Those who follow international current affairs often stumle upon articles that criticize France on account of its expansive public sector, its high taxes, its attraction to red tape, its competitiveness and so on and so forth. Many medias, including Anglo-Saxon journals are in the front line of calling France “the sick man of Europe”.
And now the French has a name for this phenomenon: they call it French bashing.
Here are a few recent examples of what is known as French bashing without a real effort to collect all of the cases:
- The most famous of these cases is the front page of The Economist, published on November 17, 2012, that called France a time-bomb at the heart of Europe.
- At the end of 2013, the Lisbon Council a think tank in Brussels, called France the sick man of Europe. The analysis was discussed extensively.
- Just this year, France has been called the sick man of Europe by The Guardian (a left-wing British journal) and by Businessweek, too.
- Right in the beginning if the year, Newsweek published an article called The fall of France.
- A few days later, Allister Heath’s article in the journal City A.M. created a small kind of political havoc: even the French Embassy in London deemed it important enough to reply, while Le Figaro, Le Monde and other medias talked about the debate extensively.
- Just a few days ago, The New Republic introduced another angle with its article called Let’s stop pretending that French is an important language.
Who are French bashers according to the French? Credit rating agencies, British and American liberal (= libertarian or neo-conservative) economists, journalists and thinkers who do not accept the differences of French culture, who want to impose their values on France, who want France to open itself up to the globalized culture, to international competition and so on. Those who have no respect for the so called French model. Those who do not accept French republicanism as an alternative to Anglo-Saxon liberalism.
Of course, “the other side” has its important arguments, too. So in the coming days, I will be exploring this interesting debate in depth. What is French bashing, how does it work, why does it work, why it isn’t the debate you think it is, and ultimately why only the French can put an end to it? That is all to come shortly, so stay tuned.
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