Salutations

Discussion in 'Samovar Teahouse' started by Ombrageux, May 6, 2013.

  1. Ombrageux

    Ombrageux Commissar

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    I wouldn't go that far.

    Fine forum we have here. I hail from France and am a Social Gaullist. I am not a "Russia expert" but am following the country's development from afar with great and sympathetic interest. I believe the eurozone and Euro-American alliance have proven costly for both European nations and the world, reducing us to economic dependence on Berlin and cultural-military dependence on Hollywood and Washington.

    There can be no democracy without sovereignty. It is perhaps for this reason that euro- and U.S.-critics in France - whether they are "Republican" like Emmanuel Todd or Jacques Sapir or "far-right" like Marine Le Pen and Alain Soral - tend to be Russophiles. Over the past decade, Russia has shown there is an alternative to the current empires.

    I believe the world must move towards multipolar, rational and enlightened self-interest, rather than the bizarrely self-destructive, hegemonic and ideologically-driven dogmas of the West today. A renewed France, having reclaimed its sovereignty, would naturally rebalance its relations towards self-reliance and a certain rapprochement with Russia as an integral part of our shared continent and civilization.

    I look forward to discussing these issues and discovering other aspects of Russian life here!
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  2. Callum

    Callum Dead Soul

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    Ça roule ma poule!

    As a social Gaullist, do you see a lot of similarity between him and the Russian leadership?
  3. Ombrageux

    Ombrageux Commissar

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    A good question. I hate to speak in the name of the dead, but I'll give it a go anyway as I enjoy speculation as much as anyone:
    • De Gaulle would probably have been largely in line with Russian foreign policy (for the nations against the empires (urging Polish and Mexican independence, withdrawal from NATO), therefore, opposition to American wars (Vietnam) and "liberal interventionism" in general).
    • De Gaulle would have completely agreed with the idea of "sovereign democracy." Quote: "Democracy is government of the people by the people and national sovereignty, it's the people exercising its sovereignty without constraints."
    • De Gaulle was a devout social conservative - something like gay marriage would likely be unfathomable to him - but as a realist he recognized and accommodated "modern" trends (women's suffrage, contraception).
    • De Gaulle would have been opposed to the euro and probably to the EU in its current form as a whole. He would have welcomed the Russian nation - freed of the Bolshevik-Stalinist oligarchy - as a natural part of the organization of Europe (hence his oft repeated "from the Atlantic to the Urals..."). This would have meant at least Russian participation in the Common Market, one step beyond Putin's "from Lisbon to Vladivostok" free trade area.
    • De Gaulle created a personalist, somewhat illiberal and indeed almost authoritarian regime. He barely ever allowed any political opposition figures on (all State) television and had a strong contempt for what he called "legalism" (basically, constitutions, parliaments and treaties). De Gaulle believed his leadership rested not on bits of paper or assemblies of politicians, but on his historic mission and the confidence of the nation, and he resigned the moment he lost it. I am often struck by the similarities with Putin's regime, although we will see how it ends.
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  4. Callum

    Callum Dead Soul

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    Enjoyed reading that! You can certainly speak for Gaulle with some authority, it's interesting how Gaulle's social conservatism is often not mentioned.
  5. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    Thank you for your kind words, and welcome, Ombrageux.

    We share a lot of the same political views, although I am rather more socially conservative. (At least in some aspects, not in all). I also know from other venues, and am aware that he has experience at forum management, so I have made him a moderator off the bat. Just FYI.

    I agree that Putinism has remarkable similarities to Gaullism. Broadly similar political rights? Check. Focus on "national champions"? Check. Sovereign democracy? Check. Gay marriage? LOL, check. European orientation? Check. While it is true that Putin has made advances to China and Eurasia, especially in the past year, this is largely a product of being cold-shouldered by Europe and the West. Quite ironically, but it is not impossible that the "culture gap" between Russia and the West is now wider than it was in say the 1970s. So while I do like the idea of a "Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok" (and on to Shanghai - I am, after all, a Sinophile))) I don't think it's gonna be happening any time soon.

