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[Opinion] Falling France

Posted May. 26, 2004 22:17,   


“This is an earthquake! It happens in architecture and technology powers as well as in the current export index in France. Such catastrophe is ruining the face of all of France.” This is a phrase spotlighted in an editorial, covering the earthquake of Roissy (Charles De Gaulle Airport), published in Le Monde last Tuesday. With the roof of the passenger terminal in the Charles De Gaulle Airport having collapsed last Tuesday, the pride of France was also falling. According to French journalists whom I have met before, “This is as shameful as last summer’s nightmare.” Last year, when the pernicious heat hit Western Europe, ironically, a whopping 15,000 elders in France only were sacrificed.

--In recent times, France has been suffering from serious headaches both internally and externally. In 2002, radical rightwing Jean-Marie Le Pen placed second in the presidential election, thereby stigmatizing a national image highlighted by “liberty, equality, and philanthropy.” Since last year when President Jacques Chirac spearheaded the anti-Iraqi war campaign, he has been treated as an “outcast” in the international world. When it comes to the economic fields, long-term economic stagnation shows no signs of the end. Its status in the Europe, in addition, has been shrunk since numerous Middle and Eastern European countries, which are under the influence of the United States, were entering into the E.U. early this month.

--Under such circumstance, the French are getting obsessed with learning English and the “Falling France” theory is spreading across the nation. On signs in the streets and subway, English lecture advertisements occupy good spots and English classes opened by district offices are always filled with students and company workers. Books predicting the demise of France like “Falling France” (La France qui tombe) are selected as the bestseller in bookstores. Even the Le Monde publishes the “Falling France” dispute serially.

--“Falling France” theory is rested on such grounds. The French system is not a market-oriented liberal system like a majority of European countries, rather a governance-oriented social system, under which public sectors are overgrown and the role of the government is stressed. If this system continues, the French itself will end up calling for inefficiency and its demise. Rather than realizing it in a real society, “Falling France” might be remembered as one of theories advocated by intellectuals. However, it is worthwhile to notice that preferring function of states to liberal market system will lead to nothing but decline of its national future.

Park Je-gyun Correspondent to Paris phark@donga.com