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Daniel Cohn-Bendit: Yesterday's man?

by r------ Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 12:49:45 PM EST

Yesterday and today, a bit of a spat has broken out between Daniel Cohn-Bendit,supposed "revolutionary" of 1968 and EELV Eurodeputy, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a candidate for French President who actually talks the language of Revolution and polling well because of it . Cohn-Bendit gave an interview to Le Monde, the press organ of the centre and centre-left professional classes in France. In that interview (reproduced below) Cohn-Bendit attacks Mélenchon for being, among other things, simplistic, not committed to Europe, anti-American, and unrealistic.

In response, Mélenchon, who is polling in the mid-teens and is in many polls now in third place for the first round of voting in a fortnight (ahead of both the National Front's Marine Le Pen and the New Centre's François Bayrou, not to mention EELV's candidate, Eva Joly, polling in the 1-2% range and going nowhere), hits back hard (also reproduced below).

More over the flip.


Le Monde : Que pensez-vous de la "conversion" écologique de Jean-Luc Mélenchon?

Daniel Cohn-Bendit : Ce n'est pas à moi de juger du degré de réalité de cette "conversion". Il m'est arrivé de débattre avec lui, de l'avoir donc en face de moi, et j'ai moi aussi entendu ce discours, dont je prends acte. Ce n'est pas sa sincérité que je remets en question. Je ne suis pas le pape de l'écologie, je n'ai pas à décider qui est dans le camp du bien, et qui ne l'est pas. Vous savez, personne n'est génétiquement écologiste, on vient tous de quelque part. L'écologie politique est un courant qui est né et s'est développé il y a une trentaine d'années, ce qui signifie que ni Eva Joly ni moi ne sommes nés "écolos".

What do you think of "conversion" ecological Jean-Luc Melenchon?

DCB: It's not my place to judge the bona fides of this "conversion". I`ve debated him in the past , face to face, and I also heard of his comments to this effect, of which I take note. It's not his sincerity that I question. I am not the Pope of ecology, I do not decide who are the good guys, and who are not. You know, nobody is genetically environmentalist, it all comes from somewhere. Political ecology is a current that was born thirty years ago and has grown from those origins, which means that neither Eva Joly and I are born "environmentalists".

It should be noted that not only is there no pope of the ecology movement, but there is not any longer one party with a monopoly on the environmental issue, with EELV's forthcoming pathetic showing in the French presidential elections a good indication that the Greens, at least in France, have had their issues in the main taken up by less single-issue political formations, and are therefore logically struggling to remain relevant.

And not only was Eva Joly not born an environmentalist, her conversion to the cause is quite recent.

Le Monde : Vous devriez vous réjouir de voir d'autres leaders politiques rejoindre votre combat...

DCB : Je ne déplore nullement l'arrivée de Jean-Luc Mélenchon sur le terrain de l'écologie. Il est bon d'échanger et de débattre. Simplement, son discours écologique mérite d'être décodé. Car de quoi nous parle-t-il, dans le fond ? Il nous raconte une histoire, celle de la gauche républicano-socialiste, avec ses grandes références républicaines, Jaurès, la Révolution, et il développe la pierre angulaire de sa pensée, qui est la place centrale qui doit être accordée à l'Etat.

C'est d'ailleurs au nom de cette place centrale accordée à l'Etat qu'il prône dans ses écrits une relation privilégiée avec la Chine. Il y a chez Jean-Luc Mélenchon une haine à peine voilée de l'Amérique, avec une fascination pour Fidel Castro et Hugo Chavez.

You should rejoice in seeing other political leaders to join your fight ...

I do not regret at all that Jean-Luc Melenchon is now occupying the political space of ecology. It is good to discuss and debate.It's just that his ecological discourse deserves to be decoded. For what we are we talking about, at root? Mélenchon is telling a story, that of the Socialist-Republican left, with its great republican points of reference, of Jaures, the Revolution, and he develops therein the cornerstone of his thought, which is the central place that the State should occupy..

It is also in the name of this central role accorded to the state that he advocates in his writings a special relationship with China, a thinly veiled hatred of America, a fascination with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez.

Here, it is hard to see what DCB is trying to achieve by refering to Chavez and to Castro. A red herring? In any event, DCB seems to criticise Mélenchon's belief that the State should play a fundamental role in formulating a response to environmental challenges, without explicitly admitting that his position therefore is fundamentally one of market solutions. Why else Castro? Chavez? Perhaps also because DCB is also betraying some Western German bias here, having grown up on a steady diet of US Army fed anti-communism, he instinctively finds as ridiculous any notion that one might have less than unambiguous disdain for these two figures (an ideological lack of subtleness also largely shared among the so-called centre-left in Germany (SPD, Greens) though not, of course, Die Linke.

Le Monde : Quel rapport entre ce "tropisme chinois" que vous décrivez et son discours sur l'écologie ?

DCB : Evident ! Quand vous avez ces références-là, quand toute évolution de la société doit passer par l'Etat, les initiatives locales sont systématiquement étouffées. La transition écologique est si complexe à réaliser qu'on ne peut se permettre de laisser de côté toute cette énergie. Le Front de gauche vient de signer un texte contre la décentralisation. Pour moi, un tel retour en arrière est incompréhensible. Et, au-delà, il mènera à l'échec.

What relationship between the "Chinese excessiveness" (`too much-ism)  that you describe and Mélenchon's treatment of ecology?

This is obvious! When you have these (statist) references then, when the whole evolution of society must pass through the state, the role of local initiatives is systematically minimised. The ecological transition is such a complex operation that  we can not afford to ignore all that energy. The Left Front has signed a text against decentralization. For me, such a rollback is incomprehensible. And beyond that, it will lead to failure.

Here, DCB is arguing with a straw man of his own construction. The Left Front may be against decentralisation, but as regards ecology, what is more pertinent is the belief that only the strong hand of the State can adequately address ecological challenges facing us. The Left Front is not against, of course, private environmental initiatives, nor local ones. It simply proposes that the central authority of the State should be emphasised, as this achieves critical mass (in financing, in legal framework, and so on) more effectively and is therefore more economically efficient.

DCB, characteristically, bombastically accuses this approach of leading to failure, without of course explaining why this is so.

Le Monde : On peut comprendre le raisonnement selon lequel un Etat fort sera à même d'imposer des règles et en particulier une fiscalité écologique...

DCB : Oui, ce raisonnement est valable. Mais comment encore croire que l'Etat central peut tout ? Je vais vous donner un exemple des sottises qu'on peut lire dans le programme de Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Il prône la renationalisation de l'ensemble du secteur de l'énergie, qui serait donc placé sous l'autorité de l'Etat. Mais qu'est-ce que ça change ? Elf s'est-il mieux comporté que Total ? Et EDF n'a fait que bloquer toute tentative de transformation en France ces trente dernières années.

Si on veut amorcer la transition énergétique, il y a une chose à faire : casser le monopole d'EDF. Tous les Etats qui sont allés vers une transition énergétique ont fait ainsi. L'Allemagne, pays pionnier dans ce domaine, a fait ainsi. Mais, au-delà de ces deux conceptions de l'Etat qui nous opposent, je reproche à Jean-Luc Mélenchon de faire croire qu'on peut réaliser la transition énergétique dans un seul pays.

One can understand the reasoning that a strong state will be able to impose rules and in particular environmental taxation ...

Yes, this reasoning is valid. But how can we still believe that the central state can do everything? Let me give you an example of the nonsense you read in Mélenchon's program. He advocates the re-nationalization of the entire energy sector, which would be placed under the authority of the State. But what difference does it make? Elf (formerly State-controlled petroleum company) has done better than Total? And EDF (State-owned power generation company) has only blocked every attempt to transform France over the past thirty years.

If you want to begin the energy transition, there is one thing to do: break the monopoly of EDF. All states who underwent an energy transition did so. Germany, a pioneer country in this area, did so. But, beyond these two conceptions of the state which separate us, I fault Jean-Luc Melenchon for believing you can undertake energy transition in a single country.

DCB neglects a number of very informative contexts here. Nationalisation (of Elf, of EDF and GDF) in France has nearly always been an affair of the Statist Right (short-lived exceptions in banking and insurance). So, Mr Cohn-Bendit is criticising a historical record of State ownership which is at best irrelevant to, and more accurately anathema to, what the Left Front proposes. In the past, State ownership simply meant the State directed capital investment (of the construction of nuclear power plants) or, in the case of Elf, the State directed foreign policy (in particular, in Africa) in order to ensure France had it's own world-class petroleum firm. This is quite different from what Jean-Luc Mélenchon proposes, which is indeed a long-term plan to transition away from fossil fuels and towards a more distributed grid, and cleaner renewables.

Le Monde : L'impuissance de l'Europe lui donne des arguments...

DCB : Mais il a tort. Qui peut croire une seconde que l'Europe n'est pas l'espace adéquat pour réaliser tous les investissements nécessaires ? Si on réalisait une taxation de 0,1 % sur chaque appel téléphonique passé en Europe, en plus de la taxation sur les transactions financières, on pourrait rassembler, selon les calculs, entre 50 et 80milliards d'euros par an qui iraient dans les caisses de l'Europe. Elles sont là, les marges de manoeuvre, au niveau de l'Europe, pas des Etats appauvris qui la composent !

Europe's powerlessness gives him arguments ...

But he is wrong. Who can believe one second that Europe has not the (proper and) adequate scale to carry all the necessary investments? If you enacted a 0.1% tax on every phone call happened in Europe, in addition to the tax on financial transactions, these could generate, according to calculations, between 50 and 80 billion euros per year that would go into Europe's coffers. There it is, the necessary room for maneuver - at the European level, not impoverished states which compose it!

