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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Enemy of The French

Today's Sunday Star Times had a summary of an article linked to via Arts & Letters Daily.

A book review of The American Enemy by Philippe Roger.
Here is a tasty statistic: when the US went into Iraq a survey showed that America's popularity plunged everywhere - except in France. The French opposed the invasion vehemently, but the country was already so saturated in anti-Americanism that the index scarcely flickered.

Anti-Americanism increased in bitterness during the interwar years [1918-1939], in inverse proportion to French perceptions of their own national decline. The American role in liberating France earned a nod of appreciation - although obviously it had only come to Europe's aid to enslave her in debt - but with the domination of Marxism in postwar France it was soon back to the old game. Leftists argued that America was the true totalitarian country, more dangerous than the Nazis because of its pretence that its dictatorship didn't exist - the last trick of the devil himself, n'est-ce pas?

"Rabid animals" was Sartre's somewhat rabid phrase for Americans after the execution of the Rosenbergs (Communist spies whose treason has recently been confirmed). His solution was to "break all ties that bind us to America". This he did, refusing to go there, which proved useful, since he never had to justify his increasingly surreal claims about American Cold War atrocities to US audiences. The boycott by the intellectual Left had the effect of sealing France even more hermetically in her anti-American neuroses.

During the German occupation, when French anti-Semitic collaborators had no reason to disguise the real roots of their hatred, it had seemed that a ne plus ultra of crazed invective had been reached: it was then that America's addiction to jazz was explained by "the Negro character inherent in the Jewish race". It would be funny, except that similar obscenities continue to our day. Some are casual, such as a recent film review in Le Monde that, commenting on the ambition of the American film industry to dominate the planet with its images, concluded: "Goebbels said the same thing about German images in his day." And some are sick, like the huge sales of the French book alleging that the Americans had blown up the Twin Towers themselves. Sicker still was the admission by the philosopher Jean Baudrillard after 9/11 of "the prodigious jubilation in seeing this global superpower destroyed... Ultimately they [Muslims] were the ones who did it, but we were the ones who wanted it."

...Philippe Roger's message is sober, and a foreword asks an excellent question: how far is the demonising of America, not just in France but the world over, helping to convert a war of words into a more fearsome conflict?
Here's another fascinating article reviewing this book : Over there
Americans may love to hate the French. But a Parisian scholar says that American Francophobia is nothing compared to the 200-year-old Gallic tradition of Yankee-bashing.
This really explains this French site Pourquoi Pas?. Their blog posts swing into full on "America is a totallitarian state" diatribe. On Cuba :
One wonders if the only country in the world that has managed not to let Marx’s concept of a socialist nation turn into a grotesque farce à la Stalin, is not actually more hated and targeted JUST because it is doing pretty good against all odds.
I must admit, though, for some reason I like some of them. Don't ask me to explain this, maybe it's because they really, truly believe. This is also the other blog of Greg Stephens of New Zealand Political Comments, whose young mind is most likely being seriously corrupted by these likeable complete lunatics.

The really important question is, what is all this Yankee bashing supposed to achieve? Do we as a Western, English speaking country really want a world without a dominant America? Seriously, if America declined, it would leave a power vaccum. That vaccum would allow another power to step in. For all America's faults, at it's absolute heart is freedom. No other potential world power can boast that. And since freedom allows the expression of everything of value in society, a world without a dominant America would be a very scary world indeed.

Posted by Lucia Maria | 4/17/2005 10:10:00 pm

18 Comments:

Blogger ZenTiger said...

Yes, an intersting site and well worth the visit. I am not sure Greg would agree that "his young mind is most likely being seriously corrupted by these likeable complete lunatics"

In his defence, I'm prepared to suggest he was already corrupted. Mind you, he visits here every now and then as a kind of call for help (my opinion only) and can probably set us straight.

4/17/2005 11:38:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Gregs a nice guy. He might be one of those idealistic types who becomes conservative with age when he directly experiences The Real World.

Of course this is pretty damn patronising ;-)

4/17/2005 11:53:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

You know, I've been thinking, maybe we need some sort of reach out programme for lefties, you know, to help them channel their idealism for good... I'll have to think more about this.

