chapter  4
7 Pages


We cannot understand the obsessions of French political culture without taking account of the fantastic. Analysis in terms of interest and calculation, capital and labour, or profit and loss leaves much of the iceberg hidden. Major political battles were fought against partly imaginary antagonists, and were based on beliefs about the workings of society and politics that were at best travesties of reality. Nowhere can this be better seen than in the paranoid obsession with conspiracies, a lurid world of myth inhabited not only by cranks and simpletons, but by serious and influential thinkers and statesmen.