The Bicycle Tips Over

As predicted, the French rejected the EU Constitution. Early reports say it was a whopping 57.26 percent voting “non”.

Bravo to every Jacques and Jeannette who jammed a finger in the eye of the enarques and the whole rest of the out-of-touch elite in France. This is almost as good as the purple fingers in Iraq. It is a step in the right direction.

Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who wrote the thing, said countries that reject the treaty will be “asked to vote again”. Maybe he should be asked to take advantage of this opportunity to remain silent. How about, no means no, Valery? How about a Plan B? How about something different for Europe than a gray, lifeless, undemocratic, unaccountable bureaucracy lodged in Brussels sucking what life remains out of the old continent? How about a “Europe of fatherlands”, as De Gaulle wanted? How about not pretending that Denmark and Portugal and Malta and Italy are all really part of one country when they aren’t? How about a plan that will accommodate reality? Back to the drawing board, I hope.

The fact that anti-Americanism drove much of the vote doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t want people to like us nearly as much as I want them to be able to govern themselves the way they see fit, have real elections with real consequences, and get the benefits and bear the consequences of those decisions. If the French don’t want capitalisme sauvage or anglo-saxonisme or hyper-liberalisme, OK by me. They are free to have as much socialism as they can get away with. It’s their country. And with this vote it will stay their country for a while longer. Good.

On to Holland.

UPDATE: I think this is the first time I have been quoted in Le Monde, or translated into French by anybody. Thanks to Jonathan Curiel for the heads-up.

UPDATE II: I have been reading Lord Acton’s essay “Political Causes of the American Revolution”. He wrote it in 1861 and the “Revolution” he is talking about is what we have come to call the Civil War. Anyway, he is discussing the drafting and ratification of the US Constitution. The difference between that episode and this business in Europe could not be more stark. The Americans were intensely concerned with the precise language of the Constitution and what powers would be granted to each element of the Government and what powers would remain with the states, etc. They really believed that the Constitution would be a body of law that they would all have to live under. The Europeans hardly ever seem to talk about the actual text of the document. It is all symbolism, and scare tactics and vaporizing about the “idea of Europe”. But, I think at some level the fact that this was a badly drafted, vague and overbroad document had something to do with its rejection. The French are attached to their way of life. They want to know what will happen to it. They want clear answers. This document did not give clear answers. Whether I happen to like or agree with their “social model” or not, as free people living in a democratic society, they are entitled to those clear answers. And they were not getting them.

UPDATE III: My friend Stockholm Expat Pundit (“SEP”) wrote with some thoughts: “It is very clear that the EU is a project marketed under false pretenses. At every point the public is told this is not going to be the United States of Europe with a capital in Brussels. But the facts suggest the opposite. … Naturally people are suspicious of a secret agenda.” But he mentions that the EU will cause the Swedes, probably, “to get rid of onerous state monopolies controlling the retail sales of alcohol and pharmaceutical products. Europe will be better off economically as goods, labor and capital flow more freely.” Of course the voters in France were opposed to exactly this. SEP however is concerned that if the EU “were to lose momentum and fall on its head, the resulting mess would not be good for world stability.” He closes with the question “[A]re there countries that are too big or too diverse to function democratically? The moment the USSR liberalized its political system, all the scars of history were torn apart.”

I responded:

I too am in favor of political and economic coordination in Europe. But not something done, as you say, under false pretenses. And it should be accountable and it should have transparency and it should be democratic and it is none of those. Moreover, THIS Constitution is an atrocity and should be rejected. Europe is not a bicycle, it will exist whatever happens, but they need to go back to the drawing board. The American Constitutional ratification experience was one of open and strong public debate about the document, what it would mean, etc. This conversation in Europe is too abstract. The leaders there do not trust the public. They despise the public. That is obvious. And it is becoming mutual.

