Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Poverty of Post-Mortems

Marx wrote The Poverty of Philosophy in answer to Proudhon's The Philosophy of Poverty. After reading Le Monde's post-mortem "debate" on France's latest political fracas, I am struck by the poverty of the discourse. Pascal Bruckner arraigns yet again the "pessimism" of the French. Jacques Attali advocates the "new nomadism" and a "tribal" concept of solidarity:

Afficher un nouveau modèle de développement : il doit être fondé sur le nomadisme (c'est-à-dire sur la mobilité géographique et sociale ; la priorité donnée aux réseaux, aux ports, à l'acceptation de la diversité des modèles de réussite) ; sur la connaissance (par une priorité majeure donnée à l'enseignement préscolaire et primaire, à l'université, à la recherche, au financement des secteurs d'avenir, dont la santé, qui n'est pas une charge mais un potentiel) ; et sur la fraternité des nomades, qui ne peuvent survivre qu'en tribus (c'est-à-dire sur le partage et la gratuité, c'est-à-dire la valorisation du travail des associations, des syndicats, des partis -politiques).
Paragraphe ahurissant! Pierre Bance extols the return of "revolutionary syndicalism," which can attain its apogee only when the last of labor's "soft" leaders has been driven out by the aroused "masses" (presumably meaning the 7% of the work force that is unionized). And Christophe Guilluy sees a beleaguered people of démunis clinging to its "social model":

Car, ce qui est en jeu, ce n'est évidemment pas seulement la durée du travail, mais bien la persistance d'un modèle social européen, perçu comme le dernier rempart face à un marché mondialisé.

And what if the preservation of the "model" required some changes in the duration of work? So here we have a range of views, from peevish exasperation on the right (Bruckner) to revolution on the left (Bance) to mushiness in the marais (Attali's "nomadism" and "tribal" solidarity and Guilluy's defense of the "model"). In all this "debate," there is not a single number, a single word about demography, a single mention of actuarial computations, unit labor costs, trade imbalances or composition, etc. etc.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

that's Le Monde fer ya. the debate that figures in the paper is comprised of persons with name-recognition. rigor, acumen, facts, figures, etc. - bah! so academic!
you raise good questions for what should constitute the bases of the debate. but don't raise the bar too high - otherwise that would make for heavy reading in an evening paper !

a talent for synthesis, a bon mot here and there, and through around effortlessly big ideas...that's what readers want. (aside from the confirmation of already-held beliefs)

Chris P.

FrédéricLN said...

I was at "Cité de la Réussite" at La Sorbonne some months ago; a meeting with lots of speakers about the topic "Tout réinventer".

As far as I remember, about all of them were male, 50+, white, with strong insider positions in the present system (the academic world or the economic and political ruling networks).

Re-invention hasn't the slightest chance to come from there.

Same impression after reading another "special issue" of Le Monde (linked as signature)