Eiffel tower

The lights go out on the Eiffel Tower


The mayor of Paris, under the encouragement of the government of Emmanuel Macron, took the shocking decision to turn off the lights of the Eiffel Tower at 11:45 p.m. and leave them off all night, thus depriving the city of its most emblematic aspect. and beautiful symbol of peace, prosperity and industrial civilization.

The idea of ​​leaving them on at night is a way of saying that it may be dark but that hope still lives on in this great city. Turning them off only saves 4% in costs per year, and besides, what good is electricity if not to light things up? And of all the things to light up, it seems the Eiffel Tower would rank at the top.

“Conservation” is only meritorious if it serves the cause of a flourishing human life.

It’s not just a management error, it’s a preposterous omen for the future. It’s no secret that some very powerful people in what was once known as the developed world have turned against modernity, industry and everything they stand for, including freedom, peace and prosperity. They have in mind a different system that is best described as technocratic primitivism, in which the popular masses live in depressed dependence on political and intellectual elites.

It was not the idea that gave birth to the glories of the Belle Époque, the period in which the Eiffel Tower was completed. She arrived in France only a few years after giving the United States the magnificent Statue of Liberty, which remains the best symbol of this country. The United States and France had a good relationship that dates back to the American Revolution, which France helped sustain, and inspired the successful travels of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin to this great country.

After the American Civil War, both the United States and France embarked on the great mission of spreading peace and prosperity to all of its citizens and to the world. It was a period in the United States known as the Gilded Age, but there was much more to it. In France and the United States, we have seen the unveiling of so many magnificent technologies and life improvements.

Notably, the Eiffel Tower was built of iron, likely because it was planned just before the mass availability of commercial steel, which allowed cities to stretch to the skies and bridges to cross from huge expanses of water. Because it was made of iron, it must of course be repainted regularly. Even with iron limits, it was the tallest building in the world (81 stories) from its inauguration in 1889 until 1930, when the Chrysler Building in New York City surpassed it.

The fact is that it was a powerful symbol of hope, technology and progress, not only for France but for the whole world. It was originally gas lit but was unveiled at a time when electricity was gradually replacing gas lighting in the American homes of the wealthy and eventually everyone. Fourteen years after the completion of the Eiffel Tower, the so-called Wright brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, but France had also made great strides in flight.

The consumer was gradually becoming king all over the world, and the commercial market gave rise to the democratization of indoor heating, photography, book production and distribution, a wide variety of clothing choices, better technology medical and health care, as well as a longer and richer life for everyone.

In the arts and literature, optimism abounded as the intellectual classes came to embrace a belief in progress, peace and prosperity, provided we let go of the remnants of the feudal past and celebrate and instantiate the universal human rights in law and literature. A generation of writers came to believe that it was all somehow woven into the fabric of history, now that we had discovered the tools we needed to build bigger, richer, and better societies.

The central idea was of course human freedom. At that time, there seemed to be nothing to stop him from advancing step by step towards a bright future.

Another building presented at the magnificent Universal Exhibition of 1889, the Gallery of Machines, by the architect Ferdinand Dutert, which highlighted the practical arts and was then the longest building with interior spaces in the world. Two machines fascinated the public: Thomas Edison’s new and improved phonograph and the super cool elevators that showed the world how people could go up and down taller buildings quickly.

It was not only about technology, but also about art. The new Palace of Liberal Arts and Fine Arts showcased great arts and hosted musical performances to reveal the beauty of the future to all visitors. The Barnum and Bailey Circus was also there! And also Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show, with sniper Annie Oakley.

At that time, every nation was vying to host the World’s Fair as formidable and expensive displays of the bright future for mankind.

Of course, we know how this story ends, at least this chapter. The more than four years of the “Great War” that lasted from July 1914 to November 1918 drew the curtain back on the appalling brutality of which mankind was also capable. The Belle Époque and Gilded Age (and Britain’s Victorian period) have all come to an end, along with the optimism that fueled it. States turned into killing machines like nothing else in the Middle Ages because democracy also universalized the carnage of war. It was the first “total war” in the sense that it destroyed all of the societies and the hope of those years.

The art and music darkened, as did the expectations of a bright future in the minds of the public.

A century later, and after another world war worse than the last, civilization got back on track at the end of the 20th century with a renewed hope that human hands could once again work to emancipate the human family from despotism. and poverty. Totalitarianism is collapsing in many countries around the world and freedom is once again emerging as a real hope for the future.

A flying boat sails on the Seine in front of the Eiffel Tower at sunset in Paris on October 8, 2022. (Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s hard to say precisely when that hope was dashed again, but surely the 2020 lockdowns have codified that we are once again living in a time of great danger to human freedom. Every terrible event of the past 20 years could have been considered episodic, but lockdowns were universal and truly unthinkable.

Now we look around us and ask ourselves: where is the hope? Where is the light? Where is the true progress that ennobles the human family again?

And at this precise moment, the lights of the Eiffel Tower, this powerful symbol of success and hope for all, go out. The French people cannot allow this to happen. These lights should come on right away and stay that way. We will not return to pre-modern times.

They simply cannot be allowed to do this to us, not in Paris, not in New York, not in London, not anywhere. It is time. If this dreary ideology of suffering and deprivation at the hands of a powerful elite is allowed to continue, the lights of all civilization will go out.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Epoch Times.

Jeffrey A. Tucker


Jeffrey A. Tucker is the founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, and the author of several thousand articles in the scholarly and popular press, as well as 10 books in five languages, the most recent of which is “Liberty or Lockdown.” He is also the publisher of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily economics column for The Epoch Times and speaks widely on the topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.