Friday, May 11, 2007

Judt on the French election


Just a few more points I didn't manage to pull into my last post, being a response to an article by Tony Judt in The New York Times (*). Thanks to Jeff Weintraub for drawing my attention to this, in a e-mail following his post.

On Ségolène Royal favouring Turkey's entry to the EU, it's certainly an unpopular position, as Tony Judt confirms. If Ségolène is uncommitted, which I don't accept, that is much better than outright opposition, since the EU will not have to make its final decision on Europe for 10 or 15 years, if ever.

As for the remark about "a leftist mirror of the agenda of neoconservative strategists in Washington", I don't really understand this, unless it's a reflection of the argument you sometimes hear that something (Turkey in the EU) that Paul Wolfowitz favours is not a good thing after all, that extending the EU is really a way of weakening it. So, Judt appears to criticize Sarkozy for breaking with Chirac on this, while not giving Royal credit for maintaining the same line.
Many of Ms. Royal’s socialist supporters manage to be both anti-American and anti-European...
This reminds me of something Tony Blair said in a recent interview: 'Some parts of the [right-wing] media, he adds, are now both Eurosceptic and anti-American: "Well, work that one out ..." ' In fact, in the case of the French Left, I can understand it, that it's all part of the anti-globalisation argument. Many on the Left - in the Socialist Party and among the sort of people who write editorials in Le Monde - have traditionally stressed the importance of a strong Europe, as a counterweight to the hyperpuissance. But they were outflanked during the referendum on the constitution by those who argue that the EU itself is the problem, that it is too "liberal". Again, the importance of 29 May 2005 can scarcely be overstated.

One or two other points:
But the comparison to American rates is misleading: our figures are artificially lowered because so many dark-skinned men aged 18 to 30 are in prison and thus off the unemployment rolls.
It would be nice if all this could be properly tabulated, taking what statisticians call a "cohort" of 19-year-olds, say, and showing so many in employment, so many unemployed, so many in prison... From what I've seen, Le Monde Économie does that sort of thing better than the British press. The only snag is that the French do not allow the recording of ethnicity in such figures (**). Something to do with the values of the Republic, apparently. Many in France think the advances supposed to have been made under the Blair government are an illusion. One book that came out last year was called Le Royaume enchanté de Tony Blair.

Finally,
In 1995 [Chirac] became the first president to acknowledge openly France’s role in the Holocaust: “The occupier was assisted by the French, by the French state,”
Here, at least, Chirac appears in a better light than Sarkozy - cf. the remarks I made before, regarding the report in Le Monde, 19 Apr.

* 'France Looks Ahead, and It Doesn’t Look Good', 22 April 2006 ( link requires payment).

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