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French malaise

Sylvain Galineau at Chicago Boyz, who refer to us affectionately(?) as Les Samiz, thus imbuing us with confidence to comment on matters Françaises, has a fast-paced and insightful analysis of a backlash against the French establishment’s intellectual jihad.

The French intellectual spectrum has narrowed considerably in the past twenty years. Fourteen years of socialism, following the emasculation of the Right in 1981 by Mitterand, control of the main media outlets by former 1968 hippies and radicals, and a generalized popular addiction to state handouts have produced an extremely poor, predictable, rarefied environment where political correctness rules and little dissent is effectively accepted or tolerated as such.

Enter a bookshop and books by Chomsky, Krugman, Moore or Clinton are displayed prominently, available in their French edition weeks after they come out in the U.S. Good luck finding Julian Simon or Bjorn Lomborg in French, or anything that seriously and thoroughly challenges the daily Litany.

Combine such intellectually emasculated existence with the political elite of continental proportions and what you get is staid, bland, bitter, hateful and self-aggrandising public discourse. Wait, does not that remind you of someplace?

This generally dull, stultifying, suffocating homogeneity of thought is disturbing more and more people, as they grasp daily with the unintended consequences of social-engineering train wrecks and struggle to keep up with the increasing scale of governmental hypocrisy. One day, Chirac opposes a US intervention in Iraq on “principle”, as being “illegal” and “immoral”. Six months later, the very same government votes a UN resolution making the same intervention legal and legitimate, post-facto. After criticizing the “simplism” and “dangerous folly” or America’s defense strategy, the same French government then updates its nuclear dissuasion policy to include rogue states either equipped with, or seeking WMDs, and a study of pre-emptive strikes using mini-nukes. One day health care is an “obvious and necessary mission of the state”; the next, after a heatwave kills thousands while officials and doctors are tanning their noodle on the beach and already limited nursing staff rests at home courtesy of the 35-hour week, it is the “responsibility of each and everyone of us”.

Read the whole thing including a further comment by Sylvain in the comments section.

22 comments to French malaise

  • Alfred E. Neuman

    Cue Kodiak in 3…2…1…

  • Yes, Alfred, as soon as I saw this post I started hearing a song with the lines “If you go down to the woods today…”

  • Charles Copeland

    Sylvain’s contribution is a pretty accurate picture of the situation in France — critics of the established order are now liable to prosecution on grounds of hate crime, or they get the silent treatment, as in the case of Guy Milliere or Alexandre Del Valle, whose recent book ‘Le totalitarisme islamiste’ has been more or less totally ignored.

    My only caveat is that the Jewish organisations who lobbied in favour of the anti-racism and Holocaust denial act (the loi Gayssot of 1990) partly have themselves to blame. In fact, you are liable to be dragged before the courts in France if you criticise almost ANY religious or ethnic community too severely. In France, it is against the law even for a gentile to argue that Jews are more intellectually gifted than other ethnic groups for genetic reasons!

    Besides, many of these Jewish organisations were very much in favour of open immigration everywhere — except of course to Israel. Now the National Front is saying: you helped let the Arabs in, so what do you expect?

    The ‘new judeophobia’ in France is of course abhorrent. But the fact that judeophobia is abhorrent does not mean that everyone who criticises goons like Ariel Sharon is an anti-Semite.

    One can be opposed to Islamic totalitarianism without brownnosing the Likud party, and without approving the crimes committed by Zionist settler fanatics who want to ethnically cleanse the West Bank.

    A discuter …

  • Charles Copeland

    P.S. A great quote from Chicago Boyz:

    I am islamophobic, and I do not mind saying so. (…) I have the right, I feel, to think that (and I am not alone in this country) Islam (I specifically said Islam, I am not even talking about islamists) as a religion, brings with it a certain mental deficiency (…) that makes me islamophobic. (…) There is no reason, for the sake of tolerance, (…) that one should lower one’s self and betray one’s deepest beliefs.

    – Claude Imbert, editor of Le Point

    Sylvain’s contribution is worth reading for that citation alone!

    Thank heavens the country still has some people with guts.

  • I have quite a lot of time for Islam, actually, but it has some problems, definitely. My suspicion is that because they have a complete revealed text, narrow-minded Muslims have more succour or encouragement than the (sadly plentiful) narrow-minded folk from other religions.

