“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Why the hen won't lay no egg

The beast it cometh, cometh down
The beast it cometh, cometh down
The beast it cometh, cometh down
... It's Tupelo bound

“I have to admit to being increasingly irritated at the tendency of British commentators and politicians to present the election as France's last-chance saloon, for in most things that combine to make up a decent quality of life, from health to literacy, to gentility and solicitude for the vulnerable, France has us beaten.

Mr Sarkozy did not appear too convinced of this when he came to London three months ago to address expatriates who had fled high unemployment in France to find work in the City's booming financial-services sector. Referring to London as possessing a 'vitality' that Paris sorely lacked, Mr Sarkozy exhorted the crowd to return home - after casting their vote for him of course. 'France is still your country, even if you are disappointed by it,' he said, at the same time promising less regulation, more jobs and other free-market reforms.

The BBC's Crossing Continents took up the theme, broadcasting a documentary on how French graduates are flocking to the Square Mile. But the BBC should follow up its investigation with a comparison of how each country treats its citizens once they move from the freedom of youth to buying a house, getting from A to B, educating the children, staying healthy and growing old. For the fact is that British migration to France, at just over 40,000 a year, outstrips French migration to Britain. Most of those who leave cite what they see as a declining British values system, the soaring cost of living and poor public services.”

Of course, the French immigrants to London story has gotten great play in the states, too, especially in the Washington Post. Annie Applebaum, whose articles double dip – once in the post, once on Slate – made a special point of it. And, as is typical of the neo-con shit that sings insanely in one’s ear, a constant drone of lies and nonsense, Applebaum, operating with a complete ignorance of the situation, managed to draw out of her ass the pack of halftruths so dear to the editors of Slate and the Fred Hiatts of top dog punditdom.

Mr. Scruggs, commenting on my last heartfelt cry for a PS victory, poured some skepticism on the mush mouthed Royal – and who can disagree that she has been mush mouthed? However, unlike Jospin, she did actually mention the name of the party she was running on – quite a leap forward. That she has to make a deal with the moderates has everything to do with the failure of the ‘extreme left’ to do anything with the victory that was theirs in voting down the constitution. And the unsightly spectacle that resulted in another dreary star led party by Bové went down in flames even before it went up, which is a new record in crashes. It shouldn’t be that hard to balance a sensible nationalism – the nation defined as that political unit that potentially allows the maximum amount of popular governance, and slice and dice that as you will later – with the defense of well being, but the ‘left’ seems not to understand its own fucking history anymore. As we have often said on this site, left and right are prisms to look at the same treadmill of production – liberal, conservative, nazi, communist, they all centrally share the assumption that there is no alternative to that treadmill. We may be on the edge of a historical moment when that assumption is shaken, but we aren’t there by a long shot yet. Sarko’s edge is given by his racism, pure and simple. Under cover of that racist edge in the U.S., Nixon actually codified and expanded the Great society. Sarko has even taken a page from Nixon in suggesting affirmative action – which, yes Virginia, arose as a conservative solution to the problem of racial justice back there in the early seventies. The racism has been a hard thing for Royal to deal with. She has done the politician’s natural thing, and sometimes tried to gain some of the shit glamour of that for herself – in the same way Clinton had his sister souljah moment. But it was really impossible for Royal to deal in those goods, especially against a man who embodies the flic with the baton mentality.

One of the useful things about the dread twentieth century is that all the programs were tried. So we know how the reactionary program will work in France. The model of disenfranchisement and the takedown of the structure of well being will be experimented with first among blacks: immigrants and the children of immigrants. Destroying the network requires segmenting it first, and if you can unravel it at the bottom it is much easier to unravel it all the way through. LI’s prediction is that this won’t happen. There will be the riots. There will be the intensified surveillance regime. There will be the nutty concessions by the socialists. But the main thing – the cycle of ‘flattening the earth’, to use the metaphor beloved by Thomas Friedman – is even now giving less of a return. The worldwide trend towards privatization has reversed itself, quietly, over the last six years. The juiciest privatizations yet to come are in the Gulf region, and it is becoming painfully obvious to Bush’s base, the investor class, that the fuck up in Iraq, while killing the unimportant up to now, is starting to screw with the money. Of course, the French economy is also targeted, and Sarkozy would love to inflict maximum Tony Blair on the place. But everything depends on how far his racist edge will get him.

ps - clementine autaine is good and succinct about what happened, here. I don't know if she is correct that 60 percent of France's employees voted Sarko, but I can believe it. The question is whether they will cut their throats in the upcoming legislative elections.


roger said...

Written before the results were all in. Same percentage as Bush in 2004.

Wow, what a truly dirty time wee live in. I can't think of a worse politician to lead France than Sarkozy.

Fuck this. British newspapers are salivating at the moment that Sarkozy will destroy the unions. He'll try.

northanger said...


do you think now is the right time to talk about black skepticism?

roger said...

North, keeping me on the staight and narrow! On the narrow path of pins, where on one side it is cynicism, the other bottomless pessimism.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your prediction: he will soon be impotent. A lot of those who voted for him are ambivalent (they both wish him president and fear him). In the legislatives, he may have a razor thin majority; even if he has one it may end up like Juppe (1995) or Chirac (1986-1988)

Alain Genestier

Brian said...

roger, I think Ioz has an amusing take on the elections in France. A little different viewpoint than your's-his main point is that Sarko's revolution is ridiculous, given how dominant the Galists have been in France under the Fifth republic. A different take, at least: http://whoisioz.blogspot.com/2007/05/plus-cest-la-mme-chose.html

Anonymous said...

Ils ont shako, sabre et tam-tam
Non la vieille boîte à bougies
Et des yoles qui n'ont jam, jam...
Fendent le lac aux eaux rougies !