I don’t think that Europe is too big or too diverse to be democratic. It needs true federalism. Local democracy, with delegated and delimited powers, clearly defined, at the Union level is what they need. They need a better document which accomplishes that. Whether it is called a Constitution or a treaty is another question. The latter would probably be better.

Update IV. My friend Alberta Anglosphere Pundit (“AAP”) sends a link to the blog of Corine Lesnes, the author of the Le Monde article. I can’t read the French, but as AAP correctly notes: “Clearly she’s keeping an eye on the evil doings of folks like powerline and chicagoboyz. I think she found your enarque slur too good to pass up. Probably shocked that you knew the term!” Oh, some of us Americans do know a little bit about France.

UPDATE V: Wretchard agrees that Europe needs a better proposal, that merely saying NON won’t stop this thing: “The real challenge for Europeans, especially Eastern Europeans and the British, is to articulate an alternative vision for the Continent. The European vision needs a second party in order to make up a debate.” The “antis” should get together and agree what they’d like to see and start preparing an alternative draft. You can not, for long, defeat something with nothing. An “alternative vision for Europe” needs to be proposed, so that “Europe” as an idea is not the sole possession of the Brussels and Paris elites. I just don’t know off hand who should be doing the drafting of Proposal B.

UPDATE VI: On further reflection, a new EU treaty (not a Constitution) should at minimum (1) dissolve the Brussels bureaucracy, (2) create a free trade zone, (3) expressly state that it is NOT dedicated to an “ever closer union” but that Union level institutions are limited strictly to their enumerated powers, etc. Since the EU in some form is not going to go away. It is time for the sensible people to take the offensive, define what the EU ought to be, and start pushing to make it into what it ought to be. Maybe the UKIP should take the lead on proposing an alternative treaty? Keep it short. Five or ten pages. That should be plenty. Call it the New European Union Treaty NEUT. Short for neutered or neutralized. New Europe, which I think is better thought of as the Old Warsaw Pact, plus the UK, plus the Netherlands could be the main proponents. UK + NE + OWP = a coalition to counterbalance France, Spain, Benelux, etc.

If the people who do not like what the EU is becoming just keep waiting for these elections and hoping they win — eventually they will lose. These guys will just hold elections over and over until they win. An alternative has to be proposed and ratified instead. Time to take the war to the enemy. It is the only way to win this thing once and for all.

UPDATE VII: Good post on Samizdata on this issue. Bonus feature: I am castigated for making “naive” and “impromptu” suggestions in the comments. I must have a stiff drink now, and recover from this drubbing.

72 thoughts on “The Bicycle Tips Over”

  1. Of course they should re-vote. After all, about 50% of the votes were from women. And when women SAY no….. they really mean “yes”…. n’est pas?

    (Heh. Now, before you start throwing things, ponder just how many gloomy “anti-patriarchical, ant-colonialist, blah blah blah”, Euro’s would rise up in outrage from that very sexist statement, then turn around and agree that “Indeed, these hapless voters really DID mean “yes” when they were saying “no”. We just have to keep asking till we get the answer we want to hear.”

    Sauce for the fois gras, I guess.

  2. The undersigned has been blogging in Guardian:

    … if this election were held in America, our debate would NOT be on blaming others for our shortcomings. It would be on finding solutions to the problems at hand. “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” is the standard that FDR set for us.

    Now the process of European integration – a goal that America has believed in since the closing days of WWII – has come to an end. The super state beast, which was more about centralization than integration, has thankfully been killed in its infancy. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, a Europe that falls into rightist jingoism and narrow leftist self-interest politics – both represented by the NON camp – will be America’s (and UK’s) problem. Perhaps extending America’s free-trade hand to “Polish plumber” and Turkish “Muslim” will go along way to strengthening our security interest in that important part of the world. After all, in America we not only have no fear of the poor lifting themselves through their own hard work and self-reliance but we celebrate it.


  3. This makes me happy. There are not enough bad things that could happen to Chirac, d’Estaing and the rest of the French nomonklatura, who really are America’s enemies.

