Why France Is Bad: Profits Define Goodness.


September 11, eight years after the strategy of the American secret services regarding Muslim fundamentalism started to backfire spectacularly, for all to see. Connoisseurs already knew that the Shiite regime in Iran was launched by the CIA in 1953, or that Roosevelt made a fundamentalist Muslim pact with the Ibn Saud, self made owner of Saudi Arabia. There were several other conspiracies of the same type. Most Americans are unaware of, unwilling to, or incapable of facing the fact that Osama bin Laden was a long standing CIA employee, or associate, complete with code name. In Afghanistan, and Pakistan, NATO is fighting America’s past allies. Ultimately, it all has to do with energy.

In late June 2009 President Obama praised the energy bill passed by the House as an “extraordinary first step” but he spoke out against a provision that would impose trade penalties on countries that do not accept limits on global warming pollution.

Why would Obama do such a thing? Why not impose penalties on those who are killing the planet? Is pollution good?

Some hold that Obama is already partial to bankers and plutocrats, considering his reluctance to discontinue their way of life and the sources of their supremacy, such as bonuses and tax heavens. Obama, in the interpretation of some, pursues this plutocratic theme with his desire to impose private health insurance to all, by law (a charge Obama now denies, by brandishing his public option insurance plan). But why would Obama be partial to pollution too? In the plutocratic scheme of things, it’s very simple to understand.

American plutocracy has delocalized a lot of its production overseas, to escape anti-pollution laws in the developed world. If we add this globalization maneuver to the CO2 production of the USA itself (mostly caused by the plutocrats controlling fossil fuels), American plutocracy is revealed as the world’s greatest CO2 producer (to claim it is China is silly because a lot of China is delocalized USA). No wonder the American plutocrats, the controllers of most media and American thinking, do not like the carbon tax.

This did not escape the attention of French leaders. Says Sarkozy, in a speech to factory workers in September 2009: “I will not accept a system … that imports products from countries that don’t respect the rules [on carbon emission reductions] … We need to impose a carbon tax at [Europe’s] borders. I will lead that battle.”

Paul Krugman finds that this makes a lot of sense, and that those who object to this (and that includes Obama, who Krugman has pointed at several times), are practicing "Fetishizing free trade”.

Krugman does not want to cause pain to those he has dinner with. It is not just a question of fetishism. When looking at the fetish, search for the festive, the one who profits from the fetish.

The carbon tax can crush those who have made globalization into a money machine at their personal service, those delocalized plutocrats. Striking them with a carbon tax will allow France to stay a great industrial nation. So it should be possible, using just that argument, to persuade Germany, and then the rest of the EU, to impose a carbon tax too. Recently, even Britain has understood that it would be nicer if the American plutocratic sirens had been better resisted, and Britain had stayed the industrial equivalent of France and Germany, as it used to be, before it was seized by the financial craze.

A Rasmussen poll came out, showing that Americans feel more negative about France, than about Japan, and Germany. The pollsters commented that "Ironically, France, America’s ally in World II against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan, doesn’t fare quite as well now. Forty-five percent (45%) say U.S. military assistance should go to France if it is attacked, putting it at seventh, but 37% oppose that idea and 18% are not sure whether to help or not. Still, in March 2006, only 18% of Americans believed France was an ally in the war on terror, while nearly as many viewed it as an enemy."

By contrast 59% of Americans would military assist the self declared racial and religiously discriminative state of Israel. At first sight, this is counterintuitive: France is a secular republic, her constitution was written within weeks of the American one, and was more universal, and the country is the ultimate melting pot. In other words, but for size, France is very similar, why would Americans dislike her so much, relatively speaking? Or is the very discrimination of Israel that appeals to the American soul?

France of course was not just an ally in WWII, or WWI, or created the USA in its Independence war. Going back 1,000 years, the entire civilization the USA is so proud of, comes from France.

Better: while the government of the USA was sitting on its hands, contemplating Hitler, France outright attacked the Nazis. Now, of course, the Nazis were upset, and they hated the French for having forced them into a world war that they were bound to lose. With a lot of luck, crazy methods, drugged out soldiers high on ecstasy, not sleeping for a week, strategic genius, French high command idiocy, American plutocratic help, Stalinist fuel, and enormous losses, the Nazis won the battle of France. However, having lost 50,000 elite soldiers with a high proportion of officers, plus 3,000 planes, and many pilots, the Nazis were never that strong again.

