Alexander Riley, Senior Fellow, The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, traveled to France last fall at the invitation of the Institut des Sciences Sociales, Économiques et Politiques (ISSEP). His itinerary took him to Paris and the inland municipality of Lyon, France’s third largest city. In the fall, 2023, issue of The European Conservative, “A Tale of Two Frances: Part I” and “A Tale of Two Frances: Part II,” this Bucknell University sociologist contrasts the two cities.
Like Paris, Lyon is an ancient city. The Romans erected a settlement on this site in 43 AD. Unlike Paris, Lyon seemed to be well-ordered and courteous to the outsider. Waves of immigration have taken its toll on Paris since the last time Dr. Riley was there. According to him, it had all the pungency of “entering a human termite colony.” Many of the neighborhoods stood as “no-go” zones. Hooligans had set fires and defaced once sacred walls.
Revolutions have periodically characterized the Parisian landscape throughout the post-1789 period. During the French Revolution of 1789, Lyon established itself as a center of counterrevolutionary resistance. Currently, Paris is undergoing a woke revolution, mirrored by what is happening in the United States. Parisian bookstores specialize in churning out publications that abound with anti-Western, anti-racist, anti-colonialist, feminist, and gay critiques of society.
ISSEP has become a center of traditionalist values in Lyon. “[I]ts mission,” Dr. Riley noted, “has been straightforwardly consistent with that motto: to prepare a young generation with the business and management acumen needed for leading economic and political positions in French society, while culturally grounding them with a French nationalist and traditionalist religious identity. In this way, they will be prepared to challenge the globalist elite that currently runs the country.” ISSEP quite consciously is turning the plague of cultural Marxism against itself. “The operation of this far left cultural hegemony in elite French culture,” he said, “is relentless in its hostility to French nationalism.”
Dr. Riley met with ISSEP’s co-founder and delivered a lecture on wokeism. The students, he remarked, were intellectually well prepared for what was to come. They asked searching questions. “All were formally dressed and courteous, and all spoke a pristine and educated French.”
He came away much impressed by this traditional experiment in higher education. Marion Maréchal and Thibaut Monnier, ISSEP’s co-founders, have found a phalanx of young French patriots to roll back the tide, “the very same who were at the table with me in Lyon.”