Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Power

As civil servants and teachers join railway workers and students, several opinion pieces in Le Monde suggest that, more than the content of the reforms themselves, the implicit redistribution of power must be acknowledged in order to understand why heels are being dug in so deeply.

In the universities the questions are these. What new powers are being awarded to university presidents? Who will control hiring of new researchers?

Civil servants want to know how freely they can be transferred from department to department, and who wields the power to transfer them?

Rank-and-file union members want more power at the base in exchange for any concessions on retirement. A settlement that suits the national leadership may not suit the locals.

And so on, and on, and on. There is of course nothing new about an explosion of particular resentments and revendications when the central power attempts a systemic reform in the name of the general interest. This is French history in a nutshell. And the next few days will no doubt remind us that French history has generally been a messy affair.

2 comments:

Jim Livesey said...

Hi Arthur,

On this point... might this not be a good moment to consider dusting off all the material on autogestion to interrogate if those ideas offer some route past the impediments to movement? As you rightly point out the current situation has now ceased to be about the reform of the special pension provision and turned into a more general crisis of legitimacy. Or alternatively the efforts at reform have uncovered a latent legitimation crisis...

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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