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Goguel does, the first part of the chapter, “Change in Bourgeois France,” in which Professor Pitts makes some sweeping generalizations about French psychology._____________ Professor Pitts’s theories are the only part of the contents of the volume which make me scratch my head and conclude that either he must be quite wrong about some things or I must have been very imperceptive during the last thirty years.
He sees France as being essentially Catholic, and he divides the Catholic tradition into two trends: the “doctrinaire-hierarchical” and the “aesthetic-individualistic.” These seem to correspond more or less to what I would have called the “Catholic-authoritarian” and the “humanistic-free-thinking” strains, and I cannot see why Professor Pitts wants to link the second as well as the first to Catholicism.
It is true that there are all sorts of cross-connections between them.
Authoritarian centralism, for instance, may be as much a feature of the secular Left Wing as of the Catholic Right, but this is because, at the Revolution, the new men inherited an already centralized state, which was still further centralized by Napoleon.
Professor Pitts does not bring out the fact that the majority of able Catholics go through the state schools, where they imbibe a great deal of the anti-Catholic tradition.I think he seriously underestimates the strength of secular France.At the same time, I fancy he overestimates the survival of the aristocratic ethos.The problem, in each instance, is to decide how far-reaching the new developments really are, where they are leading, and whether they reinforce each other or to some extent conflict.In the first section, Professor Hoffmann describes the stagnant equilibrium, the “stalemate society,” of France since 1870.
François Goguel, Secretary-General of the French Senate, on the five preceding chapters.