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France in a Global Context

R1107: French 1a

Karine Varley

on 26 October 2017

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Transcript of France in a Global Context

France in a Global Context
Dr Karine Varley
Understand France’s role in the modern world
Gain awareness of the areas of French influence
Understand the nature of France’s relations with other countries
Traditionally France suspicious of globalisation
Protection of French language
'courriel' instead of e-mail
'florilège' instead of 'best of'
Protection of French food
Opposition to ‘la malbouffe’
Hostility towards ‘coca-colonisation’
Protection of French culture
Quotas limiting non-French music and cinema
Groups opposed to globalisation
ATTAC – L'Association pour la taxation des transactions financières et pour l'action citoyenne
Why does France still matter on the global stage?
International organisations
Military strength
NB: Algeria not a French colony but part of France
French rule from 1830
1848 becomes part of French territory rather than colony
Divided into départements– Alger, Oran, Constantine
By 1947 1m European settlers; 8m Algerians

French Colonial Empire
France had the second largest colonial empire after Britain
12 million square km; 69 million people across 4 continents
Ideas of empire
Mission civilisatrice
La plus grande France
DOM-TOM - Départements d'outre-mer - Territoires d'outre-mer
Colonial legacies
France retains close ties with many former colonies
Françafrique – 'neo-colonial' French view towards Africa

Recent French involvement in Africa
'Arab Spring', especially Libya
Ivory Coast
200m French speakers across the globe

France ranked as 6th global economic power by GDP (UK remains 5th)
Major player in Eurozone economy
But its economy remains sluggish, with high unemployment
International Organisations
France is one of 5 permanent UN Security Council members (ONU)
Key player in NATO (OTAN)
French head of IMF (FMI)
Christine Lagarde took over as head of the IMF from Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is also French
France and the EU
France joined EEC as one of the original founding members in 1957
Charles de Gaulle vetoed UK entry to the EEC twice (1963 and 1967), fearing the UK would weaken French domination over policy
France and the UK clashed for years over Europe's Common Agricultural Policy
De Gaulle vetoes British entry to EEC (1967)
French Relations with Britain
French relations with UK
Entente Cordiale (1904)
'Entente Frugale' UK-French defence cooperation (2010)

'Anglo-French' Union (1940)
Entente Frugale (2010)
French relations with US
Clashes in ‘universal values’
Recent tensions:
Iraq war (2003)
‘Affaire DSK’ (2011)
French Culture
Exported globally
Art, cinema, fashion, food, wine
Question: What year did France join the European Union?

Hollande and Obama
French, along with English, is the only language spoken across 5 continents
French predicted to be spoken by 750m people by 2050

Is France in Decline as a Global Power?

French influence has been lost to Berlin and Brussels, but President Macron is seeking to reposition France at Europe's heart
Claims that while its culture remains strong, its politics and economy are weak
High unemployment, but economy now growing

Or - is it just a perception of French weakness?

'Le dénigrement systématique de tout ce qui est français'

In recent years, sections of the UK press have sought to portray France as a country on its knees economically and politically. The tensions between the UK and France have been particularly acute over the issue of the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais and more recently, over the Brexit negotiations.
2014 French Nobel Prizes

Patrick Modiano – Nobel prize for literature
15th French Nobel winner for literature
Jean Tirole - winner of 2014 Nobel prize for economics
In wake of international best-seller, Thomas Piketty, ‘Le capital au XXIe siècle’
Significance of Nobel Prizes

‘N’en déplaise à tous les déclinologues hexagonaux et aux adeptes du French bashing – ce loisir si prisé consistant à rudoyer à tout bout de champ les Français –, l’attribution du prix Nobel de littérature à Patrick Modiano, jeudi 9 octobre, est une excellente nouvelle’

Le Monde editorial, 11 Oct 2014
PM Manuel Valls on Twitter: 'Après Patrick Modiano, un autre Français au firmament: félicitations à Jean Tirole! Quel pied-de-nez au French bashing! #FiersdelaFrance'
Significance of Nobel Prizes

Are such responses part of France’s problem?
Alain Finkielkraut (Ecole Polytechnique): just a 'médaille en chocolat', which doesn’t prevent fact that ‘la France va extrêmement mal’
Libération: ‘Derrière les Nobel français, le déclin?’ (14 Oct 2014)

France remains an important economic, political, cultural global power
Important to distinguish between perceptions and short-term problems and broader picture of France’s role today
Under Macron, France's global role and trajectory is beginning to change

Messieurs, il y a un second point, un second ordre d'idées que je dois également aborder, le plus rapidement possible, croyez-le bien : c'est le côté humanitaire et civilisateur de la question. Messieurs, il faut parler plus haut et plus vrai ! Il faut dire ouvertement qu'en effet les races supérieures ont un droit vis-à-vis des races inférieures… Je répète qu'il y a pour les races supérieures un droit, parce qu'il y a un devoir pour elles. Elles ont le devoir de civiliser les races inférieure

Jules Ferry, 28 juillet 1885
Mission civilisatrice

Spreading universal values of French Republic
Superiority of French values derived from Revolution of 1789
Not about spreading religion
Globalisation has been seen by some as threatening national boundaries – economic forces that can’t be controlled by national governments, multinational corporations, the impact of mass migration, global culture through internet. In response, traditionally France has sought to protect its culture and language from the creeping influence of the English language and US culture in particular.
All this leads to an impression of France as being inward-looking, not fully engaged with what’s happening in the wider world, resisting globalisation. In fact, the opposite is the case. This lecture will look at how France is major world power, and how it retains its global influence.

One of the key reasons that France is a global power today is that it is a legacy of its colonial history. Until the 1960s, France had colonies throughout the world, especially in Africa.
In all these areas, France remains influential, with political links, trade and cultural ties, much like Britain retaining links with the former colonies through the Commonwealth.
Unlike Britain, whose motives in gaining an empire were primarily economic or social, in France the motive was ideological and political. The political elites believed that France’s mission was to bring enlightenment to the world. France was, after all, the country of the Revolution of 1789, which proclaimed liberty and equality for all. French elites believed that the values of the Revolution were universal. The problem was that is that assumed a sense of French superiority, and that any ideas that contradicted these were inferior and should be got rid of.

France also used its colonies to strengthen French national greatness.

France's relationship with its former colonies is controversial. In Britain, there is a certain degree of embarrassment at the UK's colonial past, with the focus often being on the problems caused by colonial rule – eg India and Pakistan, Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq. In France, many still seem to see French colonial rule as beneficial for those territories, despite the fact that many of the populations suffered as result of French rule. Critics also accuse France of exploiting its access to African economic resources and raw materials.

And with the UK leaving the EU, France is pushing to reassert the French language in Europe...
But since the EU referendum, some French newspapers have been fighting back, delighting in what they see as British political chaos...
Macron Presidency

Since being elected president in May 2017, Macron has sought to advance an ambitious role for France in the world and in the EU. He has also sought to attract the financial services sector from London to make Paris Europe's financial hub after Brexit.
Macron Presidency

During the 2017 election campaign, Macron also broke with tradition, making controversial comments about France's colonial past, especially in relation to the French presence in Algeria:

«Je pense qu’il est inadmissible de faire la glorification de la colonisation. Certains ont voulu faire cela en France, il y a dix ans. [...] J’ai toujours condamné la colonisation comme un acte de barbarie [...] La colonisation fait partie de l’histoire française. C’est un crime, c’est un crime contre l’humanité, c’est une vraie barbarie.»

The new approach by Macron was perhaps most strikingly symbolised in his meeting with Vladimir Putin and now famous handshakes with Donald Trump.

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