Forget winning a ticket to the Superbowl, sleeping with Paris Hilton or getting an Oscar: for some Americans, there is nothing more titillating than the idea of the end of France. It pops up regularly on the cover of serious and prestigious publications, such as Time magazine's latest European edition. This week, a Marcel Marceau double looks down sadly at a dying flower under a damning revelation in bold black letters: The Death of French Culture.
"The end of France" phantasmagoria almost always presents itself the same way: long investigations crammed with figures, statistics, and quotes from disgruntled and self-hating Frenchmen backed by as many triumphant Americans.… Seguir leyendo »
The French are not amused. Trade unions and the government know they'd better speed up negotiations and find an agreement on the reform of special pension schemes or France will soon reach boiling point. On day nine of transport strikes, the streets are simmering with discontent. Yesterday's announcement that Jacques Chirac is being questioned about l'affaire of the Paris town hall's fictitious jobs has done little to soothe the highly volatile national temper.
This is a tale of two Frances. The first is made up of 1 million beneficiaries of special pension schemes defending their "acquired rights" by going on strike, and of 5.2 million civil servants staging walk-outs over their decreasing "purchasing power" and against Nicolas Sarkozy's plans for substantial job cuts in the public sector.… Seguir leyendo »
I had sworn never to fall into an anti-globalisation rant but, let's face it, globalisation is a bummer. And I'm not saying this because I'm French. All of us watch the daily turmoil in the financial markets with fear and little understanding; wake up in a gut-wrenching panic about the imminent housing property crash; suffer devastating floods and unprecedented heatwaves (don't tell me there is no link between globalisation and climate change). And soon we'll be struck by an even bigger crisis. Globalisation is going to strike us where it hurts most: in our stomachs. Some of us have already forgotten the meaning of seasonal fruit and vegetables and think that Starbucks offers authentic Italian coffee culture.… Seguir leyendo »
The Economist showed him on its cover as Bonaparte on his horse after the famous painting by Jacques-Louis David, and the foreign press at large has depicted him as a Napoleonic figure, based on his short stature and authoritarian stance. But what foreign journalists seem to forget is that France boasts as many authoritarian styles as it does cheeses. Nicolas Sarkozy is not a Napoleon Bonaparte. For one thing, he has just banned mass mercy to the nation's prisoners on this Saturday's Bastille day, a measure that was restored by Napoleon in 1802. Besides, if the current tenant of the Elysee palace had a drop of Napoleon's genius and vision, we would be hopeful.… Seguir leyendo »