Charles Maurras

French author, politician, poet, and critic (1868–1952)

Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras (20 April 1868 – 16 November 1952) was a French author, politician, poet, and critic. He was an organizer and principal philosopher of Action Française, a political movement that is monarchist, anti-parliamentarist, and counter-revolutionary. Maurras also held anti-communist, anti-Masonic, anti-Protestant, and antisemitic views, while being highly critical of Nazism, referring to it as "stupidity". His ideas greatly influenced National Catholicism and integral nationalism, led by his tenet that "a true nationalist places his country above everything".

That France may live, the King must return.

Quotes edit

  • After the Commune, thousands of workers were shot, while the leaders were allowed to escape; a King of France would have punished the leaders mercilessly, but he would have spared the people.
    • 'Dictateur et Roi' [August 1899], in Enquête sur la Monarchie (1925), p. 448, quoted in Robert Gildea, The Past in French History (1994; 1996), p. 310
  • What are Pavia or Rosbach...compared to Sedan or Waterloo? Revolutions have succeeded revolutions. The state is bankrupt. Three times foreign invaders have occupied Paris. We have had two civil wars. We have witnessed the making of Italian unity and German unity and the enormous expansion of the double Anglo-Saxon empire. Never has political France been so small. And since then she has accomplished her masterpiece of smallness. She has turned herself into a Republic, in other words she has deliberately chosen to be weak and defeated.
    • Une Campagne royaliste au ‘Figaro’ [1901–2], in Enquête sur la Monarchie (1925), pp. 496-497, quoted in Robert Gildea, The Past in French History (1994; 1996), pp. 123-124
  • The bourgeoisie does not understand the labour question.
    • Action Française (30 July 1908), quoted in Robert Gildea, The Past in French History (1994; 1996), p. 310
  • There can be no social peace in the Republic, and social reform is impossible without the king.
    • Action Française (1 August 1908), quoted in Robert Gildea, The Past in French History (1994; 1996), p. 310
  • Official orators have agreed amongst themselves to leave out one essential point: that to undertake the liberation of the fatherland, Joan had to go directly to the Dauphin Charles, acknowledge the right of his royal blood, and have him crowned and acclaimed on the cathedral square of Reims.
    • Action Française (12 May 1929), quoted in Robert Gildea, The Past in French History (1994; 1996), p. 162
  • Comte put to flight the pernicious and artificial doctrine according to which there is an opposition between the interests of the ruler and the ruled, for the latter derives his greatest benefit from being directed and guided... Renan finally made me aware of the service any élite, when it sincerely concerns itself with the highest considerations, renders and must render to the multitude, even unconsciously.
    • Au Signe de Flore (1931), pp. 10-11, quoted in Herbert Tint, The Decline of French Patriotism 1870–1940 (1964), p. 144
  • This pre-existing capital brings men fortune and honour, equips and refines them from the moment they come into the world, without anything having been done about it by these happy animals... Whatever brings together this beneficent capital is therefore a good thing; whatever dissipates it is less good. Work is good, saving is good... It is in the closely knit and stable circle of the home that production, acquisition, conservation have the greatest chance of success, for the personal instinct is there moderated and regulated by immediate affection, and generosity balanced by healthy egoism. Thus strength, duration and hereditary are related and linked; so are also the constitution of great families, the accumulation of vast possessions, the possibility of education and culture.
    • Au Signe de Flore (1931), p. 12, quoted in Herbert Tint, The Decline of French Patriotism 1870–1940 (1964), p. 145
  • In London and Berlin, at the time when Berlin and London flourished, the government was dynastic; it was so in Paris when Paris flourished. Dynastic succession creates the coherence of all the strength of an empire. Etymology would tell one that, in the absence of history. Not only because dynasty does without the exhausting system of electoral and parliamentary competition, but because it is good and beautiful that the authority of the sovereign authority should not be a force fashioned by human hand, that it should come to us from the most ancient times, and that the centuries should have created it for us and transmitted it to us, named it and imposed it on us ready-made, helped as it were by its legitimacy, that right of the leaders which is based on the fact that they played the major part in the creation of the country.
    • Au Signe de Flore (1931), p. 48, quoted in Herbert Tint, The Decline of French Patriotism 1870–1940 (1964), pp. 147-148
  • That France may live, the King must return.
    • Au Signe de Flore (1931), p. 49, quoted in Herbert Tint, The Decline of French Patriotism 1870–1940 (1964), p. 148
  • There are certain conservatives in France who fill us with disgust. Why? Because of their stupidity. What kind of stupidity? Hitlerism. These French "conservatives" crawl on their bellies before Hitler. These former nationalists cringe before him. A few zealots wallow in dirt, in their own dirt, with endless Heils. The wealthier they are, the more they own, the more important it is to make them understand that if Hitler invaded us he would skin them much more thoroughly than Blum, Thorez and Stalin combined. This "conservative" error is suicidal. We must appeal to our friends not to let themselves be befogged. We must tell them: Be on your guard! What is now at stake is not anti-democracy or anti-Semitism. France above all!
    • Action Française (25 March 1938), quoted in Leopold Schwarzschild, World in Trance (1943), p. 268

