Political rifts have left the US haunted by fear of civil war. Here’s how France can do better | Alexander Hurst

Political rifts have left the US haunted by fear of civil war. Here’s how France can do better | Alexander Hurst

Anxieties about conflict are surfacing in film and TV. After a hard-fought election, France must learn to bridge its divides

In 2016, it was the “Anglo-American” world that seemed in lockstep, the US electing Donald Trump hot on the heels of Britain’s own goal of Brexit. A few weeks ago, it seemed as if France would take the UK’s place as the US’s partner in implosion. But even though fireworks and cheers filled Paris’s Place de la République on Sunday night following the success of a hasty marriage of convenience between leftwing parties and centrist coalitions to keep the far right out of power, they only temporarily drowned out reality. France’s social and political fractures are not going away any more than a four-year respite from Trump means that Trumpism has gone away.

France and the US have seen their neuroses about social fracture leading to civil conflict seep into politics, as well as playing out in film and TV dramas. The US’s fractures are so deep that full-blown civil war is already the subject of fiction. Alex Garland’s Civil War film skips over the reasons that the country is divided and jumps straight to the middle of the fighting, suggesting a politically improbable alliance of Texas and California to overthrow a president turned autocrat.

Alexander Hurst is a Guardian columnist

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