Skip to Content

High life

La France as I knew her n’existe plus

What was once a great military and intellectual powerhouse is now just a tourist attraction ruled over by dwarves

23 July 2016

9:00 AM

23 July 2016

9:00 AM

From my bedroom window I can see a little girl with blonde pigtails riding her bicycle round and round for hours on end. She’s German, looks ten years old and lives nearby. Next month I am finally moving to my new home, a beauty built from scratch amid farmland. Cows, deer, the odd donkey graze nearby, a far better bunch than the one Gstaad attracts nowadays. I am, however, king of the mountain. My place is the highest chalet on the Wispille, one of the three mountains that dominate the Mecca of the nouveaux-riche and the wannabee. Life is swell, as long as the old ticker keeps ticking. An approaching birthday tells me that it’s time to take stock, do something of consequence, begin taking life seriously at last. So I go back to watching this pretty and innocent child riding her bike. She makes it look like 1930, when such children rode bikes around Europe and played games with their own kind and there were no commissars around to teach them political correctness.

But I digress. Michel Foucault, one of those French philosophers who make absolutely no sense, wrote in his most widely read work, Madness and Civilization, that insanity is a form of freedom, and that in the pre-capitalist West, insanity was understood to be part of the human condition, even an ironic comment on man’s pretensions to autonomy and power. I agree with Foucault and think that when those in the classical age defined madness as the enemy of reason and humanity, they were wrong. Foucault, who was obviously a bit mad, thought all of modern society was a prison and modern man its inmate.

But the great Greek philosopher Taki agrees only up to a point. Modern man is in prison — just look at his heroic effort to free himself from Brussels and wait for the watered-down results — but violence, despite having a fundamental value in itself, has now become the raw expression of those who cannot compete in bourgeois society. So, if madness is the enemy of reason, why are sane men giving in to violence and to violent minorities right here in Europe and in the United States? Are they mad, or are they being reasonable? The answer is: neither. They are simply cowards.


I write this just as the horror of Nice is sinking in. France was once a very great country, both a military as well as an intellectual powerhouse. It is now just a tourist attraction where one may or may not get killed by an Islamist. I grew up as a young man in Paris, with de Gaulle in power keeping the bureaucrats of Brussels at bay. After Pompidou, the midgets came in, allowing immigration that suited them in the short term to transform the country for good. Now it’s much too late. La France, as I knew her, n’existe plus. Was it madness or reason that made the French commit cultural suicide? Was Enoch’s warning the last time someone sane said something true? Was that coup in Turkey the real deal? Erdogan the master wanker is a hardcore Islamist, yet the wankers around the world cheered his ‘success’ in resisting the plotters.

Let’s face it, the individual has never counted and now counts even less. Society is arranged by the strong for the weak, although the slogans the rtrong put out are the exact opposite. The Saudis are excused for bombing hospitals and schools in Yemen because they have oil. Assad is condemned for far less serious atrocities because he’s got no oil. Palestinians are referred to as terrorists when resisting Israel’s occupation of their lands, yet the al-Nusra Front thugs are called freedom fighters. Go figure, as the old Brooklynite said.

Just as I was contemplating Foucault and the bullshit dished out daily by our leaders — how can Michael Gove be excluded from the cabinet? — the gentleman who lives above me in my rented flat came by and thanked me for the nice things I had written in these pages about his ancestor, Marshal Ney. His name is Stéphane Gutzwiller and his pedigree is quite amazing. His mother was born Murat, a princess of cavalry and dash fame. The Murat home in Paris was one of the most magnificent, at 28 rue de Monceau. His great-grandmother, born Berthier, married a Ney, and left him for a Masséna. I was taking notes while we talked but I think I’ve screwed this up. What is certain is that the lady was known as ‘La mère de l’empire’, mother of the empire, as she was related by blood to four of Napo’s greatest marshals. Stéphane told me that when she was 90 years old and playing with him, she recounted having sat on the knee of an old, old soldier who had made the retreat from Moscow and crossed the Berezina back in 1813. Now that’s what I call living history.

Stéphane and I sat there talking about giants and the dwarfs that have replaced them. How can a great country such as France be guided by an Hollande or a Sarkozy? How can Greece or Germany be led by people I would not trust as pimps — or prostitutes for that matter? I once met a Prince Murat in London. He was 6ft 8in, with brilliant manners. I told Stéphane this and he reminded me that the first Murat was rather low-born. If only we had more Murats, Neys, Berthiers and Massénas, and fewer Junckers, Merkels and Hollandes.


Show comments
Close