October 11, 2003


Doubts tearing France apart: An orgy of breast-beating in print claims the French 'piss off the planet', Paul Webster reports from Paris (Paul Webster, October 12, 2003, The Observer)

[I]t is the suave De Villepin who is mocked with iconoclastic vigour for his vanity in L'Arrogance française, as a cypher for this state-moulded super-class and who is never forced to admit being wrong.

And it is De Villepin who is blamed in particular for persuading a malleable President to take such an uncompromising stand on Iraq although other advisers correctly warned of the long-term damage of taking no account of US hegemony and offending the emerging EU Eastern bloc.

It is not just the elites that come in for criticism; by implication it is the considerable number of ordinary Frenchmen who have put their faith in the rural campaigner, José Bové, a neo-Poujadist.

Much of this wave of populism, say the declinists, is fed by an insistence of both Left and Right on l'exception française, a modern form of chauvinism in which legal fences are built around French language and culture.

It is an 'exception' that is mocked in L'Arrogance française as a hallucinatory drug that spills over into all facets of life from haute cuisine to the heavily subsidised and introverted cinema industry.

It is all pretty apocalyptic stuff. But in one respect the declinists may be right: that their political masters seem somewhat blinkered to the way in which many, from the Murdoch press to the Bush White House, regard La Belle France.

And it is De Villepin who is most exposed in this regard. 'Abroad,' he writes in his answer to declinists: 'France rests a pole of thought and culture, a major economic, military and political power.'

It's hardly fair to blame Mr. De Villepin for the historic faults of the entire French race. After all, they've been in decline but with pretensions to greatness at least since Napoleon was defeated.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 11, 2003 11:14 PM

Hey!! Waitaminit! WE'RE the county that's supposed to "piss of the planet"!!

France: So, so jealous.

Posted by: Twn at October 12, 2003 1:19 AM

Of poetasters in politics, beware....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at October 12, 2003 3:20 AM

Scott Ott of the terrific satire site Scrappleface.com created the "Dominique de Villepin (who is a man)..." phrase that was picked up by others after France's obstruction to coalition forces' efforts in Iraq.

It seemed to represent wide-spread recognition of the growing feminization of a once-great nation.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at October 12, 2003 8:21 AM