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In The News Today

News & Observer, April 8, 2011 / Mon journal le 8 Avril 2011


There has been quite a few good cartoons lately in the News & Observer. This morning's stopped me in what I was doing.
Here is as well, the rest of the page, with a letter to the editor for which I thank its author, as it is dead on target, and very enjoyable to read. An enlarged version in the French column allows for a better read of that letter.


Mon journal le News & Observer de Raleigh, a eu une bonne série de dessins ces jours derniers. Celui-ci m'a arrêté aujourd'hui. Le gouvernement Américain est en effet à moins de 24 heures de sa fermeture pour impasse budgétaire.
Les élus du Tea Party bloque le camp Républicain, et contemple avec joie la perspective d'arrêter le gouvernement qu'ils haïssent tant. Le tristement célèbre Newt Gingrish avait déjà fomenté une telle manoeuvre en 1995, et cela ne lui avait pas réussi du tout. Mon petit doigt m'incite à penser qu'il n'y a pas grand chose de nouveau sous le soleil, si ce n;est que celui là semble plus chaud, et je me régale un peu déjà, à contempler les dégâts auto-infligés au Parti Républicain. Dans moins de 24 heures nous sauront si ils sont encore plus abrutis qu'on le pensait. Surprenez nous!


The Madison-Raleigh Non Stop

Labor Rights Article in the N&O

Article sur la demande du droit de grève
Raleigh, Caroline du Nord

On February 22, I was invited in the Forum du Mouv," a Radio France Broadcast from Paris, to talk about the evolution of the migration of the Arab revolution on the U.S. front. That day the news had arrived that there had been some protests in Raleigh asking for the rebirth of the right to engage in collective bargaining in North Carolina. the podcast is linked below, and the translation follows. The podcast of my prior intervention on the original development in Wisconsin, is in the post below, or here.

Le 22 Février 2011, j'ai été invité dans le Forum du Mouv' pour parler de l'évolution de la transmission de l'esprit révolutionnaire arabe sur le front Américain. Ce jour là, la Caroline du Nord avait fait l'objet de manifestations demandant la réinstallation du droit de grève, perdu depuis 1959. Le Podcast est ci-dessous, celui de mon intervention précédente lors du déclenchement du mouvement dans le Wisconsin, est dans le billet précèdent ou ici.

La traduction du podcast est bien entendu pour le bénéfice des anglophoones.


: 01 45 24 20 20 to join us, we are going to talk about the sitcom "Skins" in a moment, but before that we are going to take a short trip to the U.S.A., isn't it, it is Jean-Christian who is here with us? ... How are you doing Jean-Christian ?

J-C : Yes, I am doing fine thank you, good evening.

ERIC LANGE : We come for some news, because a few days ago you were announcing to us that a revolution had started in Wisconsin.., nobody believed me here... it's funny, it is not talked about much here in the media ...

J-C : Well, you know, it is as always, even more so in France which is a country relatively conservative from an ideological point of view, ... not politically ... the French mind structure is conservative, which is why they always elect Presidents who are beyond 50 years old or even beyond 60, and consequently, I think that people have a hard time admitting to themselves that a movement.., how should I say, .. political, revolutionary, which begins in the Middle East, in the Arab world, may contaminate a Country as developed, as superior, as.. whatever as the U.S.A, but that is nevertheless what is going on...

ERIC LANGE : What is indeed going on.. I precise in two words who you are, Jean-Christian has a long history with us in the show, he has been living in the U.S. for ... a very long time, he is a photographer, and the other day you told us about this story in Wisconsin, where the Republican Governor wanted to pass a bill lowering State Employees compensation, and taking away some of their benefits, and consequently, in a surprising fashion for the U.S., there are thousands of Americans who marched in the streets in Madison.. where are we about that...?

J-C : The situation is rather in stand by if you will. In English we would say "stalemate," things are stagnating. We have on one side the Governor who is hunkered down on his position, and on the other side we have the protesters who do not back down either, because in fact, the most contemptuous aspect is that the Governor wants the abolition of right to strike for public employees, although in fact it is not as much the right to strike that he is after. In English there is something called "collective bargaining," and in France we do not dissociate the two, as evidently one goes on strike when demanding something, is the U.S. it is not as much the right t strike that would be withdrawn, as the right to get together to negotiate collectively: "collective bargaining." Is there a name in French for that?..

ERIC LANGE : The right to negotiate.. no..

