France and the USA were always entangled. It’s not just that their Constitutions are from 1789. When the explorer Champlain visited New England in 1605 CE, at the head of one of his large military-geographic fur trading expeditions, going thousands of miles all over North-East America, his men climbed the exact same giant tree that the Pilgrims climbed fifteen years later.
So why is New England not French speaking? Because as Champlain reported, the land was full of people, the land was used up, and could not accept one French family. Epidemics at the opportune time cleared the land, after Champlain’s departure. If the epidemics had happened fifteen years earlier, English would be playing second fiddle to French.
Another occasion to colonize the continent had arisen a generation earlier, when French expeditions founded settlements along what they named the Carolines (“Carolinas”). However, France was in the middle of a 150 year war against Spain, at that point led by the fanatic Catholic fascist Philippe II. Philippe launched an armada which killed the French, down to babies, because they were Protestants. Biblical justice at its best.
Immersed inside the French war against Spain, was the 80 year war that ended with the liberation of the Netherlands. That, in turn, led to the conquest, aka “Glorious Revolution” (which proclaimed parliamentary sovereignty in 1688 England). The Protestant Netherlands hated Louis XIV (I don’t see why not). The result was the loss of New France.
101 years later, in 1789, the French and the American Constituent Assemblies imposed their Constitutions (England sorta Constitution, has turned into kinda Contradiction, more on that below).
Krugman visited France recently, and found things to be better than he expected. So he ran in the last week a succession of posts vilipending the hatred against France professed in the Wall Street Journal and its ilk. Said he: “The French economy gets extraordinarily bad press in this country, and this attitude spills over into some allegedly serious economic analysis too. I don’t have time to dig up examples now, but not that long ago quite a few investment banks etc. were pegging France as the next crisis country, about to go the way of Italy or even Portugal any day now… In reality, however, France does not have a large structural deficit. And while it has an aging population, the demographic problem is actually much less in France — with its relatively high fertility — than in the rest of Europe, Germany in particular.”
The hatred against France also spills all over, in other domains, such as practical philosophy (after 9/11, I lost basically all friends and family in the USA, except for my spouse).
I pointed out that France, where it does really matter, long term, does better than Germany (and where it does bad, decades of austerian right wing with a touch of deliquescent left can be pointed at). France has a third more youth than Germany. In spite of an enormous immigration of one million workers (mostly from the rest of the EU), just in the last year, Germany’s demographics are so bad, Merkel announced a massive program to help births (she does not have children herself, although I won’t throw her any stone, as I discovered to my dismay that this is not a given).
The “white” population in the USA went down last year by 12,000 (the first time it goes down). In France, of course, everybody is color free, and the population is augmenting on its own (no immigration, Sarkozy, son of an immigrant, didn’t allow it).
Krugman: But hasn’t the French economy performed poorly in the crisis? Yes, compared with the United States or Germany. But it’s not in the crisis camp, at all. Here’s a comparison:
Most people, I suspect, think of the Netherlands as being like Germany — doing fine thanks to stern fiscal virtue and all that — while those self-indulgent French slide into economic decline. Actually, France and the Netherlands have basically the same performance.”
“Performance” here is measured by GDP. One has to be careful here, as the USA GDP, for example, can be artificially boosted by financial services doing their fake, derivative, or predatory economy.
A decisive, and very real boost to GDP in the USA is fracking. Fracking, with its cheap oil and gas, is calling back entire industries to the homeland, such as chemicals. But of course the Americans can afford to use the colossal vastness to devastate what they have at their merci (or lack thereof). It’s going to be interesting to see how Chevron is going to frack in Rumania (they got plenty of permits to go frack there)… Rumania has 60 times more inhabitants than Wyoming.
Krugman: “Just to be clear, I’m not saying that all is well with France. France is doing badly; so are we; so is almost everyone. The widespread notion that France is in big trouble is, however, not based on reality. And it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that it’s ultimately political: with their generous welfare state the French are supposed to be collapsing, so people assume that they are.”
WORLD REPUBLIC: INDEED PLUTOCRACY’S WORST ENEMY.
By “people” here we have to understand the average American, fed a steady diet of thick propaganda, by billionaires’ owned press. I can’t even watch it anymore: instead of getting infuriated as I used to, I’m getting as bored as if I were looking down Nevada Falls: awesome, but uneventful in its own steadily cataclysmic way.
Wall Streeters, banksters, hedge funders, professional tax evaders, tax evading corporations, haters of the welfare state, and other plutocrats and plutophiles rightly view France as their greatest enemy. Why?
It’s not just that France is the leader of the “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” religion (the only viable one, in this day and age). It’s also that the French Republic is amplified by the entire European Union. The European Union is the nightmare plutocracy feared in 1792. It is precisely to avoid the rise of a European Union founded around republican principles, that the Duke of Brunswick, commander of the Prussian army, grandly declared that he would kill all Parisians in July 1792. (So much for Auschwitz being an accident!)
See the “Proclamation of the Duke of Brunswick” at the end of my essay “How Genocide Starts”. Thus, by heaping spite on France, the upper plutocracy in the USA follows a long tradition. Their worries are amplified by their ownership of the media thay have gulped down in recent years. (A long tradition: the famed West Coast press tycoon Randolf Hearst used to be paid by Hitler to say nice things about his Satanic Reich: big Plutos feed smaller ones!)
