Such was my friend’s reaction to the news that a member of the grateful public slapped Manny Macron in the face.
Manny was doing his Tour de France, a meandering road at the end of which he hopes to secure another few years at the helm. A lot of flesh is being pressed, but some of the flesh strikes back.
Neither my friend nor I have much respect for the president of France (nor, truth be told, for any other modern politician). We see him as a typical EU spiv with narcissistic tendencies and an unquenchable thirst for power that he is incapable of using wisely.
Nor does Manny’s maniacal hatred of Britain do much to endear him to either of us. His isn’t that de rigueur Anglophobia that the French political classes often profess but seldom feel.
No, had Britain stayed in the EU, Manny wouldn’t mind us very much. As it is, he sees the British as traitors to that great idea, a denatured pan-European state run into the ground by the likes of Manny for the benefit of, well, the likes of Manny.
Still, neither my friend nor I felt sorry that the attacker had wielded only his open palm, not a knife or a gun. You see, we are both conservatives, a term that denotes not so much a political philosophy as style, manners, tastes and temperament.
That’s where conservatism starts, and the political or any other philosophy is strictly derivative, although of course not nonexistent. And attacking politicians we don’t like with knives, guns or even open hands is too uncivilised for us.
Such is the problem: civilised, conservative opposition to the modern order is limited to elderly gentlemen like us, who are too few and too isolated to constitute a viable political force. Our style, manners, tastes and temperament prevent us from screaming off soap boxes, rabble-rousing, organising riots and revolutions – or even slapping the likes of Manny for the sake of attracting attention to our cause.
The arrested attacker was shouting Montjoie, Saint-Denis! – that battle-cry of the medieval Kingdom of France was first mentioned in the Song of Roland. Also arrested was his friend sporting the fleur-de-lis and filming the incident.
Both the motto and the livery betoken royalist, which is to say impeccably conservative, credentials. But we can’t see those chaps as fellow conservatives. In all likelihood they are fascisoid radicals, a species occupying an altogether different rung in Lamarck’s ladder.
The situation is becoming increasingly reminiscent of Germany circa 1933. There were only two dynamic political forces at the time, the Nazis and the communists. Hence the Germans either had to choose one or the other, or watch from the sidelines with a sardonic smile on their faces – the option taken up by most conservatives.
The battle lines are drawn in different places now, but the similarities are obvious. Political power throughout the West is in the hands of an increasingly detached dirigiste elite, unerringly steering our civilisation to a gruesome end.
Real conservatism is for all intents and purposes extinct, and the only noticeable opposition comes from radical groups painted in various hues of brown or red. The more dirigiste the state contrived by the elite, the more it serves not the country but itself, the more violent the reaction – and France is as dirigiste as they come, in the West at any rate.
Whether the rebels scream “Black lives matter”, “Power to the people”, “Save the planet” or for that matter “Montjoie, Saint-Denis” is just a question of phonetics. They all claim they are offering a substantive alternative, but it’s one between the rock and the hard place.
My friend and I don’t want to be governed by either Manny, his attacker or the British (or American) equivalents. We’d like to see in government sage, prudent, courageous statesmen, and neither the self-serving spivs currently on offer nor their febrile attackers.
And we are dreaming of such statesmen as we watch a herd of pigs gracefully flying through the air. Alas, they are unlikely birds.