Grant McCracken on France

Yes Sarkozy is on the verge of winning, but will there be much change?  It is worth reading Grant McCracken:

This may be the only Western culture in which the phrase "creative destruction" is fully paradoxical.  All of us balk for a moment at the phrase, but the French, I think, must just shake their heads and say, "no, it’s creative or it’s destructive."  This is a culture that approaches perfection, and for a world like this all of the things that make other Western economies go, innovation, responsiveness, competition and innovations, these, in France, are wrong.  These contradict the the French style of life.   

The English could invent punk because there wasn’t very much to keep them from the aesthetic violence it required.  The Germans could rebuild the nation state because all it demanded of them was that they tear down a place stinking of cabbage and soft coal.  Americans could push us all down the bobsled of post modernity because all it meant was surviving the bouleversement of Silicon Valley in the late 1990s. 

But the French, for them change must feel lapsarian, a fall from an exquisitely accomplished grace.  The rest of us blunder from a uncertain present into the maw of a chaotic future, but then as one of my French respondents said, "it’s not like you’ve got very much to lose."  The French, you see, pay dearly for change, and sometimes they just can’t bring themselves to budge. 


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