Man Without Qualities

Friday, July 12, 2002

The French Don't Have A Word for It Anymore! IV

UPDATE: Eschaton posts some nice sources and quotes that support the position of the Journal article. It's sad that a people that produced Jean Bapiste Say has ended up where they are now.

Also, Atrios might want to keep in mind that this blog is written under a borrowed pseudonym. There is no point in juvenile mutilation of the great name "Musil" just because Atrios doesn't like what is written here. But of course that up to Atrios. "Musil" will not be impaired one way or the other by any silly business on Eschaton..

But I do thank Atrios for his lively comments and criticisms.


The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the French revolution and the decline of France, which traces the divergence of French society from its original respect for the entrepreneur:

Of course this was also the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but again France missed out. Some historians believe that France's industry was actually expanding faster than Britain's in the century before 1789. However, the revolutionary turmoil, the currency collapse and the demands and disruption of war all took such toll that French manufacturing took 20 years to recover the output it had achieved in 1789. By contrast British industry in the decade 1800 to 1810 grew 23% and in the subsequent decade by 39%.

Napoleon famously despised England as a nation of shopkeepers, but the revolutionary leaders who preceded him were even more virulent in their scorn for trade. Far more merchants than aristocrats were dispatched to the guillotine. Robespierre and Co. quickly adopted protectionism, which continued under Napoleon in his Continental system. That protectionist spirit still informs French thinking today, and it unfortunately dominates the French-style administrated European Union. Laissez-faire is a French phrase but it was the Brits who practiced it. Ditto for "entrepreneur."

Comments: Post a Comment