Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Un capitalisme fou!"

Mélenchon is a man possessed! I can't even recognize his voice. But it does make a rather odd effect when his denunciation of "le capitalisme fou" is interrupted by commercials for fetishized commodities.

Discours de Jean-Luc Mélenchon by LCP

EC Proposes Tobin Tax

The Tobin tax--a tax on financial transactions--used to be the hobby horse of radical antiglobalization forces. But like so many ideas that start out beyond the pale, this one has come in from the cold (to mix metaphors): the European Commission--generally perceived as a bastion of neoliberalism and headed by José Manuel Barroso, the conservatives' choice for the post--has proposed such a tax as a way of financing an ever-increasing EU budget (and perhaps providing some resources for bailouts of struggling PIGS--resources not subject to veto by skittish voters convinced that they work harder than the lazy folks across the border and shouldn't have to bail them out). The City of London is up in arms, of course. And political opposition will be fierce across Europe, no doubt, as the neo-Tobin tax will be painted as an undemocratic picking of the pockets of ordinary folks for the benefit of fat-cat bankers.

Savor the ironies, if you can, as the torrent of rhetoric comes crashing down on all sides.

Joly ahead of Hulot

Éva Joly almost took the EELV primary in the first round but fell short by just 63 votes out of 25,000 cast. She is well ahead of Nicolas Hulot, however.

Backstabbing in UMP

Bruno Le Maire was set to become finance minister, replacing Christine Lagarde, when François Baroin threw a hissy fit. Le Maire then refused to take the budget job that is now Baroin's, which would have made him a subordinate. Valérie Pécresse seems ready to take that job, however. All three see themselves as eventual présidentiables. Two other présidentiables, Copé and Fillon, seem to have done battle par parties interposées in arranging this reshuffle. After 2012, the UMP will begin to look like the PS: un panier de crabes in which each crab wants to get his claws into the presidency. And Sarkozy is no longer capable of imposing order.

UPDATE: Wauquiez replaces Pécresse. His reward for attacking the RSA?

I have to say that Baroin is the must unctuous politician I have ever encountered. Watch this clip, for example:

François Baroin fait son cinéma après le conseil... by LCP

Vive la différence???

The trans-Atlantic feminist wars are heating up again in the wake of the DSK affair. A quartet of French wome (one can't say quadrumvirate!) say, yet again, Vive la différence! and extol what they believe is the delightful légèreté of the French jeu galant, against the American Joan Scott, who is having none of it. Éric Fassin offers an eloquent rebuttal to his French sisters:

L'épouvantail américain se défait en même temps sous nos yeux : les féministes françaises (et non "à la française") ont réussi à se faire entendre, à la faveur de l'affaire, sans complaisance aucune pour le viol, le harcèlement, ou les propos sexistes dont le charme leur échappe. Il ne s'agit donc pas tant de culture nationale que de démocratie. Reste alors la question qu'agite l'antiféminisme depuis deux siècles : la séduction serait-elle incompatible avec la démocratie ? Que devient-elle après l'Ancien Régime de la domination masculine ? Ne nous appartient-il pas de penser une érotique féministe – non moins désirable, mais plus démocratique ?
Sans doute faut-il renoncer au fantasme d'affranchir le sexe du pouvoir : la séduction vise une emprise sur l'objet désiré, à condition toutefois qu'il existe aussi en tant que sujet de désir. Pour être féministe, il n'est donc pas nécessaire de renoncer aux "plaisirs asymétriques de la séduction". En revanche, pourquoi l'asymétrie serait-elle définie a priori, la pudeur féminine répondant aux avances masculines, comme si les rôles sociaux ne faisaient que traduire une différence des sexes supposée naturelle ? Autant dire que les relations de même sexe seraient dépourvues de séduction !
Au contraire, l'incertitude fait le charme d'un jeu qui consiste à improviser sans savoir d'avance qui joue quel rôle. "La surprise délicieuse des baisers volés"n'est délicieuse que si l'on n'est pas condamné à rejouer sans surprise les rôles assignés à chaque sexe par une convention figée. Autrement dit, dans l'érotique féministe, le trouble dans le genre s'avère… troublant. Quant au "respect absolu du consentement", plus qu'une conversation préalable, il requiert une incessante négociation amoureuse. Le contrat sexuel n'est plus la règle définie d'avance, mais l'enjeu d'une partie sans fin. Au lieu d'être nié, ou sublimé, le rapport de pouvoir devient ainsi la matière même de la séduction démocratique.

Times Disses Europe

The New York Times takes note of the severity of Europe's crises and calls the continent "leaderless." Sarkozy is damned with faint praise: "In a welcome concession to reality, France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, announced that French banks are now prepared to “voluntarily” extend the maturity of some Greek debt." Without minimizing the seriousness of Europe's multiple crises, I find it a bit rich that the Times, speaking with disembodied majesty as if representing the interests not only of the US but of the "world" or "global community," lectures Europe at a time when the US political system is not only in near paralysis but is threatened with disintegration because one of its two major parties refuses to concede anything to reality. If the Times really wanted to contribute to the reality-based community, it would be admonishing the Republicans to raise the debt limit as required by the Constitution that "constitutional conservatives" claim to favor. Amendment 14, sec. 4, of that document reads:

Section 4.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. 
The Times should clean its own house first.