Monday, 7 May 2012

Socialism : a four letter word

Socialism play /ˈsʃəlɪzəm/ is an economic system characterised by social ownership and/or social control of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy,[1] and a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following:cooperative enterprises, common ownership, direct public ownership or autonomous state enterprises.[2]

Wikipedia goes on to say that socialism promotes social equality, individuality and solidarity of the people.

Last night, France elected a socialist president. And, even though politics are one of those things you're not supposed to discuss (along with religion), I am happy. In fact, I voted for François Hollande. Twice. Once on my own vote and once for a friend who was out of the country.

Suzanne was happy to be able to tag along with me twice, choose the right paper, slip it into the enveloped and keep my voting secret to herself until I told her she could tell her father.

There are a couple things I want to say about French politics. It starts 5 years ago when I was talking to a friend's husband who is a big shot political science professor at a big time university in NY. He told me that Sarkozy's politics didn't seem so bad. At the time, I didn't know what to say because, well, my friend is a liberal like me and so is her husband.

After having a few years to reflect and after having voted in 2 different presidentail elections in France, I can finally say this with certaintly. The French center is further left that the American center because of the nature of the political system. There are certain inalienable rights in France, such as universal health care, centralized government and affordable health care, which fall under the far left politics in the US.

I am very aware of the advantages that I gain by living in France as opposed to the US. I have affordable health care for my whole family, I get so much paid leave every year that I actually have a holiday savings account where my extra days go every year so I can use them whenever I want, and I got a masters degree in France without going into debt (hey, the entire year cost a couple weeks' salary). This is France. It's not socialist.

French socialism is not Marxism, it's far from Communism and it's definitely not Obama-ism. Obama is neither socialist nor communist. And on the French political scale, he's actually right wing. Gasp!

There were many points that made me not vote for Sarko. But there is a single point that made me anti-Sarko. As a foreigner in France, I have felt firsthand the effects of his xenophobic anti-immigrant policies. Just after I got married, my husband and I had to stand in line at 1am in order to get my residence permit. See, if we arrived after 1am, we wouldn't get a ticket to meet with an administrator when they opened the door to the cité administrative at 8:30 am the next morning. As an American married to a French national, I was subjective to a retroactive law which did not allow me to obtain my French nationality in spite of the law that was in effect when we got married.

So, yes, I am happy that France has a socialist president. And I'm looking forward to having a "socialist" president in the US too.


Perogyo said...

Oh what a heady feeling when your candidate wins! As a socialist from the most right-wing place in Canada, however, I wouldn't know!

Congratulations though.

My feelings on both Canadian and Japanese politics have changed due to being a foreigner here. I am ashamed I didn't know more about issues facing foreign residents in Canada when I lived there.

Reb said...

My parents always said you had to choose the lesser of the two evils. I get the feeling it's the case in most elections...

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