Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Open Thread

by Jerome a Paris Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 01:37:47 PM EST

Monday evening here.


Display:
Jerome, you just got another email from me :).
by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 01:46:53 PM EST
An interesting commentary on the  psychology of the neocon movement from Glenn Greenwald.

http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2007/01/our-countrys-tough-guys-and-their-moms.html

It is glaringly apparent that the twisted and bloodthirsty tenets of neoconservatism which are dominating our country -- this insatiable craving for slaughter that is as endless as it is pointless, and an equally insatiable desire to expand the government power of their Leaders -- are not rooted in some rotted, coherent geopolitical doctrine as much as they are rooted in rotted personality disorders. All of that is sociopathic and authoritarian and those are phenomena far more psychological than political.

For that reason, the Bush Movement at its core -- the true, hard-core, reality-denying, warmongering, dead-ender True Believers -- is much more of a psychological movement than it is a political movement, and to ignore the former makes it impossible to understand or meaningfully discuss the latter.



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 02:25:33 PM EST
I have felt this for a looong time...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 04:02:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Psychological disorders? That's a good laugh. The neo-cons are all too human.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 04:38:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And you don't think that people with psychological disorders are human beings? Well, that's a new one.

Bush is a malignant narcissist http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=9498

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 06:22:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I read articles like that as a subtle claim that the neocons are not regular people, which is why my reply amounted to "yes they are."

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 06:55:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess it depends on whether "regular people" includes the brain-damaged. Which would be highly dependent on what country you live in. Because while it's true that all countries are made up of overwhelmingly brain-damaged people, some countries aren't made up of violent psychopaths.

http://griperblade.blogspot.com/2006/07/neocons-and-violent-offenders-pretty.html

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 08:26:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is it not human to have a psychological disorder? Their public statements often border on pyschopathy (disregard for the needs and feelings of others), but that's a pretty common human psychological disorder...

Rachael

by R343L (reverse qw/ten.cinos@l343r/) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 06:27:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One day he seemed so normal, so compassionate (conservative). Where has all that compassion gone? Maybe only psychiatrists (and economists) left watching him making State-of-the-Nation address?
By the way, what you all think about impact of this year's address in light of Congress' hostility?
by FarEasterner on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 07:00:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't recall ever thinking him normal or compassionate.  I thought he was an inbred brat who thought he could be President even though he couldn't read, had a history of alcoholism and was used to fucking up and getting bailed out with daddy's influence, who faked and accent, miraculously found Jesus and had the intellectual curiosity of an ant.  A dangerous combination of stupid, well-connected and delusional.  

As for compassion, he was busy executing people under Texas law on a rather frequent basis before he became Commander in Chief and was able to send people to their deaths en masse.

As for the SOTU, I would rather drive nails into my own head than watch him, but I know people who will watch it just to see how the Congress reacts (will they applaud?)  I seriously dowbt it will have any impact whatsoever on legislation.  The only impact his speech will have is giving me a headache and making Dems look more brilliant than they actually are.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 08:29:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]

I watched the SOTU last year out of curiosity and felt really uneasy. It reminded of Stalin's speeches, not for the content, but for the orchestration. Something like that is unthinkable in Europe, what I know of.

by oldfrog on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 09:10:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I watched the SOTU last year out of curiosity and felt really uneasy. It reminded of Stalin's speeches, not for the content, but for the orchestration. Something like that is unthinkable in Europe, what I know of.

Have French state ceremonial occasions changed so much in the past few years or do you not watch them?

by MarekNYC on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 09:23:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
french ceremonial occasions are mostly honouring dead people. I don't know what else you have in mind.

What I'm sure about is that we don't have a head of state adressing a nation in front of its deputies who "multipartisanly" applaud platitudes. And I am not aware of such a behaviour in the rest of Europe either.  

by oldfrog on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 09:08:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Spain we have a "State of the Nation Debate" (officially called "Debate on General Policy") which consists of one speech by the Prime minister, followed by two days of retorts and counter-retorts (two rounds) by each party in the opposition. But it's a debate, and it can get quite acrimonious.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 09:14:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have the Bastille day with that parade. You have, as you pointed out, other ritualized ceremonies honoring dead people at a temple. In any case if you've ever watched a state of the union, you'd know that the applause tends to be quite partisan. Most of Europe doesn't have this sort of stuff in the same sense because they have ceremonial heads of state, often royalty with their own rituals.
by MarekNYC on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 11:27:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush is not only head of state, but head of government. The State of the Union Address is a statement as head of government, unless you want to liken it to the Queen of England's opening of Parliament.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 11:33:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
according to the French separation of powers the President cannot address the parliament directly. He cannot even visit it.

So Presidential political addresses are nowadays always televised and mostly done only in front of cameras or for special occasions in front of people he meets, mostly small crowds.

