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L’Ancien Règime

Posted by Helen Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Back in my student days I used to read about the pre-revolutionary regimes in France and Russia in the 1780s and the 1910s respectively, I used to wonder how it is that people in a position of authority or, at least, some knowledge, could be so blind as to what is happening.

Well, autres temps, autres moeurs. But here we are faced with the Ancien Règime again. The world is shaking around them and they still cannot understand what is going on.

It could be President Chirac rearranging the chairs on the Titanic, Lord Patten (formerly Commissioner Chris Patten) telling us that we must not gloat over the French (who is gloating – we are all congratulating them) or Bob Geldof bringing out his superannuated rock singers for a reprise of the Live Aid Concert of twenty years ago, that, even on his own account helped not one single starving Ethiopian.

But yes, there he is again, telling us in soulful tones that we must have make one more effort, double the aid, not let people starve. It is all wrong, he sobs.

What is all wrong? Trade apparently is all wrong, because it undermines people’s income.

Why are we listening to these people? They know nothing and understand nothing. They know no history, no economics, no sociology. Who in their right mind considers Bob Geldof or Kate Moss an authority on anything whatsoever?

Well, the Ancien Règime does. They do not hear the people telling them that they have had enough. They have had enough of the drive towards transnational organizations and ridiculous self-important international trashy celebs.

The people of Europe are beginning to say no to further integration.

More and more people in Africa and other developing countries are saying that they do not want “trade justice”, which leaves them in poverty but provides well-off westerners with a self-satisfied glow; they do not want their debts written off because that does not help the countries, merely the governments who have created the problems; they want trade, they want investment, they want real money not aid that is stolen, embezzled, spent on guns, prisons, terrorism and endless palaces for the leaders.

But hey, that’s only the people talking. The Ancien Règime knows better. “C’est une révolte? Non, Sire, c’est une revolution.”