Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Peace Is at Hand


I borrow my title from the famous words of Henry Kissinger at the Paris Peace Conference. I don't know why these words sprang to mind when I learned that I was wrong yesterday to say that Bruno Julliard, the head of the student union UNEF, would be hard to please. In fact, he's pleased as punch. Perhaps it occurred to me that this increased the likelihood of peace in the streets of France this fall.

Under the reformed reform proposal submitted today by Valérie Pécresse, all universities will become autonomous within 5 years, and there is to be no selection, at least not immediately, at the bac+4 or master's entry stage. There will continue to be selection 2 years earlier and 1 year later, so why this concession should have mattered so much to UNEF is not entirely transparent. M. Julliard is unhappy about only one thing: that it took the intervention of the president himself to achieve this provisionally happy resolution. He thinks this demonstrates an unhealthy presidentialization of the regime. Back during the anti-CPE demonstrations, I seem to recall, the same M. Julliard was urging the then-president to intervene and deploring his aloofness. But a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

Perhaps I recall Kissinger's words for another reason as well. Peace in fact wasn't at hand when he made that announcement, and somehow I suspect that peace isn't really at hand now. But a first hurdle has been overcome. The UNEF is happy that its cries have been heard; the university presidents are happy that their reservations have been noted. Only the enseignants et chercheurs remain disconsolate for the moment, but they are merely the workers of the education industry. The managers and customers are satisfied, so the workers will have to adjust. Not a word has yet been said about curricular reform, which might be thought to be the heart of the matter. But one step at a time. Score another early victory for Sarkozy and the Sarkozyan method: du pragmatisme, encore du pragmatisme, toujours du pragmatisme. Or faire la part du feu pour sauver le bois. Handy of French to have such an apt apothegm for tactical retreat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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