Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Fate of French Socialism

My latest, at The Nation.

11 comments:

Ronald Tiersky said...



Please read the paragraph at the end of this comment, quoting Art's piece, before what is just below:

The lines quoted from Art's piece are important in two ways. One is, as it reads, a statement of long-standing French particularity, call it etatisme. The other connects this particularly French way of thinking to a contemporary and comparative discussion of what is called the "deep state." Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt and other such regimes are often discussed as cases of a deep state, focused in the military, controlling the parameters of the political or electoral state. In a recent piece, George Friedman, the director of Geopolitical Futures, argues that the American political system also has a deep state--the civil service, i.e. the government bureaucracy, which can resist or exert its own political self-conception, including inertia, against the elected government. (the FBI, NSA etc. resisting Trump, in addition to the institutional checks and balances of Congress and the judiciary against the executive branch. In other words, says Friedman, there's a "deep state" in liberal democratic societies that is one of the guarantees of its constitutional essence. Not all deep states are authoritarian. Whether one agrees or not with Friedman, the ability to see what is particularly French in a comparative context is always useful.
---------------------------


"Elections change the people in charge of the state apparatus, but the apparatus has a mind of its own, as well as an inertia inherent in its self-conception as custodian of the general interest...(i.e.) "the administrative conception of the government bureaucracy as the permanent core of state power"


Ronald Tiersky said...


I should have added that Friedman's article can be found by googling

Friedman deep state

Anonymous said...

Dear Art:
Brilliant article, best analysis of the development of the chaos in France I've read anywhere this election year.

--Although, you neglected to mention 1. Hollande lowered the "safe harbor" for new businesses from a reasonable level of about $40G in income (if I remember the figure in USD correctly), to something closer to one-fourth that amount, thereby dis-incentiviing the major source of new jobs that are small businesses. The State's second-guessing about the economy can be wrong, however much the functionaries have to their credit, is all I'm saying.
The other fact you did not mention (again, correct me if I am wrong on the fact), is that Macron was a "Comptroller des Finances" --as was Alain Juppe, interestingly enough. The people who make it into those posts have a view of the bureaucracy and the economics of France from 30,000 feet. Relative to his time at Lazard Freres, Macron's government service is of longer duration, although his private sector banking experience provides a practical counterweight, which could be an advantage, should he ultimately prevail.

Again, a brilliant article, notwithstanding my quibbles.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. One reservation: Le Pen is NOT a formidable debater. She is repetitive, vociferous and rude. Last night's debate confirmed my conviction that she cannot win against either Macron or Fillon. True, Mitterrand beat Giscard, despite Giscard's competence as an economist, but Mitterrand was eloquent, witty and arguably the only successor of De Gaulle who was capable of "incarnating" the presidency of the Fifth Republic.


Anonymous said...

Excellent article, Mr. Goldhammer, some of I heard during your presentation in Toronto on Tuesday. I'm coming from the German perspective when I say that there is still significant angst in Germany that Le Pen could still win, even if a lot of people have sighed with relief after Geert Wilders did have the impact he had hoped for. Interesting what you say about how Marcron came to where he is today.

I will definitely keeping following with great interest.

Regards

FrédéricLN said...

A very dense piece, congratulations! BTW the race turns into a 4-heads contest, with Mélenchon clearly in a position to win. (Polls Graph on wikipedia). As usual, Mélenchon's agenda on public spending is fully unrealistic, but, as everybody knows that including himself, many people may vote for him despite that.

BTW, the candidate I support (Jean Lassalle) still has the guts, but did not overcome in the TV debate :-) , so his chances to make it in the two final weeks are much smaller. We were nevertheless happy to deliver an agenda which receives more praise or neutral comment, the criticism (I read none so far, except one appreciation that this agenda is "rather not compatible" with MEDEF's expectations). A small step forwards :-)

bert said...

JLM vs MLP, Frédéric?
Imagine.

It'd need a Macrise to make it happen of course, but still, bloody hell. Queues at the airport.

bert said...

Refreshing the front page, I see Art look over the edge and get a rush of vertigo too.

bert said...

Good link, by the way. Bookmark-friendly.
An artefact of the maths used is that the range of values either side of the line flares out like a trumpet at the right-hand edge of the graph. Macron's trumpet flares most.

FrédéricLN said...

Thanks Bert, and hey, people, Mr Mélenchon's agenda is far less on the left than Mitterrand's in 1981 or many others. No need to fly to the airport. Yes he has sympathy for the Cuban regime, but so many people have in France… :-(

FrédéricLN said...

(Just to exemplify — Mélenchon claims he would "séparer les banques", i.e. come back to Glass-Steagall, but this would not prevent a financial meltdown if investment banking seeks its funds in retail banks.

Jean Lassalle's agenda is more radical, by requiring companies who trade derivatives ("activités spéculatives") to use only earmarked funding. Yet Jean Lassalle comes from the center democratic movement).