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Anglo-Saxon Model

by Jerome a Paris Sat Dec 24th, 2005 at 06:59:02 AM EST

Mephistopheles had an interesting comment in the current debate box on Europe, on a topic we have already discussed to some extent here:


You know, I've always been uncomfortable by the phrase 'Anglo-Saxon model.'
As though the United Kingdom is a little usurping agent of the United States hanging on the fringe of Europe to  come swinginging in, dividing and conquering.

It's not as though Britain has no experience of socialism or state planning.

Nor is it it the case that the UK is a mini-America with low taxes, no public services and a fundamentally right-wing, religious populace. It isn't.

In reality, there is no 'Anglo-Saxon model.' The majority of modern stateplanned economic theory comes from an Englishman - Keynes.

Just another way the French try and make themselves feel superior and more purely European.

The tradition of an efficient, detached civil service is just as strong - if not moreso - in Britain as France. Did France have anything like the kind of rationalistic, bureaucratic system before Britain introduced the Northcote-Trevelyan reforms?

Britain is a European country, and has every right to count itself an equal and alike member of European nations. Setting aside the eurosceptic press and frankly depressingly underinformed (on the European issue) public, what's so supposdely different from the 'Anglo-Saxon model' than that which is employed in France?

I'm a fan of yours Jerome, on here and DailyKos, and always appreciate your pieces. However, I really think you've completely allowed yourself to fall into the false dichotomy of US/UK vs. Europe when in reality - culturally, governmentally, socially - Britain is far more European than American. It really doesn't hold up when you look at the kind of history of socialism, secularism and rationalism that is so deeply rooted in British and European cultures and entirely absent from America.

A lot of good points are made in this comment, notable that in reality, Britain is much closer to the European model than the American one, and about the strong civil service traditions of the country, and the point on the "history of socialism, secularism and rationalism that is so deeply rooted in British and European cultures" is well made.


But (of course there is a but), Britain is a European country, and has every right to count itself an equal and alike member of European nations - except that it doesn't

As to the use of the term "Anglo-Saxon", this has been discussed on this site frequently (most recently here or in this diary). For better or for worse, it is a term used by both sides of the debate to designate the ideology of free-markets, deregulation, weak labor rights, free trade, and (professed) transparency and accountability versus the continental model, more regulated, more favorable to workers, organised around "conzerns" (closely related groups, with "house banks" and more State involvement).

What we object to is not the UK per se, but that model, which is being pushed today first and foremost by the elites in the USA and the UK (and supported by the elites in many other countries), and which puts "efficiency" before fairness.


As though the United Kingdom is a little usurping agent of the United States hanging on the fringe of Europe to  come swinginging in, dividing and conquering.

We think that's the policy in London today (like yesterday). You'll have to argue more forcefully to convince us otherwise.

Display:
Well, there are days when I think you, Jerome, fall prey to a syndrome that occasionally affects all intelligent people who look at bias.

To be an intelligent human often means you have a good sense of patterns. There are days when you're hypersensitive to patterns, in effect, seeing bias where there's isn't really any. We all do it, and seeing how much bias about the UK and the Anglo-Saxon model there is in the Eng. lang. press it is easy to understand how it can turn into a broader (but not completely accurate) reading of a poisonously anti-French (or anti-EU) culture everywhere.

But hey, that is the price of vigilance. There are days when I can barely listen to a TV debate or read a newspaper column because of the inbuilt humbug assumptions about market=efficiency...

I've noted in a reply to Mephistopheles that it's a big generalisation to claim that socialism etc. are entirely absent from the USA too. The history of them has been carefully obscured, but should not be forgotten.

However, what I really wanted to say is that in the end, Jerome is at least partly right.

After all the majority of voting Britons have not voted for social democracy by the front door since 1979. Tony Blair does not relentlessly trash the values of public service (and public servants) just because he is a somewhat vain and shallow character. The focus groups and internal polls in the South East and in Cheshire and many other parts of the country show that Britons have bought into the Thatcherite mindset in a big way. There may be a legacy of socialism in this country, but it is not only a long way from power, but a long way from popularity outside of the frozen provinces.

Since I am ranting incoherently, I'd like to put a marker down about "efficiency." The market is only efficient in theory and often for only a given definition of efficiency. A market of one form or another is often the best solution, but often it is not.

Thus, the elites who promote markets above all are often not placing efficiency above fairness, but placing ideology above reality, leading to neither fairness nor efficiency...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Dec 24th, 2005 at 09:00:41 AM EST
I agree. In my opinion Jérôme constant protestations of the tendentious use of the words "French" or "France" gets old after a while and encourages other people to take offence at the use of the words "British" or "Anglo-Saxon".

Maybe these issues of subtle and persistent bias should be diaried comprehensively and then laid to rest.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 04:59:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't mind the reverse outrage as long as it encourages discussion.

I'll state for the record that most of these uses of "French" that I note are not malicious and simply reflect common wisdom and l'air du temps. But the fact is that common wisdom is such precisely because it is not challenged. Confronting it forces us to think about it, and will also bring forward arguments that can justify it partly or fully.

The fact remains that the business press worldwide is in the English language, so the bias against the French gets heard a lot more than the French bias against the English. Also, as France is apparently the only voice loud enough to cut through the "English noise", it is all the more important that it not be discredited for the wrong reasons.

Voilà. I'll keep at it, thus, but will always be grateful for arguments that explain why I am wrong in each specific case.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 06:16:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Broaden the linguistic base of ET et voilà, you get subtle bias by everyone on everyone...

I would much rather people documented the respective biases in diaries to be referred to subsequently and grew a little thicker skin, as well as refraining from making sweeping statements likely to blister other people.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 06:22:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Writing in our own language - so we can all remain safely amongst our own, without interaction to the nasty outside, and without being called on our won prejudices?

If we are able to document our own prejudices, the battle is already won (and you probably have a thick skin already, as well). What is needed is that we all become aware of our prejudices, which is sometimes hard to do on your own. So, having the willingness to be confronted with our prejudices seems to be the first step.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 07:15:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the rule would have to be that you must primarily write in a foreign language ;-)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 07:20:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes after all the UK is made up of four seperate nations, and as a Scot and a Briton I am often offended by the use of Anglo Saxon to charactarise a nation that has been neither for over a thousand years.
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 11:08:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's funny that you should write this in response to a post where I specifically used "English".

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:03:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about the title?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:12:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
erm I was agreeing with you...
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:26:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry. I guess I wasn't sure of your intent after reading your comment about wishing to delete your account (which, again, I hope you won't do).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:31:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand what you agree with, Migeru. With Metatone's balanced comment? With Mephistopheles?

As for your conclusion: "these issues of subtle and persistent bias should be diaried comprehensively and then laid to rest", as long as we see the hyper-powerful English-language media using that bias to tell the public a false story about Europe (or the left, or progressive politics anywhere in the world), it seems to me it's necessary to go on denouncing it.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 01:51:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree specifically with this:
Well, there are days when I think you, Jerome, fall prey to a syndrome that occasionally affects all intelligent people who look at bias.
My implication is that Jérôme may be overreacting and that as a result he alienates the Anglo-Saxons among us (see the current thread.

As for diarying comprehensively about bias and laying it to rest, Jérôme said in a recent breakfast thread that

The real difficulty is that, like I wrote, each individual case is never clear cut and not worth, on its own, a letter or a correction. It's the sheer accumulation. I have not had the courage to collect a big enough sample of exemples to make the point.
Well, get the courage, write a diary and let's stop alienating out English-language contributors. While I don't think they are right in taking it personally, a number of them do and that is a problem. We seem to be spending more and more of our energy on a re-edition of the 100-Years' War.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:11:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"While I don't think they are right in taking it personally, a number of them do and that is a problem."

I think it's more their problem than anyone else's. And I say that as a Welshman and a Briton who avoids using the term "Anglo-Saxon".

The question is whether there is a substantive problem with the overriding media narrative on Europe. You seem to think there isn't, since one good diary will put an end to it. I think it's a major, ongoing problem, and it's perfectly right and useful to go on underlining it. If Brits feel personally attacked, that seems strange to me, since no one here is attacking them.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 04:46:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree there is a problem with the overriding media narrative on Europe. On the other hand, I also think we should spend more time articulating a different narrative and less time underlining the existing one. If you let the enemy frame the terms of the debate, you're fighting on their turf and have lost half the battle. For instance, we have these overblown discussions of the term Anglo-Saxon mirroring Jérôme's deconstruction of the term French. I used not to, but I am beginning to be bothered by both. Methinks you doth protest too much... and now even I am beginning to protest too much.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 04:56:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree, and would love to articulate a different narrative. But there's the same old question that pops up: power. We can work on a different narrative, but we're not going to sweep the world with it as long as they hold media power. Blogs are a way of working to change that. For me, one of their essential functions is to deconstruct and criticize the reigning media. I don't see how we can do without it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 05:17:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'd love to get some help from other, non-tainted-by-being-French people that can articulate the point without specific reference to France.

