Saturday, February 9, 2008

Zeldin on the Attali Commission

Theodore Zeldin, the maverick British historian of French passions, has some choice words about the Attali Commission, of which he was a member, and some ideas of his own about how to reform France:

I ask him about the Attali commission, chaired by Jacques Attali, the socialist intellectual and former head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which last month submitted 316 recommendations to reform France to Sarkozy. Zeldin had particular responsibility for changing mentalities, which he says will be vital in pursuing fundamental reform.

He is enthusiastic about the possibilities for change but expresses frustration with the commission’s intensely technical discussions of subjects and the cobwebs of laws and regulations preventing new initiatives. “The tendency of experts is to fiddle around with their expertise rather than trying to find new solutions,” he says.

His solutions are far more radical: founding new towns with affordable housing near the coast that can draw food, energy and water from the sea; posting school teachers to foreign countries for a year to experience different cultures; inviting the world’s 100 richest people to the Elysee Palace and asking them to create a global university.

In reforming France, or any other country, Zeldin argues it is vital to avoid, rather than provoke, confrontation. It is better to allow old problems to wither while encouraging new possibilities to emerge alongside. “You have to accept that traditions exist, that people don’t change their minds very quickly, that people are scared,” he says.

“Sarkozy has to say: ‘Here’s a new vision, this is what we’ve got to do, let’s go and do it. In the 17th-century people said let’s go to America and establish Pennsylvania. I’m saying let’s go to south-west France and establish the equivalent of Pennsylvania.”

Thanks to pg for the tip.


Anonymous said...

Cher Monsieur Goldhammer,

Do you know if Theodor Zeldin or anyone from the British (or our French) press had "some choice words" for Ségolène Royal's chategorical -albeit conditional- (what a paradox) support for Porto Rico's independence!?

I think what's most interesting is that, in a sense, Ségolène Royal did have her "Vive le Puerto Rico libre!" moment in Les États-Unis d'Amérique. She said, if the Socialist International (SI) does support Porto Rico independence, then I support Puerto Rico Independence.

I looked it up and, sure enough, the Socialist International has a long history of supporting Porto Rico independence. So, for better or worse, Ségo did have her "Vive le Québec libre!", only that apparently Ségolène Royal did it out of adherence to the Socialist International (SI) rather than de Gaulle's interest-driven and/or conviction-driven allocution.

So, why do you think Ségolène Royal willing to go out on a whim for Porto Rico's independence (conditioned on the fact that the SI continues to provide the decades-old support it apparently has offered that cause), while at the same time she was shying away from Québec's pro-sovereignty cause?

These are interesting matters, and I don't know if it was coincidental that the first question hinged on a topic about the Internationale socialiste
(IS) and the Parti socialiste's adherence to that powerfull international organization.

Did you see how chategorical Royal was when she said something to the effects of "If the Internationale socialiste supports Porto Rico independence, then I support Porto Rico independence"?

Wow. I wonder if Sarko's press willl have a field day remarking that Sego would not stop to mull over typical Right-Center slogans such as "France national interest should come before International Organizations such as the IS".

What's your take on what ended up being Ségo's "Vive le Québec libre!" moment, entre vous et moi, Royal’s "Vive le Porto Rico libre!" exclamation?

Also, did you see the source I sent you? If you distrust the "projet d’encyclopédie libre" ... then here are other interesting sources: (This is from way back in 1983: translated headline from EL PAIS (one of Spain's most important newspapers) - "Washington Protests Socialist International's Support for Porto Rico's Independence".

Has the hardline anti-Ségo press picked up on THE ODD QUIRK of her American Voyage!?

If somebody else has heard commentaries on this debate at the JFK School back in France or in any other press outlet, please let us know.

Salut monsieur Goldhammer, waiting to listen to you and your ideas on this matter,


Unknown said...

Dear m&m,
I got your message the first time. I don't think Ségolène Royal or any other French politician has devoted much thought to the status of Puerto Rico. I don't think that the Socialist International is a "powerful organization." I don't think that Ségolène Royal places its interests above France's national interest. And I don't have any more to say about this issue, so please don't ask about it again. This is a blog about French Politics.

Anonymous said...

Amitié Artur (et blogger m-et-m),

PORTO RICO - US not Democracy like France?