J-C : Collective negotiations, if you will, what the C.G.T. the C.F.D.T. and Cny do.. and so, he wants to abolish that, because he is explaining us that otherwise things get too expensive, because State employees can then exercise pressures that are unbearable,,. .. and if we were to buy what he says, we would think that the State always has to backdown facing the pressure from its employees, and is always forced to pay them more. So we the wonder then how it is that all those employees are not millionaires, because if that is so, might as well ask for the same pay as in Wall St.... But.. that's how he sees it..

ERIC LANGE : But you, in your own look at things, from your own prism, it is evident that those movements in the U.S. are influenced by what has happened in the Magreb?

J-C : Well yes, in fact is not even I who demonstrated that, it is you....

Laughs ...

J-C : When we spoke Friday, it is you who fetched--I would love to have that picture--you told me that yu found that photograph in the Canadian press in which some guy was holding a sign in arabic that meant "Get Out" (as in Tunisia)...

ERIC LANGE : yes, that's right, a guy who had copied in arabic the sign "Get Out" which he had presumably saw on TV or on the net, that's right..

J-C : So, you saw the photograph ?

ERIC LANGE : yes, I saw the photograph, i need to fetch on which blog, site that was ...

J-C : Please retrieve it, send it to me, I would like to put that photograph on my own blog..

ERIC LANGE : I think it was on Cyberpress.ca, you know, that site which regroups press from Canada

J-C : Cyberpress.ca, I'll look for it....

ERIC LANGE : ..But has it grown now..

J-C : ..Well, I don't know if you recall, Friday at the end of our conversation I was saying that "Yes with a little luck, the movement will spread all the way to North Carolina .. one may always dream." these are my words from Friday. And this morning, the dream turns reality, I see, front page in my paper, the Raleigh paper, the North Carolina State's Capital. It was a little on the side, but it was nevertheless front page, that there had been a protest yesterday in Raleigh, asking for the reinstallation of collective bargaining rights in North Carolina (see article here), and clearly the article was linking that to what is going on in Wisconsin. There is therefore a snowball effect if you will, what is going on in Tunisia influences Egypt, what is going on in Egypt influences Wisconsin, what goes on in Wisconsin now influences people in North Carolina, on the whole those folks are black, because blacks in North Carolina, in the South as a general matter, are the ones who have the most.. have the most interest.., the largest tendency, to be pro-unionist, .. sorry, that's English, pro-union, they are the most likely to have "ethnic" opinions .. no, that's no correct either, well.. you know what I mean, they have a strong sensibility for a vision of society which would be more "Socialist" than wild Capitalism, if you will...

ERIC LANGE : "Socialism" is a bad word in United States...

J-C : "Socialism" ? Oh yes, it is a very very bad word ...

ERIC LANGE : Jean-Christian, I am surprised, I have been wondering since the beginning of this story, if really ... Because you know, we talk of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, China, Bahrein, .. and now we talk of the United States.., I don't know what is going on... Is there really something...

J-C : We need TV crews to re-focus on the United States, because here is the main field of operation now..giggle...

ERIC LANGE : You are going to see that we are going to be guilty of .... giggle...

J-C : Yes, well, I don't know if we are going to be responsible for it, but I think that... Everything is there.., there are pressures, political ones, social ones, which are strong,.. in the United States at the end of the day, as there was in the Arab world when all this started,.. maybe a little less strong in the U.S. .. but no matter what, if one wanted to look into it, .. much stronger than one imagines I think, in France anyhow, .. and then .. that creates.. that allows, .. that motivates people in doing something, I mean after a while .. enough is enough.. and...

ERIC LANGE : Well, .. Americans are starting to change. Jean-Christian ? Thank you, thank you for the news, we keep in touch, and we follow this, I am going to follow this up close...

J-C : Well, very well, and send the TV crews will you?

ERIC LANGE : Ok, I am going to send teh TV crews, ok. Hey Jean-Christian, that's it, Anneka put a link to your blog, on our blog, if the listeners want to discover your work and all your photographs.

J-C : Thank you very much.

ERIC LANGE : you are welcome, thank you very much Jean-Christian...

J-C : Talk to you soon Eric.

ERIC LANGE : Talk to you soon. 01 45 24 20 20 of course if you want to talk of the United States with us, and Jean-Christian's blog, you go on the forum's blog, ericlange.org, you will find the link to go see everything he does.


Forum du Mouv' 31 décembre 2010

Wikileaks Shakes the U.S.
From the "N&O Clippings" series, December 4, 2010

Jean-Christian On Radio France Broadcast "Le Forum du Mouv, December 31, 2010


ERIC LANGE : And this is Jean-Christian who is with us, Good evening Jean-Christian.

