Posts Tagged ‘France’

Propagandist of the American Revolution

June 11, 2009

British socialist and author Mike Marqusee pays tribute to one of history’s great revolutionaries on the anniversary of his death 200 years ago.

Socialist Worker, June 11, 2009

Thomas Paine (Auguste Millière)

Thomas Paine (Auguste Millière)

“THIS INTERMENT was a scene to affect and to wound any sensible heart. Contemplating who it was, what man it was, that we were committing to an obscure grave on an open and disregarded bit of land, I could not help but feel most acutely.”

The occasion for this lament was the sparsely attended funeral of Thomas Paine, who died 200 years ago in June 1809, at the age of 72, and was buried in the small farm he owned in what was then the rural hamlet of New Rochelle, 20 miles north of New York City.

Not long before, New Rochelle’s bigwigs had barred Paine from voting, claiming he was not a U.S. citizen. Paine, who had virtually invented the idea of U.S. citizenship, was furious.

But this was not the end of his indignities. When he sought a place to be buried, even the Quakers would not oblige him. Hence, the muted funeral of the man who had inspired and guided revolutions in North America and France–and equally important, the revolution that did not happen in Britain.

Continued >>

Lévi-Strauss at 100

December 18, 2008
French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, one of the world’s most important thinkers, was born 100 years ago last Friday, and France has been celebrating, writes David Tresilian in Paris

Click to view caption
Claude Lévi-Strauss during anthropological fieldwork in Brazil in the 1930s

Al-Ahram Weekly, 3 – 9 Dec, 2008, Issue No. 925

The 100th birthday of the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, which fell last Friday, is being taken in France as an opportunity to celebrate the work of a man who over the course of a long career refashioned French anthropology and served as intellectual godfather to a whole generation of writers and thinkers in the 1960s and 70s.

While the leading figures of that generation — Barthes in literary criticism and semiology, Althusser in Marxist theory and Lacan in psychoanalysis — have since disappeared from the intellectual landscape, and, with them, much of the attraction of their ideas, Lévi-Strauss almost alone of his generation has survived the vicissitudes of what was intellectually a particularly fertile period, his authority still intact as perhaps the greatest living anthropological theorist and a link to the kind of large-scale theory- building that was once fashionable across the humanities.

French television celebrated Lévi-Strauss’s 100th birthday last week with a series of programmes on his career, from the time he spent among the Indians of the Amazon Basin in the 1930s, from which grew his famous autobiography Tristes tropiques and much of the work on mythological systems collected in the four volumes of Mythologiques (1964 — 1971), to his work as the inspiration behind the “structuralist” theorising of the 1960s and 70s, set in motion by the publication of his book Structural Anthropology in 1958.

The Musée du quai Branly, the French capital’s recently completed museum of anthropology which opened with great fanfare in 2006, held a study day devoted to Lévi- Strauss on 28 November, the institution also serving as the repository for Lévi-Strauss’s own collection of anthropological artifacts. An international colloquium has been held in his honour at the Collège de France. All this adds up to the kind of public celebration more usually accorded to statesmen than to anthropologists, who, Lévi-Strauss writes in Tristes tropiques, tend to see their study as “a mission and a refuge.”

While part of the explanation for the continuing public interest in Lévi-Strauss and his ideas probably stems from the fact that intellectuals in France, once they have attained a certain eminence, tend to become national figures and are recognised as such by the state, it is perhaps also true that Lévi-Strauss has managed to acquire a reputation even among those who have never opened his books or have limited interest in his variety of theorising.

Continued >>

Antisemitism and Islamophobia rising across Europe, survey finds

September 18, 2008

Antisemitism and Islamophobia are on the rise across Europe, according to a survey of global opinion released yesterday.

In contrast to the US and Britain where unfavourable opinion of Jews has been stable and low for several years at between 7 and 9%, the Pew Survey of Global Attitudes found that hostile attitudes to Jews were rising all across continental Europe from Russia and Poland in the east to Spain and France in the west.

The survey found that suspicion of Muslims in Europe was considerably higher than hostility to Jews, but that the increase in antisemitism had taken place much more rapidly.

“Great Britain stands out as the only European country included in the survey where there has not been a substantial increase in antisemitic attitudes,” the survey found.

Antisemitism has more than doubled in Spain over the past three years, with a rise from 21% to 46%, the survey of almost 25,000 people across 24 countries found, while more than one in three Poles and Russians also had unfavourable opinions of Jews.

In the same period antisemitism in Germany and France also rose – from 21% to 25% in Germany and from 12% to 20% in France among those saying they had unfavourable opinions of Jews.

“Opinions of Muslims in almost all of these countries was were more negative than are views of Jews,” analysts said. While Americans and Britons displayed the lowest levels of antisemitism, one in four in both countries were hostile to Muslims.

