The new Joan of Arc

One thing that has puzzled me for years about France is the absence of a significant Thatcherite/Reaganite movement. In France, the major political parties all embrace statist economic policies to one degree or another. I think I understand the impediments to the emergence of an Anglo-Saxon style conservative movement. The problem isn’t just strong unions. One need only watch a French film, or attempt to penetrate a work of 20th century French philosophy, to appreciate the gulf between Anglo-Saxon and French mindsets. Yet this gulf doesn’t seem to provide a fully satisfactory explanation. Large-scale unemployment and the lack of economic opportunity must feel about the same in France as they do in England. The paralysis that results from constant strikes must annoy even those who read Jacques Derrida and watch Godard films. The French economy has been mostly stagnant for decades and you’d think that folks would be taking a serious look at economic models that have produced better results.
Perhaps, folks finally are. England’s Daily Telegraph reports on a 21-year old student named Sabine Herold, who is “challenging the silent majority to revolt against the strikes crippling her country.” And these efforts seem to be well-received. But Herold’s critique of her government extends beyond the issue of labor unions. In the middle of the Iraq war, she and her friends demonstrated outside the American embassy in support of military action. And the Telegraph says “she has been devouring the great texts of ‘classical liberalism,’ seizing on thinkers such as Hayek, one of Margaret Thatcher’s favorites, and wondering where France went wrong.”


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