I write about the perspective on France because it's the country I know most about and I am thus in a position to bring corrections or commentary forward with confidence; also, in recent weeks, as you may have noted, one country was specifically targetted for blame for potentially causing the failure of Europe on the one hand, and world trade on the other hand, and it was not Spain...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 05:23:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't believe you have articulated an editorial position before, but by the looks of it, if there is going to be one, I think this is it. The fact that people keep saying they don't feel welcome in ET because of it indicates that the issue has risen to the level of prominence of an editorial line, whether or not you intended it or not.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 05:41:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is de facto an editorial line, indeed, it pretty much has been in line with the LocustWatch theme, hasn't it?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 07:03:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not quite sure what the LocustWatch theme entails...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 07:06:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you're basing this on intemperate comments from Stewart, or Mephistopheles (who says: Just another way the French try and make themselves feel superior and more purely European, a comment that betrays far more prejudice than anything you'll read from ET regulars speaking of Britons), then I think you're on shaky ground.

There are issues concerning the English-language media, I say English-language. And there are issues concerning the attitude to the EU of the British government as led by Blair and Brown (and as Cameron appears ready to lead it). These issues cannot and must not be obfuscated by turning them into just an interesting chat about what the people of one country think of the people in another. It has nothing to do with what anyone thinks of the British people as people. It's about politics, it's about power.

I don't want to offend individuals who make serious contributions here. I think care should be taken in talking about these matters. But I cannot see how we can talk about the EU at the moment as if there were an Anglo-French (or Franco-English) spat that is all part of the local folklore. I'm afraid there is far more at stake than that. And I wish more of the Britons who come here could see that.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 04:39:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 04:59:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I also say this on the basis of comments by RogueTrooper, and other Britons (do you want me to go on a Google expedition to make a list? I can do that). It seems like a fair fraction of the Britons on this site do have issues with that editorial line. I don't agree with their criticism, but it seems to me that a potentially useful group of people are being alienated by this.

As for Stewart, I don't know what his fuss about deleting his account was all about: he had a grand total of 8 comments and no diaries before getting involved in this thread, already including complaints about the word Anglo-Saxon on another thread.

But really, I would rather not have to go and research who are all the britons on ET and whether or not they havve a position vis-a-vis Jerome's editorial line, but if you and others keep insisting that it's a negligible problem I might have to do that just to allay my own concerns.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 06:20:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When I spoke of people who made contributions here, I didn't want to type a list, but of course I was thinking of Rogue Trooper, Boudicca, Londonbear, and others, whom I truly don't wish to offend and hope I don't.

Instead of focusing on making an "uncomfortable Brit" list, though, how about addressing the main points I make? If what I say about the English-language media and British government policy is true, then we cannot avoid discussing these subjects on ET. We can try to do so in a way that makes clear we are not attacking Britons per se, but we absolutely must talk about these issues. No?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 06:55:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your points are right on the money, but my one point is that the "uncomfortable brits" are mirroring (or so it seems from my comfortable perch) Jérôme's "uncomfortable Frenchman" stance, and we keep going back and forth on whether or not the word "Anglo-Saxon" is appropriate or offensive (offensive it may be to some, but it is definitely appropriate as I have documented downthread) without making any real progress on the real issues, debates and policies.

I also what to stress again that the Anglo-Saxon model vs. French model is a neo-connard frame and that we are wasting anergy and breeding spurious controversies by holding our discussions within that frame.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 07:16:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand your point, Migeru.

 Are you saying there is a symmetry, or even an equivalency, in my documenting the persistent biases in the English-language press and in the complaints from some on the site that I am engaging, by documenting that, in Brit-bashing?

Are you saying that we all desist and be nice? No complaining about bias against France or ideas promoted by France in the English-language press, and thus no complaining about my nasty French anti-Brit attitude?

So how should we go about it?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 07:55:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to me that all of the countries involved have people on the right and on the left. Perhaps the issue is in trying to attach the label "Anglo-Saxon" to those on the right and "French" to those on the left? Clearly such a labeling scheme does not reflect the broad range of viewpoints.

So far it has been clarified to me that "Anglo-Saxon Model" means "the editorial proposals of The Economist and the Financial Times." Ok, so plenty of people dislike these two publications because of their positions. Now what is the "French Model?" Is it the Federal Europe model, rejected by French voters? Is it the Socialist model, rejected by French electricity regulators?

As in many discussions, until the definitions are clarified no progress can be expected.

by asdf on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 08:43:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact is that the right in France is, in many ways, to the left of the US and UK left, economically speaking (this is definitely not true as regards social/moral values, which is a different topic). So there is some truth to associate France with lefty policies and the Anglo-Saxon countries with right wing policies in the economic sphere, thus the use of the terms (which are, as noted before, used by the two sides to mean fairly compatible things, so there is no disagreement on what the words mean between the ideologicla adversaries).

The FT is more open to the other side than the Economist, so I would indeed put that paper as the flagship of the Anglo-Saxon policies - again, on the economic front only.

As to your last two questions, they are so loaded with tangents that they would be worth a diary each, but let me just say a couple of things:

  • the Federal Europe model, as was envisioned by the German in the French in the 90s, would be a fairly good summary of the continental (or "French" model). It has not been rejected by the French electorate - what has been rejected, by the left at least, was the fact that Europe is currently drifting away from that model towards the Anglo-Saxon model;

  • I don't know what you have in mind by the "socialist model", and your  provocative mention of the French electricity regulator, which, as befits such a technical organisation, applies the laws and regulations which have been put in place for that sector and does not "reject" nor "approve" any model. If you have in mind the former organisation of the French electricity sector (before being changed by Anglo-Saxon inspired European regulations), I would indeed agree that it was a good example of the "French model", but it is not especially socialist...


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 12:40:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point I was making was that the privatization of various services like electricity, water, and highways is perhaps more advanced in Europe than in America. My suspicion is that much of the so-called "Anglo-Saxon" model is home-grown in France, Germany, etc. I seriously doubt that the FT or Economist is the driving force behind the way France chooses to run her utilities.

Yes, France (and every other civilized country) has socialized medicine and the U.S. does not. This is a major problem in America. But as you have pointed out, America is more unionized than France, and while America's two principal parties are clearly to the right of France's principal party, America also does not have a National Front party. And Austria has gun laws similar to America's, and Italy is moving to reduce the influence of minority parties by changing her voting system.

I think the whole "Anglo-Saxon Model" terminology is a canard intended to imply a fundamental difference between Europe and the UK/US that simply doesn't exist. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I sure would like to see a list of issues clarifying the difference.

by asdf on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 12:10:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My suspicion is that much of the so-called "Anglo-Saxon" model is home-grown in France, Germany, etc. I seriously doubt that the FT or Economist is the driving force behind the way France chooses to run her utilities.

Yes and no. It is home-grown in the sense that s large part of the European (economic) elites does want a switch to that so-called 'Anglo-Saxon model', and actively pursues these damned 'reforms'. It is not home-grown in the sense that the Zeitgeist that took political and media elites, and parts of the middle class, along in this silly project of copying an US/UK economy that only exists as illusion in their heads, was fomented from the direction of the English-language business press, and all our local elites read The Economist etc. like prophecy.

Furthermore, when Europe goes further than the USA in the privatisation of utilities and highways etc., it is done (and mostly done by the Right, BTW) under the erroneous but prevailing perception that 'we are only catching up with those hyper-efficient Anglo-Saxon economies'. (For that reason, I think highlighting your examples of gone more neoliberally-berserk Europe is very much in line with ET's line.)

America also does not have a National Front party.

As pointed out before, people with corresponding views are at home in the Republican Party - and do have influence there, unlike NF that is poised to stay out of power. So I can't see this as the counterpoint you seem to think it is.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 30th, 2005 at 09:57:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that is exactly my point.

You complain about how the leading English-language press writes about many issues, and the focus on France.

The uncomfortable Britons complain about how you, the leading voice on this site, write about that issue, and the focus on the UK.

