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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Why I Love Nicolas Sarkozy

"French Without Tears," by Martin Walker, The National Interest, Spring 2005, ppg 136-138.

This is why I want the Hungarian-French politician to become President of France in 2007:

Nicolas Sarkozy

To fight terrorism:

There are sections of almost every French city that are intensely Arab, and one reason why Sarkozy became so popular as interior minister was his announcement that there would be no more "no-go areas" for the French police, and he set up the special squads of riot police, gendarmes and customs agents to invade and bring the ruling gang leaders, or caids, to book. In an interview with Le Figaro in September 2003, he announced a tough new policy for visiting Muslims seeking to radicalize their French brethren:

"No one should expect any weakness from me. Mosques where extremist Islam is preached will be closed. Imams who give radical sermons will be expelled. And people coming to conferences who don't show proof of respect for republican rules will find themselves systematically denied visas to enter France."

To his Bush-style inauguration as head of the center-right political party in France, the UMP:

Characteristically, Sarkozy staged a very American kind of political spectacular for his investiture as head of the ump, in a vast hangar at Le Bourget Airport decked out to resemble Bush's Republican convention arena in New York. Chirac chose not to attend (and made some waspish remarks about the reputed cost of $6 million), but 40,000 of the party faithful turned up to hear Sarkozy promise a new era for France and cheer him to the echo. As he told them,

To his faith-based efforts to strengthen horizontal bonds -- what we call "civil society":

Sarkozy has now produced a book, which translates as "The Republic, Religions and Hope", that seeks to address the issue of Muslims in France, which many voters put at the top of their concerns. It is a thin volume of 180 pages, mostly conversations with philosopher Philippe Verdin, but it is revolutionary by French standards in that it calls for an end to the 1905 law that established France as a secular republic, separating the state from religion. If the state can subsidize sports and culture clubs, Sarkozy asks, why not churches?

Religion is a quality essential to civilization and morality, Sarkozy insists (an unusual stance to take in what is fast becoming post-Christian Europe). "The moral dimension is most solid, most deeply rooted, when it proceeds from a spiritual or religious engagement, rather than when it seeks its source in political discussion or republican morality." Only religion can define and assert the moral absolutes that a just and self-confident society requires, he argues, adding that it is a weakness of the French state that it lacks this moral dimension. In a France whose schoolchildren are still inculcated daily with "republican virtues", and where the American political process is mocked for the power of religious groups and the prevalence of religious rhetoric, this is bold stuff. But Sarkozy is clear: "the Republic does not recognize the distinction between good and evil. She defends rules, the law, without grounding these in a moral order."

Three cheers for Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Agitprop Through Time

A bit more artistic than modern-day supreme court or academic agitation-propaganda...

Juventudes Socialistas Unificadas. Secretariado de Propaganda. de Valencia. Secretariado de Propaganda ?Donsentir?s tu esto? Ayuda a la evacuaci?n.

Rough Translation: "Unified Socialist Youths. Secretaryship of Propaganda of Valencia. Secretaryship of Propaganda. Aid the evacuation."

[C.N.T.] Comite de Defensa. Secci?n de Propaganda CNT AIT FAI campesionos; a las armas para conquistaria la libertad. y abrir los surcos de la sociedad futura.

Rough Translation: "To the arms for the conquest the freedom and to open the furrows of the future society."

14:11 Posted in Art, Europe, History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grand Strategic Isolation Attack on France

"Snow, Snow, Snow," by Collounsbury, Lounsbury on MENA, 15 June 2005, http://www.livejournal.com/users/collounsbury/343852.html.

Collounsbury is confused as to why American Treasury Secretary Jack Snow's is provoking the French

While I am sympathetic to his attack on the modish new fad among the French in re attacking "ultraliberalism" (i.e. proper free market economics that may undermine the French elite), what the bloody fuck was the point of this? No US official preaching in Bruxelles is going to change minds. Quite the opposite really.

This was.... really pointless and counterproductive. And dumb. Yes, sometimes telling the truth is dumb, but there it is.

Of course it will make the French more stubborn. That is the point.

