Saturday, May 22, 2010

Schama on Popular Rage

Historian and TV celebrity Simon Schama, my former colleague, foresees an explosion of popular rage and invokes 1789:

Whether in 1789 or now, an incoming regime riding the storm gets a fleeting moment to try to contain calamity. If it is seen to be straining every muscle to put things right it can, for a while, generate provisional legitimacy. Act two is trickier. Objectively, economic conditions might be improving, but perceptions are everything and a breathing space gives room for a dangerously alienated public to take stock of the brutal interruption of their rising expectations. What happened to the march of income, the acquisition of property, the truism that the next generation will live better than the last? The full impact of the overthrow of these assumptions sinks in and engenders a sense of grievance that “Someone Else” must have engineered the common misfortune.

This strikes me as rather simplistic for historical theory but not inaccurate as regards smoldering emotions in the United States and Europe.

Tell Us More

The Times leads with a teaser:

An already strained relationship between the White House and the departing spymaster Dennis C. Blair erupted earlier this year over Mr. Blair’s efforts to cement close intelligence ties to France and broker a pledge between the nations not to spy on each other, American government officials said Friday.

The White House scuttled the plan, officials said, but not before President Nicolas Sarkozy of France had come to believe that a deal was in place. Officials said that Mr. Sarkozy was angered about the miscommunication, and that the episode had hurt ties between the United States and France at a time when the two nations are trying to present a united front to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program.  

Now what in the world is that all about?

Tell It to the Marines

The New York Times profiles Marine Le Pen, or The Travails of Bearing the Name of the Father.