  4. “…. On to Holland.”

    I’m actually from Holland and, if the opinion polls are right, the constitution will be rejected here as well. They predict a 60% majority for the no camp. I’m really glad the French voted ‘non’ today. I was afraid we were going to be the only country that voted no. I never thought i would say this, but: vive la France!! :o)

  5. Good to hear from our friend in Holland. The spirit of William the Silent lives on, I see. Good.

    The people of Europe deserve a better “Europe” thant this preposterous document would have imposed.

    “…we should not exactly be high-fiving the NON camp either.” Sulaiman, you are right about that. But, whatever they meant to do, they struck a blow against a malign force today. Whether they will make wise use of this victory is another question. But we can spend a few days, anyway, celebrating this outcome.

  6. Pingback: Radical Reformer
  7. –If the French don’t want capitalisme sauvage or anglo-saxonisme or hyper-liberalisme, OK by me. They are free to have as much socialism as they can get away with. It’s their country.–

    Just quit whining about it!

  8. Pingback: Radical Reformer
  9. — Whether they will make wise use of this victory is another question.—

    Non, almost 230 years and they still don’t get it.

  10. incognito – how does the fall of Euro help us? Volatility in FX markets is not good for anybody.

  11. Sulaiman, sorry, I meant the Non vote is good to see.

    I don’t think the Euro will collapse overnight. But I do think the rejection will cap any futher major gains.

  12. incognito – it will, however, be interesting to see whether Euro, as a currency, survive this political onslaught.

  13. I’m not a big fan of the Euro. It’s overhyped and assigns the same forex value to disparate economies. It has too much momentum to be decommissioned and for Europe to return to national currencies however. Interesting indeed.

  14. incognito – if unemployment in Old Europe is not fixed through labor market deregulation, currency debasement is another way of reducing your relative wages. Given the preference for labor protection in Old Europe, my feeling is that there will be tremendous political pressure for many European countries to fall back on their own currencies. And the smaller EU countries that have abided by the Stability Pact (like Holland) are not too happy about the Biggies in Europe not following the rules that they made for everyone else … not exactly a selling point for Euro.

    And on a personal level, I have relatives in Germany. They were touting the Euro as cure for all couple of years back and now they blame all their problems on Euro. The contradictions coming out of Old Europe are just unbelievable.

  15. Sulaiman, I realize the odiousness of the no camp, but I frankly do not care. France is already beyond savior as an American ally.

    Anything that puts another nail in the coffin of crazy European desires to balance us is a plus in my book. The fact that it happened in that citadel of EU development, and on the watch of the neo-Gaullist himself, makes it all the more satisfying.

  16. Glad to see the EU constitution go down in flames! I hope that the American elitists who think democracy is exercised only when a Federal judge speaks are taking note.

  17. I don’t know if the people need a theoretical grounding in political science to know when they’re being screwed. Maybe, after 225 years, the French will get rid of their aristocracy instead of just replacing it. At any rate, they have spared the rest of Europe from their systematization.

  18. –how does the fall of Euro help us?

    Buffet’s got a $21 billion bet against the $.

    Gates is playing as well and Soros can’t be far behind.

    To cut off my nose to spite my face, hope they lose a few billion.

  19. Sulaiman,

    One factor working against the EU constitution is that the EU itself is seen by many Europeans as remote and arrogant. Sound familiar? This attitude can describe a fair number of Federal judges and their desire to bypass legislatures elected by the people and impose their will directly. On a variety of issues from abortion to school funding to capital punishment, there are judges that do whatever they want regardless of what the US constitution says. The idea of an unelected ruling elite is never popular except among the elite themselves – no matter what country you live in.

    Whatever the individual reasons for the defeat of the EU constitution in France, I applaud French voters for reminding its political ruling class that the will of the people cannot be ignored forever. Let the French have the type of government they want without EU interference. Maybe this vote will stiffen the backs of US voters as well. Maybe.

