The Future Belongs To Usrnby E. Christian Kopffrn”Reaction is the consequence of a nation waking from its illusions.”rn—Benjamin DisraelirnCharles de Gaulle: Futuristrnof the Nationrnby Regis Debmy. Translatedrnby John HowernLondon-New York: Verso:rnUI pp., $49.9SrnIn the 1960’s, when those of us vvho arernno\’ “of a certain age,” as the old-fashionedrnFrench expression goes, werern oung, wc used to talk about the Revolution.rnI remember one excited student atrnlittle Havcrford College, on the MamrnLine outside of Philadelphia, saving thatrnthings had gotten so bad, it would soonrnbe time to get our rifles and set out forrnthe mountains to figlit the goernmcnt.rn”You’re going to fight in the Poconos?”rnI asked. “No!” he exploded, “not thernPoconos. The Rock’ Mountains. We’llrnhide b- day and strike by night.” Man’rnof those putative rcxolutionaries went onrnto graduate school, or law or medicalrnschool, and are now serving the ITnitedrnStates government as bureaucrat, professor,rnor some other tpe of shill.rnWe used to talk, in those days, aboutrnRegis Debrav, the oung Frenchmanrnwho went from school in Paris to Cubarnand fought with Che Cuevara in Bolivia.rnHe was captured when Che was killed inrn1967, and French President Chades dcrnGaulle telegraphed the Bolivian authoritiesrnto ask them to spare his life. Therngo’crnment did so and, after some unpleasantrnvears in prison, Debrav returnedrnto France, one of the few intellectuals ofrnhis time who had actually risked his liferntrying to rouse indigenous peoples tornreolt. The experience changed him.rn”1 became a ‘Gaullist’—the term is incorrectrnbut appropriate—around Mayrn1968 [at the time of the student protestsrnthat eventually led to de Gaulle’s fall]. Arnbit late, ou might think, but better laternthan never. . . . It was the Guarani Indi-rnE. Christian Kopff is a professor of Greekrnand Latin at the Vniversitv of Coloradornin Boulder.rnans of the Chaco who recruited me, affiliatedrnme to that discredited brotherhood;rnconvinced me that what is immaterialrnabout a nation, a culture or arnmemory may constitute the ultimaternaxis for historical action. The Indians ofrnthe Bolivian Chaco did not speak Marxist,rnbut this (although regrettable) wasrnnot unexpected: the same had been truernof the Chinese peasants in Yunnanrn30 years eadier. The problem with thisrnlot was that they did not even speakrnSpanish. Che made speeches, ga e themrnthe word; they understood not a word,rnnot a single blessed word.” Their culturernwas too different. Debra’ had years in arnBolivian prison to ponder the lesson thernGuarani Indians taught him. La revolutionrnmondiale nest pas une patrie. I canrnexplain that sentence nrore easily than Irncan translate it. I think I know what itrnmeans: “What docs it profit a man if herngain the whole world and lose his country?”rnThe World Revolution did not work.rnProponents of “Global Democracy” andrn”Global Free Trade” will derive little consolationrnfrom Debray’s conversion, becausernwhat did work, what turned out tornbe real, was the nation and the religiousrnelement that structures the nation. Asrnhe made clear to Jean Ziegler, a conventionalrnleftist, in discussions on “FrancernCulturelle”:rnMarxism and free trade liberalismrnare in my eyes almost the samernthing. The}’ are two sides of anrnillusion that belongs to the firstrnindustrial revolution . . . and whichrnI call the ‘Economist Illusion.’ Wernthought the essence of Historyrnwould be decided in the economy,rnin the production of materialrngoods. In this sense Marx, AdamrnSmith, Ricardo seem to mc variantsrnof the same postulate which Irnbelieve false. . . . The Religiousrnelement… is not a passing factor.rnIt is the structural basis of everyrnhuman society, no matter howrnsecularized. I believe that Historyrnhas shut the book on that kind ofrnEconomism, and what was true forrnCommunism will be true for Capitalismrnas well.rnThe great figure in recent history whornsaw that the nation is realer than thernglobal economy or the world revolutionrnwas Charles de Gaulle. In this littlernbook, Debra pays his belated respects tornthe man who took time out of a busyrnschedule to write on behalf of a Frenchrncitizen locked up in a foreign jail, andrnstood for reality in a world grown franticrnon hallucinations.rn”We always sniggered at De Gaulle,”rnat his pompous style (“Fecamp is a seaportrnand intends to remain so”) but,rnmore than that, at his anachronisticrnviews. He walked out of NATO, offendingrnhis old ally, the United States, tornbuild an independent atomic force dernfrappe. He went to Moscow and refusedrnto recognize the German DemocraticrnRepublic. “Artificial creation. Won’trnlast. Prussia, living entity. Will last. . . .rnThe old boy just could not grasp the factrnthat Communism had altered the Europeanrnset-up. He went on stubbornlyrntalking about ‘Russia’ as if we were still inrnthe time of the Czars. Well, yes: ‘SovietrnUnion.’ Artefact, interesting but transitory,rnsuperficial. Won’t last. ‘Russia,’ seriousrnentity, leathery, great people. Willrnendure.” He was always embarrassingrnOCTOBER 1995/33rnrnrn