The French Prime Minister can make official political speeches in front of the assembly, but gets mostly booed by the opposition. What I have seen of the UK it's mostly the same. Political speeches with only approval in the UK and France are very rare. Maybe the last one I heard was when official statements were made in condemnation of the 9/11 attacks.

by oldfrog on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 04:15:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well according the the American Consitution, we don't have a Prime Minister, and booing, while it would be a hoot, is generally considered unprofessional.  I'm personally not comfortable with the insistence commonly made in the US that there we honor the concept of the Presidency despite who fills it.  Therefore we don't boo.  But it isn't the concept of the Presidency running the country into the ground.  So I think they should boo if they like.

This opinion is consitent with my opinion that the leaders of State and Government should not be seperate entities.  I think that's what we're trying to replicate by seperating the Presidency from the President.  But it's silly.  If the person calling the shots can't instill in you the proper level of pride and nobleness, then they are doing a poor job and should be kicked out of office.

I'll note that while his policies did not please many, when Clinton gave a speech, it usually gave us that dreamy feeling we like to get from a figurehead's speeches.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 05:07:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did some wiki search and found the following :


Modeled after the monarch's Speech from the Throne in the United Kingdom, the address is required by the United States Constitution:

" [The President] shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." (Article II, Section 3) "

This requirement does not specify the address's form, frequency, or depth of information. Although all Presidents have given an annual message, its form has changed over time.
............

George Washington gave the first state of the union address on January 8, 1790 in New York City, then the provisional U.S. capital. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice of delivering the address in person, regarding it as too monarchical (similar to the Queen's Speech). Instead, the address was written and then sent to Congress to be read by a clerk until 1913 when Woodrow Wilson re-established the practice despite some initial controversy. However, there have been exceptions to this rule. Presidents during the latter half of the 20th Century have sent written State of the Union addresses. The last President to do this was Jimmy Carter in 1981.[1]

so obviously there were people that felt (feel?) uneasy with the procedure even in the US.

by oldfrog on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 05:37:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This opinion is consitent with my opinion that the leaders of State and Government should not be seperate entities.

You say that because in your country they are the same, while I hold the opposite opinion because in my country they are separate.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 06:17:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Really.  Honestly, if that were the case, wouldn't that mean I'd also think the electoral college, 2 party system and capitalism were all good things?  Cuz that's how they do it in my country?  No thanks, I can still think for myself.  I suspect you can as well.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 12:24:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the person calling the shots can't instill in you the proper level of pride and nobleness, then they are doing a poor job and should be kicked out of office.

In a propewr democracy, there should always be people who disagree with the government. When a leader is also a symbolic entity, that's difficult. Another problem I have with a Presidential system is the personification of government.

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

by DoDo on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 06:23:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are many people, including myself, who disgree with the government.  In a proper democracy, we should try to vote the people out of office if we disagree with how they are running it.  But I also think that there is a huge difference between disagreeing with policy and being ashamed of your nation.  Like I said, I disgreed with Clinton's policies but he did not make me ashamed to be an American.  Anyway, maybe your problem is with democracy.  You all seem to want a symbolic leader who is not beholden to the will of the people, seperate from government.  I don't know any Americans who would like that.  What would be the basis for choosing such a person?  Dynasty?  That's not democratic.  Election?  On the basis of what?  Hoepfully service to one's country.  So if this hypothetical symbolic leader is elected (which it would have to be in a democracy) and a civil servant (even the role of symolic leadership still requires that one represent and act in the service of the country) it would cease to be a "symbolic" leader and would in fact be a part of the government, perhaps in the capacity of a 4th branch.  

I know you all assume I am a dolt, an American unable to think outside my system, but I would suggest you are having an equally difficult time letting go of your very undemocratic ancient ways of doing things.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 12:36:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is quite natural that the US president is honoured by reason of his office, and that is precisely why it is a bad idea that the President of a Republic is an executive office.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 06:59:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the person calling the shots can't instill in you the proper level of pride and nobleness, then they are doing a poor job and should be kicked out of office.

I don't think you appreciate how disturbing it is to hear something so casually ... fascistic? I am referring to the way you just assume that serfs should have pride in their masters.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 08:37:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why are you still here?  Don't you have people somewhere to hate or something?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 12:37:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
there you go using buzzwords to turn up the heat...

seems like you have lost hope in ever having leaders that make citizens proud.

i understand your conclusions, but a little humble uncertainty would open the possibility of you being wrong, which i believe we'd all like to see happen!

meanwhile we can point to attributes that ennoble us, and others that don't.

and maybe get ready to do the right thing independent of leaders, since they are mostly bought and sold.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 12:51:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
seems like you have lost hope in ever having leaders that make citizens proud.

You really don't understand my conclusions.

Why should a serf be proud of their master? Of their "leader"? Why is pride an appropriate emotion to possess? What does the qualities of the "leader" have to do with your qualities? In what way is your master a reflection upon you?

I follow no leaders and if I have masters, it is only with the greatest resentment. Subservience isn't a proper relationship for any human being. It is beneath the dignity of every human being to simply accept subservience, let alone being proud of it.

Subservience ennobles no one.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Thu Jan 25th, 2007 at 12:08:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i am trying to understand your conclusions.

there's a distinction between being proud of your leader in a subservient way, and being proud because your leader speaks for you and espouses principle which you believe to be correct.

you may be able to live without leaders, and i may applaud that, but it doesn't aliter the fact that most people aren't that independent, and being subservient to that reality -with no loss of pride, imo, leaves them just as eligible and deserving of leaders who have a clue.

the beauty of democracy is that it's mutual service, not subservience.

we obey in a society of law, but we have regular recourse to reboot the system.

what we have unfortunately is democracy in name only, and a bunch of people who are encouraged to thik they're 'free' as long as they choose from the intentinally limited menu, leaving many voters distinctly unenthusuastic....eg the united kingdom, where the travesty has become most obvious.

the best ideas come from the edge, and just staying in the game requires one foot in it.

there's more in the kitchen than what's being presented to the diners, and i hope we continue to demand access to it, and even contribute to the recipes once in a while!

;)

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jan 25th, 2007 at 05:38:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is reason to be proud of your representatives because they speak for you and espouse your principles, but why does that have to make them a leader.

Without followers there wouldn't be leaders.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 25th, 2007 at 05:51:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the most profound insight that 'democracy' needs to address - urgently.

The roots of democracy lie in the logistics of agreement. Where discussions are F2F, there is a limit to the number of individuals that can be in the same physical space together, and still ensure that all voices are heard. The solution to the historical problems of large F2F was representation: where a smaller group agreed, in general, on their view and empowered one person to represent that view.

The evolution of this empowerment led to parliaments (talking shops) where the different views would be moderated - leading either to a consensus or a majority view that prevailed. The performance of that majority position would then inform future debate.

Somewhere along the line, the older top-down hierarchical system (king, President, general, PM, etc) reimposed itself, and the bottom up promise of original democracy languished.

However, we are starting to accumulate the technological tools that re-empower the individual and remove the need for representatives. This future does not remove the need for Managers (aka The Civil Service)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jan 25th, 2007 at 06:11:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
better a world with no leaders than one with bad ones....

good leaders are so rare that folks over-react and throw the baby doen the drain too.

'dear leader' cliches notwithstanding, we are all led until we lead...

and if that sounds like an alchemical distortion, perhaps that's a reflection of where we are so far.

my principles have accrued because my moral awareness has been led by great personal heroes, who have led me to greater understanding.

everyone can and should have a chance to lead, after they have followed long enough.

history decides....

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 01:16:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
good point, however leadership is not bad per se, nor is following.

i'm for fluid, rotating leadership.

attachment to the idea of no leaders seems as unreal as pretending leaders should be obeyed reflexively.

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Jan 26th, 2007 at 01:07:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a difference between being proud of a system of which you're a part of, and being proud of a leader. The latter is psychologically unhygienic at best.

Society should do everything it can to encourage autonomy wherever possible. Especially psychological autonomy. And encouraging, or even tolerating, pride in 'leaders' is not encouraging autonomy.

Ultimately what it boils down to is that some people may be proud to be KKK members, or violent nutballs, or something else that's wrong, but that doesn't mean you should encourage them to be proud of it.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 11:03:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bastille day is our National Day. Well tradition is to have a parade, not to eat hamburgers but we share the fireworks watching. And the President has a press conference, not applauses every 2 minutes.

The SOTU I watched last year maybe wasn't representative or the Dems are only occasionally big ass-lickers, but the display was disgusting.

FYI European royalties may have introducing speeches at the opening of parliaments, but that is a formalized ritual with a polite applause at the end.

the SOTU is a POLITICAL speech (to the difference from the rituals) in a PRESIDENTIAL system, that what makes it unique.

by oldfrog on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 03:57:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Dems are[...] occasionally big ass-lickers

Well, that sort of goes without saying, doesn't it?  They are politicians, after all.

Actually, not to make excuses for them, but they were sort of outnumbered by advocates of torture last year.  Maybe they were afraid they'd be waterboarded in the cloakroom if they didn't clap.  This year, with Dems in the majority....  Ah, who am I kidding?  Won't make a stick of difference.

Although I am intrigued by the choice of Jim Webb to deliver the Democrats' response, which is also nationally televised.  He does not have a reputation for ass-licking when it comes to the president.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 04:10:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
correct me if I am wrong, but the response speech isn't given in the same room in front of the sitting President. Because that would be really interesting...
by oldfrog on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 04:27:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the SOTU is a POLITICAL speech (to the difference from the rituals) in a PRESIDENTIAL system, that what makes it unique.

It's not exactly "unique."  Russia does it too.  A quick Google also brings up the Philippines and South Africa...  

Make of that company what you will.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 04:15:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
probably China too... with unique I meant in relation to most other standard Western political systems.

Frankly I wonder what would happen if some representatives booed Bush during his speech or leave the room. That would be unique or has that happened previously in the history of SOTUs ?

Anyway to get the best bipartisan response, George needs only to say 3 words...

"I hereby resign..."

by oldfrog on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 04:23:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
with unique I meant in relation to most other standard Western political systems.

I think you just gave away your bias.  

