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

Now you know what it feels like to be an informed American

by techno Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 03:21:57 PM EST

In the corner of my Platonic mind, I have a picture of the French.  In this picture, there are the high philosophers--Descartes is my favorite but there are many others.  There is the high rationalism that gave us the metric system.  There is the brilliant engineering that gave us the very vocabulary of aviation and TRAINS that blast along at 575 kph.  There is the very definition of style that has defined the word fashion since at least Louis XIV.  Oh yes, these people also enjoy eating and do it VERY well.

Then there is the politics.  Mr. La Fayette is as responsible for the existence of USA as Washington or Jefferson. The Platonic French have been worth rescuing with warfare.

But my favorite French invention is Dirigisme.  As I see it, economics asks but two interesting questions:

  1. How can it be that some folks get wealthier ever as they sleep while other become poorer even as they work?

  2. Some tasks are best solved by individual human initiative while others can only be solved through collective efforts.  So the question is; how do you organize a society that allows for individual action while simultaneously ensuring that group actions are well-organized, task-centered and useful.

Because question two is probably better addressed by Dirigisme than any other organized form of thinking, it is literally the last idea worth dying for.  I have been applauding Jerome's defense of the great French ideas in economics against the onslaught of the British / global economic establishment.  Nice to see the French still have patriots!

The problem is that because the assumptions of globaloney run rampant in the EU, France's economy is underperforming because all around them, everyone else's is too.  Essentially the Brits point at some obvious indicator of French economic underperformance and then prescribe their own elixir to fix things.  

But the problem is, the British answers are the WORST of all possible prescriptions.  I have seen them in action for 30 years here in USA and they are literally a recipe for the end of the world.  I want Jerome to win his argument because it is one of the few possibilities that humanity can return to some form of economic sanity before we are burned to a crisp.

So here we have it.  On one hand, we have Jerome representing the Platonic ideal French patriot defending ideas that are MUCH more precious than gold, while on the other hand, we see a French election where it is obvious that the parties and candidates have no freaking clue what the issues at stake really are.  While Jerome is a reminder of why folks in many places on earth have wanted to imitate the French, the elections are a reminder of why the late-night comedians make fun of them.

I am not even certain I really want to know why French politics have deteriorated so.  So I will tell a story.  I was in Finland and a diligent scholar was asking me to explain Ronald Reagan.  He furrowed his brow and said, "I know politicians are not exactly rocket scientists, but in USA, shouldn't a politician at least be able to represent rocket scientists.  You have them, after all."

Not to distract too much.
But he did represent General Electric for a few years and there were some "rocket scientists" there.

And we know he replaced the most technically advanced president that I can think of.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 05:59:48 PM EST
And MSM purposefully distorts.  As far as rocket scientists I believe we stole them from other countries.
Globalization?  Well the scam worked so well in the US my guess is that they decided to expand the meme elsewhere.
by Lasthorseman on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 06:07:14 PM EST
How did the US "steal" them?
There must be some good cartoons on this one.
Nerdy looking guy being fooled into falling into a pit or under a wooden box and that the bait is some book on E=MC^2

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 06:30:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and his men and shipped them over.  heavily coerced might be a better term since their other option was being left in a country torn to bits with no work.
by HiD on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 01:41:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In SS Major Von Braun's case, trial at Nuremberg was not impossible. He was very happy to be in Huntsville...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 02:10:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
SS or Waffen-SS?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 03:51:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
his other option was moscow.  hunstville has better weather.  the gallows was never in his future
by paving on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 02:49:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and Moscow wasn't going to ask even as nicely as we did.
by HiD on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 05:39:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Other than to say it was one of my psychic moments.  I was sitting in the cafeteria in Munich eating an Argentinian dish.
We were not the first in space either.  World War, country is crap yet you are a brilliant scientist, we just like gave them visas.  Actually did you have to have a visa back then.
by Lasthorseman on Thu Apr 19th, 2007 at 07:53:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clearly Americans are ill informed as a group.  The political/international class, maybe 10%, is reasonably well-informed however. They are suffering.

