Monday, April 30, 2007

Sarkozy strikes at '68 strikes


Yesterday night Nicolas Sarkozy spoke to an audience of 30,000 people, telling them that he was the candidate against the paralyzing left-wing strikes of May 1968.

"In this election, it is a question of whether the heritage of May '68 should be perpetuated or if it should be liquidated once and for all...They have questioned my integrity, my honour, my sincerity, my character. They explained I was dangerous for freedom. They suspect me of wanting to install a police state. They accuse me of pressuring [the media]. I have not joined them in the mud where they wanted to drag me."

It was perhaps his strongest attack yet, blaming what he named the "gauche caviars" for formenting a crisis of "morality, authoity, work, and national identity." In some ways his words sound like they could have come from any American right-wing candidate fighting the "culture wars" against the "hedonistic" left, but the difference is that Sarkozy is talking about economic and public values, not abortion and gay marriage. He is essentially creating the same Vietnam era split that separated John Kerry from George Bush, the former believing that the war was wrong and progress was made during the 60s, and the latter believing the war was just and that the 60s were nothing but the manifestation of immorality. Ok, I'm generalizing.

Such strong attacks could not be ignored, and today Segolene Royal defended the progress that came from 1968, although she admitted that the means were sometimes excessive.

"When I hear Nicolas Sarkozy say that it is necessary to 'liquidate' May 68, I think that it is a very violent vocabulary...By revalorizing the wages, France was freed and growth began again. Of course, there were some excesses as during all tormented periods...all excesses were also the formidable ones advanced compared to the conquests of freedom, autonomy, equality of men and women, trade-union right."


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12 comments:

aixophile said...

Thank you for your coverage of the elections in France. Before I found your site I was reading the Nouvelob site daily and trying to make some sense of what's was going on with little success. Appreciate your perspective and effort.

Boz said...

Thanks, I'm happy to help. I actually decided to start this site in November because I could barely get any election news in English, and figured other people might be in the same boat.

Boz

ariane said...

Votre couverture de la campagne présidentielle est exellente.
Je n'ai pas trouvé meilleure réflexion, et bien que vivant heure par heure les évènements depuis Paris, cette prise de recul est d'un contraste des plus agréables avec l'agitation médiatique de ces dernière semaines !
Votre impartialité est juste, ne vous arrêtez surtout pas (du moins avant les Législatives)!
Merci encore

Ariane

Boz said...

Je déciderai après l'élection si je vais continuer et de quelle façon, mais merci pour vos compliments. J'aime entendre mes lecteurs.

Boz

Alden said...

Its very difficult to speak about French political figures in American political terms, so I would have to disagree with the analysis that compares Sarkozy to George Bush. America is an entirely free market or “liberale” country. Now, it may amuse politicians and journalists to describe one party or figure as “right” or “left” but they could just as easily choose “North” and “South” because there is no “socialist” reality in America. The opposite is true in France.

In France, there is no “free market” or “liberale” party as each party essentially supports the concept of an omnipresent and dominating state controlled, “welfare” or “socialist” society. The so called “right wing” has always perpetuated the welfare state with the same glee as the “left” and never undertaken to take even the most basic of free market reforms. It helps to remember that President Jacques Chirac, the leader of the so-called “right”, calls America’s system “savage capitalism.”

The arrival of Sarkozy on the political scene therefore is a shock for the socialist status quo and all those who have milked the system for generations. One must see Sarkozy, who had a devil of a time in his own Right wing” party, as a Reagan, Thatcher or Aznar figure with strong Gaullist underpinnings. If Sarko were a politician in the US, he would be a very “left wing” Democrat. He would absolutely not be George Bush!

If you love France, pray for Sarko. If you detest her, then vote with the Royalists!

ariane said...

Alden n'est pas informé que Sarkozy lui-même se dit être plus proche du Parti républicain, et que l'UMP l'est aussi :
"Je me sens proche des idées du Parti républicain des États-Unis".
L'analyse du model économique est intéressante, mais la conclusion désastreuse.
Assimiler Royal à la continuité de l'ère Chirac, c'est un peu court.
Dommage, mais tout n'est pas perdu.

