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Yet the central premise on which this new version rested, that late-nineteenth century France was a politically backward society, is patently false. Judt attempted to assimilate the French, Italian, and Spanish states of the period into the same type, footnote 22 but this did serious violence to their respective political histories. Universal male suffrage, for example, did not come to Italy until , or Spain until ; it was definitively established in France by the s.


More importantly, France had created national representative institutions by the end of the eighteenth century, unlike any other large state on the European continent. But it is unclear from a strictly historical point of view why this should be the standard. But in that case, the historical question is not: why did the sfio fail to act as a reformist social-democratic party, but rather: why did the sfio fail to live up to its own self-understanding and act as a revolutionary party? But here too his analysis proved dud. So, in Marxism and the French Left he explained:.

To be a socialist today is to find oneself in one of two positions. On the one hand, you can be in favour of a generalized moral project which asserts itself in conscious defiance of capitalist interest-related priorities. In the late s, apparently bored by French history and by his wife , footnote 26 Judt followed the trail blazed by Timothy Garton Ash and numerous others to Eastern Europe.

To return once again to the subject of the post-war rive gauche might appear to have been flogging a dead horse, especially now that the Cold War had ended. But Judt seems to have felt that Marxism and the French Left had dealt with Sartre and his contemporaries too much in terms of French politics.

Social science

Now—and with little further reading required—he would lambast their record in the larger global struggle of freedom against Communism, at greater length and brandishing loftier, if still ill-defined, concepts: justice, responsibility, morality and ethics.

The Berlin Wall had fallen, but it still remained to extirpate any lingering trace of left-wing ideas. In France, a rabid anti-Sartrean literature had been accumulating since the late s but little of it had yet appeared in English. Being and Nothingness? Notebooks for an Ethics?

The Cold War and American Religion

What was missing, then, in the political language of contemporary France were the central premises, the building blocks of a liberal political vision. Quite absent was the liberal assumption of a necessary and desirable space between the individual and the collective, the private and the public, society and the state. The liberalism of Furet and company was unquestionably the hegemonic ideology of the period.

In a ludicrous inversion, Judt depicted it as the lonely, marginal thinking of a tiny minority, allowing him to offer his own thoroughly conventional book as a—tacitly, brave—contribution to heterodoxy, along with theirs. Indeed the irresponsibility of French intellectuals had expanded considerably since Past Imperfect , when they had at least, according to Judt, seen themselves as responsible to history, if not to other people.

They were all anti-Communists. Judt appears to be perfectly satisfied with this example of moral responsibility, whose logic is that the subject need never have been mentioned. As Sartre put the point, in his long essay in Les Temps modernes following the Hungarian revolution:. In the worst case, the assumption of a moral position disguises the operation of a politician; in the best it does not affect the facts and the moralist misses the point. But politics, of whatever sort, is an action undertaken in common with certain men against other men.

Both Sartre and Weber refused the comfortable stance of the moralizer because they were aware of the tension between ethics and politics, and did not try to obscure it with high-sounding bromides. By the mids the New York Review of Books was offering Judt a more prominent platform, as publicist and commentator, than scholarly work could provide. After his first appearance there in August , reviewing a work on the fate of French Jews under the Vichy regime, Judt became a regular fixture, contributing three or four pieces a year over the next decade. Eventually he would rival, or even overtake, Garton Ash and Buruma in his frequency as a quasi-editorialist, pronouncing not just on France but on Eastern Europe, the lessons of the Cold War and the fate of the West in general.

In —96, as Clinton and Albright elbowed aside Kohl and Mitterrand to knock ex-Yugoslav heads together, Judt lamented the failure of European leadership. In , as the prophets of the Third Way took up residence in Downing Street, he called for a new social-liberal agenda. His only book between and was a slender volume containing three lectures, two of them already published in the nyrb , which appeared as A Grand Illusion? An Essay on Europe in The political tone of A Grand Illusion?

The exceptionally favourable combination of circumstances that drove European integration forward up to the s would not reappear:. These were unrepeatable, one-time transformations. That is to say, Western Europe will probably never again have to catch up on thirty years of economic stagnation or half a century of agrarian depression, or rebuild after a disastrous war.

