Advertisement

Anti-Americanism and Americanophobia: A French Perspective

  • Denis Lacorne
Part of the The CERI Series in International Relations and Political Economy book series (CERI)

Abstract

French anti-Americanism has never been as much the focus of debate as it is today. This is true both in France, where a crop of books has appeared on the subject, and in the United States, for reasons linked to the French refusal to support the American invasion of Iraq. Some authors have underlined the unchanging nature of the phenomenon, defining anti-Americanism as a historical “constant” since the eighteenth century, or again as an endlessly repetitive “semantic block” to use Philippe Roger’s expression. Others, like Jean-François Revel, have tried to show what lies hidden behind such a fashionable ideology: a deep-rooted critique of economic liberalism and American democracy. Yet others, while rejecting the anti-American label, like Emmanuel Todd, have attempted to lift the veil and lay bare the weaknesses of American democracy and the extreme economic fragility of an American empire “in decline,” despite appearances.1

Keywords

Death Penalty Bush Administration Economic Liberalism American Democracy Brussels Convention 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Philippe Roger, L’ennemi américain. Généalogie de l’antiaméricanisme français (Paris: Seuil, 2002);Google Scholar
  2. Jean-François Revel, l’obsession anti-américaine (Paris: Plon, 2002);Google Scholar
  3. Emmanuel Todd, Après l’empire. Essai sur la décomposition du système américain (Paris: Gallimard, 2002). For a discussion of these works, see chapter 1 by Tony Judt in this volume.Google Scholar
  4. 2.
    Denis Lacorne and Jacques Rupnik, “France bewitched by America,” in The Rise and Fall of Anti-Americanism. A Century of French Perception, edited by D. Lacorne, Jacques Rupnik, and Marie-France Toinet (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1990), p. 2 (trans. from the original French by Gerald Turner, L’Amérique dans les têtes. Un siècle de fascinations et d’aversions [Paris: Hachette, 1986]).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 15.
    Robert Aron and Arnaud Dandieu, Décadence de la nation française (Paris: Editions Rieder, 1931), pp. 107–108.Google Scholar
  6. 17.
    See José Bové and François Dufour, The World is not for Sale. Farmers against Junk Food (London: Verso, 2001)Google Scholar
  7. and Jean-Marie Messier, J6M.com. Faut-il avoir peur de la nouvelle économie? (Paris: Hachette, 2000).Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    According to an IPSOS poll for Figaro Magazine of May 26, 2000, well analyzed in Philip Gordon and Sophie Meunier, Le Nouveau défi français. La France face à la mondialisation (Paris: Odile Jacob, 2002), pp. 143, 154 (trans. from id., The French Challenge. Adapting to Globalization [Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2001]). According to the same poll, 35% of the French believe that “globalization is not a good thing for France” and 46% consider that it is not beneficial to workers (against 36% contrary opinions). Furthermore, 51% of the French questioned by the CSA on June 30, 2000 declared themselves favorable to José Bové’s views on globalization (p. 143).Google Scholar
  9. 24.
    For widely differing analyses of the “multiculturalist danger,” see the writings of Jean-Claude Barreau, Paul Yonnet, Alain Peyrefitte, etc., all analyzed in depth in D. Lacorne, La crise de l’identité américaine. Du melting-pot au multiculturalisme [The American Identity Crisis. From Melting Pot to Multiculturalism], 2nd revised edition (Paris: Gallimard, coll. Tel, 2003), pp. 31–36.Google Scholar
  10. 31.
    Linda Colley, Britons. Forging the Nation, 1707–1837 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992). See also Denis Lacorne, “Les dessous de la francophobie,” Le Nouvel Observateur, February 27, 2003 (interview).Google Scholar
  11. 37.
    Cornelius de Pauw, Recherches philosophiques sur les Américains, in Œuvres Philosophiques de Pauw (original edition: 1768) (Paris: Jean François Bastien, an III de la République, 1792), vol. 1, p. 2.Google Scholar
  12. 41.
    See James W. Ceaser, Reconstructing America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 19–65 andGoogle Scholar
  13. D. Lacorne, “L’écartèlement de ‘l’homme atlantique’,” in L’Amérique des Français, edited by Christine Fauré and Tom Bishop (Paris: François Bourin, 1992), pp. 169–175.Google Scholar
  14. 42.
    Roger Vailland, La Tribune des Nations, March 14, 1956, quoted in L’Amérique dans les têtes, op. cit., p. 29.Google Scholar
  15. 45.
    Robert Aron and Arnaud Dandieu, Décadence de la nation française (Paris: Rieder, 1931), pp. 107–108.Google Scholar
  16. 48.
    The expression is borrowed from François Furet, Le passé d’une illusion (Paris: Livre de Poche, 1998), p. 504.Google Scholar
  17. 50.
    Mounier, Revue de culture générale, October 1930, pp. 14–21,Google Scholar
  18. quoted in Jean-Louis Loubet del Bayle, Les non-conformistes des années trente (Paris: Seuil, 1969), p. 258. On Mounier and America, see especially Seth Armus, “The eternal enemy: Emmanuel Mounier’s Esprit and French anti-Americanism,” French Historical Studies, no. 2 (spring 2001), pp. 271–303.Google Scholar
  19. 52.
    The influence of Heidegger on the editors of Ordre nouveau is well documented by J-L Loubet del Bayle, ibid., p. 90. Another probable source of inspiration is the essay by Gina Lombroso, La rançon du machinisme (Fr. trans.) (Paris: Payot, 1931).Google Scholar
  20. 53.
    Martin Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics [1935] (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974), p. 45. (Based on a lecture delivered in 1935 at the University of Freiburg. “I have made no change in the content,” explained Heidegger in his Preface to the 1953 German edition.)Google Scholar
  21. 55.
    Alain de Benoist, quoted in D. Lacorne et al., L’Amérique dans les têtes, op. cit., p. 33. Curiously, the same argument was defended by more moderate politicians, strongly inspired by the Gaullist political tradition, such as Michel Jobert, Jacques Thibau, or Jean-Marie Benoist. Other major intellectuals like Maurice Merleau Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre, or Etienne Gilson defended comparable viewpoints at the end of the 1940s. See Tony Judt, Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944–1956 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Tony Judt and Denis Lacorne 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denis Lacorne

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations