Survey Says!

I just read a surprisingly candid and well balanced news item from Reuters. The article discusses a recent survey which showed that trust between France and the US is at a record low.

The level of distrust is higher in France than in the US. 70% of the French respondents claimed that America wasn’t a “loyal ally”, while 56% of people questioned in the US said that France wasn’t a “reliable partner”.

I’m not conversant in French myself, so I can’t be sure if this is a reliable translation of the questions that were actually used. If they are then I see a distinct difference in attitudes between the 2 countries just through the words ally and partner.

The author goes on to point out that the rejection of the European Union constitution by French voters was mainly driven by the French political Left, who are suspicious of American free market capitalism. This section of French society is also the most hostile to America. Considering the historical track record of the Socialist systems that they seem to favor, they’re only going to get more angry as their economy gets dragged further into the toilet by the welfare state they’ve created.

But putting all of that aside, I think it’s telling that many more French citizens are suspicious of the US than Americans are of the French. This indicates to me that France is going to be more unreasonable and resistant to any efforts to repair the rift.

I’m rather glad that the two countries are having problems right now. Conflict destroys false impressions and lets everyone know where they stand. We now find ourselves in the midst of a war, a global struggle against religious fanatics bent on our destruction. It’s always best to know who your friends are before you’re forced to rely on them.

8 thoughts on “Survey Says!”

  1. James,

    From this side of the water, we get a different slant on the reasons why the French rejected the Constitution so bluntly; it was stated in many surveys that the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ free market slant of the Constitution was the main reason why the French, who have been used to the feather-bedding of their socialist government for about fifty years now, were not prepared to give up their protected industries, and allow the cold air of competition to enter their borders!
    The advent of the ten new EU members has brought it abruptly home to the French that they now cannot stop say, Latvian Electricians from coming into France and selling their skills at half the rate due the average French Electrician! That’s the rule, and they are P****sed off by the abrupt exposure to market forces!

  2. James,
    “Conflict destroys false impressions and lets everyone know where they stand.”

    So true. I’ve been convinced that the war against communism only entered a new phase after the fall of the Soviet Union. Communism’s accolytes simply escaped into the media, academia, progressive political parties and government bureaus of Western Europe (and America). They use their posts there as forts from which they lob “bombs” against global, America-inspired capitalism.

    Mike Cunningham’s view from the other side of the pond confims what your Reuters link writes. But the article goes further.

    “French people with left-wing views are most likely to be hostile to Americans, the survey found. Left-wing French voters drove France’s rejection last month of the EU constitution. Many who voted ‘No’ said they feared the charter would impose U.S.-style free-market economics on Europe.”

    It is “Red” France who doesn’t like us.

    The fig-leaf is coming off the Euro-left. And their public billing as the architects of the “Non” vote has attracted new attention. The personalities and their policy prescriptions are becoming isolated for observation in France’s political discourse.

    Perhaps, in France’s next presidential election, the old, phlisophical battlelines between Capitalism and Communism can now be abstracted and gamed on the scale of a single nation’s democratic play-board. A Reuters headline I’d like to see: “First The French Reject the E.U. Con., Now the French Reject the Left.” (I know…I’m dreaming!)

  3. Quote from the Reuter’s piece:-
    French people openly supported French-speaking Democrat John Kerry in last November’s presidential election.

    Steve, I think you place too much emphasis on the definition of ‘Left’ because in the USA Presidential election just passed, the Observer, a (to British eyes) left-wing newspaper organised an e-mail posting to addresses in OHIO supporting John Kerry, and vehemently opposing George Bush, and there aren’t many communists in Observer territory, lot’s of socialists, not many Reds!

  4. If someone makes out well under socialism, they naturally support socialism. If they make out well under capitalism, they prefer that. It’s the people that are afraid of doing poorly under the alternate system that are driving this issue.

  5. Mike,
    I emphasized the “Left” in my comment because the Reuters article seems to; the article devoted its longest paragraph, a 44-word one, to singling-out this socialist subset of the 1000 Frenchmen polled.

    I agree that terms like “socialist”, “communism,” and “Red” could all use some clarification. These word have suffered from overuse in the last decades. Note that in today’s political discourse statist leftists in America are misidentified as “liberals,” and a humane detention campus with its own Koran dispensary is called a “gulag.”

    In the interest of keeping my comments brief, I use “Communism” as an umbrella term for statism, socialism, and that strain of paternal governmentalism called “progressivism” in America. I think it best encapsulates “people with left-wing views,” as the Reuters article perfunctorily defines them. I employed the Cold-War derived “Red” as a syntactic tool to lend cognitive continuity to the comment.

    Incidentally, I think it is this article’s spotlighting of the French Leftists so candidly that causes James to appreciate it so much.

  6. Point taken, Steve, and I have to agree that it is rather unusual to get a dispassionate view reported which attempts to put both sides of an argument. My French is fair, and the items which I managed to translate were well reflected within the Reuters piece!

    The main problem with the French attitude, as always, whether from the right or the left, is quite simply that the inhabitants always believe that ‘La Belle France’ is correct in whatever stance is adopted!

  7. Ed in texas,
    Re: “If someone makes out well under socialism, they naturally support socialism. If they make out well under capitalism, they prefer that.”
    This would only be true if the folks who have lived under either method had had any personal experience by which to make such a comparison. As it stands, the populations of France and the UK are in their second and even third generations of the nanny state. How would they know how they would fare under any alternative?

    Rather, entrepeneuers aside, most people fear change because it might cause them a loss more than they hope they might profit by such changes.

    Socialism can become entrenched if it is able to to last into the first generation that lives its entire life under its care. Demand for security will thereafter thwart reforms, at least until the eventual economic failure of such regimes makes any objections moot.

    Our own nation’s struggles with Social Security and Medicare are good examples thereof. People believe the pablum of the 1930s that it is impossible to grow old without the help of government. (How prior generations did so was immediately forgotten.)

  8. Regards to the difference in distrust levels in the US and France towards the other, I think you have to take into account the Left in the US who thinks everything on the other side of the Atlantic is great and thinks we should be subservient to Europe.

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