France Steadfast and Changing: the Fourth to the Fifth Republic

France Steadfast and Changing: the Fourth to the Fifth Republic

France Steadfast and Changing: the Fourth to the Fifth Republic

France Steadfast and Changing: the Fourth to the Fifth Republic

Excerpt

On the invitation of the Committee on Regional Studies, and under the patronage of the Samuel L. and Elisabeth Jodidi Fund, I delivered three lectures on the present state of France at Harvard University in October 1957. The directors of Harvard University Press expressed the desire to publish these lectures, which I had given in English without having written them beforehand, and I promised to write the book during the summer of 1958. In the meantime there occurred the events of May 1958, the fall of the Fourth Republic, General de Gaulle's advent to power, and the beginning of the Fifth Republic. A revolution separates the lectures from the book, which was finished early in 1959 while General de Gaulle, elected President of the Republic for a seven-year term, was taking up residence in the Elysée Palace.

It is never easy for contemporaries to grasp the meaning and import of a revolution, even of a peaceful revolution carried out without the shedding of a drop of blood. The observer is afraid of being too severe to the defeated, too indulgent toward the victors, or, on the contrary, should he amazingly enough prefer opposition to conformity, of being too indulgent to those who are on the way out, too severe to the newcomers. He finds it hard to distinguish what has changed from what has remained the same. Is it true that base lead has been transformed into pure gold? Is it true that the nation, divided yesterday, is today entirely united around General de Gaulle?

This essay does not pretend to furnish the categorical answer which only events will supply. The attempt, is to carry forward to the end of 1958. the themes of the three lectures at Harvard: the political regime, economic development, the French Union, and France's . . .

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