Posts Tagged ‘france’

Call him what he likes to be called. (Well, not the marching-in-shiny-boots kind, of course! But quite honorable still.)

What does it take for France to get used to fascist junk? Claude Guéant, France’s minister of the interior, provides some help whit that question: “French people have the feeling that uncontrolled migratory flows change their environment, they are not xenophobic but they want France to remain France” (“Claude Géant: Les Français veulent que la France reste la France”, Le Monde, 15 March 2011, linked in “A Paris, Le FN défile ‘en l’honneur des travailleurs'”, Le Monde, 1 May 2011). But what about the French people who do not have that feeling at all? Easy: they are not truly French.

Economists Camille Landais, Thomas Picketti and Emmanuel Saez do two things. First, they graphically demonstrate how aggregate taxation proves blatantly regressive in France (considering all types of taxes, the top rich pay less than the rest). Second, with student Guillaume Saint-Jacques, they provide everybody (including politicians) with the possibility of simulating alternative fiscal policies. Their website is called “fiscal revolution” — the name is not really an exaggeration, the device is quite a landmark in the politics of economic demonstration.

Michel Houellebech to some journalists after getting the “Prix Goncourt”:

“I’m not a citizen and I don’t want to become one. There is no duty towards one’s country, none, people should be told about that. We are individuals. I have no duty towards France. To me, France is a hotel. Nothing more.” (in “Faut-il déchoir Houellebech de sa nationalité française”, Hexagone, November 18 2010)

Frédéric Lordon bashes the current pension reform in France in the right direction (not the age of retirement): the reform is about draining the necessity of the public towards financialization — just in the midst of a financial crisis. The details in “Le point de fusion des retraites” (La Pompe à Phynance, October 23 2010). A little, translated quote:

“Here is a pension system that everybody is going to love. One cannot emphasize enough the epochal fit of the French reform. It is about organizing a purposeful attrition of the contributory pension scheme (whereas pretending to save it) in order to better redirect payers towards private capitalization pension schemes. In order words, it is about creating artificially the problem (of the public sector) in order to better demonstrate the turn-key solution (of the private sector), and introduce all kinds of incentives for a silent, perfect, long term substitution which will lead surely to a substantial increase of pension financing through the markets — precisely when market finance has demonstrated, with great fanfare, how far it can go in the destruction of value. This shows enough of the depth of the ideological blindness of the government or, perhaps, of its level of submission to the financial services industry.” (Frédéric Lordon, “Le point de fusion des retraites”, La Pompe à Phynance, October 23 2010.)

And for a hint on the promising business of Sarkozy’s close friends in the pension business, see “Guillaume Sarkozy, futur bénéficiaire de la réforme des retraites?”, Nouvel Obs, October 14 2010). Who said that the anthropology of kinship was useless for the study of global finance?

Test your skills in French with this quiz on the parliamentary debate about the “Loi Besson”. The quiz is kindly proposed by La Cimade as part of its campaign against this act of institutional xenophobia.

Luc Boltanski, on the social-racial urge of Sarkozy’s clique and their war against the Roma:

“Political blasphemy consists in shaking moral standards, in proclaiming loud and clear a discourse of hate that is usually censored or hidden. This has always been the strategy of the extreme right. Adopted now by the current power in place, it has two objectives. The first is to remove censorship over hatred. The second is to provoke the moral consciousness of those who are worried by this discourse of hate, to shock them, to make them react so as to tighten the border between the “idealists”, who are depicted as irresponsible, and the “realists and courageous”, those who are truly responsible, those who can speak and act in the name of a silent majority.” (Luc Boltanski, “Nous ne débattrons pas de la ‘question Rom'”, Médiapart, September 13 2010)

This is very much true. But would that mean that counter-blasphemy would be a fair way to respond? Would an intellectual among the “idealists” be compelled to utter something such as, for instance, “Sarkozy, if you like France that much, go and stick it in your ass”? Wow, that would be too wild. A bad idea. (And sticking something in one’s ass is a form of love, after all).

Counter-blasphemy is a difficult political technique.

The Fassin brothers (Didier Fassin, anthropologist, and Eric Fassin, sociologist) object, in an interesting opinion piece (“Misère du culturalisme”, Le Monde, September 30 2010), to the general climate of rehabilitation of the Moynihan Report. In France, for instance, a couple of recent books (here and here) just added another layer to the “we should not remain blind to the question of their ethnic origins” motto (note the deictics) in the national conversation on anti-social behavior.

The Test Society blog proudly presents the first of a series of qualitative indicators on pre-fascist tendencies. This one, still in development, consists in spotting books displaying the notion of “vampire” to refer to any collective instance of the Great Oriental Menace, and openly getting a mainstream media nod. For today’s indicator hit, the vampires are the Chinese:  Philippe Cohen and Luc Richard’s Le Vampire du Milieu: comment la Chine nous dicte sa loi (advertised here, here, here or even here).

A more refined version of the indicator shall include in the future a correlation between the use of “vampires” and the use of political deictics, in particular of the resourceful “them or us” thing (today’s finding is a gem in that sense: the title reads “The Middle Vampire: How China Imposes its Law upon Us”).

Civilization-wise, the new recruitment campaign for the French Army is really spot-on. The website goes like “” ( and posters in the same vein can be seen everywhere (please do admire the use of camouflage, even Marinetti would have freaked out).