Why don't we all go back to discussing things based on the merits of the purposes they serve and not on their nationality.  

There are a lot of reasons to complain about the SOTU.  The fact that it is not exactly how the French do it is not one of them.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 04:57:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not like the British, the German, the Scandinavian, the Spanish, the Canadian etc. systems either, so it is not nationalist bias.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 06:27:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
we don't have a SOTU

the nearest we can come to is the President's New Years address. But it's an address to the people, not to the Assembly.

So Chirac is free to say stuff like :

"The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

without being applauded

by oldfrog on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 06:37:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are very few countries, and none in Europe, where the head of state and head of government are the same. Russia and France are peculiar in that they have executive presidents. In that way they resemble the US. The US modelled its system of government after 18th century enlightened despot monarchs with cabinets. Most European republics are parliamentary systems modelled after 19th-century parliamentary monarchies with a king and a prime minister heading a cabinet.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 06:48:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
France has a semi-presidential system which is a sort of weird compromise. It hasn't always been the case and it's not sure that the Vth Republic will survive Chirac. The tendency from the left and the centre here is to increase the parliamentary power. But that won't resolve the problem head of state/chief of the executive.  

That was an interesting comparison that you made regarding the US. I have read somewhere (according to an American writer, hope I can find the link) that the American Revolution wasn't primarily anti-monarchic, but anti-parliamentary (it was the British parliament, not the king that complicated the business for the rich colonists) and that the the "anti-George" rethoric was primarily used to focus the "masses" against an identifiable enemy. The underlying libertarian ideology and the "horror" of "big government" fall into that picture too...

by oldfrog on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 07:48:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
he American Revolution wasn't primarily anti-monarchic, but anti-parliamentary (it was the British parliament, not the king that complicated the business for the rich colonists) and that the the "anti-George" rethoric was primarily used to focus the "masses" against an identifiable enemy. The underlying libertarian ideology and the "horror" of "big government" fall into that picture too...

Bleh again. The British system of the time was one where power was shared three ways - the king, the upper nobility (House of Lords) and the Commons which represented the upper nobility, the landowning gentry and the upper bourgeoisie, with a distinct bias to the former two courtesy of the outdated constituencies and multiple voting rights for landowners. No votes for Americans at all. What emerged from the constitution was something akin to the UK a century later - i.e. most, but not all (white) men having the vote.

The rest of your inferences are badly anachronistic - the anti-big government stuff in the constitution deals primarily making sure nobody can exercise too much power. The rich colonists vs. masses stuff is the kind of crude agitprop reasoning which gives Marxist analysis a bad name.

by MarekNYC on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 08:17:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Along with the intense settler resistance to these new measures, the stridency of their demands wounded metropolitan pride and provoked counter and highly condescending assertions of metropolitan superiority that suggested that colonists, far from being true Britons, were a kind of Others whose low characters, rude surroundings, and barbarous cruelty to their African slaves rendered them, on the scale of civilization, only slightly above the Amerindians they had displaced or the Africans among whom they lived. Such attitudes powerfully informed the measures that elicited the broad-based and extensive settler resentment and resistance of 1774-1775 and the decision for independence in 1776. The American Revolution can thus best be understood as a settler revolt, a direct response to metropolitan measures that seemed both to challenge settler control over local affairs and to deny settler claims to a British identity. 23
     In rejecting monarchy and the British connection and adopting republicanism, the leaders of these settler revolts did not have to preside over a wholesale, much less a violent, transformation of the radical political societies that colonial British Americans had constructed between 1607 and 1776.12 In the words of one later commentator, "when the people of the United Colonies separated from Great Britain, they changed the form, but not the substance of their government."13 In every state, peculiar social, religious, economic, and political tensions shaped the course of revolutionary development. Indeed, these local tensions primarily account for the substantial differences in the revolutionary experiences from one state to another. Wherever during the late colonial era there had been abuses of executive authority, judicial or civil corruption, unequal representation, opposition to a state church, or other political problems, the new republican state constitutions or later legislation endeavored to address those problems. Against the background of the deepening political consciousness generated by the extensive political debates over the nature of British imperial constitution after 1764, the creators of those constitutions also experimented, in limited ways, with improvements to their existing political systems. The widespread political mobilization that occurred after 1764 and especially in 1775-1776 also resulted, in many states, in an expansion of legislative seats and public offices and a downward shift in political leadership that brought more settlers of somewhat less, though still substantial, property into active roles in the public realm.14 With astonishingly few exceptions, however, leaders of late colonial regimes retained authority through the transition to republicanism, and the republican regimes they created in 1776 and after bore a striking resemblance to the social polities they replaced. 24
     Everywhere, political authority remained in the hands of the predominant groups among the existing settler population. As during the colonial period, the central government, an unintended consequence of the union of colonies that had come together to resist metropolitan aggression, was weak. In contrast to the French Revolution, the American Revolution did not produce a unitary national state. Effective power remained in the states, even, for a century or more, after the strengthening of the national government with the Federal Constitution in the late 1780s. For at least another century, provincial or state identities remained more powerful than the continental, or American, identity that only began to develop during the 1760s and 1770s. At the state and local levels, government remained an instrument of settler desires. Although it was somewhat more broadly participatory, it continued to rest on a limited conception of civic competence, which extended only to independent people, and on equality, that is, civil or religious equality among such people. The exigencies of war stimulated an extraordinary expansion of the public realm, and, at least during the earliest decades, republican government turned out to be far more intrusive than colonial government had ever been. Yet settler leaders continued to prefer inexpensive and small government. As during the colonial era, they kept bureaucracies small, refused to pay for permanent peacetime military and naval establishments, and were cautious in supporting public works. Like their colonial counterparts, these republican polities everywhere continued to be instruments of the predominant settler classes, principally concerned with the maintenance of orderly social relations, the dispensing of justice, and, most important of all, the protection of private property.

