Jewish World Review May 14, 2012/ 22 Iyar, 5772
Revolution as fashion
By Paul Greenberg
The headline summed up the result of
Naturally, the celebration of the Socialists' great victory -- well, 51.6 percent of the popular vote -- took place at the Place de la Bastille, the epicenter of French Revolution No. 1. One loses count of how many revolutions the French have had since.
How many French republics have there been by now? Are the French on their fifth or sixth? Officially only five, but that doesn't count collaborationist Vichy, which disdained the name Republic and styled itself just Etat Francais, the French State.
Vichy seems to have been erased from the airbrushed history of French governments, much the way each revised edition of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia would toss disgraced commissars down the memory hole. Official history is one of the more plastic arts.
The winning candidate in this presidential race ran on a platform that called for still more government spending and still more public debt. (Sound familiar?) M. Hollande and his
Even now, government in
M. Hollande's economic platform would seem to be based on the happy theory that the piper will never have to be paid. Free lunches all around!
It sounds like a recipe for another
"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive," Wordsworth wrote at the beginning of French Revolution No. 1. "But to be young was very heaven!" How was he to know that another, bleaker dawn awaited?
"I'm so happy!" cried one celebrant, 60-year-old
Here and there in dispatches from
"It's magic!" cried a voice in the crowd -- that of Violaine Chenais, who's 19 and sounds like it. "I think Francois Hollande is not perfect," she opined, "but it's clear
Why not? It's always possible M. Hollande will rise above his promises. Reality does have this way of sobering up some politicians, the way hitting a brick wall might wake up the driver of a speeding Citroen.
But till then, let's party! "O brave new world," young Miranda proclaims at the end of The Tempest, "that has such people in it!" Not referenced as often is old Prospero's response: " 'Tis new to thee." For he knows the ways of this brave new world. He's seen it before.
Meanwhile, the real winner of the presidential election waits her turn.
The moral of the story: Plus ca change.... The more things change, the more
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