This reason is why Sego' should have known about Porto Rico and about discussions of the future of the country she come to visit and try to meet Senat. Barak Obama:

-"Puerto Rican Poll Power"
-"Could Puerto Rico Decide the Dem Race?"

If Sego' is go to be our dignity representative in the US for Parti socialiste |PS| - Sego' need to have improve preparation and educate herself about important issues. She has to be willing to compare ex-French Republic colonial system that enfranchised even France citizens in the colonies, and contrast versus U.S. Government disenfranchisement of U.S. citizens living in its colonies, par example, Porto Rico. That nation can only vote in primaries Republican and Democratic, but not in the real U.S. election for Commandant in Chief (US President).

Our beloved Sego' Royal has to be more prepared about important issues that face the various United States and its colonies (territoiries).

There are much more fountains of information, not only the fountains sended by blogger m-et-m:

"Il me manque 80 signatures de parrainage... On n'élimine pas quelqu'un qui a fait deux fois 4,5 millions de voix. Cela se fait à Managua, à Porto Rico, pas encore en France".

-Jean Marie Le Pen

(Not know no enough Anglais to translate - Le Pen insinuates 4.5 million voices in Portorico are silenced by United State colonialism, then why is he attacked) Le Pen is not good person and not good political lider. But he does have point: USA is not a democracy - it has Portorico colony).

Irony - Le Pen more democratic (in parole) than the US in sustance?

"Cependant, pour certains élus américains, un Porto Rico ainsi incorporé serait un «nouveau Québec», autrement dit l'incarnation d'un «multiculturalisme» inacceptable. Pourtant, la question de la langue ne semble pas poser de problème majeur au gouvernement américain. En effet, l’ex-président Clinton avait même déclaré en février 1998 (Le Nuevo Día, San Juan, 25 février 1998) qu'il serait «incorrect» de refuser l'intégration de Porto Rico pour des raisons liées à la langue ou la culture. Néanmoins, beaucoup de Portoricains croient que, une fois Porto Rico reconnu comme État américain, le gouvernement des États-Unis imposerait plutôt l’anglais comme langue officielle, plutôt que de reconnaître officiellement l’île comme un État bilingue."


"From CQ Today: Statehood or Independence? Some In Congress Ready to Let Puerto Rico Decide"

Other fountain of information:

[PUERTO RICO]: "The World's Last Colony Has a Quebec-Style Problem"

-By Jim Creskey

Artur, we want Sego', but a Sego' that can debate with the best of them because she is prepared. A Sego' that is embarassment to us because she does not prepare reading ESSENTIAL fountains of information like U.S. News & World Report before going to America may cause problem for the New Left in France.

You concordance with this?


Anonymous said...

Deux-Sevres --- the question to Mme. Royal was about Puerto Rican independence, which was not the subject of Barone's blog post.

Now, I think M. Goldhammer may want to run his own blog, and I half expect all these comments to vanish soon. But if you doubt his judgement, and you want someone else to give you some idea how obscure an issue this is: I'm an educated American (AB Harvard, Ph.D. MIT), I spend way more time than I should reading about politics, and before that question, I had literally not heard or read a single word on the subject in the last five years. Why? Because the independence movement has negligible support (2.7% of the votes for governor) within Puerto Rico itself.

This is trivia. "Dopage" in baseball is more of an issue. And yet, Mme. Royal's French critics show up here complaining that, somehow, she ought to know about it. I think that says more about those critics than it does about Mme. Royal.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your help. The Deux-Sèvres post is a troll. Ignore it. When were you at MIT? I'm BS Math '67, Ph. D. '73 (two years out for the Army).

Marie Luise dans Harvard said...

Trivia ... ? I suppose it could fall under trivia, but that does not define it right?

It may be construed as much more than trivia, correct?

I guess we could be more tolerant, and try to seem less elitist, by tossing things to the side as trivia, while saying that other subjects are French and legitimate enough to discuss, right?

Anonymous said...

I was a "tenured grad student" at MIT in Brain and Cognitive Science, finally getting the degree in '97 (though some other stuff I did at the time had more of an impact; since then, I've done some work in finance, though nowhere near a trading desk).

Marie Luise --- what's relevant here is whether it's right to expect a French politician to know more about minor American "fringe" political movements than politically engaged Americans. That seems silly to me. Beyond that, there's surely a place on the net for discussing Puerto Rican politics, but if I'm reading the top of the page right, this isn't it.

Marie Luise dans Harvard said...

