“There is no Gaullist candidate, there are only Gaullist policies”

FIGAROVOX / TRIBUNE – On November 9, the anniversary of his death, politicians from all walks of life pay tribute to Charles de Gaulle. For the historian Gaël Nofri, the legacy of the General is too often the object of a partial recovery which underestimates its extent.

Gaël Nofri is a historian and deputy mayor of Nice.


Commemorating the disappearance of General de Gaulle a stone’s throw from the presidential election is the certainty of easy recoveries, all-out tributes, dubious shortcuts. Some will speak willingly of sovereign, independent and respected France; the others of the return to economic prosperity and industrial success of a modernized country; these will evoke the right to vote for women, social security and the program of the National Council of Resistance, those perhaps will also cite the fight against Nazism and the courage of decolonization …

De Gaulle is not a shopkeeper’s stall to which everyone comes to do their daily market, according to immediate needs, the circumstances of the moment, their own neuroses.

Get Nofri

Such remarks testify less to what General de Gaulle was than to what animates their promoters. Because de Gaulle is not a shopkeeper’s stall to which everyone comes to do their daily market, according to immediate needs, the circumstances of the moment, their own neuroses. On the contrary, de Gaulle is a man, a destiny, a fight… a unity that should be considered as such.

To say that is not to contest, to such and such, the validity of its references, the right to be anchored in a heritage or the legitimacy to bear witness to a “certain idea of ​​France”. This reminds us that everything that is partial, to be true, is only partially true. Thus, behind each of these truncated truths, each of these orchestrated highlights, each of these thought-out erasures, hides a bias, a reading, a choice. This choice is legitimate, it is even healthy in a democracy on condition that it is accepted. It represents the part of what each one invests in the public debate, of his reading of the present issues, of his understanding of the world we live in, of his interpretation as for the relevance and the topicality of Gaullism. But it is also an opportunity to send everyone back to their own responsibilities, to their arbitrations that cannot be camouflaged by the tutelary shadow of Man of June 18.

Paraphrasing André Malraux, it is not wrong to assert that Gaullism is not conjugated in the conditional.

Gael Nofri

Because de Gaulle was France when some French people wallowed in collaboration, because he embodied “common sense, honor and the best interests of the Fatherland” even though so many of our compatriots doubted that it remained a French destiny, because it straightened the nation and its institutions even as their drift threatened to consecrate its erasure, de Gaulle signifies for France and in the eyes of History something which is not soluble with a any factional spirit. He cannot be the ritual invocation or the magical amulet of politicians slaughtering his name like a totem of immunity or a sacred incantation. Paraphrasing André Malraux, it is not wrong to assert that Gaullism is not conjugated in the conditional. In this sense, there is no such thing as a “Gaullist candidate”, there are only “Gaullist policies”.

Gaullism only has meaning if it refers to the fight of General de Gaulle. In this sense it belongs to all those who will want, in their concrete actions, in the exercise of their functions, in their daily acts, to find in him, far from the recovery and the incantations, a “source of new ardor” as uncompromising. that demanding and lonely.

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