Sarkozy, on our "immoral system"


Remember the good old days, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the darling of the American Right? So much for that:

Sarkozy, leading a two-day conference with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on the future of capitalism, said the crisis has shown that no country can go it alone on economic policy.

"In the 21st century, there it is no longer a single nation who can say what we should do or what we should think," he said. […]

Sarkozy blamed financial speculators for encouraging a system fueled on debt. He called financial capitalism based on speculation "an immoral system" that has "perverted the logic of capitalism."

"It's a system where wealth goes to the wealthy, where work is devalued, where production is devalued, where entrepreneurial spirit is devalued," he said.

But no more: "In capitalism of the 21st century, there is room for the state," he said.

As there was in the capitalism of the 20th century, too, but never mind the details: Burn the speculators!

Here's how the Irish Times' Lara Marlowe summed up Sarko's noisy and interesting year:

The financial crisis fostered the spectacular conversion of Sarkozy from Reaganomics—one of his campaign slogans was "less government, less taxes"—to state intervention on a massive scale. After claiming, pre-crisis, that government coffers were empty, Sarkozy found 320 billion [Euros] to guarantee interbank loans, and up to 40 billion [Euros] to recapitalise French banks. On December 4th, he announced a 26 billion[-Euro] economic stimulus package that will drive France's budget deficit to 4 per cent of GDP in 2009.

The authoritarian drift in domestic policy created concern for civil liberties. A new law will enable the state to continue to imprison sexual offenders after they have completed prison sentences. Former justice minister Robert Badinter called this "a dark period for our justice system" and noted that "a person will be locked up not for things he has done, but for things he might do…" […]

The number of French people taken into custody doubled from 300,000 in 2001 to 600,000 in 2007, and the police give the impression they are out of control. In November, nine young people were arrested on trumped up charges of "terrorism" in a small rural village. Gendarmes used a sniffer dog and body searches to look for drugs in a classroom of 13 year-olds, and a former newspaper director was taken in handcuffs from his home, stripped and subjected to two rectal searches because a businessman with a fraud conviction accused his newspaper of defamation.