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Ear to the Ground

France Goes With the Socialist

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Posted on May 6, 2012
AP/Michel Spingler

Supporters of Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande react after the first results of the second round of French presidential elections were announced at Place de la Bastille in Paris.

The austerity regime in Europe took a big hit Sunday, with French voters electing Socialist Francois Hollande, while the Greeks, also voting Sunday, handed out pink slips to the ruling centrist coalition that has slashed government spending on EU orders.

Hollande will be the first left-leaning leader of France in 17 years, an awfully long drought considering the country’s reputation as a social democracy.

Votes are still being counted as of this posting, but President Nicolas Sarkozy has already conceded.

Hollande’s ascension is significant to the Greeks, who spent the day castigating their pro-austerity representatives in parliament and voting to support a variety of alternative parties on both the left and right.

Driven by conservative leaders in the U.K., France and Germany, “austerity” has been the watchword for Europe these last few years. Despite everything the United States learned in the 1930s and ’40s about the value of stimulus, lawmakers across the pond have been pushing their own version of austerity—“deficit reduction.”

The results have left something to be desired. Rather than stabilize the British economy, austerity seems to have pushed the U.K. into a double-dip recession, which Prime Minister David Cameron blames on the eurozone.

In France and Greece, voters seem to be rejecting the concept. Hollande promises to spend more and wants to renegotiate austerity agreements with Germany.

Perhaps like couture, will the political fashions of Paris somehow find their way to these shores? Not likely, with both presidential candidates agreeing to curtail spending on anything but the military and a few token millions for popular programs. In France, Hollande promised to hire 60,000 teachers and raise the minimum wage. That kind of boldness, whether politically feasible or not, is sorely lacking in this year’s U.S. election. Maybe there is a lesson in Europe for President Obama’s campaign team. Maybe not.  —PZS

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By Ed Romano, May 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

This morning I was going through a notebook I was keeping a few years ago and came across this item that I thought is probably more pertinent today than it was just a few years ago…
  In the wake of the latest Wall St. and bank fiasco Neal Gabler published an article in the Boston Globe ( Oct. 2009 ) regarding the crimes. By coincidence I happen to be reading The Bard Of Savagery at this time….a review of the economic and social philosophy of Thorstein Veblen. It’s been a hundred years since Veblen laid out the exact argument found in Gabler’s article. The conventional wisdom in Veblen’s day was that businessmen, by pursuing thier own self interest, were actually doing a great service to the entire society….for example by creating jobs. Veblen, almost alone among American economists, stood this argument on its head and showed in great detail that the American business world was actually rapacious and predatory, not by abberation but by its very nature and rather than being a beneficial agency in society it was a positive detriment. In the 19th century there was an economic collapse approximately every ten or fifteen years. Government intervention after the collapse in 1929 put a few curbs on the business world’s rapaciousness, but as we are now learning ( how often do we have to learn it ) you can’t keep a good predator down. Since the monied class is always the political ruling class, the majority of the population is always their victim…Veblen was able to expose the American system like as surgeon exposing a tumor,because besides being an astute ecopnomist he was also an anthropoligist. He showed that the roots of American society, which we consider modern, actually lie in the far distant past with our savage ancestors.

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By americanme, May 12, 2012 at 10:32 am Link to this comment

Confederacy of Dunces and Suckers.

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By Ed Romano, May 11, 2012 at 6:54 pm Link to this comment

Good Evening Comrades, This week the Republican congress pushed through thier plan to further punish the folks on the bottom of the economic heap.  This afternoon I had a piece of mail from The American Friends Service Committee in which the cost of upkeeping the military was pegged at…..are you sitting down…...over 2 million dollars per minute. I think this would be an opportune time to change the name of this country to something like The United Asylums of America.

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By americanme, May 10, 2012 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

the jack:  It’s sad damaged folks like you continue to live and reproduce, as you were pegged 100% spot on by another poster who said you just come here to jack off.  Take your homophobia and don’t let the doorknob his you in your guarded rear.

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By Mona, May 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm Link to this comment

In Europe, they understand as a matter of fact that corporations must be HEAVILY regulated.  Only the insane, as in the U.S., and by its lonesome, *imagines* otherwise.  That is why, to us, a 75% tax rate sounds so shocking.  Here, we can’t get them to pay ANYTHING.  But it is completely commonsensical to a people who enjoy the best medical care in the world and a quality and stability of life we cannot even imagine as Americans.

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By Mona, May 9, 2012 at 7:38 pm Link to this comment

Maybe America’s socialist boogieman has more to do with our history in puritanism.  It is so easy to brainwash the public into thinking it has to do with anything else than competing interests.  The rich realize this, but poorer Americans are easily taught otherwise.  Such bad children!

