Sunday, March 1, 2009

Collomb n'est pas une colombe

Gérard Collomb, the mayor of Lyon, stood to win big if Ségolène Royal had been chosen to lead the PS, because he was one of her first and most powerful backers. As it is, he seems to have lost big, as former Ségolènistes and Delanoïstes have been inducted into l'Union Sacrée at the expense of the Collombistes. But the mayor isn't going quietly.

Le maire de Lyon Gérard Collomb, grand baron du courant, a fustigé une "parodie de démocratie" comme au "comité central du PC d'URSS". M. Collomb est notamment furieux du parachutage d'un autre royaliste, Vincent Peillon, dans la région Sud-Est contre son candidat local.

Soviet tactics, eh? Well, that does seem a bit harsh to characterize le parachutage de Peillon, who is hardly Molotov, nor even Montebourg (and Peillon's not happy about it either!). But politics for a local political baron like Collomb begins and ends with pushing one's pawns into squares from which to control pieces of the chessboard, and the capture of a pawn can quickly degenerate into a slashing attack by the queen's knights, or knaves. And lurking in the background, always ready to pounce, are the bishops of Solférino and the rooks of the inner circle.

Meanwhile, poor Pierre Moscovici, who found himself dancing without a partner at Reims and who hastily threw in his lot with the Delanoïstes lest he be deemed a wallflower, has lately discovered, in all the inimitable stiffness of his wounded pride, that "le fonctionnement de cette motion [i.e., Delanoïstes] n'a pas été pleinement solidaire" dans la constitution des listes au Conseil national."

It's hard to know which of the two, Collomb or Moscovici, is more deluded about the PS: Collomb with his fantasies of the Stalin of Lille or Mosco with his image of "democratic socialism Solférino-style" as some sort of deliberative democracy of Rawlsian philosophes ratiocinating behind a veil of ignorance in order to select the best of their number to represent them--as if they could forget their own identities.

But such is French Socialism these days. I am to take part in a Festschrift in a few weeks in which my assigned task is to discourse learnedly for ten minutes on "the center-left in France in the face of global economic crisis." It's sometimes difficult to discern where the center-left is in France, however, since it has no center. It's a kaleidoscope of petulant personalities, each wounded by some recent remark or snub by one of the others. It's more like a junior high school class than a political party. At what level of abstraction does one attempt to relate such a roiling mess to that other roiling mess, the global meltdown? Stay tuned.