J-C : Good evening Eric, how are you?

ERIC LANGE : Very well thanks, still in Durham in the United States ?

J-C : Oh yes, yes, we don't move from here, when one arrives to Durham you know, not only does one always come back, but also sometimes, one never leaves, like.

ERIC LANGE : Jean-Christian is one of those French, installed in the United States, since what ? Quite a long time now, isn't it ?

J-C : 17 years, 17 years.

ERIC LANGE : Here it is, and nevertheless, you never really integrated in America, did you, you keep an extremely critical eye ?

J-C : oh yes, yes, no, yes, I don't know, you know, when I immigrated here, I was full of good intentions, and then I had to face reality, and this is how I became the gesture, the one who says what the others often don't dare to utter, or even sometimes don't even see, because they are too Americans or too complacent. There is a lot of French who actually give me strange looks, I mean French folks from here, because I say .., I don't know, because I don't behave in a good, well disciplined immigrant fashion, but hey, that's life, one cannot change nature.

ERIC LANGE : But it seems to me that in the U.S. it is kind of tough to have political discussions, no ? Because folks don't want to argue with each others, they want to stay on the "enjoy" level, they don't want to fight.

J-C : Bingo! And you know, where I am it is the South, that is even worse. I fell that you did not really often went in the South, that your experience of the U.S. might be more North East or California bound, but here in the south, there is a culture of absolute complacency, never make any wave, it is an extremely conservative environment, as a matter of fact, it shows politically. The South which historically was Democrat, in fact because it went back to civil rights fights (Note to reader : yes sorry, got that wrong in the spur of the moment, I meant "Civil War"), when around 1968, Blacks got their more or less final emancipation, then the whites who had become Democrats, I don't even remember why... (Note to reader : "well yeah J-C, you can't remember because you were confusing historical facts) but there was a reason, although in fact they were "sunny days" Democrats, not real ones, hyper conservative Democrats, and now they have decided to be Republicans once in for all, which at least has the merit of being honest. So, yes, the South, that is very very conservative, and one tries to never say anything that would remotely be controversial.

ERIC LANGE : And that is quite astonishing, in an America where people are quite free speaking in the media, in books, in movies, conversely, between individuals there is much more difficulty to approach challenging topics.

J-C : But even in the media, there is never ... I don't know, I sometimes feel that in France we are freer in our tone, if you want. If one compares Radio France, France Inter and NPR, , the former are freer in their tone than on NPR ! For instance there is never any instance of sexual talk in the U.S., any. For instance I remember hearing Guillon rather recently on France iNter, and apparently that did not bring him luck, he was talking of "Dicks" "Balls, and so on. Never, never, will you hear that here, it is an absolutely taboo.

ERIC LANGE : You can't say "Fuck" in America.

J-C : Or even a language that may be remotely little crass, or a little Gaelic, oh no, absolutely not.

ERIC LANGE : In two words Jean-Christian, this year was important for you, you were featured in Le Mode, the newspaper Le Monde ?

J-C : Yes, yes, that was a high note. That was very satisfying, obviously, yes, that's very honorific. Additionally, I am probably part ... I am not absolutely sure of that, I don't know the statistics, but I assume that there is quite few people that have been published in Le Monde, both in writing and photography. Because most of time photographers don't write, and I am primarily a photographer. So yes, I was extremely flattered by this, yes.

ERIC LANGE : Jean-Christian, thanks a lot, Happy New Year, you are partying tonight ?

J-C : You are welcome, the pleasure is mine. I just wanted to add that what stands out for me in 2010, is Wikileaks. I heard the fellow earlier, who started his summary with Wikileaks, I think that was an important part of 2010, as a materialization of the fracture between the establishment on one side, and the people on the other, which found that Wikileaks in the end that was not that bad, they like it when the powerful get hit and their crap gets revealed. And it was also very revealing to see that fracture, even among journalists ...

ERIC LANGE : Yes ,yes. I don't know what you got in the U.S., in France all the so called pundits, you know, all the journalism establishment, all of a sudden when they saw Wikileaks arrive, all the syndicated columnists,everybody well installed in journalism in France were saying "oh but no, but that is not good, they have invented a new dictatorship of transparency ..." and when I saw all these guys, these well tinkling fellows, all those well established editorialists plus all the politics around, all undermining Wikileaks, of course I automatically thought that was something wonderful ...