There is a symmetry, and an equivalence of scale. You are to the FT/WSJ as an ordinary user of this site is to its owner.

I don't see anything positive coming out of this debate, and it is growing in intensity. There are more and more diaries where it rears its ugly head in the comments, generating much heat and little light. I am not saying to desist and be nice, but you could try to decry the anti-French bias without being provocative yourself. Just be factual. That way you won't make yourself a target for complaints of nasty French anti-Brit attitude. Unless, of course, you (and others) judge that the complaints come from trolls, in which case you should just stop feeding the trolls, and then provocative complaints about the Anglo-Saxon onslaught should be seen as troll bait.

I don't know how we all should go about it, diplomacy is not my forte. I personally might stay away from any thread containing the word Anglo-Saxon. I was also re-reading something about intra-group conflicts the other day that I might want to quote in a diary.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 08:52:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We have two solutions:

  • you help me, as a non-French person, in the deconstruction of the press, which will thus be less loaded by the intrinsic suspicion of anything written br a Frenchman

  • we consider that, after all, the readers of this blog have more power viz. me than I do viz. the editors of the WSJ, as they can post comments, diaries, etc, and they are explicitly encouraged by me to do so. And i will tolerate the arguments that I am anti-Brit and will try to make it less so in my writing.

Because this is a major theme of this blog.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 12:30:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The two solutions are not mutually exclusive. However, if you want to enlist help deconstructing the press, I suggest that you promote Afew to front-pager status.

I also suggest that you (together with the front-pagers including any new promotions) revise the About the European Tribune page, and possibly add an item or two to the FAQ on the major themes of the blog.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 04:29:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru, you still seem to think that, even if I'm on the money, what I'm pointing out is not a "real issue", since you say that talking about it is distracting us from the "real issues".

I'm afraid I believe it is a very real issue. It's partly a question of perception, and of perception management. And partly of policy, concerning what we want the EU to become. So I don't think it can be laid to rest so we can get down to the "real" nitty-gritty, as if that category existed separately.

Btw, we talk about many other things here, and we don't only discuss these questions within the so-called "Anglo-Saxon model/Continental or French or Franco-German or Rhenish model" frame. If we do discuss things in this frame sometimes it's because the media and the pundits keep coming back there. (Personally I don't believe in these "models").

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 09:06:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what I seem to think because that is what I think. This would not be the same time we disagree on something, nor will it be the last.

If you want to counter this "frame" we're talking about, put out information in your own alternative frame. People keep telling Jérôme that "Anglo-Saxon" is a misleading term as if that was not part of what he is himself trying to denounce. So get out of the enemy's frame already!

Or don't. There's no need for all of us to work in lockstep.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 09:28:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The voting in the election was;

Labour 35.3%
Conservatives 32.3%
Liberal Democrats 22.1%
Others 10.3%

That gives social democrat voters 57.1% I think this would suggest that the British aren't as reactionary as is often suggested.

by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 09:34:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My first observation of UK society is that I would not class it as intrinsically reactionary, but it is clear that a large proportion of the population who did well in the Thatcher years developed a sense that they could do "quite all right very much" and that others were merely a burden, lazy and undeserving. Many of these people are courted by some of our most egregious media outlets. This matters because it helps define the atmosphere of our society.

My second observation is of course that under our system, the balance of power lies between Labour and the Conservatives. Thus despite the pleasing number of votes for the Lib Dems (including my own) their impact on policy is very small. Hence, the British public are left as less reactionary than those who govern them. Unfortunately, our image abroad is shaped to a great extent by the reactionary attitudes and policies promoted by our government...

I believe the important issue here is to realise that it is not an attack on "British people" to acknowledge that the role of British policy in Europe has been, at times, reactionary and illiberal and that the noises from our leaders (Blair and Brown) have generally furthered the sense that they want the EU to be more like the US.

I've lived in various places around the world and discussions about national characteristics can get ugly and people take them personally.

I think it is important for us all to remember that we are individuals from different places and discussions of the positions of our governments is not a discussion of our individual attitudes.

It is however very important to discuss the way our governments are seen from abroad. For example, I know that within the UK the Blair government has done many good things for social justice (alongside many things I consider bad for our society in the long run.) However, it's good for Jerome (for example) to remind me that the rhetoric of Blair and Brown in Europe is mostly to emphasize those things I consider bad for our own society. It reminds me that their viewpoint must always be treated with caution.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 11:38:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd like Europe to be more like the US, I thought a strong federal europe was the point?
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 12:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very droll.

Discussion without shorthand get rather cumbersome:

Who said a strong federal Europe was the point? I prefer a weak federal Europe myself. Certainly I do not want a similar relationship between the states and the centre as exists in the US.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 12:19:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, I slipped away for a couple of days and one of my throwaway comments becomes the talk of the town, as it were. ;)

I still take issue with the term 'Anglo-Saxon model', for a variety of reasons.

The comments above and below have commented on the relative socialism of the British economy where compared to the 'continental European economies' (again, as if they was anything like uniformity). While I have no qualms in agreeing that British economic practise has tended more towards laissez-faire policies than say France or Germany, what about the Eastern European countries? Many of them have a flat tax, varying degrees of absence of social welfare, and conservative social traditions. Britain is certainly to the 'left' of countries like Estonia, Latvia and Poland economically - and are these countries not also members of the EU and part of 'continental Europe'?

I can't help but think that the UK/US vs. Europe dichotomy has arisen out of the Iraq War. Britain was, of course, the primary European supporter of the American policy - but we weren't the only ones. It has led, I think, to a sense of betrayl (perhaps quite rightly) amongst the French and Germans, and a desire to give themselves a sense of distance from us.

I don't think there's any objective reality to the idea that there's an Anglo-American model distinct to the European one. There is a wide spectrum, in which Britain sits immeasurably closer to France and Germany than it does to America, with other European countries - the ones I mentioned before - to our 'right' (sorry for the clumsy visualisation, I've had a few New Years Eve wines already).

I mean, what's the true difference between the Anglo-Saxon model and the French one? A couple of percentage points on the top rate of income tax? I think you'd find it difficult to show any major differences. Or perhaps it's a mindset - that Britain has traditionally led the 'modernising' faction within the EU? Either way, I believe our differences are entirely relative.

Culturally speaking, Britain has a tradition of socialism that doesn't exist in America (not saying it isn't there at all, but no where near the same degree). People expect public services, and by and large want them to continue - setting aside the tabloid whinging about 'welfare scroungers.' And it's almost a tradition before each election that a poll comes out showing that most people wouldn't mind tax being raised if it led to a more efficient welfare system. Most importantly, there is a sense of WORKING-CLASS IDENTITY - I can't stress this enough: in the US, everyone thinks they're middle class, in Britain, that myth doesn't exist.

Britain has national health care, where the US does not. Britain has a  ruling party that can call itself socialist and social democratic without having to fear it's a dirty word. Britain has a strong tradition of socialist and workingmen's organisations.

I appreciate your response to my original post Jerome, and I agree with your points that there is a mindset distinct in British policy to the French and Germans. However, I'd argue that these differences are entirely relative - and when other European countries are taken into account, Britain sits more or less in the middle ground. It is, like I said, a false dichotomy arising primarily out of the Iraq War.

Thanks.

by Mephistopheles (J.F.Bargh@student.salford.ac.uk) on Sat Dec 31st, 2005 at 02:14:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the comment. As we've been trashing this them around a lot in recent days, we're hopefully getting a better understanding of what we all mean - but it will probably come up again, so don't hesitate to chip in and tell us when you think that our interpretations are erroneous!

I do think that this goes deeper than the Iraq War disagreements. That war was just seen as a symptom of something that has been going on for years, since at least Thatcher (and probably for much longer) - all UK goverments since the late 70s have had the same euroskeptical bent (and yes, I include Tony Blair), and the same sense of missionary zeal to "deregulate" (a real misnomer that one, but a topic for another thread), and to show off the economic superiority of that concept to other countries. It doesn't matter that Blair and Brown are actually running a fairly traditional keynesian policy (increased spending on NHS, etc...), that's not what they talk about internationally.

There is also the fact that most EU debates end up being 24 vs 1, with the 1 being the UK, thus the questions in the rest of Europe abotu what the UK wants the EU to be, plus the sour taste from the fact that these debates are being "sold" in the UK press as a UK vs France, or even a "France vs 24" (any mention of CAP). The "anti-British" slant of the site has come, I think, from my systematic attempts to correct the record when English press articles about EU debates came out and blamed France for everything wrong in Europe, and for refusing all of Blair's brilliant ideas for "reform" and "competitivity".

