Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Little More French Politics

Not only did the CEVIPOF report on the public's attitude toward political corruption grab my attention, several pther articles seem noteworthy.

Ségolène Royal had drawn attention outside of France as potentially the next woman to be elected head of state, but political anthropologist Marc Abélès says that her style--her approach to political discourse--is a break from the politics of the past. (Is she's the French Howard Dean? I think she does him better.) On the one hand, she uses her blog, Désirs d'avenir (Future Desires), to realize a dynamic, less asymetrical relationships between politician and public, very muc realizing the potential and realities of the blogosphere. On the other, rather than argumentation on the basis of ideological differences, she accepts the collapse of those differences.
What the candidate and her team have understood is that one need not produce a majority opinion as much as the possibility of that the greatest number of people will enter into the debate, expressing their opinions ... Diversity, and not head-on opposition. It is clear that there no longer exists a "left vote" or a "right vote" that is the same on every issue.

Absorption capacity has been thrown out with regard to the expansion of the EU: concern for how new members fit into the overall mix. The fear that limitless expansion would weaken and dilute central institutions is real, but as Thomas Ferenczi points out, such concerns presuppose the need for new members to assimilate the practices of established members. Ferenczi says that absorption capacity is an important concept in measuring up Turkey for membership, but that "new memberships are accompanied by institutional reforms." I don't think it is different for an international organization as a nation: expansion occurs contiguously, and as the limits of the nation increase, diversity must be accomodated. Expansion goes hand in hand with reform.

The Sun King's liaisons were notorious, but were they political sexuality? The NY Times has a good review of Antonia Fraser's new book on Louis XIV and his women. I am, however, a bit wary of the positive spin that Fraser puts on his affairs:
This period, during which Louis enjoyed the “undiluted love of his mother” and witnessed her mostly able leadership — at her death, he memorialized her as “among the great kings of France” — may have established in him a respect for and comfort with dynamic women that led to his “variegated philanderings.

Still, I love this characterization of aristocratic sexuality:
Perhaps, on the domestic front, some innate evolutionary imperative, an awareness of the incestuousness of it all, led many of them — not just Louis XIV but also Charles II of England and a number of “princes of the blood” — into compulsive adultery as a means of expanding the gene pool.


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