    Check out the most recent column by George Will on this issue:

  20. I’m too tired (lazy) to go through these googling & thought our extremely knowledgeable Chicagoboyz & commenters might know off the top of their usually well-stocked heads about some of these “yes” votes.

    Washington Post online (via Drudge but looks like AP report):

    All 25 EU members must ratify the text for it to take effect as planned by Nov. 1, 2006. Nine already have done so: Austria, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

    David’s Medienkritik contrasts German’s “yes” vote with France’s:

    In Germany, 95,8 percent said “Yes” to the European constitution.95,8 percent of the members of the German parliament (Bundestag), that is. The opponents of the European constitution weren’t even allowed to speak in the Bundestag prior to the vote. Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat, also approved the treaty almost unanimously.

    My question is: how were these other “yes” votes achieved? By popular vote? (Googled Slovakia and some blogs contend it was rigged since no “no” arguments were publicized, but that isn’t quite the same.)

    And by the way is it that we’re so vain we always think the vote is about us or is Europe really that weird that they think more about insulting us than whatever might be good for them? Surely the reporting is slanted for us as an audience. I can’t imagine that whipping a populace up by making another country the villain works very long – well, not unless you are declaring war on that country. And that the EU is thinking in those terms is laughable.

  21. A secession already? The solution is a (civil) war. All the wars in the last 150 years in Europe were made to decide who and how the Union of All the Peoples of Europe will come. The French have lost their elan (some 200 years ago, in fact) and deserve to be beaten once again by the Germans and forced to submit to that “Sacred” Union.It will come anyway.

  22. Sandy P – your point is well taken! I usually do not get pleasure from seeing someone suffer but this is one I would enjoy too. The only – perhaps minor – problem is that currency speculators who are no different than Soros are at the other end of this bet.

  23. Hi,

    I’m French. In “Le Monde”, the journalist speaks about your website(Revue de presse “Vive la France !” : les néoconservateurs américains expriment leur joie, I was curious to know your website
    The problem during this electoral campaign is that French people voted against Chirac and not against Europe, which is good and not against America in my opinion. French people think that the European Constitution gives importance to free market economy and jeopradizes the “French social model”- 10,2% of unemployment, 2% of growth, 15% of poor people…- which is totally wrong.
    France is declining and is scared. By what ? I don’t know…
    But a country which says no and which doesn’t go ahead is a country in decline…

  24. Pingback: Kapitalismo
  25. Jaimito, the question is not whether there will be some organization of Europe, but the nature of that organization. Will it be an unaccountable bureaucracy that forces uniformity on an collection of ancient and diverse peoples? Or will it be an accountable government which addresses questions which affect the region as a whole, with strictly delimited powers, and which allow the various communities to continue to live in diverse ways? That is the question. The KIND of government for Europe which has been developing in the last couple of decades is the wrong one. They need to rethink what they are doing. They need true federalism with limited and delegated powers, with transparency and accountability to democratic electorates. These are the things they do not have and which this rotten proposed constitution would not give them.

  26. You’re right Lex.
    Europe is not a democracy today. Europe is governed by technocrats (who do not pay taxes as the European citizens…), disconnected from the reality. The European people need more democracy and need to be consulted when governments decide to widen the Union. They had the opportunity to express rheir feeling about this evolution. They said no

  27. Sulaiman,
    I need to contest your premise that Europe may now descend into fractious nationalism. The choice between the E.U. and right-wing nationalism is a false one.

    The experiment of the last decade in creating a unified economy will continue. People who live in Bonn, Germany, or Horne, Austria and whose children study or work in the Hague or London will not countenance petty cross-border conflicts. Real unification can continue unabated among the peoples of Europe.

    The process just won’t be driven artificially by big government anymore, but spontaneously by real folks with shared economic interests.

