you have no religion of your own. France was, before the Revolution, certainly not perfect but was extremely confident of its Catholic identity. The French were one of if not the primary driving forces behind the Crusades, the French sent missionaries to lands as distant as Canada to Vietnam and it was Catholic France, under Charles Martel, that turned back the Muslim invasion at the Battle of Tours. Although the situation eventually normalized, France was never quite so ‘Catholic’ a country after the Revolution as it had been before though, ironically perhaps, it did see a flurry of pro-Catholic interventions under Emperor Napoleon III in places such as Mexico, Italy, the Middle East, Indochina and Korea. However, the damage done to the dominant faith of France by the Revolution seems so evident as to be inarguable.
Yet, there is much more to it than the anti-Catholic, anti-Christian aspect. If the problems besetting France today had nothing to do with Islam, if the immigrants or those committing terrorist attacks were of another religion or no religion at all, the problem would still remain and France would still be hard-pressed to deal with it because of the lingering effects of the Revolution. In addition to the undermining of religion, the Revolution undermined and is still undermining today, the old sense of righteous pride in French nationalism and in-group preference which makes it extremely difficult to respond to the current crisis. No doubt, some will dispute me on this and say that the French Revolution helped to create nationalism in the first place, citing the Napoleonic Wars, the concept of the “nation-in-arms” or other periods of nationalistic or patriotic fervor seen long after the Revolution such as the famous “Spirit of the Marne” in World War I. All of those are certainly valid points but, I think, can be refuted.
Despite what some think, nationalism was not a purely post-revolutionary invention, though it certainly did become more pronounced in many places after the French Revolution, largely because of the impact the French Revolutionary Wars had on other, neighboring countries such as Italy and Germany. However, long before the French Revolution there was the German First Reich, officially the, “Holy Roman Empire of the German *Nation*” which included all people of the German nationality. France, likewise, clearly had a kind of nationalism before the Revolution. During the Hundred Years War, the French fought long and hard to oppose being overtaken and ruled by the English in spite of the fact that the English looked like they did, worshipped as they did and even had kings who were in many ways more French than English. Yet, they still understood that they were French, the English were not and wished for France to remain French and not become English. Throughout the Middle Ages, everyone knew that a Frenchman was a Frenchman. He was not the same as a German or an Englishman or an Italian or a Spaniard. Pre-Revolutionary Europeans understood the concept of nationalism, it was only that in those days, faith was more important than nationality. That did not mean that nationality did not exist or was inconsequential but that there was more to it than that.
The French Revolution, however, imprinted on the minds of the public and future generations a motto that encapsulated what they claimed to be all about and this was so successful that I am sure everyone reading this knows what they are and can probably even say them in French. I refer of course to, “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” with fraternity being an eloquent term for ‘brotherhood’. Liberty, of course, is a rather vague notion with many countries achieving liberty perfectly well without a revolution nor have the French been very consistent in upholding the concept. However, in terms of the current crisis, the more immediate and damaging concepts to take hold have been those of equality and brotherhood or the “brotherhood of man” as it would be more grandly called. If one takes into consideration the logical conclusion of pushing these slogans, one cannot but arrive at the sorry state France is in now.
Absolute equality is a social and biological absurdity. It was pushed as a means of attacking the monarchy and the aristocracy but the line could not be drawn there. Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that equality does not and cannot exist. No two creatures on God’s green earth are equal, not human beings, not animals or insects nor belief systems nor ideas. When it comes to human beings, different peoples have advanced at different rates, in different ways, some have been better than others in the past, some are better than others now and likewise some are better at some things than other people but fall behind in a different area. The only thing that has remained constant is that humanity has never been “equal”. Yet, this is one of the things that the Revolution pushed and which has taken root in French society (as well as many others of course) because of the glorification of the Revolution.
The problem arises from equality being taken to its logical conclusion. To say that we are all equal is to say that we are all, essentially, the same and thus we are all interchangeable. If anyone can be the leader of France, not exclusively the King and his legitimate heirs of the Capet dynasty, why not someone who is not French at all? If everyone is the same, if everyone is equal, then what is the valid reason for restricting who is able to choose the President of France to only French voters? This then coincides with the revolutionary value of “brotherhood”. If all men (and women and these days the inexplicable) are equal and all men are “brothers” then why should there be any distinction between a Gallic citizen of France and an immigrant from Algeria or Senegal or Cambodia? This is the logical conclusion. It did not begin that way but the seeds were clearly there. After all, it was in the name of “liberty, equality and brotherhood” that the French revolutionaries set out to liberate their “brothers” from the “oppression” of their princes in The Netherlands, Belgium, the German and the Italian states. It is the reason why Vladimir Lenin, upon arriving back home in Russia from exile, was greeted by cheering crowds of his Bolshevik supporters with bands playing the French national anthem.