J-C : I don't know if we are allowed to talk of ... It is not really a competitor, is it ? But on France inter there was a debate, either the day of, or the following one, they had invited in the morning show, Hubert Védrines, who as a start is not ... I was kind of disappointed by him, because here is one I used to have more respect for, So here he was, offended by ... or more exactly as the incarnation of the establishment offended by, saying that "Wikileaks.., where was the big deal ... They did not reveal anything that everybody did not already know etc ..." Which was not really true, as a matter off act, because it is not quite the same thing as hearing rumors, and all of a sudden seeing the cables from the U.S. Department of State verifying that all the suspicions we may have had were founded. And around the table, and that is what was most marvelous about it, on one hand you had Bernard Guetta, posing as the chief pundit, clearly associated with Védrines, those two seem to be very good friends, and across you had Thomas Legrand, whom I like very much, I love his writing style ... and they just got into it. Politely of course, on France Inter, we rest polite .... But between Bernard Guetta and Thomas Legrand, I though that was an extraordinary radio moment.

ERIC LANGE : I am very much with you, Wikilaks, that was a great event this year, it it will change the landscape. Thank you my dear Jean-Christian, we keep in touch ?

J-C : My pleasure, of course Eric, talk to you soon. Bye.

ERIC LANGE : All right, talk to you very soon, in a moment you come back on the air. We put some music, Marc Antoine says we need some music ...

Jean-Christian dans le Forum du Mouv, 31 Décembre 2010


Les Anglophones ont droit à une traduction (colonne de gauche). Dans le podcast inclus au bas de ce post, vous entendrez ma conversation avec Eric Lange dans l'émission de clôture de l'année 2010 qui récapitulait les temps forts des 12 mois écoulés. Nous y parlons notamment de comment Wikileaks secoua l'establishment et mis à jour la fracture entre d'un côté l'establishment et ses laquais, notamment ceux de la presse, les barons qui sont en charge de faire l'opinion, et de l'autre la masse de ceux qui en ont assez de la suffisance de l'establishment et de ses privilèges, et se régalent de voir les seigneurs révélés dans leurs duplicité.

Detail 1

Detail 2

Detail 3


Justice not Just Us

Justice, not Just Us
Fayetteville, N.C., April 2006

Justice, not Just Us

(Revised on November 16, 2010)

Much has been written about the Tea Party (see entry
"Sur la Route du Tea Party" ) and its nonsense is now well documented, as well as the superficial reasons which prompted its partisans to espouse its agenda and vote accordingly. It is crucial though, to realize that the Tea Party would still be mostly a fantasy in Carl Rove’s and Dick Armey’s plotting strategies, if not for two American fundamentals:

* Self-Righteousness
* Lack of education.

The lack of education deprives many citizens of the tools to understand what is going on in the world and the U.S. This for instance, allows an irrational fear of socialism (see entry
"Le Rouge et le Noir" ) from people chronically victimized by the breed of capitalism exercised here. Such fear may be why 25 % of Americans associate Barack Obama and Hitler as several polls confirm, since it has weirdly settled in America, that Hitler was a Socialist or a Communist, we are not sure. More broadly, the American brand of education is hollow enough that it prevents many to hold any perspective beyond much of what they know from direct experience. Add self-righteousness, and the mix becomes toxic for democracy, as then all kinds of easy to swallow, bogus arguments, will result in the individual responding very predictably to stimulations aimed at exacerbating frustration levels and at re-enforcing the idea that she/he, does not get the rewards deserved.

What is defined so far is a populist nation, and such a regime could theoretically be conservative or progressive, although latter societies have a harder time locking minds as they are typically education prone. In the U.S. the distribution of enlightenment antidote is done through media (Fox News, Rush Limbaugh etc…) which are devoted to shamelessly destroy the natural impulse that this country would have to reform itself in the face of numerous and recurrent failures : permanent poverty of certain social/ethnic categories, inability for the United States to compete in the globalized economy that it so adamantly advocated for, astounding inequality levels with the one top percent owning as much wealth as the bottom 95%, blatant inefficiency of the health care system, especially compared to those of European "socialist nations," etc... But the impact of those media is only possible due to the lack of critical sense, and critical sense is typically the result of a good education. It is true that enough reasonably well educated folks are very conservative. This is where self-righteousness kicks in, as being conservative is inherently about being satisfied with the primal packing order. Self-righteousness
prevents those folks from seeing that others have not had the chances, circumstantial, genetic, familial
This Appeared in the Raleigh, North Carolina News & Observer on November 12, 2010 and illustrates the cult for the wealthy in the U.S, see focus on text below
and what not, that they have enjoyed.
Ceci est apparu dans le News & Observer de Raleigh, Caroline du Nord, et montre le culte pour les grandes fortunes aux Etats Unis, voir vue du texte ci-dessous
It is then easy for those privileged folks to rationalize that "others"
need to work as “hard” as they have, will then be rewarded since the system is presumed perfect, and that in the meantime, there is no reason for them, the worthiest, not to get a tax cut. Self-righteousness is not an American monopoly, it is universal, but in a society relying so much on individualism, the idea that the righteous will be rewarded and that the sum of them will be the pillars of a successful nation, invasive self-righteousness is the collateral unforeseen, unrecognized and unspoken damage.

