In a recent column, I described France under the Fifth Republic. France is a wonderful country, rich in history and culture. There is one flaw which is is in danger of bringing her down. French politicians often praise rely on and refer to “republican values.” But it is precisely those values which threaten la belle france. The glorification of revolution is embedded into French culture. If there is a problem, the solution is in the streets. We see this constantly in the riots, the destruction, the rampage in libraries, in the Sorbonne, in brief the frequent tendency to replace order with the rule of a republican mob. The old opposition to the culture of the revolution was compromised in the flirtation of many of their leaders with fascism and the Vichy regime.
France should be flourishing. The common market was designed to subsidize and protect her agriculture, and to enable her to ride the German tiger economically and politically. In the meantime the US, having financed the post-war recovery would guarantee Western Europe for almost half a century against the Soviet empire. The old rival Britain, worn out by the war, was seriously overextended. Her politicians’ incompetence would ensure her further economic decline until the eighties. They had persuaded the British public about the economic advantages of joining the EEC, and the political leadership in Europe it would give the UK. The result was that France would share the rivers of gold which the British consumer would in part provide, and through the Paris- Berlin alliance, would manage Europe, at least until the recent expansion of the EU.
Yet her constitutional system was designed for one man, General de Gaulle. The Fifth Republic is an elective monarchy, but not a constitutional monarchy. It contains tensions which regularly paralyze the state, and make it the captive of feuding politicians and a public taught to believe that salvation can be found in the street.
This is the recipe which the dominant faction in Australia’s declining republican movement now secretly plans to impose on Australia. To paper over the inevitable fissures which will emerge when this is revealed, the republican leaders are justifiably derided as RWM, “republicans without a model.” They pretend they want to throw out the Constitution, but haven’t the foggiest idea what to put in its place. But as Professor Greg Craven explained to Senator Marise Payne, the cascading series of plebiscites and referenda that the movement prescribes and a senate committee endorsed in 2004, is designed to end up in Australia living under a system similar to France’s Fifth Republic.