Monday, September 29, 2008

Grunberg on State of PS

Gérard Grunberg points out the contradictions inherent in the "no présidentiable as leader of the PS" position, given the ambiguity of the term présidentiable.

Discrimination Positive

Who would have thought that mastery of English could do so much for your career in the French judiciary?

Quote of the day

La visite du Saint Père le pape en France, il y a quelques semaines, fut une sorte de vaste son et lumière gothique avec latin et habits extravagants (presque autant que ceux de la Gay pride).

-- Proofreaders of Le Monde

The same source also informs us that until the end of the Middle Ages the word pape was feminine in French and offers a rich lexicon of pape-related words (from which paperasse is omitted, however).

Tepid Blast from the Nord

Every candidate needs a book, it seems, and now Martine Aubry has hers. Aquilino Morelle, a former special advisor to Jospin, pretends to review it here, but the purported review might better be described as an extended press release. We learn, for example, that to be on the left today is "to pursue three goals: to allow each man and each woman to emancipate himself or herself; to master the world we live in while preparing for the future; and to construct a society that leaves its mark in the cultural sphere and creates bonds among citizens." Sheesh. As manifestoes go, I'd have to say that this falls somewhat short of "Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains." But maybe carping is just my way of leaving my mark in the cultural sphere while emancipating myself and preparing for the future.

Moving on to brass tacks, we discover that Aubry is of the "flip-floppers can't win" school of politics. Thus the 35-hour week, the authorization for which bears her name, is defended by invoking a line of Joseph Stiglitz and some employment statistics from the year 2000. Alas, Stiglitz's remark about a shorter work week spurring a search for higher productivity can be developed into an argument about intensified discipline and substitution of capital for labor, and employment statistics post-2000 don't necessarily bear out Morelle's rosy assessment of the efficacy of the law. But however you feel about the 35-hour week--and in my estimation it deserves less praise than Morelle bestows and less blame than the Right would have you believe--we learn nothing from this review about either the politics that led to the reform or the politics of sticking with it today in a quite different economic context.