But the fact that France attacked Hitler leads to the nagging question: what is it that Americans are supposed to not like about France? Are Americans just supposed to not like France because the Nazis found the French insufferable? Just asking.

Oh, yes, the government of the USA obstinately refused to help the French republic at war against Nazism in 1939-1940, and American plutocrats (IBM, Ford, Standard Oil, etc.) were busy helping Hitler in his war as much as they could. The Ethyl Corporation of America shipped supplies the Nazis desperately needed to keep their murderous air force in the air, as early as September 1939, as 40 French divisions were attacking the Siegfried line, and the Poles were fighting for dear life (one sixth of the Polish population would be deliberately exterminated, and the USA rewarded the courageous Poles by giving Poland to Stalin at Yalta).

But I am digressing, the American empire was not built without breaking a few countries, of course. The betrayal of Yalta, after that of the betrayal of the "Neutrality Acts" (France = Hitler, a Washington equation), and the betrayal of 1939-40 was noticed in France, and was a mainstay of French politics for more than half a century.

In the end, Britain, saddled by debts to the USA, survived, and the measly 64 divisions the USA had in Europe in 1945 could not prevent the French to recover their destiny. The chastised Nazis decided that, after all, and all along, the French were right, and a democratic republic UNITING with France was the way to go.

So here we are 65 years later, and the European Union is a reality. To the consternation of hard core American plutocrats, no doubt, the European Union is an extension of the old French republic, bigger, better. It’s 1789 all over. As Chou En Lai put it, it may still be too early to discuss the consequences of the Revolution of 1789, the one of the Universal Rights of Man. But let’s notice that China is importing Western European philosophy (and technology) massively.

At this point the world is organizing itself according to the French constitution of 1789, not the American one, written a few weeks earlier. This is happening because of the question of those pesky human rights, so prominent in the American health care debate.

The American constitution parrots Aristotle, and his "pursuit of happiness". If you “pursue happiness”, as Aristotle had it, you will pursue slaves, if it makes you happy. This why the USA loved Aristotle, and why the French Revolution of 1789 threw down Aristotle and imposed the freedom, equality and brotherhood of all. True, slavery in France had been unlawful since 660 CE, a full millennium before some savage colonists in the deep woods of the Americas reestablished it, far from the arm of European law.

So Obama has the opportunity to whine about the death panels in the American health insurance industry, killing people by the thousands, and to do nothing about it. Would Obama be the French president, he could not do so. By opposition to the “pursuit of happiness”, an intrinsically subjective, selfish thing, the imposition of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity is completely objective, and is imposed, in France, by the legislation that not helping someone in danger is unlawful. This is a direct consequence of the Revolution in Human Rights of 1789.

The French center-right president, Sarkozy, does not want to be viewed as a "liberal": in France "liberal" is an insult, reserved to the extreme right. In the USA, Obama, the “bipartisan” president, does not want to be considered "liberal" either: being viewed as a "liberal" is just as politically deadly in the USA as in France, but for the exact opposite reason. In the USA, a "liberal" is way too much to the left.

So here we have it. Americans are on their knees, shoe shining their plutocratic masters, and take great pride in that, and get enraged when it is pointed out that this is actually what they are doing, being obsequious servants to their hubristic ravenous exploiters. In France, when a boss strays, he is in danger of being sequestered by his employees, and made to answer the relevant questions. And the French police will sit on its hands, trying to calm everybody down. And French justice will scoff. France did not sit on her hands for Hitler, but is not indifferent to social injustice. In the USA, it’s the other way around.

Obama himself talks as if he were a creature of the profit-as-ultimate-good morality.

As Obama puts it: "Insurance executives don’t do this ["treat their customers badly"] because they are bad people. They do it because it’s profitable."

(Speech to joint Congress, September 2009; at this point, all rose and applauded: apparently everybody was high on themselves, given the number of times, and extent, this self applauding society gave itself standing ovations; never mind that 27 centuries of Western civilization had just been thrown down by the profit motive).

OK, let’s replace two words in the preceding quote of the “brainy president”. According to examples Obama himself gives, “insurance executives”, through their actions, lead to the death of people. Let’s replace “insurance executives” by “slave traders”. Whereas insurance executives make money when their victims die without treatment (because they paid, and got nothing in return), slave traders lost money when their victims died. So, on the face of it, slave traders are nicer people. And indeed says the nineteenth century version of Obama:

“Slave traders don’t treat their customers badly because they are bad people. They do it because it’s profitable." 