So what does everyone think about the French angle, which was really more the point of the whole post, let's not get side tracked here!

4/18/2005 12:06:00 am  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Well, I think that the French possess a certaine je ne sais quois, and US influence as a problem is de rigeur for many, thus blogging under a nom de plume allows many of them to experience a sense of liberte, a joie de vivre that can only be gained by making some-one else feel bad.

But this is probably deja vu for many people, perhaps tous le monde, and probably comes from a bourgeois upbringing. A propos the recent coup d'etat on Iraq, which to many was fait accompli, to the French it was certainly a faux pas. The whole thing has played out like a film noir, with Rice some femme fatale and Bush the poster boy for the nouveau riche

However, rather than this being about oil, Bush has indicated his actions come from a noblesse oblige with regard to looking after the world at large. The French cannot reconcile his actions, and even a tete-a-tete with Chirac did not result in the laissez faire attitude the US Administration may have hoped for.

Countering with renaming French Fries to Freedom Fries, as a weak double entendre has really indicated a folie a deux. America's forte may be to put its money where its mouth is, and in this case has delivered, but even with elections in Iraq the French remain convinced the USA is some sort of enfant terrible.

I think a certain esprit de corps may have saved relations, but France declined the RSVP (repondre s'il vous plait) America offered. The piece de resistance in this whole affair is that Chirac is seen as a martinet by other members of the EU, and their own society is imploding with high unemployment, failed socialism and worst of all: angry students.

C'est la vie.

4/18/2005 01:16:00 am  
Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Les cochon (sp?) Francais. Very good post Lucyna. You will struggle to find anywhere in France a statue in honour of General Marshall.

4/18/2005 10:02:00 am  
Anonymous Mike Readman said...

"because it is doing pretty good against all odds"

Technology stuck in the fifties is doing pretty good?

4/18/2005 12:28:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Americans can take French insults for the same reason the English could when they were top dog - a justified sense of superiority. Who cares what they think - they are renown for holding patently silly ideas in high esteem. Losers consumed by bileous envy are no threat to American hegemony...

4/18/2005 04:50:00 pm  
Blogger Greg Stephens said...

Well, I love people talking about me behind my back (or infront of me as the case now seems to be).

The site contains a wide range of angles. I represent a social democratic viewpoint. I'm a Labour member.
One of the contributors describes himself like this: "My socio-political views are extreme left in ideology - Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and Che Guevara were my guidelines when I was a teenager, and have been an essential thinking instrument in making me who I am now. But I’m happy to compromise in real life and to see a capitalist-based economic model with a nice layer of socialist-based humanitarian values. Places like Denmark, Holland and Sweden seem to be a good compromising start to my taste."
While another describes herself "politically as a “Compassionate Capitalist,” believing that Capitalism is a good idea in theory, but that it has gotten really out of hand. Capitalism needs a nice, thick veneer of Socialism"

(both here)

"I'm prepared to suggest he was already corrupted." - far enough :-)
"Gregs a nice guy" :-)

France has always had problems with the English speaking world. They've never trusted the Brits either. It challenges their dominance.
A more interesting question would be: why are the Americans so angry at the French?

4/19/2005 09:04:00 pm  
Blogger Lucyna said...

Hi Greg, I would have thought that we'd be an essential read therefore you would have noticed this straight away!

While another describes herself "politically as a “Compassionate Capitalist,” believing that Capitalism is a good idea in theory, but that it has gotten really out of hand. Capitalism needs a nice, thick veneer of Socialism"

You almost got me with this one! But now I see she's decribing herself as someone who wants capatalism enslaved by socialists for the greater good.

... why are the Americans so angry at the French?

Example?

4/19/2005 09:26:00 pm  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

The problem Greg is that socialism is all about destroying capitalism (capitalism is just free commerce after all: when the Government guarantees neither force nor fraud will be used by those doing the commerce). Socialism is the Government using force (and often fraud, in the form of faked statistics etc) to make people do a whole bunch of things they don't want to do. That is not what we conservatives and classical liberals stand for.

