France Fractured

Theodore Dalrymple reviews in First Things Jerome Fourquet’s best-selling book, The French Archipelago, that details the development of modern French society, which in many ways parallels that of the good doctor’s native country, England.

In both countries, the inefficacy of their criminal justice systems leads to a sense of insecurity. Both countries suffer from the deterioration of their public education systems. The decline of Catholicism in France is paralleled by the decline of both Anglicanism and non-conformist Protestantism in Britain, and the sudden appearance of a religion new to both countries, Islam, gives rise to parallel undercurrents of anxiety. Moral boundaries in both countries have melted away like snow in spring, leaving behind a rampant individualism. In both countries, deindustrialization has produced a demoralized white ­sub-proletariat.

Incidentally, this is our first link to First Things and the good doctor has written six other articles for this publication, which will be posted on The Skeptical Doctor in the coming month. Please note that there is a limit of three articles per month that can be read without a subscription. It is interesting that Theodore Dalrymple, whose atheism is well-known, is writing in a journal published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, which was founded in 1989 “to confront the ideology of secularism, which insists that the public square must be “naked,” and that faith has no place in shaping the public conversation or in shaping public policy.”

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