    As for France, my suspicion is that the 1790 Republican idea is entering a mid-life crisis.

  • Gustave La Joie

    I can buy Mises, David Friedman, Rothbard, Nozick, Salin, Lysander Spooner, Thomas Szatz, in French from any bookstore in France. Gustave de Molinari is the hardest, but even his works are being republished now. Note that none of these authors has British editions. None of these authors are published in England (although US imports are possible for some of them). The intellectual climate is not that different in England. A problem that is largely masked by the anglosphere and Amazon.com.
    There are no greater whingers in the world than French libertarians: there are thousands of the critters, all of whom have bookshleves full of French editions of books that have never been published in England. They all moan that there aren’t enough of them. By my latest count there are over 250 French libertarian organisations with a presence on the web. Rather more, I might add than there were Thatcherites in the mid-1970s…
    One problem is that not a single one of them knows how to write a press release. They also tend to hate each other more than the socialists, often making Ayn Rand seem like Talleyrand by comparison.

  • Gustave,

    If you can find these in any bookstore, you and I obviously grew up in very different places.

    The point was not that you can’t find the classics. It was that mainstream political books, the commercial fare every one of us is exposed to, if you will, strongly favors a particular kind of politics. Which also determines the very kind of deeper, more serious books people are more likely to seek later.

    Sure, the Barnes & Nobles down the road from my house here in NH has all the Greek and Latin classics, even a full edition of Plato and a Spanish version of the Koran. But last time I checked, they were certainly not prominently displayed, and it would be foolish on my part to infer much about the philosophical, linguistic or religious education of the average Portsmouth citizen from the presence of these fine tomes in a big bookstore.

    Julian Simon’s books are still not published in French, to my knowledge. Neither is Lomborg, despite the important contributions of both to an important debate that has been hijacked by radical loonies. Neither are many foreign writers whose beliefs and views certainly clash mightily with the agenda of the local establishment, and who could lead many to Friedman, Rothbard and the others.

    For what it’s worth, I had never heard of Molinary, Say and the others until I moved to the US. Granted, I spent only three weeks in college. But while I heard a lot about Rousseau, Kant, Marx and the usual suspects during those two hours of weekly philosophy class in my last year of high school, I can’t recall hearing anything about them back then. They are simply not household names in France. I bet my thirteen year-old niece has heard about Keynes. I’d be very surprised if she knew Friedman.

    Remember the good old Apostrophes, late in the evening with the ever reliable Bernard Pivot ? How many libertarian thinkers or writers were ever invited there ?

    As for French libertarians, well, thousands in a country of 60 million would probably explain why they’re so discrete on the political scene. And why I never ran into one.

  • Jonathan

    Alfred: that was about the funniest thing I’ve read in at least two weeks. I laughed my fool head off.

    Seriously though: where the heck is Kodiak? Does anyone know where he lives? I’m starting to get concerned.

  • Jacob

    Charles Copeland:
    “everyone who criticises goons like Ariel Sharon …”
    This sounds exactely like Kodiak criticizing the “Texan cowboy, simplistic Bush”.

    Seems you have your prejudices in more that one domain.

  • Michael D Hiteshew

    1) “…critics of the established order are now liable to prosecution on grounds of hate crime”

    Let’s see, we have thought crimes…

    2A) “After criticizing the “simplism” and “dangerous folly” or America’s defense strategy, the same French government then updates its nuclear dissuasion policy to include rogue states either equipped with, or seeking WMDs, and a study of pre-emptive strikes using mini-nukes.”

    2B) “One day health care is an “obvious and necessary mission of the state”; the next, after a heatwave kills thousands while officials and doctors are tanning their noodle on the beach and already limited nursing staff rests at home courtesy of the 35-hour week, it is the “responsibility of each and everyone of us”.

    Rewriting of official policy to the point of completely contradicting the previous one….

    3) “Combine such intellectually emasculated existence with the political elite of continental proportions and what you get is staid, bland, bitter, hateful and self-aggrandising public discourse.

    Wait, does not that remind you of someplace?”

    Yes. Airstrip One. Scary, but obvious. Is it really that bad, or are you exaggerating for effect?

  • Michael D Hiteshew

    On reading again, I’m also reminded of the Soviet Union. Is that what you’re driving at?

  • Kodiak

    Dear all,

    I’ll be back quite soon.

