July is here. We’ve had the fireworks and barbecues to celebrate our national holiday. Our sister republic, without whose assistance our fourth of July would have come to nothing, also celebrates its national day this month. Actually, Bastille Day est maintenant and my thoughts stray to the the glories of La Belle France. They are many and despite what some neocons might say, eating cheese has never caused them to surrender and les jeunes filles do not look like monkeys.
Much of our punditry loves to trash the French. Men who have organized their lives to be certain they never got near a battlefield, make fun of France’s Twentieth Century military record. It is true that the hundred years before the new millennium were not the epoch of La Gloire. France did have that. Les Polius were the bad boys of the late Eighteen and early Nineteen Hundreds. They ended up looking like the drunk in a bar, offering to take on the house. It ended predictably as it did for Les Boches approximately a century and a half later. It is premature to suggest that our current trajectory bears comparison, but only premature.
One thing Les Gaulles do not have going for them is their national slogan. For a nation that prides itself on logic, Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité is about the dumbest and least well thought out statement in world history.
How can liberty and equality coexist. If a man possesses liberty, than he is free to rise or fall. If he can, then he can rise above his fellows or fall below them. His freedom or his neighbor's must be curtailed if equality is the goal to be maintained.
Now the Fraternity stuff. When someone uses that word, like most Americans who never belonged to TKE, I think of Animal House. That is not what they had in mind during the Revo. That Liberty thingee, is again the problem. If I am free, I am free to not be your brother, or for that matter, your sister. Heck, a brotha is free to not be a brotha, considering black on black crime statistics. Brothers, I have none, but my sisters were glad to see the last of me, as they lack the revolutionary spirit.
So how do we stack up against the frogs. Hmmm, that Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness* thing seems okay, but the last part has a narcissistic sound to it. Anyway, it’s already contained in the liberty part except someone might scream at me, “You don’t know the difference between libertine and liberty. Ah non, mon cher. True, there are a lot of words I do not have the exact meaning of even at my advanced age. I, having attended college in this country, do know the meaning of libertine and have looked up liberty so no one could call me on it.
Thomas Jefferson supposedly changed it in the Declaration of Independence. I like the other way better, as the Civil Rights entry in our Short Dictionary of Politics has it:
Civil Rights: In truth, there can only be three: Life, Liberty and Property. Anything else is the attempt of one group to secure privileges at the expense of another group or society itself. Of the three above, Property is the most important. If the individual's property is secure, there is little reason for anyone to take his life or liberty.
*I know that’s not our official motto, but I would be okay with Life, Liberty and Property. Of course property seems a bit of Yankee conniving. So thanks to Jeff, Southern love crept into it.