Self-righteousness is so rampant in this country that it might as well be part of the D.N.A. I remember my dentist’s assistant, 15 years ago, when I was still new here, asking me if “I had been working hard lately? " That always shocked me, because I never felt that I worked especially hard, nor that she did either. In my book,the hard working folks are the ones going down in the mine, building roads in the heat or the cold, that’s hard work. Being a photographer, no matter how many hours one puts in a week, does not qualify for hard labor. That is so un-American of me, which is how this photograph “Justice, not Just Us”, struck me. It is a rather simple image, well composed and featuring African American activists, but other than that, simple. The strength of a photograph does not always resides in its sophisticated innovative way. Sometimes its intimate connection with contemporary affairs, the testimony given, its originality, makes it attractive. Here this exceptional play on words based on a probably typical African American slide on the last syllable, a principle often found in Rap or Blues, profoundly underlines that justice should not be dispensed only for “us,” whether for the one self or the one nation, which in many American minds is most certainly the "chosen" one. This photograph was shot at the time of the war in Iraq, when many of the same who now vote for the Tea Party’s agenda were satisfied to fight Al Queda in other people’s country so that they would not have to fight them here, which was the ultimate argument given to justify the unjustifiable. This photograph is still very current, like
"Dans les Moments de Vérité," it promotes the necessity to be intellectually honest, which my math teacher when I was thirteen, taught us is the most difficult yet indispensable thing to do.

Justice pour Tous, pas que pour Nous

(Révisé le 16 Novembre 2010)

Beaucoup a été écrit sur le Tea Party (voir post
"Sur la Route du Tea Party"), et les raisons pour lesquelles ses partisans épousent la cause ont été abondement couvertes. Mais l'on aurait tord de prêter trop d'attention à ce qui motive en surface les adhérents à ce mouvement, car celui-ci ne serait encore qu’un fantasme dans l’imagination machiavélique de Carl Rove (architecte des campagnes de George Bush II, et fondateur de "American Crossroads" l’un des bras "teapartyesques"), et Dick Armey (lieutenant de la révolution Républicaine de 1994 et président de "Freedom Works", un autre bras "teapartyesque"), si ce n’était pour deux composantes fondamentales de la société Américaine:

* L’autosatisfaction, l'arrogance, la bonne conscience, la propension de l’individu à se croire plus méritant.

* Le manque d'éducation.

L’ignorance empêche une grande partie des citoyens Américains d’avoir une perspective sur le monde, d’en comprendre la situation, les aboutissants, y compris en ce qui concerne leur propre pays. Cela permet par exemple, grâce aussi à 60 ans de propagande, la peur irrationnelle du “socialisme” (voir post
“Le Rouge et le Noir”), chez ceux qui sont en fait des victimes permanentes du capitalisme encore assez pur en vigueur ici. Une peur irrationnelle? Indubitablement, 25% d'Américains associaient dans un sondage récent, Hitler et Obama ; l’honnêteté force à préciser que Hitler ne se trouverait pas en si mauvaise compagnie si il n’avait pas nommé son mouvement “National Socialism.” Plus largement, l’inculture limite l’horizon d’une grande partie de la population Américaine à ce que ces gens connaissent directement, garantissant ainsi assez bien la pérennisation de la médiocrité. Si l’on ajoute l’autosatisfaction, la défense naturelle qu’à l’individu dans une société basée sur l’individualisme, le mélange devient toxique pour la démocratie, puisqu’il suffit alors de diffuser des arguments faciles et démagogiques, pour que les masses se montent contre une cible donnée.

