Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 20. Battles For and Against Americanization

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Professor John Merriman: I don't know if you've been

following the events in France in the last couple of days.

By the way, you could, those of you who know French,

you can get TFN and France 2--I prefer the latter--on your

computers, if you want to follow it.

Just go to google.affaires, or just go to Google and type

in France 2, or type in TFN, and you can get the news from

one o'clock, that is treize heures, or from vingt

heures, from eight o'clock at night.

And my other two universities, Rouen and Lyon II are

completely shut down, and Rennes,

and Tours, and Toulouse, because this is a law that

was--it's going to come into effect called the Loi

Pécresse, after the person who proposed

it. And what it's going to do is

it's going to, among other things,

it's going to make the budgets of each university kind of

independent, and it's an attempt to--this is

a logical transition into our topic today--to Americanize

French universities so that in a way the result,

which the students don't like, is you'll have--you already

have sort of a gap between the really good universities like

Paris I or Lyon II, and the ones that just sort of

struggle along, many of the new ones,

like the Pas-de-Calais, that a friend of mine actually

set up when he was in the ministry, and the little ones

like Chambéry and Besançon and all the

others. And because of the conditions

that are so difficult in French universities,

which are woefully understaffed,

and the ones that were built in the early '60s and early '70s,

like the infamous Villetaneuse, which is where I've given a

talk once, which was Paris--I think it's Paris XIV,

and the conditions are just very, very dreadful.

So, there's been a lot of opposition there.

And now that Sarkozy is President, that the

police--these interventions musclées,

or kind of really brutal interventions by the CRS

yesterday, and a couple of people hurt at Nanterre,

where 1968 began, and in Rennes I think--no in

Tours, rather. So, as a matter of fact when I

was teaching in Rouen--I do a course, I've done it the last

couple of Mays, a course that's a couple of

weeks there, and the first day I was doing it-- I'd just only met

my students and we went to a demonstration against Sarkozy,

in front of the Palace of Justice, and we were outnumbered

by the CRS. And they took photos of all us.

And I think that one of the things that's going to happen in

the future is that this is going to be a very tense time,

I think. Now, the big strikes in Paris

now, of course which, comme d'habitude,

like all the time, have taken out the trains

about, oh, one out of--about fifteen percent of the trains

are running and the whole line, if you know Paris,

the whole metro, the RER, the whole line B,

line B, which goes from Saint-Rêmy-les-Chevreuse

all the way to Roissy, to the airport,

is completely shut down, and the buses are running at

about ten percent. And, so, it's just chaos.

I remember when everybody was on strike when I was teaching at

Lyon. I'd take--the trains weren't on

strike but the buses were and I'd take the train up to Lyon,

from where we live or from near where we live,

and I'd have to walk to Bron, which is where Lyon II is,

and that's about five miles or six miles, and I mean it's not a

long run or a long walk. But people are very

inconvenienced. And the other thing that's

going on, and the reason that the railroads are out,

has nothing to do with the Pécresse Law,

it has to do with the fact that Sarkozy's attempt to Americanize

France involves sort of withdrawing rights that certain

categories of workers received. And there's a lot of anger now

in Paris, well in other cities too, against the strikes.

And most people in France do not approve of the strikes;

sometimes they do, sometimes they don't.

I'll give you an example, people that work on the metro,

who are underground, the drivers of the metro,

they're underground all the time.

Imagine working eight hours a day and you're underground the

whole time--they have the right, in principle--is it fifty,

does anyone remember if it's fifty--do you remember if it's

fifty or fifty-five for les chauffeurs de métro?

Fifty-five. But there's some of the TGV

drivers--and that's a big, high stress occupation;

it's not like driving a plane but--you don't drive a plane,

I don't know, you pilot a plane--but they

have the right to retire at fifty.

Now, that seems awfully young, and Sarkozy in his campaign

against the ill-fated campaign of Ségolène Royal,

said that he "wanted to make the French work again."

He also said a lot of other provocative things,

and for a son of immigrants, a fils des

immigrés, who seems to hate immigrants,

very provocative things. But, anyway,

he's going to carry these policies until the very end,

and so this is going to happen quite a lot.

I've got a sountenance de thèse,

a thesis defense at Lyon, a jury I have to participate

in, in December,

and I'm kind of wondering whether this is going to take

place. But you can follow this through

the newspapers and through--the other thing,

if you read French and want--well, you can follow it

through the New York Times online or anything,

but you can also get libération.affaires,

so you can read Libé every day or you can read

Le Monde or whatever, if you want to keep up on this.

