Archive for April 25th, 2022

La Marsellaise

vive la france

Let’s go, children of the fatherland,

The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!

La Marselllaise, first verse

Big victory for democracy around the world yesterday in the French elections, as President Macron defeated far-right winger and Putin proxy, Marine Le Pen. It was also victory for Ukraine because a Le Pen victory would have no doubt upended the French support — and perhaps the whole of the European Union’s support– of Ukraine in its struggle against the Russian invasion. And that may have opened the floodgates to a new era of fascism/ authoritarianism unlike anything since WW II.

Make no mistake about it, the rise of far-right extremism we are seeing around the world, including here in America, is in a direct line from the fascist movements of that era. These movements may use modern technology and shade their end game with misdirection, disinformation and outright lies but their goals are the same.

And none of those goals bode well for the average person.

So, it was heartening to see Macron’s victory. It made me think of the French national anthem, La Marsellaise, which has its origins in the French Revolution of the 1790’s. It is a song of resisting and overcoming the forces of authoritarianism which is why it was banned at times by the kings and emperors (Napoleon) in later French history before taking its place as the official national anthem after the end of WW II.

For me, it might be the most stirring national anthem in the world, speaking to my own sense of defiance and democracy. The defiance in its words could certainly could apply to the people of Ukraine.

The song is at the center of one of my favorite movie scenes, from 1942’s Casablanca. In this scene, the occupying Nazi entourage at Rick’s Cafe are singing the German anthem boisterously.  The French resistance fighter Victor Laszlo furiously rushes to the house band to have them play the French anthem La Marseillaise in response. The club’s patrons respond with a unity that drowns out the German voices with even Yvonne, the bar girl who has flirted with collaboration with the Nazis, shouting out Vive la France! 

This clip has the whole of the scene. It always moves me.

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