    Just the time for me to make a good note of the latest fatwa issued in Chariahgoboyz by Ayatollah Sylvain.

  • The familiar neuron-free brain fart smell, the childish attempts at sharp name-calling flopping into infantile blabber….our favorite pet troll is all right…Alfred must be rejoicing. Where’s the champagne, Al ?

    Now is the time to bet on what Kodiak’s feverish neuron (singular seems an accurate estimate) will cook up next. We know it’s only going to be very remotely connected to the actual post. Sort of like the Kevin Bacon game.

    Bets are open….

  • Kodiak

    Hey sweetie, calm down >>> you’re going to catch an ulcer…

    (…) the childish attempts at sharp name-calling flopping into infantile blabber (…) >>> just read again your posts, mon petit Sylvain.
    And why not this one? >>> The familiar neuron-free brain fart smell(…)

    Well, more seriously, and your enduring, hard-posting obsession towards my rear (!!!) notwithsatnding, please be kind enough to spare some of your foaming, salivating hysteria for my retort. I won’t be long before you may resume your circus.

    A toute à l’heure.

  • Isn’t he cute when he actually takes himself seriously enough to believe people are upset by his comments ? Innocence can be so precious. Now I understand what Alfred was missing.

    Well, not really. But sort of 🙂

  • Kodiak

    Sylvain: how sweet from you to turn to more peaceful feelings.

    Il ne faut jamais désespérer.

    Bonne soirée ou bon dimanche, suivant ton fuseau horaire.

  • Kodiak


    The new French libertarian révolutionnaire whose “courage” is revered by Ayatollah Ben Sylvain, is the son of a fonctionnaire with the Service des alcools (a bureaucratic red-tape factory reporting to the innovative, unstatist, business-focussed Administration des finances) & of a managing clerk with… la Banque de France!!! Note also that Imbert graduated from Normale Sup, a totally defiant, independent, Ivy-league, globalised educational institution known worldwide for its alternative paradigm thinking…
    That said, Claude Imbecile’s islamophobic outburst would be OK had he just dismissed all the same the two other monotheist impostures. But Imbert hasn’t. However, isn’t the jewish religion rather ridiculous with its home-made chariah (like: thou shalt not switch on your telly on Friday night…)? Isn’t judaism xenophobic to the core with its jewish-Mama fatwa? If your Mom isn’t jewish, you cant be a jew even if you really want to: you know, “god” gave this religion to the “elected” people & to its offspring and your corrupt blood isn’t welcome. Grotesque. Judaism is so derisory that some fanaticised jews claim Israel to be a sacrilege abomination for that State was founded before their raelian “messiah” had the opportunity to land on Earth!!! What makes you guys feel better: being a goy or a dhimmi? Jusdaism & islam are equally farcical, inept, flagitious & insulting to Human intelligence. But Claude’s bravery lies unquestionably in his total lack of christianophobia. True Cloclo was perhaps pusillanimous since more or less than 90 % of the French “are” either catholic, protestant or orthodox. Why hasn’t Claude noticed that the christian clergy is made up of senile paedophiles? Too bad M. Imbert didn’t find the gallantry to denounce the incongruous assortment of bishops & archbishops all dressed in KKK-like clothes. And what about exorcism? And what about the criminal “pope” urging people to get AIDS because wearing a condom is satanic? Has Claude forgotten the Banco Ambrosiano’s cocaine-money financing km3 of holy water & tonnes of Jesus-biscuits for the Vatican? Why don’t Claude tell us more about the French catholic integrists performing their Dionysiac orgy of “mental deficiency” in St-Nicolas-du-Chardonnet?

    We already have had La France qui tombe, Adieu à la France qui s’en va, Le désarroi français, L’arrogance française, Des lions menés par des ânes, Une glorieuse stagnation, L’obsession anti-américaine, L’Ouest contre l’Ouest, Ce que veut Bush, L’illusion antifasciste: la gauche & le terrorisme intellectuel à la française etc etc etc. But the French rentrée littéraire wouldn’t be that bright weren’t it for the improbable French malaise by our culturally modified organism, I mean by our polythinking Sylvain.
    Little Buddha Sylvain teaches us what everybody already knows: France is a centralised, Jacobinic country with an endogamic élite, including the so protesting, seditious M. Imbert. With great sedulity, crossmemic Sylvain shows us his distinctive petit (très petit) bourgeois analysis of French intellectual paucity (perhaps to be compared with germane, islamic “mental deficiency”?). After the worn-out diatribe against enarchy, our favourite Anglo-Saxonoid-to-be then regrets the old good times when he was watching Bernard Pivot on TV… Pivot was the pope of telly literature from the late 70s until a couple of years ago. Perhaps Sylvain has anything to say about the latest works by Loana or Rika Zaraï? Any comment on Florent Pagny or Lara Fabian by our implausible Franco-US nouveau philosophe?

