Monday, May 28, 2012

"Les classes populaires ont changé"

Serge Guérin and Christophe Guilluy argue that social differentiation in France has assumed a new "spatial" configuration, with a sharp division between "cosmopolitan" major cities and smaller towns, exurban areas, rural areas, etc. They believe that this requires a specific response from the state in the form of a reconfiguration of social services. That may be, but I think the larger issue is to try to figure out why the costs of globalization and Europeanization are so unevenly distributed and then to remedy this economic "mal-santé." If that is done, addressing the social "mal-santé" they describe would be both easier and less costly.

German Internal Politics and the Euro Crisis

The European Council on Foreign Relations provides a document that usefully summarizes the positions of the various German parties with respect to the euro crisis. (h/t JS)

What Do the Unions Expect?

A five-minute audio survey of what the unions expect from the Hollande-Ayrault government.

Harvard: A French Obsession

The French seem to have become rather obsessed with Harvard all of a sudden, or perhaps I should say yet again. The immediate pretext seems to be the book published by Stéphanie Grousset-Charrière, which I mentioned here a while ago. This was followed by two articles in Le Monde.

Inevitably, I suppose, things will look quite different from the perspective of Cambridge, Mass., than that of Paris, France. But even superficial observers of Harvard must have noticed that the university seems lately to have been gripped by a certain anxiety, which these French commentators seem to miss entirely. Take two recent initiatives: the creation of a Harvard Innovation Center and an agreement with MIT to produce on-line courseware that will be distributed free of charge. Both are signs that Harvard authorities are nervous about the future role of the private liberal arts college in a world where the function of higher education is increasingly seen as advanced vocational training and entrepreneurial incubation. In short, Harvard is suffering from Stanford- and MIT-envy, while France seems to be suffering from envy for a Harvard it has taken from the pages of The Education of Henry Adams.

Éric Dupin Contemplates Hollande's Victory--and His Predicament

Coralie Delaume reviews Éric Dupin's forthcoming book, based on extensive interviews with French voters during the campaign. Dupin paints a picture of a resigned electorate, rejecting Sarkozy but unenthusiastic about his replacement. He also portrays Hollande as a lucid candidate, well aware of the dangers of victory by default:

Mais on découvre au détour de l’ouvrage que François Hollande est parfaitement conscient de tout cela. La perspicacité du candidat, que l’on constate à l’occasiondu déjeuner qu’il partage avec Dupin, est frappante. Il sait notamment qu’au delà du simple fait de gagner, les conditions de l’exercice du pouvoir dépendront fortement de celles de la victoire. Hollande sait qu’une victoire dans un mouchoir de poche n’équivaut pas à une victoire franche et massive. Et qu’une élection par défaut n’offre pas les mêmes marges de manœuvre qu’une large adhésion. Le candidat affiche tout à la fois une détermination sans faille, et une prudence sagace : « à la différence de 1981, cette victoire est sans attente immense, c’est quand même un changement considérable » puis d’ajouter : « toute victoire a sa part de poison ».
This suggests that Hollande will initially be even more cautious than his naturally prudent manner would suggest. But we shall see. Apparently, the eurobonds idea has begun to gain some traction, and Hollande's entourage has indicated a readiness to explore many variations on the theme. This is an encouraging sign.