Tuesday, 15 December 2009

France: identity in question

Taken from the Open Democracy website: France: identity in question

It’s a familiar story. Every time France is in trouble, and when its politicians are in need of public support, they reach for a supposedly unfailing remedy: the nation.

The process can take many forms: nostalgia for past “grandeur”, fear of “foreign invasion”, return to “tradition”, reaffirmation of “national identity”. All are connected by the search for a vehicle to unite the French behind its leaders. The thread of continuity in this effort crosses generations and political boundaries: from Marshall Pétain invoking the “peasant roots” of a defeated France in 1940, to General de Gaulle's insistent “grandeur”; from François Mitterrand's election poster of 1981 that portrayed a quiet village with its church-steeple, to Jacques Chirac’s castigation in 1991 of “noises and smells that drive French workers next door insane”.

And now it is Nicolas Sarkozy’s turn. In November 2009, the president opened the latest grand débat sur l'identité nationale about what it means to be French: a project always destined to be controversial, but one made unnecessarily toxic by its political definition and resonances.

The full text can be found at the link provided above.

The website for the Grand débat sur l'identité nationale. If you speak French why not leave some comments in support of Frances national minorities.


francois said...

It is an interesting debate at a time when nationalist Breton parties are as active as ever. I opened a thread on the 'Breton Question' and the neglection of the French state concerning Brittany, especially regarding linguistics. The fact that the government made promises it did not intend to keep in 2008, and that it, moreover, spends pennies on regional languages in comparison with the millions it invests into the promotion of the French language is an issue which needs attention from the peninsula's inhabitants. Vive une Bretagne Libre! Francois Le Grand (Here's the link to my thread- http://contributions.debatidentitenationale.fr/la-question-bretonne)

cornubian said...

Great but do you think including quotations from the crypto-fascist' Frederig Ar Bourder' party leader of Adsav, is really going to help anyone, especially the Breton cause?

francois said...

Just because ADSAV is an extreme right wing party does not mean that they cannot support Breton culture and an independent Brittany. In the article which I quoted from Agence Bretagne Presse, Ar Bourder did not make any discriminatory remarks, insult anyone or disrespect anything; instead he made a fair intellectual argument that Brittany needs to defend itself through becoming its own self-determinant power. I had just read the article and found that he expressed the views of MANY Breton nationalists on this matter, and he did so more eloquently. I am completely against ADSAV and their political views, but that does not mean everything they do must be criticised and ignored. It is through unison that power is exponentially strengthened, so although I don't agree with Frederig Ar Bourder on many things, in this case, I believed it to be a good piece of work which explained the situation well. If others don't understand, well, fine, but it is not my fault that they insist on making generalisations, instead of accepting an argument featured in many 'normal' parties' websites and leaflets, just because it is being said by someone else.

Francois said...

I see your point, however. I re-read the link I published and reviewing it a second and third time, the far right tone does become more evident. I'll put a link up of a Parti Breton article which discusses some of the same issues in a different manner as the last thing I want to do is to hinder the progress of the Breton nationalist struggle or bring any negative attention to it. Thanks for poiting it out, it wasn't my intention to promote Fascim/Far Right views...etc.

cornubian said...

I agree that a good argument is a good argument in anybodies mouth, but the problem is not the argument but rather the mouth.

The Breton movement already has real difficulties living down the collaboration of nationlists with the Nazis during the 2WW. Why add anymore fuel to this fire?

The tragedy is if the Breton nationalists had joined the resistence against the Germans then today the cause would probably be in a much better condition.

This is not the case so the best thing fascists like Adsav could do, if they really care about Breton autonomy, is dissolve their groups asap and retire.

francois said...

Only fools don't admit mistakes, and I'm not a fool yet. I've put up the link to the Parti Breton website, and a warning that Ar Bourder is a spokesman from the extreme right, that the article might not have been the best example and that most of what he says has no place in Breton nationalism.

Regarding Breton and Nazi connections; We can't change the past, but we can make sure the future is different. If Breton parties continue to fight for the cultural rights of Brittany, something has to give, but we have to keep trying.

By the way, I salute your writing and this blog; it is informative and well written, and most importantly, up to date! I'll be reading from now on. Merry Christmas and good blogging

cornubian said...

Many thanks for your kind comments. When I first started investigating the Breton movement I had no idea about all the different parties.

I want to help other anglophones from Cornwall, Wales, Scotland etc etc understand what all the parties represent and, of course, which ones to avoid.

If you have an submissions/suggestions for this blog, or if you know anyone else who does, please do let me know.

In solidarity

Anonymous said...

Some thoughts about the main elements of French identity :

Human rights
These cannot be reduced to noisy demonstrations in the streets. French people are not indeed in a position to give lessons to the world in that area when, in most of their institutions starting with schools, they are encouraged to cheat and downgrade their colleagues.
Does "virtue" still have a meaning in France ?

French language
Most second or third generation immigrants are not literate in French ...

The welfare state
With globalisation many centres of economic decisions have moved out of the country. Why would the new owners finance social benefits in excess of 50% of GNP that are distributed by the French State mostly to the superprotected public sector ? The big game of French corporatisms (to make others pay for your social benefits) cannot be played any more ...

What's left for a French identity ? An omnipresent state administration and related taxes ?

Jean Paul Raoul


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