France: Not Crumbling, Says Chazelle

Over at Rootless Cosmopolitan, Bernard Chazelle comments intelligently on the election of Nicolas Sarkozy . France isn’t doomed for any of the reasons people say it is, but it does have problems, and Sarko — who, by the way, is neither a racist nor a free-market conservative — might just have some solutions.

On a personal note, I can never forgive Mitterrand for intentionally boosting Le Pen’s fortunes at the ballot box in a Machiavellian divide-and-rule strategy. On the other hand, as someone who did not vote for Sarko, I am still grateful to him for dealing Le Pen his biggest electoral blow. I also note that while other politicians regurgitate the same tired “solutions” to the crisis of the banlieues—namely, building more community centers named after great poets—Sarko has suggested somewhat more adventurous ideas, such as a restructuring of labor relations, a more flexible labor market, hiring incentives, and even that big French bugaboo, affirmative action, all the while reaffirming France’s traditional rejection of communautarisme.

Chazelle takes down at least one myth per paragraph. As they say on the Internets, go read the whole thing.

3 thoughts on “France: Not Crumbling, Says Chazelle

  1. Why *isn’t* France going down the tubes? The population is shrinking. The economy isn’t growing. Just add water, boil at 250, and in twenty minutes you have broken country.

    That’s BEFORE you add 18% yearly GDP pension liabilities in a decade, muslim insurgency, 9-10% unemployment (getting worse), no real culture left outside of museums, continuous talent exfiltration, the fastest aging physical infrastructure in history (one that vastly alarms civil engineers), and an aging products manufacturing sector. And this isn’t even a complete list.

    You know, I never understood your “rational voter” jaunt either: if we Scando-germanic voters were so rational, we wouldn’t have voted a system that could only work for a few years. I don’t see rationality out of Europeans, I see fear: the war caused them to desperately want stability and boredom in place of the battle of ideas, and they did it. They just didn’t look at what was boring them. Say what you want about American “irrational” voters, they’ve given themselves a system that:

    1. Grows economically.
    2. Employs people.
    3. Has babies.
    4. Gives greater life satisfaction.
    5. Has real free speech.

    Among other things. According to you, the American voter is so incredibly stupid he can’t tell how bad he has it? I’ve always been interested in the Central European attitude which posits Americans are so stupid that they must have tripped and fell upon world domination. I must say, you’re a pretty good example of that line of thinking.

    But I digress from the topic at hand. Apologies. Anyway, to recap…nope, France really is f***’d. Pollyanna-like thinking.


  2. Bernard Chazelle: “What, then, is wrong with France?

    Simply put, the French system serves the interests of two-thirds of the population (the insiders). The outsiders (the young and the old) have been knocking at the door for 40 years. The sons and daughters of North-African immigrants have paid the highest price.”

    That is my perception of France as well. We read that the unemployment rate in France is 8.5%, or 10%, or 12%. Whatever. That isn’t actually true except perhaps in gesalt – and probably untrue even in gesalt. I read somewwhere (A Year in Provence perhaps) that half of all French sales of building materials (cement, bricks, etc) cannot be accounted for by official buildign permits. One infers there is quite a lot of unofficial activity and one might assume that there is also quite a lot of unofficial employment to go with the probably large unofficial sector of the French economy.

    But if French unemployment patterns match those in the US – there are actually two unemployment rates which diverge widely. When the US rate is at 8% the rate faced by caucasian male heads of household is perhaps 2.5-3%. Negro youth may have 40-50% unemployment to offset the difference.

    Low unemployment is important for more than the obvious reasons – it means that the outcasts, Chazelle’s outsiders – are going to get a chance because the preferred groups (the insiders) have been all taken up.


  3. Do you accept that Sharia shouldn’t rule as long there’s no Muslim majority, but you do feel it’s a divinely mandated idea nevertheless, possibly just wrongly applied so far – like, ugh, socialism? Do you agree with modernist reformer Tariq Ramadan that Sharia’s Hudd laws are not abominations, but to be, ugh, discussed – though not to be applied …for a while?
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