Anybody who has thoughtfully observed European institutions over the past decade could only draw the conclusion that here, DCB is at best a dangerous dreamer and at worst, a demogogue. There will be no Europe-wide 0.1% tax on telephone calls. There will be no Europe-wide Tobin tax. To state otherwise is to be, in a word, foolish. If anyone here is wrong-headed, it is clearly DCB.

Le Monde : Au-delà de cette conception de l'Etat et de l'Europe qui vous opposent, vous reprochez à Jean-Luc Mélenchon de recycler les vieux discours du Parti communiste des années 1950...

Mais oui ! Quand vous entendez Jean-Luc Mélenchon fustiger l'impérialisme américain, n'entendez-vous pas en creux les discours du PC contre l'OTAN dans les années 1950 ? Non seulement il nous ressuscite une rhétorique très "guerre froide", mais il escamote dans son discours tout ce qui le gêne. Il est contre la décentralisation, contre les langues régionales, et il ne cesse de citer Jaurès, sans jamais dire qu'il commençait ses discours en occitan ! Il parle de la Révolution, sans jamais en montrer les aspects dérangeants...

Moi aussi, je veux bien refaire l'histoire à ma sauce, ça n'est pas bien compliqué, mais c'est tellement simplificateur. La vie, ce n'est pas aussi simple qu'un discours de Jean-Luc Mélenchon. L'émergence de cette gauche, jacobine, centralisatrice et caricaturale est pain bénit pour Nicolas Sarkozy.

Beyond this conception of the State and Europe which separates you, you accuse Jean-Luc Melenchon of recycling old speeches of the Communist Party of the 1950s ...

Yes of course! When you hear Jean-Luc Melenchon castigate American imperialism, do not you hear the speech the hollow Communist Party diatribes against NATO in the 1950s? He not only resurrects for us some very "cold war" rhetoric, but he evades anything that bothers him. He is against decentralization, against regional languages, and he repeatedly quotes Jaurès without ever saying Jaurès began many of his speeches in Occitan! He speaks of Revolution, though never mentioning their disturbing aspects ...

I too would like to rewrite history to my taste, it's not very complicated, but it's so simplistic. Life, it's not as simple as a speech by Jean-Luc Melenchon. The emergence of this caricature of the centralising Jacobin left is a godsend for Nicolas Sarkozy.

Life is also not as simple as Daniel Cohn-Bendit's far-fetched plans for an EC-driven green energy policy. Beyond that, here again Mr Cohn-Bendit leaves out important context: Jaurès, it is true, did speak Occitan, and gave speeches in it. But that was one hundred years ago, when quite a few people spoke Occitan, or Provençal, or Ch'ti, or Breton. In any event, it is hard to fathom why Cohn-Bendit finds it important to highlight this issue, which is at best a non sequitur as far as today's France goes (noting in passing that the regional language movement in France has typically been a traditionalist, right-wing endeavour, and certainly not a progressive one. It is hard enough to ensure that French schoolchildren learn in equal measure, in the hardscrabble suburbs as opposed to the cushy neighbourhoods of western and central Paris, proper French).

Le Monde : Pourquoi ?

Cela lui permet de désigner à l'opinion cette gauche littéralement gangrenée par la question nationale, bloquée idéologiquement sur la question européenne, et fondamentalement anti-Occident. La montée en puissance de Jean-Luc Mélenchon fait bien l'affaire du président sortant.

Why?

Because it allows him to promote a view, that of the old left, which is literally atrophied by question of nationalism, ideologically blocked on the question of Europe, and fundamentally anti-Western. The rise of Jean-Luc Melenchon does the bidding of the outgoing president.

No comment, aside to say that if anything, the rise of DCB's occasional eructations do the bidding of Marine Le Pen and the National Front, as Jean-Luc Mélenchon's pungent response reponse on France Inter this morning reflects:

"Daniel Cohn-Bendit est un type qui est spécialisé à tirer dans le dos. Il tire dans le dos d'Eva Joly, il tire dans le mien... C'est une habitude chez lui", a répondu Jean-Luc Mélenchon mardi 10 avril, sur France Inter, à l'eurodéputé écologiste, qui l'a vivement critiqué dans un entretien au Monde, publié la veille...

"J'explique des choses fort compliquées donc je suis content qu'on trouve ça simple", a rétorqué M. Mélenchon, invité à répondre aux déclarations de M. Cohn-Bendit, sur France Inter...

M. Cohn-Bendit "est-il lâche ?", demande le journaliste de la radio. Réponse de l'ancien sénateur socialiste : "Non mais il a besoin de taper (...) Il a parfaitement le droit de ne pas être d'accord avec moi mais pour quelqu'un de gauche, l'urgence serait plutôt de taper sur l'extrême-droite, surtout au moment où moi, je fais tout ce que je peux pour la faire passer derrière moi [Marine Le Pen]. Il pourrait donner un petit coup de main utile mais il veut pas, il veut pas...", a regretté M. Mélenchon, avant d'assurer que "le Front de gauche est dorénavant une composante de l'écologie en France".

"Daniel Cohn-Bendit is a guy who specializes in back-stabbing. He back-stabbed Eva Joly, he backstabs be ... It's what he does," said Jean-Luc Melenchon Tuesday, April 10, on France Inter, refering to the EELV MEP, who strongly criticized in an interview with Le Monde, published yesterday.

"I explain a lot of quite complicated things, so I'm glad he found it simple," replied Mr. Mélenchon invited to respond to Mr. Cohn-Bendit's attacks on France Inter.

Mr. Cohn-Bendit "is a coward?" Asks the radio journalist. The response of the former Socialist Senator: "No, but he needs to attack.  He has every right not to agree with me, but for someone (supposedly) on the left, it seems to me that urgency would require rather that he attack the far right, especially when I'm doing everything I can to move ahead of Le Pen. He could give a helping hand but he just doesn't want to. .. "lamented Mr. Mélenchon, before assuring that" the Left Front is now a component of ecology in France. "

These elections here in France, beyond likely signaling the end of 17 years' of Right-wing control of the office of the Presidency, have also signaled the re-unification of the left, for the first time probably since Georges Marchais was still secretary of the PCF. These are two big achievements. That don't solve anything in and of themselves, but they point to a better future, one way (the electoral process) or another. A third development, which Cohn-Bendit seems to acidly try to elude,  appears to be the increasing irrelevance of France's Greens, yesterday's men and women on Europe, on the role of the State, and consequently, on the environment itself. It's hard to tell if this is to be lamented or welcomed.

Display:
criticism's of the Front de Gauche leader is any talk of the elephant in the room, the economic crisis the European Union, which he supposedly represents, presently faces, policy prescriptions for which his party is lamentably weak.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 12:52:54 PM EST
He back-stabbed Eva Joly,

To what is he referring here?

by generic on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 01:44:22 PM EST
I think perhaps this?

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 02:12:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to criticism of Joly for months. Last fall he was criticizing her on strategy viz. the PS. He has frequently downplayed her chances and pegged her as a minor candidate , even more or less declaring her candidacy dead.

In January he was saying he could see himself voting Hollande instead of Joly in the first round , and he did that just as she was launching a major programme proposition, thereby shifting attention away from her proposal and the media buzz about it and, as usually, towards himself.

He has intimated (almost explicitly) that she should
drop out,
something his brother Gabriel has even more clearly stated (as well as declaring his intention to actually vote Hollande in the first round).

With friends like these, Joly doesn't need enemies, and it's no wonder her campaign is floundering so badly. While she isn't the best candidate EELV probably could have chosen, the supposed luminaries of her party (and this includes Mamère too) have been quite good at undermining her for months.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 02:19:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Afew: Cohn-Bendit: Politically Stateless? (February 25th, 2012)
Libération publishes an internal note dated 24th February that Daniel Cohn-Bendit sent to Europe-Ecologie-les Verts (EELV) (a French movement he belongs to and was instrumental in starting up), in which he slaps EELV around, not because the presidential candidate, Eva Joly, is not the right one (he's already abundantly said that) but because of the decision of the three Green deputies to vote against the ESM ratification in the Assemblée Nationale.
(my emphasis)

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:07:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also Afew:
I'd also agree that Eva Joly is quite unlikely to do better than Mélenchon (though not for the reason you state - EELV will have a hard time because Joly is not an obvious candidate, and because the Verts have decided to throw the presidential in return for legislative seats).
(comment to Jerome's French presidential election - a primer, January 5th, 2012)

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:10:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That was a good comment from afew, though I'm not sure  they're going to do well in the legislatives either, they're really not much of a programme to run on which responds fundamentally to the issues of the day: attacks on solidarity, the financial crisis, inequality, unemployment, precarity, et c. *

The PS would be smart to be more aggressive with them.

Incidentally, back then I was thinking Mélenchon would top 10%, while Afew disagreed with a certain contention that those of us on the left were over what happened in 2002. Now, I'm thinking he could top 20% in the right conditions and we very clearly are now over 2002, as the polls underline.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:18:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My point about EELV was that the party element, Les Verts, had scuppered the chances of Eva Joly, who was hung out to dry -- not that Les Verts would necessarily do well out of it.

No, I didn't expect Mélenchon to do this well, but it's a certain logical consequence of EELV and the Trotskists running token campaigns. I suggested and still think many voters on the left will prefer to back Hollande from the start. Why do you say "over 2002", as if it were some kind of sickness to hold that view?

redstar:

he could top 20% in the right conditions

So, "in the right conditions", could Ms Le Pen.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:43:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And as Mélenchon's comments on France Inter this morning suggest, Cohn-Bendit's attacks on him only serve to make it possible for Le Pen to place a strong third, instead of Mélenchon. Which in my view is pretty sad.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:48:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mélenchon has done plenty of sniping on the left for himself.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 02:46:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps also because DCB is also betraying some Western German bias here...