It is the poison of the French Revolution that prevents France from dealing with its current crisis and no solution will be a viable one in the long-term until the legacy of the Revolution is dealt with. The traditional Kingdom of France would never have had such difficulties. The Kingdom of France was not narrow or bigoted in its views, it had queen-consorts who were Spanish, Italian and Austrian and it, while remaining a Catholic kingdom, often made common cause with non-Catholic powers such as a fairly long-standing alliance with the preeminent Islamic power of the past in the Turkish Ottoman Empire. However, the Kingdom of France also had a very healthy and very specific and positive understanding of itself based on faith, history and blood. Today, anyone from anywhere can come to France, take a citizenship oath after being tested on how well they have learned the values of the Revolution, and become “French”. This would have been so laughably absurd to the people of the old Kingdom of France that I doubt they would be able to even take it seriously as a possibility.
Today, because of “equality” and “brotherhood” in particular, anyone from anywhere can by mere means of paperwork become “French”. It is all a matter of simply learning the language, passing a test and professing belief in the “values” of the French Revolution. In the past, France was more than that, was something more real than that. To be French was to be a descendant of the Gauls and Franks, to be the inheritors of the legacy of King Clovis, St Denis, Charles Martel and St Joan of Arc. France was the “Eldest Daughter of the Church” ruled over by a sacred royal line that was unique. It sent forces throughout Europe and later throughout the world to defend its religion and advance its own civilization. They were, as King Louis XVI said, a nation with ‘one King, one law and one faith’ that had a strong sense of themselves, who they were and what they were about.
The Kingdom of France had a specific ancestry, it had its own founding steeped in a sacred tradition that was unique from other peoples. Today we see the result of trying to hold together a country based on nothing more than vague, ideological slogans. If one attempts to hold to these slogans, there is no way one can counter the current crisis. If all men are equal and all men are brothers, then there is no valid reason why someone from Tunisia, Tanzania or Thailand cannot be considered “French” though none seem able to explain why the reverse is never held to be true (I would argue that Tunisians, Tanzanians and Thais have more common sense on such issues than French people who have been brainwashed by the devotees of the Revolution). And the most infuriating thing about this is that the French themselves quickly realized their mistake and tried to undo the damage only to be thwarted at every turn, sometimes, I am sad to say, by the royalists themselves who hated their royalist rivals more than they hated the revolutionary republic.
The French Revolution, in case anyone has forgotten or was never told, was not a result of the democratically expressed will of a majority of the French people. Large sections of rural France, large sections of south and western France actively opposed the Revolution and many more people were terrorized into tacit support or at least passivity by the Reign of Terror which the revolutionaries launched against all who opposed them. The French Revolution was not a triumph of the majority but the beginning of a sad history of the Parisian mob being allowed to bring down governments and ruin things for the rest of the country. After the First Republic led to the First Empire it was destroyed and the Kingdom of France was restored. However, once again, the Parisian mob brought down the monarchy and France had the short-lived Second Republic which mutated into the Second Empire. That was destroyed, not by the combined armies of Europe but by the Kingdom of Prussia and pals at which point a full restoration of the monarchy was prevented ostensibly because of an inability by the royal heir to compromise on the French flag. Divisions among the royalists allowed the Third Republic to take hold but in 1940 it died a largely unlamented death at the hands of Nazi Germany. It was succeeded by the “State of France” which, while not a restoration of the monarchy, was at least somewhat of a renunciation of the French Revolution. However, the ties it necessarily had to have with Nazi Germany in order to simply exist meant that when the war ended in defeat for the Axis Powers, the State of France was demolished and its memory forever tainted by the odium of collaboration with the hated conquerors.
Thus followed the Fourth French Republic which quickly failed to pass muster and so today France is on its Fifth Republic. Obviously, it should be considered no accident that France could have a single monarchy for a thousand years but has gone through five different versions of the republic in less than two centuries. The revolutionary republic clearly does not work, every incarnation of it has ultimately failed and yet, because of the persistence of this zealous devotion to the image of “The Revolution” the French keep being dragged back to it to try and try again. Most of the leaders who have stepped forward to save France in times of disaster knew or at least suspected such from Napoleon to Marshal MacMahon to Marshal Petain to General DeGaulle, one was a royalist, two had at least some royalist sympathies and the other promoted himself to monarchial status on his own.
The bottom line is that, as is often the case with such matters, the Kingdom of France was a natural, organic, living thing. It was a country, a nation, a people with a unique history and culture. The revolutionary republic is an artificial contrivance that tries to replace history and ancestry with ideological slogans. And what is the result? The result is that the church where Charles “the Hammer” Martel is buried is now in a Muslim neighborhood, part of the department with the highest proportion of immigrants in all of France. Is that not a perfect example of the state France is in today? The man who is most famous for winning the battle that defeated the Muslim invasion of France is today in his grave surrounded by Muslims whom the French government has allowed to come in peacefully to live and settle. The man who “hammered” the Saracen invaders could, were he able, probably now hear the cry of the muezzin from his resting place on a regular basis.
