New Flophouse Address:

You will find all the posts, comments, and reading lists (old and some new ones I just published) here:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Immigration and the French Left

I have always been an admirer of the American writer, H.L. Mencken, professional curmudgeon and literary critic.  How could I not love a man who wrote, "No matter how long he lives, no man ever becomes as wise as the average woman of forty-eight."

Mencken wrote a lot about American politics.  His essay,"On Being an American," is a wonderful read.  I've never found the equivalent here in France and I've often wondered what he would have to say about French or American politics in the early 21st century.  If he were here to see the recent trials and tribulations of the Socialist Party, I would like to think that he would reiterate the advice he gave to the American people about politicians:
Their  primary error lies in making the false assumption that some politicians are better than others... I propose that it be renounced and contend that its renunciation would greatly rationalize and improve our politics.  I do not argue that there would be any improvement in our politicians;  on the contrary, I believe that would remain substantially as they are today, and perhaps grow even worse.  But what I do argue is that recognizing them frankly for what they are would instantly and automatically dissipate the indignation caused by their present abominations, and that the disappearance of this indignation would promote the public contentment and happiness.  Under my scheme there would be no more false assumptions and no more false hopes, and hence no more painful surprises, no more bitter resentment of fraud, no more despair.
Politicians, in so far as they remained necessary, would be kept at work - but not with any insane notion that they were archangels.
Back to our discussion.  Today let's talk about the Socialist Party and the Green Party and their respective stands on immigration.

PS - Parti Socialist (Socialist Party)
This party has been around for a long time.  In 2005 they celebrated their 100th anniversary.  In recent memory they provided France with someone whom I think was one of France's greatest presidents, Francois Mitterand.  Unlike the Far-left parties they embrace capitalism while being very critical of it.  Reform is the order of the day, not a complete tear-down of the present system.   Their statement of principles can be found here.    I did not find a clear stand on immigration in that statement so I looked around the website.  I didn't find anything that gave me a clear picture about their stand on migrants.  If anyone has a link, please feel free to leave it in the comments section.

Europe Ecologie les Verts (The Green Party)
Like the NPA this is a very new party that was founded in 2010.  They have a political agenda called "Projet 2012' which they summarize in five main principles:
  • Vivre mieux en préservant l’humanité et la planète (A better life that preserves humanity and the planet)
  • Une économie écologique et solidaire (An ecologically and socially friendly economy) 
  • Vivre ensemble dans une société ouverte et réconciliée (Living together in an open and fraternal society)
  • De l’oligarchie à la démocratie réelle (From oligarchy to real democracy)
  • Un monde de paix et de justice (A world of peace and justice)
Not much there to disagree with but my initial reaction was "please show me the fine print."  How exactly do they plan to achieve all this?  I read their entire brochure and did not find anything about international migration, its social and environmental impacts.  That was rather disappointing especially for a party that has pretensions to operating on the international stage.

Finishing up our tour of the French Left, I have to say that the only party I found with very clear policy statement and concrete ideas about immigration and immigrants is the Communist Party.  Again, if anyone takes exception to that remark, I am open to receiving more information.

Tomorrow we'll move more toward the center-right and talk about MODEM (Mouvement Democrate) and Le Nouveau Centre (The New Center).


Anonymous said...

thanks for the tip to read Mencken's essay "On Being an American"!

Jim at Domesday

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi Jim,

Oh do read "On Being an American" - it is a wonderful piece among many. I have a much-loved copy of The American Scene, a Reader that brings together some of his best work.

I re-read my post and I should clarify that the long quotation actually comes from another essay of Mencken's called "The Politician". The small bit I shared is a mere taste of his contempt for the breed.

I think you will enjoy both essays. Bonne lecture!