I think this sort of national stereotyping is increasing every week. A sad thing that ET isn't free from it either.

by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:14:18 PM EST
Well, there's Cohn-Bendit: Politically Stateless? by afew on February 25th, 2012
Evidently, for Cohn-Bendit, the French left should have unanimously voted for ESM ratification. In fact, the Communist/Parti de Gauche deputies, the Greens, and twenty or so deputies on the left of the Parti Socialiste, voted against, and the other Socialists abstained. (Voting: 256 in favour, 44 against, 131 abstentions). The reason for this (albeit divided) position of the left is not the ESM in itself , but the strings attached: no country can access the funds of the ESM that has not ratified the associated "fiscal pact" that includes in particular the "debt brake" rule to be included in the constitution, which the left opposes. Further, François Hollande has stated that, if elected, he intends to renegotiate the fiscal pact. What does Cohn-Bendit have to say about this? The stumbling-block for the left, he argues

...

Cohn-Bendit is undoubtedly well-informed on the state of play in the European Parliament (and the European Council too?), but essentially he's saying that the austerity aspect of the fiscal pact (and the chains that bind the ESM to it) are lumps that have to be swallowed. TINA, Dany?



There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:23:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
think I am doing, but as I spend a fair amount of time in Germany (my brother lives in Frankfurt) and while there I talk politics (mostly with your garden variety SPD or Green types , my brother being in the former camp), I think you will agree with me that in the West, there is a lot of residual anti-communism which clouds political judgment and which, in the main, explains why Die Linke is still considered politically off limits, while the Front de Gauche, ideologically, structurally and even historically (the PCF having quite warm relations with the Hoenecker government) nearly identical to it, is a natural governing partner for the PS here.

You may recall the furore in Germany when Die Linke congratulated Fidel Castro on the event of his birthday? Such a furore would be unthinkable here. Not because in the main we think Castro is ok (though some do) but because it's no big deal, akin to Sarkozy or Blair kissing Gadhafi's ass, or Obama wishing the corrupt Karzai well. But, in West Germany, it is somehow a big deal. I've heard from more than one West German that this was both scandalous and would kill Die Linke politically.

That might be a stereotype, but again, I've come in contact with this accross the West German political spectrum and suspect you have too. In any event, even if it be true my anecdotal evidence is just that, anecdotal, in this case it cannot be that the plural of anecdote is bullshit. Why? Again, because Die Linke continues to be a political leper in Western parts of Germany, and for this very reason.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:32:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have less problems with that description of a tendency than with the sentence above, actually.

One thing is the demonisation that has its roots in the cold war anticommunism. Point taken. It's a bit more complex, though. Die Linke has its roots in the PDS which in turn has its roots in the SED, so blaming Die Linke for an ambiguous attitude towards Stalinism isn't  completely wrong (and that is a difference to the French situation).

by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:46:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That glosses over the WASG splinter party off the Western SPD and the fact that it's only since the merger of PDS and WASG that Die Linke became a national party to reckon.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:51:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Merger" is a bit of an exaggeration. The WASG was entirely a matter of the west. In the East Die Linke represents the typical eastern interests. This divide is still there.
by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:07:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The PCF certainly has a stalinist past...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:15:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it has more to do with this:

European Tribune - Cohn-Bendit: Politically Stateless?

In the note he sent to EELV, Cohn-Bendit shows (no doubt understandable) irritation at a dig from French Vert deputy Noël Mamère who said, "Dany is Dany, he sees things from Germany". Cohn-Bendit says he's tired of having to justify his so-called "French" positions (he cites Bosnia and Libya, oops) when he's in Germany and his so-called "German" positions in France. He says he was born stateless in 1945, and now he is "politically stateless": "perhaps a kind of freedom..."

In fact, and to my dismay, Cohn-Bendit does seem to be closer to Die Grünen in their economic-liberal positions than to Les Verts, whom he criticizes as "leftist". I take it that is what was meant by Mamère's remark, and what's more I think Dany understood that and just seized the opportunity to grandstand.

There would be little point in trying to fit Cohn-Bendit into a "national character" stereotype anyway (as he points out).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:21:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In any event, it is hard to fathom why Cohn-Bendit finds it important to highlight this issue, which is at best a non sequitur as far as today's France goes (noting in passing that the regional language movement in France has typically been a traditionalist, right-wing endeavour, and certainly not a progressive one. It is hard enough to ensure that French schoolchildren learn in equal measure, in the hardscrabble suburbs as opposed to the cushy neighbourhoods of western and central Paris, proper French)

Well, if that's the left's attitude, it's small wonder that people who value their regional languages have to turn to the right. Ever thought of it like that? I think it is a fault of the left to continuously underrate what most people wish in their local surroundings in order to feel at home.

Schoolchildren can easily learn a regional language AND French properly, by the way.

by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:24:20 PM EST
Tread lightly, you're criticising the Jacobinism inherited from the French 3rd Republic.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:27:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's much older. Dates back to the French revolution (when more than 50% of the French spoke "minority" languages).
by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:32:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the current French state doesn't even try to claim continuity beyond 1870.

I'm sure you know this story. I was introduced to it my a French language teacher who didn't see the way that speakers of regional languages might feel equally "oppressed" by the French state's insistance on monolongual schooling into 3rd Republic "Frenchness".

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:44:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the fight for universal public education was a long one and wasn't won in France until roughly a century after the Revolution when Jules Ferry drove it. Financing was (and is) always an issue in what was (and is) a bourgeois republic. At the time of Daudet's story (Daudet being, and I don't know if you intended the irony, an Occitan speaker and writer) probably half of all the french soldiers fighting the Prussians were illiterate.

Suffice to say that I doubt very much any Occitan, Provençal or Breton public school students woke up one day to learn they were no longer going to be taught in Occitan, Provençal or Breton, but instead were going to be instructed in the French language. Why? Because there was no such thing as an Occitan, Provençal or Breton public school.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:05:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're still fighting the battles of the 19th century... In so many ways.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:28:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please do tell.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:29:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're still fighting the battles of the 19th century... In so many ways.

"We" is the commonly accepted first-person plural pronoun in English.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:36:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The French left is still divided between Jacobin (authoritarian central state) and Girondin (federalist) tendencies. If those underlying attitudes are still relevant, should they not be expected to create debate?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 02:40:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clearly, not all of us. Some would have us believe those battles of the 19th century have been fought and were definitively won.

Don't believe your lying eyes!

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:27:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what you mean "we", Kemo Sabe?

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:53:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We didn't win last time. All we got was a 25 year armistice. But some seem to believe that a permanent victory was earned - that the right wing is operating fundamentally in good faith and with respect for the postwar social contract. Daniel Cohen-Bendit appears to be among them.

That belief is a pernicious fantasy. And whatever the merits of the regionalist vs. centralist debate on the French left (of which I am ignorant and thus reserve judgment) redstar is absolutely both right and correct to call out DCB for propagating pernicious fantasies.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 07:45:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is nothing in the thread (either in DCB's commentary, Mélenchon's reply or Redstar's gloss) which indicates this "good faith" position. What is clear is that DCB is arguing in favour of the European and infra-state levels, and that Mélenchon and Redstar are arguing for abandoning both and retrenching to the nation-state. This is what I refer to as the 19th century battles.

Certainly, the argument that energy can be fixed by nationalising it is a caricature of this sort of reflex. I'm inclined to agree with DCB that dismembering EDF is a prerequisite to attaining a sustainable future.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 08:09:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is nothing in the thread (either in DCB's commentary, Mélenchon's reply or Redstar's gloss) which indicates this "good faith" position.

Point.

Counterpoint:

If you want to begin the energy transition, there is one thing to do: break the monopoly of EDF.
[...]
If you enacted a 0.1% tax on every phone call happened in Europe, in addition to the tax on financial transactions, these could generate, according to calculations, between 50 and 80 billion euros per year that would go into Europe's coffers. There it is, the necessary room for maneuver - at the European level, not impoverished states which compose it!
[...]
Yes of course! When you hear Jean-Luc Melenchon castigate American imperialism, do not you hear the speech the hollow Communist Party diatribes against NATO in the 1950s?

This is all pernicious nonsense. In order:
  • Breaking the vertically integrated utilities is a subsidy to GazProm and a jobs program for the City of London, as has been explained in great and well-illustrated detail on this blog over the years.

  • Treating the financial transaction tax as a revenue-generating measure is a fundamentally right-wing narrative on two levels:
    1. It sets up the financial transaction tax for failure, because a successful FTT would minimise revenues, by selecting the local revenue minimum where it renders the greatest volume of spurious transactions unprofitable while imposing the lowest burden on legitimate transactions. And attempting to maximise revenues will not only miss the whole point of a FTT, it will likely prove far more difficult than a proper implementation.

    2. It feeds the right-wing narrative that the sovereign has to "finance" its outlays either through borrowing or taxation. This is flatly untrue, and propagates the very hard-money quackery which has lead us into this crisis and which, if perpetuated, will destroy the European Union, and very possibly the whole of the European democratic tradition.

  • Asserting that questioning the wisdom of European NATO membership is inherently Unserious is a pernicious Atlanticist talking point. It is, in fact, not at all obvious what benefit Europe accrues from NATO membership and it is even less obvious why this question should be met with shrill rebuke. Unless it is because those who refuse to entertain the question do so to avoid revealing that they have no convincing answer.

What is clear is that DCB is arguing in favour of the European and infra-state levels, and that Mélenchon and Redstar are arguing for abandoning both and retrenching to the nation-state.

What is clear is that the European inter-state level is fundamentally broken and that key parts - chiefly the monetary union and the inner market in services - need to be rolled back and their rebuilding put on hold pending much more activist federal fiscal and industrial policy. Actual fiscal and industrial policy, not the neoliberal la-la-land fiscal and industrial non-policy we have been treated to since Maastrict.

