Friday, February 8, 2008

Rosanvallon on Public Space

Pierre Rosanvallon offers his views on the role of the media in organizing democratic public space.

Tu Dors D'Ores et Déjà sous les Ors

It was in great pomp that Nicolas Sarkozy announced today that he was more or less going to go on doing for the suburbs what all his predecessors have done for them. Existing programs will be modestly expanded. Some new transportation routes will be laid on, but the money, as I have mentioned previously, will come out of the funds already earmarked for "green" transportation under the Environmental Grenelle accords, and the amount has been cut from 1 billion to 500 million euros. So the Amara plan for the suburbs has met the Boutin plan that there should be no plan for the suburbs and emerged as the Sarkozy plan, which seems to consist in the hope that un effet d'annonce will somehow cause old plans for the suburbs to yield new results. Mais il ne faut pas désespérer Billancourt, so Sarko was eager to announce that he would not just be sprinkling largesse over fertile suburban terrain but also sending in the cops. There was some tough talk about cleaning up the drug trade: "We're going to put an end to the law of the gangs, to the law of silence, to the law of drug trafficking." A "Regional Intervention Group" will be sent in to patrol troubled neighborhoods "night and day" and engage in "merciless warfare" for which "I assume full responsibility." Le premier flic de France is fond of this kind of talk. Bring 'em on! Really, do they never learn?

And then there was this interesting coquille from Reuters:


Given the tired rehash of old programs and the usual macho prattle, I can imagine that tu dors d'ores et déjà mais sous les ors de l'Élysée, s'il te plaît. Or as we say in Yiddish, or vay!

I know, I know: I'm giving in yet again to the demon of negativity. But seriously, I had higher hopes that Fadela Amara might accomplish something and that the 2005 riots might have persuaded Sarkozy of the need to act more forcefully but above all more imaginatively. I'm disappointed.


Le Figaro has a perfidious piece on Ségolène Royal's visit to the US. It leads with the insinuation that she was somehow snubbed by Barack Obama because she attended his rally without obtaining a picture of herself with the candidate. I said yesterday that I would not share my private impressions of Mme Royal, but in this case I will make an exception, because I had a conversation with her about the Obama rally. It came up because I asked her if she was following the American election campaign--it was Ash Wednesday, the day after super-Tuesday in our Christian political calendar--and she told me how interesting it had been to watch Barack in action and to see the crowd's reaction to his unique speaking style. To my mind, it was entirely to her credit that she went to the rally out of curiosity, without a VIP invitation, and that she had enough interest in the United States and American politics to rub shoulders with the ordinary people who had turned out in large numbers to hear Obama speak at Faneuil Hall, the cradle of American liberty.

I have no idea whether or not she had tried to obtain an interview with Barack, but for Le Figaro without evidence to imply that she did in order to make insinuations about her insignificance is nasty and underhanded and a fine example of the media bias that is so often decried in France. And then to continue the article with the waspish comments of rival Socialists is to complete a job of character assassination of which François-Xavier Bourmaud should be ashamed. Even the photograph, which shows Ségo in front of a blackboard filled with graphs and equations at MIT, contributes to the sandbagging: it doesn't take a semiotician to recognize that one is meant to infer a stark contrast between the higher reaches of the intellect and the "pretty face, sans plus," alongside.

A wretched piece of journalism.