Such Islamophobia was lower than in the rest of Europe. More than half of Spaniards and half of Germans said that they did not like Muslims and the figures for Poland and France were 46% and 38% for those holding unfavourable opinions of Muslims.

People who were antisemitic were likely also to be Islamophobes. Prejudice was marked among older generations and appeared to be class based. People over 50 and of low education were more likely to be prejudiced.

Time To Exit The Empire Game

July 28, 2008

By Patrick J. Buchanan | WorldNetDaily, July 25, 2008

As any military historian will testify, among the most difficult of maneuvers is the strategic retreat. Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, Lee’s retreat to Appomattox and MacArthur’s retreat from the Yalu come to mind. The British Empire abandoned India in 1947 – and a Muslim-Hindu bloodbath ensued.

France’s departure from Indochina was ignominious, and her abandonment of hundreds of thousands of faithful Algerians to the FALN disgraceful. Few American can forget the humiliation of Saigon ’75, or the boat people, or the Cambodian holocaust.

Strategic retreats that turn into routs are often the result of what Lord Salisbury called “the commonest error in politics … sticking to the carcass of dead policies.”

From 1989 to 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Empire and breakup of the USSR, America had an opportunity to lay down its global burden and become again what Jeane Kirkpatrick called “a normal country in a normal time.”

We let the opportunity pass by, opting instead to use our wealth and power to convert the world to democratic capitalism. And we have reaped the reward of all the other empires that went before: a sinking currency, relative decline, universal enmity, a series of what Rudyard Kipling called “the savage wars of peace.”

Yet, opportunity has come anew for America to shed its imperial burden and become again the republic of our fathers.

The chairman of Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang Party has just been hosted for six days by Beijing. Commercial flights have begun between Taipei and the mainland. Is not the time ripe for America to declare our job done, that the relationship between China and Taiwan is no longer a vital interest of the United States?

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government wants a status of forces agreement with a timetable for full withdrawal of U.S. troops. Is it not time to say yes, to declare that full withdrawal is our goal as well, that the United States seeks no permanent bases in Iraq?

On July 4, Reuters, in a story headlined “Poland rejects U.S. missile offer,” reported from Warsaw: “Poland spurned as insufficient on Friday a U.S. offer to boost its air defenses in return for basing anti-missile interceptors on its soil. …

“‘We have not reached a satisfactory result on the issue of increasing the level of Polish security,’ Prime Minister Donald Tusk told a news conference after studying the latest U.S. proposal.”

Tusk is demanding that America “provide billions of dollars worth of U.S. investment to upgrade Polish air defenses in return for hosting 10 two-stage missile interceptors,” said Reuters.

Reflect if you will on what is going on here.

By bringing Poland into NATO, we agreed to defend her against the world’s largest nation, Russia, with thousands of nuclear weapons. Now, the Polish regime is refusing us permission to site 10 anti-missile missiles on Polish soil, unless we pay Poland billions for the privilege.

Has Uncle Sam gone senile?

No. Tusk has Sam figured out. The old boy is so desperate to continue in his Cold War role as world’s Defender of Democracy he will even pay the Europeans – to defend Europe.

Why not tell Tusk that if he wants an air defense system, he can buy it; that we Americans are no longer willing to pay Poland for the privilege of defending Poland; that the anti-missile missile deal is off. And use cancellation of the missile shield to repair relations with a far larger and more important power, Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Consider, too, the opening South Korea is giving us to end our 60-year commitment to defend her against the North. For weeks, Seoul hosted anti-American protests against a trade deal that allows U.S. beef into South Korea. Koreans say they fear mad-cow disease.

Yet, when a new deal was cut to limit imports to U.S. beef from cattle less than 30 months old, that too was rejected by the protesters. Behind the demonstrations lies a sentiment of anti-Americanism.

In 2002, a Pew Research Center survey of 42 nations found 44 percent of South Koreans, second highest number of any country, holding an unfavorable view of the United States. A Korean survey put the figure at 53 percent, with 80 percent of youth holding a negative view. By 39 percent to 35 percent, South Koreans saw the United States as a greater threat than North Korea.

Can someone explain why we keep 30,000 troops on the DMZ of a nation whose people do not even like us?

The raison d’etre for NATO was the Red Army on the Elbe. It disappeared two decades ago. The Chinese army left North Korea 50 years ago. Yet NATO endures and the U.S. Army stands on the DMZ. Why?

Because, if all U.S. troops were brought home from Europe and Korea, 10,000 rice bowls would be broken. They are the rice bowls of politicians, diplomats, generals, journalists and think tanks who would all have to find another line of work.

And that is why the Empire will endure until disaster befalls it, as it did all the others.

Pat Buchanan was twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the Reform Party’s candidate in 2000. He is also a founder and editor of The American Conservative. Now a political analyst for MSNBC and a syndicated columnist, he served three presidents in the White House, was a founding panelist of three national TV shows, and is the author of seven books.

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