Sunday, 22 April 2007

The Condition of France

On the occasion of the French presidential election (or at least, its first round) I've been reading an excellent article by Alain Supiot, from the University of Nantes, in an LRB from the middle of last year. Despite its title, it's really about Europe, and the West generally, and our current predicament.

I'm afraid you need a subscription to read the full article: the website only shows the first paragraph. So consider this an ad. I will allow myself this brief quote, about the decay of western institutions, especially political ones:
Put less colourfully, de-institutionalisation produces idiocy, in the original sense of the word --- confinement within the self, loss of contact with the real world and an inability to subscribe to a shared meaning ... This phenomenon is made worse by the endogamy of the ruling class, since a single `noblesse d'état' monopolises the exercise of political, economic and media power.

This situation is not peculiar to France, but rather forms part of a fundamental tendency to see the law as merely a neutral instrument, a product that everyone ought to be able to use in the service of their individual interests...

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