It is telling that the term precarite seems to have jumped the Atlantic of late.  An interesting development.

The worldwide interest in this election has to do with momentum.  If Sarkozy is defeated, so are the globalists.  The left has less to lose but far more to gain from victory.  The right seeks to merely delay.

by paving on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 02:52:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Much appreciated!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 02:08:19 AM EST
Ah, but you forget the advantage the American economy had. Vast mineralogical reserves, coal and oil, iron, grain. Not least it had people, hundreds of millions of them.

And it became the world's powerhouse in the aftermath of the 2nd world war when all of the previous powerhouses were on their knees in the aftermath of a war that left them literally and economically shattered and exhausted. It had no competition for 30 years and created a mythology of economic supremacy that overwhelmed the world. You either collaborated or you went under.

Now the US and Britain sustain themselves on momentum alone. It is regrettable that just at the moment when other paradigms are needed, the French might lose confidence in theirs'. But one thing is sure, if neither the French electorate nor the politicians seeking their vote truly understand the issues they face, I must suggest that in this they seem to share their ignorance with elecotrates and politicians everywhere. Just remember, the Americans voted for George Bush twice, that is surely not an informed decision.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 10:49:34 AM EST
Well, on popular vote, nearly voted for George Bush once and then narrowly voted for George Bush once, in the narrowest victory in history for a "wartime" President, and the electoral college was close enough to steal in both cases.

So while the glass is 50.1% empty, its 49.9% full.

OTOH, rather than being 49.9% full of some nice wine, its some sickly sweet, carbonated, caffeinated beverage.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 12:08:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember that in US elections, even important ones, the # of people who vote is far lower than you find in say France.  US turnout generally resembles what you find for EU-related votes.  

Add in the, uh, flaws in our voting system (there is an entire wing of the internet devoted to this by now, find it yourself) and you realize that you can't determine much of anything by the fact that Bush is President other than that Americans by and large have no sense of Civic responsiblity or connection to Government.

by paving on Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 07:14:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for a brief but "in"forming overview of the structures of the argument taking place.  Should help me in my grounding as I read.  I've a lot of catching up to do before I can feel I comfortable presenting respectably nuanced version of my own understanding of geopolitics to what appears to me a refreshingly sophisticated membership of this board.  My own appreciation of the French includes those philosophers you've mentioned, but tends to have focused a few others in the range of Sartre, Claude Levi Strauss, and Derrida.  Recently I been reading Ellul, who has much to share about the Luntz/Rovian propaganda models that have had such an enormous effect on US public opinion over the past few decades.

I'm engaging here in hopes of getting a more intimate version of the European vision of "Globaloney."

"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse

by Ren on Wed Apr 18th, 2007 at 02:20:33 PM EST
brilliant and very true...

i grew up in the 50's, 60's and early 70's in england and witnessed the scam hit bigtime, my dad cheering it on with his mad avenue job.

i witnessed the sunset flare (the music!!) and the consequent spiral into desoulment, as the yank model steadily assumed its chokehold on british attitudes to money and marketing, with a jolly black giant smile and countless tv pap shows to bend our minds into a narcissistic cavorting before mammon's hologram.

i escaped to the postcard beaches of hawaii, doubtless inspired by the 'blue hawaii' elvis poster i had on my boarding school dorm, to cogitate on the weird wonder of life, and gradually got a few remnants of my sanity back....

now i live in italy and am seeing globaloney eat into the core values that make this country what it is, and i feel for france so much more than i ever did when i lived off-continent.

watching hawaii getting raped was no picquenique either.

when berly got sent packing, it felt soooo good, and i pray for a similar wave of commonsense to roll across france come the election.

bonne chance sego!

wonderfully erudite, relaxed diary, classic et.



'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 Sat Apr 21st, 2007 at 05:50:34 AM EST

Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]

Top Diaries