The French Exception Publication date : March 29, 2012
Jacques Andréani is a French diplomat who has held ambassadorial postings in Egypt, Italy and Washington. He headed the French delegation at the Helsinki conference.
Most of the recent discussions about “French identity” are filled with alarmist echoes. The speakers evoke a crisis of values, a danger of decline and of trivialisation. Certain themes recur constantly — demography, immigration, the difficult coexistence between different religions. Often the speakers, with underlying political ulterior motives, seek to whip up a feeling of urgency, even tragedy.
In an uncertain time, and in an increasingly complex world, isn’t there another way of dealing with the question of what makes the specificity of France? That is what this book attempts to show.
“Among the numerous upheavals in France, Europe and the world, and in terms of power struggles between states, of the economy, of learning and ways of governing, there are more than enough subjects to elicit questions and to incite anxiety. The French have often been capable of carrying out a productive reflection on the various dilemmas that assail them. And they possess all the necessary intellectual and moral qualities, as well as all the political, academic and scientific tools, to succeed. But they must not allow themselves to be misled by political demagogues who manipulate their frustrations and fears; they must not give in to the intellectual laziness that consists in believing that because France was a great nation in the past, all it needs to do is follow its traditional path and it will always be right,” writes Jacques Andréani.
• What are France’s strengths and weaknesses? What is the essence of the French spirit, of French values and economic, political and social traditions? What can help France adapt to the world of the future? How can France maintain its “exception” without becoming isolated? The author studies these crucial questions for the future, through a lucid re-examination of the past.
• An expert on foreign affairs, Jacques Andréani draws on his extensive international experience to enhance his examination of what it means to be French.