Tuesday, June 16, 2015

France's Role in Europe's Problems

I have a longish essay out today in Democracy Journal.


FrédéricLN said...

A very substantive paper indeed. Every word counts.

The understanding of delorian policies as "Everything must change so that everything can stay the same” is quite novel as far as I know.

The analysis of the European-level "democracy" or not, is imho a very deep issue not many French politicians, or political journalists, carry about. (Readers may also find Edgar's blog, in French, interesting, for example http://www.lalettrevolee.net/article-les-democraties-ne-peuvent-gerer-des-empires-ouistiti-sex-117393390.html about democracy, http://www.lalettrevolee.net/article-varoufakis-mars-2014-la-sortie-de-l-euro-pourquoi-pas-125471211.html about Greece and Europe, or http://www.lalettrevolee.net/article-719681.html about Delors).

A key difference between 1981 and 2012 is that Mitterrand arrived at l'Elysée with a detailed policies agenda, even if he did not himself read it — all voters had at least vaguely heard about "le programme commun" and "les 110 propositions". Sure, the agenda was mad and counter-productive, and sent France deep into the crisis the Barre government had quite solved — Delors, Rocard and Mauroy perfectly knew that and "s'arrachaient les cheveux" — but the agenda did exist. Hollande in 2012 had no other plan the the "administrative paternalism" your paper highlights.

I hoped, at this time, that he had at least a hidden agenda. Or, that he would borrow one — either ours (the democratic center's), or the Green one, or even the "antilibéral" one. Do something else than nothing. But his motto must have been "Nothing must change so that everything can stay the same”.

Steven Rendall said...

Your broad view of the situation is very illuminating. Thanks.

Mitch Guthman said...

An excellent paper. I enjoyed reading it very much and agreed with pretty much everything you said. Thanks very much for the link.

bert said...

An interesting read, Art. Thanks.
Your broad overview of the continent is French (with a sprinkling of American, such as the military budget as shock absorber and transfer agent). You contrast the establishment French view of the Delorians with the anti-establishment French view of the populist right. Other viewpoints are introduced around the edges. This matters most with regard to the Germans, and their emphasis on expert-oriented cost competitiveness and monetary and fiscal rigour. The perennial British appeal to people's interests as consumers rather than producers is also part of the story (despite the ongoing successful Tory campaign of self-marginalisation). Market forces and competition are an anathema in France, I know, but any account of the Delors program that excludes them is incomplete.
It seems to me that, not for the first time in history, German power is the central issue for France. You describe the current fretful acquiescence very well, but don't describe much of an alternative for France, or anyone else.
These are intended as entirely constructive comments - I very much enjoyed your piece.