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

The Grandiose Disaster of France, according to Emil Cioran

by ValentinD Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 04:56:48 PM EST

Why has France ceased to lead the world ? Answer by Cioran - in 1941, in his book "De la France".

A column from the French weekly Le Point, published in april 2009.

This original portrait of France has been written in 1941, in the heart of the dark years, by Emil Cioran, Romanian philosopher genius which subsequently adopted the French language for his many books. This one here, published by L'Herne, is read today with emotion, as author's hints of lucidity and pessimism make us ponder upon the deep inner workings of a country at the same time sybarite and hopeless.
Born in 1911 in Romania, of sulfurous past, enamoured of France, Cioran died in Paris in 1995. He dissects here in his own peculiar way the rise and the pettiness of a nation that fascinates him. Perhaps one of the most accurate reflections on the subject.

Excerpts.

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Ideology revisited : Dead or Alive? A Non Issue!

by ValentinD Wed Jun 3rd, 2009 at 11:46:58 PM EST

I have touched the issue of ideology before. I had claimed it would be expiring, the main reason being that people seem to have enough of ideologically over-charged stances.
I also thought the evolution of the society in the 20th century is in it for something: the people in a well-off, consumerist, materialist, individualist society tend to be more apolitical, care less about the society as a whole, or about things like ideals, ideologies, or religions. Just like religious proselytisers, political activists find their case more and more difficult to make. Also, a society of mild epicurians abhoring violence and brainwashed by the media and the political correctness, are less disposed to taking radical positions, let alone revolutionary.  

But in my drive to emphasize the difference between rational pragmatists, also known as ThirdWayers or Centrists, and the Fanatical Ideologists, I did drop some nuances in my way. I'd like to make some amendments here.

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So, Ideology is Dead. So now what ?

by ValentinD Wed Nov 26th, 2008 at 03:35:05 PM EST

On the same, already battered subject of the death of ideologies, a few more reflections on the post-mortem situation.

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On academic freedom

by ValentinD Mon Nov 24th, 2008 at 02:58:51 PM EST

An interesting article on the New York Times website.

It's called
"An Authoritative Word on Academic Freedom"

and it can be found on Stanley Fish's blog "Think Again" (link below).

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Is Ideology Dead ?...

by ValentinD Sat Nov 22nd, 2008 at 09:45:30 AM EST

Rather than assigning a political colour to people according to where their words and ideas seem to position them, we might rather need to learn, and acknowledge that one does not always speak from an ideological viewpoint, but based on and looking at a real-life situation.
This seems to be the new way in politics: rather than governing from the centre, raising above it to face the reality directly, without the bias of a predetermined political position, without the skewed 3D glasses of a particular ideology.

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Where stands Obama?

by ValentinD Sun Nov 2nd, 2008 at 07:45:05 PM EST

Since we're practically on the Eve of the US elections, here is a post on something many pointed out about the Democrat candidate, Barrack Obama:
knowledge about his position, ideology, philosophy, is at best fuzzy.

People seem to connect to the person - his personal history, his self-assured calm, even professoral tenure, his brains. Some call him a socialist, pointing at his record in the US Senate - the most leftwing voting history. Others point at his speeches, where he preaches hope, change, even pragmatism, not crossing (like John McCain) - but raising above strict party lines. The first reply he practically never voted against his party - his first genuine anti-establishment action would be in opposing Hillary Clinton for the presidential primary.

So where does Obama stand ?
All this, to share with you this website, that you might actually know already:

On The Issues...

At first sight, it looks well documented and non partisan.
After browsing a little on a few issues, I'd say his interviews and speeches make him come off as much more "centre" (or pragmatic) than his voting record, or the way he's rated by different social action groups (ie, full 100% leftwing).

Is there a gap between what Barrack Obama does, and what he thinks (or what he says he thinks) ? Where would Obama be situated on the political spectre ?...

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On social and personal communication

by ValentinD Thu Oct 30th, 2008 at 08:51:29 PM EST

In what follows, excerpts from a recent exchange on issues turning around personal debating styles, and social communication in general that, I dare say, deserve a bit more than only being part of a private conversation.