Now, of course, slaves were not "customers". Nor should "patients" be called "customers" by Obama. Obama’s semantics speaks for itself. It’s the semantics of greed. If he wants to keep on playing civilized on TV when addressing the health of Americans, he should switch to the semantics of compassion. Get better speech writers, since it’s the way it’s done in the USA: the president pays handlers to provide him with thoughts.

So Obama says that, if it’s profitable, moral criterions do not apply. If you do make profits, you are never bad, however bad your actions may be. Obama is a new sort of moralist. According to Obama, bad is never bad, if it is profitable.

In this case "Insurance executives" kill people, American people, by the thousands. Obama himself admits it, since he seems to have an endless supply of anecdotes of Americans who were refused life saving health care by their greedy insurers.

If American lawyers at the Nazi Nuremberg trial had been at the same school as Obama, all the Nazis would have walked off. Bear with me a moment here.

The Nazis would have produced their young Obama-like lawyer, and Obama-like would have said:"Your honors, the defendants were not bad people, they were just making profits". Obama-like, the lawyer defending the Nazis , would have been right: modern scholarship has shown that the Nazis stole from the Jews to finance their supporters, and make themselves popular, by redistributing the Jews’ riches. Steal property, sell hair, clothes and gold crowns in the mouths of people executed in extermination camps, as the Nazis did, and, as long as you make a profit, says a morally clueless Obama, you are not a bad person. If I did not understand something there, please drop me a line, in an act of charity to extract me from my lack of subtlety.

It’s clear that the masters of the USA, as Michael Moore points out in “Sicko”, have every interest to teach American citizens the detestation of France. Otherwise, Americans would realize the French are very much like them, but have solved some of the problems brought by plutocracy in a way more suitable to the People in the street. Instead of just pleasing to the people on Wall Street.

Let’s wrap it up. Sarkozy, the French right wing president, seen from the USA, is an extreme left wing leader. So is Merkel, so is Brown. While Sarkozy is putting in place a carbon tax, and wants to free the world from financial manipulation, by cracking down on bonuses, and tax heavens, Obama is playing the prolongation of Bush’s reign of astronomical stupidity and selfishness of the few. I guess the USA is not on its knees yet, just wobbling about, so go for it!

On one side the logic of freedom, on the other the logic of those who shine shoes. French students study history several hours a week, starting at age 6, and go on like that for a decade, or more. History shows that freedom wins, slaves lose, and civilization means something. French students have plenty of time to meditate those lessons.

Patrice Ayme


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7 Responses to “Why France Is Bad: Profits Define Goodness.”

  1. nightman1 Says:

    This is a great post because it bounces me right out of my entrapment in the incredibly narrow universe of discourse that prevails in the USA. You have no idea how tiresome it can become to hear constant pronouncements like the one you quote from President Obama about the insurance executives. At the bottom of all such pronouncements is indeed the fundamental American assumption that profit is the ultimate good. It is a sorrowful thing to watch a culture firmly founded on that assumption grind its way through the lives of those who live in (or under) it.

    Don’t forget though, that when one has to live in the USA, and so actually has to live under Greed-Is-Good on a daily basis, one is wise to pay lip service to GIG from time to time, especially when one is busy trying to humanize it. That’s what Obama was doing in that quote.

    And of course in the USA, where running for any national elected office necessarily requires getting someone to give you many millions of dollars, no politician can afford to seriously piss off folks like insurance executives.

    In short, within the American universe of discourse Obama is the closest thing to a Leftist we are ever likely to get, so we here have to love him — or at least I do — despite all his kowtowing to plutocrats.

    Weak tea is better than no tea at all — and no hope of any either.


  2. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Nightman1: I used to advocate what you call the weak tea approach, during the campaign. Or let’s call it the apparently weak… tea approach. The idea was to concede all and any point the opposition was making which was mostly good, independently of larger themes.

    Thus, for example, I advocated drilling, although I am for renewables, and a carbon tax, and truly an ecological fanatic. The point right now it’s better to drill than invade Iran, and cling to Iraq while seducing the Saudis.

    Obama followed that approach scrupulously. That was good, because without Machiavellianism, one goes nowhere in conventional politics.

