November 12

Republican Paralysis

My view that the President of France, the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior, encouraged by the republican constitution, were playing politics in their response to the collapse of law and order, and this had led to a paralysis in government, was not mine alone.

They were all eying the next presidential election, and working out how best to advantage themselves , and damage their rivals.

In a piece (France inflamed by burning social unrest) in the subscriber- only section of the Australian Financial Review, 9 November, 2005, their Europe correspondent Geoff Kitney observed:

“Political commentators accuse the key political figures of initially being more concerned about the opportunity the crisis provided for them to position themselves in the race to be the next president of France. Sarkozy’s first response, suggesting that the best way to deal with the problem was to crush its perpetrators, has led to charges that he sought to use the issue to project the image of a tough leader…Prime Minister de Villepin and President Jacques Chirac are said to have been happy to see M.Sarkozy in political trouble. President Chirac has made it known he wants de Villepin to succeed him if he does not stand for re-election in 2007.”

Geof Kitney began his piece with this comparison:

“It was Guy Fawkes Night in England on Saturday but the bonfires that burnt the brightest and longest were on the other side of the English Channel in the suburban areas of every major city in France”.

A subscriber reading my piece, “Paris Brule-t-il?” was reminded of something he read by Malcolm Muggeridge. This was from his book, The Infernal Grove, 1972, at page 238.

Our subscriber wrote:

“Paris burning reminded me of Malcolm Muggeridge’s residency there after the Germans withdrew from France months before the war ended. This was the period between the German withdrawal and the end of the war in Europe, when more Frenchmen were killed, murdered, assassinated, than their total loses throughout the entire war. “Muggeridge was with British Intelligence MI6 on Field Marshall Montgomery’s staff in Paris. His job was to liase with prisoners in the French gaols, who had the right to appeal for help from the British Legal team in France. His visit to the gaols revealed the fear all inmates had for the French gaolers, who were allowing the systematic murder of future post-war political opponents. The communists, as elsewhere, had their operatives in control of these places. “…. in the evenings, as it grew dark, you heard all through the night the shooting from all around Paris as more political opponents were assassinated. “During these nights Muggeridge reflected on the benefits of the Rule Of law at home in Britain in a Constitutional Monarchy, and those few like Wellington and Nelson, who have saved them from this Republican anarchical nightmare he was now living in.”


Until next time,

David Flint


France, Guy Fawkes Night

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