Julian Crandall Hollick writes us a letter from Provence, where democracy is not always what it appears to be:
“For people in Provence, democracy in France has always seemed dysfunctional. Lots of talk about liberté and égalité, but precious little fraternité. They pay plenty of lip service to solidarité and convivialité, which too often translates into refusing any sense of common responsibility and a savage attachment to the principle of everyman for himself.
Paris seems about as remote as New Delhi for those of us who live in Provence. My town Vaison-la-Romaine only voted to join France in 1792, and that by a razor-thin majority. Before that we were ruled by the Pope in Rome, and quite happy with our separate (and remote) status …
Culturally and mentally we still feel somewhat detached from Paris. And, physically, too. Like a lot of other parts of France in the south and the Alps. Until the institutions of the French state beat it out of them, people from Toulouse in the West to Northern Italy in the East spoke Occitan, a mixture of Spanish, Italian, Arabic and what is now recognised as French. A few still speak it but it would be misleading to claim it’s flourishing. It survives among the old, and surprisingly in a flourishing rap culture in Marseille and Toulouse.”
Read the full story in the Carnet Atlantique.
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