Category Archives: Frenchmen

A year down under, then a career in accountancy

A young Frenchman whom Dalrymple knows has just returned from a year in Australia. For many young French people, writes Dalrymple,

a year in Australia has become almost a rite de passage, their favoured destination for such a rite.

The young Frenchman

did not regret his choice before he knuckled down to the serious business of having a career that he did not really want and would not really enjoy. Such is the fate, perhaps, of most of mankind, or at least of educated mankind.

Europe’s decay into irrelevance

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 22.35.21The auguries for Europe are not good, writes Dalrymple,

not only because of the political immobilism that elaborate systems of social security have caused in most European countries, but because of the European multinational entity that is being created against the wishes of the peoples of Europe.

The European Union serves several purposes, none of which have much to do with the challenges facing the continent. It

  • helps Germans to forget that they are Germans, and gives them another identity rather more pleasing in their estimation
  • allows the French to forget that they are a medium-sized nation, one among many, and gives them the illusion of power and importance
  • acts as a giant pension fund for politicians who are no longer willing or able successfully to compete in the rough-and-tumble of electoral politics, and enables them to hang on to influence and power long after they have been rejected at the polls
  • acts as a fortress against the winds of competition that are blowing from all over the world and that are deeply unsettling to people who desire security above all else

Welcome to Yugoslavia

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Boches beware

The old hatreds are stirring

At the end of his book Bismarck Herring: The German Poison, MEP and Parti de Gauche co-leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who was a presidential candidate in 2012 (he got 11.1% of the vote), points out that France retains independent military power, with, observes Dalrymple,

the clear implied message that Germany does not.

It was, says Dalrymple,

in the highest degree irresponsible

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 08.03.43to cobble together in a monetary union

two large countries – two large blocs of countries – with such different attitudes and interests. One of the justifications trotted out for the European Union is that it brings peace, as if, without it, Slovenia would attack Spain. In fact, by making neither living together nor divorce feasible, it is fostering a conflict such as that of the former Yugoslavia.

Notes on Germany and France

The Germans, Dalrymple explains,

have, or want to have, faith in their currency. The folk memory of inflations is still strong in Germany. Inflation is their bugbear and fiscal rectitude their policy, irrespective of who is in power. The rebuilding of the country and the achievement of monetary stability is their source of national pride. Financial rectitude is visible in their private lives: the Germans use credit cards far less than the French, let alone the British. When the German banks joined in the financial debauchery of the 1990s and 2000s, afraid of missing out, it turned out that they were no good at it. Speculation was not their forte.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 08.11.30As for the French, they

receive good value for their taxation. The country is conspicuously well-administered, as anyone who has driven through it will attest; and, in my experience, French bureaucrats, however much their onerous and Byzantine exactions may be detested, are much more intelligent and efficient than British ones. The French have a faith in their state which is in part justified. Its benefits are obvious every day; its stultifying effects are less evident except to the smaller proportion of the population that attempts something new.

The French duty to cheat the fiscal tyrants

In France there is, Dalrymple discerns,

a cultural predisposition to assume that while private profit is reprehensible, public expenditure paid for by tax is inherently good. This does not preclude a private avidity for money or a belief that cheating or deceiving the taxman is a proper sport, like cycling or swimming.

The psychopathic indifference of certain Frenchmen to common decency and welfare

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Dalrymple on travelling in a urine-soaked elevator