I like the political compass (you can google this) approach more than the traditional linear left/right analysis.  That is, think of an x/y graph, with left right on the x line, and the crossing y with an increasing delineation for authoritanism heading north, and libertarianism heading south.  Hence, at the left/north extreme, you have an authoritanian communist like Stalin, and perhaps, at the left/south - communist/libertarian end, a folk singer and self-described communist like Pete Seeger.  Hitler, of course, would be far right on the x axis, and also far north on the y axis, for authoritarian fascist.  South on the right axis might be someone like Ron Paul (i.e. right wing libertarian).

We, like France, have a mixed economy.  Social nets are a form of socialism, and that is a good thing if you are not an incredibly wealthy person who lives off the exploited labor and sweat of others with no regard for their rights or needs.  France has great social benefits compared to us, like the number one health care system in the world with health care for everyone in France, free university, affordable daycare and childcare, great vacation and family leave, strong social security for the elderly - and help within the home; i.e. aging with dignity.  That’s just for starters.

They intelligently perceive a potential end to their quality of living should the U.S. continue on its course, and they have rightfully and forcefully shown us the way, so that we can go their route, instead.

This American firmly agrees!  Being of the 99%.

The one thing Occupy will have to “get over” is trying to reinvent the wheel.  There’s no getting around the fact that social safety networks are socialistic.  Stop trying to pretend otherwise and really take the bull by the horns.

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By the jack, May 9, 2012 at 8:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

americanme:

wow.  your toxic hatred for any and all who disagree
with your narrow minded viewpoints is sad.  just
because someone disagrees with you they don’t “hate”. 
that is the new catch phrase for those who cannot
defend their poor, simple minded view.  sad.

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By ReadingJones, May 8, 2012 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

Jacque

Near Homer,Alaska there is a place called Jakalof Bay.
It is commonly mispelled and mispronouced as an attack
on the inhabitants, sort of like your exceptionally
ignorant post.

I think Jackoffalot would be a good name for you.

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By americanme, May 8, 2012 at 11:38 am Link to this comment

Of course he is not a “real” socialist!

There are no “real” socialists in Europe anymore.

He was simply the lesser of evils.

In the US there is no lesser of evils.

Voting is for suckers.

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By americanme, May 8, 2012 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

And his homophobic hatespeecher the jack stank the site out with his rancid rancor.

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By Ed Romano, May 8, 2012 at 6:37 am Link to this comment

Yesterday I wrote that this man was not a real socialist. the news on Democracy now seems to agree. Seems the major bank of France is set to straighten him regarding what it will and will not allow him to do….But when you see how his election is pissing off the germans and the White House….you gotta love him.

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By Ed Romano, May 8, 2012 at 6:37 am Link to this comment

Yesterday I wrote that this man was not a real socialist. the news on Democracy now seems to agree. Seems the major bank of France is set to straighten him regarding what it will and will not allow him to do….But when you see how his election is pissing off the germans and the White House….you gotta love him.

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By THX 1133 is not in the movie..., May 8, 2012 at 12:14 am Link to this comment

One of the nice things about the relationship between
the French people and their government is; the
government is properly afraid of the people.
We definitely took a wrong turn back yonder…

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By Free Thinker, May 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am glad for you French! Hope it will work for the best, and the world in general would be a better, safer and more peaceful for humanity at large.

At least, I hopefully don’t have to see again that ugly face and soul of Sarkuzy who was the ugly face of the defunct French neo-colonialism!

Hopefully, French fries would recover its previous good repute to erase for good the silly American fake variety suggested by a chauvinist fake- patriot who suggested the product be named as “Patriot Fries!”

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By the jack, May 7, 2012 at 1:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

americanme:

there is no such thing as “homophobia”, no one fears
homosexuality or homosexuals as the term suggests. 
those are simply terms created by the homosexual
community and perpetuated by the liberal MSM.  a proper
analogy would be no one fears a skunk, one just doesn’t
care for the smell.

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By americanme, May 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment

gerard:

You’ll not have to drop dead—gringos looking at that photo would immediately start with homophobic hatespeech.

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By Alan MacDonald, May 7, 2012 at 10:13 am Link to this comment

It’s even more clear to me today [than last week when I wrote the attached comment], and particularly after this major vote to reject the facade of “Globalization” and address the reality of the corporate/financial/militarist (and media) “Global Empire” that has captured and now “Occupies” our former country and much of the ‘western world’, that Europe, rather than the US, will lead the ‘action’ to recognize, expose, and confront this DGE (Disguised Global Empire).

However, if the American initiated Occupy movement shows the vision to overtly re-focus itself as an “Occupy the Empire” movement in the US, which is after all the nominal headquarters of the DGE, then American youth, workers, and the 99% may well be able to act as a major factor in the coming educational and revolutionary movement “Against Empire” [Michael Parenti] primarily because of the impact that an “Occupy the Empire” movement could have by revolting within the belly of the empire.

