Tuesday, March 11, 2008
"France: Red Rose, Blue Grip" by Mitchell Cohen
"France's 35-Hour Workweek" by Philippe Askenazy
"Gender and Politics in France" by Françoise Gaspard
"Of Croissants and Couscous" by Nancy L. Green
"Internet Politics in France" by Jean-Baptiste Soufron
The "Environmental Grenelle" that ended in an orgy of self-congratulation some months back reached apparent consensus on such a host of thorny issues with so little controversy that one could hardly blame skeptics for assuming that some sleight of hand must be at work. The devil is always in the details in this sort of thing. You will recall that at the time Sarkozy pronounced the carbon tax proposal a "good idea" but suggested that it would need further study. Since then we haven't heard much about it.
nonfiction.fr reviews a note by Mehdi Abbas that explores some of the complexities of the issue. For one thing, there is the WTO, which takes a dim view of self-proclaimed environmental and safety measures that may act as tariffs in disguise. Indeed, French sponsorship of the carbon tax may work against it with the WTO, since it is not always easy to distinguish between "economic patriotism," another specialty of the French, and "environmental protection." Sarkozy will face the same problem if and when he attempts to impose a "European preference" in agricultural products, as he has proposed to do during France's EU presidency (which starts in June).
Additional information on the carbon tax can be found here.
Jünger himself offered an observation on his own behavior during the Nazi years that Mitterrand might have taken to heart: "One cannot act without completely hiding one's game. The most important thing is to avoid any appearance of humanity." A terrifying sentence, comments Sollers, but one can easily imagine how Mitterrand might have savored it.
MoDem, meanwhile, collected only 3.74 pct of the vote nationwide, far short of the 7 pct it hoped to attain, but it is in a position to influence the outcome in a number of large cities. Here is a rundown of the alliances it has negotiated.
It's striking that in France the political valences are reversed: the Right has marginalized its anti-Europe nationalists and sovereignists, while the Left has tried to accommodate pro-Europe and Euroskeptic factions under one big tent. The more disciplined party has also been the more successful party in presidential elections.
For an anecdotal account of French emigration, there's always the Times, if you can stand yet another story of bureaucratic red tape allegedly hamstringing the enterprising young, who flock to the greenswards of County Kent to start up their globalized comic book translation shops. The Times story is filled with numbers, but since one has nothing to do with another, it's impossible to construct a picture of actual emigration for the purpose of entrepreneurial start-ups, impossible to say whether the flow is increasing or decreasing, and impossible to gauge the factors that are actually driving the phenomenon (is it really red tape, or is it perhaps wage differentials, infrastructure, local government incentives, workforce qualifications, etc.). What might have been an interesting analytical piece is reduced to local color reportage:
Ashford, in Kent, is the first stop in England on the Channel Tunnel train, less than an hour from Lille and London and less than two hours from Paris.
“From down here you can look out and see Northern France,” said Alan Marsh, responsible for international relations in the Kent County Council. “It’s very comforting.”