    Of course there are also differences between Gaullism and Putinism, which are all the more significant for the two ideologies otherwise being so similar. First of all, the personalities: De Gaulle was - objectively speaking - a more accomplished figure than Putin before coming to power. He had literary works to his name. He was leader of the Free French. Beats being a middling KGB bureaucrat / deputy to the Mayor of Saint-Petersburg. Second, I don't believe there was substantial electoral fraud from 1958-1969 in France. The same, regrettably, cannot be said of Russia from 2003 - or by less forgiving standards, 1996 - on.

    Some say that a major difference is that Putin was successful with Chechnya, whereas France ended up losing Algeria. I don't think that's a valid comparison. Chechnya has less than 1% of the RF's population; Algeria had more than 20% of France's population in 1960. Furthermore, all the ethnic Russians still ended up leaving Chechnya - much like the pieds noirs - and Chechnya under Kadyrov has become in many ways de facto if not de jure independent of Russia, e.g. as regards observation of federal laws.
  6. Ombrageux

    Ombrageux Commissar

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    Putin's turn to China actually also has a Gaullian touch: in addition to the partial break with NATO, France recognized the PRC in 1964, again to reinforce Communist states against the Soviet Union.

    I also see a the Algeria/Chechnya parallel - both were brutal and Algeria had huge amounts of torture! But no one calls de Gaulle a dictator for this... "Counter-insurgency" wars and even basic respect for human rights are always incompatible. The war has a life of its own, the soldiers lose their decency. The most important question - from a humanitarian perspective - who started the war in the first place.

    Indeed Euro-Russia rapprochement seems out of reach for a long time. Europeans, I think compensating for their weakness, are if anything more liberal-moralist than the Americans. And we are dependent on the Americans and have some reflexively anti-Russian countries (Sweden, often Poland, Baltic states), making anti-Russia rhetoric a strong unifying tool for "consensus." But France and Germany also have a "realist" bent, they really are quite happy to sell arms and buy gas from Russia, and even Poland has mellowed a lot, so maybe changes will be possible in the coming years. (Not counting a breakdown of the euro-liberal order in Europe, if due to the crisis nationalist regimes emerge in Greece, Cyprus or France, they would certainly get closer to Russia!)

    Those "Polity IV" graphs are interesting. They almost look scientific and definitely feel truthy, and that's all that counts ;)
  7. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    Btw, @Ombrageux, I wish to ask you this question: What do ordinary Frenchmen think about De Gaulle today? Objectively speaking. You might like him, but his most direct fan in the elections - Nicolas Dupont-Aignan - got less than 2% of the vote. Now I realize that he of course didn't have the UMP's/Socialists'/etc. admin resources, but still, that's quite a low figure.
  8. Ombrageux

    Ombrageux Commissar

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    The thing is, almost everyone in France recognizes De Gaulle's legacy, to the point that it is a bit of a trite Establishment truism, but without this having much of a real effect on policy. A bit like Martin Luther King in the U.S.

    The only ones outright opposed are the leftists (communists, Greens). The UMP governing party claim his heritage, the Socialists recognize it, and even the Front National (which was after all founded as an anti-Gaullist Algérie française party) refers to him (particularly the social-protectionist wing (Florian Philippot) as opposed to the original anti-immigration wing. Today, ironically the FN may be the major party that best embodies Gaullist principles (euro-withdrawal, anti-war, sovereignty).

    Nicolas Dupont-Aignan is a minor figure who has made De Gaulle the core of his brand, I think his policies are a fair expression of Gaullism, but he is too small, being only a mayor-MP. His spokesperson, Laurent Pinsolle, runs an excellent French-language blog where he makes the case, I think very persuasively and often citing international examples and intellectuals, for Gaullism, Keynesianism-protectionism, Nation-Statism, anti-euro, etc.

    The French people have a marked Gaullist-Socialist impulse - making them easily the most anti-neoliberal and independentist of the major Western nations. The political expression of this varies over time depending on circumstances and leadership: France was long out of NATO structures, it has relatively high defense spending, it opposed the Iraq War, inequality has not increased in France (unlike everywhere else). Today this impulse is quite weak. The French are indifferent to foreign policy and probably side with America over Russia (the overwhelming Atlanticist media-political consensus plays a role in this). Something like two-thirds of French recognize the Maastricht Treaty as a mistake, but only about a third want to actually undo the euro and return to the franc, which I think is actually a reasonable position.

    It's hard to say what role Gaullism will play in the future, but I am sure it will play one, expressing itself more or less strongly, playing a new role in new circumstances.

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