Forging ahead on the current institutional foundations will blow Europe apart (perhaps literally as well as metaphorically), not further the cause of European integration. We've passed the point where that train wreck could be avoided, now it's a search, rescue and salvage operation to preserve as many parts of the European federal structure as we can. And the first step in any salvage operation is triage: To identify which parts can be salvaged, which parts are irretrievably damaged, and which parts must be jettisoned because they present a clear and present danger. The common currency belong firmly and obviously in the last group.

What is also obvious is that DCB does not understand any of this.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 08:51:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Diary?

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 09:13:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Clicky.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 10:06:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is only strange if you think of history as "progress".

These battles were fought in the past and will be fought again and again long after we are all gone.

by cagatacos on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 06:33:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
properly learn four of five languages other than their own. But, priority should be given to languages which allow us to communicate with other Europeans...German, English, Spanish, Dutch in the northern part of France, Italian in the south-eastern...this is also the reason for the hostility to regional languages: there are better uses for public money.

It should be noted that we are talking about resources for teaching languages that no one living, in the main, has spoken for now a couple of generations, unlike say Catalan or Basque. Regional living languages are great...it's just that there aren't really any here in France anymore, and that's been true for 50 years, no matter how much has been spent rehabilitating and teaching them.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:47:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Early bilingual education helps immensely in learning a third language later in life. It rewires the brain funny or something.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 03:49:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No doubt it helps in learning a "second" language later in life as well.

Thanks to Swedish being an official second language here in Finland, school children learn it early on. Then, of course, comes English, as well as an opportunity to learn Russian or German. Consequently, everyone in the family (except Mom who is 80 and only speaks Finnish and Swedish) speaks at least three languages, regularly and fluently. A love of languages was built into these folks at any early age, and learning a new one doesn't seem to be a problem.

Unlike when I went to school and foreign languages were only offered as an elective course, these days I understand some schools in California are now doing things differently. Beginning in preschool/kindergarten these schools are instructing their young students in Chinese, Spanish and English concurrently. And, in situations where students have a Mom and Dad that speak different languages, suggesting further that one parent address the child in one language, and the other parent in another language. While this may seem like it would be confusing and overwhelming to a child, apparently it works out well as they pick up all the languages presented with equal ease. Simply amazing!

by sgr2 on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 10:48:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sgr2:
And, in situations where students have a Mom and Dad that speak different languages, suggesting further that one parent address the child in one language, and the other parent in another language.

One language per parent is quite common in bi-language families in Sweden today. Also schools and day care offers instruction in a wide range of "home"-languages for children who has an extra language from their home.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 08:35:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in France. We've done away with all languages except for the official one (defined as such in the Constitution).

Ordinary linguistics doesn't apply in France; nor does common sense, at least in that respect.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 09:00:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, careful with the public money... ;-)

It's false. Resources put into the cultivation even of tiny languages is well invested. The plurality and mutual respect are worth it. Children who get no formal education in their native language face more difficulties in learning any other language. We are not only talking about indigenous languages, this is true for immigrants' children too.

by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:00:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
immigrants.

But again, when we are talking about Occitan, we are not talking about a native language. No one speaks Occitan in France as a native language. Ditto Breton or most of the other regional languages in France. It's sad, but that boat sailed a century ago. So, de-emphasizing the teaching of regional languages in France simply does not deprive children in France from learning in their native language, which is either French or the language of their country of origin.

We're not talking about resources invested in regional languages, either, we're talking specifically about them in the context of public schools. There are other ways to invest in mostly dead regional languages than teaching them in the public schools.

Cohn-Bendit is simply being ridiculous, here.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:18:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're flat-out wrong about Occitan. Your ignorance is astounding.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:26:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
speakers under the age of 65 there are in France today?

If you can, and it is more than a rounding error of the percentage of people in Languedoc-Roussillon, PACA, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne and Aquitaine combines population, then I will consider your criticism legitimate.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:41:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You find it easier to concede the point for immigrants' languages than for indigenous ones, don't you? Funny.
by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:51:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
more native eight-year-old Kabyle, Portuguese or Chinese speakers in my neighbourhood than there are native eight year old Occitan speakers in the whole of France.

We are talking about the present and future, and not the past. I apologise to all if by insisting on talking about the challenges being confronted by real working people rather than some set of people who existed generations ago this somehow makes me a "reactionary". I just don't see it.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, and in other neighbourhoods there are more speakers of breton or corsican or whatever. And they are real working people too. Probably some immigrants' children speaking Arabic and Occitan and French and in this order.
by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:28:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are no multitudes of Occitan or Breton speaking youths anywhere in France.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:31:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Crowd cross-section at Front de Gauche rally in Toulouse last Thursday 5 April:

Crowd cross-section at the Occitan rally in Toulouse the previous Saturday, 31 March:

While the Front de Gauche crowd looks on balance younger, there is a fair mix of generations in the Occitan crowd. Making out that there are nothing but a few very old people speaking Occitan is simply untrue.

Mélenchon drew a bigger crowd, but the Occitan crowd was all the same 20,000 according to the police, 30,000 according to the organisers.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 02:29:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Daniel Cohn-Bendit: Yesterday's man?
the regional language movement in France has typically been a traditionalist, right-wing endeavour, and certainly not a progressive one

What contact have you had with, for example, the Occitanist movement today?

redstar:

No one speaks Occitan in France as a native language.

Yes, they do. They are old people now, but I personally know quite a number (and among in-laws in my family) who learned and fluently spoke Occitan at home and in their local environment before being taught French at school.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:29:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably quite old.

And yes, I also know some provençal speakers, I lived for quite some time in the south, but none of them were native speakers, you could take it at school as a language.

I know no one in the Occitan movement, and while I'm sure they are quite admirable in their aims and motivations, I still need to say this is simply not an important issue, and my reference to Cohn-Bendit's musings here as a non-sequitur is meant to underline that very fact. Let me see...talk about the financial crisis, or talk about Occitan...what should one prioritise? Well, we see what DCB prioritises, and I simply think he is ridiculous for doing so.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:38:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But your history of regional language use patterns is wrong, and your characterisation of regional-language supporters as rightwing reactionaries equally.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:45:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Re the last point, take a look at this actually far-right reactionary site for whining about how they were excluded from the 31 March Occitan rally.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 02:48:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and, I may add, Arpitan (improperly called franco-provençal) is of similar stqtus, and I have similar experience of it.

the 19th century doctrine of stamping out regional languages, by punishment and shaming, has filtered down to the point where it's relatively rare to meet young people competent in their regional language.This has left those regions culturally impoverished,and linguistically handicapped. My experience is that those who first learned French at school,and still speak the regional language, tend to speak and write French impeccably; their children, who understand the local language but don't speak it, speak strongly accented French couloured with borrowings from the local language.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:50:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. Learning languages is only one side of the argument though, the other is respect for diversity.
by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:55:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But an important foundation for learning a new language is motivation, and if there is a context in which a regional language is motivating for students then money spent there actually allows them to learn something. As opposed to spending money getting students to sit through classes.

Knowing languages also makes it easier to learn more languages, so no efficiency is not a reason to suppress local languages. The reason instead tends to be that language is one of the cornerstones of modern (19th century and onwards) national identity. France is in no way alone in this, finnish and sami languages was once banned in and around schools in Sweden. All nationstates can probably present similar stories. Speaking the languages of other colonial powers (not to mentioned the pointless ancient greek and latin) was on the other highly approved as this was something upper and (depending on period) middle class people did.

Anyway, I think the reason DCB mentions this is that he is positioning himself as Green as localist in contrast to a soc-dem/communist socialist tradition of centralism. I think the greens as a movement has more or less always done that, it is one of the groups founding identity-markers - not centralist like the red parties.

All in all I find the interview unsurprising. "He is a centralist communist, and not as good environmentalist as us Greens" is exactly how I would expect a leading Green politician to comment on a competitor from left of the soc-dems. Constructive? No, politics is not constructive, it is an endless repetition of group identities - They are not us!

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:20:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
be criticising on that basis. But why now? Is he trying to gain votes for Joly? I don't think so, he's been undermining Joly as well.

No, I think he's really all about himself here, Dany the Red, getting more media attention, having really nothing to offer but the spectacle of himself on the television or in the newspaper yet again, nothing new to say. It would be nice if he spent half the time beating up on Le Pen or Sarkozy as he has on Mélenchon or Joly.

On the issue of regional languages, are their native Sami speakers still? If so, then of course Sami-language schooling should be offered by the State.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:28:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:
Is he trying to gain votes for Joly?

No, he's for the "vote utile" for Hollande in the first round.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:35:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:
Sure, that's understood that DCB would (none / 0) be criticising on that basis. But why now? Is he trying to gain votes for Joly? I don't think so, he's been undermining Joly as well.

No, I think he's really all about himself here, Dany the Red, getting more media attention, having really nothing to offer but the spectacle of himself on the television or in the newspaper yet again, nothing new to say. It would be nice if he spent half the time beating up on Le Pen or Sarkozy as he has on Mélenchon or Joly.

Good points.

redstar:

On the issue of regional languages, are their native Sami speakers still? If so, then of course Sami-language schooling should be offered by the State.

Sami languages - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native speakers: Approximately 20,000-30,000[citation needed]  (date missing)

The variants that has survived are taught at least in Sweden, Finland and Norway (don't know about Russia). But then again nowadays minority rights are recognised as long as they are not some outlandish claim like getting their land back (with all those minerals, timber and hydro resources), cause that is not going to happen.

But I did some checking, and according to wikipedia Occitan is a much bigger language then Sami.

