When the former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin warned that there was a risk of revolution in France, declared The Guardian on 2 May, it was not just because he wanted to make life difficult for his arch-rival Nicolas Sarkozy.
The editor explained “It was also because social unrest is genuinely on the rise. Yesterday thousands of protesters took to the streets – not as many as the millions who protested in March, but this was a respectable turnout, considering that it was the third national protest at the government's handling of the global downturn in four months.”
A major part of the problem in France is that the nation is taught to honour the Revolution. The history of the revolution as taught is a series of myths, including the continuing libel of The Queen, Marie Antoinette. (“Marie-Antoinette – justice at last?” ) The revolution was a tragedy and a disaster, and led to the Reign of Terror, years of dicatorship and wars which continued until well into the next century, resulting in death and destruction perhaps worse than the First World War.
By falsely praising the Revolution, the people of France are trained to believe that problems can best be solved by going into the streets, and by putting their faith in theorists who offer revolutionary solutions. The editor of The Guardian should re-examine his own paper’s ill considered campaign against the Crown. What he should be doing is raising an understanding of the most important beneficial event in the last few centuries, the emergence of an early version of the constitutional monarchy as a result of the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
This of course was hardly a revolution, merely part of that long evolutionary development of the Westminster system, the world’s most successful form of governance and the only one to be successfully exported.
Dr Hugh Goodacre of the University of Westminster comments:
“Your leading article correctly observes that social revolution is on the cards in France but not even on the horizon in Britain, however it is ludicrously simplistic in seeking an explanation for this in comparative statistics – such as those of unemployment and public debt – rather than in France's revolutionary traditions.
“First, monarchy has for a long period of history been regarded with disgust in France; their monarchs were executed. Here, in contrast, the very question of republicanism is regarded as a fringe issue, or even a sign of eccentricity.
“ Second, France suffered fascist occupation and a puppet fascist government in the second world war; the memory of the armed resistance, largely under communist leadership, retains respect in public opinion, and even the most compliant trade unions have to label themselves communist in order to retain the support of their members. Here in Britain, communism is barely heard of.
“Third, even those political parties in France with rightwing social agendas, such as the Gaullists, proudly describe themselves as revolutionaries, and their national anthem calls upon all citizens to take up arms against the armed forces of the monarchy, whereas here, the national anthem … need I go on? “
Dr Goodacre’s assessment is of course correct. The editor of The Guardian should stop copying Australia’s newspapers of the nineties. They went too far in using the news to advance their republican campaign, which some editors now acknowledge.
He should reconsider his campaign to throw out what brings stability to the United Kingdom.