I'm going to be, this afternoon,

calling my student pals in Rouen and finding out what's

going on with them. One of them,

who's always in every demonstration,

he's always there, and so last time he went out to

a demonstration and all these police--and they know him

because he's in all the demonstrations,

and this one policeman said to him, he's got this huge stick

and he says to the student, this little teeny guy,

and he has this stick and he says, "I'm reserving this for

you Sven," and all of this.

And they have a memory too. But, anyway,

so ça bouge en France maintenant.

Well, I want to talk--that is, I think, a logical thing to

talk about, because I'm going to talk about anti-Americanism in

France. And it's hard to do,

to talk about anti-Americanism from 1945 until now in a mere

fifty minutes. And let me say at the outset

that having spent half my life or half the last thirty years of

my life in France--more than that,

actually--I've never once encountered anti-Americanism,

which ça n'a rien à voir avec,

it doesn't matter. But what I am saying is that

the anti-Americanism in France has always been against the

United States policies and, particularly in the earlier

days, the United States' sort of cultural imperialism,

but has had nothing to do with anti-Americanism against

American people. I've been introduced in a book,

in which I contributed some sort of random musings about

living in Ardèche, as a political refugee in

France, at various times, and people joke about that.

So, I'm differentiating anti-Americanism,

like people they don't like Americans, with anti-U.S.

policies and an anti-, what was considered by many

people, particularly intellectuals,

sort of a cultural arrogance, that risked making France less

than what it had always been. And, so, let me talk a little

bit about that. And here I'm drawing heavily at

the first part of the lecture on my friend Dick Kuisel's book on

anti-Americanism in the early stages;

but it's an interesting story and it's one that's worth

telling. Now, when I teach in Rouen I go

often to this café that's near the railroad

station there, and it's a café

where Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, who are well-known to

almost everybody, used to go all the time,

and it's kind of fun to be in a café where you imagine

that they were. And they were a good example of

kind of the intellectual anti-Americanism that emerged

after World War Two. Now, why did this kind of

philosophical and intellectual anti-Americanism emerge?

You have to put it in the context of the ideological

controversies that emerged out of World War One;

and by that I mean from 1945 well into the mid-1950s.

There were dock strikes against the arrival of U.S.

military equipment. Remember, the Americans had

huge, huge bases in France until the time of de Gaulle.

If you go to the town of Châteauroux--which isn't a

very interesting town and the only great restaurant in it left

and moved to Tours--you'd go by these just abandoned airfields

that used to just be full of American military,

air force equipment, and officers.

And, so, you see a lot of these signs.

There were angry outbursts even against the Marshall Plan.

The Marshall Plan, as you know from other courses,

brought American aid in great quantities to Western Europe,

and one of the reasons was to keep Western Europe out of

Soviet influence. And this drew predictable

attacks from the Parti Communiste, from the Communist

Party, because of the obvious

ideological division that was the Cold War.

So, and it also was the time when the Rosenbergs,

in this country, were executed for allegedly

passing nuclear secrets to Soviet agents;

and these kinds of executions, as had been the execution of

Sacco and Vanzetti, who were anarchists who were

executed in 1927, these have, with the mass

press, although way before Internet,

great ramifications. But the French economy grows so

rapidly over the next thirty years, thirty glorious years,

and part of the rise of consumerism and the consumer

culture--in France it was backed by the arrival of such novelties

as refrigerators and things like that--was very much identified

with U.S. culture and was debated,

particularly by intellectuals, rather heatedly.

There were pro-American intellectuals who made the case

in the very beginning that the American path was the way to go.

The most famous was probably Raymond Aron,

a-r-o-n, but there were others like François

Mauriac--and I can't remember if Chip in his book mentions--yes,

I'm sure he does. But the Communist intellectuals

were adamantly against all things that were American,

and of course they were very much over the top.

Dick Kuisel quotes the famous Communist poet,

Louis Aragon, describing the U.S.

as, quote, "a civilization of bathtubs and

frigidaires," in 1951, as if this was a very bad

thing; and he did not mean it,

as Kuisel says, as a compliment.

It was the Parti Communiste, the Communist Party,

that coined phrases like the "Coca-Colanization of

France." And the arrival of Coca Cola in

France of course was a terribly important moment--more about

that in a minute. At the time of the NATO pact,

the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,

in 1949, these kinds of debates hit a

boiling point, and in an age of graffiti,

the graffiti, "Yankee Go Home," was a bit

everywhere. Now, the U.S.

nuclear capacity, which was of course very soon

matched by the Soviet nuclear capacity, seemed to raise the

cry against the Americans. There was a SACM conference in

1950 against nuclear power. And France is a country that

almost leads the world in the percentage of its energy that is

drawn from these nuclear plants, of which several are not all

that far from us, and there's a big sort of

anti-nuclear reaction now that's mostly through ecologists and

the Greens and folks like that. But in the beginning,

because the Americans are the ones who had used the nuclear

bomb--other people have never used a nuclear bomb,

never sensed it, have used the nuclear bomb.