    Alexandre Adler: apostle of the myth of French neo-antisemitism. Former communist until late 70s (worked with Jean Kanapa –an inveterate stalinist- in the Central Committee of the PCF –French communist party). Worked with Pierre Mauroy, former socialist PM. First collaborated with Libération (leftist rag), then with Le Figaro (mainstream rollpaper for rightards).
    Blandine Kriegel: liberal (ie: conservative) & current Joan of Arc against pornography on TV. Former maoïst, former PS-member (socialist party) & now cryptochiraquista.
    Christine Ockrent: known as La Reine Christine or as the Dowager Empress of TV, (Mme Ockrent is the wife of the bushist Kouchner, a former minister in Mitterrand’s government !).
    Romain >Goupil: “film”-maker. Filmography includes A mort, la mort!, a pretentious, verbose, narcissistic flop where M. Goupil tries to be an actor (irresistibly ridiculous). Former trotskyist, now born-again bushist.
    Yves Roucaute: former communist of a high-flying lineage. Now precentor of radical bushification & acolyte of lepéniste Madelin (still unknown in the polls…).
    André Glucksmann: hippy-looking, spliff-fed, pseudo-former-sartrian-to-be & former stalinian maoïst, now converted to rumsfeldism. Theoretician of “good terrorism” (Chechnya) & “bad terrorism” (Iraq). A quote by AG in Dostoïevski à Manhattan (2002) (sorry: my translation): “What remains is the lonely splendour of Chechen women –prisoners on a raft- as they seize their gaolers & have them drowned with them” >>> remarkable apology of suicide-bombing (in Chechnya, not in Iraq).
    Jean-François Revel: null, pompous écrivassier of the Académie française (!!!). Former socialist, former mitterrandolatrous opportunist now turned socialo-bushist.
    Pascal Bruckner: style-deprived scribouillard. Flooding us with bushisms frequently written in… Le Monde !!!
    Alain Finkielkraut: pundit in worthlessology & Kim Jong-il of France Culture, an inaudible French State-owned radio. Theatricalitor-in-chief of fear, hatred & ostentation.
    Nicolas Baverez: graduated from ENA & Normale Sup. Former conseiller à la Cour des Comptes… A true rebel. Good instance of the concept of Service public de la stupidité.
    Guy Millière: lepéniste, racist, French-hating dropout with an “academic” background. Visceral Arabophobe, megalomaniac extreme-right libertarian & great mufti of the “white” community. So pretentious that he claimed to have received an e-mail by… Rumsfeld himself !!!… Can’t resist to be photographed with Le Pen.
    Alexandre Del Valle: Marc d’Anna (his true name) is a friend of the Front National & of integrist catholics. Violently anti-Arab.

    Enough said.

  • If anybody has the time and the patience – two big Ifs – to read the brain dump above and can summarize it in two sentences of coherent English, let me know.

    While scrolling over this latest piece of random…something, I don’t even know what you can call this stuff any more….I just caught that Bernard Kouchner was a ‘bushist’ – the term speaks volume about the author’s broad outlook on world affairs, doesn’t it ? – so at least there is stuff so nonsensical it’s actually funny.

    Also spotted a list of miscellaneous unrelated, totally disconnect media personalities that have nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    As I said, if it makes sense to anyone, let me know.

    Right, back to work.

  • Kodiak


    I understand your fatigue* as your run out of arguments. Take care & see ya later.

    *need I provide you with a French translation?

  • Sylvain Galineau

    LOL. Sure, that must be it. People can no longer compete with the depth of your knowledge and insight. Good one.

    Arguments ? Where ? If I was dealing with arguments, I could write something. But I don’t know how to answer incoherent, disconnected ranting gibberish.

    So you can post it in French, German or swahili, as far as I’m concerned. Same difference. Knock yourself out.

  • Kodiak

    Sylvain: CQFD, merci.

    A plus…