Nor will it be bound together by the need to do so, or by the coincidence of Communist threat and American encouragement. Extension to the East could not occur on the terms granted to existing member states, since this would require huge transfer payments from Western European economies already suffering from persistent unemployment and slow growth. Long-running economic divergences between the two halves of Europe, dating back to before , constituted a major obstacle to unification.

His response to 9. For many in the current us Administration, a major consideration was the need to destabilize and then reconfigure the Middle East in a manner thought favourable to Israel. Judt did not include the Israel essay in his collection Reappraisals and seems scarcely to have addressed the one-state solution again. But reckless neo-conservative interventionism and the crudity of right-wing American Zionism had clearly soured him on the society of which he was now a citizen.

A few months later Postwar , his page history of Europe since , appeared. For the most part, Postwar offered a familiar narrative of the period, somewhat meandering in structure and largely focused on the West; coverage of Eastern Europe mostly functioned as a sombre counterpoint to the main melody.

In part this was the backwash of growing disillusion with the American alternative; but the reputation was well earned. Neither America nor China had a serviceable model to propose for universal emulation. In spite of the horrors of their recent past—and in large measure because of them—it was Europeans who were now uniquely placed to offer the world some modest advice on how to avoid repeating their own mistakes. Few would have predicted it sixty years before, but the twenty-first century might yet belong to Europe. But the attempt to conflate European integration, the post-war welfare state and the record of the social-democratic parties into an exemplar for the twenty-first century ended in analytical incoherence.

Judt drives home the importance of a social-democratic party to final outcomes by contrasting Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. More generally:. The embittered and destitute peasants of inter-war central and southern Europe formed a ready constituency for Nazis, Fascists or single-issue Agrarian populists. The notion of a peasant-based social democracy as the road not taken in inter-war Eastern Europe is, of course, completely unhistorical.

Agriculture there was profoundly backward at the time; when popular uprisings weakened landed elites, as happened in Romania, the underlying organization of production tended to revert back to subsistence farming. The agrarian economy simply did not produce adequate surpluses for a sustained modernization drive. This was one reason for the similarity among the modernizing political movements there: liberal, fascist or Communist, all faced the basic problem of extracting sufficient surplus from the peasant sector to industrialize.

The choice in Eastern Europe was never really between social democracy and Leninism, but among structurally similar modernizing regimes with different ideological labels.

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The situation in Scandinavia, particularly in Sweden, was entirely different: a substantial free-holder peasantry existed there, literacy was widespread and agrarian surpluses were much higher. In general, regional social democracy operated in such a uniquely favourable environment that it was never available as a model for export, as most of its leaders recognized.

On the other hand, Judt claimed that it had survived robustly through all the ideological and political din about it. The effect of the Sovietization of Eastern Europe was to draw it steadily away from the western half of the continent. Just as Western Europe was about to enter an era of dramatic transformation and unprecedented prosperity, Eastern Europe was slipping into a coma: a winter of inertia and resignation, punctured by cycles of protest and subjugation, that would last for nearly four decades. As a historian, Judt had little talent for bringing protagonists to life—indeed, little interest in character as such—and Postwar offered no fresh interpretation or archival discoveries.

Yet the bare facts it presented on the transnational agreements that eventually produced the eu showed that, whatever one might say about the European social model, it was a historical theme quite independent from that of European union. None of the key stages on the path to integration had much to do with the welfare state; they were mostly the result of geo-political calculations and, from the late s, basically neo-liberal.

The Schuman Plan had allowed Germany to escape from Allied economic controls, while providing a guarantee to the French against German re-armament. As Judt himself pointed out, the European Economic Community was an attempt to open French and German markets, again for largely political reasons. The impetus towards establishing a European monetary system came from an attempt to stabilize exchange rates, after the collapse of the Bretton Woods system. The creation of the European Union, through the Single European Act and Maastricht Treaty, established the free circulation of goods, services and capital among its members but also imposed harsh German-style budgetary requirements.

Judt attempted to resolve this tension between the actual dynamics of European integration and his supposed European social model through some implausible rhetorical linkages—for example:. But from the late Eighties, the budgets of the European Community and the Union nevertheless had a distinctively redistributive quality, transferring resources from wealthy regions to poor ones and contributing to a steady reduction in the aggregate gap between rich and poor: substituting in effect, for the nationally based Social-Democratic programmes of an earlier generation.

