For whom the bell tolls


Renoir – Le Moulin de la Galette


Time flies. Soon after France lost the final of the European football Championship, it was National Day and the yearly enjoyment in the Tour de France with its drugged cyclists – as usual. It was a cold 14 July, with clouds and bitter wind but the military parade on the Champs Elysées went on as usual, followed by the same stilted interview of the President by carefully chosen journalists, and the French went on with their holiday life.

The days when France almost stops in her yearly summer siesta were beginning, although they have not the wholehearted and childish joyous unconsciousness of the 1960s and 1970s. At least, to compensate the ever growing “no more holidays at the seaside”, there is the barbecue and the plancha, the discount supermarkets where you can buy at reduced price meat, ready-made salads and  ice-creams, and goods you may turn into junk food.

After the barbecue, there is always the possibility of the local ball (perhaps) and the fireworks (surely). Then, refreshed by such festivities, the French retire for the night and for a well-earned sleep. Another Fête nationale of which the initial meaning has long been lost.

Corot – Fireworks

But it was not to be yesterday. At eleven o’clock at night, while the fireworks were in full swing in the whole country, a lorry made its way on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. It was another terrorist attack for all we know that left eighty-four dead (among them ten children and youths), two hundred and two people suffering from injuries (among whom fifty-two people in critical condition) Several were children and families as it was a popular and all-age attraction.

The country is shocked. The President went for another speech. Emergency state has been proclaimed for three more months. The lorry driver was killed by the police during the shooting following the attack, and then was said to be Tunisian with French roots. Condolences and sympathy come from around the Earth, expressed by Heads of States, friends or total strangers. Debates are flaming: should the French stop the arrival of migrants? Should migrants be called refugees? Should France expatriate all foreigners, following the example of some fanatic Brexit proponents (including in a rash moment the new, non-elected, Prime Minister). What about the gun control (and there, a look towards the USA)? Are the terrorists French and bred on French soil? Are all Muslims terrorists? Are all French racists?

More generally and to sum up all interrogations, is the country going to the dogs?

I have no answer. Nobody has any answer. We have no global view of the entire situation, which is worldwide, political, economic, perhaps religious (if religion is not used as a tool), long-standing, part of the fall of the colonial Empires, of the resurgence of tribal wars, of new wars created by greedy countries for economic reasons in the 1980s and 1990s, for pious reasons including Western ideas of democracy and Human Rights covering starker money-bound reasons in the 2000s. Public opinions are manipulated. The peoples are lied to. Extremes are rising up their ugly and venomous heads. Reason is forgotten. Law is violated. The people are pitted against each other.

Otto Dix – La Guerre

Slowly, very slowly, the tension is growing, and as a wheel that gets idler and rolls faster and faster, we are heading towards another world war. The demographic regulation needs it. The economic regulation needs it. The financial and industrial groups and individuals wish it.

On Sunday night, I was watching the Avignon Festival’s flagship show: “Les Damnés”, a play adapted from the film by Visconti, ‘The Damned”, about the rise of Nazism and Hitler with the complicity of the industrial and financial élite festering like a hotbed of vices. A modernist staging that might have shocked “gentle people” by its crudeness that never bordered coarseness, where the Comédie française found back its vocation of beacon of culture. There was a sound in it of what is happening now that tolled like a death knell.



Avignon 2016 – Les Damnés

6 thoughts on “For whom the bell tolls

  1. I don’t have answers either,but I do have many questions. Why are citizens of some countries, or long term residents, taking up arms against their fellow citizens/hosts? We won’t answer that question by isolating them more, and we surely won’t bring peace in that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do not know for other countries but I may risk an idea for France. Our White French people who had colonized Algeria, Tunisia, African countries, Indochina, etc., came back with the end of the colonial wars and the independence of these countries. The French from continental France accepted them grudgingly. They were followed by non-White Algerians, Tunisians, Africans, etc., who had sided with the White colonial French during the independence wars. They were not welcome in their independent countries and they were never welcome in France because of their religion (Islam, their skin colour, their customs, their language, the fact that they were thought inferior – racism). They were immediately ghettoized. But France needed them to do the hard jobs of the boom of the economic rising. Therefore they were tolerated. When the economy started to decrease in 1974 (first oil shock), they became resented. And when unemployment started, they became hated. They were thought people come to “eat the bread of the French”. From the 1980s, there have been wave after wave of migrants, pushed by political reasons or hunger. They have been given allocations (money), rights, status by the State but racism still exists and grows between communities and between the “poor French” (who traditionally expressed themselves though the Socialist and the Communist Parties and the trade unions) and coloured people (foreigners). As both have no means of expression nowadays, they only articulated answer against the current situation is extremism (some kind of fascism for the “poor Whites” and manipulators; religious manipulated terrorism for the others).
      I am afraid the French governments have identified the issue years ago (Presidents Mitterrand and Chirac already had) but there has never been a real in depth analysis of what should be done to reduce the social fracture and no real strong political will. what with the current international situation and the way foreign policies have been held, it seems too late now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. New scenarios had been studied by the MOD (ministère de la défense) about urban wars, terrorist wars, civilian wars, etc., during the past years. It should not come as a surprise. And we should be prepared.As to the fact that we are at war, in France, at least, we should have known it. We meddled too much in foreign affairs and upset fine balances while we did not look enough about what was happening in our own country. But I also think that all “First World” country should look about itself. The First World is partly guilty of what happens to him.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s