Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On the Democratic Charms of the French Bourgeoisie (Part one)

(A couple of month ago, I drafted this up, but kept putting off posting it, because I thought it was too long and perhaps a little dilettantish. A conversation I had last week with Antoine Garapon, a noted French judge and legal scholar, has convinced me that I should post it anyway. )

Some six months ago, on January 31st, the New York Times ran an editorial by Roger Cohen entitled “America’s Riveting Democracy” in which he praising the US for having “the most vital, open, self-renewing and democratic society on earth.” While his ‘argument’ in this regard was pretty silly (but oh-so-typical of so many American political comparativists), it did get me thinking about the nature of ‘democracy’: particularly, how we might go about evaluating (and thinking about) what we might call – for lack of a better term – it’s ‘vitality’.

To being with, we might first try to identify a democratic ‘vitality’. To me, American democracy, while certainly entertaining (Cohen’s principal point) is not particular ‘vital’. Once all the entertainment is over, it turns out American elections turn on almost exclusively on two factors: campaign finance and incumbency. The fact that a majority of the Americans that voted for the re-election of the incumbent (and well-financed) in our last national presidential election believed (1) that that president supported the Kyoto Accord, and (2) that that president had actually found WMD in Iraq does not suggest, to me at least, a democracy that would be well described as ‘vital’.

In light of this, my own nomination for a particular ‘vital’ democracy, which I tender in large part simple to annoy Republicans and the remaining followers of AV Dicey, is that of . . . France.

Why? Well, first, the French polity has been that polity which appears to have been most able to resist the dominant global trajectory of neo-liberalism. Not that I am not claiming that neo-liberalism is bad policy. I am simply claiming that neo-liberalism is anti-democratic, in that it substitutes technocratic measures – namely those having to do with economic growth – for democratic measures in its evaluations of regulatory legitimacy. Maybe, this is a good thing. But here, I am simply concerned with ‘democracy’, not political wisdom. And so the fact that the French have been particularly resistant to this global teleology suggests to me that ‘democracy’ may be a distinctively critical component of its political system.

Consider, along these lines, France’s recent decision to try to implement a general four-day work week. As many noted, such a decision threatens to severely curtail French economic growth. What polity would rationally choose to sacrifice economic growth simply in order to secure more free time for the ordinary labour force? Actually, I think the answer would be ‘most’ -- if such a decision were left to a democratic polity. The recent experiences of much of the world suggest that at least in recent times, national economic growth has often not positively impacted the quality of life of the general citizenry. The life-quality benefits of national economic growth are largely captured by only a small portion of the population. This being the case, I think if it were put to vote, most polities would choose the immediate life-style benefits of a four-day workweek over the temporally and economically remote benefits of ‘economic growth’ (indeed, France’s legislation does seem to have spurred considerable grassroots (read ‘democratic’) movements for similar legislation in many other Western countries.

France is also the modern polity that most retains the political practice and constitutional significance of political practices akin to what earlier democratic cultures used to refer to as ‘mobbing’ (today, the term ‘mobbing’ carries a largely negative connotation; historically however, its connotation was often much more positive). ‘Mobbing’ (in this context) involves the use of mass public and disruptive demonstration, generally distinctively targeted again property but not against the security of the person, as a means of making a distinctly political point. Historically, mobbing was seen as critical means by which the lower economic orders in a democratic polity could counteract wealth-effects in the political arena. Today, it remains a distinctive feature of French political society, as recently exemplified by José Bové’s highly choreographed destruction of a McDonald’s restaurant in 1999. And related to our point above, has notably been a particular prominent feature of that polity’s relatively successful opposition to neo-liberalism.

Finally, more evidence for my claim is the French polity’s rejection in 2005 of the proposed EU constitution. One of the things that surprised friends of mine who supported that constitution was who informed the average French citizen was about the issues involved. The proposed constitution was an extraordinarily complex document, and it was supported by the elected government. It would have been easy for the French voter to save the effort necessary to comprehend these complexities and simply vote as she has been told to be some trusted source. Assuming that my friends were right and that the ordinary French voter did in fact go out of her way to make an independent and informed judgment regarding the proposed constitution, it suggests to me ‘democracy’ that is more ‘vibrant’ than many of the others with which I am familiar.

Why might this be the case. Well, this is a long idea, so that will have to wait for my next post.

6 comments:

Caleb said...