Mr. Thau,

Are you confusing "fringe" or "marginality" with what may well be "marginalization"?

Are you interpreting that French politics has nothing to do with Puerto Rican politics, without taking up how the two may be more intertwined than you may think at first sight?

Is it not the case that someone who even casually reads publications such as The New York Times would probably had been up-to-par on these issues (confronting them more often, than say, every five years)?

Is it not totally pertinent to this blog that the U.S. Executive Government has essentially provided a De Facto public recognition of its status as a colonial power?

Does that not bring up ample parallels (and interesting contrasts, to be sure) with France's imperative decision to have confronted its colonizing-nation status in the 1950's and 1960's?

Are you forgetting about France’s large economic interests in Puerto Rico, such as “AirLiquid”?

Are you forgetting the centuries old history of cultural, political and migrant relationships between Spanish and French colonies in the Caribbean, or are you happy were France to shake off her slave-owning, slave-trading past, in order to forget that part of her past that is still impacting millions if not hundreds of millions of lives?

Are you forgetting Puerto Rico’s important role during the II World War negotiations between the Allies and Vichy officials in the Caribbean (Martinique, etc.)?

Don't you think there's more than meets the eye here?

An educated American -- a former "tenured grad student" (to boot!) --- with a particular interest in politics, hasn't read a healthy portion of the virtually countless articles that appear in publications such as The Economist, The New York Times, National Geographic, (for something a little closer to "...'soft' science and 'soft' anthropology"), etc., etc., etc.?

One every five years sounds difficult to understand, don't you think?

For an "educated American", that's even stranger, correct?

Maybe, one should askm, is it fair to compare Madame Royal to an "educated American" since she probably reads The New York Times with more of a keen interest for international matters than most "educated Americans"?

-The New York Times: Opinion-Editorial on the Bush Administration's recognition of U.S. De Facto colonial power over Puerto Rico

-The New York Times: Response by the President of the Senate

-Hartford Courant: News from recent days (parallel with Algeria, some similarity, other contrasts?),0,6065253.story

-The New York Times-Algeria and PR discussed in the United Nations

-Mitterand's Government responds to U.S. anger over Socialist International's support for Puerto Rico independence

Anonymous said...

So why did Segolane Royal push for Puerto Rico independence while this blogger talks about someone asking about "Puerto Ricans to be granted the right to vote in US elections"?

There's something fishy here.

Has France been traditionally involved in Puerto Rican geopolitics, independence discussions and status negotiations?

As long as your discussing this topic, there's much more current New York Times' articles on the PR matter. Did you see this one, m&m, arthur goldhammer, robert thau, marie louise dans harvard, and anonymous?


Puerto Rico Militant Fights Extradition

Published: February 11, 2008
Filed at 10:57 p.m. ET

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- An alleged Puerto Rican militant facing charges in the 1983 robbery of a Connecticut armored car depot will fight extradition to the U.S. mainland, his lawyer said Monday at a hearing.

Avelino Gonzalez Claudio, 65, an alleged member the Puerto Rican nationalist group Los Macheteros, is one of a dozen-plus men indicted in the Sept. 12, 1983, robbery of $7 million from a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford, Connecticut. He was arrested Thursday in Puerto Rico, where the FBI said he lived under an assumed name.

Attorney Juan Ramon Acevedo Cruz confirmed his client had been sought in the robbery -- one of the largest U.S. cash heists at the time -- but stressed that he would fight extradition because, as a ''political prisoner,'' he would not receive a fair trial on the mainland.

''We vigorously object to any attempt by the government of the United States to remove Gonzalez Claudio from the island,'' Acevedo told U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcos Lopez.

Authorities believe Gonzalez has been working as a private school teacher in Puerto Rico under the alias Jose Ortega Morales, said Luis Fraticelli, the top FBI special agent on the island.

A warrant was first issued for Gonzalez in 1985, on charges of obstruction of commerce by robbery and conspiracy. The next year, a second warrant brought more charges: foreign and interstate transportation of stolen money, the FBI said. He fled into hiding while out on bail.

Gonzalez, now being held in a federal jail, faces up to 275 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

The court denied him bail on Monday, ruling he was a flight risk and danger to the community. He is due back in court Feb. 21.

Authorities have long suspected that Los Macheteros used proceeds from the Connecticut robbery to finance bombings and shootings aimed at forcing Washington to grant Puerto Rico independence.