France’s dark side

In France, efforts to reform often end in tears, if not blood. Since the 1789 revolution, France has had 4 kings, 2 emperors, 5 republics and 16 constitutions. Over two centuries, uprisings alternated a frozen status quo. It is perhaps the storied malheur fran├žais, the tendency to see the worst aspect of things or a lack of hope in the future, once well described by the historian Marcel Gauchet as a troubling unending mix-up.