So the advent of the European Union is, de facto, as if the First French republic of 1792 had taken over Europe. Revolutionary France has won that war. It took 220 years, but it’s a win. Plutocratically inspired fascism, from Brunswick to Hitler got crushed. It’s not the French Republic that became like the German Reich, but the Reich that became a republic (Weimar was a “Reich”, not a republic, officially speaking, a semantic problem that explains why it ended with a “Guide”-president).
To symbolize all this, for Bastille Day 2013, not only did Malian troops parade (first!), and the troops of 11 other African countries with them. And Danes and Croats (Croatia is the 28th EU member state!). And also the United Nations, saluted by the UN Secretary General, sitting on the right of the French president! But so did, of course German troops, German aircraft, including F22 munching Typhoons. Not to forget two Franco-German regiments armed with French FAMAS guns, and Tigre Franco-German attack helicopters. World Republic?
Even Ms Merkel is won over. Her 2013 electoral platform looks as if it had been written by the French Socialist Party (opponents are reduced to claiming she can’t possibly pay for it).
Thus the revolutionary ideology “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” keeps on progressing and collides with greedsterism (aka “liberalism”), the official ideology plutocracy presents to the world, itself playing for broke.
This, of course enrages plutocrats. They know well the very concept of Republic is their enemy.
All the more as they are not winning. A case in point is the English parliamentary sovereignty, of 1688, according to which (Westminster) Parliament may pass any legislation that it wishes. That English sorta (lack of) Constitution is now contradicted by the membership in the European Union (which has a better defined Constitution that takes precedence upon the British one!).
That is ominous for the financial piracy outpost centered in London (and it goes a long way to explain lots of hostility in the plutocratically owned UK press against the European Union).
A few weeks ago, PM Cameron convoked the British owned tax havens and told them they would have to comply with the same orders as those given to, and executed by, Switzerland. Last week, the ex-president of Switzerland went to Paris, and signed the capitulation of Switzerland-as-a-tax-haven to France with the French finance minister.
Thus, intellectually, economically and strategically, France is, if not the apex predator of the West, the other one. And it has very practical consequences, for the biggest decisions.
After all, it’s not the USA that declared war to Hitler, but France (Britain joined France on Poland, against Hitler and Stalin, only in the last week before WWII). The USA never declared war to Hitler (until after the fact; even then Prescott Bush stayed Hitler’s top military-industrial manager for more than 6 months, in 1942! And, among other examples, IBM, Hitler’s monopoly for computing, kept working for the Nazi dictator, managed from New York, through Geneva, throughout the war!).
LET’S MAKE A DEAL, REPUBLIC TO REPUBLIC:
Right now, in dual use military and civilian technologies, France is clearly on top. The USA government had to order 400 combat helicopters to Eurocopter based in Marseilles (reason: Eurocopter churns out new models, but the USA has built none in 20 years). Even Russia bought Tigre attack helicopters…
Staying on top in military economy and technology is, of course, the most important part of the economy. It’s not measured by GDP; it allowed France to declare war to Hitler, as France was sure to win (!).
A superior military economy is what failed with Rome, after 10 centuries of superiority. By 300 CE the Germans, and foremost the Franks, were better armed. That’s why small German armies defeated the Romans, while, four centuries earlier, enormous Germans armies had been annihilated by small Roman ones.
France is deficient in some military areas where the USA rules (drones), it’s also the case that France dominates in pure aviation (Rafales, active stealth, hypersonic missiles nuclear, or not). Hence, instead of hating France, it would surely be smarter to trade with France, starting with military technology.
But once again, this is not about smarts. It’s about greed confronting a more durable philosophy. Hating France defines a plutocracy, whose idea of beauty is a brownish landscape cratered by fracking wells.
In a way, this time, the West is lucky: instead of having just one power falling to plutocracy (as happened with Rome), it has two (the USA and the EU). But they have been falling differently, and, from that disagreement, from that division, one can hope that republican democracy can come back, and be reborn (preferably as a more direct democracy, as Switzerland).
Oh, how did France come to lose North America, and how did an opposition with her own creation, the USA, blossomed? It’s all about a choice of (French) philosophies. Montesquieu, Voltaire, Sade on one side, were followed by the Founding Fathers, in opposition to other philosophers, such as Condorcet.
The American institutions went with the former lot, because they played a short, exploitative game. Just because they could play it. Still are. This short game is at the center of English America’s success. The long French game, under tight central government control (sending to New France only characters of the highest morality!) was too noble for its own good.
Indeed, by necessity, sitting taut like a spider on the very compact European web, France was, and is forced to play a long term, and tighter game. France has existed as an independent entity for more than 14 centuries, whereas English America is just four centuries old. France 14, USA 4? Or maybe 26 versus 2? Indeed, republican Marseilles and her empire were founded (by Greeks) more than 26 centuries ago. (And the influence of the Greeks was pervasive, throughout Gaul, well before the Roman one.)
Marseilles’ republic stayed independent for 6 centuries. Marseilles’ independence was lost a century after Athens’, and most Greek cities’. As Marseilles was Pompei’s main ally, Caesar besieged it for months. The imperator made a description of the combativity, ardor and ingeniosity of the Marseillais that does not make it surprising that they adopted later the song that carries their name. French philosophy, not just French history, has a long memory. And that gives not just a different taste, a different mood, but different aims.