  28. And by the way is it that we’re so vain we always think the vote is about us or is Europe really that weird that they think more about insulting us than whatever might be good for them?

    P. J. O’Rourke once famously said that the United States was like a beautiful 21-year-old woman while the 3rd World was like a lovesick 14-year-old boy. The boy is obsessed about the woman, thinking about her every minute of every day. The beautiful woman, on the other hand, doesn’t even notice the boy and she’s not even aware that he exists.

    I’ve been reading most of the English language versions of the foreign press for the last few years. One thing that really jumps up and grabs you is just how anti-American feeling is used to manipulate the public in most countries of the world. The reasons for this are obvious when one considers how such sentiment is used to garner votes for the likes of Schroeder, Chirac and Martin. (Just to name a few.) The same thread has been very present in most of the debate concerning the recent vote, with both the “yes” and “no” factions cautioning the public that voting the other way would be just what the Americans would do.

    So far as the Europeans voting against their best interests, I would just like to point out that they’re extremely fond of Socialism.


  29. Jonathan Curiel, thanks for the heads-up about Le Monde. Very cool to be quoted there, and translated into French.

  30. So here I am scanning Le Monde, and who gets quoted ? Even in French, you can tell it’s Lex.

    Back to nursing a celebratory hang over. I’m not sure what’s more painful. The head-pounding aftermath of the case of bubbly or the fact that back home, the people celebrating are trade unionists, communists, trotskyists, reconstructed maoists, green bigots, national front nutcases and a giant coterie of noisy trolls who believed the constitution was about ‘ultra-liberalism’. If only.

    Oh well.

    [Note: had to hyphenate hang over to pass validation. What the heck is up with that ? Has this blog gone dry ? ]

  31. At Samizdata, David Carr (London)captured my feelings when he wrote:
    Wrong reasons, right resultTo all French crypto-communists, syndicalists, marxists, trotskyites, leninists, stalinists, national socialists, socialist nationalists, primitivists, Trade Union dinosaurs, student activists, greenie nutters, neo-fascists, old fashioned fascists, quasi-crypto-troglodyte-Pol-Pottist-year zero-flat-earthers, looney tunes and enviro-goons…Merci Beaucoup!!!!I could kiss every single one of you (but I do not know how to say that in French).

  32. “Volatility in FX markets is not good for anybody.”

    Traders love volatility.

    Sandy P: I don’t know why you think that you are “cut[ing] off m[your] nose to spite m[your] face, [to] hope they lose a few billion.”

    FX trading like all commodities trading is zero sum. If Buffet, Gates and Soros loose, their capital is the hands of others. We can hope those others have a better idea of what to do with it.

  33. Pingback: Mark in Mexico
  34. Pingback: Mark in Mexico
  35. Sulaiman, the exact link is in the update.

    Sylvain — happy Memorial Day — we’d sure like to see you on the blog once in a while, again.

    I am glad Le Monde quoted the part they did, because it is not about being anti-French or anti-European, which I am not, it is about being pro-Democracy, which I am very much,which means accountability and the freedom to get things wrong from time to time.

    It is funny that I said the French are free to have as much socialism as they can “get away with”, but Le Monde translated it as “Ils sont libres d’avoir autant de socialisme qu’ils peuvent ingurgiter.” That “ingurgitur” sounds more like “as much as they are able to choke down” — which is better, and I wish I had thought of it. So, not only did they translate it, but they improved it.

  36. Pingback: Mark in Mexico
  37. In a way, they did. The French curse is that we can swallow even more leftist nonsense than we can wine. And that’s a lot.

    Now, either Le Monde still doesn’t get the blog/web thing or they consciously avoided linking to the site. Probably a bit of both.

  38. Incognito wrote: “I’m not a big fan of the Euro. It’s overhyped and assigns the same forex value to disparate economies. It has too much momentum to be decommissioned and for Europe to return to national currencies however. Interesting indeed.”

