Paris-Saint Germain, France -
Paris is already the city with the most visitors in the world. During the French religious wars in the late XVIth century, Henry IV of Navarre converted from Protestant to Catholic so that he could be crowned King, observing as he did so that: “Paris is worth a mass!” Today Paris does not need the Olympics. Nevertheless, next summer Paris will host the Olympic games.
These games have proven a fiscal burden to every city that hosted them, except maybe Barcelona in 1992. They bankrupted Montreal in 1976, so that eventually they even lost their baseball club. All the Olympic events are scheduled to be held within the city limits, except for athletics in the Stade de France, located in the northern suburb of Saint Denis, and the marathons from Versailles Palace southwest of the city to the Eiffel Tower.
The opening procession of athletes from the competing nations is scheduled to float in boats down the Seine River. Accordingly, a majority of the sellers of used books, magazines and art prints (bouquinistes), who have lined the banks of the river since the XVIth century, are being relocated during the Olympic games. They total around 900 bookstands, and the city is considering creating a new booksellers village near Place de la Bastille, but it would not be the same. See Woody Allen’s movie Midnight in Paris, 2011.
The prefect of police in Paris is less concerned about the displacement of booksellers, however, than about the potential for violence during the games. Earlier this summer, the immigrant suburbs (banlieues) around Paris exploded with rioting and looting after a police shooting in Nanterre, a short way west of Paris. See: https://miamiindependent.com/dispatch-from-burgundy/. Now the prefect is concerned that violent gangs from such suburbs, especially from La Grande Borne southwest of Paris, are exceptionally well armed and may choose the occasion of the Olympic games to strike a violent blow against the French Republic. In any event, Paris reflects the basic pattern of most European cities, contrary to most American cities, where the best neighborhoods are in the center of the city, and the lesser are in the suburbs.
Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of the City of Paris, says that she started seeking to host the Olympics in her city back in 2017, as a way to help the people of her city to heal from the trauma suffered at the hands of Jihadist attacks during 2015. These attacks included: (1) the attack on the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper; (2) the attack on a HyperCacher kosher supermarket; and (3) the attack on the Bataclan theater and other Parisian venues. Oddly, Charles Martel, Mayor of the Palace in the Frankish kingdom during the VIIIth century, did not respond to Jihadist attacks by hosting a big celebration in order to allow people to heal from the trauma.
My wife and I returned to Paris this month for the wedding of the last remaining child of my wife’s friend and former student in Paris. The ceremony took place in the medieval church of Saint Germain des Pres, on the left bank next to the Latin Quarter. This church building is the oldest in Paris, dating back to the XIth century and built in the Romanesque style. The Latin Quarter is mostly a gentrified university district similar to Greenwich Village and SoHo around New York University, and Georgetown in the District of Columbia.
The church is near some well-known bistros, Les Deux Maggots, Café de Flore and Brasserie Lipp (all in the 6th Arrondisement), and within walking distance of some other good ones, Chez Andre (8th), Chez Georges (2nd) and Chez Rene (5th). There is also a good Italian bistro, Sorza, on Isle Saint Louis. Good wine bars include Au Sauvignon (7th) and Bonvivant (5th). After the ceremony and festivities, we stayed in the city for a few days to enjoy the local cuisine, walk around and soak in the culture.
Paris is a walkable city, which is an essential activity after enjoying the local cuisine. There are hardly any skyscrapers, except for the Eiffel Tower and Tour Montparnasse, and the scale of the buildings is at most mid-rise, similar to the District of Colombia. The Paris sidewalks are busy and mostly clean and safe. Most French bathrooms prepare you for service in submarines.
The art museums are led by the Louvre, of course, the Yankee Stadium of art museums, but in addition there are: (1) the Musee d’Orsay, housed in a Beaux Arts train station built in 1900, featuring French art from the Second Empire to the First World War; (2) the Musee Jeau de Paume, housed in a Victorian structure that opened in 1861 next to Place de la Concorde, a showcase for contemporary photography since 2004; and (3) the Musee Marmottan-Monet, located in a chateau confiscated in 1790 by the revolutionary government and established as a museum in 1934, featuring Impressionist paintings by Claude Monet.
The museum that I have visited most often, however, is the Musee de l’Armee in the Invalides, and on this trip I brought back books on Napoleon and the Grand Armee for my barber, who is a fan.
Your columnist also had the opportunity to meet in Paris with members of the Iranian Resistance. See: https://histriabooks.com/product/paying-the-price-the-untold-story-of-the-iranian-resistance/. They started their resistance to the Shah in the mid-1960’s, then were betrayed to the Mullahs by the Carter administration, and now face another such betrayal by this third term of the Obama-Biden administration. This administration is determined to allow the Iranian regime to develop nuclear weapons, so that it can challenge Israel and America in the Middle East and beyond.
