October 19, 2003
Too Kind to Jacques Chirac

Events have convinced Abiola Lapite that he has been too kind to French President Jacques Chirac: Foreign Dispatches: By Their Fruits Shall Ye Know Them   If it may have seemed at times that my criticisms of French foreign policy were somewhat one-sided, I offer the following article as evidence on my behalf:Mahathir Thanks Chirac for Support MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has thanked French President Jacques Chirac for blocking a European Union declaration condemning his comments last week that Jews "rule the world by proxy," news reports said today.Chirac, backed by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, stopped the EU from ending a summit on Friday with a harshly worded statement deploring Mahathir's speech, which also included suggestions that Jews get "others to fight and die for them."A French diplomat, who asked not to be named, said while Chirac disagreed with Mahathir's strident views, he argued that an EU summit declaration "would not have been appropriate."Malaysian newspapers said Mahathir had expressed his gratitude to Chirac for his "understanding" of the speech he made at the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the world's largest Muslim grouping, in Malaysia last Thursday.[............]"I never thought the Europeans would be against me," [Hmm, I...

Posted by DeLong at 01:19 PM

May 12, 2003
Notes: The Character of the Absolutist State in Western Europe

Perhaps the most interesting argument about why the demographic crisis produced by the Black Death did not lead to the reemergence of serfdom in Western Europe (as lords discovered that, with population down by 1/3, they would rather be labor lords than landlords) is that made by Perry Anderson in his book Lineages of the Absolutist State. Anderson argues, first, that the particular role of Western European towns made a formal reimposition of servile bondage impossible: "...the aristocracy had to adjust to a second antagonist: the mercantile bourgeoisie... towns... the intercalation of this third presence... prevented the Western nobility from settling its accounts with the peasantry in Eastern [European] fashion, by smashing its resistance and fettering it to the manor. The medieval town... hierarchical dispersion of sovereignties... feudal mode of production... freed urban economies from direct domination by a rural ruling class.... [Urban] economic and social vitality acted as a constant, objective interference in the class struggle on the land, and blocked any regressive solution to it by the nobles." Feudal lords could agree among themselves and with the king to reimpose serfdom, but they lacked the power to do so if peasants could still (as they could in Western...

Posted by DeLong at 02:02 PM

May 01, 2003
Bradford Is Not Annoyed, But Is Rather Impressed

However, there are also a large number of very, very nice moments in William Hitchcock's Struggle for Europe as well (William Hitchcock (2002), The Struggle for Europe (New York: Doubleday: 0385497989)). I am impressed by: William Hitchcock on the fecklessness of European left-wing intellectuals: p. 10: Simone de Beauvoir... Americans, she write, "approved of all Truman's speeches. Their anti-Communism bordered on neurosis; their attitude towards... France... arrogant condescension"... "we had loved them, these tall soldiers in khaki who had looked so peaceful; they were our liberty." Now they represented "our dependence and a mortal threat".... de Beauvoir's line of attack on the United States, echoed in the writings of hundreds... missed a crucial part of the overall picture. The Iron Curtain was quite real... a decidely nasty form of political order... could well have been visited upon France, Germany, and Italy, were it not for those tall U.S. soldiers in khaki. De Beauvoir failed to see--did not wish to see--the nature of the "people's democracies" being erected in Eastern Europe under Soviet coercion... distressed intellectuals did not publish memoirs and go on the lecture circuit; they wrote forced confessions and went to prison... William Hitchcock on what Stalin was thinking:...

Posted by DeLong at 09:58 PM

May 16, 2002
The Fall of France, 1940

Josh Marshall writes: "I really, really, really want to recommend a book to you. It's called Strange Victory: Hitler's Conquest of France and it's by Ernest R. May, a highly respected diplomatic historian. There are two reasons why this book is so good. The first is that it is just a marvelously engrossing narrative of one of the most pivotal moments of the 20th Century..."

Posted by DeLong at 02:52 PM