Occitan language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native speakers: 2,000,000  (1999)[1]

Is this false?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:45:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
which includes Catalan. The crushing majority of those Occitan speakers reside in Catalunya.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:52:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was personally surprised to see the prevalence of Catalan idioms when vacationing around Carcassonne and Toulouse a few years ago. I had been under the impression that it had been wiped out.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:56:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt if the number given there for Occitan includes Catalan. And though Catalans do hold strongly for their language (which is part of the Occitan group, but don't tell the Catalans that), many people elsewhere across southern France (and even in non-Catalan northern Spain, in the Val d'Aran) speak Occitan.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:59:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is listed as an official language of Spain.

I don't think we're talking one of the French Occitan dialects here, clearly we are talking Catalan.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Occitan language - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Occitan (English pronunciation: ˈɒksɨtən,[4] Occitan: [uksiˈta] or [utsiˈta]),[5] known also as Lenga d'òc (Occitan: [ˈleŋɡɔ ˈðɔ(k)]; French: Langue d'oc), is a Romance language spoken in southern France, Italy's Occitan Valleys, Monaco, and Spain's Val d'Aran: the regions sometimes known unofficially as Occitania. It is also spoken in the linguistic enclave of Guardia Piemontese (Calabria, Italy). It is an official language in Catalonia, Spain (known as Aranese in Val d'Aran).[6] Occitan's closest relative is Catalan.[7] Since September 2010, the Parliament of Catalonia has considered Aranese Occitan to be the officially preferred language for use in the Val d'Aran.

Catalan is mentioned as the closest relative, not as coming under the heading "Occitan". And the Occitan officialised in Spain is the (Gascon dialect) Aranese of the Val d'Aran.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:15:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"native speaker" mean? Are you and I native French speakers, for instance?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:27:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You claim the "Occitan" category includes "Catalan", but that is not the case. Why are you changing the subject?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 01:05:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
claims two million native speakers.

If Catalan is not included, either the article has a far different definition of native speaker than is normally meant by the term.

There is in way 2 million native speakers of Occitan (not including Catalan), unless they are counted people who have learned a bit of it in school since it was re-introduced or know a little expressions (which even I know a few).

I think in this case, the wikipedia article is either false or higly misleading and will be looking for a more official source.  

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 02:22:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Official" source? From the French anti-regional-language state?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 02:32:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To see what France understands as regional or minority languages, I went to the Council of Europe. I just checked that France signed but has not ratified, and therefore is not applying, the Council of Europe's Charter on Regional and Minority Languages which pretty much exempts France from the need to actually enumerate any protected languages. It signed with a declaration
Declaration contained in the full powers handed to the Secretary General at the time of signature of the instrument, on 7 May 1999 - Or. Fr.

France intends to make the following declaration in its instrument of ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages:

  1. In so far as the aim of the Charter is not to recognise or protect minorities but to promote the European language heritage, and as the use of the term "groups" of speakers does not grant collective rights to speakers of regional or minority languages, the French Government interprets this instrument in a manner compatible with the Preamble to the Constitution, which ensures the equality of all citizens before the law and recognises only the French people, composed of all citizens, without distinction as to origin, race or religion.

  2. The French Government interprets Article 7-1, paragraph d, and Articles 9 and 10 as posing a general principle which is not in conflict with Article 2 of the Constitution, pursuant to which the use of the French language is mandatory on all public-law corporations and private individuals in the exercise of a public service function, as well as on individuals in their relations with public administrations and services.

  3. The French Government interprets Article 7-1, paragraph f, and Article 8 to mean that they preserve the optional nature of the teaching and study of regional or minority languages, as well as of the history and culture which is reflected by them, and that the purpose of this teaching is not to remove from pupils enrolled in schools on the national territory the rights and obligations applicable to all those attending establishments providing the public education service or associated therewith.

  4. The French Government interprets Article 9-3 as not opposing the possible use only of the official French version, which is legally authoritative, of statutory texts made available in the regional or minority languages, by public-law corporations and private individuals in the exercise of a public service function, as well as by individuals in their relations with public administrations and services.                                                        
The preceding statement concerns Article(s) : 1, 10, 7, 8, 9


There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 03:30:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
then, given the many inconsitencies of the wikipedia article (for instance, a language with "2.000.000" native speakers is in the same frame where that claim is made that four of the six dialects of occitan (representing the vast majority of said "native speakers") "severely endangered".

How can a language with 2.000.000 native speakers be severely endangered? There seems to be a bit of Marseillais exageration going on here; no doubt the wikipedia entry has been created by members of the regionalist movement, about as reliable in terms of facts as the putatively anti-regional language French state (though this latter fact is debatable as, it is also true, Breton, Provençal and Corse is taught in French public schools).

Noting in passing that while I did not live nearly as long as you have in the south, I did live five years. And I can count the number of times I heard provençal spoken in the regular course of the day (and not among a gathering of provençal enthusiasts, which I have also attended) on one hand. And I take the point to heart and find it admirable that there is such a movement, as long as it remains peaceful (which, as you know, as regards both Breton and, especially, Corse, is not always the case) for recognition of regional culture, but the simple fact of the matter is, and this is what Mélenchon was referencing, there have been attacks of terrorist nature on the part of partisans who militate for regionalism including language rights, and these attacks are certainly not progressive in nature (which Mélenchon also pointed out). The way forward is not the past, where people actually did speak these languages in the regular course of their day, though I note the supreme irony of being accused of "fighting again the battles of the 19th century" when pointing this out.

I also note the irony of a blogging community which, all the while rightfully jumping on the fact that European states and America take Anders Breivig style terrorism less seriously than terrorism of the islamic strip, itself turns a blind eye to terrorism in the name of regionalism, because terrorism there is. And the people I know, and I know quite a few (the Corsican community in Toulon and La Seyne is quite large and active), including my ex-father-in-law, who sympathise with the most offending of such movements, the Corsican one, are to a man on the right, not the left. Not one of the Corsican radical movements is progressive in nature.

Let's deal with the reality of such movements as they in the main act politically, shall we? And not an idealised form we would like to believe exists.  

I find it ironic that in  

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 03:47:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It does not help recruiting people to the left when you tell people that a left-wing, progressive ideology requires the State to suppress their use of their mother language.

This discussion is still had in Spain, where otherwise sane people will argue Catalan schoolchildren are disadvantaged by a bilingual education.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:21:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wholeheartedly agree that this is a very politically relevant point in many places, and Spain is surely one such place.

France is not, in my considered opinion.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:26:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:
How can a language with 2.000.000 native speakers be severely endangered?

Because, as those "native speakers" are doubtless older people who did in fact learn the language first or concomitantly with French as children, they are gradually disappearing. Which is why some younger people want to keep the practice of the language alive.

As for tarring the entire linguistic movement with the terrorism brush, that just doesn't hold. Corsica apart, there have been practically no attempts at violence in the Occitan or Breton regions for decades. ETA is (was?) a separate Spanish-based phenomenon. Support for regional languages != independentism.

redstar:

I also note the irony of a blogging community which

Why can't you stop sniping?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:26:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, in Spain, support for regional languages has a broad left base, due to the fact that the authoritarian jacobin policy (linguistic and otherwise) was carried out by Franco's regime.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:30:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Curious use of the term jacobin in this context.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:31:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact is, in their consideration of people's differences, there isn't much distance between Jacobinism and Francoism.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:40:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That may be true, but of course there are far more points of diversion, and far more important ones, than this one similitude. Not to mention the vast historical remove.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:42:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But in this context...

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:45:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why can't I stop sniping?

Because I'm not Jesus Christ, nor would I want to be. When the object of personal insult (I am not refering to you here or many other worthy criticisms, but read the thread, there are a number of unwarranted and frankly immature insults to be found) I do not tend to turn the other cheek.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:30:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's more you're not being nice to Bertrand.

;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:32:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ha! I knew of all people you would catch that!

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:33:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to say I still find it exceptionally hard to believe there are 2.000.000 native Occitan speakers, so I looked more closely at the entry provided. I note that the vast majority of these "native speakers" (1.3M, follow the link from the Occitan page) are listed as Auvergnat speakers.

And what is the population of Auvergne? 1.3M, most of them not over the age of 65.

There is no way on earth that all of Auvergne speaks Occitan. In fact, of all the regions of France outside of PACA and Ile de France, Auvergne is a place I know well (Haute Loire, Puy-de-dome, Clermont, et c.), and I have not once heard Auvergnat spoken, so clearly not everyone is a native speaker there.

So, the wikipedia entry is, at least on this account, clearly not credible.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:53:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If Catalan were included, the number would be far, far higher. See Wikipedia for numbers of Catalan speakers.

I don't find 2 million Occitan speakers an extraordinary claim. One may quibble about the meaning of "native speakers" -- those who learned it as their first language are now over 65. But the >65 population of the French regions where Occitan is spoken is well over 4 million. (Insee).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 03:23:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could have followed the footnote to the number of speakers in the wikipedia rticle...
_«De fait, le nombre des locuteurs de l'occitan a pu être estimé par l'INED dans un premier temps à 526 000 personnes, puis à 789 000,» ("In fact, the number of occitan speakers was estimated by the French Demographics Institute at 526,000 people, then 789,000") Philippe Martel, "Qui parle occitan ?" in Langues et cité n°10, décembre 2007.
How that turns into 2 million speakers in the article infobox is a mystery to me...

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 05:02:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not at all sure the 2m number is correct. My points are that it doesn't include Catalan speakers, and that the number of over-65s in the Occitan-speaking regions places it within the bounds of possibility.

As for INED, there is not much credence to accord to the survey that concluded on 526,000 speakers before correcting that number by 50%. The source quoted ("Qui parle occitan?" (pdf)) outlines the inconsistency of the survey (which left out several Occitan départements, including the one I live in). The sentence before the quote says:

Bref, du point de vue quantitatif, il y a peu à attendre d'une telle enquête.

