Thursday, March 31, 2011

On the Decline of Public Services

Over the past few weeks I've considered the influence of the decline of public services on the rise of the Front National. Some commenters deny that public services have in fact declined under Sarkozy. This article, based on observations in one Parisian quartier, takes the opposite view.

How low ...

... can French debate sink? Not only have we learned that the famous "debate on laïcité" so coveted by Copé will unfold, beginning to end, in just two hours--another aborted effort, exactly like the debate on national identity that preceded it. But of course the "debate" was never the point, which was rather to divide the sheep from the goats of the UMP and signal to the voters of the extreme right.

But now we also learn that poor Bernard-Henri Lévy is under attack by the unspeakable Dieudonné, Kadhafi's last defender, and the unsavory Depardieu, BHL's latest execrator. Quelle honte!. And who is rising to the defense of beleaguered Bernard-Henri? Why, L'Express and Jean-Paul Enthoven, his bosom buddy and ex-amant of the First Lady. The latter writes in La Règle du jeu, whose editorial director is ... Bernard-Henri Lévy, a collaborator of L'Express, as is JPE. L'inceste germanopratin is nothing new, to be sure, but rarely has it been so close to the center of French foreign policymaking. Curious, that when Kadhafi was considered salvageable, it was the president's ex-wife who served as his emissary, but now that the dictator is to be jettisoned, it is the friends of his current wife who vouch for the trustworthiness of the rebels.

Summing Up an Era

In a review that is itself self-parodic, George Steiner, godfather of the portentous pronouncement, looks back on the era of high French theory, encylopedically summed up in a book by Pierre Bouretz:

As one puts down this inevitably mandarin diagnosis of quarrels that already seem dated, a thought intrudes. How remote is the English guise and atmosphere of philosophy from its Continental and North American counterparts. Is that due to parochialism or good sense?
"Quarrels that already seem dated." Sigh. How true. Living long is indeed the best revenge, but still it is sad to see one's youth immolated on the twin altars of "parochialism" and "good sense." (h/t Sam Moyn)

Prodding?

So, says here that DSK told Cohn-Bendit that it's all up to Martine Aubry: if she wants to run, he won't run against her. But why should we believe this carefully placed leak rather than the previous ones about a meeting in Marrakech in which Aubry agreed to become PM under President DSK? I'm not sure who's manipulating whom here, but geez, it's awfully tiresome. Maybe it's DCB wanting to keep DSK's name in the news on a day when Hollande is expected to announce that he, at least, is actually running for office rather than engaging in a fan dance of présidentiables.

And Bauberot Is Right ...

I'm just agreeing with everybody today. Here's Jean Bauberot:


Le Nouvel Observateur.– Le mot « laïcité » est devenu une espèce de mantra. Tout le monde aujourd’hui s’en réclame, même ceux qui l’ont jadis combattue. Comment expliquer cette conversion ?Jean Baubérot.– Quand il y a un usage inflationniste du terme laïcité, c’est toujours pour masquer autre chose. A la fin du 19e et au début du 20e siècle, c’étaient les partisans d’Emile combes qui s’en servaient pour combattre le catholicisme et pourchasser les congrégationnistes… De même aujourd’hui, ceux qui veulent renouer avec cette laïcité de combat utilisent le mot comme un terme politiquement correct pour habiller leur agressivité envers l’islam.

Joffrin Is Right

Or at any rate, I agree with him. (h/t Anonymous)