Developments in French Politics by Alain Guyomarch, Peter A. Hall, Jack Hayward, Howard Machin

By Alain Guyomarch, Peter A. Hall, Jack Hayward, Howard Machin

The re-creation of the major textual content on French politics brings jointly a totally new set of specially-commissioned chapters masking Chirac's presidency, the 1997 election, the next "cohabitation," and the effect of the Jospin executive. The publication explores the influence of Europe on French policy-making, the French perspective towards globalization, and the demanding situations posed by way of unemployment, social exclusion, and institutional reform to longstanding practices of the French state.

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Although the legitimacy of Marxism-Leninism derived from its links with the labour movement rather than strictly intellectual argument, it was necessary to acquire a theoretically respectable foundation for the PCF's ideological monopoly. Despite Raymond Aron's 1955 exposure of this ideology as 'the opium of the intellectuals', it was possible for its exponents to argue their case by appeals to a Marxist theory of alienation or of surplus value. The last PCF intellectual - a rather marginal one at that - to acquire respectful attention outside the committed faithful was Althusser, who asserted Marx's economic 'scientificity by ontological ratiocination' and 'attributed to intellectuals a central role in the class struggle as participants in 'theoretical practice' which asked of them only that they practise theory' (Judt, 1986, pp.

Nevertheless attempts in 1988 to resurrect past battles, which even recently could still mobilise millions (such as the Church schools issue), were not effective. One of the reasons that Chirac lost the 1988 presidential election was that he tried to fight it as a Left-Right duel, while Mitterrand - more in tune with the times - was able to transcend the traditional dichotomy. Yet if in 1978 it could be said that a Leftwing France voted for the Right, in 1988 a Right-wing France voted for the Left.

However, as the effects of industrialisation made themselves felt in the 1960s and the impact of the European and international market forces became ever more difficult to manage, the Gaullist ideology was increasingly adulterated. Under Pompidou's influence, first as Prime Minister and later as President, a businessoriented liberal-conservatism increasingly came to the fore. Although it had required state support and guidance to build French firms into national champions capable of sustaining the national interests in an increasingly open and competitive international environment, they were now inclined to cast off the leading reins and assert their independent pursuit of their own pecuniary interests.

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