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 at 07:09:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As though the United Kingdom is a little usurping agent of the United States hanging on the fringe of Europe to  come swinginging in, dividing and conquering.
Isn't that what the special relationship amounts to? And what was "new Europe" vs "Old Europe" all about? The former administrations in Spain and Poland (5th and 6th largest EU member states) tried to angle for larger influence by sharing in the special relationship (and leading the "new Europe") and got badly burnt. We'll see how Berlusconi fares next year (although he's already busy stacking the deck in his favour), but Blair's conniving, lying and scheming was not punished enough by the British public, so (as in the case of Bush's reelection) one has to stop and reconsider whether distinguishing the government and its policies from the people is actually warranted any more.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Dec 24th, 2005 at 11:46:20 AM EST
but Blair's conniving, lying and scheming was not punished enough by the British public, so (as in the case of Bush's reelection) one has to stop and reconsider whether distinguishing the government and its policies from the people is actually warranted any more.

Labour only got 35.3% of the vote - which is not the same as voting for Bliar; only those in his constituency could vote directly for him. I suspect that much of that 35% would have been tactital voting, where the alternative candidate for a seat was untenable, or to keep tories out. If we had proportional representation, the picture would be very different, I think, but in any case it isn't near the popular support that bush had.

by Boudicca (badgerval at hotmail dot com) on Sat Dec 24th, 2005 at 12:31:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to agree that the lack of a PR system (or another system) which actually gives someone beyond the two main parties a chance is unfortunately a big obstacle to both progress and to disciplining someone like Blair who is ostensibly on the left, but acting rather differently.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sat Dec 24th, 2005 at 01:04:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As though the United Kingdom is a little usurping agent of the United States hanging on the fringe of Europe to  come swinginging in, dividing and conquering.

Isn't that what the special relationship amounts to? And what was "new Europe" vs "Old Europe" all about?
No, it's not what it amounts to.  Obviously it's far deeper in many elements than that.
-historical roots are extremely deep.  The fact that America was a colony is more than a facet of history.
-judicial--precedents and legal concepts often go back to England.  There are many deviations since 1776, but a common basis.
-language--many early thoughts of children are based on what they read, and there are similarities in what American children and British children read.  Language is a basic element of sharing culture.
-cultural--the US also grew on a multi-cultural basis, with so much broad based immigration into the "melting pot".  but the UK influence on culture has had a larger impact, IMHO, than any other single country.
-cementing of the special relationship over the centuries, most notably between FDR and Winston Churchill, has been a priority for a number of the two countries leaders.
-some aspects of government--no proportional representation for example; but clearly different on others, US system vs. UK parliamentary system.

Obviously I'm generalizing.  Many individuals and ethnic groups clearly have strong binds to other countries.  But if one would objectively look at the influence of individual countries on the US, and the way those countries over time have tried to maintain relationships, it would seem to me the UK would have had the most influence broadly on American, and have a relationship that could be called special.  Even moreso when you think how a number countries have taken clear steps at points in time not to maintain those relationships.

by wchurchill on Sat Dec 24th, 2005 at 03:34:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"one has to stop and reconsider whether distinguishing the government and its policies from the people is actually warranted any more."

Does that mean, "you're either with us or against us" because that's what it sounds like to me!

by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 11:21:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean in a democracy, people have the government they deserve especially if they re-elect it.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:53:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the Tories used similar types of comments to put down the miners strike in the eighties.
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 03:02:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At least the miners were in open revolt, not like us today.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 03:05:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with Bouzdicca that the re-election is much more a result of an FTPT election system than a timid population, but I give you that: the population could have done more in terms of open revolt. True, Bliar didn't care about 2 million people on the streets of London on 15 February 2003 - but the answer is not to go home and watch Eastenders, but to do stronger protests. Why was there no big strike? (London should have had something like the taxi strike here in 1990. Or something like the Poll Tax riots.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 30th, 2005 at 10:22:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the special relationship amounts to a special relationship. It is entirely based on relations between Britain and the US, not designed to work against other Europeans.

For the record, Donald Rumsfeld coined the phrase 'old Europe' and every British politician categorically rejected it, publicly.

Lastly, the idea that the British supported this Old Europe/New Europe concept simply because we re-elected the Blair government is nonsense - and ignorant nonsense too. The opposition party is the Conservatives , who were even more uniformly in favour of the Iraq War. What are the British people to do - punish Blair for Iraq by voting in someone who would prosecute the war even more zealously? It's worth pointing out that the only party that did oppose the war made decent gains in the election. The British public have consistently been against the war (except for a few days when we first invaded, rallying behind the leader as it were).

Honestly, to talk about Britain as though it were a saboteur in the control of the Americans is stupid in the extreme, and is probably far more responsible for any US/UKvs.Europe divide than any British policy.

by Mephistopheles (J.F.Bargh@student.salford.ac.uk) on Sat Dec 31st, 2005 at 02:25:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's a mistake to characterize Britain and the US as being all about free markets.  Clearly Britain has its fair share of government involvement in the market.

However, Mephistopheles's idea of Keynes is not at all accurate.  Keynes was not a socialist or a social democrat.  (He was actually a member of the Liberals, who, at the time, were still in favor of free markets.  He didn't trust the Tories, because their ideas were the ideas of the past, and Labour was full of Marxists.)  He believed that, in general, markets should be left alone, but that at times government could intervene as a way of making recessions less severe through worker programs -- thus allowing the economy to remain near potential output.  That's about it.  He favored stabilization of the market.

There seems to be a fundamental difference in how Americans (maybe Brits, too) and Europeans view the welfare state.  Americans tend to view it as existing to do jobs seen as necessary -- unemployment compensation, the EPA, health care and income for the elderly, and so on.  (The vast majority of Americans, by the way, support socialized health care, but they're too easily distracted by issues dealing with boys kissing.)

Europeans tend to see it as dealing with issues of social justice -- "fairness" is, I guess, the word often used.  I think there's a deep difference in how Americans and Europeans view fairness, as well.  If income redistribution goes beyond basic necessities, Americans, in my experience (I make no claim to those of other people), see it as being unfair.  Maybe it's a different story in the liberal-libertarian, urban areas of the South.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 12:16:53 AM EST
Mephistoles (sp?) over-generalizes the US.

But that said, Britain is not some "mini-US" either. There are substantial differences between the two  countries, both today and historically.

  1. The US's African American population and the legacy of apartheid - clearly central to American identity and not a part of Britain's past.

  2. The US has no hereditary upper class, no established church, and does not have a monarchy. Although the monarchy is essentially a figure-head today, it still plays an important role in defiining the nation's identity. Conversely, the US was founded on the idea that monarchy was an absurd form of government.

  3. Britain cannot really be considered a multi-culutral immigrant society in the way the US is. It is much more similar this way to say the France or Netherlands, where virtually the entire non-white population has arrived since the 1950s and is legacy of the nation's colonialism. As late as 1950, Britain was virtually a 100% white society and had probably experienced less foreign migration than many other European societies (with the exception of the Irish).

  4. Very simply, today, Britain is largely a secular society. The United States isn't.

  5. British society/politics before Thatcher was much more statist/welfarist than the US was during the "Keynesian golden age" or ever has been. Thatcher was tranformative, but Britain still remains a considerably more welfarist society than the US today.

  6. This said, Britons tend to be much less hostile to public provision, while simultaneously more accepting of nanny state/surveillance provisions. Someone like Blunkett "couldn't happen:" in the US, where there is a fairly singificant left-right consensus against the overweening state. The libertarian/frontier streak is much more a part of the American psyche than it is in any European country I know.
by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 01:12:21 AM EST
I think Mephisto mostly agrees with you!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 04:48:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd categorize countries according to their attitude to private lethal weapon ownership. It may sound trivial, but it symbolises the social progress that societies have made.

The US still has, essentially, a frontier mentality. It remains (in many areas, especially the south) at a more primitive stage in psychic development. Their focus remains on protecting the PRIVATE space (homestead) - in all possible ways.

Most of Europe has progressed to protecting the PUBLIC space.

Scandinavia perhaps represents the most advanced society on the planet. (Along with Holland - the only former colonialist in  this group)

I write this as a provocation...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 04:33:34 AM EST
On this measure Britain is going backwards. British police were famous for not being armed. Now they have a shoot-to-kill policy approved in secret without parliamentary review (and not very wide cabinet review), and applied by scared and trigger-happy commanders and marksmen.