http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/ahr/105.1/ah000093.html

what I understand there are different interpretations of the mechanisms behind the American Revolution. The same applies to the French revolution. Even if the participating classes were mixed, the leadership often falls to the richer, educated classes. Thus the possibility to "manipulate" the "lower" classes. This is not new. The strife between Jacksonian democracy and Jefferssonian show that the ideas weren't clear.

What the American author I read (don't find the link, sorry) implied is that old ghosts still exist, their influence can surge again through the ages and that's why new "King Georges" (this time made in USA) can be "elected".

I watch the SOTU tonight again and got the same impression. How can an assembly of people that to probably 75% hate the guts of the smirking speaker be there an applaud, smile, cheer, laugh etc... ?

If Bush ends up convicted in the future, how will those pictures look to historians and for viewers of future historical documentaries ?

probably rather disgusting. And that the French have their own ghosts to fight with, will not change anything to that.

by oldfrog on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 10:13:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the article you quote refers to a liking of small government of a form that clearly doesn't apply in the era of the large military and the Patriot Act - these aren't old ghosts. I don't like the president any more than you do, and I find the Democrats to have been far too cautious in opposing him, but I have no problem with their sitting quietly through the SOTU - that's just a ceremony, one that combines your standard head of government expose with the ceremonial of a head of state. Protocol dictates that you don't boo. I also don't expect European heads of state to boo when they appear at press conferences with Georgie. Nothing disgusting about it - except for the fact that he's president, and that's true every day of the year.

As for the French and their ghosts - yup, plenty. You've got a foreign minister who not only has the intelligence and general knowledge of Bush, but also in Bushesque fashion thinks the Algerians should be grateful for French colonialism and the pieds noirs - to name one current issue.
But you've dealt with some, the regal presidency inherited from de Gaulle has been diminished in part due to Chirac, who as much as I dislike him, has in turn helped the French state come to terms with other unpleasant parts of their past. At some point I hope the French will come to a more balanced view of de Gaulle - whose second political career I rate about as highly as that of Nixon, at best.  

  The Fifth Republic is not a fascist state, as much as every single French leftist claimed it was back in the day, nor is it a Stalinist one, or a reincarnation of Vichy or whatever else some of my reality challenged fellow citizens Americans occasionally claim. The same goes for the US. We're just going through a bad time, fortunately not as bad as you were back at the dawn of the Fifth Republic. These terms have a real meaning, and using them as facile insults in order to express dislike for a certain political leadership diminishes both that meaning and calls into question the seriousness of the critique.

by MarekNYC on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 12:43:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
1)"In rejecting monarchy and the British connection and adopting republicanism, the leaders of these settler revolts did not have to preside over a wholesale, much less a violent, transformation of the radical political societies that colonial British Americans had constructed between 1607 and 1776.12 In the words of one later commentator, "when the people of the United Colonies separated from Great Britain, they changed the form, but not the substance of their government."

which shows that some US historians think that initially the question of society wasn't clear for the leading revolutionaries. It wasn't clear for LaFayette either. Only to say that some alternative thinking about the social and ideological mechanisms of both revolutions isn't completely stupid and that the stereotypes have to be questioned.

  1. Frankly I don't know what you are talking about when referring to the French foreign minister. If you are thinking about Douste-Blazy, it's true that we had better ones, but compared to George, he is a star. I did some checking and found that in response to Bouteflikas accusations of "genocide", he said that colonisation had two sides and that one side wasn't that bad. Which is discussable (and is discussed) but doesn't sound the way you present it. This is an old discussion BTW, and if you see the overall feeling of the former colonised peoples in Africa towards France today, the positive is at least equal to the negative -and probably better than the overall feeling of Latin-Americans who have been and to a certain extent subject to a non-nation-building but still very present US "colonisation". Because we might have stolen their resources, but at least we built roads and schools. Which cannot be said of United Fruit.

  2. De Gaulle had surely plenty of shortcomings, but to compare him to Nixon is ridiculous. Kennedy was very found of De Gaulle who warned him not to engage the US in Vietnam. If you want to check the dark side of Roosevelt, Churchill or even Lincoln, there is plenty of stuff. This is a sterile discussion.

