We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

L’Autre France*

The French libertarian movement is split over war with Iraq, though needless to say, not for the purely venal reasons of Chirac, the bespoke purveyor of nuclear technology to national-socialist dictators.

Most of the French libertarians I have been in touch with seem torn between a quasi-Randian view: “exterminate all practitioners of violent irrational beliefs” and the absolutist horror of any state violence. With a president like Jacques Chirac (imagine a cross between Richard Nixon, Walter Mondale, Bill Clinton and George Bush senior: with NONE of their redeeming features), such scepticism about the morality of one’s own government seems reasonable. My fear about America is that unlike most Americans, I assume that the next US president could be almost as bad. But that’s another issue.

A distinctive voice in France right now is Jacques Garello – a French Catholic economist of the Austrian school. Professor Garello has hosted the summer university of the “nouvelle économie” at Aix for twenty five years, probably the most significant event of it’s kind in Europe. Here M. Garello considers the case for a “just” war:

The error consists in talking of a war against Iraq, when it really is a war against terrorism, and a legitimate case of self-defense of universal civilisation against barbaric forces which happen to find support and encouragement in Iraq.

He goes on to suggest that the real purpose of French diplomacy in refusing to side publicly with the US is the fear of the millions of potential Islamic militants in France: they would rather ignore the problem than fight it.

*= The Other France

8 comments to L’Autre France*

  • Antoine,

    Are you sure “exterminate” is the right word for the view of the pro-war French libertarians?

    It sounds a bit immoral (as compared to something more like: kill as few enemies as possible; persuade those we can; help them build better institutions, like a democratic government [yes, a *government*!]).

    Also, “exterminate” seems at odds with the ‘self-defense of civilisation’ style quote given of a prominent French libertarian.

  • (imagine a cross between Richard Nixon, Walter Mondale, Bill Clinton and George Bush senior: with NONE of their redeeming features)

    Egads. I knew he was bad, but I didn’t know he was THAT bad.

  • Dale Amon

    I think he was being a bit tongue in cheek about the Randians…

    I’m glad you wrote this. I told a friend the other day french people were not the problem. However I divide France into the french, the Parisiennes and the dirigiste.

    Americans get along well with the first; can co-exist with the second… and we’d all be better off if the third just vanished into a hole in the ground.

  • The description of Chirac simply must be too harsh. Is it really logically possible for someone to have *all* those terrible qualities? Perhaps he’s an excellent golfer? I don’t know. Maybe he chose to not kill a bug when he was a child? There must be something good to say about the man…

  • Antoine Clarke

    Regarding Chirac’s good points.
    No, I think I listed them all…

  • Shannon Moran

    Just noticed your site and think its great!
    Do you meet in London or elsewhere?
    When? I am an American living half the
    year in London and find the orgies of
    anti-Americanism and the whimping about of
    nearly all of Europe regarding Iraq more
    than any freedom-loving rational woman
    should have to take. USA Today reported that
    America may be significantly decreasing its
    bases in Germany and So. Korea. I think its
    about time that Europe took responsibility for
    protecting itself, and no longer depended on
    America, whom they refuse to help in our
    hour of need.

  • rosignol

    (imagine a cross between Richard Nixon, Walter Mondale, Bill Clinton and George Bush senior: with NONE of their redeeming features)

    Ye gods. And the alternative was Le Pen… someone up there must hate the French.