    Suliman wrote: “Given the preference for labor protection in Old Europe, my feeling is that there will be tremendous political pressure for many European countries to fall back on their own currencies. And the smaller EU countries that have abided by the Stability Pact (like Holland) are not too happy about the Biggies in Europe not following the rules that they made for everyone else …”

    I have been short (metaphorically — I am not a FX trader) the Euro, for a few years. It was a solution to a problem that did not exist because computers and electronic transactions had solved the currency conversion problem, and all it did was transfer the real cost of currency hedging onto the books of the central bank.

    When the big countries decided the rules were for the little guys and a number of little countries, such as Greece, turned out to be complying by cooking their books, the whole enterprise was doomed.

    The Euro’s recent rise against the dollar was an illusion. As much as the Democrats want to paint it as a sign of American profligacy and Republican mismanagement, it was not about US. It was about the stringencies that the European Central Bank had to impose to keep their bicycle upright.

    But I think we need to analyize why the Euro was put in place. To me it was done to force the march to a constitution and was the wrong way around.

    The French nomenklatura, who dreamed up the EU and who have pushed it along, hoped that they would be able to create a country that would be able to defeat the US, one with a larger territory and population.

    During the first phase of the EU, the nomenklatura milked the rest of the union to pacify the French public with subsidies and socialism. The second phase required a bit of slight of hand. Glorie would have to take the place of subsidies.

    If Chirac had put the question to the French legislature, they would have bleated oui. But he wanted something more, a show of commitment that would intimidate or inspire the Dutch, the Brits and other euroskeptics.

    Clearly, Chirac’s decision to put the question to a referendum was a blunder. However, arrogance is the besetting sin of the nomenklatura. If Chirac had a shred of nobility, this would be a tragedy, but he is a jerk, and a crook, and all it is, is comeupance.

    It turns out that the French public was unmoved by the prospect of Glorie. They had become inured to their soft lives. They saw the Constitution as creating a new coutry where they would no longer be privledged, and they voted non.

    This may very well have been the high tide of the movement for a united Europe. The nomenklatura will not be able to sell it to any of the euroskeptics. The Dutch will vote no. If the EU pushes the UK to vote, Blair’s optimal strategy would be to not campaign for it and let it go down without impairing his political capital.

  39. Lex, you’re on a roll. Every update of your original post has only added to the content.

    Chicagoboyz is the site where I can really co-celebrate this defeat for transnationalism.

    If Bush had not invaded Baathist Iraq successfully over the objections of the feckless Chirac and Schroeder, we wouldn’t be enjoying this festival of Euro-skepticism. He and Condi deserve most of the credit for the “Non” vote.

    Thanks for what you do. There’s a new day dawning.

  40. Being in the City of Light while said vote and said debate were taking place, I’ll take the opportunity to comment: granted, the majority of the NONs were for the wrong reasons (and thank G-d for their muddled reasoning!), but there were plenty of classical liberals beating the drums of “NON” for all the RIGHT reasons. See for example (if you can read in French) , among others.

    And 20% of adherents of the center-right parties (of course, this being France, I should qualify that as more “right of left of center”) voted “NON” too. Even if they were merely voting against Chirac, that’s at least a step in the right direction. Not enough to be a major political force, perhaps, but enough to form the heart of a vigorous debate après-Constitution.

    And the debate has already begun: the Socialists are qualifying it as a move to increase socialism (boy, big surprise), Sarkozy is surfing the wave by calling it a cri de coeur for his brand of reform (better than nothing, perhaps), and Chirac is lining up that pompous self-congratulatory horses’s rear de Villepin to be the next prime minister. And the Euroelites assured us the world would end on a NON.

    Sylvain: you’re celebrating with all the wrong people… les libéraux were partying plenty, too. And they’re a lot more fun to hang out with.

  41. Kerry, thanks for the update. Glad to hear, what I assumed had to be true, that some of the people in France understand this thing correctly.