  3. I don't consider the 5th Republic as being fascistic or today's US being stalinistic or fascistic. I merely stated that the FORM in which the SOTU is presented reminds of stalinistic appeareances. I went and checked several live-blogging sites like DKos and DU yesterday during the speech. Plenty of Americans - ok belonging to the left - expressed similar views of disgust than mine, maybe with not same terminology, but with pretty much the same content. Of course you are free to consider those views as "insulting" and "not serious".

 Because it was not question of "sitting" quietly, or even of polite applauses at a beginning of the end of a speech in a ritualised event, it was question of the active participation into it.

At least America's honor was saved by Jim Webb :

   "When comes the end?" asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two. And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.

These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way."

 I do hope he means what he says

by oldfrog on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 06:23:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The colonies had a degree of local autonomy. The new US political structure was arguably not radically different from those. It was radically different from the British one which had the ultimate power in the colonial era.

Douste Blazy sponsored a law calling for French schools to teach to positive side of the French presence in North Africa - a positive side which included killing on a massive scale and an apartheid society - including the extreme disparities in investment that you'd expect in such a system. So sure some roads and schools - but mostly for the whites. No idea whether the locals got more from France or through US aid money plus US companies investing for their own interests (United Fruit needed roads as well)  Not sure what you're trying to say about respective likes and dislikes - if you're referring to low approval numbers in recent Latin American polls - they were much higher under Clinton. If you think there's no underlying resentment against the ex colonial power that can flare up - I point you to exhibit one: the Ivory Coast.

De Gaulle came to power as a result of a coup d'etat aimed at stopping the democratically elected government from ending France's disastrous and morally bankrupt war in Algeria. He wasn't seen by the officers as an appropriate choice just because of his wartime past, but also because his public statements had indicated that he agreed with them that ending the war equalled treason against France. He then adopted a surge policy, only to realize after some time that the war made no sense and that he needed to withdraw, a withdrawal which he mismanaged badly, leaving a million French citizens in makeshift refugee camps. He also revamped the state into a highly authoritarian form of democray centered around and tailored for himself. He continued the systematic torture and violation of civil rights of those French citizens suspected of collusion with violent enemies of the state - first the FLN, then the OAS. He had his paramilitaries mow down demonstrators in Paris and throw their bodies in the Seine. He used the secret services to keep tabs on opponents and made sure that the broadcast media were politically in line. Apart from all that he was very competent leader.

Compare him to Nixon - why not? At least Nixon was elected, rather than imposed by the military, other than that a quite similar pattern of actions on Algeria and Vietnam. Similar dubious democratic practices at times. And Nixon happened to be quite competent otherwise as well. Again, I'm only speaking of de Gaulle's second poltical career. If one adds in his first one de Gaulle comes out far ahead.

On the picture -  I expect diatribes next time Bush meets with a European leader - oh no, they smiled, they shook hands, they pretended to be friendly - who will come to save the country's honor <snark>

by MarekNYC on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 10:32:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really given the very powerful and elected legislature, the federal structure, the written constitution and the independent courts. We aren't talking Frederick's Prussia or Catherine's Russia - the two enlightened despots of the period.
by MarekNYC on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 07:58:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose a better analogy would have been to say it mimicked the British system at the time, replacing the King with the President. Hamilton would have had the President elected for life, if the others had let him, like in the old Germanic elected monarchies.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 04:38:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You started off making the bizarre free association between the SOTU and Stalinism - and saying that this is somehow uniquely American, unlike the wonderful Europeans, blah, blah, blah

So I pointed you to a ritual in your own country -

Picnics with hot dogs and hamburgers vs parades of tanks down the streets of the capital which looks closer to the old Soviet days. If we're making silly analogies surely this one works at least as well.

I'm fine with substantive America bashing from the French, but it's this sort of stuff that makes so many Americans dismiss it as just unreflective, fact free nationalism. It's no different from some Sun or NY Post french bashing observation.

by MarekNYC on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 04:26:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Damn how sensitive are we ...

The French parade has an history, namely of a revolution. To the difference from intentional displays of force (half the parade is schools in old fancy uniforms, policemen, firemen etc..), the parade is a way of celebrating the national identity through its armed forces. And to show that it is not aggressive, we use the OPEN the parade with invited troops from ANOTHER country, Germany included, in uniform (which of course would be more or less unthinkable in the US, the mere idea that Mexican soldiers in fatigues would help Katrina refugees make everybody tremble and remember the Alamo). So the comparison with stalinistic parades is preposterous, and btw if you knew how many Americans love to see the display every year and come to Paris for the celebrations, that would amaze you.

So for a country that waves flags at every street corner to show how "patriotic" they are, pardon us for showing ours once a year.

To go back to the original subject, I found the SOTU of last year "stalinistic" because of the context of the Bush administration, knowing the profound divide of the nation. A SOTU under other circumstances, that is to say a normally democratically functioning USA, would probably not give that impression.

