7 May 2007

France Revolves

First Germany and now France have swung centre-right. Not because they want to but they simply must become more "anglo-saxon" in their socio-economic outlook in order to survive as competitive nations. Being dragged to a more "American" future explains the strident anti-Americanism that emanates from Europe. The more Europe is forced to abandon it's crust of statism, the more it kicks and screams at successful America. It's rather like a political fit of infantilism.

Europe's flagstone
nations all share a conceit that there exists an more mature, wise and compassionate template of human social order and this is to be found, by some inexplicable and mysterious process, in the roots of European centre-left politics. These of course are merely a modern extention of traditional European statism, hardly a force for social effervescence. The French have finally hit the wall and elected Sarkozy over the predicatable boilerplate socialist, Royal.

Sarkozy is
nothing if not a novelty in the chummy world of eltitist Europolitics. He never attended the ENA ( Ecoles Nationales) schools where 90% of France's hegemonic elite are groomed for power and control. His refreshing response to being elected is to spend the week in a period of reflection before he takes up the job.

Despite
French anti-Americanism, France and the USA share many similarities and one is their strong sense of assimilationism. Thus American's are able to elect an immigrant as governor of California and the French the offspring of a Hungarian immigrant, Sarkozy, as President. It is unthinkable to see the same happening in any other European country, where a more primitive sense of blood politics is the norm.

Although
Sarkozy will diminish strident anti-Americanism (Brits should note this is an extension of traditional antipathy toward "les rosbifs" and thus a backhanded compliment), he will not be a panacea. French national debt, as computed by some, will soon reach the levels of the late Ottoman Empire and presumably confirm France's place as the new Sick Man of Europe. This is the fate Sarkozy, and a belated French electorate, desperatly wishes to avoid and it raises hope in European political realism. France's electorate, like Britain's when faced with Thatcher's hard choices in 1979, finally realise the old game is up. The only problem is they are almost 25 years too late. The parient is comatose and is recovery truly possible?

I watched
in amazement the French Presidential debate, where 10 minutes was spent arguing wether one should work a full 35 hours a week only or have the option to add an extra hour. Only in the fantasy world of Euroland could one expect such an exchange. An excellent longer article on France's sclerosis by Michael Gurfinkiel is to be found here.

What
is ironic is just as America's recent foes in Europe all turn centre-right, America prepares for a leftward swing with the election of the Democrats. Their welcome of Sarkozy has been tepid to say the least. The influential far-left arm of the Dems, which represnts perhaps 30% of their total numbers, is already ranting on about the election of "Sarkozy the fascist". The left wing of the Democratic party is always more comfortable with communist dictators than democratic reformers.

2 comments:

tonybalony said...

Broadly agree on France though in my own (and others)recent experiences USA has become an inreasingly work-obsessed utilitarian society with relationships - whether prof, personal, or intimate - predicated on function and advantage. There is a great deal of mistrust and division between the sexes, and between the major ethnic group categories (Black White Latin Oriental). Perhaps the "Art of Good Living" - whatever that might be - is more prevalent in those older European countries whose roots are Greco-roman Judeo-Christian, whose climates are considerably milder than the extreme summers winters and storms of N. and N.E. USA; and who display considerably less variation in distibution of wealth. The last factor being a good indicator of a piopulation's overall health and longevity. Compared to the striving of USA and the increasingly humourless enforcement of petty regulations and restrictions on conduct in the public sphere/work-place, Europe seems positively laid-back. One should remember that America is not immmune from the curse that all aspiring utopias have an in-built tendency to become dystopias

Orwells_Ghost said...

Thanks Tony for useful comments but I hardly think that the USA is not part of Greaco-Roman and Judeo Christian culture. It is arguably the apex of that.

Nor has America ever purported to be a utopia, since naturally the amount of social coercion required for a Utopia is in direct conflict with the personal freedoms encoded in the US's foundations.

One point of my article was that, Europe cannot afford it's laid back approach because that will eventually lead to economic misery for it's ageing citizens.

I do not find Europe at all "laid back" when I go there, but I dare say I need to visit Croatia and the like, where I suspect the good Tony has passed time!