America and Britain are trying to detach Germany from France. Franco-German integration has been a goal of Paris for years, and until the EU Constitution collapsed it looked very achievable. France wants Europe to serve her interests. America and Britain are against this, because those "Anglo-Saxon" nations want to maximize their own influence, better integrate Europe into the global economy, and and integrate the Eastern European states into Europe. With Snow's words, Washington is counting on the French penchant for unilateralism to antagonize the Eastern European and Germans and so further Atlanticist goals. Britain is helping in her own ways...

11:10 Posted in Europe | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: france

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Supine France

Bill at Dawn's Early Light has an article on a coming British-German axis. The story was cross-posted at The Forth Rail.. Or maybe the axis is still Franco-German.

If you haven't read it yet, American Future had a great series on Franco-Euro-Arabian relations in five parts: I, II, III, IV, and V.

19:00 Posted in Europe | Permalink | Comments (12) | Tags: france

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

No Doesn't Mean No in Europe

"EU call to re-run treaty referendums," by John Thornhill, George Parker in Brussels, and Betrand Benoit, Financial Times, 25 May 2005, http://news.ft.com/cms/s/3dd561b6-cd4f-11d9-aa26-00000e2511c8.html.

The EU's lack of respect for democracy isn't new news, but it's good to keep tabs on it. Hat-tip to Catholicgauze

France and the Netherlands should re-run their referendums to obtain the "right answer" if their voters reject Europe's constitutional treaty in imminent national ballots, Jean-Claude Juncker, the holder of the EU presidency, said on Wednesday.

The Luxembourg prime minister said all 25 EU member countries should continue their attempts to ratify the treaty whatever the outcome of the French and Dutch votes.

But it's get better

"The countries which have said No will have to ask themselves the question again. And if we don't manage to find the right answer, the treaty will not enter into force," he said in an interview with the Belgian Le Soir newspaper.

To borrow the most annoying of the anti-Iraq-Liberation slogans,

Love without consent is Rape

Monday, May 23, 2005

Quality 1, Beauty

Note: This is a selection from Quality, a tdaxp series.

Photo Courtesy Despair.com

Dramatically overestimating me, Bill from Dawn's Early Light asked me to take a look at an interesting Economist article on biased judging in Europe's version of American Idol.

What makes a good song? Lyrics, melody and rhythm have their place, of course, but for entrants of the Eurovision Song Contest on May 21st, geopolitics may be the decisive factor. Neil Johnson and his colleagues at Oxford University have gathered voting data from 12 years worth of Eurovision Song Contests in order to analyse the links between different countries, and their “compatibility” with each other. These data confirm what many already suspected: that the contest is not always about the quality of the songs. The research, published in arXiv, an online archive more usually devoted to papers about physics, has shown the contest also has a deeper meaning, and reveals how “European” each country is. Despite its Eurosceptic image, for instance, the data suggest that Britain is very much in tune with the rest of Europe. Supposedly Europhile France, by contrast, is actually out of kilter with many of its European cousins.

Hmmm........ "What makes a good song?" the article asks. "The contest is not always about the quality of the songs," it continues. Interesting. But anyway...

Read more ...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Academic Tenure Is Worth Fighting For (Intellectual Property and the Iraq War)

"Lecturer censored in Spanish University (UPV) for defending P2P networks," by Jorge Cortell, Bitacora (Blog) de Jorge Cortell, 20 May 2005, http://homepage.mac.com/jorgecortell/blogwavestudio/LH20041209105106/LHA20050520091532/index.html (from Slashdot).

Earlier, I fisked Victor Hansons' attack on tenure. While Hanson is right that many academics are politically biased, tenure is too important to give up. Without a healthy system of tenure academics can easily be intimidated by narrow interests against pursuing vital research.

For example, in Spain a lecturer was dismissed for discussing peer-to-peer computer networks.

Jorge Cortell, Dismissed Lecturer

This what happened to me when trying to defend the legal use of P2P networks in Spain.

