Pascal Bruckner is a French writer and philosopher whose latest book is "The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse." His article was translated by Alexis Cornel and adapted for the Los Angeles Times from the Winter 2014 issue of City Journal.
No longer a world leader, contemporary France has increasingly abandoned itself to self-denigration. The French don't like themselves any longer -- they're one of the world's most depressed populations, a huge consumer of psychotropic drugs and tranquilizers -- and they don't expect others to like them either. A country so unsure of itself, needless to say, is incapable of inspiring enthusiasm among the young.