Saturday, June 27, 2009

NPA Troubles

The NPA's poor showing in the European elections seems to be giving some recent adherents doubts about the wisdom of the party's strategy. One of them doesn't mince words:

Jean-Claude Labranche était une grosse prise : membre de la direction de l'union départementale CGT, ce militant aguerri n'a pas digéré l'isolement dans lequel son parti s'est enfermé en partant seul aux européennes. "Le score obtenu n'est pas digne du projet qui était celui du NPA : faire un grand parti de masse et de classe. La direction n'a tiré aucune leçon et va recommencer les mêmes conneries aux régionales", explique-t-il. Il ajoute qu'il est las d'entendre ses camarades dénoncer "la trahison des bureaucrates syndicaux" comme la volonté de la direction de "doubler" les syndicats en appelant à organiser des "marches régionales contre les licenciements".

"L'alliance entre le mouvement social et le politique à laquelle avait appelé Olivier Besancenot a volé en éclats pour une affirmation identitaire et sectaire", ajoute ce militant de 52 ans. Ses critiques ont trouvé un écho dans la fédération, où trois autres militants l'ont suivi.

Goldberg on the Burqa

Michelle Goldberg has a good piece on the burqa. (Full disclosure: I was interviewed for this article and pointed her toward Joan Scott and Cécile Laborde, whom she quotes at length.)

Sarko Stays Out of Trouble in the Caribbean

Nicholas Sarkozy avoided trouble in the Caribbean by mainly confining his visit to well-guarded airports. I imagine that local prefects were taking no chances with the security details after reading about what happened to colleagues who allowed jeers to reach the president's ears. With his usual charm, the president dripped with sarcasm toward Jacques Chirac and Ségolène Royal, who he intimated had curried favor with islanders by dispensing warm sentiments unbacked by concrete actions. Not wrong, mais inélégant quand même. He offered the Martiniquais a referendum on autonomy, which should win him some points.

Credit Derivatives and Catastrophe

For a lucid and gentle introduction to the credit derivatives at the heart of the financial crisis, see Donald McKenzie's review of Gillian Tett's book here. Tett is an FT journalist who has done excellent reporting on troublesome financial innovations, and McKenzie is a sociologist of knowledge from whose papers I have learned a great deal about how some very bright people were able to delude themselves about the risks involved in complex financial proudcts (h/t Harry Marks, Peter Gourevitch).