Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 8-May-07
Euphoric Nicolas Sarkozy supporters celebrate victory over Ségolène Royal

Web Log - May, 2007

Euphoric Nicolas Sarkozy supporters celebrate victory over Ségolène Royal

First 100 days: Put France back to work, stop illegal immigration, and make France a great nation again.

Election results: Nicolas Sarkozy 53%, Ségolène Royal 47%. <font size=-2>(Source:</font>
Election results: Nicolas Sarkozy 53%, Ségolène Royal 47%. (Source:

Sarkozy supporters are predicting huge social and political changes, following his decisive victory over Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal. The victory was all the more decisive because 75% of registered voters cast ballots -- the highest percentage in 40 years.

I want to explain why Sarkozy won, and what problems he will soon face.

The best place to start is to read some of his victory speech, which is unlike anything you hear these days from any politician in any country -- since it exhibits his patriotism and his love for his country:

"My dear compatriots, as I speak to you this evening, at this time which, as everyone understands, is exceptional in a man's life, I feel enormous, sincere, deep emotion. From a very young age I have felt incredible pride at belonging to a great, an old, a beautiful nation, that of France.

I love France as you love someone dear, someone that has given me everything. Now it is my turn to give back to France what France has given me...

My thoughts therefore go to all of the French who did not vote for me. I want to tell them that beyond the political battle, beyond the differences of opinion, for me there is only one France. I want to tell them that I will be the president of all the French people, that I will speak for each one of them. I want to tell them that this evening it is not the victory of one kind of France against another...

The French people have spoken and have chosen to make a break with the ideas, the customs and the behaviour of the past. I am thus going to restore the status of work, authority, standards, respect, merit. I am going to give the place of honour back to the nation and national identity. I am going to give back to the French people pride in France...

The French people have opted for change. I shall be implementing this change because this is the mandate I have received from the people and because France needs it - but I shall do this with all of the French people. I shall do it in a spirit of unity and in a spirit of fraternity. I shall do it in such a way that no one is left with the feeling of being excluded, of being left to one side.

I call on all the French, irrespective of their party, their beliefs, their origins, to join with me to ensure that France gets moving again. I call on each person not to allow himself or herself to be enveloped in intolerance and sectarianism, but to open up to others, to those who have different ideas, to those who hold other beliefs. ...

I want to issue an appeal to our American friends, to tell them that they can count on our friendship, which has been forged in the tragedies of history which we have faced together.

I want to tell them that France will always be by their side when they need it, but I also want to tell them that friendship means accepting that your friends may think differently and that a great nation such as the United States has a duty not to put obstacles in the way of the fight against global warming, but on the contrary to take the lead in this fight, because what is at stake is the fate of humanity as a whole. France will make this battle its primary battle. ..."

Can you imagine any American politician today (with the possible exception of the President) making such an emotionally patriotic speech? No one could, nor could Sarko's opponent, Ségolène Royal. That makes Sarkozy a very different politician.

From the American point of view, it's absolutely wonderful to have a French president whose automatic attitude toward America isn't knee-jerk contempt.

But the mere fact that he's different did not cause him to win. Nor just the fact that he's patriotic and loves his country. And being "pro-American" couldn't have been much help either.

Sarko won because the French people are overwhelmingly anxious over the nation's seemingly insoluble problems, and Sarko appealed to the irrational emotions of the people who are grasping for any possible solution.

One mother of three who voted for Sarkozy was quoted as saying, "We can't go on like this, something needs to happen. [Voting for Sarkozy] is a bit scary, but we have to try something new."

What we're seeing in France is exactly the same kind of manic-depressive behavior that we've described so often in the American people. American's entered the manic phase last November, when the Democrats won the Congressional elections and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was replaced by Robert Gates.

In February, I explained how "cognitive dissonance" had turned Democrats into fanatics, as they entered the depressive phase, realizing that in November they had merely been experiencing something close to a sex fantasy. Now, Democrats and Republicans alike have become pathetic ghosts, and have become completely paralyzed and incompetent.

As I've said, the root cause is that the generations of survivors of World War II are all gone. The survivors of World War II did great things -- they created the United Nations, World Bank, Green Revolution, World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, and so forth. They created these organizations and managed them for decades with one purpose in mind: That their children and grandchildren would never have to go through anything so horrible as World War II. Now all those survivors are gone, and the people (Boomers and Xers) who are left behind don't know how to run those organizations, how to accomplish anything similar. Where governments could accomplish great things in the 50s and 60s, today they can't lay claim to even the smallest achievement.

The French people realize that France is beleaguered with problems: Unemployment is high, illegal immigration is growing, terrorism is a threat, and the country has become increasingly insignificant. Perhaps the greatest humiliation came in 2005, when a French referendum rejected the proposed EU Constitution.