I have been teaching "Intellectual Property" (although I dislike the term) among other subjects at a Masters Degree in the Polytechnic University of Valencia UPV (Spain) for over 5 years. Two weeks ago I was scheduled (invited by the ETSIA Student Union and Linux Users' Group for the celebration of "Culture Week") to give a conference in one of the university's buildings. During that conference I was to analyze the legal use and benefits of the P2P networks, even when dealing with copyrighted works (according to the Spanish Intellectual Property Law, Private Copy provision, and many research papers, books and court rulings). I was even going to use the network to "prove" that it was legal, since members of the Collecting Society "SGAE" had appeared on TV and newspapers saying that "P2P networks are ilegal" (sic) just like that, and to that extent I even contacted SGAE, National Police, and the Attorney General in advance to inform them about it.

The day before the conference, the Dean (pressured by the Spanish Recording Industry Association "Promusicae" as I found out later, and he recognized himself in a quote to the national newspaper El Pais, and even the Motion Picture Association of America, as another newspaper quotes) tried to stop it by denying permission to use the scheduled venue. So I scheduled a second one, and that was denied again. And a third time. Finally I gave the conference on the university cafeteria, for 5 hours, in front of 150 people.

Later on that day (May 4th, I will never forget), I received a call from the Director of the Masters Degree Program where I was teaching telling me that the Dean had called and had asked him to "make sure I did not teach there again", and on a second call saying "it's your choice, but also your responsibility".

The Director called me and first asked me to remove any link to the university from my website, and also to "hide" the fact that I was teaching there. Then he told me about the pressures and threats he and the Program received (to be subjected to software licenses inspection, copyright violations inspections, or anything that may damage them). Obviously I had to resign to save his job (and everybody else's at the Masters Program). So I did.

This issue is much bigger than software property rights.

Peer-to-peer networks are everywhere. They are behind the rise of the Christian Right in America. They are behind the anti-Iraqi Insurgency. Knowing how they work is vital to destroying terrorist networks.

The same laws of networks apply, whether the nets in question are technological or social. For instance, recent Macromedia patents on disrupting peer-to-peer computer networks may harm efforts to fight terrorists in Iraq.

The less academics have tenure, the less safe research becomes. The less safe research becomes, the less questions are asked. The less questions are asked, the stupider and slower we are. The stupider and slower we are, the easier it is for our enemies.

Fight terrorism. Protect tenure.

Update: Citizen Journal disagrees

Friday, May 20, 2005

Lovingly Holy Wars Against Loneliness (Isolation and Counter-Isolation)

"Freedom in Christ," by Saint Paul, Letter to the Galatians, chapter 5 verse 14, circa AD 60.

"The Cost of Following Jesus," by Saint Matthew, The Gospel According to St. Matthew, chapter 8 verse 22, circa AD 60.

"Shiva," by Orson Card, The Shadow of the Giant, pg 71-72, 2005.

"Defusing A Bomb," by Eric Martin, Liberals Against Terrorism, 18 May 2005, http://www.liberalsagainstterrorism.com/drupal/?q=node/1178.

Two interesting points about a particular breed of Fourth Generation Warrior -- the Salafist suicide bomber

Further, as Sageman notes in his groundbreaking psych-profiles of the Salafist terrorists, including the 9/11 crews, the issue of U.S. troop presence was not of tantamount importance in any significant way. More prevalent was a sense of alienation from society (often caused by the physical disconnect from family and culture felt by Muslims living in non-Muslim countries) and a reaching out for community at local mosques spurred on by the same.


As such, a common biographical occurrence was a recent personal reaffirmation of religiosity in the form of dedication to Salafism (given impetus by attendance at the area mosque which was, in turn, caused by feelings of isolation and lack of community).

Alienated, disconnected isolated, without community.

That is a recipe for disaster.

Salafism's a PISRR. The goal of any 4G movement is to penetrate a society, isolate that society's members against each other, subvert the society's rule sets for its ends, reorient the society around the movement's goals, and reharmonize the society so that every member internalizes the movement. But for these poor men who became suicide 4G Warriors, they were already isolated. The weed of Salafism found a garden, with healthy soil, already tilled.

Salafism reconnected these men -- on Salafism's terms. Like so many violent revolutionary movements, it spreads because of its message: "We can do it. You can help." A song of meaning is sung to the future 4G Warriors and they are seduced.

