Scott into the breach

Well, I don’t read or speak French, have probably spent less than 30 days in France in my entire life, and I don’t tend to follow French politics much. But what the heck, here I go.

Of leading French politicians, it seems Nicolas Sarkozy has actually made one of the stronger efforts to reach out to the Muslim community…

For instance, he pushed for a law that allowed for government subsidies to build mosques, supported the creation of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, and even appears to support a form of French “affirmative action.” Though I’m put off by his populist law-and-order rhetoric and the threat it poses to civil liberties, it seems grossly unfair to tar him with racism – which seems to be what’s happening, with calls for his resignation coming from the embattled Paris suburbs.

I’ll go even further out on a limb and say that Sarkozy’s political star is tied to the success of any future economic liberalization in France. Indeed, he seems to be the only hope right now for reforming France’s – and Europe’s – bloated agricultural subsidies.

Without a reduction of European agricultural subsidies, the Americans will never reduce their own bloated farm subsidies. Without a reduction in American farm subsidies, Brazil and Argentina will never sign onto a Free Trade Agreement for the Americas (FTAA). Without a fair FTAA deal, Latin American farmers will continue to suffer.

Why do young North African immigrants in France hate Latin American farmers?

5 thoughts on “Scott into the breach

  1. Sarkozy’s a staunch supporter of the CAP, and less likely to reform it than the socialists, who don’t have farmer’s as part of their base.

  2. I think your completely wrong about Sarkosy, I’m increasingly convinced that he’s authoritarian, demagogic with little morality and no principles. His flirting w liberal rhetoric is probably just posturing and positioning. He’ll be significantly worse than Chirac, who’s crooked, but not very ruthless.

    To put it in terms you’ll relate to, I think he’s a nastier and more energetic version of Klaus.

  3. This from the Paris correspondent of The [London] Times offers insights into the policy frame of successive French governments towards immigrant communities. Perhaps predictably, the French policy is upheld as manifestly superior to the British approach, inevitably dubbed the Anglo-Saxon way.

    Actually, let me first say from my perspective in London, where 30% of the residents are officially classed as ethnic minorities, it seems altogether rather doubtful whether there is, or ever has been, a coherent, official British approach towards the settlement of migrants once they have crossed the threshold, so to say. We tend to prefer muddling through. As with Britain’s pioneering industrial revolution, starting in the late 18th century, we have tended to be averse to adopting statist solutions.

    The first industrial revolution happened without state direction or control. If anything, that is the Anglo-Saxon way.

    Except for small parts, London was never planned in the way Paris way. It has just growed into the biggest and most affluent city in Europe while including some of the poorest districts in Britain. On the affluence claim, try this from Eurostat:

    This is extracted from Charles Bremner’s assessment of French policy in The Times:

    ” . . M de Villepin has promised a ‘major plan’ to ease the plight of the immigrant communities — the latest of many over the past two decades — but, meeting community leaders on Saturday, he made clear that this would be more of the same: a mix of tax incentives for business in ‘difficult districts’ plus more money for schools, police, other public services and better counselling for jobseekers.

    “Under the ethnically colour-blind ‘French model’, the immigrant workers who came in the 1950s and 1960s from the former colonies in North and black Africa were to be regarded as equal citizens. They and their descendants would take advantage of the education system and generous welfare state to assimilate with ‘white’ France. To promote the idea of assimilation, neither the State nor any other body publishes statistics on ethnic or national origin.

    “In practice, France turned its back on the minorities, shunting them into suburban cités denying access to the so-called ascenseur social (social elevator) that was supposed to lift immigrants into the mainstream. Unemployment on the estates is up to three times the 10 per cent national average. Laws supposed to promote integration and oppose multiculturalism, such as the ban on Muslim headwear in schools, have often heightened resentment and the feeling of exclusion. This has in turn fed the rise of Muslim radicalism, which has now become the dominant creed of the young in the French ghettos.

    “France has always deemed its model superior to the Anglo-Saxon approach of diversity, which has enabled ethnic minorities to retain strong bonds in cultural and religious communities. France calls this ‘comunitarism’ and says that it promotes ghettos, exclusion, poverty, race riots and religious extremism that can ultimately lead to actions such as the London bombings. . . ”,,13509-1860457,00.html

  4. David,

    You may be right, though I’m undecided, perhaps indefinitely. I’m thinking beyond the Hong Kong meeting, even beyond the Doha round. Sarkozy now says he’s a staunch supporter of CAP and that further reductions are unacceptable. But hell, if I were trying to get myself elected President of France, I’d probably say the same thing. The question is how he’ll act once in power. Conventional wisdom holds that Sarkozy’s “more amenable to CAP reform.”

    Bob, good link to the Times article — although I don’t think you quoted the most interesting bits (to me anyway):

    “M de Villepin slapped down M Sarkozy last week for promoting dangerous “un-French” ideas that could encourage the Muslim extremism that has recently infected Britain…. [Sarkozy’s] proposals for a break with the French model have received little welcome. Both Left and Right see them as a breach of France’s republican tradition and believe that affirmative action would play into the hands of the anti-immigrant Far Right, led by Jean-Marie Le Pen.”

    “A breach of France’s republican tradition”? Next are we going to say that Muslim immigrants are “separate but equal”?

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