“As France’s Towns Wither, Fears of a Decline in ‘Frenchness’” is a depressing article on the ‘devitalization’ of old French towns, where giant supermarkets and shopping malls are leading to the accelerated shuttering of old town vendors:
ALBI, France — The paint is fading, but the word is still clear: Alimentation, “Groceries.” It seems like a stage prop, grafted above the window of the empty old storefront. Opposite stands a tattoo parlor. Nobody enters or leaves. The street is deserted.
Keep walking, and you’ll find more vacant storefronts, scattered around the old center of this town dominated by its imposing 13th-century brick cathedral, one of France’s undisputed treasures. Tourist shops and chain clothing stores are open, but missing are the groceries, cafes and butcher shops that once bustled with life and for centuries defined small-town France.
Measuring change, and decay, is not easy in France, where beauty is just around the corner and life can seem unchanged over decades. But the decline evident in Albi is replicated in hundreds of other places. France is losing the core of its historic provincial towns — dense hubs of urbanity deep in the countryside where judges judged, Balzac set his novels, prefects issued edicts and citizens shopped for 50 cheeses.
Economics is of course a big factor, but it’s not the only factor. ‘La France Profonde’ is a concept of ‘Frenchness’, and Frenchness is more than just the physical presence of cafes and butcher shops. I am of French descent but was born and raised here in the States. My moving to France tomorrow does not magically endow me with ‘Frenchness’, just as it does not for the millions of Muslim immigrants in France.
Not once did the NYT article mention immigration, which I don’t need to mention here is a massive ‘national identity’ problem taking place all over France, the issue being the subject of best-selling books (Éric Zemmour, Alain Finkielkraut, etc.), literature (Michel Houellebecq) and now national politics (La Pen).
Albi hasn’t been immune to this dynamic. On the internet, you have to search far and wide, but you can find articles attesting to this. For example, we learn here that in 2014 a Muslim mother (originally from Morocco) stabbed to death an Albi schoolteacher in front of 5-6 year olds. The victim was on Fabienne Calmes, 34-year old indigenous Frenchwoman and mother of two young girls. In 2015, after the Charlie Hebdo massacre we learn here that “Four shots were fired at the front of a mosque in Albi…”
Yes, corporatist/globalist forces atomize the French, just as they atomize people here in the States. But in terms of the ‘national identity’ debate taking place in France today, I would argue that immigration is of far greater weight than corporatist atomization. Political Correctness has closed off public debate on the former, but not the latter. (Houellebecq, for instance, addresses the former in ‘Submission’ and the latter in ‘The Elementary Particles’.)
Furthermore, the dynamics are not mutually exclusive. One can’t focus on just one and ignore the other. There *is* such a thing as being an ‘indigenous French person’, meaning those persons with ancestry in the geographical region that is France. Ask a Leftist if they support ‘indigenous peoples’ or ‘indigenous rights’ and they’ll assent. But apply that question to, say, indigenous French… or indigenous Anglos… or indigenous Swedes (aka ‘whites’), and you’ll get a blank stare… or worse.
There *are* racial group differences, these difference *are* the product of evolution, and these differences lead to different ways of thinking, being, and cultural foundations (see for example Nicholas Wade’s excellent book A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History.)
To not acknowledge this Darwinian reality is foolhardy, and to not acknowledge the indisputably racial component of this concept is, for the West as a whole, suicidal.