And I notice that several others on this thread share that impression. But they maybe are America-bashing Frenchies in disguise ?  

by oldfrog on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 04:53:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The French parade has an history, namely of a revolution. To the difference from intentional displays of force (half the parade is schools in old fancy uniforms, policemen, firemen etc..), the parade is a way of celebrating the national identity through its armed forces.

[...]

So the comparison with stalinistic parades is preposterous

LOL, like I said, at the Sun NY Post level.

by MarekNYC on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 04:59:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
this is ridiculous, you take for bashing a difference in interpretation.

I surrender

I'll write a letter to my deputee to pass a law replace the parade by OLDFROGS CHEESE-EATING CONTEST on the City Island in Paris...

the more cheese you eat, the most patriotic you are...

by oldfrog on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 05:16:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
this is ridiculous, you take for bashing a difference in interpretation.

Hmmh, so you think that saying that the July 14 parade shows a Stalinistic tendency in France is a legitimate interpretation, not French bashing? I was simply raising it as one equally absurd as your SOTU impression. But come to think of it - celebrating a Revolution accompanied by mass terror, army as symbol of the unity of the ideological nation, international fraternity... maybe you've got a point :-)

by MarekNYC on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 05:23:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whatever openness is shown, I don't like celebrating armed forces and weapons.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 06:29:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i used to think so, till i saw sarky's show the other day...

all that glitters...

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

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jan 24th, 2007 at 12:44:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I misread the acronym and thought you were telling us to STFU, P.

BOLB(Bear of Little Brain) or BYOBCHDIA(BYOB Cause He's
Drunk It All); either works for me.

"When the abyss stares at me, it wets its pants." Brian Hopkins

by EricC on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 09:26:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, now that just about everyone but my favorite candidate (Gore) has announced, who do the Europeans want to see win the Dem. nomination?  Or do you just assume all Dems/Americans/polititians/etc. etc. suck? ;)

I'm curious about Jerome's opinion of Richardson.  He's helped EA2020, right?  I hear he's progressive but uses some corrupt tactics and has worked against the liberal activists in NM, and that he has a little problem keeping his hands off the women.  ...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 02:45:59 PM EST
Okay, I'll bite.

Can't stand Hilary. She's a triangulating centrist hawk. That may have been a winning formula in the 90s for Bill, but is now so far from what America needs to confront the problems of the second decade of the 21st century that her election would be as much a catastrophe for America as that of McCain.

Obama is the David Cameron of the Democrats. Fond of talking about what what others need to do, but is disappointingly vague when it comes to explaining his vision of how to lead and inspire them to do it.

Edwards is the man. Losing in 2004 sharpened him up and made him stand on his own feet a lot more. He's just so much more substantial than the Cheshire cat who stood back then.

He's the Al Gore candidate. The person who stands out for me as somebody who has seriously sat back and thought about what america needs to recover from the Bush tragedy and how it can re-shape itself domestically and internationally. Unlike Obama, you don't feel you need to ask questions about his programmes, because it's all there.

All of the others, Richarson, Clarke (I know he's not declared yet) etc, are second tier and relatively insubstantial. There's no candidate amongst them who you wish might succeed and so they'll fall by the wayside in the first few rounds unless something remarkable happens. At the moment it's really between those three and it's Edwards race to lose.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 03:33:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Edwards is my favorite. I like the Obama from before fall 2004, right now he's veered into 'safely, safely' mode. If he moves back I could be convinced - charisma and political skills matter, and Obama has ridiculous amounts of the former and seems to have solid skills, though it's difficult to tell. I'd like Clark but the guy is a horrible campaigner. Richardson - who knows. Clinton - she's been peddling back from her early idealism towards empty centrism for so long I'm not sure she has any real convictions left, easily the worst of the five of you  listed. Obama also wins any ties in my mind - I'd love it for America to have a black president. The same would apply to Clinton except for the worst candidate part makes it moot.
by MarekNYC on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 03:44:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There was a controversial diary at dkos (controversial, in that many people got upset), where a fellow is beginning a series where he compares everyones voting records. And today it was Clinton vs Edwards in 2001, and just scanning it over, Edwards votong record really sucked that year. But, over his time in the Senate he had a very liberal voting record overall...so don't know what that shows. Plus, he has admitted his mistakes, like his vote for the horrendous anti-bankruptcy bill. I remain open to him, but I am also cautious about him just being an empty suit too. If Gore steps in at the last moment, he has my vote hands down, but it is more difficult for me after that...much as Marek notes above. It will be an interesting next 18 months...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 04:11:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The vote from 2001 was for a bankruptcy amendment, not for THE horrendous bankruptcy vote.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 06:56:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that most Europeans don't have a clue about who could run in 2008, except Hillary and Gore. The other candidates are virtually unknown with the exception of Kerry.

Frankly I don't see any of the current candidates (with the exception of Gore) that are making a real difference on basic issues and the ones that theoretically could do it like Kucinich don't stand a chance.

The gap between European "standards" and the American ones is too big even if a Democrat (even Clinton) would be a big puff of fresh air compared to the Bush mafia.