Where I used to have reason to feel safer in the presence of police on the streets of London, now I am reverting to my Spanish gut reaction of crossing to the other side of the street when they approach.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 04:54:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Britain has the strongest gun controls in the world, I was suprised when I lived in France to find guns in the supermarket.
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 12:30:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What supermarket, what guns, who had the right to buy them? I've lived in France for over thirty years aithout seeing guns in supermarkets.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 01:55:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I lived in  Montpellier the supermarket opposite my appartment sold rifles of a shelf at the back of the till, as did another one near my mother's house in royanne. So are you accusing me of lying because your tone is not very friendly?
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:13:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't be silly. Your tone is unfriendly, non-stop. Of course I'm not accusing you of lying. But if you saw rifles sold to just anybody, back of the till, you saw something very peculiar and totally illegal in France. or are you accusing me of lying?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 04:55:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have indeed seen hunting rifles sold in a big Carrefour-like supermarket, some years back. These could be consulted by the public (they were behind bars), but it was written in huge letters than they were "category such and such" weapons and you needed a hunting licence to purchase one. And, having a pair of uncles who come from the deep countryside and indulge in hunting, I can tell you that licence in itself is not easy to get. You have to know migration times for birds, protected/endangered species etc etc etc.

So in essence, Stewart, who's grumpy as hell, has indeed seen guns in a French supermarket, but like Jérôme and afew have said in turn, these were hunting rifles and could not have been purchased by just anyone.

But the last time I saw one was over fifteen years ago, as I recall it, so maybe the law's changed and these can no longer be sold in places with kids, and maybe that's why some of us here have never seen hunting rifles sold in a supermarket.

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 05:05:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And since you seem to want to make some point about British and French society here, let me say this: the reason you may more easily see shotguns on sale in France than in the UK is that hunting (I should say shooting) has always remained an aristocratic sport in Britain, while it is more democratic or "popular" in France (not to my pleasure, I admit).

But it is simply not the case that guns are easy to buy in France. You must have a valid hunter's license.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 05:03:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think if you read what i said, i said

1, Britain has the stricktest gun laws in the world.
2, When I lived in France I was shocked to see guns for sale in a supermarket, as one other has said they remember seeing guns in a supermarket I feel completely at ease telling you to go fuck yourself.

by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 06:24:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's it Stewart, I'm putting you on a diet consisting of brown rice, wild rice, barley, tabbouleh, couscous, oats, millet, corn, amaranth, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, onions, garlic, turnips, celery, and radishes. (look here)
by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 06:37:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll agree to your point that it's probably easier to own weapons in France than in the UK, thanks to the mystique of the hunter - thus hunting weapons are somewhat accessible, but I am nevertheless surprised by your point about supermarkets. You need a real, heavily regulated, license to hunt - and to own any weapon. If you do have a license, then you can own pretty strong weapons, but I don't think you can buy these in supermarkets.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:08:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I lived in France in 1988 - 1991 have the rules changed?
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:20:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know. Like I said, it's definitely possible to buy weapons in France if you have the right paperwork. I have never seen any in a supermarket (but then I was not looking for any), thus my surprise at your comment, but I cannot exclude that it could happen in some places (especially in rural areas vs the big cities where I have always lived).

I think we are mostly in agreement on this point.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:24:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've seen guns in a big supermarket, like Carrefour. A long time ago. (well, in all fairness, I don't go to big supermarkets anymore, so maybe they're still there).

But these were all hunting rifles. Which you could purchase with a hunting licence. Which is hard to get (you have to memorize lists and lists of endangered species etc to get it).

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:33:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have never seen guns in a supermarket, like Carrefour. On the other hand, you can get them from a sports supermarket, like Décathlon. Shotguns for hunters who have to show their license. This has not changed recently, it has always been French law.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 04:58:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"We think that's the policy in London today (like yesterday). You'll have to argue more forcefully to convince us otherwise."

Who's this we?

I want you to delete my account please, I've been a member here for a few months, I joined to talk with like minded socialists from across europe, to discuss policies and projects, however that doesn't seem to be possible.

By the way you're a hypcrite Jerome you're the one obsessed with Americans!

by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 08:57:51 AM EST
Well, the UK is by far more European than American, and Jérôme should recognize this (I think he does), but it's also no secret that the UK has always pushed for European expansion, this being a certain way of containing integrationist drives within the EU's older members. The more members there are, the harder it is to push for integration.

Thus the UK's "dividing" intent is not really one to sow discord or such, just to divide the impact of any one country, to smother too much integration, federal-style, and instead push for a market-based Europe.

Bush's America doesn't seem to want a strong Europe (example: old vs new Europe type of comment), and the UK does not seem to want an integrated Europe, so in essence it's possible to say that their desires converge. Clinton's America seemed much more bent on promoting Europe. So it's not really an American tradition to be "against" Europe. However for the UK, it is a known tradition to be against European over-integration, so this started before Blair and will certainly carry on after him, and I think that this is what Jérôme was saying.

ps: you may disagree about the UK being against too much European integration, I'm taking that at face value but maybe there is no proof whatsoever of it.

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 09:17:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well personally I'd put Bush's chance of changing much EU policy as marginal. I'm not as obsessed with America as many seem to be on here, it doesn't colour much of my viewpoint as much as it obviously does others.
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 11:15:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt many people here are so obsessed ... we have a lot of American contributors who can always whack any of us on the back of the head with a clean, quick, bitch-slap, if we ever show signs of obsession.

And we have the extraordinary Izzy, who'll twist your arm behind your arm until you agree that peanut butter is excellent.

As for Bush, my comment was designed to illustrate that not wanting a strong unified Europe on one hand, and not wanting a federal, integrated Europe on the other hand, could both be perceived as being similar desires.

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 11:22:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They seem to be obsessed with some Anglo Saxon conspiracy theory that has very little basis in fact...
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 11:58:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're a socialist and you don't think Bliar is full of neo-conservative shit?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 05:07:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you're full of shit does that count?
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 06:34:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That makes two totally intemperate personal insults. I hope we won't see you here again. You're no advert for Britishness. Or socialism.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 04:45:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think I can delete your account, but I can change both the name and the password if you so wish so that nobody can use it or recognise it. Please either say so directly as an answer to this message or via e-mail to me.

I'd be sorry to have your different p.o.v. disappear. If I am hypocritical, I'd rather hear about it and try to do something about it than ignore it. Your comments are read and considered even if they are not the majority view on the site (on some topics at least!) and they are thus valuable.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:12:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please change my username and password thanks Jerome

I think that if you would like to provide a forum, you need to have more than one view, theocracies don't work for anyone, and all I see here is the same view regurgitated.

I'm pretty sure that there are more views than the majority shown here, it might actually be worth while if you tried to encourage them.

by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 06:30:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I will do so, regretfully. I did try to encourage you to stay around and provide your different point of view, and I am sad to have failed to convince you.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 06:56:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
bye!
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 06:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about obsessed, but you may have a point in that I started writing for US blogs, and eurotrib was built initially from the momentum created by my diaries on dKos. A lot of the early audience, and a big enough chunk of my writing was on US-centric topics. We're trying to switch increasingly to European topics, and are hoping for a more active European audience (while remaining welcoming and hopefully interesting to our American friends) but I won't deny where I started from.

Call it an obsession, call it a focus, call it trying to adapt to your audience, it's fair game.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:29:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this is the best discussion on Eurotrib that I have seen. Perhaps it's the Christmas spirit? Nary a whiff of America-bashing in a topic that could easily go that way!

It seems to me that one of the important issues is the misinterpretation of American reality that feeds the concept of a special and undesireable "Anglo-Saxon model." For the record, I live in Colorado Springs which is considered by many to be the epicenter of the conservative neoliberal evangelical viewpoint.

Someone suggested that gun ownership should be the important metric. Here in Colorado Springs you can buy guns at the pharmacy, and machine guns at a shop a few miles east of town. Private ownership of weapons up to and including tanks is allowed. It this not horrifying? Perhaps, but the point is "freedom" in the sense that it's ok to have a gun as long as you don't shoot somebody. Government should not poke its nose into what you do, as long as you aren't hurting anybody else. While guns are hard to get in France and Britain, the laws are not nearly as restrictive in Austria and Switzerland. Does "Europe" only consist of France and the Low Countries?

