Read My Lips

France vs. Globalization

How does France position itself regarding globalization?

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin

Takeaways


The willingness to be opinionated is a proud French tradition. And perhaps no one exemplifies this characteristic more than former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. As our Read My Lips feature shows, the French are never quite as outspoken as when the topic is globalization.

Prime Minister Jospin, what do you think about French capitalism?

“In wanting ‘less state,’ we allowed the development of a jungle. Capitalism remains unstable, economics is political — and globalization calls for regulation.” (Lionel Jospin, October 1998)

What does globalization mean for France’s national identity?

“We want to civilize globalization where we can, to harmonize it with our way of life. We are open — but we are not masochistic.” (Lionel Jospin, September 1999)

How do you view capitalism?

“I am not the Prime Minister of French capitalism. I am the Prime Minister of France.” (Lionel Jospin, September 1999)

What about French losing its status as a global language?

“If French is no longer the language of a power, it can be the language of a counter power.” (Lionel Jospin, July 2000)

How important is national identity?

“Let’s be ourselves first before following the way of others.” (Lionel Jospin, September 1999)

What then is your long-term view of globalization?

“Globalization does not make a state powerless. The market economy doesn’t find harmony of its own accord. To function efficiently, it needs rules.” (Lionel Jospin, October 1999)

Monsieur Jospin, what about France’s role?

“We want a market economy. Not a market society.” (Lionel Jospin, January 2001)

How do French politicians hope to cope with the challenges of globalization?

“We are in favor of economic regulation on a global scale, and I think that is a very long French tradition.” (Lionel Jospin, June 1999)

Of course, Monsieur Jospin is not France’s only critic of globalization. What are others saying?

“Globalization gives a new legitimacy to George Orwell’s celebrated phrase — ‘all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.'” (Dominique Moisi, editor of Politique étrangère, September 1999)

What danger does globalization pose to France?

“If our language, our programs, our creations are not strongly present in the new media, the young generation of our country will be economically and culturally marginalized.” (French President Jaques Chirac, December 1996)

What do leading French intellectuals think about globalization?

“Globalization has the function of justifying a restoration, a return to an unrestrained — but rationalized — and cynical capitalism. (French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu)

What is France’s biggest challenge in the global economy?

“In the age of globalization, size matters. If small is beautiful and big is powerful, then medium is problematic.” (Dominique Moisi, editor of Politique étrangère, May 1998)

What is the real problem with globalization for the French?

“Globalization is reinforcing inequality — of power in favor of the United States, of wealth in favor of a few individuals, and of culture in favor of the west.” (Dominique Moisi, September 1999)

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