Salafism is spreading along the same lines of the Revolutions of 1848. In nation after nation it finds the atomized, the isolated, the alienated, and reconnects them. It shouts "We can do it. You can help." In nation after nation it will root itself and try to take over.

In the real 1848, one European state was immune. While hosting some agitators from oversees, no internal revolutionary movement was created. The United Kingdom was inoculated by its civil institutions.

Civil society -- a thick web of horizontal controls -- existed in the United Kingdom in 1848. Men who wished meaning could find it in local clubs, societies, and faiths in a way their Continental brothers could not. "We can do it. You can help" is the disease. "I love you" is the vaccine.

But then, what to make of a movement that combines both?

"Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead."

Christ Jesus

"Love your neighbor as yourself."

Saint Paul

How many movements have combined an overarching political agenda with a relentless campaign of integration. I can think of one (it's not my church and it's quite recent). Failures include

  • The Protestant Reformation focused mostly on the Great Enemy (specifically, the Holy Father as Anti-Christ and Universal Church as Whore of Babylon).
  • The Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace (Taiping) likewise had its bete noire (the Machu Chi'in dynasty).
  • Liberation Theology was a non-autonomous adjunct to Marxism, focused on ending capitalism

So who am I thinking of?

One last thought: Since 4G movements grow in isolating societies, they would whither in connecting cultures. In The Shadow of the Giant, Orson Scott Card dramatizes this. A revolutionary leader is condemning his compatriots for insufficient loyalty to the cause:

"You've resigned from the human race is what you've done," said Peter. "Because you invented marriage and children, suddenly you don't have to be part of anything."

"Opposite," said Petra. "We've joined the human race. We're like most people. Our life together is everything. Our children are everything. The rest is -- we do what we have to. But it doesn't matter to us as much. I'm sorry that bothers you."

Thursday, May 05, 2005

British Election Blogging

The BBC feed is fascinating (hat-tip Drudge).

Among other thoughts

  • They speak better English than the Brits on The Office
  • Computer animations -- actually pretty effective
  • BBC interviewers can be jerks to government officials.
    "Your government did it!"
    "All other parties supported us!"
    "So it's their fault, not yours, eh?"

  • Making all the candidates for a seat stand in a line while the results are read seems petty
  • The George Bush parody was high-larious. Best quotes: "Tony Blair and Charley Brown are going to sock it to the King's men!" and "It's like the United States of Britainland over here!"
  • The Official Monster Raving Loony Party is a real party with real candidates.
  • Lib-Dems are trying to decapitate the entire Conservative Shadow Cabinet. Good luck Lib-Dems!

17:50 Posted in Europe | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: britain, elections

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Geogreen Labour to Embrace Nuclear Power

"Blair planning revival of nuclear power," by Roland Gribben, Telegraph, 3 May 2005, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2005/05/03/cnucp03.xml&menuId=242&sSheet=/money/2005/05/03/ixcity.html (from Tim Worstall through macroblog).

After Tony Blair wins reelection, one of his biggest plans is to increase British use of nuclear power

Downing Street policy advisers, with Mr Blair's blessing, have been taking the lead in encouraging major industrial users, including chemical companies, glassmakers and brickmakers, and investment bankers to start discussions on building atomic plants in anticipation of a post-election change in energy policy.


One senior Government adviser has advanced the case for nuclear power accounting for 35pc of electricity generation, against 23pc currently. It could fall, on present trends, to a projected 4pc in 2020 when all but one of the early plants will have been mothballed.

The reasons given are both geostrategic and green -- a perfect marriage of the two movements

While nuclear power hardly figured in the Labour manifesto, Mr Blair, briefly shadow energy secretary before he became party leader, has been signalling his support for a revival of the industry because it offers a 'clean' route to help meet targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Mr Blair and his advisers recognise there will be considerable problems in "selling" the rebirth of nuclear power to the public, hence the emphasis on "environmental benefits". The need for security of supply and "protection" against the rapidly rising cost of energy is also one of the points being made by pro-nuclear advocates.

Britain gets it. China gets it. France -- which gets 70% of its energy from atomic energy plants -- also gets it. We should too.