Saturday, December 12, 2009


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Here's another historical clip. Since the name of Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber came up yesterday, this caught my eye. Once again, one is struck by the tone and quality of the debate, which it would be difficult to match today.

Mitterrand on Socialism

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Thanks to Laurent Bouvet for pointing out this clip. Laurent notes the degradation of political language that separates now from then. Whatever you think of Mitterrand's record in office, you have to credit his rhetorical skill.

The State Will Support Private Universities

The state will contract with various private higher educational institutions, including Instituts catholiques, in support of their programs.

I am curious about the rationale for this decision, which is not discussed in the article cited. There is not enough money to run the public universities. Is the funding of private competitors intended to alleviate pressure on the public system or to increase it by siphoning off not only funds but students? Is there a strategy here, or merely a provocation? Or is it just that the government would rather appear to be doing something than doing nothing? "Starve the beast?" Is that the strategy?

Guaino Defends History

Henri Guaino, the president's plume, signed a petition opposing the government's policy of making the course in histoire-géo optional in terminale S. He was apparently rebuked for this at a cabinet meeting by Raymond Soubie. Guaino replied that he preferred standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Alain Finkielkraut and Max Gallo to signing on with Luc Châtel.

Here is material for some French Bob Woodward's next book. The momentous clash of titans at the very highest level of government--this is the stuff of stirring journalistic best-sellers. And what divides our titans? Not whether to stimulate the economy or restrain the deficit. Not whether to increase the French contingent in Afghanistan or sell assault vessels to the Russians. But whether to teach France's best and brightest history in their last year of high school.

The General must be turning over in his grave.

Défense de l'identité nationale

The ultimate symbol of French national identity--Johnny Hallyday--was said by his impresario to have been the victim of a vile "massacre" by a physician known as "the surgeon to the stars." This attack has now elicited a riposte by two masked hoodlums, who allegedly assaulted Dr. Stéphane Delajoux last night in Paris. And so the debate on national identity has taken a rather more muscular turn.