Thursday, February 21, 2013

Vichy and Royalists

It's hard to know exactly what to think of Vichy France, but I think this comment of mine posted today at The Thinking Housewife adequately sums up a royalist's necessary ambivalence regarding France in World War II, during which there were many villains and few if any untarnished heroes from our perspective:

I was disappointed to see one of your contributors regurgitate, without being challenged by anyone, the standard simplistic liberal “Resistance Good/Collaborators Bad” line.  In France during World War II there were no easy answers and probably no spotless “good guys.”  But “conservative Catholics” would have had valid reasons for regarding the “collaborationist” Vichy regime as the lesser evil, and indeed many conservative Catholics were to be found among the ranks of real or alleged “collaborators.”  The Resistance may have included some conservative Catholics, but it was a predominantly left-wing movement and became increasingly so towards the end of and after the war, ruthlessly purging France of rightists, who were often shot without trial.  Who were the “enemies of France” in the 1940s?  (For that matter, who were the “enemies of France” during the Revolutionary wars of the 1790s?  I would say that at that time loyalty to Catholic & Royal France required “treason” to the regicidal Republic.)  The question is not as simple as it sounds.  From an authentically French traditionalist, i.e. royalist, point of view, the Third Republic (1870-1940) was not really a legitimate entity to begin with and once defeated was not automatically entitled to the loyalty of right-wing Frenchmen.  I think you would find that in some ways the social policies of the “collaborationist” Vichy regime (whose traditionalist motto “Work, Family, Fatherland” replaced the Jacobin “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”) were closer to the worldview espoused by “The Thinking Housewife” than those of the various French Republics before or since.  I say this as a person of partially Jewish ancestry totally opposed to Nazism, but also totally opposed to Communism and French republicanism.

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