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Le mal napoléonien by Lionel Jospin
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Le mal napoléonien

by Lionel Jospin

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The former French prime minister Lionel Jospin does not like Napoleon. Nicolas Sarkozy, he likes even less. This essay is Jospin's lament how a quasi-foreign upstart managed to bewitch the French public with their conservative magic that produced such nefarious effects. Jospin makes quite a convincing case that Napoleon's reign was not beneficial to France. Unfortunately, the admirers of Le tondu are all too willing to disregard the casualties and destruction caused by their idol. Perhaps it makes sense to frame Napoleon more as a South American junta general who takes over France by a putsch and then rules based on bayonets and his secret police.

In the end, the essay is not really about Napoleon but more about de Gaulle and the love in France for autocratic showmen. After a bad episode, a bland technocrat such as Jospin is given a partial chance to clean up the mess created but will be quickly replaced by the next conservative hope promising gloire for the nation. This misery, however, did not begin with Napoleon. Already the capable Louis XI is overshadowed by the flashy François I. ( )
  jcbrunner | Jun 30, 2015 |
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