When a Labour member like you says that sort of thing, not to mention when Jordan said he thinks the proper role of Government is to regulate whatever 'power relationships' he imagines exist between people, then it just reinforces the impression people like myself have that Labour still has Marxist principles at heart, but they're waiting until they can force bit-by-bit on an unsuspecting country.

Call it 'creeping socialism'.

4/19/2005 09:49:00 pm  
Anonymous Frenchie said...

Do we as a Western, English speaking country really want a world without a dominant America?

Yes! I have seen this question posed before and it blows my mind. Why do we have to have a dominant government?

For all America's faults, at it's absolute heart is freedom.

Perhaps once upon a time this was true. It is not true today as we can see by it's actions in Iraq, Haiti, Cuba etc.. Watch their actions in Venezuala coming soon to television and news near you.

Technology stuck in the fifties is doing pretty good?

Technology wouldn't be stuck in the fifties if it weren't for the US blockade. Yes, considering all things, Cuba is doing damn good.

Lucyna, I am happy to see you like some of us. That's not a requirement so it's good.

Nice site, btw. I will try to remember it. I can't hardly add you to my links. ;)

4/20/2005 01:45:00 am  
Blogger Lucyna said...

Frenchie, historically whenever there has been no dominant power, one always comes out of seemingly nowhere. Always. That's what I mean by power vacuum. If America declines, the Russians are just waiting for another chance, who knows what the Chinese are going to do (with all that excess testosterone due to one child policy leading to an excess of males)... those are the two that I can think of, off the top of my head, that could fill the void.

Be careful what you wish for.

4/20/2005 12:42:00 pm  
Anonymous BerlinBear said...

Lucyna,

You overlooked India in your considerations of potential world powers. I mean that seriously. They are frequently overlooked and underrated. They've already got the nuclear weapons, their economy is booming as never before, and they certainly have the manpower.

Secondly, you asked:
"Do we as a Western, English speaking country really want a world without a dominant America?"
Frenche might. I don't. What I would like to see though is a slightly less dominant America. Not so much by holding America back, I don't mean that. I mean by other countries and blocs coming up to join them at the top table. In a sense, I would like to see the sort of multi-polar world which Jacques Chirac pulled into disrepute with his ridiculous posturing before the Iraq war. I would like to see the US, the EU, China and India at the top table, with Russia not far behind. (Russia concerns me at the moment, because of the way Putin appears to be winding back democracy, and China still concerns me because of its terrible human rights record - but I'm talking medium term, rather than next week.

Like you, I would be very concerned about the type of power vacuum you describe. But I would like to see a power or powers emerge who can act as a bit of a brake on the US, keep them in check if you will, because I am concerned by some of the developments I see there.

One last thing, though you described us as "this French blog", none of us are actually French, though the site is hosted there and two contributors live there. Not that that makes much difference, but I just thought I'd point it out.

Hope all that made some sense.
Cheers,
BB

4/21/2005 07:13:00 am  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

I've always thought India would be the next 'world power'. Indians are good, hard-working people, and their country is developing strong democratic institutions. Now that their economy is finally opening up we will see their wealth creation skyrocket.

Throw France and Russia off the Security Council and invite India, Japan and Brazil!

4/21/2005 07:41:00 am  
Anonymous BerlinBear said...

Why have vetoes on the security council at all? Why not make it a bit bigger, have some permanent members, some rotating members, but no vetoes?

Apart from the fact that *none* of the countries with vetoes currently would ever give them up, is there a good argument against that that I have overlooked?

4/21/2005 10:31:00 am  
Blogger Lucyna said...

BerlinBear, I know, it was off the top of my head. Shhh, don't want everyone to think I'm paranoid.

BTW, India also has a disproportionate number of males now. I wonder if that's where all the NZ men have gone ...

4/21/2005 12:03:00 pm  
Anonymous BerlinBear said...

Well, at least one of us is Germany! ;-)

No takers on the Security Council suggestions? I'd be very interested to hear what you guys think, even if it is off-topic.

4/22/2005 05:25:00 am  
Blogger Lucyna said...

BerlinBear, on the Security Council. Now that I've read the history of how it was formed, I think the United Nations ought to be disbanded. So I suppose I haven't though of how to fix the system - I think it's unfixable.

4/22/2005 12:54:00 pm  

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