Another point was about Socialism, which I take to mean something about public ownership of services. Colorado Springs has plenty of public utilities (as has been discussed here in the past), up to but not including state-run health care. And Jerome pointed out a few days ago that America is actually more highly unionized than France.

http://www.gazette.com/display.php?id=1313135&secid=1

Or perhaps it's the secular aspect of the state? Yet the French government pays for teachers in religious schools, England requires her King or Queen to pass an orthodoxy test, and Germany has church taxes. None of these ideas would get any traction whatsoever in America.

So looking at it from here, it looks like there is some selectivity being applied in the definitions, perhaps to the point of distorting the results.

Europe: Private highways and electric service, but public medicine; guns easy or hard to get depending on country; not too many unions but lots of labor actions; churches supported by taxes.

Colorado Springs: Public highways and electric service, but private medicine; guns easy to get; more unions but few strikes; private church ownership.

This doesn't seem to show a clear trend...

What exactly is it that defines the Anglo-Saxon Model in contrast to the European Model?

by asdf on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 10:38:28 AM EST
The Economist and the Financial times, haven't you been listening?
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 10:55:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, I've been reading both for almost 15 years now (pretty much the same duration that I have been reading Le Monde with any ability to understand fully what I read) and it's been interesting to see their biases change over the period.

The Economist used to be a lot more pro-European, but it's turned euroskeptical (and strongly pro-Bush, despite their call to vote for Kerry). The FT has gone the other way; it's currently more euro-friendly, and has a lot more diversity in its opinion pages today - but this may change with the new management in as of this month.

But both do reflect the world as seen - by mostly brilliant people - from London (and Washington or Los Angeles for the Economist) and not from Paris or elsewhere.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:35:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but it's turned euroskeptical (and strongly pro-Bush, despite their call to vote for Kerry).
Pro-Bush, but vote for Kerry.  Isn't that an oxymoron?
by wchurchill on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 12:14:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Definitely worth an "huh?"... Let me explain.

The Economist has been supporting Bush and his policies (but has criticized him for poor execution of these policies) - except at the time of the election, when they called to vote for Kerry (on the argument of competence trumping having the right policy). They seemed relieved that Bush won, and have been cheerleading him on and criticising Democrats violently ever since (talking about staying in Iraq, or writing about the "mullahs of MoveOn.org).

So, strongly pro-Bush, despite their election call.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 12:26:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The English language probably in an international form is basically the dominant language for the world. There are vast industries teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language) the world over. The young in virtually every country of the world try to learn English. In many countries English is part of a national curriculum. In many exFrench colonies there have been political and sometimes violent movements to have the teaching of French replaced by the teaching of English. This all probably has more to do with the US being the dominant power and main trading power. It does however, mean that anything written in the medium of English will garner more readership and hence be more influential than anything written in other languages. That is the reality of the modern world.  
by observer393 on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 04:40:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only 47% of EU citizens are fluent in English - the second language is German at 30%, and then comes French at 23%. So we should at least pay attention to what the German Press is saying.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 06:24:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that the English language is now so dominant world wide. The Germans and French and others need to be advancing their ideas in English however much nationalistically this is anathema.
Let's not forget we are now living in a shrinking world and what is wanted in Europe does not exist in isolation from the rest of the world. There are debates raging across continents as diverse as Africa and Asia and the main language here for international debate is English. Ideas put forward in English just carry more weight because of the internationalism of the language.
to be fair I do think that what is said in Germany, France and other European countries is heeded to some degree throughout Europe. However, I just dont think it goes much further than Europe. The one exception may be what is said in Spanish which will still percolate throught the important Spanish speaking diaspora.  
by observer393 on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 10:03:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish diaspora? At least one of us does not understand at least one of the meaning of diaspora or the history of the Spanish speaking countries...

But that's a minor point. The main point is this
The World's most widely spoken languages:

After weighing six factors (number of primary speakers, number of secondary speakers, number and population of countries where used, number of major fields using the language internationally, economic power of countries using the languages, and socio-literary prestige), Weber compiled the following list of the world's ten most influential languages:
(number of points given in parentheses)
  1. English (37)
  2. French (23)
  3. Spanish (20)
  4. Russian (16)
  5. Arabic (14)
  6. Chinese (13)
  7. German (12)
  8. Japanese (10)
  9. Portuguese (10)
  10. Hindi/Urdu (9)



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 04:40:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll totally defer on the Spanish history bit as I have limited knowledge here. However, I would seriously question the listed index as being accurate either today or being anywhere near accurate in the future. The growth of the teaching of English in China alone in the past few years coupled with their plans to further extend it would suggest a dramatic increase in the importance of English as the international language. Admittedly this rapid change may be hard for statisticians to keep up with. This is all also without considering the rapid and continuing emergence of the vast Indian middle class who use English virtually as a first language.
The world we live in is changing very very rapidly and in many ways this is being led by emerging Asian powers.  
by observer393 on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 12:10:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you'd accept calling the Commonwealth the "British diaspora", I'll accept calling the Spanish-speaking countries the "Spanish diaspora".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 08:31:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Spanish speaking" and "English speaking" diaspora I use as relatng to the spread of the language rather than the peoples of Spain or Britain. Maybe a bastardization of the word in academic terms, but it in lay terms it seesm to work to sum up the spread to me.
I hope that clarifies my attempted meaning. I dont really want to confuse issues by being misunderstood.  
by observer393 on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 09:34:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My point is not to fight the language thing, quite the opposite. It is a fact indeed that the business world functions in English, and I won't try to change that. What I can do something about is to make sure that the content of the press in the dominant language does not reflect only the prejudices and ideology of London, Washington or Sydney.

As you can probably tell, I don't mind writing in English, and I do hope to bring a slightly different voice to the debate.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 06:35:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What you are suggesting is the only way ahead. Good for you.
by observer393 on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 09:50:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While guns are hard to get in France and Britain, the laws are not nearly as restrictive in Austria and Switzerland.

This is common rhetoric from the US gun lobby. However,

  1. in Switzerland, guns are not for self-defense but for the country's defense (army guns stored at home, I repeat: stored),
  2. guns in other European countries are most often for (a) hunting or (b) sports, mostly in shooting clubs - much less for self-defense,
  3. as it happens, Austria has a smaller percentage of homes with guns than France, and Switzerland one only slightly higher (Norway: even higher, Finland: higher than the USA, take that, Scandinavian culture-supremacists :-)) (For correlation with gun-related deaths, check out graph in this one-page pdf).


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 30th, 2005 at 11:08:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am starting to wonder whether the debate is an artificial one led by a certain fear of the future direction away from the old French/German axis and generated during the debates about the referndums on the Constitution. Rather than reacting against the actions of supposed elites in the US and UK, could it in fact be a reaction by the French elites in industry, government and the civil service, virtually all of who were educated in the École nationale d'administration? Are the "trigger words" that are being used in fact just cover for some of these fears? Is the objection to "efficiency" just concern that jobs are being attracted to the lower labour cost economies of the Accession 10?

The 2004 Accessions did provide an interesting lesson in just quite how European the EU15 were. Only two countries, the UK followed by Ireland permitted our fellow citizens full rights of movement immediately. There were skills gaps that the British were desperate to fill. A lot of these were in manual skills like the architypal "Polish plumber".  

Ben P repeated inadvertantly an American myth about itself and managed to completely incorrecly analyse the UK:


Britain cannot really be considered a multi-culutral immigrant society in the way the US is. It is much more similar this way to say the France or Netherlands, where virtually the entire non-white population has arrived since the 1950s and is legacy of the nation's colonialism. As late as 1950, Britain was virtually a 100% white society and had probably experienced less foreign migration than many other European societies (with the exception of the Irish).

The reality is that the US is not a multi-cultural society. It has a number of minority culures but these are subservient to the "melting pot" idea and are often lost once the members of the minority aquire a degeee of affluence. In many ways this reflects a conservative thread in French society that is typified in the attempts to keep the language "pure". Compared to the rigidity attempted to be imposed by the Academie, English is an anarchical, adaptive language which freely habituates words from other languages. The legalistic reliance on rights in a written consitution is also something shared between the US and France compared to the uncodified British one. Rights are more often asserted through an inate sense of injustice - one only has to look at the recent example of gay civil unions in the UK. By using the term to fudge over controvery about religious marriage, the UK has adopted a scheme that has exactly the same priviledges and obligations. Terms like "wedding" and "marriage" are already being used informally without any real fuss.

