Sunday, November 25, 2007

More Splits

The disunion that has afflicted the trade unions (see previous post) has also struck the anti-university reform movement. The national coordinating committee has asserted that it directs the movement, not the UNEF, which has agreed to negotiate with the government. The UNEF's effort to patch up the split, which was obvious from the beginning, appears to have failed.

Meanwhile, Jean-Marie Cavada, a MoDem European deputy, will head the UMP list in the 12th arrondissement, indicating a rift with François Bayrou, whose party appears to be disintegrating under him.

Disunion in the Union?

In Le Figaro Magazine, Véronique Grousset has an interesting piece on the dénouement of the strike. Her thesis is that a "reformist" current in the CGT, led by Bernard Thibault, vanquished its potential challengers, most notably Didier Le Reste, who replaced Thibault as head of CGT-Cheminots after the successful 1995 strike against the Juppé reforms. But that victory, which led to the formation of splinter unions such as SUD-Rail and the departure of about 1/4 of the membership of the CFDT, may have the same effect this time on the CGT. Discouraged radicals will reject Thibault's dominance and Le Reste's failure to mount an effective challenge and leave the union. This is the view of Bernard Vivier, the director of the Institut Supérieur du Travail, a consulting firm specializing in labor relations.

China Inc.

On Rue 89, Pierre Haski notes that when Sarkozy went to Washington, he took with him Rama Yade, the secretary of state for human rights, who looks striking indeed in a formal gown at a white-glove state dinner. Today he is in China, however, and has taken with him not Rama Yade, whose function might be thought to require her presence there, but Anne Lauvergeon, the head of Areva, who will sign a contract with China sealing a major deal for nuclear technology.

It is perhaps one of the many ironies of China's transformation from communist pariah into (still nominally communist) paragon of state capitalism and indispensable trading partner and banker to the nations of what used to be called the Free World that the human rights issues that used to bedevil Sino-Occidental relations must now be discussed sotto voce, at least when there is serious business to be transacted. Hypocrisy, Dr. Johnson said, is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.


Yesterday, I mentioned that Alain Badiou had compared Sarkozy's regime to Giscard's and Pétain's. Today, Le Monde's proofreaders compare it to the Restoration and the July Monarchy. The former comparison derives not so much from historical analogies as from the person of Édouard Balladur, M. Sarkozy's factotum in charge of constitutional reform, who "always looks as though he has just stepped out of a sedan chair." Indeed he does. I congratulate my blogging colleagues on this marvelous description, which they believe "incarnates [the Restoration style] with panache." More conventionally, they view Sarkozy as "a self-avowed nouveau riche" who is always running.

As Ron Tiersky remarked the other day, the historical analogy game is always fun to play. Which past regime does the present one remind you of? I wonder if it wouldn't be more profitable in Sarkozy's case to extend the game outward rather than indulge in traditional hexagonal nombrilisme. I ask you, then, which foreign regime of any period does Sarkozy's remind you of, and why? I await your answers in comments.

In searching for the picture of Louis XVIII (above), I discover that he and I share a birthday.