Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mediapart Dissects Terra Nova

A previous note about French think tanks associated with particular candidates drew rebukes from two knowledgeable inside observers of the French political scene, who argued that the term "think tank" was inappropriate for these support committees of intellectuals and idea-mongers. Terra Nova is a different kettle of fish, however, an organization modeled in many respects on the Center for American Progress in the US. Mediapart ($) offers a dissection of TN, with comments from fierce critics such as Laurent Bouvet as well as supporters and rival think tankers. Worth reading.

1 comment:

FrédéricLN said...

"Terra Nova is a different kettle of fish, however" - Yes indeed. And so is the Fondapol, on the right side of the stage (or, formerly on the right).

The misuse of the word "think tank" starts when media label "think tank" some rather informal support committee, as you mention. But political journalists basically need to add some ''grandeur'' to the people they are talking of; they talk of broad encompassing strategies, of thousands of ''militants'' and hundreds of ''cadres'', of ''trésors de guerre'' and so on. But politics are very poor in France, and by law. So they are obliged to live either very poorly (as for les Verts, the FN or the MoDem), or as parasites of two structures that give, in France, much importance to party-politics: the so-called "national" media (ie the Parisian ones), and the State itself.

Terra Nova, and the Fondapol in its present states, are deeply thought attempts to go beyond that, and create internally some added value. It's perhaps unconvincing so far - but better than nothing.