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Politics

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Quand Nicolas Sarkozy manipule l’histoire de France

by Ludovic Tomas

Nicolas Sarkozy has been busy manipulating the history of France

Translated Tuesday 8 May 2007, by Henry Crapo

The Committee for Vigilance concerning the Public Uses of History analyzes the detours taken by the UMP candidate

The crusades, Christianity, Jeanne d’Arc, Jules Ferry, Léon Blum, Guy Môquet, Charles De Gaulle, the war in Algeria, May 1968, the campaign of Nicolas Sarkozy is marked throughout by images of Epinal [1], with extracts of national history, in the manner of a school textbook, chapters of which he has himself undertaken to rewrite. The Committee for Vigilance concerning the Public Uses of History (CVUH), made up of university professors, has analyzed the uses of historical references by the UMP candidate in a text [2] organized by Sylvie Aprile and entitled "History according to Nicolas Sarkozy: a nostalgic look toward a national and liberal future".

First observation: "Nicolas Sarkozy uses history with a double purpose. To produce a new national dream that creates a fog of confusion over all analyses and all convictions, and to deflect attention from his veritable program, which we can characterize as national-liberal, and of which the first victims will be those persons targeted by his recuperative discourse."

Reviving nostalgia with the intent to "create a cheap emotional effect, using a few quotations, while leaving all complexities and conflicts in the shadows". This recuperation does not always employ a coherent vision of history. "Any historical personality is up for grabs, as long as it serves his desire for power or his obsessions that make up the elements of his program", says the CVUH. And to bring forth several "common points shared by the nationalism of Raymond Barre and the nationalism of Nicolas Sarkozy: the national identity is exalted, to the detriment of ’foreigners’, (with a healthy dose of) "anti-intellectualism" and "anti-repentance" .

There are nevertheless some borders that Nicolas Sarkozy does not dare to cross. "The only names that one fails to find on his web site are those of Napoleon and Pétain. (...) Sarkozy dreams of being the new Napoleon, but this can not be admitted. All his discourse about the nation serves to conceal the veritable nature of his relationship with the nation; it is a Bonapartism in which the liberalism of the world market and free competition replace the army, because necessity creates faith. His values are Bonapartist and Pétainist. His is the myth of the savior, an ideology of family, work, and the nation." And, like Berlusconi, Putin or Bush, he "wants to make economic conquest the heart of his action, the nation being the federating myth".

When he manipulates to his advantage the thoughts of Jules Ferry or Jean Jaurès, Nicolas Sarkozy attempts to block all the movements that issue from the great social advances associated with those names. "And while he omits any reference to the French Revolution, Nicolas Sarkozy forgets to make clear that the gains of the Popular Front could only have been achieved as the outcome of the vast strike movement in the spring of 1935", the CVUH provides as illustration.

Most recent detour to date by Nicolas Sarkozy: he travelled to the Plateau of Glières, to the resistance memorial, and announced that if he is elected, he will return there each year. This is the height of hypocrisy for the one who ordered the round-up of those without immigration papers in front of primary schools (where parents and grand-parents came to pick up their children).

[1"Images d’Epinal" were popular prints created by a local company, the Imagerie d’Epinal, formerly known as the Imagerie Pellerin. These stencil-colored woodcuts of military subjects, Napoleonic history, storybook characters and other folk themes were widely distributed throughout the 19th century. from wikipedia:

[2CVUH: L’histoire de Nicolas Sarkozy : le rêve passéiste d’un futur national


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