C’est le rôle de Fox et sa filiale Fox News ici, soutenus par les Rush Limbaugh de tous acabits, ces animateurs de radio qui passent leurs journées à débiter courtes vues, mensonges et coups bas sur tout ce qui n’est pas en ligne avec l’orthodoxie de la classe dominante blanche et chrétienne. Fox appartient à Rupert Murdoch, le Berlusconi Anglo-Saxon, si ce n'est qu'il n'a lui, jamais été élu Chef d’Etat. Cette chaîne de télévision au ton résolument populiste et qui par comparaison fait ressembler TF1 à Arte, est la source d’information des masses populaires dans un pays ou l’intellectualisme est mal vu. Cela en son temps avait servi la stratégie de George Bush, lui permettant d’arriver au poste d’idiot du village en chef, avec l’Américain moyen convaincu que le président était l’un de ses semblables.

Dans la stratégie de l’establishment conservateur Américain, les Fox et Rush Limbaugh de tous poils permettent de contrecarrer la tendance naturelle que les Etat Unis auraient à se réformer dû aux constats d’échec répétés dans autant de domaines que la persistance d’un niveau de pauvreté incompatible avec le statut dominant des U.S.A., une inégalité de revenus avoisinant celle de républiques bananières (1% des ménages possèdent 40% des richesses, autant que les 95% du “bas de l’échelle”), le coût et inefficacité du système de santé, notamment comparé à ceux de L’Europe dite “Socialiste,” l’incapacité de ce pays à s’adapter à la globalisation pour laquelle il a pourtant milité milité si ardemment, les déficits budgétaires et de la balance des échanges chroniques qui mettent le Dollar en péril ...etc. Mais l’impact de ces sources de désinformation ne peut exister qu’en absence de sens critique, un sens critique qui est typiquement le résultat d’une bonne éducation, tant académique qu’au sens plus large qui englobe les valeurs d’une nation et est inculqué à l’individu par son environnement. L’on objectera que aux Etats-Unis comme ailleurs, bon nombre de conservateurs ont un excellent niveau d’éducation. C’est là que l’ingrédient numéro un, l’autosatisfaction, l’arrogance de la bonne conscience, interviennent, empêchant certains de ceux qui pensent avoir réussi, de comprendre, si tant est qu’ils essaient de la faire, que les autres du fardeau d’en bas, n’ont avant tout pas bénéficié des mêmes circonstances familiales, historiques, génétiques, qui ont fait d’eux ce qu’ils sont. Les nantis aiment souvent blâmer la plèbe pour sa situation, convaincus que lorsqu’ils travailleront autant qu’eux, et prendront autant de décisions difficiles mais méritantes, les plébéiens seront récompensés par un système nécessairement sans faille, puisqu’il les a consacré eux, les nantis, dans leur position. Aux Etats Unis il n’est pas rare qu’ils ajoutent alors, qu’en attendant, eux les nantis pourraient utiliser à bon escient une réduction d'impôt fort méritée, et nul doute salutaire pour la nation dont ils sont le moteur.

Les Américains n’ont bien entendu pas le monopole de l’autosatisfaction, qui est à peu près universelle. Mais une société comme celle des Etats Unis, fondée sur l’individualisme, l’idée que les vertueux seront récompensés et que la somme de leurs valeurs créera les piliers sur lesquels la nation toute entière reposera, génère une autosatisfaction envahissante, aussi sûrement que les radiations s’accompagnent de chaleur. C’est là une conséquence imprévue, inavouée, et d’ailleurs inexplorée, d’une charte sociétale en rupture délibérée avec la tradition Européenne dont elle est issue, et une contradiction de plus pour le pays le plus religieux du monde occidental, où l’on s’attendrait subséquemment à bien davantage d’humilité.

L’autosatisfaction est si omniprésente aux Etats Unis qu’elle y semble atavique, sans doute inscrite dans le patrimoine génétique. Je me souviens, il y a quinze ans au moins, j’étais encore tout neuf ici, de l’assistante de mon dentiste qui me demandait à chaque visite si “j’avais travaillé dur ces jours-ci ?” Cela me surprenait toujours, parce que dans mon esprit, on ne travaille dur que dans la mine, aux champs, au bord des routes, aux travaux forcés, et en tout cas lorsque la sueur est versée quotidiennement et abondamment. Dans mon état de photographe, quel que soit le nombre d’heures qui fasse ma semaine, on ne travaille pas dur, on travaille peut-être intensément, mais ce n’est pas la même chose.