We live in a world in which Israel has a nuclear bomb,

in which Pakistan has a nuclear bomb,

in which India has a nuclear bomb, as well as France and

Britain, and China as well, I do believe.

So, therefore all of this is still very scary.

But in the origins this anti-Americanism was increased

by the fear that the Americans and their Cold War against the

Soviet Union would turn--that the damage would not be done in

Mississippi or in Minnesota but would be done in Europe.

And, so, intellectuals also accused the Americans of

ignoring European culture. Remember the infamous Donald

Rumsfeld referred scathingly to "old Europe," at a time when the

Americans were invading Iraq, as if old Europe with its

quaint streets, and old churches,

and long cultures were something not worth remembering.

But, again, the critics of American culture were over the

top. L'Humanité,

the Communist newspaper, and still today,

said that one could starve even if one owned a telephone;

and the telephone, where you can't even find a

fixed phone anymore--I can't telephone,

I can't even call on a phone when I go back to University of

Michigan because there is literally only one fixed phone

left on the campus, and I don't have a cell phone

because I don't like cell phones, I can't stand them.

I agree with those people who said that they had great faith

in humanity until the cell phone;

and plus my daughter's lost three of them already.

But the French Minister of Communications,

in 1964--this is the French Minister of Communications,

in 1964, avant vous, before you existed,

but not before I existed--he called the telephone a gimmick,

in 1964. But it wasn't the telephone

that drew heat it was above all--well the refrigerators,

you couldn't tell the average housewife living wherever,

in the Morbihan or someplace, in Brittany or wherever,

that the refrigerator wasn't a good deal.

But, yet, for the Communist Party a frigo,

a refrigerator, a Frigidaire which is a

model--I don't know if it still is--was only good for making

ice-cubes for fancy aperitifs where you would drink American

or Scottish--American bourbon or Scotch whiskey.

So, they--Aragon, this again is the Communist

poet--wrote, "a Ford automobile, the civilization of Detroit,

the assembly line, the atomic danger,

encircled by napalm"--now, he said this early on.

Remember, it's the Americans who used napalm in Vietnam,

it was the Americans used napalm in Vietnam.

"Here is the symbol of the subjugation to the dollar,

applauded even in the land of Molière,

the Yankee more arrogant than the Nazi holocaust"--this is

absurd--"substitutes the machine for the poet,

Coca Cola for poetry, the Ford for Victor Hugo."

It degenerated to that extent. A great sociologist called

Edgar Morin, who has a brilliant book on a--it's called The

Red and the White, about a Breton village--he

called Readers Digest "a pocketsize stupifier,

a drug for little minds," and he attacked, was one of the

earliest to attack Franglais--and more about that

in awhile--that is, the absorption of American

terms into the French language; toothpaste, for example,

instead of dentifrice, flooding the French language.

But, again, you have to put this in the context of the

times, and that's what I guess what historians try to do.

Sixty percent of the people in the Communist Party thought the

U.S. was readying an aggressive war,

and almost ninety-five percent of people in the Communist Party

were against the presence of U.S.

bases in France. Now, remember,

the guy who got rid of the U.S. bases in France was Charles de

Gaulle, who was anything but a communist, who was completely

opposite of a communist, but his view,

as we'll see, was that France had to maintain

its status as a great power, had to have a neutral path and

influence in places where French was spoken,

particularly in West and North Africa, and in the Middle East

in parts, in Lebanon, and things like that.

So, there were some intellectuals who tried to find

a third way, who weren't kind of parroting the Communist Party,

or were going to kowtow the way Sarkozy is to America.

And Le Monde, for example,

which is without question the most reputable newspaper in

France, though Libé is

quite good too, et c'est plutôt

à mon goût, but it took a more neutral

position in all of this, because there were many people

in France who weren't Communists that thought that the Marshall

Plan was a way of buying off Europe.

And I wasn't--I was vaguely around in those days,

but the fear was, after World War One there was

the thought that nobody would ever want another war;

after World War Two, and after the atomic bomb,

and after the horrors of all that had happened,

and the Holocaust, people were quite certain that

there would be another war. So, it was a time of great

fear, and so these were big issues.

In 1952, at the time of the visit of U.S.

General Matthew Ridgeway to take control of NATO forces,

there were huge demonstrations against the United States.

