Vous verrez combien l’esprit de fanatisme est plus funeste que l’esprit de corps.
On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday of September a legal holiday. The act outlined that the observance of the holiday was to hold a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps, or a feeling of pride, of the trade and labor organizations.” This was intended to be followed by a celebration for the recreation of the workers.
Baron de Coubertin was a French aristocrat born to a strict Catholic Jesuit family, who grew up in the world of the French Third Republic, when the purpose of an aristocrat was no longer clear. He was a man searching for a mission. In the emerging sport cultures of North America and Britain, he comes across the contribution of sport to the transformation of nations and humanity. Above all, what he finds there is the idea of the “gentleman sporting amateur aristocrat.” When he came up with the idea of reinventing the ancient games of Olympia in a modern guise, his vision was to create a display of manly virtue—an incredible phrase, but that’s how he described it [Laughs]—in which the moral, athletic, and physical brilliance of amateur sporting gentlemen would provide not only the esprit de corps and energy they required to go on and rule their various empires, but an elevating example to the rest of us.
The stateless, faceless EU is a weak, ineffectual opponent, lacking the courage and esprit de corps that only a national identity and strong, elected leadership can provide. One has to imagine that the U.K. leaving the EU will send a shudder through ISIS and its brethren—signaling that the Brits are going to fight to protect their values as a nation. We should be so lucky.
Terrorism is as old as history and almost certainly older. In 68 B.C., for instance, the Roman city of Ostia, a vital port for one of the world’s earliest superpowers, was set on fire by a band of thugs. They destroyed the consular war fleet and, rather embarrassingly, kidnapped two leading senators. Panic ensued—the same panic that has now been recapitulated down the centuries, courtesy of such terror groups as the Irish Republican Army, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the African National Congress, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, al Qaeda and, most recently, ISIS. At the time of writing this article, the world had witnessed three major terrorist attacks within a period of 20 days—Beirut, Paris, San Bernardino—which were quickly followed by additional atrocities in Istanbul, Kabul, Dikwa, Nigeria, and elsewhere, each committed by Islamic extremists. And just as 19th-century German historian Theodor Mommsen described the culprits at Ostia as “the ruined men of all nations” forming “a piratical state with a peculiar esprit de corps,” political leaders today typically resort to describing terrorists as insane, deranged or purely evil.