Best luck and love to the “Occupy Empire” educational movement.

Liberty, democracy, equality & justice

Over

Violent/Vichy

Empire,

Alan MacDonald

Sanford, Maine


[My comment from last week]:

“PS.  I’ve finally figured out that the people in the rest of the world already understand, and ARE ACTIVE in confronting the global Empire.

Europeans understand this and at least 20-30% are willing to expose it and confront it.

While even more than 40 to 60% of the people in the countries that are getting *ucked by the global Empire understand it and are going into the streets to confront the global Empire (which is headquartered in the US).

So, my best audience is not in America, the core of the global Empire, but in the people, like Europeans who have already suffered the impact of global WWII in their own countries——and even more the people in all the non-Western countries, who live in what the global Empire considers just ‘territories’, and where the global Empire considers people merely ‘subjects’ of the Empire, and gives them a taste of the “point of the empire’s spear right in their face”.

In this coming global people’s revolution against the DGE (Disguised Global Empire) I now, at last, understand that Americans will not be the leaders (except for a few academics and intellectuals like Zinn, Chomsky, Parenti, Parsons, Korten, etc.), but Americans masses will be the followers—- late to the party, but important because they are in the belly of the global Empire, and when they finally wake-up and get active they will be useful in belling the cat of Empire right here in River City.”

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By bramdruckman, May 7, 2012 at 9:43 am Link to this comment

Overlooked - or rather ignored by others who commented on this piece were the
words near the end, “France intends to curtail spending on everything but the
military”, my question is: “Why does France even need a military?” Who out there is
about to attack France, Germany, the UK or even Italy? I know we’re terrified of
being invaded by China, nuked by N. Korea or subjugated by Venezuela and that’s
why our legislators in Washington handed $650 billion or so this year to our
military to keep their boots polished (money that might have been gone toward
education or programs designed to improve the quality of life for all of us) but as
for France - who wants to invade them? If you have no enemies why do you need a
military?

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By Ed Romano, May 7, 2012 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

If you think this guy is a socialist, you probably also think liberal democrats are going to pull us out of our terminal, national disaster.

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By IMax, May 7, 2012 at 8:33 am Link to this comment

Freeze, Mr. - “They (Europeans) have a right to their “experiment” as do we.”

-

Absolutely correct.  I’ve never advocated anything otherwise.  Only your failure to properly read turns my last post into a commentary about Europe.  My last commentary is all about the United States.

“Better” is subjective.  Better is being able to feed the world.  Which the United States does “better” than all Europeans nations combined.

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By CJ, May 7, 2012 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

France has never practiced socialism but has elected a few socialists, one in
particular long ago, Francois Mitterrand. He turned out hardly a socialist,
indeed not in the least. In this era—ongoing, evidently timeless—of our sad
need for “leaders” who technically legitimate or not are invariably corrupted by
power (which is wealth), I’ll be interested to see whether this new “socialist” is
one and whether or not France is prepared to go the distance, to become
socialist. 

France has shown the way in the past and so could do so again. It’s first
revolution was a capitalist one and immensely successful as such.

Yesterday was an election and not a revolution by socialists, but one can always
hope that capitalism has finally sowed enough seeds of self-destruction, as it
must by definition, that a more authentic socialism is on the way in Europe as it
has been to a degree in parts of Latin America for the past decade or so.

If Europe then possibly, despite all that stands in the way, even the U.S.

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By mondobizarro, May 7, 2012 at 8:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Those equating socialism with authoritarianism might want to take a look at the
political compass. As it will make clear to you, authoritarianism is not tied to
economic policy. Thus while the USSR was an authoritarian and communist, the
most notorious authoritarian regime was Germany - a democratic, capitalist
country before Hitler took power. Similarly, the most democratic country in the
world today, Switzerland, has a more socialist economic policy than America.

The same holds true for France. Having lived there for five years I can attest
that it is, if anything, more “free” and more responsive to the rights of its
citizens than America is today. Even under the influence of the neoliberalism
that swept America and Europe beginning in the ‘80’s, France places people
above corporations and does not confuse the rights of the two. France’s current
and correct rejection of austerity, is !hopefully! a rejection of the neoliberal
economic policy behind it.

Fingers crossed.

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By mrfreeze, May 7, 2012 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

IMax - With all due respect…..you don’t know shit about Europe. The more you write about Europe, the dumber you seem.

In fact, unless any of you critics have spent significant time in Europe and truly understand how things work over there, you should refrain from making comparisons about their way of life and ours. They have a right to their “experiment” as do we. This isn’t a game that Americans “win” and those socialist/commie Europeans “lose.” They simply do things differently and, in many regards, they do things much better than we do.

