Sunday, April 3, 2011

Waiting for Sarko

"Nothing to be done."
- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot.

The French president Nicolas Sarkozy is backed up by a political party named UMP: Union pour un mouvement populaire. At the present moment, there is indeed movement in this right-wing political union, which might be termed popular in the etymological sense: "from the people". But it's electoral movement in a downwards direction.

Next week, this party will be conducting a momentous debate on a subject that is so absurdly esoteric (like the much-disputed Byzantine question of the sex of angels) that I'm not even sure how to say it in English. In French, the theme to be debated this week is laïcité, which has the same linguistic roots as our English term "layperson", designating an individual who's not a member of the clergy. So, laïcité might be translated as "religious neutrality". In other words, the spirit of the laïcité concept, in the English-speaking world no less than in France, is that citizens should be allowed to believe whatever they feel like believing in the domains of religion, faith, belief or… atheism. In other words, it's a theme that has been integrated for ages into our various constitutions.

So, why the fucking hell is Sarko's political party organizing a ridiculous debate on this issue? There is no obvious answer to that question… apart from the fact that Sarko's disciples are all in a state of frenzy, because recent regional elections, along with voting-intention polls, indicate that these UMP guys are moving rapidly, in the wake of their tribal chief, towards a hole in the ground labeled EXIT.

I predict that France will wake up in a perplexed state, one of these mornings, and ask: What on earth made us choose that crazy guy, once upon a time, as president of our République? And, through that obvious autocritique, wise France will have become wiser still. I'm an optimist!

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