By Bernard Wall
The Sun versus
CANDIDE sat down on his mat and told the following parable to the city and the world: " One day the Europeans became bored about lighting between democracies and dictatorships, and they decided to have a new alignment of powers. Historians called this new alignment the Climatic Alignment because it consisted in a quarrel between all the peoples who had rainy climates and all the peoples who had sunny climates.
"And all the intellectuals who lived in the Rainy countries wrote books to prove that the sun retards intellectual development and makes people lazy, shiftless and decadent : and the intellectuals in the Sunny climates said that water had rusted the brains of the Rainy alliance and it was only the cast-offs of civilisation who lived in places full of fog and with no sun. And all the clever cartoonists got busy. And the Rainy cartoonists pictured the Sunny people as organ-grinders with monkeys and murderous lazy beggars, and the Sunny cartoonists pictured the Rainy people as red-nosed barbarous drunkards with faces like horses sitting shivering on the North Pole. These cartoonists were generally known as pacifists because their cartoons were in the interests of world-peace.
" But everybody agreed that this climatic alignment answered more to European realities than any alignment in the past. What,' said the Europeans, ' are differences of government compared with heat and cold? Governmental differences are purely artificial, whereas climate has placed a natural frontier which has existed from all time. The Northern peoples am the hereditary enemies of the Mediterranean peoples. The Northern peoples spend most of their lives indoors; the Southern peoples spend most of their time out of doors. The Northern peoples are fair, tall, energetic spirit-drinkers; the Southern peoples are short, dark, contemplative wine-drinkers.'
The Long River Alliance
"Seen in the light of these new developments the old alignments seemed unsatisfactory and puerile. It became almost incredible that a country like France could ever have been allied with a country like Russia (where there is snow all the winter), or that a cold people like the Germans could be allied with a hot people like the Italians simply because the rulers in each case wore special shirts (and not the same colour either). The Russians now became allied with the Egyptians and the Rumanians and these peoples had a natural affinity because they had the longest rivers, the Danube, the Volga and the Nile. The Americans helped this alliance because they also had a long river, the Mississippi, and the Brazilians, mindful of the Amazon, soon joined it. Thus the Long River Alliance also became powerful like the Sunny and Rainy Alliances. " There was a great deal of dispute however about America, as the Sunny peoples maintained that it should join their axis because it was a sunny country, while the Rainy group maintained that in national cluracter the Americans were a Rainy people and were descended from Rainy ancestors. The international jurists had much dispute about this, the Rainy view being once Rainy always Rainy.' The press dispute turned on the significance of prohibition. Rainy newspapers informed their readers that the water-drinking Americans found that a rainy climate answered to their needs; while the Sunny Press bore a quotation from Billy Sunday in streaming headlines saying he wanted America to be so dry that you wouldn't even he able to spit.' This desire for dryness showed a natural sympathy with Sunny climates.
The Test Case of Switzerlapd
"The dispute which set Europe blazing began about Switzerland. The Rainy intellectuals encouraged the Rainy people to believe that Switzerland was rainy because of its high mountains: while propaganda in the Sunny countries taught that Switzerland was sunny because it was south. The Rainy scientists proved Switzerland was a rainy country with statistics about annual rainfall. The Sunny intellectuals pointed out that if this were so then Spain and Ethiopia must be accounted Rainy countries (which was absurd as they were pillars of the Sunny axis). They went on to say that parts of Germany really were sunny. And they had maps printed with a huge sun shining over Bavaria the Unredeemed ... "
Some of the citizens and foreigners who had listened to Candide's parable began grumbling. They said that Candide was making fun of sacred things. And others asked him to expound the meaning of the parable. Then Candide shouted out in a loud voice: " If it rains you have to carry your umbrella every day. If it is a democracy you go to the polling booth. once every five years."
And Candide would say no more.