But, of course, Charles Martel, this great figure of French history, this savior of France, was everything that the current French Republic, informed by the values of the Revolution, considers deplorable. He did not believe in equality, he did not believe in tolerance, he did not believe that the Arab invaders of his country were to be treated like brothers, that they were indistinguishable from his own people. This, I would argue, is why his France lasted for a thousand years and post-Revolutionary France is stumbling toward oblivion. The Revolution, needless to say, is part of history and as such it cannot be made to have never happened. France can never be exactly as it was before but the legacy of the Revolution is something France must come to grips with if it is to survive as a nation. It cannot be undone but the mistakes that resulted from it, such as the tearing down of the monarchy, the pushing of secularism and the legalistic definition of what it means to be “French” certainly can be but it will require facing the facts about what the Revolution has done to France and breaking the spell that it currently holds over the public.
I do not think the French ever recovered from the French Revolution. The mass-murder and regicide is still celebrated. The French motto, Liberté, égalité, fraternité, has infected the Western World. It is an unrealistic view of mankind that even our Founding Fathers did not ascribe to. All peoples, cultures and religions are not fungible.ReplyDelete
I'm surprised you favor Le Pen for the French presidency, I would have thought a serious Catholic like yourself would be more inclined towards Francois Fillon.ReplyDelete
Fillon is the one who is being sold as a "serious Catholic" and yet any Frenchman who was would certainly be a royalist, which he is not. His close relationship with Sarkozy, promise to keep abortion and other social ills legal all count against him in my book. Probably even more so since he's being presented as a "conservative Catholic". He would certainly be an improvement over Hollande (not difficult) but to me he seems to be someone put forward, portrayed as more conservative than he actually is, to try to peel off support for LePen who would shake things up a great deal more, particularly in regards to immigration and the European Union.Delete
The good news for those who favor Fillon is that, as I think I mentioned, he's more likely to win whereas LePen is still rather a long-shot in my view.
Fillon seems like controlled opposition to me, put forward to siphon off conservative votes that would have otherwise gone to Le Pen.ReplyDelete
I never thought I'd find a living monarchist as eloquent and wise as yourself! However, I have a few curious questions. First, which royal candidate would you prefer to be restored in France? Which one is most legitimate? Next, I believe that my family is descended from a line of French emigres (sadly, much of my family's research regarding our aristocracy was lost years ago after a number of inheritances went poorly) and I've been curious about your thoughts on pesky nobles. What role do they play in your ideal world? In history it seems as if aristocrats have been some of the most loyal and some of the most untrustworthy figures in service of kings.ReplyDelete
I would also like to discuss current French politics. I personally would prefer Fillon over Le Pen because of their economic policies. Both are huge steps forward in social policy and French identity. However, I feel that Le Pen would do wonders to restore the identity of the French in ways Fillon couldn't, but at the cost of increased government size. She avidly supports government ownership of energy, healthcare, and believes the government can solve many problems. Even though she is anti-EU, she approved of the Havana Charter which seems to be a very globalist thing. I feel that the socialist parts of her campaign really hold back my approval. Fillon seems much more like a fiscal conservative, which I agree with. Even though he is more moderate in terms of his "Frenchness" I think that is the price to pay to escape from the "socialist" in "national socialist" (though I still support a national identity and I don't believe Le Pen to be a neo-Nazi, I just disagree with socialism and the paths it opens). What are your ideas regarding economic policy? What role would a monarch play in economic policy?
Finally to quench my curiosity, do you personally think France will ever restore their monarchy or at least come to terms with what the French Revolution really was?
That's a lot. Let's see, on the succession, I think the Duke of Anjou is the most legitimate but I'm not strident on the subject. If France prefers to restore the Orleans branch, I would cheer. Hell, a Bonaparte would be an improvement. I am more inclined to the legitimists but I am most inclined toward unity. The dispute has been disastrous and the same could be said for other countries as well.Delete
For the aristocracy, I do think they should have official recognition but no official favors (other than, perhaps, hereditary positions at court, that sort of thing). Every country will inevitably have an elite, for good or ill, that's just a fact of life so better to have it made official and manageable.
In French politics, I favor LePen though, like you, I think her economics are problematic, more aimed at popularity than fiscal reality. However, for me, breaking the EU takes precedence and she seems the best shot at that even being a possibility though, despite the FN's place in the polls, I still, as I said, think LePen is a long shot. In economics, I tend to be (I emphasize *tend to be*) more free market within the confines of the national borders. When it comes to moving beyond the national to the global level, I'm much less inclined to "hands off".
As for whether or not the monarchy will be restored, at this point it is quite unlikely but France, as I said, will have to come to terms with the Revolution and its effects or France will simply cease to exist. So, either it does and lives or it doesn't and dies. If it does, going forward from there, a restoration becomes much more likely.