Like the language, British society freely incorporates the most attractive aspects of other societies. Despite Ben's assertions, Britain is an immigrant society, the large scale movements from the new Commonwealth being only the more recent.  

by Londonbear on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 11:38:22 AM EST
France is a lot more like America than 'they' would care to admit :)
by ------- on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 12:33:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have always admitted to the similarity between France and the USA in that both countries feel they have a "universalist" model - i.e. one that can apply to others if only they could be "civilised enough". America emphasises freedom, France emphasises equality more, but both have indeed the same arrogance and self-confidence. France's tragedy is that history has now made it 5 times smaller than the USA, and thus its voice carries much less. I'll freely admit that, shouyld things be reversed, the French would behave much like the Americans do today.

That said, the models do emphasise different things, and it is not out of place to focus on the differences either...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:16:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How is being cut to size a tragedy?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:16:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hah! Migeru, if you want me to be nice (and not seen as provocative) to the English-speakers among us, you'll have to lead by example...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:21:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I should have used that disclaimer for all weathers, the </snark> tag.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:23:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France is just a has-been has-been Empire, where Britain is a has-been Empire and the US is the Empire. That is what they all have in common. Spain (the has-been has-been has-been Empire) does not play the game any more.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:25:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pues, cabron, pienso que Migeru tiene razon. Porque, pues, cabron, pienso que, pues, cabron, es dificil explicar nuestras apreciaciones de europa, pues, cabron, en un idioma como el Inglès que solo utiliza 26 letras en el alfabeto. (damn I can't get the accents in Spanish on my PC, let me find out how ...)
by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:40:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, putain, con!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 05:11:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
America is not an empire. Certainly not in the traditional sense, at least.

The European powers had huge, globally distributed colonies that were explicitly owned and operated by the mother country. Practically all of sub-Saharan Africa, all of America, most of South Asia, all of Oceana, and scattered islands and penninsulas around the world were marked off as English or Dutch or French or German. And this continues up to today.

The United States has a few "protectorates" that can fairly be called colonies, mostly in the Pacific Ocean as a residual situation after the second world war. And we have a couple of significant colonies in the Carribean. Other than that, what makes the US an empire?

by asdf on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 07:34:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is loaded.

But arguably, the process of westward expansion was empire building. After all, a large valuable swath of land in the current United States was essentially expropriated by force from Mexico.

In a second sense, the US has military bases in about 100 countries in the world today. No one has military bases in the US. While this doesn't constitute a colonial empire in the terms you describe, many would and have described the current military (and to a lesser extent, economic) situation as imperial in nature.

by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 07:49:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Empires don't need to be colonial Empires. Neither the Russian/Soviet, nor the Chinese, not even the Roman was a colonial Empire.

On the other hand, I would count the USA as a colonial-Empire-in-denial since the Spanish-American War (instigated by that forgotten worst US President ever, McKinley), when it first took over ex-colonies of other Empires without the intent to integrate them into the homeland. Already back then, all in the name of freedom, and with cover from gullible liberals - tough some learnt from seeing reality, for example Mark Twain when he visited the Philippines.

What followed this elsewhere (most notably in South America) was a more implicit form of colonisation (a perfected version of what the British Empire already did at some places) - one through economic control and manipulation of politics (by way of money or press coverage for candidates, help in ballot stuffing, covert operations, assassinations, or when nothing else worked, sending in the Marines).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 30th, 2005 at 11:22:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think your analysis of the US is superficial. If the idea of the "melting pot" had salience, it was 50 years ago, if then.

In terms of African American and certainly Latino culture, this is really not true. Spend some time in LA or Miami or New York to see what I mean.

I defer to you more on Britain, but even here, I think it is fair to say that post 1950s immigration challenged British identity - because of its origin and becasue of its scale - in a way earlier waves of immigration did not. Primarily because much earlier immigration was smaller in scale, from Ireland, or only occurred in London.

The fact of African American slavery - for worse or better - has made the United States fundamentally different and more "diverse" than any European society since its conception.

by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 07:45:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It probably hinges on our different interpretations of "multi-cultural society". As I think I alluded, the US has a number of other cultural groups within its society but these are separate. Very little of the elements of these get incorporated into mainstream culture. To that extent the USA is a country that has groups of people from various cultures in it but that is not to say it has a multi-elthnic society.

What happened with British society is that exposure to other societies has happened in two ways. Thoe older is the various immigrant groups from mainland Europe. Archaelogical evidence suggest that the earliest metal workers were from northern Italy. The Roman invasion in the first century CE produced not so much a conquerer/defeated relationship but one in which the British adopted and adapted the new ways into a Romano-British culture that outlasted the withdrawal of the Roman Empire's forces. Britain has for hundreds of years accommodated refugee groups from the mainland, whethr it be the Hugenots, political refugees from the Italian unification fighting and Austrian invasion, the Russian Jews and the later groups fleeing the Nazis, to the Ugandan Asians and Vietnamese boat people. Many of these groups have dispersed from their initial locations throughout the country. By the way, these are not only in London but also in other ports of entry like Liverpool or Bristol.

The other aspect that is overlooked is the experience of many British in running the Empire. While a lot settled in what is now the white Commonwealth, many served in either the Army or civil service in the hotter parts of the world. When they came back they brough aspects of the cultures they met with them. Even for those who did not actually go abroad, there was considerable education about the peoples of the Empire, even if they were treated as exotic or "noble savages".  India probably had the largest influence, if only because of the longer history. Also remember that a far larger percentage of the population of the UK fought overseas during the World Wars than was the case in the USA and they also fought in a far wider range of countries.

Both these factors have led to a far less conservative (or perhaps more individualistic) society than in the US. The process has even gone so far that some claim the national dish is chicken tikka marsala which is as about Indian as chow mein is Chinese. At least in the major towns children at school mark Christams, Diwali and Eid Mubarak without the sort of controvery this might raise in the US.    

by Londonbear on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 11:15:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's start with the Oxford English Dictionary definition of Anglosaxon, shall we? (sorry, no link)

First, there is the technical historical meaning

I. English Saxon, Saxon of England: orig. a collective name for the Saxons of Britain as distinct from the `Old Saxons' of the continent. Hence, properly applied to the Saxons (of Wessex, Essex, Middlesex, Sussex, and perhaps Kent), as distinct from the Angles.
a. n. (the only contemporary use).
b. adj. absol. In this Dictionary, the language of England before 1100 is called, as a whole, `Old English' (OE.); Anglo-Saxon, when used, is restricted to the Saxon as distinguished from the Anglian dialects of Old English; ...
Then, there is the technical linguistic definition
II. Extended to the entire Old English people and language before the Norman Conquest. ...
a. n.
b. adj. (absol. The Old English language.)
Then there is the rhetorical meaning used by the Anglo-Saxon (third OED meaning) press to self-describe, as well as to describe a cluster of ideological, historical, cultural and philosophical characteristics with which not all Anglo-Saxon (third OED meaning) identify
III. Used rhetorically for English in its wider or ethnological sense, in order to avoid the later historical restriction of `English' as distinct from Scotch, or the modern political restriction of `English' as opposed to American of the United States; thus applied to (1) all persons of Teutonic descent (or who reckon themselves such) in Britain, whether of English, Scotch, or Irish birth; (2) all of this descent in the world, whether subjects of Great Britain or of the United States.
a. n.
b. adj.
Is that clear to everyone? The term Anglo-saxon is accepted (in the context of the OED, this is equivalent to documented in usage by authoritative sources) by the Oxford English dictionary to mean all persons of Teutonic descent (or who reckon themselves such) in Britain, whether of English, Scotch, or Irish birth, or all of this descent in the world, whether subjects of Great Britain or of the United States. This happens to apply to every single person who's taken personal offence at this use of Anglo-saxon on this blog.
Then we have the colloquial linguistic meaning
IV. Used for `the English language'. `(Of) the English language (of the modern period)' U.S.; freq. with the implication `plain, unvarnished, forthright'. colloq.    
a. adj.
b. n.

Now, the mainstream Anglo-Saxon (self-description, third OED meaning) press spews all kinds of bullshit in the name of the Anglo-Saxon (third OED meaning) social/economic model. This is not unlike the bullshit that is spewed by the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (self-description, third OED meaning, disused for politically incorrect) press in connection with "protestant values/work ethic" and stuff like that. I am not arguing that Max Weber did not have a point when he identified the Protestant Work Ethic as a key factor in the development of Capitalism, but that the Anglo-Saxon Protestant (self-description) business press is generally full of shit when they talk about these things.

