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Dimitri Casali and Olivier Gracia publish "History always repeats itself twice", published by Larousse. – Photo credits: LE FIGARO

FIGAROVOX/INTERVIEW – On the occasion of the release of his book History always repeats itself twice, co-written with Dimitri Casali, Olivier Gracia gave an interview to Figaro Vox. It analyzes the current political crisis, in the light of history…

Olivier Gracia is an essayist, a graduate of Sciences Po, he began his career at the heart of legislative and administrative power before turning to the world of start-ups. His years of research on contemporary history and political news led to the writing of History always repeats itself twice, with Dimitri Casali, published by Larousse editions.

FIGAROVOX. – Your book is inspired by the famous phrase of Karl Marx, “history always repeats itself twice, the first time as a tragedy, the second time as a farce”. How is history repeating itself today?

OLIVIER GRACIA. – History is in constant repetition, it has always repeated itself, from antiquity to the present day. The Athenian historian Thucydides already taught us that "history is a perpetual restarting" joined by Hegel who wrote that "experience and history teach us that peoples and governments have never learned anything from history, that they never acted according to the maxims that could have been drawn from them. Our politicians, often ignorant of our history, condemn themselves to relive it: the rejection of fiscal, financial and judicial privileges, the collapse of a political regime undermined by the incompetence of its elites, the terror of a heralded by extreme movements, the success, through the ballot box, of radical movements in France, the United States, Austria, Germany and the emergence of a religious totalitarianism that attacks the very foundations of Western civilization .

In your book, we learn that our eighth president of the Fifth Republic bears the same surname as an ambitious and unscrupulous Roman prefect appointed by Emperor Tiberius in the year 31… The current situation recalls the fall of the Roman Empire , but also the blocked situation of 1789 in what?

The political caste is very similar to the aristocracy of the Ancien Régime, suffering from the same ills, with an equally disputed legitimacy.

Despite a few examples inspired by the Roman epic, the parallels developed in our work do not go back that far...even if the collapse of the Roman Empire, intimately linked to the decadence of its elites and the impotence of its hegemonic model obviously echoes the difficulties of the Western bloc, led by a declining US empire undermined by a degraded reputation and the endogamy of its elites, severely sanctioned with the election of Trump. To return to the French case, the parallel with the blocked situation of 1789 is relevant, very meaningful, and enlightens us in a judicious way on the possible imminence of a great popular revolution in France. Our country is facing the same three crises before 1789, an economic crisis with a suffocating debt, a chronic inability to honor it, a very violent social crisis where disparities are widening with a feeling of having a "France of 'up', knowingly represented in the political arena and a 'France from below' in need of representation, an unprecedented political crisis with a political caste still steeped in privileges, threatened by a handful of public agitators.

In this, the political caste is very similar to the aristocracy of the Ancien Régime, suffering from the same ills, with an equally contested legitimacy. The great replacement announced by Emmanuel Macron is a political micro-revolution where the political aristocracy has bequeathed its titles and its functions to a new class, more talented but also more fortunate like the bourgeois of the Third Estate who made the Revolution and businessmen of the July Monarchy.

Does Jean-Luc Mélenchon dream of Revolution? Is he thinking of 1789 or 1917?

Defeated at the polls, not without bitterness, Jean-Luc Mélenchon dreams of a great popular revolution. The popular uprising announced by Jean-Luc Mélenchon has not yet taken place, he confessed it recently by declaring: "For the moment, it is Emmanuel Macron who is pointing it..." then adding "we can hope to pick up the point. And it's clear that if the youth gets moving, that's it, it's gone, but it's not the case. What he cannot win through the ballot box, he hopes to win through the streets. He dreams of a revolutionary destiny, like his Jacobin idols like the incorruptible Robespierre, whose exemplarity and virtue he praises with his comrades in arms of France Insoumise like Alexis Corbière, author of a book with the evocative title: "Robespierre, come back!"

La France Insoumise lives in the unspeakable nostalgia of the French revolutionary past with this eternal fantasy of a popular revolution to bring down "the presidential monarchy." »

La France Insoumise lives in the unspeakable nostalgia of the French revolutionary past with this eternal fantasy of a popular revolution to bring down "the presidential monarchy." The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 is, in its excesses and crimes, similar to the French Revolution with unprecedented violence against the elites. We know today that Lenin was strongly inspired by Robespierre to implement his revolutionary action. In 1793, nothing was missing, there was already a cult of the leader, a quasi-totalitarian ideology and exceptional courts For the Bolsheviks, the incorruptible already embodied: "in an almost chemically pure way the idea revolution and a clean slate", in the words of historian Patrice Gueniffey. Jean-Luc Mélenchon and Lénine have this common point to take Robespierre as a model.

Some also evoke 1958, is Macron de Gaulle or Louis XVI?

