France: With or Without History

"The elite of the nation is against me," President Charles de Gaulle told a caller not long ago. He was referring to intellectuals, army officers, big businessmen and the higher reaches of bureaucracy, who at best give him lukewarm support and at worst-sabotage his policy. Most of them agree with Philosopher-Sociologist Alfred Fouillée (1838-1912) that without the elite, "there is no more France; France is reduced to the level of those people who have no history."

The "people who have no history," the vast majority of Frenchmen, continued to support De Gaulle—and were thus making history. The fact became evident...

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