----

One of the issues I personally had with living in France, from the very beginning, was not the fact in itself, but the extent to which certain people took care to protect others' sensibilities - sometimes so much so that one did not know where one stood anymore. I happened to find myself at work chasing for a sign of some kind, a  movement of a brow, a look, something to give an indication as to the reality behind the over-friendliness (in part, no doubt, due to being a foreigner). Frustrated of so much "protection", I soon started acting the opposite - of course, to no avail: shoulders were raising and looks were going up and around. I've been assured everything's just fine. Everybody very happy. No problemo!
Then a word was slipping now and then, hinting to some issue - nothing serious, but still. Nevertheless, it has been a titanesque (for me, as a newcomer) work to evaluate and interpret behavioral deltas - in ways and to extents I had neither expected, nor imagined, ever.

I commented on the matter on a blog once, about one or two years ago, to the surprise of a sudden reaction from a German girl who had lived in France for some time, who further told about her own exasperating experiences with overly nice, friendly and protective (no pun intended) French employers.
"You never know where you stand," she said; "it's not even about them; you cannot improve yourself, since everything is ok .
Right now I feel like adding: we should have asked for more money - then we would have certainly had the truth! :)

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One more on financial capitalism

by ValentinD Thu Oct 30th, 2008 at 08:10:44 PM EST

I'm not a big fan of the well known French daily, Le Monde - especially so since the "La face cachée du Monde" (The Hidden face of Le Monde) by two journalists - Pierre Péan (more about him here ), and Philippe Cohen.
Yesterday though, newspapers were not distributed in Paris due to a strike, and Le Monde was made available free of charge on their website, as a PDF file.

Upon a quick browsing on occasion, my attention was drawn towards this article here (aproximative Google translation here).

It reveals one more example of what some (amongst whom president Sarkozy) call the immoral (financial) capitalism.

We knew about "toxic" derivative products, used to repackage and spread around the risk of default of other financial entities. Or about stockmarket speculators, who reportedly helped push up commodities prices recently (claim not entirely founded, according to The Economist, who published a series of articles on the matter - an example
here). About huge bonuses paid by investment banks in 2006 and 2007 for deals that proved actual disasters in 2008 (or, say, $ 400K parties at AIG just after being bailed out by the taxpayer). In a word, cases of financiers losing touch with reality.

One other example went like this (particularly in France and Germany): predator funds buying companies, getting what is called "activist" and managing to break them up and sell them piece by piece in order to realize a nice return quickly.

In the article linked above, Alain Godard makes the case about the investment banks' "pernicious" business in originating unjustified structural changes to businesses that were until then doing just fine.
The issue would consist in 3 parts: the need for two-digit remunerations on certain financial products;  the solution found: transfer the hot potato to shareholders of big industrial actors; and last but not least, the how: "convincing" the management to take action accordingly.
The action, the article exemplifies with the history of the French holding Rhone-Poulenc, which ends up being broken into pieces in spite of industrial and economical logic, under investment bankers' pressure -  themselves under the pressure of two-digit short-term stockmarket performance. The cherry on the cake comes at the end:

"In the name of what have these holdings been torn apart and fired thousands of workers? The answer can mostly be found in the bonuses the golden boys got for each of the strategical movements" they counselled.
"Since the crisis questions all dogma, let us imagine a  global tax agreement according to which gains on stock held for less than 3 months would be taxed at 80%, less than a year, at 50%, and over 3 years, at 10%.
Undoubtedly, investor arbitrages would be different, and CEOs would no longer impatiently wait, every evening," for the value of their stock options at  stockmarket closing.  They would have to focus on long-term industrial strategy instead.

 

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Northern spots

by ValentinD Sun Sep 21st, 2008 at 07:35:07 PM EST


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First try, eventually !...

by ValentinD Sun Sep 21st, 2008 at 07:16:26 PM EST

It must be the seventh or eighth time I promised myself (and worse, others as well!) to look closer into what Eurotrib has to offer.
In short, I discovered this site coming from the blog of Charles Bremner, Paris correspondent of The Times of  London.
It does look pretty complicate to begin with, and in this I join Richard Jones opinion, but given that I never actually tried to post anything here, I think the right way is to try, and then judge :)

I guess that'll be it for now.

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