Allons Enfants

France. A bureaucratic behemoth, a sluggish centipede choked on Brie and Beaujolais. The glorious postwar dream of prosperity curdles into a nightmare of rising debt, a fromage-fueled fever dream. France. A Gaullic hallucination, a decadent Disneyland sketched by de Sade. The once-proud engine of industry, sputtering, gears grinding into existential cheese rinds. The welfare state, a bloated carcass picked clean by crows in pinstripe suits. High debt, a serpent coiling ever tighter around the baguette-clutching citoyens.

The factories, once belching smoke and churning out steel, now gather dust, echoing with the ghosts of ouvriers. Growth? A bourgeois fairytale. The future, a low-humming museum where tourists gape at relics of a bygone industrial era – rusted Citroëns, faded posters of glorious trente glorieuses. The economy, a three-card monte rigged by invisible croupiers. Luxury handbags, status symbols dangling from wrists like gilded shackles. Cheese, a pungent shroud draped over a decaying system. Wine, a fermented oblivion to drown the gnawing anxieties.

The politicians, those marionettes in ill-fitting suits, twitch and jerk on the strings of lobbyists, their pronouncements mere Gallic gobbledygook. “Gauche” or “Droite,” it’s all the same play, a kabuki of empty gestures. A meaningless binary choice flickering on a flickering screen. Both sides of the same coin, tarnished with the same Gallic cynicism. The revolution, televised, a bloodless ballet of bureaucratic shuffling.

The ship lurches on, rudderless, propelled by the fumes of vintage claret, destination: insolvency. The streets, a phantasmagoria of discontent. The youth, wired on existential espresso, their dreams dissolving into pixelated haze. The air thick with the stench of Camembert and despair. France – a beautiful corpse, propped up on a chaise longue, clutching a Louis Vuitton handbag, a glass of Bordeaux staining its forgotten ideals.

The “welfare state,” a once-gleaming chrome carapace, flakes and rusts. The social safety net, a hammock woven from Camembert, threatens to sag under the weight of the populace. The young, restless and wired on baguettes and existential angst, rage against a system ossified by tradition.

Oh, the French cling to their fetishes – the perfect baguette, the pungent cheese, the vintages older than their grandparents. Tourists flock to this curated museum-state, blissfully unaware of the cracks beneath the gilded surface.

But the mutation is afoot. A creeping rot, a Gallic gremlins gnawing at the foundations. The future looms, uncertain, a glass of absinthe half-empty, the dregs swirling with anxieties. Will France awaken from its stupor, or will it succumb to the allure of its exquisite, unsustainable decay?


Ah, but that’s the delicious paradox, mon ami. France, a perpetual state of decline since the dust settled on the Crusades. 

Since the XIIth century, mind you. A slow, agonizing decline disguised by the perfume of Chanel and the glitter of the Eiffel Tower. A perpetual “has-been,” clinging to the faded glory of Charlemagne’s court. Every victory, every artistic flourish, a desperate attempt to recapture a vanished grandeur.

A nation perpetually teetering on the precipice, a tightrope walk between revolution and stagnation.

These “golden ages” – the Renaissance, the Sun King’s reign – mere blips on the radar of their inevitable demise. Victories morph into defeats, empires crumble into cheese rinds. 

The Hundred Years’ War? A bloody hiccup. Napoleon? A fleeting comet, burning bright then extinguished. Even their revolutions, those supposed bursts of Gallic fire – mere fireworks displays, sputtery and short-lived.

Is it a curse, a genetic predisposition for glorious flameouts? Or perhaps a perverse national identity built on the ashes of past grandeur?

France, the beautiful, decaying coquette, forever preening in the mirror of lost glory, her perfume a potent mix of nostalgia and existential dread. Tourists flock to witness the final act of this grand historical drama, each buttery croissant a memento mori.

Perhaps it’s in the Gallic temperament itself, a perverse fondness for grand gestures followed by shrugs and existential sighs. A nation that peaked too early, content to live off the fumes of past glories, a faded tapestry woven with the threads of revolution, croissants, and the lingering scent of defeat.

Yet, there’s a perverse resilience too. This phoenix, perpetually on the verge of immolation, somehow manages to hatch anew from the smoldering embers. Perhaps it’s the wine, perhaps the stubborn Gallic spirit, a refusal to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

So yes, France may have been “declining” since the troubadours first strummed their lutes, but decline itself becomes an art form, a decadent ballet choreographed by history. Will they pull off another audacious reinvention? Only time, and perhaps another glass of absinthe, will tell.

