France: identity in question

Posted: December 15, 2009 in french state

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.

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