Tue Apr 17th, 2007 at 03:21:57 PM EST
In the corner of my Platonic mind, I have a picture of the French. In this picture, there are the high philosophers--Descartes is my favorite but there are many others. There is the high rationalism that gave us the metric system. There is the brilliant engineering that gave us the very vocabulary of aviation and TRAINS that blast along at 575 kph. There is the very definition of style that has defined the word fashion since at least Louis XIV. Oh yes, these people also enjoy eating and do it VERY well.
Then there is the politics. Mr. La Fayette is as responsible for the existence of USA as Washington or Jefferson. The Platonic French have been worth rescuing with warfare.
But my favorite French invention is Dirigisme. As I see it, economics asks but two interesting questions:
- How can it be that some folks get wealthier ever as they sleep while other become poorer even as they work?
- Some tasks are best solved by individual human initiative while others can only be solved through collective efforts. So the question is; how do you organize a society that allows for individual action while simultaneously ensuring that group actions are well-organized, task-centered and useful.
Because question two is probably better addressed by Dirigisme than any other organized form of thinking, it is literally the last idea worth dying for. I have been applauding Jerome's defense of the great French ideas in economics against the onslaught of the British / global economic establishment. Nice to see the French still have patriots!
The problem is that because the assumptions of globaloney run rampant in the EU, France's economy is underperforming because all around them, everyone else's is too. Essentially the Brits point at some obvious indicator of French economic underperformance and then prescribe their own elixir to fix things.
But the problem is, the British answers are the WORST of all possible prescriptions. I have seen them in action for 30 years here in USA and they are literally a recipe for the end of the world. I want Jerome to win his argument because it is one of the few possibilities that humanity can return to some form of economic sanity before we are burned to a crisp.
So here we have it. On one hand, we have Jerome representing the Platonic ideal French patriot defending ideas that are MUCH more precious than gold, while on the other hand, we see a French election where it is obvious that the parties and candidates have no freaking clue what the issues at stake really are. While Jerome is a reminder of why folks in many places on earth have wanted to imitate the French, the elections are a reminder of why the late-night comedians make fun of them.
I am not even certain I really want to know why French politics have deteriorated so. So I will tell a story. I was in Finland and a diligent scholar was asking me to explain Ronald Reagan. He furrowed his brow and said, "I know politicians are not exactly rocket scientists, but in USA, shouldn't a politician at least be able to represent rocket scientists. You have them, after all."