Charles DeGaulle: Noel 1941, An assignment…

From Le Grand Charles, to the French People , Christmas 1941:
to the children of (our Mother) France in simple and elegant words (all the faults of the translation are mine).

(You will remember, I know, that to their permanent shame, the French had been occupied by Germans, and that, on December 7, the Americans had been attacked by Japan. An attack which gave the French the hope that at last the Americans had been shaken out of their sleep.)

“I know that today all is not cheerful for the children of France. But I want to say some things about pride, about glory, and about hope. Once she was – la France! – nations, you know, are like women, more or less beautiful, virtuous, and brave. Well, among my ladies the nations, none has ever been more beautiful, more virtuous, and more brave than our lady France.  And, as for me, I will make you a promise, a Christmas promise. Beloved children of France, you will soon receive a visit, the visit of the Goddess Victory. Oh! How beautiful she will be, you will see !

Oh ! je sais que tout n’est pas gai, aujourd’hui, pour les enfants de France. Mais je veux, cependant, vous dire des choses de fierté, de gloire, d’espérance.

Il y avait une fois : la France ! Les nations, vous savez, sont comme des dames, plus ou moins belles, bonnes et braves. Eh bien ! parmi mesdames les nations, aucune n’a jamais été plus belle, meilleure, ni plus brave que notre dame la France.

Eh bien ! moi, je vais vous faire une promesse, une promesse de Noël. Chers enfants de France, vous recevrez bientôt une visite, la visite de la Victoire. Ah ! comme elle sera belle, vous verrez !…

Charles De Gaulle, le 24 décembre 1941


1) For you the assignment is simple (remember this is a rhetoric assignment): tell me one/or two/or three/ reasons the rhetoric won’t work today. Be specific.

2) DeGaulle calls on his country-men as “children of France” they are “enfants” and she, “La France” is “notre dame,” our lady, implying that France is mother …
Why don’t we talk about America, our “mother” “la plus belle” mère, our most beautiful mother?’

3) This Christmas quote (one pictures listeners – a kitchen helper, the cook, and a barmaid – huddled around a radio after midnight in the kitchen of a closed and shuttered bistro in the maze of Paris streets called the Marais) was republished this Christmas in a very right-wing news and opinion magazine Boulevard Voltaire which regularly opines against what they see as a muslim invasion of la France, in favor of Marine le Pen, and in favor of restoring crèches de Noël to every public space in France. What do they see in this quote?
(Hint: Think of the similarities, if any, for some or many people between religion and patriotism.)

The best answers (should any qualify) will be awarded publication here on the birthday of Socrates who argued to his own great disadvantage that the city of Athens was his mother and life-long parent-teacher and as such had given him life and could decide to take it away.

(Sneering and haughty comments about my translation of the French will be rudely deleted, unless they are correct.)

Arguments that reject my fairly obvious assumptions, arguments that improve my question, arguments that amuse me, be they devious or funny will be very cordially entertained.

Lists 02 … Thomas Hobbes

Hume’s list of the things people do to each other cannot, does not – of course – come up to Hobbes’ famous list of adjectives that describe the life of primitive man before he cooperated to form governments.

Note Well: There are several lists here, not only the world famous “life of man” adjectives, but also the causes of war triplet [Competition, Diffidence (suspicion and fear that rise from lack of trust), and Glory], and the magnificent list of what men lack  in the primitive state of war of all against all (from “no place for Industry” to no “Society”) to “worst of all, continuall feare (sic), and danger of violent death”.

I’ll take you back to the whole passage because Hobbes kindly gives us “the principall causes of quarrell” and a description of the war of all against all that guarantees the misery and wretched poverty of primitive (pre-government) man. Our American Tea Party Patriots seem to want for some reason to return to that sorry condition.

I keep Hobbes’ spelling and punctuation, and quote at length because no small part of the pleasure of reading Hobbes is in the dramatic flow of his paragraphs.

Read ’em aloud, you’ll feel it:

“So that in the nature of man, we find three principall causes of quarell. First, Competition: Secondly, Diffidence; thirdly, Glory. The first maketh men invade for Gain; the second, for Safety; and the third for Reputation. The first use Violence to make themselves Masters of other mens persons, wives, children and cattell; the second to defend them; the third for trifles as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons, or by reflexion in their Kindred, their Friends, their Nation, their Profession, or their Name.

” Hereby it is manifest that during the time that men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition called Warre; and such a warre, as is of every man, against every man. For Warre consisteth not in Battell only, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the Will to contend by Battell is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of Time is to be considered in the nature of Warre; as it is in the nature of Weather. For as the nature of foul weather, lyeth not in a showre of two of rain; but in an inclination thereto of many days together: So the nature of War, consisteth not in actual fighting; but in the known disposition thereto, during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is PEACE.

“Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no Culture of the Earth;

no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea;

no commodious building;

no Instruments of moving and removing things as require much force;

no Knowledge of the face of the Earth;

no account of Time;

no Arts;

no Letters;

no Society;

and which is worst of all, continuall feare and danger of violent death;

And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Chap XIII, Of the NATURALL CONDITION of Mankind, as concerning their Felicity, and Misery. [62]

On Lists 01

We like the rhetorical use of lists to emphasize a mood or feeling, to extend and expand on an idea, to embellish and elaborate an emotion or idea by pleasing our mental ear with a little musical cache of words, and etc. etc.

Here’s the instance that raises this topic this AM.

From Hume’s Dialogues on Natural Religion Part X.

The following grim list is from a character in the dialogue, Philo by name, who is arguing that “society” (here, structures like government) is the source of grave woes, woes only barely less than the woes men would bring on themselves by dissolving society:

“Man is the greatest enemy of man. Oppression, injustice, contempt, contumely, violence, sedition, war, calumny, treachery, fraud; by these they mutually torment each other; and they would soon dissolve that society which they had formed, were it not for the dread of greater ills, which must attend their separation.”

Oppression, injustice, contempt, contumely, violence, sedition, war, calumny, treachery, fraud …”

Which list reminds us of Hobbes’ adjectives on the life of primitive man … next time

Meanwhile we remind ourselves to say a few words next time about contumely, a word we need but rarely hear, here in the ATL.

The Minds of Others … Visit Blog