Intervention in Greek crisis seen as France’s ‘vocation’

Parnell Summer School told France has always had a sense of its own importance

François Hollande: intervention in Greek crisis was part of France’s “historically self-imposed vocation to represent the cause of humanity”. Photograph: Charles Platiau/AFP/Getty Images

François Hollande: intervention in Greek crisis was part of France’s “historically self-imposed vocation to represent the cause of humanity”. Photograph: Charles Platiau/AFP/Getty Images

 

President François Hollande’s intervention in the Greek crisis was part of France’s “historically self-imposed vocation to represent the cause of humanity”, the Parnell Summer School was told.

The summer school has adopted France as its theme for this year.

Dr Patrick Claffey said France had an elevated sense of seeking to spread and impose its values on other countries.

Dr Claffey, an academic at Trinity College Dublin, said Mr Hollande’s attempt to mitigate German demands for more austerity was an attempt to assert French values along with his own socialist instincts.

Exceptional destiny

He noted Charles de Gaulle had stated he imagined France as the “princess of fables or the madonna of frescoes, as having a destiny which is both eminent and exceptional”.

“Our country as it is, among other countries as they are, must, under pain of mortal danger, aim high and remain upright. France cannot be France without greatness,” de Gaulle said.

Dr Claffey said others shared his vision of a “transcendent, universally applicable French norm for civilisation” especially in opposition to perceived “Anglo-Saxon” values.

He noted historian Ernest Lavisse had said “France is charged with representing the cause of humanity” while academic Jean d’Ormesson suggested that “France is haunted by a yearning towards universiality”.

Dr Claffey suggested that les valeurs républicaines (republican values) were regarded by the French as the “form towards which all democracies were slowly evolving”.