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By balkas, May 7, 2012 at 7:50 am Link to this comment

it seems to me that lots of people in u.s confuse or identify a govt [really a
management team] with structure of society and governance.
to them, it is ok or even sacrosanct that some people are allowed to become much
richer and thus more powerful politically than others.
it is the govt they blame and not the one-party system of rule.
so, any management team [the government] can only work inside the two systems:
deep racial, ethnic, personal, religous divisions, on one hand and near zero
political powers for some and much or near total to others on the other.
no u.s govt dare venture out of the allowable parameters.
each govt must strive not only to maintain inter-racial
hatreds/intolerance/disrespect and all other divisions [such as in education,
healthcare, etc.] but must augment them.
the system demands it; its appetite can never be assuaged.
wrong is wrong and wrong cannot ever have enough of it; it must grow!
on the other hand, justice/rights is right and one can have enough of it one day!

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By IMax, May 7, 2012 at 7:31 am Link to this comment

Speaking of voting against the interests of the world’s poor.

Polling data amongst the French public displays one clear pathology.  A majority of the voting public is currently opposed to much needed austerity measures (much need being the operative word). - Take your hands off what I’ve long been “entitled” to. - Hollande in, Sarkozy out.

Most European nations are much worse off (weaker positions) economically than currently is the United States.  Yet we still see a small minority in the United States who deeply desire to emulate European style governance.  The United States is the top producer of food in the world, yet we still see a small minority in the United States who deeply desire to change this.  Over the last century the United States has been the fastest growing economic engine the world has ever seen.  Some people, again a minority, look on this as a travesty.  A crime.

The United States, with its open markets, freedom of travel, free interstate commerce, rights of private property, peaceful transitions of power, independent judiciary and inherent aversion to large, corrupt, lumbering government programs, employs, feeds, houses and medicates more people all over the globe than all of Europe combined.  And still there is a vocal minority in the United States which wishes to raise the American system in favor of central planning by an elite few.

Suffice to say the American public, by and large, is a great deal smarter than the above described ideologically driven minority.

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By surfnow, May 7, 2012 at 5:25 am Link to this comment

Socialism is not saying the same thing as authoritarianism- France just proved that with their free and open election. Communism is totalitarianism but a society can be socialist and democratic with full civil liberties- as much as the western world is ( except Amerika of course) What socialism does is create an equitable progressive tax structure- which allows for government paid social programs which are the absolute nececessity of every post-industrial society.

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By louiss123, May 7, 2012 at 4:30 am Link to this comment

What people forget is that socialism is another way of saying authoritarianism.
People just love to be administered to, to give away their responsibility to a
governing body. I don’t really care its just that they try and drag all the rest along
with them. Liberty(sorry about bringing that word up)takes a big hit with
socialism. Like all governments, it is about force, coercion. Look at the US..we say
we are a democracy but we are very much a type of socialist gov…just a very weird
one.
I guess we will see wont we?

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By surfnow, May 7, 2012 at 3:44 am Link to this comment

I hear what you’re saying Mona and I too applaud the French. Unfortunately the same thing will never happen in Amerika. Unlike the rest of the entire western world we alone still have a psychotic fear of the word ” socialism” . This hatred of socialism has been alive and well since the Bolsheivik Revolution in 1918- the first time of many when we took the wrong side.

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By balkas, May 6, 2012 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment

caring, sharing won in france. uncaring, individualism lost. hope forever!

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By Mona, May 6, 2012 at 7:43 pm Link to this comment

Great news for everyone in America.  An advance in one place is an advance for everyone.  Now get over your hangups, fellow Americans, about supporting the wins of socialist parties in Europe.  Get out of provincial narrow-minded mental boxes and cheer like hell with ze french! Yaaayyyyy!

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By ReadingJones, May 6, 2012 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment

Maybe there’s hope for a third party candidate after
all. A wild hope springs to life. Go Socialists and
Greens—form a coalition!

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By IMax, May 6, 2012 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment

I certainly don’t wish you dead, nonetheless, you should have witnessed U.S. elections in 2008, 2004, 2000, 1996 and 1992.  On each of the above occasions nearly half the country displayed similar emotions (the other half, not so much).  Those events appeared in all the papers and evening news outlet across the country.

I can’t say where you were or what may have distracted you in 1984, and it’s never popular here to say this, the general mood in the United States on Nov. 5, after a 49 state re-election route, was more positive than it had been 20 years prior.  Many of us have blocked-out the cheering crowds that day.

Some may also recall the near euphoria one day after an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at GW’s head.

None of it uncommon, gerard.  The grass is not always greener.

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By gerard, May 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Love the picture!  If I saw two American guys that friendly and that happy with U.S. politics, I think I’d drop dead!

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By mansoor h. khan, May 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Here is how the banker’s game works:

http://aquinums-razor.blogspot.com/2011/11/here-is-how-
bankers-game-works.html

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