Sarko’s “Politics of Civilization”

Nicolas Sarkozy, as promised, met with the press, 600 members strong, for over two hours on Tuesday morning in the ballroom of Elysée Palace. First, the BIG SCOOP: he does intend to marry model-turned-singer Carla Bruni (a member of the gauche caviar – a “limousine liberal” as Americans would say), but the date will be announced after they are married. In other words, it’s none of our business. For more you can read this Telegraph article.

Second, he expanded on a notion he had introduced on December 31, when he presented his New Year’s wishes to his people, namely, the “politics of civilization.” No one knew what he meant by this term, borrowed from left-wing sociologist Edgar Morin, but it seems that he wants to reestablish points of reference, norms, rules criteria. “We must fight the blunders and excesses of our own civilization.”

One of these “blunders” is the preponderance of television ads. Nicolas Sarkozy intends to look into the possibility of eliminating advertising from public television (i.e., national channels): “I hope to re-examine in depth the means of financing public television, and to consider the total elimination of commercial advertising on national channels.” He suggested two ways of funding the national channels: a tax on private channels’ advertising revenues or a tiny tax on the revenues of new communications industries, such as Internet access or cell phones.

He said that national television could not function “according to purely mercantile criteria.” “This is a revolution which, by changing the economic pattern of national television, will change completely the basis of cultural politics in our information-age society.”

After his declaration TF1 and M6 stocks rose sharply at the Paris stock exchange. (Note: both are private channels.)

Another blunder to correct is the 35-hour work week instituted by socialist Martine Aubry (Jacques Delors’ daughter) in 1998. While he had long ago stated his desire to get around the existing laws, he went further yesterday, arousing the ire of labor leaders and other socialists and communists. Sarkozy’s special adviser Henri Guaino insisted there was “nothing new.” “The legal work week will remain 35 hours, but it will be possible, branch by branch, business by business, with accords agreed upon by the majority, to get around (“déroger”) the rule. If there is no agreement, the 35-hour rule applies automatically... For this year.” He added that discussions will take place on the law “in the coming months.”

If the Left cried “treason!” at the announcement, the liberals (i.e., free enterprise advocates) greeted the news favorably.

Believing that the French “can no longer tolerate the growing gap between the statistics that describe a continuous progress and the difficulties they experience in their daily lives,” Nicolas Sarkozy wants to “change the criteria of judgment” on economic matters. He has therefore engaged two Nobel Prize winners in economics, Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen, to examine how to change the instruments for measuring growth.

As for the city of Paris, Nicolas Sarkozy has big plans. At his press conference he brought back into the limelight his idea of a “Greater Paris” (“Grand Paris”), linking the capital and the suburbs. He promised to get personally involved in the project, thus defying socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoë who is seeking a second term:

“I will not allow this plan to drag, I will not allow anyone to block it. [...] The Parisian urban center has become unacceptable. Paris must recover its vitality, its world-wide appeal, its attractiveness, its creativity.” In June Mr. Sarkozy had already expressed his regret that Paris “is the only area of dense population in France with no urban community.”

I have no idea what he means by “urban community.” Could he be saying that Paris is lacking in large numbers of immigrants, who usually congregate in the suburbs? Hence, his desire to redraw the boundaries of Paris to include some suburbs – but which ones?

The president defended his policy to expel illegal immigrants. “It is not about inhumanity, it’s about the rule of law. A State governed by laws requires you to be documented. The system of quotas will be put into effect in accordance with our capacity for absorption and integration. [...] I will not allow it to be said that we treat undocumented aliens as if they were criminals. It isn’t true.”

He also indicated that both Spain and Italy were proceeding to expel large numbers. “If Spanish socialists and Italian socialists do it, don’t you think France should also?”

I suppose one could infer from that that if the socialists don’t do it, it isn’t worth doing???

According to a summary in Le Figaro, Sarkozy also wants to modify the preamble to the French Constitution in order to “guarantee the equality of men and women, to ensure the respect for diversity, to make possible a true policy of integration, and to respond to the challenges of bioethics.” He has asked Simone Veil to “preside over a committee in charge of working out a first draft.” “This is so that in terms of philosophical, moral, and ethical problems, our Constitution is ahead of its time and not behind,” he justified.

