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So Cioran is right on the fundamental. He is now wrong on some very interesting evolutions, such as France getting empty of people. That was true in the 150 years before 1945... France natality took a dive, whereas the German one skyrocketed (so Germany ended up with about twice France's 40 millions)... Now it's the exact opposite. Maybe the French spirit, of hyper criticism, was too much to bear,then, but it feels more comfortable now.
Now this French hyper criticism is becoming a rampart against nihilism and also a rampart against the sort of financial abuse and disaster we saw last year (and still ongoing). So the French are feeling better with themselves.
Cioran misattributed France's defeat to France's hyper criticism. It's quite the opposite. Because of hyper criticism, France was well, hypercritical of the Nazis, so was more ready to fight the Nazis than any other democracy. France should have won in 1940, and the Nazis knew it, so they tried a desperate plan, which, in conjunction with bad luck and extremely incompetent tactics on the French side, while Guderian used secretly the ten Panzer division as a sport car on drugs (literally!),led to an extremely accidental defeat.
The defeat was just an accident. What was not accidental, though, is that the Nazis, as they sat in Paris and all over France with 60 divisions, became infused with the French spirit, and increasingly critical of the home office. In the coup of July 1944, the Wehrmacht locked up the SS in France (a tech term: they seized key SS installations, immobilizing the Waffen SS divisions). By 1944, the Nazi Rommel had put a warrant of arrest against the Nazi SS officer that ordered Oradour...
The spirit lives from the critique, and the more critique, the more spirit....
"Engendrer des mythes et y adhérer, lutter, souffrir et mourir pour eux, voilà qui révèle la fécondité d'un peuple. Les "idées" de la France ont été des idées vitales, pour la validité desquelles on s'est battu corps et âme. Si elle conserve un rôle décisif dans l'histoire spirituelle de l'Europe, c'est parce qu'elle a animé plusieurs idées, qu'elle les a tirées du néant abstrait de la pure neutralité. Croire signifie animer.
In my understanding, the problem seems to be about "vital ideas", ideals, that France produced and defended in the past (le vrai "rayonnement") and would now be missing. On the contrary, since the '50s France contented copying each and every cultural product of the US - from blue-jeans and country music via Hollywood to the libertarianist ideas of the '60s. What is The Genuine French spiritual or intellectual creation of the last 50 years ?
The part about the germans in Paris is interesting. I've seen a book and several comments about French collaborating with the occupier (and women more than collaborating), but not the converse. Interesting.
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! (Martin Luther King)
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