Boz said...

Alden, I'm well aware of the differences in political spectrums between the US and France, and that any comparisons are overgeneralizations. That does not, however, invalidate my point. Sarkozy is looking back on this period of massive left-wing social unrest as a step in the wrong direction, just as many conservative Americans despise the excesses of the 60s, from civil rights to anti-war to women's rights. Royal, on the other hand, is making the case that despite the excess, good things came about because of this, a similar position held by many leftwing babyboomers.

Just as a politician, Sarkozy would be a moderate Democrat or a left-wing Republican, but on this issue of social unrest in the 1960s, he's clearly taking the more "Republican" position.

Boz

Alden said...

Boz, I do understand what you are getting at and your point is well taken. I suggest to however that there are very few people on any side of the political spectrum in the US who “despise” the achievements of the civil rights or women’s movements. (I would be amused to know where you get that incredible idea from…)

I would go further to say that comparing the civil rights movement, which was born of the intense suffering of an entire people and led by a visionary like MLK , to the May 68 bourgeois student revolt led by the Fabius and Royal elite, is pretty much absurd.

No the 60s movements that engendered today’s ills were those that sought to replace society’s moral compass with an all encompassing relativism; they brought us the drug culture, they created guilt around being successful, they encouraged assistance over initiative, they sought to reduce mankind to its lowest possible common denominator in the misguided interpretation of the word “egalite.” Most importantly they subjugated the word “liberte” and fashioned a passive state of enslavement from it.

I think the French people have woken up. They want to be free. They “have a dream”….

Alden said...

Dear Ariane

I think Sarkozy is mistaken in drawing parallels between himself and the Republican party. There are strong signs of a “liberale” direction in his agenda that is common to both political parties in the US. But Sarko still believes too much in government to be a Republican. Remember Reagan’s statement that “government is not the ‘solution’ to our problems, government ‘is’ our problem.” I don’t think any political figure in France is willing to go that far, at least not yet. In this sense Sarko is much more of a Democrat who see more of a role for government in an essentially free market world.

Bayrou flatters himself saying he is like a member of the US Democratic party and he is completely off base in this regards. He is a socialist, despite his claims to the contrary, and would be strictly off the charts as far as US politics is concerned. It’s safe to say that Sego is very far removed from any spectrum of US politics as well.

The only French political figure who might have some Republican likeness would be Alain Madeleine, who isn’t heard from very much anymore (unfortunately) and whose party was incorporated into the UMP.

yes12871 said...

Je suis Americain. J'ai passe 10 mois en France aux annees mi-1970. Que la France la change!!!

je crois qu'on peut blamer tous les mauvais changements sur les evenements de mai 1968.

Et pour ce qui concerne les changements positifs depuis mai 1968, on peut remercier les evenements de mai 1968.

Mark Nolan

yes12871 said...

Je suis Americain. J'ai passe 10 mois en France aux annees mi-1970. Que la France la change!!!

je crois qu'on peut blamer tous les mauvais changements sur les evenements de mai 1968.

Et pour ce qui concerne les changements positifs depuis mai 1968, on peut remercier les evenements de mai 1968.

Mark Nolan

evan jones said...

Alden's grasp of politics astounds me.
The late 1960s dissent in the US (I was living there at the time) was in the first instance aimed at the disgrace that was the Vietnam intervention and escalation, but more generally at the pervasive bipartisan dishonesty in government, legacy of Cold War repression. The dissent was morally based rather than morally debased.
As for placing French politicians in the US political framework - Sarkozy as left wing Democrat, Bayrou as Socialist - too ludicrous for words.
One starts with the propositon that it is the US political spectrum that is 'off the charts', rather than being the standard bearer of normality. Time for some education in comparative politics, comparative political economy, etc.
Boz does the right thing in opening a window into a foreign clime, but from Alden one gets the pitiless a priorism of a self-possessed American ideologue.