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Plus ça change

Summary:
Here’s the FT: When it first appeared in an obscure military blog last month, a ringing call to arms by retired French generals that came close to calling for a coup d’état made it sound as though France was on the verge of civil war. “France is in peril,” read the declaration that went on to be signed by hundreds of army pensioners and at least 18 active military personnel. It condemned “laxism”, Islamism and “the hordes” on the outskirts of the nation’s towns and cities, which every French reader understands to mean immigrants. Republished in the rightwing magazine Valeurs Actuelles on the 60th anniversary of the failed generals’ putsch against President Charles de Gaulle in 1961, the statement was initially dismissed by the army command as the nostalgic ramblings of

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Here’s the FT:

When it first appeared in an obscure military blog last month, a ringing call to arms by retired French generals that came close to calling for a coup d’état made it sound as though France was on the verge of civil war. 

“France is in peril,” read the declaration that went on to be signed by hundreds of army pensioners and at least 18 active military personnel. It condemned “laxism”, Islamism and “the hordes” on the outskirts of the nation’s towns and cities, which every French reader understands to mean immigrants. 

Republished in the rightwing magazine Valeurs Actuelles on the 60th anniversary of the failed generals’ putsch against President Charles de Gaulle in 1961, the statement was initially dismissed by the army command as the nostalgic ramblings of elderly reactionaries.

But a public endorsement from far-right leader Marine Le Pen — who said it was the duty of French patriots “to rise up” to save the country — triggered condemnations from politicians and the defence ministry and a promise to punish the serving soldiers who signed the declaration. ..

According to an opinion poll carried out after the controversy erupted, 58 per cent of French voters — including many on the left — supported the military officers who signed the declaration. An extraordinary 74 per cent thought French society was collapsing and no less than 45 per cent agreed France “will soon have a civil war”. 

Jean-Daniel Lévy, managing director of Harris Interactive, which conducted the poll, said: “Overall, the French have the same views as those that were expressed by the generals.” 

And this is from volume 3 of In Search of Lost Time:

Certainly we must put a stop to anti-militarist intrigues, but neither can we tolerate a brawl encouraged by those elements on the Right who instead of serving the patriotic ideal themselves are hoping to make it serve them. Heaven be praised, France is not a South American replica.

Yes, but for how much longer?

PS. For those who desire a break from politics (i.e. those with more sense than I have), this gem is from volume 2 of ISOLT:

But the characteristic feature of the ridiculous age I was going through—awkward indeed but by no means infertile—is that we do not consult our intelligence and that the most trivial attributes of other people seem to us to form an inseparable part of their personality. In a world thronged with monsters and with gods, we know little peace of mind. There is hardly a single action we perform in that phase which we would not give anything, in later life, to be able to annul. Whereas what we ought to regret is that we no longer possess the spontaneity which made us perform them. In later life we look at things in a more practical way, in full conformity with the rest of society, but adolescence is the only period in which we learn anything.

My edition has a blurb from Walter Benjamin:

There has never been anyone else with Proust’s ability to show us things; Proust’s pointing finger is unequaled.


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Scott Sumner
Scott B. Sumner is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the Director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and an economist who teaches at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. His economics blog, The Money Illusion, popularized the idea of nominal GDP targeting, which says that the Fed should target nominal GDP—i.e., real GDP growth plus the rate of inflation—to better "induce the correct level of business investment".

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