Quotes about Charles Maurras edit

  • These elements in French society were now to be given a lead by a man of genius whose power of argument, of sophistry, of tenacity, served to give an appearance of life to the dead monarchy and who provided a framework of political doctrine within which nearly all the critics of the Republic on the Right were to work and which was not without its influence on some critics of the Left.
  • Maurras was no optimist; human life at best was hard; the wise man accepted this fact and adjusted himself to the world as it was and ever would be, a world in which the race was to the swift and the battle to the strong, in which mere sentimental pity was a weakness and an intellectual crime. Like Nietzsche, Maurras despised Christianity and thought its politically dangerous sentiments of "he hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble" order highly noxious. In his early writings he gave free expression to this hostility, but as a realist, a positivist, he had to admit that France had been profoundly marked by the teaching of the Church; and as a practical politician, he had to face the fact that many of his potential supporters were likely to be alienated by the frank expression of his distaste for Christianity. So whatever regrets he had for the old gods, he had to recognize that they were conquered, that the day of the "laurel, the palms and the paean" was over. He accepted the fact that the French tradition was Christian, but, fortunately, Christian with a Roman and Hellenic superstructure.
  • Maurras had converted to monarchism during a visit to the eastern Mediterranean in 1896 when he realized how little influence republican France had in comparison to the monarchical empires of Great Britain, Germany and Russia. The Dreyfus Affair convinced him that the Republic had fallen into the hands of the "four confederate states" of Jews, Protestants, freemasons and foreigners, and that only a restored monarchy could bring back a strong state, a united nation and national greatness.
    • Robert Gildea, Children of the Revolution: The French, 1799–1914 (2008), p. 277
  • Maurras's nostalgia for his native province had inspired him to learn the Provençal language and eventually to join the Félibres, a tiny group of southern émigrés in Paris who sought to promote the Provençal renaissance inaugurated by the poet Frédéric Mistral. From this provincial, back-to-the-soil milieu emerged the guiding principles of Maurras's peculiar brand of royalism: political decentralization, restoration of the pre-revolutionary provincial boundaries, opposition to statism, official recognition of Provençal. Such doctrines hardly appealed to the cosmopolitan young Parisian who had recently observed the failure of Bavarian separatism and the enviable vitality of the unitary German Empire. In a subsequent letter Bainville declared himself in favor of centralization and accused Maurras of exaggerating the intelligence of France's rural population.
    • William R. Keylor, Jacques Bainville and the Renaissance of Royalist History in Twentieth-Century France (1979), p. 18
  • The ultra-nationalist writer Charles Maurras believed there were “two Frances”. The one he loved was the "pays réel", the real country: a rural France of church clocks, traditions and native people fused with their ancestral soil. Maurras loathed the “pays légal”, the legal country: the secular republic, which he thought was run by functionaries conspiring for alien interests.

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