Matching Grant Challenge
alexPureWhen I met Alexander Cockburn, one of his first questions to me was: “Is your hate pure?” It was the question he asked most of the young writers he mentored. Cockburn’s rules on how to write political polemics: write about what you care about, write with passion, go for the throat of your enemies and never back down. His admonitions remain the guiding stylesheet for our writers at CounterPunch. Please help keep the spirit of this kind of fierce journalism alive by taking advantage of  our matching grant challenge which will DOUBLE every donation of $100 or more. Any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us $200 or $500 or more, he will give CounterPunch a matching $200 or $500 or more. Don’t miss the chance. Double your clout right now. Please donate. –JSC
 Day 19

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

pp1

or
cp-store

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

The Politics of Bling-Bling Hits France Sarkozy's Cultivated Anti-Intellectualism

Sarkozy’s Cultivated Anti-Intellectualism

by PHILLIPE MARLIERE

Nicolas Sarkozy, allegedly the most Anglophile (or rather Americanophile) president of the 5th Republic failed his Science Po degree in the late 70s because his English was so poor that he was barred from sitting the politics exams. In the run up to the war in Iraq, the allegedly "Anti-American" Chirac was able to explain the French position in English before the US media, a small feat totally out of reach for the monolingual Sarkozy.

Sarkozy did not have to make small talk in English when he recently met the Queen in Windsor Castle since the British Monarch is fluent in French. On this occasion, some may have warned the Queen that Sarkozy’s French is generally most unceremonial: his crude crack at a person who refused to shake hands with him at a Paris farm show or the derogatory use of the "tu" form to address strangers (in the French context, not a cool way to behave, but rather a condescending or bossy one) have become Internet hits. Meeting youngsters from the banlieues a few months before his election, Sarko boasted to the kids: "I speak like you, I could be one of you". "Bling-Bling Sarko" confuses familiarity with vulgarity. As one of his critics in the French media cruelly put it: Sarkozy is not small, but low.

Before Sarko, the Gaullist right was not quintessentially vulgar and anti-intellectual. Charles de Gaulle was a well-read man who had the good taste to choose André Malraux as Minister of Culture. Georges Pompidou was an Agrégé de lettres and a student at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. The apparently less highbrow Jacques Chirac is a great connoisseur of Japanese civilization (and, some cynics might like to add, of his banking system) [and leaves the splendid Branly museum as a monument, Editors]. Sarkozy breaks with the Gaullist tradition on that count: he is a self-professed idiot. To one of his advisers who suggested that he visit a museum during a trip in Madrid, Sarko replied: "The idiot thanks you!" (Le con te dit merci!). The ironic jibe fails to conceal Sarkozy’s deep insecurity with regard to the world of knowledge in general and to intellectuals in particular. Sarkozy admitted hating school and underachieved as a student. Recently, he was heard fuming in public against "those researchers who find nothing".

Sarkozy does not read and does not even pretend that he is in the least interested in literature or arts, which constitutes yet another break with the tradition of French presidents. He is the son of an immigrant from Central Europe who made it to the top of French politics without studying in the elitist Grandes Ecoles. These features should have earned him the sympathy of the French people as they like to back the underdog. However, Sarko has squandered this opportunity: his ostentatious nouveau riche profile and his courtship of the mega-rich have put off the whole nation.

In the end, Sarkozy may fail to substantially Americanize France if the French people find the political resources to defeat his neoliberal rampages through the economy. In the meantime, the country is run by a president who, like George W. Bush, thinks that the world is divided between "good" and "bad people", that intellectuals are sissies and, last but not least, that it is alright to be not so educated, filthy rich and brag about it.

Philippe Marlière teaches French and EU politics at University College London (UK) since 1994. He is also an activist on the left-wing of the French Socialist Party. He can be reached at p.marliere@ucl.ac.uk