The French Expansionist State

Not many know this, but France has gobbled bits of out just about every one of its neighbors in recent history. Instead of the peace-loving state of liberte and egalite, France looks more and more like an imperialist, expansionist and even fascist state. A list:
French Flanders: Annexed from the Southern Netherlands in 1668-1678. SW Flemish is spoken in this area, though it is going extinct due to France’s fascist one-language policy.
French Basque Country: An independent state annexed by France in 1610. The Basque language is in very bad shape here due to France’s one-language policy. It’s in much better shape in Spain. There is an armed movement for independence here, a wing of the ETA, but it’s small compared to the ETA in Spain. The ETA mostly uses France as a R & R place to hide.
Brittany: Conquered in 1488, and an independent Breton state was defeated and forcibly incorporated into France in 1532. There were repeated armed rebellions in the next few hundred years, all put down brutally by the French. The Breton language is not in very good shape here at all, even though it has 500,000 speakers. There are few children who speak it. Once again, France’s one-language policy is to blame.
French Catalonia: Most Catalan is spoken in Spain, but part of the region is in France. Annexed in 1659 in the Reaper’s War. The rest of Catalonia was invaded and conquered again by Napoleon in 1810 until the French forced him out in 1814.
Corsica: Recent expansion in 1770. There is an armed movement here with huge support that demands independence. I support them.
Savoy: Annexed against its will in 1860.
Alsace-Lorraine: Annexations back and forth between Germany and France. The final French land grab was in 1944. This really does seem like a part of Germany, but the Germans always had trouble with them, as the Alsatians never felt much part of Germany either.
They didn’t support Nazism at all, but were nevertheless punished for being “Nazis” after the French annexed it after the war. Hell, 1/2 of France was “Nazi.” Why don’t the French punish 1/2 their country? Alsatians are disliked in France as Germans who are not true Frenchmen. Alsatians have been a pain for both nations and have never really felt a part of either. Ideally, they probably want some sort of autonomy. The Alsatian language is doing ok, despite the best efforts of France for many decades to crush it.
Saarland: Failed attempt! Unbelievably, in the 1950’s, the French tried to bite off still more of Germany in the Saarland, which is located near the Rhine River and just north of Alsace. This land grab was stopped. The US unbelievably supported this effort.
Germany only gained control back by agreeing to be colonized by the rest of the Allies, that is, to “share” its steel and iron resources in the area with the Allies. The final vestiges of French economic imperialism in the region did not end until 1981, and a treaty still mandates that French must be taught as the second language of choice in the schools.
Despite defeats in the Napoleonic and both World Wars, the weakened, humiliated and obviously terminally insecure France just got bigger and bigger, while the UK was progressively diminished of territory, tech and money, probably mostly by the US.
An interesting Marxist argument is that the US allowed the UK to get creamed economically in WW2 in order to usurp world capitalist control from the UK in order to transfer the throne to the US. That’s how cynical imperialist shits are. They will give their best ally a knife in the back in a New York minute just to filch some more of the loot. No honor among thieves, I guess.
Why France wants Lorraine is beyond me. The place is a run-down backwater, full of grimy coal mines and welfare recipients. It’s got to be the poorest part of France. Who needs it? Parts of Lorraine, such of Thionville, are actually historically more part of Luxembourg rather than France or Germany. Doesn’t matter, France stole from the Luxes too.

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4 thoughts on “The French Expansionist State”

  1. Dear Robert
    You forgot to mention French overseas expansionism. In 1830, only 15 years after Waterloo, the French embarked on the conquest of Algeria. Before WWI, the French colonial Empire was the second largest. After WWII, no sooner were the French liberated from German occupation than they started a war for the reconquest of Indochina, which of course ended in a humiliating defeat for them in 1954. Not having learned their lesson, they then waged a bloody war against the Algerian nationalists between 1956 and 1962.
    They certainly aren’t like the Swiss. The Swiss got it right: be ready to fight like tigers against invaders but never invade anybody else. Hats off to them.
    Regards. James

  2. Hi James. I left off French overt colonialism as most are familiar with that. I was stunned that France had invaded and annexed almost all of the states around it. I had no idea!

  3. Yes, Alsace-Lorraine is a backwater. It’s also interesting that former French (and Belgium) African colonies seem to be more backward than British (and German) ones. French culture is more fossilizing than enlivening.

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