How will France be?

In The Art of Travel Fall 2017, 5. Politics, Paris by Howard1 Comment

Started from the Enlightenment, figures such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued that individual rights could be guaranteed “only by a “social contract” among the citizens, thus suggesting the need for a formal constitution, which at the time neither the English nor the French had”. (Censer and Hunt, 35) Rousseau’s concept of “general will” simultaneously provided the origins of democracy and the origins of totalitarianism. Over the centuries, French philosophers built on top of those progressive ideas and France has ever since had huge impacts on the political perspective of the world.

Now France remains a country that has one of the greatest influence. In military perspective, according to the annual GFP (Global fire power) review, France is currently ranked 5, only after China and India. Military strength ensures their role in world politics. France is the only country that can offer nuclear help in Europe; France is also one of the five permanent member state in UN. All of these point towards that if Eurozone wants to be truly integrated together, France is the key impetus.

A recent news here is President Emmanuel Macron in his speech mentions: “L’enjeu fondamental, c’est de réduire le chômage qui frappe encore un jeune sur cinq dans la zone euro, et faire de cette zone une puissance économique concurrente de la Chine et des Etats-Unis”. He basically means he wants to make Eurozone a competitive economic power as China and the United States. I discussed with several friends on this speech specifically. Firstly, the main issue is whether Italy, Germany, and France could integrate together before leading the whole Eurozone to continuously grow in economy. Besides that, the problem is not just Germany wanting to quit European Union, but also countries in the fringe of Eurozone that needs boost in their economy development. Secondly, Macron may not solve the immigration problem. Overall the problem was not on his hands but somewhat because of multiculturalism. These potential problems piled up together and sooner or later it will reach its outburst. France had once implemented “Assimilationnisme”. They forced Bretons to only speak French and banned Bretons. This led to their pride views of French and French culture. They encouraged people to suppress local culture since they thought French culture is the best. And now “mainstream” multiculturalism conflicts with their previous views. Thirdly, France has the highest corporate tax rate in Europe. This led to companies and rich people flee for lower tax. Fourthly, a small portion of people, on the behalf of their own welfares, abuse the idea of “democracy”. They strive for higher wages and more vacation days. This creates huge burdens on the government. But then again, people will think it’s the impotency of government that leads to eventual breakdown.

Overall, I am not a person that really follows politics that much. But here are some things that I either heard of or experienced that are relevant:

  1. French public transportation has strikes. Frequently. So far I have experienced twice already. And it hit on important lines that led to our late for classes. (real excuse)
  2. On my way back to Paris from Amsterdam, there were no security checks at any point. No passport checks either.
  3. Schengen Agreement is really convenient. I have thus travelled to several countries without showing my passports.
  4. As I am writing this article, a terrorist who killed two women on the streets was shot right away by an armed soldier.
  5. It’s also sad to hear that Las Vegas shooting near Mandalay Bay Casino kills at least 20.


  1. Hi Howard,

    I really liked how you delved into your description of France’s global influence and economic/social concerns on a macro scale. It was interesting to hear how French politics are very much influential to the order and well being of not only the larger Eurozone nations, (Germany, Italy) but also to the smaller countries that are not always as economically developed. I definitely agree that there exist certain issues pertaining to cultural assimilation that France must “iron” out before total order can be restored. I believe that their assimilation strategies were well intended but perhaps ill-timed and structured without complete thought for the people who would be living under them. Hopefully Macron will be the change that France needs for France to get back on track and move in the right direction.

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