ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Sagacious Statesman

Vol V, No 46 november 14, 1970

Sagacious Statesman

Nationalism, along with the other parochialisms which human society has created to satiate its craving for differentiation, is essentially a divisive force. Yet this loyalty to an abstraction has been used again and again to rejuvenate, invigorate and unite a dispirited and divided people. In this sense, de Gaulle represented the abstract spirit of France and twice, at moments of great national peril, he embodied the national will to overcome adversity — in 1940, at the time of almost total French submission to the Nazis and in 1958, when France was teetering on the brink of civil war. But unlike that other staunch nationalist Churchill, de Gaulle was not regressive or nostalgic in his view of history. He did not seek to maintain and enhance the glory of a crumbling empire. Despite the limitations set by his almost Hegelian worship of the “State” of France (though he had no particular love for the French people whom he dismissed as “ungovernable” during his moments of exasperation), he was a man of vision and astute political foresight.

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