The Iranian Resistance seems to be very pragmatic. Their biggest opponent, after the Iranian regime, appears to be the Foreign Service of the United States Department of State. These technocrats support the status quo, the devil that they know, especially when it is anti-Western. The Resistance is particularly opposed to the recent prisoner exchange, whereby the Obama-Biden administration released some six billion United States Dollars of frozen funds to the Iranian regime. These funds go not to fund humanitarian causes, but to fund the Iranian Republican Guard Corps and other terrorist activities. Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The Iranian Resistance does not ask for help to topple the regime, only that others not help to support the regime.
Recent reports confirm that Biden’s diplomatic team has been infiltrated by agents of the Iranian regime, as if there were any need for that.
Paris is a global city, not only because it is the city with the most visitors in the world, and the leader in art, cuisine, fashion and related trades, but also because of other factors, which include: (1) It is the capital of the country which receives the largest amount of international investment in the European Union. (2) It has Europe’s second busiest passenger airport, and the largest hub of air cargo. (3) It is the headquarters of such multinational corporations as Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesy, L’Oreal, Hermes, Christian Dior, Cointreau Liqueurs, Dassault Aviation, Airbus, Air France-KLM, SNECMA, Bouyges construction and telecom, Publicis public relations, Total Energies, Arkema petrochemicals, Freyssinet civil engineering, and Sanofi pharmaceuticals.
Also: (4) It is the hub for six major highway systems, and for inter-city trains from seven stations. (5) It is the host of many international trade fairs, sporting events and business conventions, including the Rugby World Cup during our visit. Rugby football is like American football, but without the forward pass or all the equipment, and with much less legalism. (6) Finally, Paris has a long history of global engagement, in war and peace.
During the last 40 years or so, France’s political trajectory has leaned to the left in the West. For example, France did not have: (1) a President Reagan, 1981-89; (2) a Prime Minister Thatcher, 1979-90; or (3) much less anyone like Pope John Paul II, 1978-2005. During the period when these three led the West to victory in the Cold War over the totalitarian socialism of the Soviet Union, France elected and re-elected President Mitterrand, 1981-95, who governed in accord with democratic socialism. Heck, my laptop can tell you that democratic socialism is an oxymoron. Miterrand followed the “Ni, ni” policy: neither more nationalizations of businesses, nor more privatizations, so that France stood still during his administration. He had started his government career as a minor functionary in the Vichy regime. France never had the free-market capitalist revival of the Anglosphere during the 1980’s, which today is more likely to be found in Eastern Europe and even Scandinavia.
Accordingly, France is governed by the hegemony of the technocrats in its administrative state. Together with Germany, France is the staunchest supporter of the European Union’s regulatory bureaucracy, and does not meet its spending commitments to NATO. The French administrative state failed to protect Paris from the jihadist terrorists. Earlier this summer President Macron traveled to the Chinese imperial court and pledged that they would have little trouble from the French Republic. It is no wonder that the latest climate change hoax is embodied in the “Paris Accords.” The French administrative state even boasts of having a Ministry of Energy Transition, although 70% of their electric power is generated by nuclear plants.
President Macron, a supreme technocrat and avowed globalist, won re-election last year to another five-year term, but since then his administration has faced continuous protests from: (1) small business owners wearing yellow traffic vests and protesting regulation and stagflation; (2) workers protesting his extension of the retirement age; and (3) everyone as a result of the immigrant riots that spread from Nanterre earlier this summer. At the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup earlier this month, Macron was roundly booed by the entire stadium.
In public buildings the French tricolor flies in second place to the flag of the European Union, signifying that the French Republic yields its sovereignty to the EU. In practice, however, both France and Germany compete to use the EU’s administrative state to impose their hegemony on the entire continent. This is something that both Napoleon and Hitler, respectively, tried but failed to do. No wonder the Brits exited!
City Worth a Mass
Shortly after Henry IV converted to the Catholic faith, he was crowned King of France, but in 1598 he promulgated the Edict of Nantes providing religious toleration to Protestants. This toleration was revoked by the Sun King, Louis XIV, in 1685, thereby granting a government-enforced monopoly over religious practice to the Roman Catholic Church. As we know, state monopolies don’t work, and the growing licentiousness of French society during the 1700’s contributed to the anti-Christian elements of the French Revolution that started in 1789.
This secular humanism contributed to nationalism in the 1800’s, culminating in the Great European Civil War of 1914-45, Europe’s second Thirty-Years War and the first since 1618-48. The Cold War of 1945-91 was won by Western powers peripheral to the European Union, as set forth above: America, Great Britain and the Vatican.
The constitution of the European Union, drafted in 2003 by a convention led by former French President Giscard d’Estaing, 1974-81, refused to include any reference to Europe’s Judeo-Christian heritage. The representatives of the French Republic, in particular, insisted on taking a fully secular approach. This convention was willing to acknowledge Europe’s heritage from Rome and Greece, and even from the Enlightenment, but not from Jerusalem.
Without the Galilean carpenter, the Europeans are nothing but a bunch of pale-faced, round-eyed, flaxen-haired barbarians. Their next challenge is coming from an enemy since medieval times: Jihad.