C’est ainsi que cette photographie “Justice, not Just Us,” m’est apparue aussi critique. Cette une image assez simple, bien composée, et figurant des activistes noir-Américains, mais malgré tout, simple d’un point de vue photographique. la force d’une photographie ne vient pas uniquement de sa sophistication, son innovation dans l’art photographique. Parfois l’adéquation avec le temps présent, le témoignage apporté, son originalité, confèrent un souffle attirant. Ici le jeu de mots basé sur la prononciation, une dérive du sens par une glissade sur la dernière syllabe, ce qui est assez volontiers noir-Américain, et dont le principe se retrouve dans le Rap et le Blues, est particulièrement fin et puissant. Ce jeu de mots va directement à la racine du problème Américain, la contradiction fréquente mais rarement admise, entre l’impératif moral et l'intérêt individuel ou collectif d’une nation qui s’imagine élue. Cette photo a été prise au temps de la Guerre en Irak, lorsque beaucoup de ceux qui soutiennent aujourd’hui les thèses du Tea Party, se félicitaient que leur pays aille combattre Al Queda sur le territoire d’autres peuples, afin de ne pas avoir à le faire dans leurs banlieues. C’était en tout cas l’ultime argument employé pour justifier l’injustifiable. Cette photographie est toujours d’actualité, comme
“Dans les Moments de Vérité,” elle demande l'honnêteté intellectuelle sans laquelle une société se fourvoie et court à sa perte.

More on the Air :

I appeared in Eric Lange's broadcast on Le Mouv (Radio France,
see site), to discuss this on November 2nd, 2010. The podcast of this conversation is linked below.


Et sur les Ondes :

J'ai eu le plaisir d'être invité dans l'émission d'Eric Lange, Le Forum du Mouv (Radio Farnce,
voir site) le 2 Novembre 2010 pour discuter des élections de mi-mandat qui avaient lieu ici ce même jour. Cette discussion se réfère à ce qui est expliqué dans ce blog, et son podcast est accessible ci-dessous.



Le Rouge et le Noir

RATHER DEAD THAN RED, Raleigh News & Observer, April 7, 2009


In 1831, Stendhal published "The Red and the Black," a classic of French literature where clergy and revolutionary aspirations confront each others. Clearly the present circumstances in America oppose reactionary forces to the ones of change, whatever the latter entails. Some today in the U.S. are just as entrenched as was the 19th century French clergy, to keep the social order as they have always known it. In order to sway public opinion, the fundamentalists of the status quo imply that Barack Obama is a modern Julien Sorel, the hero of Stendhal's novel, a calculating fellow working on seduction, a socialist in disguise, a black man that will turn us all red.

It started during the fall campaign, when the soon to become “Joe the Plummer” asked Obama if he was going to raise his taxes. Obama answered that he was advocating for some redistribution of wealth. REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH? For some time the pundits thought that Obama had made a major strategic error. He became accused of being a Socialist who wanted to take Joe's dough. Sarah Palin was not completely discredited yet, and she and Mc Cain grabbed that appearance of an opportunity and ran on it to the end. Few at the time voiced that "redistribution of wealth" did not equate to socialism, that the U.S. was already "redistributing wealth" to the great sorrow of most Republicans, and that nevertheless absolutely nobody would call the U.S. a socialist nation. Even fewer, if any, murmured that Socialism after all was not such a bad word, that most of Europe, at least by comparison to the U.S. is perceived as being "somewhat" socialist, and is shown as an example of progress, a desirable place to visit if not to live, by many educated Americans.

It is inspiring to note that in their desperation to find an angle against Obama, the Republicans chose to use "socialist" as an epithet, rather than the more classic "communist," the mother of all bad words. Communist would probably have been perceived as too much for what is after all a very mild mannered man, nobody's idea of a rabid Bolshevik. Yet calling him socialist, a rare sign of sophistication from folks who generally promote primary thinking, begs the question: what does that mean? Everybody knows more or less what communism means,
but socialism is fuzzier, as it has evolved in time. Socialism was never defined very precisely, but clearly started as a somewhat collectivist vision of social organization. In today's practice, socialism is merely a humanitarian approach to capitalism, one that understands that society, its economy, has to provide a balance in wealth distribution and that a super concentration of wealth at the top does not bring peace.

Several months of political quietness followed Obama's victory, but by now his opposition has re-organized, and is back on the socialist refrain, playing on the libertarian cord to promote an antiquated discredited conservative agenda. It is stunning to this observer that fifty plus years after Mc Carthy, and in the midst of an economic crisis that many claim, sounds the end of capitalism, being associated with socialism in America, is still like having the plague. When capitalism has failed health care in America, has brought so many Americans lately into bankruptcy, has proven ineffective at providing a sorely needed high speed train network and other essential infrastructure to America, wouldn’t it be wise to have an open mind and recognize that whether one calls it socialism or a bigger place for government intervention, something needs to be done to keep the fox out of the hen house?


