from Joel: Sarkozy, democracy
In his "bon voyage" message our friend and leader Ira said:
I don't think we'll be meeting their new C-minded President Sarkozy, but I'm pleased he was elected in time for our trip :^)
While our leader is away in France, I think it might be appropriate to tell you folks about my prognostications for the presidency of the conservative Sarkozy. Philosophically speaking, I find it interesting, because it's an illustration of what Plato said about the downside of democracy.
Sarkozy was elected as a conservative reform candidate with a large majority of the vote, because many socialists crossed over party lines. There is a general recognition in France that socialism has failed in the areas of health care, immigration, employment, education and welfare. If President Sarkozy actually tries to make reforms, he will probably meet the same resistance that Chirac met when he took over from the socialist president Mitterand. The various sectors of populus will simply not give up their advantages. The students will not give up their subsidized living. The civil servants will not give up their long vacations and early retirements. The unionists will not give up their strangle-hold on public utilities and private industry. The unemployed will not give up their subsidized life style. It seems to be the nature of man that an special advantage, once won, will not be sacrificed unless all are feeling the same pain.
France is a peculiar version of democracy. There is a significant measure of anarchy mixed in. The university students will take to the streets as they have many times in the past. (The beautiful cobblestone work of the streets of the Latin Quarter is gone, because the students used the stones as weapons against the police in 1968.) The school children will parade against reform led by their civil servant teachers. The workers at the gas and electric companies, as in the past, will shut off the power to the Metro. Sporadic strikes of the air controllers will be used to cripple the airports as they have in the past. It's hard to know whether or not Sarkozy will attempt to use force to quell this kind of rebellion. That hasn't worked under past administrations. It just generated a hatred for the police.
Plato's point that democracy in the long run leads inevitably to tyranny, will have been demonstrated once again. Hopefully the French will not turn to the National Socialists (the French version of the Nazi party) in frustration.
With respect, Joel