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Cohn-Bendit argues that the French left has refused to come to terms with the existence and predominance of the world market. This is the opposite of Franks who is arguing that the US liberals have become apologists for the world market, but there are two very different analysts with two very different points of view, both agreeing with Sarkozy. Are they both dupes? Foolish retransmitters of right wing talking points?

Retransmitters of right wing talking points? Frank, no, Cohn-Bendit, maybe. The patron who thinks the answer to French economic and social problems is to let business hire and fire people at will, absolutely yes.

There's no question that the centrists in the US Democratic Party (and the Blair sect in the UK Labour Party) have gone way too far in trying to placate corporate special interests. We certainly agree there. I wouldn't call these people "liberals," (and they certainly wouldn't call themselves that) but they are certainly apologists for "free" markets and deregulation and all that. And, I think Frank's call for a new economic populism is a sound one. It's not the whole answer to what ails the left, but it is moving in the right direction.

I would also add that this new populism is not going to get anywhere unless the left is alot more successful at debunking right-wing economic myths like  "France will never succeed until we have the right to hire and sack people whenever we like." French stockholders and managers may succeed, but workers never will under such conditions.

I disagree with Cohn-Bendit about the European Left, though. It seems to me what they are trying to do is grope for an alternative model of globalization that preserves openness and generates more trade, but in a way that preserves rich-world living standards and doesn't put all the costs onto workers. They are trying to come to terms with globalization.

Again, the trick is to find the right balance of markets, government regulation, and new institutions that produces a global economy where a rising tide really does lift all boats. And the political strategy that allows the left to put that program in place.

Again, "what to do" and  "how to get it done" are issues that you simply cannot de-link.

by TGeraghty on Sun Oct 30th, 2005 at 09:02:09 PM EST

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