Wednesday, October 08, 2003

The anti-American Obsession by Jean-Francois Revel is a well thought out condensation of a book by the same name and author, a Frenchman. It refutes many of the arguments of the anti-globalization, anti-free market, -anti-America crowd, but deals primarily with French attitudes towards the United States. The problem in a nut-shell:

"Giancarlo Pajetta, an important Italian Communist leader, once said: 'I have finally understood what pluralism is; it’s when lots of people share my point of view.' In that spirit, governments and elites almost everywhere have signed on to cultural globalism provided that their own countries are its source and model. In 1984, presenting a Projet culturel extérieur de la France, the French government said, with signal modesty, that this manifesto had 'no parallel in other countries.' All cultures are of equal value, conceded the authors of this official document (a statement erring on the side of simplistic political correctness), but our culture is predestined to be a universal mediator, for it is 'shared by people of every continent.' Touching optimism indeed, which naturally led up to the conclusion that 'the future of the French language in the world can only be as a promoter of cultural progress and is closely linked to the future of people everywhere.' Global homogenization of culture, in the illusions of these authors, is fine—provided that it emanates from France."

He concludes with:

"The real danger—conceivably a mortal one—for European culture is that anti-American and antiglobalist phobias might derail progress. Guy Sorman has shown the scientific and technological retreats this obscurantism has led to in his book Le Progrès et ses ennemis. And this isn’t some 'right-wing' or 'left-wing' thesis; it is a rational one. It is defended alike by the liberal-democrat Sorman and by the socialist Claude Allègre. The latter wages war against the idea that Europe should abandon nuclear energy, genetic engineering and research using embryonic cells. Should the pressure groups that agitate against progress win the day, in twenty years the European states will regress, he writes, 'to the level of the underdeveloped countries, in a world that will be dominated by the United States and China' (L’Express, February 7, 2002.) The anti-American fanatics will then have succeeded in making Europe even more dependant on the United States than it is today."

I guess some of the French get it.

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