  42. The whole EU project strikes me as an attempt to make socialism work by adding another lawyer of bureaucracy.

    I don’t know why the vote went as it did, but it suggests that there may have been some disillusionment with the old assumptions, possibly connected to the images of the purple fingers of Iraqi voters, and the other home-brewed revolutions since January. That’s probably too much to hope for, but we’ll see. It definitely was a referendum on Chirac.

  43. Oops. Freudian slip. Make that “another layer of bureaucracy.” “Lawyers of bureaucracy” certainly predict trouble too, though.

  44. Just finished watching French news. Looks like Raffarin is going to be sacrificed to the gods of OUI camp. And Chirac will most probably appoint de Villepin, a bureaucrat who has never been elected to anything and a great admirer of Napoleon, as the next PM. What is the expression? Rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic?

    I have never watched reality TV but I wonder whether it can get better than this.

  45. –The only – perhaps minor – problem is that currency speculators who are no different than Soros are at the other end of this bet.—

    That’s true, but do they testify to Congress to please, please, please, make “the rich” pay death tax?

    We’re going to need an death tax policy and conveniently, Buffet owns an insurance company.

  46. Bonjour, Jonathan, welcome to the American blogosphere, it’s quite lively around these parts.

    If you really want to get an eyeful, I can’t recommend Rantburg enough.

    But you need to know your stuff.

    So, Lex, she labeled you “neoconservative” right out of the gate, eh?

    when one has to name-call, especially since you’re not Jewish, IIRC…..

    Oh, well, she’s a “journalist,” she’s bound to get her facts wrong.

  47. Yeah, I’m an RC. Not neo anything. But, what the Hell. It’s an honest mistake. And being lumped in with Kristol and Will (also not a neo) is fine by me.

  48. Via EURSOC, talking about the winners and losers of the vote:

    …France’s Mainstream Media, however, will always be tainted by this campaign. Rarely has the media been so united in its activism – a yes vote was urged, both blatantly and obliquely, by pretty much every outlet. Some journalists on state television even started a petition to complain about bias – an unprecedented event in French broadcasting. Along with the build up to the invasion of Iraq and the presidential run-off between Jean-Marie Le Pen and Chirac, the referendum will be remembered as a disturbing example of Soviet-style uniformity among France’s supposedly independent press and broadcasters.

    The media’s inability to persuade will probably disturb its members more than its uniformity. For six months it has supported the nation’s cultural, political and (a rare one, here) business elite in highlighting the importance of the constitution and France’s position at the heart of Europe. France, for once, didn’t listen. A sobering thought for many editors and broadcasters this morning….

  49. I don’t think so. I was called an “NC” in a discussion w/a European.

    I pointed out that since I’m not Jewish and have always been a conservative, if one was going to use labels, at least know what you’re talking about.

    That term was deliberately chosen to label and discredit you. That term’s been used for a couple of years now and you know what image it’s supposed to create.

  50. If they hate neocons and call me a neocon, in the words of my hero Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “I welcome their hatred.”

  51. Folks – I have been called a NC and I am a Sunni Muslim. Ahmad Chalabi is a Shiite Muslim and also happens to be a NC (and a UC grad). I honestly think the association between political and religious identities has broke down in America. Is Arnold Jewish? Condi Rice? GWBush? Rumsfeld? Cheney? Reagan (the man got divorced and was not close to his kids … hardly qualifies as an RC)? Meawhile, there are plenty of Democratic Jews who can’t stand the NCs.

    Religio-political identity belongs to the killing fields of the Middle East, not 21st century America.

  52. Lex, I think Sandy’s point is that by calling you a neo conservative they are trying to smear and discredit you, as the term “neo conservative” is pejorative in Europe. It is irrelevant that the same term is neutral here; what matters is that a European journalist used a pejorative term to characterize you. I think that this point is worth noting, and should not be brushed off merely because the term means something else here.

