David Calling

Is France Finished?

I’ve been in France celebrating the hundredth birthday of an old friend of my family’s. World War I had hardly begun when she was born. In World War II, her husband had been taken prisoner, and came back from Germany with tuberculosis. In extraordinary good physical and mental shape, the centenarian lady bustled about at the party given in her honor, cut the chef’s huge creamy cake, and graciously accepted large bunches of flowers. Perhaps because I was a foreigner, everyone seemed to feel the urge to tell me that the present day is as bad as a world war, if not worse. François Hollande is a really, truly, inescapably awful President. People around me had been forced to close their business or lay off employees for one reason or another. Did I know the Labor Laws comprise a book of 3,371 pages? We were not so far from Amiens, and a little angry knot was soon putting me in the picture about the Goodyear tire factory there. Changes in the market meant that it had been losing $80 million a year. Half of the 1,170 workers would have to go. A tycoon from Texas, Maurice Taylor, chief executive officer of Titan International, tentatively proposed to buy the factory until he discovered that the Labor Laws were against him, he couldn’t lay anyone off, and would have to pay a severance bonus between $163,000 and $176,000 to anyone who did choose to leave. During his electoral campaign, President Hollande visited the plant to express comradely solidarity. Mr Taylor is on record saying that the French may as well become Communist.

Did I know that the workers had held two managers hostage and the police had to be called in to free them? And did I know the workers had set a fire? That’s how crazy they are. France is finished, these people were very sure of that, and sad and angry about it too. At the reception we drank champagne but the general advice was that anyone under a hundred had better get out while the going was still good.

David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

Most Popular


Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots

The American flag’s place in our culture is beginning to look less unassailable. The symbol itself is under attack, as we’ve seen with Nike dumping a shoe design featuring an early American flag, Megan Rapinoe defending her national-anthem protests (she says she will never sing the song again), and ... Read More

The Plot against Kavanaugh

Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino (Regnery,  256 pp., $28.99) The nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was the political event of 2018, though not for the reasons anyone expected. All High Court confirmations these days are fraught with emotion and tumult ... Read More
Politics & Policy

He Just Can’t Help Himself

By Saturday, the long-simmering fight between Nancy Pelosi and her allies on one side and the “squad” associated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other had risen to an angrier and more destructive level at the Netroots Nation conference. Representative Ayanna Pressley, an African-American Massachusetts ... Read More
White House

On Gratitude and Immigration

Like both Rich and David, I consider it flatly inappropriate for the president of the United States to be telling Americans -- rhetorically or otherwise -- to “go back where you came from.” In consequence, you will find no defense of the president from me, either. What Trump tweeted over the weekend was ... Read More

Gender Dissenter Gets Fired

Allan M. Josephson is a distinguished psychiatrist who, since 2003, has transformed the division of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology at the University of Louisville from a struggling department to a nationally acclaimed program. In the fall of 2017 he appeared on a panel at the Heritage Foundation ... Read More