Simone Veil is the former minister of health who pushed through the “Loi Veil,” the French law legalizing abortion.

On the issues of GMO’s Nicolas Sarkozy is willing to “make use of the safeguard clause,” if there are serious doubts about those products grown in France. “I’m ready to use caution, until the European Commission makes a decision on the problem.”

I take that to mean he will not produce GMO’s in France if doubts exist as to their safety.

I saw the tape of that

I saw the tape of that speech on C-SPAN. I'm glad to see that it wasn't just me who couldn't figure out what the heck he was talking about. The "politics of civilization," "mercantile criteria," "basis of cultural politics," "criteria of judgement" - one abstraction after another. No concrete language, no plain language at all. Hardly any active verbs even. Just what we call gobbledygook.

If an American politician talked like that, he would be spoofed on Saturday Night Live. He'd be the laughingstock of the nation.

You had wait through all the fog, hanging on the edge of your seat, for the occasional bit of substance he deigned to give, a mere handful of things he definitely said, things he could have said in three minutes.

Like a pretentious college professor writing some high faluting, wooly and verbose junk nobody who doesn't have to will ever read. Afterwards you ask yourself, "What the heck did he just say?"

He obviously doesn't want you to know. He just wants to dress up his plans in a lot of foggy verbiage to make them sound impressive and highly intellectual. He is as unintelligible as Chirac was with all the fuzzy abstractions.

We have something called "plain English," a movement to eradicate gobbledygook from government. If an American politician ever talked like that - and FOR SO LONG - they would be throwing tomatoes at him to drive him off stage after 20 minutes. Is it just the French? Or do all Europeans put up with being blathered at by politicians like that?

That speech didn't clarify what he is doing: it obfuscated what he he is doing. Obviously, that was the intent.


" one abstraction after another. No concrete language, no plain language at all. Hardly any active verbs even. Just what we call gobbledygook. "

Maybe his brain was still a little foggy because he had been talking with Edgar Morin not long before.

Rule of law? Rule of WHOSE law?

So now Sharko amends the French constitution. That was to be expected.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Under Lisbon, all EU states have to and will have to modify their constitutions, and in fact, they have to deeply cut into their national laws 1) in order to adopt the EU constitution at all, that is, to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, and 2) in order to eliminate any discrepancy in details of the most crucial stipulations between a national constitution and those of the EU constitution (Lisbon Treaty).

Probably all national governments are very busy, as we speak, amending their constitution, mostly in secret, marginally or not even notifying their own people of what they are doing. Just like the preparation of the new disguised form of the EU constitution was performed in secrecy with a text to hide the very fact that it is a constitution, the whole process is continued in secret in the present.

It is a scientific fact that the above described process of amending a constitution (or in this case 27 constitutions) in order to comply with a new one, is political engineering via constitutionalization, in a way (in secret) that lacks all the democratically required transparency and legitimacy. It is also known that the "rule of law" alone, which now Sharko highlights, does not guarantee freedom. The EU leaders declare that they are the law, so whatever they do, is the law. He is actually rewriting the laws that will rule (that is he is amending the constitution). This is circular reasoning lacking all logical justification.
The Lisbon process is lacking not only logic and but democratic legitimacy as well, because a truly democratic system and a democratic process of constitutionalization would require meeting a number of other conditions as well. Most of all it would require the direct involvement of the large majority of the affected peoples via proper information on the process and referendums.

Another example that the "rule of law" is insufficient to guarantee democracy: Hitler's regime (the communist regimes as well!) was considered to be ruled by law. Yes a dictatorship can also be a system ruled by law, but then they are ruled by Hitler's, Stalin's etc. laws. So there is a system that is built to be ruled by Sharko's and friends' rules.

However what political science claims in this regard, is this:
"If political liberty or the duty to obey the law depends on actual obedience by state officials it becomes necessary to examine if it is true that obedience to the superior rules by state officials is a guarantee of political liberty and if it is true that state officials obey the law rather than basing their decisions on their own personal preferences." (p. 96) (Democracy and the Rule of Law By Adam Przeworski, José María Maravall)