Now, it is clead that Anglo-Saxon (third OED meaning) leftists do not identify with this use of the word Anglo-Saxon to refer to a group that they might belong to if they agreed to the labeling, among other things because of the ideology associated to the term.

Can we now go back to discussing subtantive issues instead of whether or not Jérôme is a bigot?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 01:23:39 PM EST
 There are a lot of good points made in all of the comments above that's why it seems a bit superfluous to add one more.  Still, there are a few points in my opinion which is worth while emphasising.  

Yes, Britain is as much a European country as the rest of Europe both historically and culturally and it has been and, in my opinion, still is fundamentally different from the US (although Thatcher did her best to do away with those differences and, I am sad to say, was partially successful in her efforts).  If you read books on British and US foreign policy during the Cold War you'll quickly appreciate the differences, the US more prone to using hostile rhetoric  while the Brits being more in favour of lesser rhetoric and more negotiations and diplomacy.  The special relations between the two countries, as mentioned above in one of the previous comments, have its roots in colonial history which of course is unique to Great Britain.

That said I do think Jerome has a point when he argues the differences between British and Continental European policy's, especially when it comes to EU policy.  Britain has always taken pride in her independence and uniqness.  Their view of EU has traditionally been one of a looser confederation, while most of Continental Europe have been working towards a more integrated Union, federation of regions(?), with a common fiscal and foreign/defence policy. The Nordic countries are more in tune with Britain in that regard. The scepticism shown to both the EMU and parts of the FUSP (especially the military/security policy) from the UK and especially Sweden and Denmark on the one side and many of the continental countries on the other is much a proof of that.  On the other hand, the Scandinavian countries are more in tune with Continental Europe when it comes to socio-economic issues and a regulated market economy.  

To conclude I would say that Britain favours a looser EU integration. with the, including non-interference into the economy, while the Continental Europe is more in favour of a stronger integration, including public regulation of the economy. (the scandinavian countries being somewhere in between).

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 07:51:37 PM EST
To add, I don't think the Anglo-Saxon label is of great importance, really.  It is used only to visualize the different approaches, among member states within the EU, to the EU integration.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.
by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 08:07:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I keep hearing that "Europe" is in favor of tight integration (of Europe) and yet the EU constitution was voted down in France--the traditional senior partner in the EU project. Who exactly is it in Europe who favors tight integration? Is tight integration like Federation, sort of a United States of Europe? I was under the impression that this is what Europe DIDN'T want...
by asdf on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 10:54:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I am afraid it isn't any clear cut answer to that.  Normally it has been France and Germany which have been the main engines in the EU process, but the with Constitutional draft turned down both in France and Holland the integration process hit a temporary setback.

The reasons why people in both Holland and France voted against the Constitution are many, but one factor was general discontent with the politicians in office.  The gap between the Yes and the No's in France was 55 to 45 so the no majority was by no means overwhelming.  In Holland the gap was wider about 62 against and 28 in favour of the Constitution.  Still, I doubt we have seen the last of the efforts to hammer out a Constitution for the EU.  

For the time being I think the Commission and the Member States will let the Constitution issue rest for a while and come back to it at a later stage, but I am convinced that sooner or later a Constitution of some sort will be presented once more and eventually ratified.  

Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 11:39:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
will be a lot harder. There are the new group of east european countries which are different from the so called "continental group". Then of course there is Turkey. If a constitution is adopted it will en up being a very weak one.
by observer393 on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 04:48:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes and no.  It will for the time being be more difficult for a new Constitution to surface, but knowing  the politicians in Europe, I am convinced that they will relentlessly keep on working with the Constitution, not give up that easily.

Concerning the Eastern European countries, many of them are even more pro-EU than the original Continental countries and have already ratified the EU constitution.  


Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 07:14:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That thing is not a constitution, it was just called that way as a way to try and get people excited about it. In France and Holland, it backfired.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 07:18:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I remeber corrctly it actually listed a lot of measures already instituted but not previously grouped in one document. Then the shall we say more pro-federal Europe politicians decided to label it a constitution, which it was not. This was probably a bad political mistake as the label rather than the contents almost certainly doomed it with the people in many countries.
by observer393 on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 09:47:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Whether this could be called a Constitution or not is arguable.  The European politicians called it just that regardless of their motives.  

Still, my personal opinion is that this document was too detailed to be called a Constitution and since many people obviously think in national terms on international issues it was a mistake to call the document a Constitution.    


Bitsofnews.com Giving you the latest bits.

by Gjermund E Jansen (gjans1@hotmail.com) on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 04:10:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Concerning the Eastern European countries, many of them are even more pro-EU than the original Continental countries and have already ratified the EU constitution.  

True. (Tough, by parliamentary vote. (Tough, I don't think a popular referendum would have gotten different results.))

But, please, we are not Eastern Europe! In the last half century, the Iron Curtain made it easy for you to lump together everything beyond as 'East'. But, look at a map: we are in fact Central Europe. That's how we call the place in our native languages, too. And for compromise's sake, at international fora and in local foreign-language media, the term 'Central-Eastern Europe' (CEE) was adopted.

(For us this is an issue like mis-spelling the accents of his name is for Jérôme.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 30th, 2005 at 11:36:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]

(For us this is an issue like mis-spelling the accents of his name is for Jérôme.)

Okay. If it is so, I will definitely be careful with what term I use then!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Dec 30th, 2005 at 11:57:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On a second note, while you are right to characterise us new members in CEE as pro-EU, and observer is wrong in seeing us as a block (there are differences, for example recently when Poland teamed up with Spain to pursue dreams of grandeur, the rest were opposed), there is a problem. For these countries, the EU is mostly about receiving subsidies and adopting higher standards, but there is not much participation in creating a vision.

I have come to this realisation shortly before my country joined the EU. This roots in a mindset that, apart from Poland, sadly wasn't superceded: even most of the intelligentsia looked towards the West as role model, so much so that considering ideas and models on their own merit took a backstage, and people tought less about how things could be run better than they are (somewhere) in the West. After 1989 (again excepting Poland), there came increasing intellectual laziness and emptiness.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 30th, 2005 at 12:23:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
for example recently when Poland teamed up with Spain to pursue dreams of grandeur
Oh, boy, was that embarrassing or what?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 30th, 2005 at 04:22:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU has quite a number of countreis who all have their own ideas of what Europe is. Some sometimes side with france and some sometimes side with the UK, or maybe to put it better alliances in the EU change depending on the issue.
It seems to me to reduce it all to France = good = social schemes and workers rights: UK = bad = unfetterd free market = no workers protection is neither accurate or helpful, and is indeed arrogant as there are many other countries in the EU who have their own ideas and ways of doing things which may just be better that anglo or franco ways.
Isnt it time we tried to find some common ground rather than wasting timing refighting divisive issues or even trying to revisit historically ancient diputes and wars.
by observer393 on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 04:11:59 AM EST
Some comparative information on government spending and regulation:

In terms of government spending and social security payments, the UK is in an intermediate position between the US and the "Rhineland" countries of Germany and France.

In terms of regulation, though, especially labor markets, the UK is far closer to the US than it is to the rest of Europe.

There is also a sociology literature that tries to group countries by type of welfare state:

  • Liberal - low levels of taxation, weak unions, modest benefit levels, and means-testing of benefits  - not generous and not universal (United States).

  • Corporatist/Conservative - higher taxes and more generous benefits and less means-testing, benefits focus on preserving "male breadwinner" role (thus "conservative"), so family services underdeveloped and family benefits encourage women to stay at home - more generous, but not universal (Germany, France).

  • Social Democratic - highest levels of taxation, most generous, universal benefits and high-quality public services - generous and universal (Sweden).

The UK falls part-way between the "liberal" and "social democratic" models according to this study, again a sort of "intermediate" position.
by TGeraghty on Mon Dec 26th, 2005 at 07:16:24 PM EST
I guess I should have mentioned that the percentages are proportion of GDP. The data are for 2004.

"Distortionary taxes" is defined by the authors of the study I looked at as income, payroll, corporate, and property taxes. That leaves out consumption or VAT taxes. These data are for 2000.

Employment protection and product market regulation indices are on a 0-100 scale, where 100 = "highly regulated. The data are for 2003.

by TGeraghty on Tue Dec 27th, 2005 at 12:59:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent data collection!

Would you make this a diary - perhabs with some more analysis of the numbers? (Say, participation of females in the workforce?)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 30th, 2005 at 10:10:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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