He was called a butcher in the Korean War, which certainly

wasn't true; he was called a war criminal

and that wasn't true either. But this came at a time when it

was the government of a guy, who just died only a couple of

years ago, lived to be about

130-years-old, called Antoine Pinay,

who was from Saint-Chamond, near Sainttienne,

if I remember correctly, and he had been accused of

collaboration during the war, and he was in power.

And he tried to ludicrously enough break the influence of

the Parti Communiste. And one of their leaders--I

didn't know about this incident till I read Kuisel--one of the

incidents was he accused Jacques Duclos,

a name you can forget, but he was an interesting guy

who was leader of the Communist Party,

of being a spy for the Soviets, and his proof was that they'd

found two dead pigeons in the backseat of his car,

and an autopsy on the birds, that he thought they were

carrier pigeons that were smuggling,

going to send secrets off to some Soviet spies,

somewhere out of the country. And of course they did an

autopsy on these birds and they discovered--I don't know how you

do this, do an autopsy; I didn't want to be in the

room--but they were not carrier pigeons but they were

pigeons--people in France eat pigeons,

pigeonneau, and that they simply--he had

them in his backseat because he was going to take home and cook

them, hopefully with lots of garlic,

and to eat them. And Jean-Paul Sartre,

he said it at the same time, that if he had to choose sides

in the Cold War, he would choose the USSR.

Now Sartre, like lots of fellow travelers, were delusional about

what had happened in Stalin's Soviet Union,

and his partner, Simone de Beauvoir,

who's terribly important in the rise of feminism,

as I'm sure you know, she came to the U.S.

in 1947--she had been in 1947--and she liked the sort of

dynamism of the American economy,

and she liked its freedom, but she was immediately

suspicious of racism in the United States,

in the 1940s and the 1950s, as indeed in our own time,

sadly, though not as much, was a time of racism;

and she said so, she came right out and said,

and that became a part of the anti-American discourse.

Because when the Americans would get holier than thou about

how people in Europe treated their minorities,

all you had to look to the United States,

where I can think back to my own childhood when the three

freedom workers were so brutally murdered in Mississippi;

and they would point to that. Now, what about the role of

Coca-Cola in all of this? I imagine you may have seen

Coca-Cola a few times in your lives.

It became--it still is so identified with America,

and it probably is, I think it's fair to say,

the single item that is most identified in the rest of the

world with the United States; that you couldn't talk to

people in France or anywhere else about baseball and you

could not talk to them about hotdogs,

although this strange thing emerged in the 1960s called

le hotdog, which are two sort of

miserably, almost frozen frankfurters with

some sort of god-awful cheese put on them, and put in what was

then the equivalent of a microwave;

but it was Coca Cola. And as you know the product was

created I think in the late 1880s.

It's very hard to get into the archive, though Kuisel managed

to do it, to get into the Coca-Cola archives;

afraid you might find that recipe.

And of course I think somebody told me that cocaine was put

originally into Coke, at the beginning of it all.

Let me give you some examples how Coke and American view of

itself and view of the world came to be.

"We will see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of

Coca-Cola for five cents wherever he is and whatever it

costs," was what Coca-Cola had to say

about the relationship between soldiers if they survived the

Bataan death march and whatever, and that was it.

Coca-Cola actually sent people as "technical observers," a

phrase they used, to see where bottling plants

could, after the fighting ended, be set up in Europe.

One U.S. soldier wrote a letter in which

he said, "to my mind I am in this damn mess as much to help

to keep the custom of drinking Cokes as I am to preserve the

million other benefits our country blesses its citizens

with." Sixty-four bottling plants were

set up in Europe after the war, immediately after the war,

within a couple of years. They expand to Belgium and

Luxembourg and the Netherlands in 1947, also to Switzerland and

Italy, and then to France in 1949.

The Olympics of 1950 were held in Finland, in Helsinki,

and there was not yet--had not yet been time to build a

Coca-Cola plant. So, what they did is they got a

hold of some D-Day landing vessels, filled them with

Coca-Cola, and the Coca-Cola Company

landed on the shores of Finland, literally, with all these

publicity material and with 720,000 bottles of Coca Cola.

Now, the chairman of--I didn't know this either until I read

Kuisel--the chairman of Coca-Cola was James Farley,

who was a former aide to Franklin Roosevelt and thus he

was very--had good contacts, and he was a militant

anti-Communist who identified the drinking of Coca-Cola with

democracy. The Soviets and in their

satellite states did not drink Coca-Cola but good old Americans

drank Coca-Cola. Now, you're going to run into

huge lobbies in these countries. In Belgium you're going to run

into the beer lobby, terribly important.