(In short, from the quantitative point of view, not much can be expected from such a survey)

The article is not the source of the 2m number (which is not discussed on the Talk page). So it's true it's a mystery.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 03:41:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Arpitan language, or group of dialects was the primary language from the Lyonnais region eastwards, covering the Dauphiné and southern Burgundy, with pockets of locutors in Switzerland and Italy.

Currently there seem to be a negligeable number of young locutors in France. In contrast, oral transmission is still alive and well in Italy (it's an official language in Aoste) and in certain areas of the Valais in Switzerland.

I'm sure Redstar thinks the survival of the language in Italy and Switzerland is a Good Thing. I'm also sure he thinks its extermination in France is a Good Thing.

French exceptionalism.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 05:05:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but when shown by ASKOD the link, I followed it and was immediately drawn to the 2 millions figure for Occitan native speakers.

Further, I have a prejudice in that I take the term "native speaker" to mean that the language is an idiom that one grew up with and used extensively (thereby gaining fluency) in the regular course of the day (in the family circle, in school and with schoolmates, in other social interactions). Outward signs of this would be siblings addressing each other interchangibly in both idioms, for instance, sometimes not recognising they are doing so as they shift seamlessly, sometimes in mid-sentence, from one the the other, as my children do. In this sense, I am not a native French speaker for while I did grow up in a household parts of which were francophone and spoke it (in my case, my grandparent's generation on my mother's side, with whom I lived nearly every summer until a teen), it was not an idiom which I would normally speak at all, and certainly not with my siblings, schoolmates, parents et c. And by this token, even though you are absolutely fluent in french, neither are you.

So, when I combine this perspective of "native language" with the statement of the wikipedia entry "2M," I immediately think, erroneously as it turns out, that this must include Catalan, as there is no way there are 2M native Occitan speakers, in my sense of the term, in France and including everywhere else (the wiki entry also claims speakers in California, for instance, which I find exceptionally hard to believe).

Now, I do know a fair amount of people who have some fluency in Provençal and who are not very very old...they took it as an elective in school, or they learned it in associations many of which have been as you know created since Frédéri Mistrau's day. Also some corsican speakers. But these are not, to my mind, native speakers - they speak the language much as I speak the Spanish I learned in school, some well, a lot not so well. And, I knew two people who were properly native (in my sense of the term) speakers - they are both now dead.

Asking to be excused the circumlocutions here, I in no way meant or mean to denigrate the admirable aspiration to bring regional languages to life in France, these are good efforts, by in many cases good people, though in no way can the movements behind this admirable cause be described, in the main, as progressive, and indeed many of them are quite the opposite (as is often the case in movements which strive for a "return to the past," this comment not intended as being political - not all people yearning for re-invigoration of, say, Corsican as an idiom want to go back to those pre-industrial times when Corsican was the idiom on that island.

The question that comes out of this part of the thread (but which I did not ask) seems to be whether or not these idioms should get more active state encouragement, via subsidies or greater emphasis in the public schools. In the former, I think they are equally meritous as other private initiatives which seek government funding (youth organisations, municipal-funded or subsidised holiday camps, sports associations, e. tc.). In the latter, however, I think it would be a mistake to emphasise more than is already the case regional languages in the public schools, as one of the keys to the growth of a properly European (and not national) sense of citizenship is the ability to communicate with one another, in each others' languages which people in the EU do speak, and in this sense then I would say getting funding for establishing options in major languages not commonly taught in French schools, like Polish, Arabic, over Chinese.  

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 06:27:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a fair question about the use of state resources. My take on it is that more state resources are needed for education. Telling kids they can't do Occitan as an optional third language at school because the budget has gone (to undeniably worthy needs) elsewhere, or that they have the choice of their parents paying for private education, looks to me like the kind of destructive arbitrage the right would carry out.

Re native speakers:

redstar:

the language is an idiom that one grew up with and used extensively (thereby gaining fluency) in the regular course of the day (in the family circle, in school and with schoolmates, in other social interactions)

That is exactly what I've been talking about for the >65s, with the exception of "in school" because that was in French.

What's more, there is a generation, now 40-60, that grew up in that environment and understand the language well, but are not in the habit of speaking it because it was understood during their childhood that they should speak French, where the "future lay". Not that entire age-group, obviously, much more the rurals among them, but I know a number of such people.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 08:06:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sami languages were repressed at least to the 70ies I think, with most success in the post-war period when societal service expanded and industrial jobs were plenty and well-payed. With beginning in the 80ies there was a shift in policy towards education in native languages and perhaps more importantly education in all sami-speaking schools (naturally with education in Swedish as well). Now even Ume-Sami with about 20 native speakers is a target of an effor to teach it so that it is not lost.

So roughly, there are old people who learned the languages before repression was effective, middle-aged who learnt a bit at home but were taught not to use it and used Swedish in the new environments they arrived in, and young who have learnt it from grand-parents and in the schools.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 12:52:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:
Further, I have a prejudice in that I take the term "native speaker" to mean that the language is an idiom that one grew up with and used extensively (thereby gaining fluency) in the regular course of the day (in the family circle, in school and with schoolmates, in other social interactions).

At last, I understand how you could persuade yourself that there are no native speakers of Occitan.

If it is necessary to "speak it in school and with schoolmates" to be a native speaker, while living in a country where its use in school was banned for a century, then by definition, there are no native speakers.

Very neat, logically speaking.

Also very totalitarian.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 08:15:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Please stop. This is embarassing. For you.

This is where unthinking doctrinaire Jacobin/Lenininist centralism leads. Score a point for Dany.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:02:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think it's that fair to accuse Lenin of language centralism... That happened in the USSR only during Stalin's part.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 05:22:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do find your content-less attacks embarassing, however.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 06:29:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find internal sniping within the French left to be ugly and unseemly, which is why I disapprove both of Dany's intervention, and of the text of this thread.

 I rejoice in the populist campaign of Mélenchon, and his good polling. I believe that the left, in France and elsewhere, has a need for a powerful hard left and a powerful ecological left to give substance and backbone to a government coalition.

But I must say, Dany was on the money  in a number of important ways, and Redstar does Mélenchon no favours with his clumsy unreconstructed communist praise of his program. In particular, his frankly reactionary and distasteful remarks about regional languages.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:23:45 PM EST
in so many ways in this interview?

Please, do elaborate.

You do realise that what you are attacking as reactionary is in fact the policy of the "hard left" which in the same breath you are pretending to praise. And, you also mischaracterise my position. Straw man, ad hominem, that's a lot to acheive in one post.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:32:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fai de bèn a Redstar...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:53:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But this is the debate that we as leftists must have and which will stay with us for years. I find Redstar's sniping as unpleasant as DCB's and I note that I have an equal distance to either side. I am sure that there are more people who see it as I do AND I am sure that the potential of the left is much larger than the sum of the potentials of the different left parties.
by Katrin on Tue Apr 10th, 2012 at 04:37:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Best comment in this thread.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 03:32:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
excellently put, clear as water.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 05:31:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I prefer to spend no time with political comment (much could be said).

I just want to make what I see as a fact: Daniel Cohn-Bendit is indeed an Yesterday's man.

By this I mean that we are entering a time where cosmopolitan views of the world (and DCB is probably one of the biggest cases of that) are in retreat. And more "inward looking" views of the world will set the trend for the next decade.

I am not emitting an opinion if this is "good" or "bad", just suggesting that this is a (somewhat inevitable) flow of things. Maybe just to say that "good" or "bad" will depend more on the flavour: If we end up with fascism/stalinism or decentralized localism is a completely different affair.

by cagatacos on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 06:44:03 AM EST
One of the problems with this crisis is that cosmopolitans and liberals have lost their bearing and reflexively defend misdesigned liberal institutions which are demonstrably the cause of our current woes.

The failure mode of the system of liberal democracy and economic liberalism is depression and fascism, for the second time in 80 years.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 06:47:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily. I think it's more that economic democracy and political liberalism are short-lived exceptions to imperialist nationalism and capitalist manic depression.

Without constant reinforcement and strong constitutional feedback loops, the rich and powerful will always try as hard as they can to undermine attempts to create economic and political democracy.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 06:51:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A very long discussion could be done here, but...

I think liberalism is fundamentally misguided in their view of human nature: Humans are not rational, extremely-intelligent machines. On the contrary.

That is why democracy is quite good: no single man (or group), even if well intended can understand system behaviour as it is beyond human cognition. Democracy offers a way for people to say: "I am hurting".

Pluralism is correct not in spite of human limitations but precisely BECAUSE OF human limitations.

We are all profoundly stupid.

by cagatacos on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 07:03:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, democracy is the least traumatic system for throwing out the bums. It is not a system for selecting good government.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 07:06:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
cagatacos:
I think liberalism is fundamentally misguided

damn i wish people would always prefix 'liberalism' with 'economic' when they mean a wage-repressive extortion campaign for the commons and the plebiscite.

or at least a 'neo'...

sad to see a good word orwelled, and a blog like ET enabling it.

admittedly an old bugaboo of mine, but look at all the hate for 'liberals' in america, it's all topsy turvy, semantic chaos.

of course disraeli is to blame ;)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 05:38:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the contest between authoritarian centralism and decentralised localism, the authoritarian war machine wipes the floor with the localists. The fate of the Anarchist revolution in the Catalan hinterland at the start of the Spanish Civil War is a case in point.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 06:52:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe, but just maybe the outcome in Spain was due to external support given to the fascist side. I can only wonder what would have happened if such a thing did not existed.