But who are we to judge? Maybe this decline is just another stage in the grand, grotesque opera of French history. After all, even the most exquisite cheese ripens, then rots, then becomes something else entirely. Perhaps France is destined to transform, to morph into something new, something delightfully bizarre and undeniably French.


Ah, but the French wouldn’t have it any other way. They revel in this exquisite melancholy, this bittersweet symphony of decline. They wear their faded elegance like a well-worn beret, a badge of a better yesterday. Perhaps it’s this very fatalism, this acceptance of their inevitable putrefaction, that makes France so damned fascinating. A nation dancing on the precipice, a glass of champagne eternally half-full, a nation that even in its decay manages to be, well, undeniably French.


But here’s the kicker, the cut-up twist in this Gallic narrative, mon ami. France, the perennial underdog, destined to lose every skirmish, every clash of steel. Waterloo, Sedan, Dien Bien Phu – a litany of defeats etched into the national memory.

They’ll lose every battle, yes, a pyrrhic ballet of glorious defeats. But the war? Ah, the war is a different story. A long game played in cafes over Gauloises and strong coffee. A war of attrition, of cultural osmosis, of seductive whispers and subversive ideas that seep into the cracks of supposedly victorious nations. They’ll lose in glorious technicolor, headlines screaming defeat, analysts clucking their disbelieving tongues. 

Yet, in the grand, maddening game of history, France emerges, bloodied but unbowed, a cockroach scuttling from the wreckage. Alliances shift, empires crumble, and somehow, the French find themselves not just surviving, but thriving on the chaos. Is it cunning? Dumb luck? Perhaps a national superpower fueled by existential ennui and a bottomless well of cynicism.

Except… France doesn’t quite get the memo. The bureaucrats shuffle papers, the cheesemakers churn out their Camembert, the existential poets continue their navel-gazing, all blissfully oblivious to the “official” state of defeat. The invaders, meanwhile, get bogged down in a bureaucratic quagmire. Every attempt at reform gets tangled in red tape, every decree met with shrugs and Gallic sighs.

Amidst the wreckage, a different kind of victory unfolds. A victory of spirit, of stubborn Gallic refusal to say die.

The enemy’s grand pronouncements echo hollowly in the cafes, drowned out by the clatter of dominoes and the murmur of philosophical debates.

The enemy, exhausted from pummeling a foe who just won’t stay down, will sputter and retreat. 

The “occupation” becomes a game of existential chicken, a war of attrition fought with baguettes and ennui. Slowly, imperceptibly, the invaders start to… Frenchify. They pick up the taste for escargot, develop a fondness for berets, find themselves inexplicably drawn into late-night dissertations on the meaning of life.

France, battered, bruised, but still clutching a baguette and a bottle of something fermented, will stand blinking in the dust, the ultimate existential cockroach. The victory parades turn into languid picnics, the conquering anthems morph into Edith Piaf ballads. The enemy becomes indistinguishable from the conquered, dissolving into the Gallic soup. France, in a perverse victory dance, wins the war not with a bang, but with a shrug and a sigh. The ultimate resistance: refusing to play by the rules of the game itself. France, the ultimate cockroach of nations, forever scuttling out of the rubble, a perpetual thorn in the side of history.

“Victory?” A bemused shrug, a Gallic sigh heavy with Gauloises fumes. “C’est la vie,” they’ll rasp, a hint of triumph in their bloodshot eyes. The tourists will gawk, cameras flashing, capturing the image of a nation that somehow,inexplicably, won the war by losing every goddamn battle. France. A beautiful, infuriating enigma, a nation that dances to the beat of its own deranged drum.

France, the ultimate victor in the war of attrition against time itself. They may lose the battles, these decadent Don Quixotes, but they’ll win the goddamn war, one cheese wheel, one existential treatise, one surrender (that somehow turns into a strategic maneuver) at a time. Theirs is a victory written in footnotes, a triumph whispered in the echo chambers of history.

So raise a glass of that dubious vin de table, to the glorious losers, the champions of decline, the nation that perpetually loses every battle yet somehow emerges, blinking and bewildered, on the winning side. Vive la France, in all its beautiful, maddening, eternally teetering glory.