Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Tale of Two Troubled Democracies

My latest for The American Prospect.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for a very detailed analysis

There are differences however that I think deserve to be highlighted

In the U.S. there is a clear difference between Reps and Dems on issues of "national identity"/culture wars . For example BLM is an important part of the Dem campaign , where its pretty much uncontroversial . A sizeable part of the American left is quite hostile to expressions of American exceptionalism and to American foreign military adventurism.

In France however , there has been an even harder turn to the right on issues of national identity after the Nov attacks. Until then the left was somewhat split on the issues of laicité and there had been a timid offensive against the dominant neo-republican vulgate (for ex by Emmanuel Todd etc) . After Nov. there has been a violent reaffirmation of hard French laicité. "Multiculturism" and "communautarisme" are denounced endlessly by socialist figures like JL Ferry, Jacques Julliard, Caroline Fourest etc ... So that a large part of the French left is really to the right of the republican party on these issues... Someone like Regis Debray (on the left in France) is closer to Pat Buchanan than to any U.S. liberal . It seems like Médiapart is the last holdout.

idem for security issues. There are extra-judicial raids in France against mosques, people are being held under "house arrest" but barely a peep from the left (however, it did strongly oppose the more symbolic issue of décheance de la nationalité ) . There was also little opposition to the surveillance laws or to military engagement in Syria - quite a contrast again with the U.S. left . Of course Emmanuel Valls is the embodiment of the "droitification" of the French left.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to sign the above comment :

Anonymous said...

One last note sorry .. Given that "la gauche de gouvernement" has moved towards "social-libéralisme" and given that the right in France is hardly hardcore "neo-liberal" , there is really very little space between them on economic issues as well .. If you combine this with my previous comment - la droitfication on cultural issues - it seems apparent that there is a complete blurring of positions on the French political spectrum with very little choice. This is in line I think with a general belief and that the situation is dire and requires the suspension of politics, and a longing for " l'etat d'urgence" as a way for "le politique" to assert itself (of course i also believe that the 5eme république was itsef "un etat d'urgence" and pretty much killed politics in France in favor of a bureaucratic state) . Contrast this with the U.S. . I think everyone will agree that picking either Trump/Cruz/Sanders/Clinton will have momentous consequences .


FrédéricLN said...

*Quite off topic*, I watched a local debate/conference at Argenteuil some days ago about *laïcité*, and took some detailed notes which might be of interest as an introduction to what the word may mean in France presently to *laïque* militants; despite the regret that 2 of the 3 expected representatives of masonry cancelled their attendance. (in French