Note that I am not disagreeing: I think we are going precisely in the authoritarian direction. Though it is not clear to me if it is left or right - I would not discount a military coup with left tendencies. In some countries (e.g. mine) some armed branches are being treated to austerity.

by cagatacos on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 06:58:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the outcome in Spain was due to the Socialist and Communist government forces suppressing the anarchists in their own camp.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 07:01:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was not going to go there (I agree with you in this case).

Where I think your example fails is that we are not talking about a case of centralised vs localised: There was one unified group (fascists) against another group that was divided (communists vs anarchists). The Spanish example is not a good one here.

There are many instances of distributed/localised vs centralised where centralised loses: think guerrilla tactics.

There reason why localisation will fail this time is because is mostly does not exist. It is a non-starter. Whereas all the bits and pieces needed for authoritarian approaches are well in place (first and foremost: well-oiled propaganda machines).

by cagatacos on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 07:09:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are many instances of distributed/localised vs centralised where centralised loses: think guerrilla tactics.

It is far from a given that the centralised power loses against a guerrilla force. You have the British losing in India, the British, Russians and Americans losing in Afghanistan, the French and Americans losing in Viet Nam and the Americans losing in Cuba. But you also Suhartu winning in Indonesia, the Americans winning in Nicaragua and, so far, in Colombia, and the Sri Lankan state increasingly looking like it's winning against the Tamils.

And another thing to remember about guerrilla tactics is that it is Fabian strategy taken to its logical extreme. Guerrillas must be prepared to concede any territory - and the civilians in that territory - that their enemy challenges with sufficient force. What that means, when you strip out all the euphemisms, is that when you choose a guerrilla strategy, you are letting the enemy murder, torture, rape and pillage your civilian population. Even when you win, it is a bitter sort of victory.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 08:07:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There isn't much difference in result between authoritarian left and right, as far as I can see. Different people die at the beginning, that's all.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 07:05:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the authoritarian left are "Right Wing Authoritarian" personalities also.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 07:07:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Daniel Cohn-Bendit: Yesterday's man?
there is not any longer one party with a monopoly on the environmental issue, with EELV's forthcoming pathetic showing in the French presidential elections a good indication that the Greens, at least in France, have had their issues in the main taken up by less single-issue political formations, and are therefore logically struggling to remain relevant.

Ah yes, we're all ecologists now... if you're not actually quoting Sarkozy, you're certainly channelling him.  The feigned identification of EELV as a "single issue" party is comical, particularly in the light of your radical opposition to the movement's decentralizing ethos.

As for the imminent demise of EELV as an electoral force...

Unsurprisingly, being opposed to the presidential republic and the cult of personality, the Green movement is not a good fit with the presidential election, and the high water mark remains Noel Mamère's 5.3% in 2002.

During the past couple of decades, PCF candidates in the presidential elections have fared comparably (having collapsed since Marchais' 15% in 1981). They have never had an effective candidate : I have a great deal of respect for Marie-Georges Buffet, but she is not the populist that Marchais was, and Mélenchon is.

It seems clear that a large portion of the left-wing electorate wants a simple message built around strong themes of solidarity, equality and so on. Nuance and sophistication are not vote-winners in this category; and Mélenchon fits the bill. His current high polling is due above all, lest we forget, to the collapse of the vote for the two Trotskyists (both of whom out-polled the PCF candidate in 2007). It is to be hoped, but remains to be seen, if these electors can be "delivered" to Hollande (This is all to the good, but it is not obviously transposable to any other election : the two-round legislative elections will be interesting, but there is no guarantee of a large increase of MPs to the left of the PS.)

With respect to regional elections, however, the advantage to EELV over PCF and cohorts is clear-cut. In 2010, 242 ecologists and 124 Front de Gauche were elected in France's 22 regions. This is a long-term trend, and not likely to be reversed any time soon.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 07:53:10 AM EST
It may be a long term trend, but there's a very simple and obvious problem it doesn't address - which is that all current forms of Western representational democracy have a strong pull towards the Right.

This bias is built in. The best you can hope for with current political practice is some short interludes with vaguely left-ish policies.

There are three issues:

  1. Most policy is set by lobbyists, 'sponsors' and other influencers outside parliament. The job of parliament isn't to debate policy, but to legitimise it.

  2. The financial and corporate classes own policy through direct and indirect influence on media and decision-makers. There's very little active pressure on them to make more than token concessions to other classes. (And they're reluctant to do even that.)

  3. The other classes don't care enough about power to seek it. It's far too easy to fob workers off with a promise of 'jobs' and 'improved living standards' - without noting that these benefits are framed as corporate and owner-class largesse, to be disbursed at whim.

So... debating idelogical purity on the left is an irrelevance, because even the purest policies have very little chance of being enacted.

What would be more useful is a concerted rhetorical attack on the true dynamics of the system. Make it clear that politics isn't about Jobs™ but about fundamental participative expectations of humane behaviour and reality-based decision making. (As a start, at least.)

But... at this point most Western populations already have a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome. We're so used to being abused by our 'leaders' that it's becoming difficult to imagine that alternatives are possible.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 08:17:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the reason for this bias is an inherent flaw in democracy-as-practised itself, which is that the taking of decisions (which for a great many mass of people are a terror in themselves) is outsourced. An extremely common outcome of this is that democracy-as-practised therefore simply, as Trotsky put it, passivises the masses, leaving the decisions and execution thereof to an elite-dominated state. And elites are out to preserve and enhance their priviledge almost by definition, so of course the political system whereby their control is nearly always assured will be conservative in nature (and when the masses get restless and throw out the elites, as in Chile, well, you know the rest).

This is why, when we hear on the streets (as I did in Barcelona a lot last year on Catalunya Plaza) that we are facing a crisis of democracy, this is not on the mark. What we are facing is rather a crisis of confidence in our elites.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 08:49:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interestingly enough, 21 of France's 22 regions are governed by the left. Not coincidentally, it is the only electoral instance using proportional representation.

(And more in tune with your assertions : no doubt not coincidentally, the regions have very little actual power.)

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 09:51:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And even within the greens, the authoritarian careerists are gaining power...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 07:29:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[ET Moderation Technology™]

Removed spurious whitespace.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 09:24:35 AM EST
it's interesting how this diary bashes dany for bashing the left.

as for being yesterday's man, he may be compared to some others, but he is one of the only euro MP's who occasionally tells it like it is.

far from perfect, sure, but i wish there were more like him, and sniping at him when he's wrong, (as i think he is here), and calling him names is very detrimental to any further future unity on the left, imnsho.

it just repeats the error, one that has traditionally been the bane of left leaning politics, and only now do we see the happy spectacle in the USA of the right tearing each other apart.

i wish the right here in yurp had that problem, instead we have frankenpol mutants like merkozy, or cameregg...

when 'left' in yurp has come to mean blair, miliband, bersani, you know we're in deep doo.

herd 'em cats!

 

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 05:52:38 AM EST
is a hot-button subject for me. I have observed it during twenty years of living in rural France, and also in my country of origin, New Zealand.

A hundred years of linguistic repression, with education and most paid employment restricted to the language of the dominant ethnic group, produces the same result all over the world : by the late 1970s, the Maori language had become invisible; confined to isolated communities, and predominately to older people who had learned not to speak it in front of outsiders. This enables even the interested observer to gain the false impression that the language is effectively dead.

Several decades later, the situation has evolved beyond recognition. Education, television, radio and print media are all available in the Maori language;  knowledge as a second language has become a point of honour among Maori, and also among a minority of whites. It's too early to say whether the language has been reborn; the number of mother-tongue speakers is probably in the low thousands, and the total number of locutors of the order of 100 000. But its survival as a vehicular language is perhaps a secondary issue; the key factor is ownership of, and pride in the cultural identity.

This is an explicitly colonial situation, but not functionally very different from what happens all over the world, and in particular, all over Europe. At a certain point, basic humanism and ordinary decency leads to a re-evaluation of repressive policies, and efforts to save the linguistic and cultural heritage, both for its intrinsic worth and as a means of redressing past wrongs.

Except in France. The Jacobin heritage is axiomatic for much of the left. Surprisingly, any advocacy of regional languages is automatically assumed to be retrograde and right-wing (perhaps because Frédéric Mistral, really the only well-known regional language advocate in France, was a reactionary?); the historic necessity of the abolition of regional languages is accepted implicitly, and any recognition or assistance for the languages is vehemently opposed. This is what I refer to as fighting the battles of the 19th century : France has colonised itself, impoverishing its cultural heritage in the process.

I apologise to all, including Redstar, for my repeated sniping on this issue; however I dearly hope he has learned something from the exchanges, despite my unhelpful attitude.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 05:44:18 AM EST
A notable exception is the status of Guarani in Paraguay. But over most of Latin America the same situation obtains, even if large indogenous-speaking communities persist still subject to the same old linguistic repression.

Recently I read about a woman from Chiapas who was jailed for years because she was unable to say in Spanish "I didn't kill my baby". She signed confessions in Spanish, was tried in Spanish, and was never given access to an interpreter.

Another notable exception is the way the UK (of all places, given its monolingualist education policy) goes out of its way at all levels of government to provide translated written materials and interpreters (in person or over the phone) for people to interact with the public administration.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 06:00:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
indigenous, nor indogenous...

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 08:27:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The association of "local languages" with reactionary parties in France comes from the early/middle 19th century, when local languages were used by the Church (which mixed local language with latin during the mass) whereas the progressives were nationalists and idolised the Jacobins.

That was the era of the creation of nations ; and the particularity of the French left's nation-state project was that it was founded on the universalist rights-based ideal, not on ethnicity and folk tales as in most of the rest of Europe. That project among other things was based on creating a global "people" able to rule itself, and that people would be speaking French. When Napoleon annexed bits of Italy and Germany, French remained the "normal" language. Of course, at that time French was the other tongue only of the elite and Parisians.

