The Free State
"Man, in a word, has no nature. What he has is - history."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

BHL, Sarko and Defining Events

BHL chez Taddéi 4 octobre 07
Uploaded by borddeleau

I wanted to write a big coherent post on this. But I'll let the video speak for itself... those are some old battles that Bernard Henri-Levi claims still defines French political identities. I do wonder if it's a French thing. The Brits don't ever bring up India today, yet Algeria and the mission civilizatrice are brought up. Americans still debate the civil war though, and I suspect forever will, so perhaps this is more universal.

I find it disturbing for Sarko to be taunting people with his defense of Vichy, of France's actions in Algeria, of his denial of history in Africa, and his blaming of May '68 for France's woes today. Luckily, it's all mostly harmless, because none of this is relevant to France today, and I've become distinctly bored with Sarko. He has an opinion on every issue, absorbs every leading light of the opposition, while everyone tries to decipher his inchoate babbling foreign policy and what he really means when he wraps himself in the EU flag, makes speeches in Africa, talks about Darfur, and unconvincingly saber-rattles Iran. Really, it's all theatrics. Just bloomin' buzzin' confusion. Just talk and show. And it's looking less and less impressive as the shock value of Sarko's latest move gets old.

The papers are always all abuzz with latest 'controversial' thing Sarko has said... leaving us salivating at the thought of "What will he dare to say next?" Whatever. I say 'say' and not 'do' because Sarko hasn't done much since coming into office. And indeed, I don't expect him to be able to do anything of real interest. If things continue as they are, he'll be in the history books with roughly the same prominence as Pompidou, Giscard and Chirac. Why? Because politicians don't make their own history, they can only, if they are lucky, be there at the right moment in foreign affairs or ride the wave of some social demand for change at home. As Bismarck put it: "A statesman... must wait until he hears the steps of God sounding through events, then leap up and grasp the hem of His garment."

Today however, the seas really do seem calm. We have an imaginary "World War 4" (the only wars today are of our own making), phantasmagoric end-of-time visions of 'Eurabia' and ecological disaster, the constant drumming up of this or Asian country as (another...) superpower. Blah. Blah. Blah. Oh, and another genocide in Africa we can't seem to muster the will to do anything about.

No, what we call the 'high politics' of today, are distinctly boring. When our leaders, like Blair or Sarko, are vain and hyperactive this can lead to the fomenting all sorts of trouble in the name of their egos and idle hands.


Blogger cswilly said...

Nice read.

You are describing kind-of a "End of History II" where everything has been solved and there is nothing left for the politicians to do except be bombastic--why not.

But there are real problems for visionaries to solve (your genocides and the nearly three billion people living on less than two dollars a day).

1:41 PM  
Blogger CJWilly said...

I would not say quite 'End of History', but at the very least we are in a dull moment, like the end of the 19th century. Things, for the developed world at least, are more or less sorted, and insofar as things could be better, there's not much presidents and prime ministers can do about it. This could certainly change, though I'm not sure exactly what circumstances could lead to high politics being important in Europe again.

For the rest of the world, it's a very different story. There's plenty of history being made in Africa and China right now.

1:37 AM  

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