City Region and Regionalism: A Geographical Contribution to Human Ecology

By Robert E. Dickinson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
REGIONS AND REGIONALISM IN FRANCE

I. THE REGIONAL MOVEMENT

The regional movement was born and cradled in France. During the nineteenth century the country suffered from the excessive concentration of both national and provincial affairs in the national capital, and that was the main cause of the growth of the regional movement. Many schemes were put forward for the creation of new political divisions in place of the dÉpartements, including those of Auguste Comte, the philosopher, and FrÉdÉric Le Play, the sociologist. In 1898 the Union RÉgionaliste bretonne was founded, and in 1900 the FÉdÉration RÉgionaliste française came into being with the objects of affording a link between all advocates of regionalism and of providing for the propaganda and defence of regional ideas and interests. Its organ was L' Action RÉgionaliste and its chief exponent M. Charles- Brun.1

This movement aims at the decentralization of administrative, economic and social activities from the capital, and the revival and free development of regional cultures, activities, interests, and aspirations. The excessive centralization of affairs in Paris failed to recognize that within the State there exist such distinct regions, whose requirements cannot be satisfied by uniform treatment from a national centre, detached, ignorant, and unsympathetic, and too burdened with its manifold duties of State and Empire to devote adequate attention to vital questions of high regional priority and significance. The movement aimed ultimately, as one of its main objectives, at the creation in place of the dÉpartements of entirely new provinces with a large measure of democratic self-government. The enthusiasm with which the problem was tackled is evident from the many schemes of regions and outlines for the machinery of regional government which appeared in the years immediately preceding the 1914-18 war.

The regional movement was further fostered by the emergency of the 1914-18 war. The idea was discussed in the Chamber,

____________________
1
J. Charles-Brun, Le RÉgionalisme, Bloud, Paris, 1911.

-255-

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