In some ways the ship has sailed and most of France's provinces missed out on the nation building project (which is part of building a living language, and a living, thriving community to support it). Not a lot of people in the south of France actually identify as "Occitan", unlike, say, Maori or Corsican. I'm not so sure the "oppression" is strongly ongoing right now ; Alsacian (and German), Basque or Briton are pretty much alive, although not much state-supported. But not many people in the Alps care much about Arpitan... (Although an elder speaker was invited to speak "Patois" when I was in primary school in Grenoble)

Also, I've always heard the real moment when the French people understood they really had to speak French was WWI when not understanding orders given in French was a pretty bad idea...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 07:48:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
at that time French was the mother tongue only of the elite

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 08:28:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
linca:
I've always heard the real moment when the French people understood they really had to speak French was WWI when not understanding orders given in French was a pretty bad idea

Presumably, those French soldiers who, in 1914, didn't understand orders in French must have escaped compulsory schooling. (On the other hand, it occurs to me that "not understanding" orders in WWI might have had high survival value as an adaptive behaviour.)

Any political entity requires a vehicular language in which to communicate. The error is to presume that it must necessarily be used in everyday life, to the exclusion of any other. The dominant ethnic group in such situations, invariably monolingual, always seems to have the mistaken idea that people are incapable of understanding more than one language. We now know this to be false; and yet, people will still argue that if people learn their local language, their ability to learn other, more important languages will be diminished.

linca:

I'm not so sure the "oppression" is strongly ongoing right now ; Alsacian (and German), Basque or Briton are pretty much alive, although not much state-supported. But not many people in the Alps care much about Arpitan...

Not many people in the Alps are aware of Arpitan, including probably most of those who speak it. None of the locutors that I have had occasion to discuss this with were aware that they spoke a language distinct from French: they refer to it as a patois, or even as "bad French". Arpitan has never had a politico-cultural locus : unlike Occitan, there has never been a significant political entity that used it as official language (the obvious candidate, independent Dauphiné, used French), and there is hardly any literature.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 08:44:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm reminded of Beyond Power/Knowledgean exploration of the relation of power, ignorance and stupidity where David Graeber connects bureucracy, stupidity and power relations where stupid bureaucracy is related to overwhelming power which exempts the powerful from the need to understand or be sensitive to the details of the situation. In fact, the powerful entity has the ability to define the situation and violence and bureaucracy are the tools used to define situations.
This essay is not, however, primarily about bureaucracy--or even about the reasons for its neglect in anthropology and related disciplines. It is really about violence. What I would like to argue is that situations created by violence--particularly structural violence, by which I mean forms of pervasive social inequality that are ultimately backed up by the threat of physical harm--invariably tend to create the kinds of willful blindness we normally associate with bureaucratic procedures. To put it crudely: it is not so much that bureaucratic procedures are inherently stupid, or even that they tend to produce behavior that they themselves define as stupid, but rather, that are invariably ways of managing social situations that are already stupid because they are founded on structural violence. I think this approach allows potential insights into matters that are, in fact, both interesting and important: for instance, the actual relationship between those forms of simplification typical of social theory, and those typical of administrative procedures.

...

As long as one remains within the domain of theory, then, I would argue thatsimplification can be a form of intelligence. The problems arise when the violence is no longer metaphorical. Here let me turn from imaginary cops to real ones. A former LAPDofficer turned sociologist (Cooper 1991) observed that the overwhelming majority of those beaten by police turn out not to be guilty of any crime. "Cops don't beat up burglars", he observed. The reason, he explained, is simple: the one thing most guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." If what I've been saying is true this is just what we'd expect. The police truncheon is precisely the point where the state's bureaucratic imperative for imposing simple administrative schema, and its monopoly of coercive force, come together. It only makes sense then that bureaucratic violence should consist first and foremost of attackson those who insist on alternative schemas or interpretations. At the same time, if one accepts Piaget's famous definition of mature intelligence as the ability to coordinate between multiple perspectives (or possible perspectives) one can see, here, precisely how bureaucratic power, at the moment it turns to violence, becomes literally a form of infantile stupidity.

I hope it's obvious how this is relevant of these concepts to language in the trenches of WWI, to the suppression of minority languages throughout Europe in the 19th century drive to forge nation states, and so on. In particular, the bit about "challenging [power's] right to 'define the situation'" applies particularly to the French state and its insistence to not recognize its citizens any other identity than 'French', which cropped up in the French state's convoluted declaration to resolve the cognitive dissonance caused by the signing of the Council of Europe's Charter on Regional and Minority Languages:
In so far as the aim of the Charter is not to recognise or protect minorities but to promote the European language heritage, and as the use of the term "groups" of speakers does not grant collective rights to speakers of regional or minority languages, the French Government interprets this instrument in a manner compatible with the Preamble to the Constitution, which ensures the equality of all citizens before the law and recognises only the French people, composed of all citizens, without distinction as to origin, race or religion.
In other words, as long as the exclusive right of the French state to define which identities are available to its citizens is respected, France will sing a convention on the protection of regional and minority languages. The minority languages will be recognised as long as that doesn't imply recognition of communities of speakers of those languages. Bureaucratic stupidity, if you ask me.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 09:01:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Presumably, those French soldiers who, in 1914, didn't understand orders in French must have escaped compulsory schooling. (On the other hand, it occurs to me that "not understanding" orders in WWI might have had high survival value as an adaptive behaviour.)

Let's not overestimate the efficiency of compulsory schooling in the 1880's to 1900's, particularly in the countryside. Many WWI soldiers had never left their pays before being conscripted... And not following orders (because not understanding them) was liable to get one courtmartialed, and there had been known instances of exactly that happening. the punishments were at times lethal.

Not many people in the Alps are aware of Arpitan, including probably most of those who speak it. None of the locutors that I have had occasion to discuss this with were aware that they spoke a language distinct from French: they refer to it as a patois, or even as "bad French". Arpitan has never had a politico-cultural locus : unlike Occitan, there has never been a significant political entity that used it as official language (the obvious candidate, independent Dauphiné, used French), and there is hardly any literature.

A language, as opposed to a dialect, is defined by having an army and navy. Arpitan was never considered a language, and a specific ethnic identity was never developped around it : as you say, Arpitan speakers thought they spoke French. In France, Arpitan was a language linguistically but not socially. The real problem of oppression is that of ethnic oppression, not that of "linguistical" oppression... I agree with you that the ability to conserve local linguistic diversity is wonderful, but linguistic diversity is not enough to create "minority" diversity ; the oppression of the young Arpitan speaker forced to speak French at school is similar to the other enforcements of "correct" social norms on children coming from non-dominant backgrounds (who anyway have never learned proper "correct" speech patterns), but it is not as similar to the oppression of the Basque speaking kid forced to study in an other language ; for the later kid, Basque is an identity marker he is forced to drop.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 11:53:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The famous quip about a dialect with an army and a navy is exactly that: it's irony. History is written by the winners, and all that.

I would suggest that a coherent language is prima facie evidence of a cultural and social community : the lack of political structure means that there is no institutional memory, but this does not contradict the existence nor undermine the inherent value of the culture. I am sceptical of the notion that you haven't lost anything if you don't know what you'vd lost.

And I believe you've got it backward with respect to the Basque. French being a completely foreign language, there is no confusion and no supplanting going on; the two can easily coexist, as long as the local language is still present in family and community. Whereas Arpitan, being close to French, is much easier to devalue and supplant.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 10:31:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would suggest that a coherent language is prima facie evidence of a cultural and social community : the lack of political structure means that there is no institutional memory, but this does not contradict the existence nor undermine the inherent value of the culture. I am sceptical of the notion that you haven't lost anything if you don't know what you'vd lost.

And I am skeptical of the "inherent value" of a culture as something apart from its concrete institutional structures.

Culture evolves. Part of that evolution is that peripheral cultures take on traits of their nearest (in transportation, communication or trade terms) metropolis or other center of power, learning and activity. Preserving dialects for the sake of preserving dialects strikes me as the same sort of futile effort so often thrown into preserving rural communities for the sake of preserving rural communities - no matter how impractical it is to provide them with the industrial conveniences and amusements to which we have become accustomed.

You can't, in any rational world, expect to have 19th century settlement patterns and enjoy 21st century infrastructure, except by the most fortuitous of coincidence. And it's not totally clear to me why you expect 19th century linguistic divisions to survive contact with 21st century mass culture. The talent pool for, e.g. literature and translators scales at least linearly with the size of the language, and more probably faster than linearly, and since cultural products and services are in many important respects public goods, this creates enormous economies of scale and scope for this sector.

Using Danish as an example, which is a big little language as little languages go, the translations of foreign literature simply suck in a way they don't do between, say, English and German. And while original Danish literature isn't bad, it is certainly narrow - you just won't find the sort of niche genres you have in the big languages, unless there is a wave of me-too-ism riding a big international success.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 12:49:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Firstly, yes, you're losing something when you lose a language as Arpitan. But as JakeS points out, not all languages are going to survive, and those that lack cultural identity such as Arpitan will not. It will not last not only because it lacks political structure (army and navy) but also cultural structure (a name, and a cultural group associated to it). Language apparition is not directly linked to ethnogenesis ; in a large linguistic continuum with mountains, etc..., there will be a certain amount of dialects different enough to be called language, but the Romance speakers of the French Alps feel, self identify and culturally are French, not Savoyard or Dauphinois. What is called a culture nowadays, since the late 19th century, has not only been defined by the winners of wars but also by who has been able to build the collective structures of a culture ; something that has been done in France, that was tried, say, in Provencen(Mistral), but not at all in the French Alps.

Corsican can coexist with French because Corsicans feel strongly Corsicans, not because Corsican and French are all that much different. Indeed Picard is much more spoken despite being much closer to Parisian...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 05:07:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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