Vite Alors! Are the French Getting Faster?

Friday, August 10, 2007

In the action-oriented government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, has the old French habit of over-thinking become passé? Newsweek Paris bureau chief Christopher Dickey and France-Amérique editor Pascale Richard weigh in on the debate.


Christopher Dickey and Pascale Richard

Comments [18]

Tenzin chakdor from Manhattan

News on Tibet! Monks in Lhasa are demonstrating as we speak!! They are braving bullets to come out on streets to say what they want.. armed only with courage and resolve..Few brave to call us to report whats going on... My friends took call and today we are demonstrating in front of Chinese consulate @ 42 and west side high way to show our solidarity.. Please help spread this word to sympathetic and just nyorkers.. Thanks..

Mar. 14 2008 10:56 AM

No intellectuals in public life in America?
What about all those think tank "scholars"? Are they shunned? Right...

Aug. 13 2007 05:36 AM
Xavier from Brooklyn, NY

I found the segment appalling - hearing the editor of the international publication of France's ultra-conservative Le Figaro turn a funnily broad cultural question into an apology of the newly elected president was hard enough; having her explain that the French are _thinking_ too much about him vacationing with the media mogul who, after a few months of alleged collusive manoeuvers, memoed the publications he owns to keep quiet on the fact that President Sarkozi's wife didn't bother to vote, was irritating. Now, having Marty Goldensohn scoff at the 35-hour work-week, while all reports and statistics showed its implementation boosted employment and productivity in a majority of sectors (INSEE, 2001-2003), and hearing all laugh, that was tough on the ears.
But I guess moderating or researching a better segment would have been overthinking.

Aug. 12 2007 05:16 PM
Nancy from NYC

Hmm, a discussion with an American and a French conservative (France Amerique is a branch of Le Figaro). A tad unbalanced, n'est-ce pas? I guess no left-leaning commentators were available. Probably too busy thinking.

Aug. 10 2007 06:52 PM
Sebastian Polanco from Newark, NJ

About the Americanization of France:
Isn't it just a trick of those in favor of full blown market economy to blame the low growth of the economy on the working class? The old diagnostic of " it is so bad because you are so lazy" is an excuse. Besides it is just another tool to clog life with just labor so that just a few can afford intellectual (political by the way) activity so that in the end a few run the game (think of the wars on since BushII). Now, part of the American culture is the very evident pride with which ignorance is displayed and how appreciated it is (do you think no one in Washington knows the difference between NEW-KEEW-LAR and NUCLEAR?). The French are more like Mickey Mouse while Americans are more Homer Simpson.

Aug. 10 2007 11:47 AM
tal from brooklyn

...thank god for the comments page, i was wincing during the segment- as a public school teacher, the lack of "thinking" that is being encouraged by governements is sickening...materialistic, unquestioning lemmings are easier to control and make money off of. what a sad story.

Aug. 10 2007 11:42 AM
Maughn from West Orange, NJ

The French have been less than enthusiastic to join the world movement of of engaging young children in philosophical dialogue, which began a little over 30 years ago at Montclair State University, perhaps because "Philosophy for Children" presents philosophical questions with the primary objective of helping children (and adults) to become more aware of the aesthetic, ethical, political and other philosophical dimensions of their own experience, and, through a process of dialogical inquiry, to reach sound aesthetic, ethical, and political judgments that might ameliorate that experience. This priority of meaningfulness to intellectual prowess and academic achievement—and seeing the latter two as means to the former--is quite different from both college and high school philosophy, in France and elsewhere.

Maughn Gregory, Director
Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children, Montclair State University (

Aug. 10 2007 11:41 AM
Daniel Falgerho from Maqnhattan

Sarkozy represents the same class who encouraged immigrants to comee to France to supply cheap labor and now ignore those immigants and their children, leave them stuck in dreary housing projects in the suburbs, deny them access to a bettre life and leave them exposed to abuse by a VERY brutal and contemptuous police force.
Sort of a French Bush, just a little les stupid and lower on the megalomania scale. Still, the prospects don't look good.
And please spare vus the Edith Piaf songs, she grossly over-rated

Aug. 10 2007 11:35 AM
Gene Borio from NYC

19th Century French writers were very socially conscious, and conscious of the impact of financial inequalities.

Wasn't it Balzac who wrote, in Pere Goriot, "Behind every great fortune there lies a great crime."

Aug. 10 2007 11:32 AM
Peter from Washington Heights, NYC

By reducing all discussions of value to market valuations, the corporate world is structuring everything according to its own motivations. People's motivations are much more complex. The French have been a holdout for the human as opposed to the corporate view of life itself.

Aug. 10 2007 11:30 AM
Nick Lento from NJ

This is insane.

France wants to be more like Bush's America?

Greedy, materialistic, superficial, bigoted, selfish, ignorant etc etc.

Is France perfect? Hell no...but it is WE who need to be learning from them far more than the reverse.

Aug. 10 2007 11:29 AM
Lara from union square

We have a poetry series on the placards in the subway—–but then again maybe NY isn’t exactly America.

Aug. 10 2007 11:23 AM
Andy from brooklyn

Shouldn't the current credit crunch, in which the American logic of lending money to people who can't pay it back in order to raise investment for large financial institutions has inevitably hit the fan, serve as a wake-up call that perhaps EVERYONE, especially Americans should be thinking MORE?

Wouldn't it be nice if France, instead of looking over their shoulder to see what America's doing, instead emphasised their intellectual independence and come up with something more beneficial to their population?

And why is it so difficult for them to figure out cultural integration?

Aug. 10 2007 11:23 AM
Robert from NYC


Aug. 10 2007 11:21 AM
a from NYC

Boy...this seems like a real unbalanced piece. Yeah gee, everyone should be like Americans. How DARE the French value things like intellectualism, more time for leisure and family and the things that make life worth living...they should just have more work time and be stressed out and eat junk and become fat like Americans. How dare they think differently! America no.1! America no.1!

Ok, I gotta go and eat some Freedom Fries now!

Aug. 10 2007 11:19 AM
Graham from Paris

Hi Marty,

It's now 17H10 and, though most of the office is on vacation, and most leave at 16H00 on Fridays, I'm still at work so that I can finish the days tasks and guess what? That really isn't so terribly unusual. LOTS of people do NOT adhere strictly to the 35h work week. In addition, the french--as has just been mentioned, are quite productive.

My opinion: the french are right to "think", Americans ought to do it more. And, as a resident here and an American observer, I don't agree that they need Sarkozy's work "ethic", his supposed emphasis on "working more to earn more." What he's really proposing is "work more for the same or less."

"Non, merci!"

Aug. 10 2007 11:15 AM
Rebecca from New Haven, CT

Thank God for France! If we didn't have them as a role model, we might have already devolved into pure mechanical money-making robots. As it is we are a country known world-wide for not thinking enough - most foreigners, for example, know far more American History than most Americans. Let's not cheer on the countries that are being dragged down in our wake, please!

Aug. 10 2007 11:13 AM
Michael Winslow from Inwood

We should be more like the French shorter work weeks and more vacation.

Our productivity is far less than theirs and yet we "work" longer. Makes no sense.

There should be a law 5 weeks mandatory vacation here in the US.

Maybe I should move.

Aug. 10 2007 11:11 AM

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