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.
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.
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.