So along comes Nicolas Sarkozy, saying some new things -- he loves his country and his country will be great again -- with some specific proposals:

After that, he'll turn water into wine for the nationwide party.

Sarkozy's supporters are talking about getting as much of this done as possible in the first 100 days after he takes office on May 16. That's similar to the promises that Democrats made, and they've accomplished nothing. They're too incompetent even to vote themselves a pay raise.

Boomers today, whether in America or France, are scared to death of losing what they have, through bad investments or through terrorism or through disgrace. The generations that survived World War II were willing to give up many things to guarantee that nothing so horrible could ever happen again. The Boomers have based their entire lives on assumptions they developed during their halcyon days, in the 1960s and 1970s. Now, they see that all those assumptions are wrong, and the cognitive dissonance is driving them to a fanatical refusal to give up anything at all.

And so, for example, Sarkozy may well claim that his election victory gives him a mandate for labor reform, but the very powerful labor unions will not agree.

France has a heritage of rioting and demonstrations that dates back to the French Revolution. During France's last Awakening era, riots and demonstrations were even more violent than they were in America. In May 1968, student protests and labor strikes brought France to the brink of anarchy.

Those riots were relived twice in the last two years. In November 2005, violent racial rioting occurred in Paris's Muslim ghetto suburbs, and many people blamed Sarkozy, because Sarkozy responded to the rioting by saying that he had a "zero tolerance policy" for violence, and he referred to the troublemakers as "scum" and "riffraff," and vowed to "clean out" the suburbs.

Ethnic French students responded in April of last year, after French President Jacques Chirac supported a law that would permit French employers to fire an employee under 26 years of age, provided that he's worked less than 2 years. A million people, mostly students, took to the streets to protest in April 2006, and Chirac backed down. As this web site's analysis pointed out, these street protests were a reaction to the November 2005 riots by Muslim youth. Muslims had demanded jobs, and the April rioters knew that jobs for Muslims meant fewer jobs for them.

Whether it's the Muslim students or the French students or the labor unions, or any of a wide variety of special interest groups, no one is going to be willing to give anything up.

In fact, there's already been scattered violence across France, and several hundred people were arrested on Sunday and Monday evenings.

However, appraising the situation is complicated by the fact that, several days before the election, Ségolène Royal said that a Sarkozy victory would lead to street violence. This was an incredibly stupid thing to say because voters get angry at candidates who appear to be pandering to violence. Furthermore, a prediction of violence may become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it's impossible to tell whether the violence would have occurred if Royal hadn't made her remarks. In fact, there are some signs that the violence is petering out.

But the fact that violence is occurring at all is, at the least, a warning to Sarkozy to go slow. So it's going to be impossible for Sarkozy to achieve many of his goals, and it's quite possible that he'll accomplish none of them.

What will happen then? If he follows the example of his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, or of the Congressional Democrats, then he'll just back down and become completely impotent and spout nonsense all day long. In that case, the French people will become as angry with Sarkozy as the American people are with President Bush.

But the other possibility is that campaign predictions made by Royal's supporters that Sarko will turn into a fascist will turn out to be a something of a self-fulfilling prophecy as well -- or at least that's what his opponents will claim.

If Sarko refuses to back down and instead becomes extremely confrontational with demonstrators and labor unions, then things could spiral into violence pretty quickly. Large riots and demonstrations could force Sarkozy to bring out the army, and could lead to confrontations between those with Muslim and those with French ancestry.

Sarko has already indicated that he plans to move in that direction. In the last days of the campaign, he said: "I will not be a referee, a monarch sheltering in the Elysée Palace. I will govern and take responsibility," indicating that he won't be like Jacques Chirac. "From day one, I am going to start putting my promises into action and make sure they are carried out."

As for the objections already raised by a Communist-led labor union: "I’m sorry if they don’t like change, but they are not the ones being elected."

It's been almost 62 years since the end of World War II. France, like America, like Israel, like the UK, and like other countries that fought in World War II as a crisis war, is now in a generational Crisis era. A country in a generational Crisis era has two choices: become increasingly paralyzed and dysfunctional, or become increasingly confrontational. The first choice usually becomes completely unbearable after a while, so that it's always the second choice, and the second choice leads to war.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a new West European war is coming with absolutely certainty; the only question is how the sides will line up. I've speculated that there would be a new war between Britain and France, as there have been so many times in the last millennium; however, Sarkozy's victory appears to fly in the face of that speculation, as Sarkozy is openly "pro-American." Well, that remains to be seen.

One thing's for sure: When Sarkozy takes office on May 16, he's going to have move quickly to try to get something done. It's quite possible that he'll get nothing done, and when that sinks in, France could go in any direction. (8-May-07) Permanent Link
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