    What we have now is increasingly, de facto, large scale betrayal. I do not know if Obama is aware of the extent of his betrayal. I know he is aware of his betrayal, but I suspect not of its extent. As it is, he is camping somewhere to the right of G.W. Bush. At least W. introduced drugs for seniors. So far, Obama’s largest, and most significant move has been to allow 20 billion dollars of bonueses at Goldman Sachs paid by 38 billion dollars of taxpayer money lent or given to Goldman Sachs.

    Which kind of leftism is that?

    Thievery at the highest level of the state is still thievery, and the US Constitution is still in theory in force. Obama may found it exerted upon him in the future, if he goes on this way. It’s a tragedy.



  3. nightman1 Says:

    What you see primarily as Obama’s betrayal I see as primarily a manifestation of the fact that the USA has become an oligarchy. It used not to be that entirely. In the 1940s through 1970s the political and organizing power of labor unions counterbalanced the power of the rich to some degree.

    But now unions are weak, and there’s nothing to take their place, so the oligarchs reign. Therefore everything done by government must have their approval. But to get elected as a Democrat you must promise at least something to The Little People–whose interests are inevitably contrary to those of the oligarchs in many ways. In such a situation betrayal of the people on the Left by their politicians is inevitable. Since Obama is an intelligent, educated man, I assume that he knew what he had to promise and now knows that he has to betray those promises.

    In the end, the oligarchs may let the rest of us have SOMETHING in the way of health care reform. But there will have to be lots in it for them. Remember law adding drug coverage to medicare that also prohibited the administrators of medicare from bargaining with the drug companies to lower drug prices? Absurd! Yet any new health care scheme will have similar absurdities on a larger scale.

    I am sad to be approaching old age knowing that my country has become a somewhat more humane version of the New Russia.


  4. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Dear Nightman1:
    I agree with most of what you say. let me add this:

    I know that Obama is looking after himself first. He decided to not take the most courageous route. I have direct personal, even intimate evidence of this that I will not reveal in public at this point.

    I am also a mountain climber. When we go climb a mountain, we do not know if we will come back alive. And that is a moral problem, when we have loved ones.

    I have also been attacked for my ideas and opinion in the past, with lethal force, even, once, with a high explosive. Although the details will be in an autobiography some day, I will not reveal it in public at this point either. I was very surprised, though. Since then I have expected violence against me, as part of my philosophical space.

    The point is this: when Obama took the job, he knew it would be hard and dangerous. Except if he betrayed, because the American left is too weak, dumb, confused and naive to even understand what is going on. Betraying sheep is safe. Fighting plutocrats and other oligarchs, potentially deadly and certainly a huge fight.

    Obama may have lost his nuts in this accident called the decebration of the USA, and now he goes by the wisdom of the sheep. It probably helps him though to contemplate Larry Summers, Bill Clinton, and the destruction of the Banking Act of 1933 (“Glass-Steagal”). Clinton is now quite the plutocrat, and the American left loves him.

    Some people live for the small stuff, love having no fight in them, and plenty of bucks. They can’t even be traitors, because, for being traitors, they would have to have had an ideal to start with, besides navigating for themselves, and by themselves.



  5. JMG Says:


    The differing political perceptions you describe of the French vs. Americans and the ideals, beliefs and history that underpin them is helpful for understanding the myopia which results from viewing the world through ideologies and belief systems unsupported by reality. Nonetheless, millions of people will continue to hold beliefs and to make decisions unsupported by facts. Two examples.

    The French failed to complete the Panama Canal because they could not quell tropical diseases the Americans succeeded in overcoming by applying massive amounts of toxic mercury to the jungles that stood in the way of completing the project. The delusion? That since they had completed the Suez Canal the Panama Canal could also be completed. They were in denial of extraordinary difficulties posed by the jungle climate which they had not encountered in the former project.

    Americans have been long deluded by the Horatio Alger myths suggesting that any child can grow up to become rich by dint of hard work alone, which by itself provides then the moral justification for feathering one’s nest, so to speak. (Luck and good connections help: just ask Bill Gates or Larry Ellison to name two dropouts who succeeded in becoming wealthy almost beyond comprension.)