The climax to the debacle came with the despatch of monitors from the IMF to the Treasury, to ensure that Britain abided by the conditions it had imposed, i. The left, Callaghan declared, had been living on borrowed time. The cosy world in which growth and full employment could be guaranteed by government spending had gone. In that same year, with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia threatening to withdraw their deposits from Britain if sterling could not be stabilised, the only recourse of the Labour government seemed to be whether to contain wage inflation through Tory-style statutory pay restraint, or a Labour-style pay restraint which they might cajole the unions into accepting on a voluntary basis.

Ideological causes arose to express the frustrations of people and notably their desire for a decent standard of living. This demand was what fuelled the mass movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but in the developed countries of the West at least, these aspirations had been fulfilled for the vast majority of ordinary people. The success of the mixed economy had resulted in unprecedented rises in the standard of living during the decades following World War II, while Keynesian policies and the development of welfare systems had resulted in the social goods and levels of individual material security that would have been regarded as unattainable before the war.

The overall effect politically was a cross-party consensus that reduced political competition to a choice between the best means of policy implementation. The totalising claims of any grand narrative were without legitimacy because they derived from specific contexts. But looked at more closely, one could ask whether these undoubtedly important changes were genuinely ideological, whether they had any formal coherence or consistency, or whether they were even all that fundamentally distinct from each other.

Emerging out of the s and into the new decade of promise that would be conjured up by multi-channel television, satellite broadcasting and hour rolling news, Baudrillard questioned not only whether grand narratives could relate to any kind of reality, he questioned whether there could be any reality at all, outside of what was purported to be such by the new communication technologies. Meaning was not anchored in any substantive reality, everything was but a play of surfaces, and shifting ones at that because there was no stabilising depth.

Churchill and his cigar or Wilson and his pipe were certainly images that were exploited, but both operated in a largely black and white era before multi-channel, satellite broadcasting. While in appearance he had been given the mandate to represent the socialist movement, in reality the accretion of symbolic power by him suggested that the movement would not exist were it not incarnated by him. All the brashness, hyperactivity and disregard for tradition seemed to be exercised by Thatcher and her camp.

Even when it came to the eternally vexed question of reform of the trade unions, there was little in terms of clear ambition and certainly much less than her predecessor Ted Heath had spelt out when he led the Conservatives into the general election. Instrumental in that change were the two successive Chancellors of the Exchequer, Geoffrey Howe and Dominic Lawson, the first of whom was to shift the focus of public finance from direct to indirect taxation, while the latter set in motion the policy of privatisation.

Having attacked what she regarded as the inherently spendthrift nature of state enterprise, Thatcher turned to the aspects of civil society that had long been regarded as underperforming.

The British National Health Service – A Review of the Historiography

But paradoxically, instead of reducing the weight of what, in Conservative ideology, would have been called the dead hand of the state and, in Hayekian terms, enhancing the operation of autonomous spheres, she oversaw the creation of a plethora of para-governmental bodies. By , there were approximately 12, laymen and women running London on an appointed basis, as opposed to just 1, elected borough councillors, 29 in what amounted to an extraordinary shift from representative to patronage government.

Politically, she was driven by the determination not to see her country slip back into the state where, as Wilson had despairingly observed, its very governability was in question. His current research is increasingly focused on the comparative study of society and politics in France and Britain. Paris, Gallimard, B ourdieu Pierre, Language and Symbolic Power , trans. Thompson John Cambridge, Polity, []. Not for Turning London, Allen Lane, S andbrook Dominic, Seasons in the Sun. Paris, All translations from the French are by the author of the article.

Thompson John Cambridge, [] , p The Battle for Britain, London, A Revolution in Three Acts London, A Revolution in Three Acts London, , p Not for Turning London, Main journal in British area studies published in France. It covers all social sciences, including history and the Empire. French Journal of British Studies.

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Contents - Previous document. Crises in Political Discourse. Gino Raymond. Outline Introduction. The shifting certainties of the right. The shifting certainties of the left. Full text PDF Send by e-mail. Thompson J