I have seen posts on some blogs about the "new left" in the US (mainly represented by the blogosphere) and if it can influence the nomination of the final candidate (or even present an alternative one in a split if Hillary is nominated). But plenty of things can happen before we even get to that stage...

by oldfrog on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 08:48:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 04:36:28 PM EST
Yup. Several hot summers have reduced wheat yields, and demand for grains for ethanol production is tightening the market further. The agri-industry rubs its hands.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 04:41:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Stupid question: is there an RSS feed for diaries? And one for all comments?
by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 04:54:32 PM EST
I have been wondering the same thing for a long time.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 07:15:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
too funny

After the diaries of last week talking about Value Measuring - and how Finance Capital is a disaster ...

Al Gore goes before the Harvard Business School and says, "... the stock market is functionally insane."

diary over on the orange place.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 06:00:17 PM EST
That's standard economic theory:
When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John Maynard Jeynes in The General Theory


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 06:04:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i feel like walking up to Gore, slapping him, and saying:

'RUN fercrissakes! You wimped out once. We can't afford to let you do it again.'

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 06:11:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A very intersting article (in french) about the franco-german growth differential (if you don't read french just look at the nice graphs). The funny thnig is that a totally wrong statement was made before jjournalist and politicians and no one corrected.
by Laurent GUERBY on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 06:06:57 PM EST
This deserves a diary, Laurent.

« Pourquoi l'Allemagne, malgré le poids de l'ancienne Allemagne de l'Est, malgré l'Euro fort, réussit à avoir une croissance beaucoup plus élevée que la notre ? »

"Why has Germany's growth been much higher than our own, despite the heavy legacy of East Germany, and despite the strong euro?"

Real GDP Growth

Real per capita GDP Growth

I guess Ms. Moryoussef and her journalist cohorts might be the source of all this fuss about the euro in France?

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 07:46:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I saw the show and reacted to that too, but I think there is a basic misunderstanding here. If I remember well the discussion was about the ECB and the Euro. Both Sarkozy and Royal have accused the "insensitivity" of "Europe" for being responsible in losses in employment because of the high value of the Euro compared to the dollar, making export more difficult (thus the need to put the independence of the ECB in question). Needless to say that this is mostly demagoguery, the typical blaming of one's shortcomings on "Brussels".

But German export volumes are beating all records, compared to France (I think there was a graph about that on ET not that long ago) despite the fact that both countries are using the same currency.

A verbatim of the show would be needed to ensure that the question was not about the German BNP, but about the exports. Because in that case the question makes sense and the answers from Montebourg and Barnier more "plausible", even If I think that they both wrong, guessing that if the Germans succeed in exporting much more than France - despite a high Euro - is because their products are more competitive or maybe more needed than the respective French ones, or because the French don't export the kind of stuff the Germans do.

Maybe some of the economists on ET could explain that for us...

by oldfrog on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 08:06:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you very much for pointing out that crucial difference.

if the Germans succeed in exporting much more than France - despite a high Euro - is because their products are more competitive or maybe more needed than the respective French ones, or because the French don't export the kind of stuff the Germans do.

Maybe some of the economists on ET could explain that for us...

I second that wholeheartedly.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 08:30:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
External balance of goods and services - Current prices - Millions of euro - SA

The external balance of goods and services (ESA 1995, 8.68) is the difference between exports of goods and services and imports of goods and services. If positive, the economy exports more goods and services than it imports, and vice versa. Values are seasonally adjusted (SA). The ESA 95 (European System of Accounts) regulation may be referred to for more specific explanations on methodology.

You can click on the image to get the original (larger) graphic.  But basically the left side is Germany and the right side is France, from 2003Q4 to 2006Q3.

(Created from http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/QueenPortletized/display.do?screen=graphicref&output=PNG&la nguage=en&product=_SHORTIES&root=theme0/shorties/euro_na/na_exbal/na050)

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.

by marco on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 10:21:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When Germany is doing bad, it means that the eurozone is fucked, and when Germany is doing well, it means that France is fucked.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 23rd, 2007 at 03:31:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We received reports early today of another large PEMEX facility explosion at PEMEX Ciudad La Isla located along Mexican National Hwy 180 between the cities of Cardenas and Villahermosa.  The damage is still being assessed but apparently the explosion damaged the highway, which has been closed.  This leaves few options for many persons traveling to and from the State Capital.

I believe La Isla is involved in the production of natural gas.  During the Summer of 2005, a large explosion occurred along a pipeline located between the towns of Conduacan and Comalcaqlco.  This explosion blackened a 3-5km area and closed a new 4 lane road for a month (we arrived a day after the explosion so I got a good view of the damage). This road, that runs between the large PEMEX Port of Dos Bocas and National Hwy 180, is now cut again at its juncture with 180.  PEMEX has been highly criticized in the past for diverting maintenance funds to profits.  The State owned company has repeatedly denied this allegation.

Another explosion occurred at the PEMEX Cactus facility near the Tabasco/Chiapas border in 1996. This plant was compared to La Isla at the time as being of similar purpose .

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 at 11:02:11 PM EST


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