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about fairness, and are far less concerned about opportunity (that was in the past!) as they are about their personal security, which goes beyond their health care and pension payments. By older people I mean retirees, those portions of the French electorate (in fact the only one if memory served) who voted majoritarily for Sarkozy in 2007. They are also worried about social cohesion, expressed in terms of defence of values sometimes, other times expressed in terms of identity politics (French versus immigrants, et c.)

The problem the left faces in this regard is, in my view, the capture of the left by liberalism, as that liberal capture, which started in the early 1980's here in France and, at least as far as power is concerned, was consolidated by the end of that decade, has two side effects.

The first is, on the left, the downplaying of the role of the state as guarantor of social cohesion, as direct job creator (and thereby full employment), which has created an underclass of chronically unemployed who express themselves sometimes violently (I think it was Rosa Luxemburg who said "crime is a waste of political energy," to paraphrase). This facilitates the neo-liberal world-view on the right, further undermining the left's position in this regard. Liberalism is, strictly speaking, anti-worker, and this is seen in unemployment, to begin with (Mitterand in France was elected arguably due to economic conditions in the early '80's. He inheritted an unemployment rate which had risen to just under 6% when he took office. By the end of his second term, 14 years later, that rate had more than doubled and stayed more than double that for another half decade.)

The second is that there are, among the Social Democratic (and also, though arguably marginal, anarchic if you except NPA from this) set, a great tendancy towards defence of civil liberties, which is seen in the general public as being to the detriment of law and order, which facilitates the right's demogoguing of the issue. While the PS has attempted to redress this image in France with not unmitigated success, unfortunately the law-and-order left was essentially crushed when the PS systematically undermined the PC (a process which began well before the dismantling of "the Wall," and which is indeed ongoing).

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Wed Jan 12th, 2011 at 06:04:24 AM EST
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