French inertia, social innovation, the big contradiction

(Michel Houellebecq)

I am clearly not the best qualified to judge the quality of the intellectual debate in France. The point i want to make here is to justify why i’m now more interested in the political and economic debates in the rest of Europe and in the us than in my own country, France.

And also why, while trying to understand the implications and the potentiality of social innovation for the french public policies, i feel it hard to find places where new and credible ideas may be expressed.

That’s true, i’m probably more interested in the way obama tries to deal with bipartisianship in the congres than with the many scandals surrounding the relations between members of the french government and the dictator’s cliques in Tunisia and in Egypt. I’m even more preoccupied with Nathalie Portman’s pregnancy than with french debates about the so-called « conflicts of interest ».

All these issues, covered day after day by the french medias make it impossible to discuss about the reforms France need or about what future we collectivly want to build.

The more i compare the public debate in France and in others countries, the more i feel like living in a dying oligarchy where insiders (High civil servants, big companies but also some charities exclusively getting their money from the state) are just blocking the possibility of disruptives reforms and changes in the way France is managed.

Maybe, the most pressing changes France needs is to open up the places where decisions are made and to allow outsiders (Young people, Young entrepreneurs, some citizens movements) to get their voice in the public sphère. That is pretty simple and it may seem even simplistic but i assure you, France is becoming a suffocating place.

That’s why I am so concerned about the inertia of my beloved country. While many others (UK with the Big society, Germany with its quest of competitiveness, Nordic Countries with its redesign of what social cohesion mean, US for all of it) try to look at what comes next (see for exemple the fantastic job done by the Center for american progress) we are still discussing about what is the French identity (i just don’t know and i just don’t give a shit) how to conciliate the old privileges with modernity (a trick, just destroy them) ….

Unless we decide to confront ourselves with the big social and economic challenges (which i think might find some ideas and solutions through social innovation), we might definitively belong to history in a few decades, just like the French writer Michel Houellebeq pretends.

Morgan Poulizac

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