The year 1958 marked the end of political impotence and parliamentary instability with the founding of a presidential monarchy embodied by an exceptional figure with a destiny too great to be shared. In certain aspects, Emmanuel Macron is inspired by General de Gaulle with the same declared desire to free himself from particular interests in order to rise above partisan divisions, but as Tocqueville reminds us: "History is a gallery of portraits with few originals and many copies.» Our President is a rogue copy of the founding president of the Fifth Republic who had a real popular base. When the General reconciles the popular electorate and the bourgeois electorate, Emmanuel Macron only reconciles the bourgeoisies of left and right. However, President Macron is an excellent copy of King Louis-Philippe.

Like the King of the French, Macron has a pronounced taste for the happy medium (expression coined by Louis-Philippe in 1831), the first was neither legitimist, nor Bonapartist, nor Republican, the second is neither left nor on the right, nor quite in the centre. Like Louis-Philippe, Macron is the ideal candidate for a bourgeois generation, steeped in talent, merit and fortune. In both cases, the old aristocracy, attached to its seniority and its privileges, was swept away to be replaced by a new, more talented but above all richer aristocracy. If the National Assembly has been brilliantly renewed with more women and young people, the deputies of today are even richer than those of yesterday.

Like Louis-Philippe, Macron is the ideal candidate for a bourgeois generation, steeped in talent, merit and fortune.

Like Louis-Philippe, Emmanuel Macron is a prince, the first was a blood prince, cousin of the elder branch of the Bourbons, the second is a republican prince, raised at the ENA (the National School of Aristocracy) and educated in the heart of power at Bercy. Finally, Louis-Philippe and his spiritual grandson consider the economy as a primary thing, one praised the industrial revolution, the other sings the praises of the digital revolution. Nonetheless, Louis-Philippe still reigned for eighteen years, a notable feat for a century in constant flux. He owes his longevity to his political, diplomatic and economic intelligence. However, the bourgeois King was crushed by a popular revolution, failing to extend the right to vote to the entire French population. The context is obviously different, with universal suffrage firmly anchored but with a real absence of choice which allows abstention to be the first party in France. To avoid the same unfortunate fate as Louis-Philippe, Emmanuel Macron must include the working and middle classes in his Jupiterian omnipotence.

Many also evoke the return of the 30s… Is the rise of populism really comparable to the rise of extremism?

The world is at the dawn of a major geopolitical shift, already underway. Populist movements and candidates are proliferating everywhere, even storming the world's leading power. The far right made historic scores, as high as those recorded in the 30s, in France with 33% of the electorate who turned to Marine le Pen, in Austria with the unexpected victory of a young chancellor by the most conservative and radical movements, in Germany with the surprising result of the AFD, a leading nationalist party, which allowed the entry of 94 nationalist deputies into the Bundestag. Alexander Gauland, one of their leaders, even declared: “If the French can be proud of their emperor (…), we have the right to be proud of what our soldiers accomplished during the Second World War .”

The repetition of the 30s is by far the most alarming.

The 30s are more relevant than ever with a devastating economic crisis (2007-2008) which brings to mind the not so distant memory of the stock market crash of 1929, the constant rejection of the political, intellectual and financial elites, the obstinate refusal to mass immigration, the proliferation of extreme, protectionist, declinist ideas, the re-emergence of former powers which look nostalgically at their old empires and the terror of Western democracies which are powerless in the face of the emergence of totalitarianism, as well destructive than the previous ones. The repetition of the 30s is by far the most alarming.

Does a new world war seem likely to you?

The United States reaffirms its role as policeman of the world, headed by a President as unpredictable as he is bellicose, who vociferates threats throughout tweets to intimidate nations reluctant to American hegemony. Erdogan dreams of an Ottoman Turkey revitalized by a strong presidential system, not hesitating to take Hitler's Germany as a model, declaring: “In a unitary system, a presidential system can perfectly exist. There are currently examples in the world and also examples in history. You will see an example of this in Hitler's Germany. Vladimir Putin, nostalgic for a Tsarist and Soviet imperial past, extends his Empire to the borders of Ukraine. Europe is falling apart, with the English, who have selfishly left the ship, Spain which is fighting to maintain the unity of its Kingdom...

Finally, Islamic terrorism which threatens the great Western powers, often powerless in the face of the unpredictability of attacks as deadly as they are sudden. The world is on the verge of a great geopolitical upheaval with nations breaking up and breaking up in the West and empires reforming in the East. The threat of a new world war is real…

The world is on the verge of a great geopolitical upheaval. The threat of a new world war is real…

Aren't we in not, on the contrary, in the end of history as predicted by Fukuyama?

Francis Fukuyama states as early as 1992, in his book the end of history and the last man, the emergence of a universal consensus around democracy which will put an end to ideological conflicts. His obsolete theory, victim of a singular historical context where the collapse of the Soviet bloc gives hope for the triumph of American hegemony, is completely overtaken by the current context. It is rather necessary to look towards Samuel Huntington and his work the “clash of civilizations”, to understand, to apprehend the international situation. The author develops there the theory of “civilizational oppositions” which took precedence over the ideological and political oppositions of the world of yesterday with the explosion of the religious fact. The news today proves him right… History is definitely back!


Source: “Macron is a copy of King Louis-Philippe”

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