How do you say “yippee” in French?
Paris is six hours ahead. The polls will soon open. While things French do not fall within the bandwidth of Pioneer, it would be foolish to ignore the sea change that is coming in France. Paris is still an important intellectual center.
The big money focus of Chirac’s tenure brought insider deals for his friends and a politics of convenience. Good riddance. The Left in France, which has never seen the kind of reform that took place in Italy or Britain, is still spinning its wheels in Stalingrad. That soon will change, as the various components of France’s Left coalition (and especially the Socialists) will face an overhaul the likes of which we have not seen in the last half century.
It is coming, and everyone knows it. Yup, mes amis, the French Left will finally have to recognize that the Berlin wall has fallen. Segoline Royal, the Socialist Party candidate, knows it and that is why she so desperately is ringing the alarm that the election of her opponent, Nicolas Sarkozy, will set off violence across the country.
The real earthquake to come is going to hit the Left. Perhaps no one understands this better than Sarkozy, who has been eloquent throughout the campaign on the bind that the idealists of May 1968 find themselves in.
“Material progress no longer satisfied the May ’68 generation,” Sarkozy noted to a university audience in Marseilles in September 2006. “That generation, already born with full employment and growth, aspired to the Ideal. It undermined tradition without delivering the spiritual aspect it so denounced as being missing [from French society]. In politics, our schools, and society as a whole, it promoted an inversion of values and a particular kind of thinking that has principally victimized today’s youth. At the heart of that thinking, which I denounce, is the “youth movement”—the ideology that says to the young that they have nothing but rights and that everything is owed to them.”
Sarkozy argued that the “68ers” have long betrayed the views of such fathers of the Left as Léon Blum, who asserted that “the pursuit of learning is a form of real equality.” Blum noted that he did not mean “uniformity but rather the entirely free development of individual capabilities.” Sarkozy noted to the students, and we should remind ourselves, that Blum’s view is “the opposite of the equality vaunted by the Left today.”
Sarkozy has run on economic liberalization, civic responsibility and involvement, improvement in public services, and a politics of order and hope.
Raise a glass to the new Président. May he be as good in deed as he is in words.