France has been going down the tubes for years. Finding out why is easy – the French Statist, centralised system simply doesn’t work in the modern, globalised world. Finding out how French people actually feel about this is somewhat more difficult. After all, if one couldn’t believe three contradictory things simultaneously, one wouldn’t be French.
Liberté Chérie (liberty most-cherished) is a liberal think tank comprising of 2000 members in cities throughout France. It’s far from the only libertarian organisation in France, but it is perhaps the most prominent. Neither is it a political party – rather it functions like an information and PR centre for the promotion of the concept and philosophy of libertarianism. The organisation’s President is Aurélien Véron, a handsome 36-year-old who works for the bank BNP Paribas, runs his own small business, and somehow manages to find two hours more each day for Liberté Chérie. At least two hours, he concedes with a wry smile, when we meet at a cafe for a chat.
Liberté Chérie’s first brush with fame came two years ago, during one of Paris’s predictable general strikes that paralysed the city. Liberté Chérie called for a counter-demonstration, against the strikers. A little publicity was expected to draw perhaps a few thousand people – instead, 80,000 exasperated Parisiens arrived. ‘We didn’t keep very many,’ Aurélien admits sheepishly, in excellent English. ‘We weren’t very well organised, we only managed to take a few people’s details. The rest went away after a short while.’ But the newspapers noticed, and journalists have been asking Aurélien’s opinion on various political matters ever since.
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