Although I try to defend France on every occasion (I'm Canadian, I just happen to think France gets unfairly mocked), I'm not sure I agree about the vitality of French democracy.

Specifically, it seems to me that the democratic French economy results in a large percentage of the population being left out in the cold. Riots in crowded banlieus are a response to this. When the government tries to introduce economic reforms that might make it easier for businesses to fire (and therefore hire) workers, students take to the streets in mass protest.

Sarkozy is the first president in a number of years not to be trained at the main elite university (Graduates are referred to as Enarques). Even so, he tends to be looked down on as "too crass" to be president.

One could even argue (perhaps cynically) that a large part of the French economy is propped up by agriculture subsidies that do immense harm to developing countries. If that's what it takes to have a four-day work week, I'm not sure I would vote for it.

路傑 said...

免費A片, ut聊天室, AV女優, 美女視訊, 免費成人影片, 成人論壇, 情色交友, 免費AV, 線上a片, 日本美女寫真集, 同志聊天室, 聊天室交友, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 色情網站, 辣妹視訊, 美女交友, 微風成人區, 色美媚部落格, 色情影片, 成人影片, 成人網站, 免費A片, 上班族聊天室, A片,H漫, 18成人, a漫, av dvd, 一夜情聊天室, 微風成人, 成人圖片, 成人漫畫, 情色網, 日本A片, 免費A片下載, 性愛, 成人交友, 嘟嘟成人網, 嘟嘟成人網, 成人貼圖, 成人電影, 成人, 中部人聊天室, 080中部人聊天室, 成人貼圖, 成人小說, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 免費成人影片, 成人遊戲, 微風成人, 愛情公寓, 成人電影, A片, 情色, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 做愛, 成人遊戲, 成人影城, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 寄情築園小遊戲, 色情遊戲, 成人網站, 麗的色遊戲, 色情網站, 成人論壇, 情色視訊, 情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 言情小說, 愛情小說, 色情A片, 情色論壇, 自拍, 癡漢, , 俱樂部, 豆豆聊天室, 聊天室, 色情影片, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊交友90739 情人視訊網影音視訊聊天室 免費視訊聊天室 視訊聊天 視訊交友 美女視訊 視訊美女 視訊 免費視訊 免費視訊聊天 視訊聊天室 辣妹視訊 一夜情 色情a片 aio交友愛情館 情色電影 情色視訊 色情遊戲 色情 情色小說 一葉情貼圖片區 色情小說 色情聊天室 情色交友 成人論壇 成人網站 色情網站 情色論壇 小高聊天室 女同志聊天室 6K聊天室 080苗栗人聊天室 080聊天室 聊天室尋夢園 UT男同志聊天室 男同志聊天室 尋夢園聊天室 UT聊天室 聊天室 豆豆聊天室 A片 成人電影 成人貼圖 嘟嘟成人網 美女交友 本土自拍 成人交友 成人影片http://ssff01.3b8mm.com/

kutyhgvd said...

I am so happy to get some last chaos gold and the lastchaos gold is given by my close friend who tells me that the lastchaos money is the basis to enter into the game. Therefore, I should buy last chaos gold with the spare money and I gain some cheap lastchaos gold from other players.

. said...

酒店喝酒,禮服店,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,制服店,便服店,鋼琴酒吧,兼差,酒店兼差,酒店打工,伴唱小姐,暑假打工,酒店上班,日式酒店,舞廳,ktv酒店,酒店,酒店公關,酒店小姐,理容院,日領,龍亨,學生兼差,酒店兼差,酒店上班,酒店打工,禮服酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,經紀 彩色爆米花,經紀人 彩色爆米花,酒店傳播,酒店經紀 彩色爆米花,爆米花,童裝,童裝拍賣,童裝大盤,童裝寄賣,童裝批貨,酒店,酒店,童裝切貨,酒店,GAP童裝,酒店,酒店 ,禮服店 , 酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工

酒店經紀ㄚ君姐姐 said...

,,姐.,便服/,,

freefun0616 said...

酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店小姐兼職, 便服酒店經紀, 酒店打工經紀, 制服酒店工作, 專業酒店經紀, 合法酒店經紀, 酒店暑假打工, 酒店寒假打工, 酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店小姐兼職, 便服酒店工作, 酒店打工經紀, 制服酒店經紀, 專業酒店經紀, 合法酒店經紀, 酒店暑假打工, 酒店寒假打工, 酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店小姐兼職, 便服酒店工作, 酒店打工經紀, 制服酒店經紀,,