June 7, 2005


French prepare themselves to resist all advances from perfidious Albion (Charles Bremner, 6/08/05, Times of London)

ANYTHING but the British might be the motto for Dominique de Villepin, the new French Prime Minister, when he announces today how he will fulfil his pledge to bring down France’s chronic high unemployment without recourse to the dreaded modèle Anglo-Saxon.

L’Albion Perfide has loomed large over France this week as M de Villepin has staked his name on his plan to restore confidence in 100 days, after the rejection of the European constitutional treaty in the referendum on May 29.

President Chirac’s appointed Prime Minister has promised to pull off what employers and foreign experts regard as the impossible: creating jobs but keeping the protective French social model that helps to generate the country’s chronic 10 per cent unemployment.

With characteristic bravado, the poet-Prime Minister has promised to try something new. Above all, he says, this will not be modelled on Britain, whose prosperity is depicted in France as the product of poverty-line wages, social injustice and medieval public services. Instead, M de Villepin wants to copy the Danish model, which has become the Paris fashion this early summer.

This is a system, called “flexicurity”, in which the workers accept very flexible hire-and-fire rules in return for extensive welfare benefits. It also requires a tax rate even higher than that in France. M de Villepin, a diplomat who has never held elected office, has run into a predictable hurdle before he unveils his scheme to Parliament. Trade union leaders told him on Monday that they would call strikes if he even hinted at touching the sacred French labour laws.

The Anglo-American model (liberal democracy, protestantism [small "p"], capitalism) has been reasonably well understood and largely effective for over 200 years now--with only the Great Depression causing an unfortunate fifty year deviation here in the States. The French, meanwhile, have spent that time in a steady decline, following their own statist egalitarian model, which has been applied with even more disastrous results from Germany to Russia to China and beyond. The idea that they'll be able to give their model a little tweak and it will suddenly work is truly insane.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 7, 2005 11:36 PM

The French model does not work for the great mass of Frenchmen, but it does work for the nomenklatura, of whom Dominic de Villain is but a prime example. As long as they have the great mass of Froggies buffaloed they are in the catbird seat. If the French ever wise up, there will be a bloodbath.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 8, 2005 1:14 AM

Time for another "great" revolution -- meaning a liquidation, in fine French tradition. I'm sure the liberals, like Jefferson did, will hail the breakthrough in French political thought and justify the massacre.

Posted by: jd watson at June 8, 2005 4:14 AM

Yes - it might be a good idea to begin planning to remove nukes from France before it goes haywire.

Posted by: AWW at June 8, 2005 8:46 AM

The French are incapable of popular revolution. They need to be led. The state apparatus has its own interests which trump the general interest while all of the potential leaders have been compromised through their state sponsored sinecures or their attachments to impossible intellectual fashions. 'Liberty, Egalite, Fraternite' are the most French of goals since they are unattainable in combination. The revolution of 1789 was instigated by a romantic elite of self-described intellectuals anxious to associated themselves with the American Revolution without understanding what it was all about. The sounds of the words spoken by the Americans seem to have been more important than the substance. The French are the world's foremost rubes.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at June 8, 2005 10:15 AM

They will prevail in their titanic struggle to remain dead.

Posted by: Luciferous at June 8, 2005 2:18 PM

The philosophy is correct, and if it doesn't work then reality must be changed until it matches the philosophy.
Don't you understand logic, mes amis?

Posted by: Mikey at June 9, 2005 9:03 AM