    Living beyond one’s means collectively as a nation might then be the product of the delusion that wealth is the God-given reward of a just and morally upright people. Americans generally believe themselves to be both. It’s just that in recent years getting huge loans without first demonstrating one’s creditworthiness somehow got left off the list of requirements to be morally upright both in the eyes of banksters and those who were getting the loans. Painful, then to wake up one morning and realize the mortgage is worthless and the dream of acheiving financial security and a comfortable retirement had been built on a pile of sand. Perhaps more difficult to admit that denial was at work all along and that it had powerfully influenced the society’s political and ideological perceptions, beliefs, behavior.

    But let’s back up one sentence. Denial, despite its terrible consequences, is more comforting than reality and thus a more attractive choice. The mortgage may be worthless but beliefs that the ego worked so hard over the years to construct and maintain are not going into the shredder just like that. Why? Because denying the ego’s gratification is not so easy.


    “…such as bonuses and tax heavens….”
    You mean tax havens.

    “…American plutocracy has delocalized a lot of its production overseas, to escape anti-pollution laws in the developed world. If we add this globalization maneuver to the CO2 production of the USA itself (mostly caused by the plutocrats controlling fossil fuels), American plutocracy is revealed as the world’s greatest CO2 producer (to claim it is China is silly because a lot of China is delocalized USA). No wonder the American plutocrats, the controllers of most media and American thinking do not like the carbon tax….”

    It would be easy to uncritically agree with the above statement without considering what the U.S. as a nation, not just the greedy “plutocrats” you have targeted, would have to undertake in order to begin accepting responsibility for its large role in global warming and how difficult this could be. To begin with, lifestyles aggressively promoted by corporate interests which encourage an infinite variety of indulgences made possible by wasting untold amounts of natural resources and fossil fuels would have to be forsworn in favor of higher savings rates and less borrowing by consumers in order for Americans to reduce significantly the amount of global warming the U.S. is responsible for. Higher savings rates and less borrowing would mean a slower economy in an economy of which 70% is consumer-driven. You’re right, of course, if you mean also that goods produced in China which are ultimately consumed by Americans also contribute to global warming. More difficult will it be for Americans to choose to make sacrifices to reduce greenhouse gas when the U.S. is recovering from the the enormous destruction of illusory wealth occasioned by the finance crisis, the unemployment rate is approaching 10% and is expected to remain high long after the recession is over according to the way economist’s define it.

    Denial is easier than reality. Denial makes tolerable the unpleasant truths we live with by eliminating the need to acknowledge them, no small feat. This can be true for both individuals and millions of people united politically and collectively described as a nation. Tens of millions of people will simply refuse to contemplate the impact their lifestyle has on global warming because they are in denial that climate change may be an inescapable consequence of their’s and their society’s collective actions. Despite being able to marshall impressive facts, Pres. Obama cannot compel anyone to accept that global warming is a reality. Although natural events such as the recent accelerated melting Greenland ice sheet (at the rate of about 80,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools of fresh water per year) seem to be helping the credibility of scientists who have stated global warming is a reality and that the world’s sea levels will soon begin to rise as one consequence of it, despite facts being stubborn things as the saying goes, denial is a more entrenched opponent likely to continue to succeed in the near-term.



  6. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Quite a comment, JMG! Lots to thing about… Tax havens? OK, thanks! In French, it’s “paradis fiscal”….

    Denial does not force to modify one’s brain much, hence its advantage: one small, opportunistic ANTI-IDEA will do…. it’s very economical…

    Foolishness does not require to reorganize one’s brain massively, so it always saves energy, very short term, seducing the easygoing… And easily eaten…


  7. nightman1 Says:

    JMG has raised a good point about giving up waste being fundamentally contrary to the American worldview. The “American Dream” says that if I work hard I will predictably be awarded by ever-increasing wealth. As grossly untrue as this is becoming these days for those who actually are “workers”, I don’t think most of us can give it up on a long-term basis. Therefore I think the battle over global warming in the USA will be titanic, and the amount of denial deployed by the lovers of perpetual economic growth will grow exponentially until it seems truly amazing to the rest of the world.

    I believe “The American Dream” is the foundational myth of the USA, and as such is the main thing that holds this stew of many ethnicities together. If the populace and the oligarchs happen ever to become convinced that perpetual growth by burning fossil fuel has really become suicidal, they will go nuts! Race war could be one of the unpleasant symptoms of that nuttyness.

    Since my country is already half-nuts in its political life, I expect the really harmful nuttyness to begin fairly soon now.


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