Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Demuynck Report

There are several ways of looking at the Demuynck report on the problems of students in the first years of higher education in France. Last night's JT on France2 offered the most dramatic interpretation: a 48% failure rate after the first two years (counting those who drop out, fail and repeat a year, or switch to another field of study, losing a year in the process). Le Monde, by contrast, chooses a comparative angle: France is no worse than other OECD countries. Really? This way of looking at things depends on seeing "reorientation" from university to technical training as a positive sign, rather than an indication of failure. Finally, the PS emphasizes a political failure: after 10 years of right-wing government, there are not enough posts for young teachers and not enough student support (scholarships, housing, etc.).

Mélenchon et Moi

Jean-Luc Mélenchon apparently sees François Hollande's attempt to redefine "social democracy" as I did yesterday: as an attempt to remove the state from collective bargaining over all aspects of the social wage and labor code, including retirement income. This would mark a step toward a privatization of the French social model--a far more "neoliberal" proposition than anything Sarkozy has put forward and a very strange way for a Socialist to stake out his position in advance of the primaries.

Why would Hollande do this? Several reasons, I imagine: he thinks that the primary can be won by attracting the votes of the right wing of the PS, mopping up the DSK support; he expects Aubry to run to his left; he hopes to attract campaign financing both now and in the later stages of a presidential campaign from business elements favorable to such a proposition. I have seen little reaction to this proposal to date, but I would expect to hear more, especially from the unions. What an odd election this will be if Hollande ends up running to Sarkozy's right on economic and social issues!

Profile of DSK's Accuser

The New York Times has published a profile of DSK's accuser, based on extensive reporting. Yesterday, DSK's attorneys said that they were not planning to attack her reputation, and to judge by the Times article, they wouldn't have much to go on if they did. Although the woman's name is now routinely used in French news reports, the Times, consistent with American practice in rape cases, does not mention it, nor will I. We now await official confirmation of the reported DNA and other physical evidence. If this evidence is as reported, and there is no basis on which to attack the woman's veracity, I'm not sure what defense DSK's attorneys can mount. "Consent" will seem quite implausible if the Times' portrait is accurate.

The Social Investment Paradigm

Discussed here.

Sauvez la rue Sébastien Bottin et Vive le eBook français!

France's latest social movement:

L'appel du 15 juin by Europe1fr

I've always had a faible for the name Sébastien Bottin.