Lorsque Stendhal publie Le Rouge et le Noir en 1831, il cache dans un drame romantique une remise en question des valeurs du Clergé sous lesquelles s'arc-boute la bourgeoisie. Parallèlement, dans l’ère Obama, l’Amérique est le théâtre d’un conflit entre les forces réactionnaires et celles de progrès, quelle que soit la définition de celui-ci par ceux qui ont gagné l’élection présidentielle. Nombre de conservateurs Américains d’aujourd’hui sont aussi fervents défenseurs de l’ordre social établi, que l’était le clergé Français du 19e siècle. Afin de gagner l’opinion publique à eux, ils insinuent que Barack Obama est le Julien Sorel contemporain, un séducteur calculateur qui dissimule une âme socialiste, un noir qui si l’on n’y prend garde nous tournera tous rouges.

Tout commença pendant la campagne de l’automne 2008, lorsque celui qui allait devenir “Joe Le Plombier” demanda à Obama si celui-ci avait l’intention d’augmenter ses impôts. Le futur Président répondit qu’il était favorable à une certaine redistribution des richesses. Patatras ! Pendant quelque temps les commentateurs politiques crurent qu’il avait commis une bourde aux conséquences stratégiques incurables. Obama fut accusé d’être un socialiste qui voulait prendre l’argent de Joe. Sarah Palin faisait encore illusion, et en compagnie de Mc Cain elle pressa l’argument jusqu’à l’écoeurement du patient. Peu à l’époque murmurèrent que “redistribution des richesses” n’équivalait pas à socialisme, que les Etats Unis redistribuaient déjà une certaine partie des richesses, trop aux yeux de beaucoup de Républicains, mais que quoi qu’il en soit, personne ne suggérerait que l’Amérique fut socialiste. Encore moins, si aucuns, n’osèrent qu'après tout socialisme n’était ni un gros mot ni un grand maux, qu’une bonne partie de l’Europe, en tous cas par comparaison avec l'Amérique était plus ou moins socialiste et néanmoins perçue par nombre d'Américains éduqués comme exemplaire, comme un lieu de villégiature si ce n’est de résidence particulièrement tentant.

Il est remarquable que dans leur désespoir à trouver un angle d'attaque sur Obama, les Républicains préférèrent l'épithète “socialiste” à “communiste,” le père de tous les vilains mots. Communiste aurait sans doute été perçu comme excessif à propos d’un homme qui se complait dans la mesure, et n’est ni de près ni de loin, l’idée que quiconque puisse avoir d’un Bolshévique. Néanmoins le qualifier de socialiste, un rare signe de sophistication de la part de ses opposants de droite généralement coutumiers de la pensée reptilienne, force à s’interroger sur le sens véritable du mot? Chacun sait plus ou moins la signification de “communisme,” mais celle du socialisme est plus diffuse, semble évoluer avec le temps et la géographie. Si le socialisme ne fut jamais défini formellement, il est certain qu’Il vint au monde pour y apporter une solution collectiviste aux problèmes que le capitalisme naissant du 19e siècle rendait évidents. Aujourd’hui, le socialisme que Marx concevait comme une étape vers le communisme, est devenu une évolution humaniste du capitalisme, une vision sociétale qui comprend l’intérêt de l’existence d’un partage plus ou moins équitable des richesses pour qu’une relative harmonie et paix sociale puissent engendrer la prospérité.

Plusieurs mois de calme suivirent la victoire d’Obama, mais l'opposition maintenant rassérénée reprend le couplet socialiste, jouant avec la sensibilité libertaire afin de pousser ses thèses conservatrices. Je trouve stupéfiant que plus de cinquante ans après le Mc Carthysm, et au milieu d’une crise économique qui selon beaucoup, sonne la fin du capitalisme, être associé avec le socialisme aux Etats Unis, serait toujours comme avoir la peste. Lorsque le capitalisme ruine le système de santé en Amérique, a mis bon nombre d’Américains en banqueroute, c’est prouvé incapable de générer ou maintenir un réseau ferroviaire et d’autres infrastructures qui manquent cruellement aux Américains, il est vraisemblablement temps pour ceux-ci de faire preuve d’ouverture d’esprit et de reconnaître que quel que soit le nom qu’on lui donne, “socialisme” ou “plus grande intervention de l’état,” un nouvel ordre de bataille est nécessaire afin de garder le renard à l’écart du poulailler.