Sunday, April 30, 2006

The French

More on the French protests and the broader meaning of the protests. William Pfaff actually does a damn good job here of laying out the realities - you know, those things that are glossed over in the American media due to an idiotic knee-jerk anti-French stance that makes the ignorant chuckle knowingly at stereotypes they believe to be real. They once had a rude Parisian waiter in the 16th arrondissement, after all. When it comes to France, the American media is more incompetent than even its ability to look into the present American government's corruption and crimes. The difference is that there's no excuse of initimidation or loss of access or however the cowering American press wishes to justify its surrender of the journalistic mission. Here's Pfaff:

...I would suggest a larger explanation for the prevailing anxiety: that, as throughout modern history, France functions as the coal miner's canary of modern society, reacting to political and social forces before anyone else. France's refusal to approve the European Union constitutional treaty two years ago caused an international shock because the voters rejected the view, all but universally held among European elites, that continuing expansion and market liberalization are essential to the EU, indeed inevitable. The reaction of the European public elsewhere to the French vote seems, on the whole, to have been one of relief.

Similarly, the current unrest in France can be interpreted as a signal of wider popular resistance in Europe to the most important element in the new model of market economics, its undermining of the place of the employee in the corporate order, deliberately rendering the lives of employees precarious. The usual criticism of government intervention in the French economy is that it is protectionist and tends to block managers from downsizing and outsourcing jobs, in order to add "value" to the corporation. The head of the Paris Enterprise Institute, financed by business to sponsor economic internships for French schoolteachers, Jean-Pierre Boisivon, told the International Herald Tribune in April that "in France we are still stuck in 1970s Keynesian-style economics— we live in the world of thirty years ago. In our schools we fabricate a vision of society that is very different from the one that exists in other countries."...

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