  53. Of course the writer meant the term “neocon” to be pejorative. It is not a neutral term anywhere and never really has been. I am sure it is used to smear and discredit at all times. When it was introduced in the first place it was meant to smear and discredit Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. Essentially it was a way for liberals to call those guys “traitors”. Irving turned the tables by adopting the label and thereby depriving it of its power to wound.

    But who cares, really? If it means in some general way “conservative who supports Bush and his war and is pro-capitalism”, that is pretty accurate.

    All is forgiven for quoting me accurately to a big audience I could never have reached on my own.

    As my grandfather used to say, call me what you want, but call me for dinner. Call me what you want, but spread my views — that works, too.

  54. I want to float an idea. The French public who we are trashing as idiots for voting no for the wrong reasons, understood precisely the issue before them and voted in what the believed is their interest.

    If there is to be a single state of Europe, with a single constitution, then 1). each country will eventually give up its national identity and 2). there will be no limit on companies, jobs and people moving around and diluting the economic and cultural relationships that each heretofore soverign state has had.

    The French nomenklatura, thought nothing of these issues. They assumed that they would be on the horse riding it. Their belief in the superiority and rationality of French culture is unshakeable.

    The lower orders are terrified, they have seen the muslim invasion and the crime and social chaos that it has spawned, they know how vulnerable their 35 hour/wk 46 wk/yr sinecures are. They wanted to stand athwart history and yell stop. And they did.

    Those of us who are anglo-saxon, and even worse chicago boys, understand that the EU’s real problem is its insufficent liberalism. The French lower orders are as hysterically afraid of liberalism and what it would do them and their culture, as the most millitant islamist. And they are not wrong, although on a human level they want for courage and faith.

  55. Eric asks: What’s [an] Enarque?

    A French term for a member of the nomenklatura. I prefer the Russian, the Soviet origin of the term gives it a more precise edge.

  56. Further to “enarque” — the term derives from that bastion of bureaucracy, the French school to educate the political intelligentsia: l’Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA). Originally conceived by de Gaulle, it was meant to be for the “best of the best”, situated in Paris, then part time in Paris and part time in Strassbourg, and recently completely in Strassbourg to underscore the “Euro” aspect. Hopefully, the move to Strassbourg will sound its death knell…

  57. Kerry, the last time I was partying with those guys, we were celebrating Chirac’s victory in 95, only weeks before I moved here. As Monica would say, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

    What’s going on with the liberals these days ? Back then Madelin was the figurehead.

  58. Neoconservatives are Liberals who have been mugged by reality. (Or, I might add, Libertarians who have reached adulthood.)


    The “Federal judge” comment was aimed at the tendency of certain judges, “activist judges”, to bend the Constitution to whatever meaning matches their political will, “legislating from the bench” in essence.

    They use phrases such as “Constitutional penumbra” and “living document” to justify the wide reach of their legal interpretations.*

    Their opponents are called “strict constructionalists” and believe the only legitimate way to change what the Constitution means is via amendment.

    * Except for the Second Amendment — oddly when it comes to “Constitutional penumbras” our right to bear arms is invisible.

  59. Sulaiman:

    “… how is all this related to European referendum?”

    It isn’t. It does, however, answer your question: “… what is exactly your point on a Federal judge? Please elaborate.”

    Be careful what you ask for. :)

  60. Sylvain:

    Chirac leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth these days, but even in ’95 he was only to be celebrated as a preference to a worse fate, in the way that death by hanging may be preferable to death by flaying. May he rot in prison when he leaves office.

    Madelin had this to say about the “Constitution”: “L’ancien ministre de l’Economie a indiqué sur France Info que le 29 mai, il donnerait “a priori un oui de résignation” au traité constitutionnel.” Rather pathetic “yes”, in other words.

    There are those more in tune with real libéralisme in France these days than Madelin. Take a look at or, for example. Or if you’re looking for one of the august elder statesmen, see here.

Comments are closed.