In the Pays-Bas, in the Netherlands,

you're going to run into the beer lobby,

and in France you will run head on into that lobby you already

know something about, the wine lobby,

which in a way is neither Left nor Right, but--it's neither

Left nor Right, it's a little more complicated

than that. And they tried to stir up

popular action against Coca-Cola.

A Communist paper in Italy said that drinking Coke would make

children's hair turn white and therefore you shouldn't do that.

In Austria The Communist,

the biggest communist newspaper in Vienna, wrote that Coca-Cola

plants, by virtue of the machines they

used, could be easily transformed into plants capable

of turning out nuclear bombs, and so that good Viennese and

good Austrians should avoid the "insidious, numbing drink."

Cokes had begun to arrive in France after World War One but

only in very small numbers and in extremely fancy cafés.

And, so, the Coca-Cola--Kuisel got into the archives to find

all this--Coca-Cola marketers divided France into six regions

and figured they should anticipate each person drinking

six Coca-Colas per year. The problem is that foreign

investments, such as building plants, required the permission

of the Ministry of Finance; and that all this anxiety comes

along. The Ministry of Finance gets

involved in all of this business, the debate reaches the

Chamber of Deputies in the 1950s;

and also this merges with other fears of other American

products. John Deere--some of you may be

from Illinois, isn't that where John Deere is

made, the tractors and all that--and

that is by far the biggest successful company in marketing

machinery that's been part of the French agricultural

revolution since World War Two; but of course the little

producers in France were against John Deere as well.

It also comes at a time, as you know,

of widespread outrage of intellectuals and filmmakers

against the Hollywoodization of French movie theaters,

and because France, its idea and attitudes towards

their own movies has always been that as its attitudes towards

almost all industrial production,

that France makes these fine little products of quality,

and the arrival of, God-forbid, the Charlton

Heston's of the world and John Wayne and all this stuff--so,

these debates are going on among intellectuals and film

watchers, et cetera. These debates just go on and on.

Radio stations in France now have to play a certain

percentage of French music, as opposed to Bruce

Springsteen, and the Stones, and whatever;

they have to have a certain percentage.

And, so, there is still this paranoia that English or French

music or other kinds of music coming will wipe out what's left

of the French music industry, and that people won't play

Jacques Brel anymore, or Georges Brassens,

or Léo Ferré, or Johnny Hallyday,

who anyway who was born Belgian and he has his own problems,

so it has nothing to do with it. But, yet, when there are these

debates it seemed like the ties between Coke and the U.S.

Government were even stronger. Coca-Cola demanded that the

U.S. State Department intervene in

some way to stop this kind of uprising against the arrival of

Coca-Cola. U.S. papers went wild.

"Coca-Cola was not injurious to the health of American soldiers

that liberated France from the Nazis,

so that Communist deputies could sit in session today," was

one editorial in a U.S. paper.

You can't spread the doctrines of Marx among people who drink

Coca-Cola. The dark principles of

revolution and a rising proletariat may be expounded

over a bottle of vodka on a scarred table,

such as in Morry's or some place like that,

or even a bottle of brandy, but it's utterly fantastic to

imagine two men stepping to a soda fountain and ordering a

couple of Cokes in which to toast the downfall of their

capitalist oppressors. And so it went.

But Coca-Cola arrived in France, it got permission to be

produced in France and to be drunk in France,

and still is, though often by American

tourists in France. I have been on several

occasions in really good, and in one case even great--and

this is not dissing Americans, forgive me--great restaurants

and seeing Americans ordering Coca-Cola with their four or

five-course meal. And that does make me sad.

Does it make me sound like a snob?

I've seen people drink milk, too, and things like that.

Anyway, what can I say? I shouldn't get so involved in

all this stuff. How did people like Coca-Cola?

A poll, a sondage--the French take to American polls,

do these polls all the time; sondage is the word for

a poll--in 1953 said that only seventeen percent of people who

drank it liked it, and sixty percent not at all,

and the other ones couldn't remember because they'd gone on

to something else, drinking something else I guess.

But the dykes began to break and millions of Cokes are sold

every year in France, as everywhere.

Now, this is just an aside but this is the same case as in

Africa; the debates have not been the

same but one of the interesting things, and I think sad things

about the places I know in Africa--which are very few,

but I have family members who know Africa pretty well--is that

the domination of Coke, particularly in places that are

Muslim, in which people don't drink alcoholic beverages,

the domination of Coke, and Fanta, which are very,

very expensive, for people who have almost no

money, and the Fanta sort of becomes

the equivalent of a celebration with champagne in France,

or the United States, or some places where people

drink. And, so, some of the same

issues, some of the same debates are there, and these companies

just make zillions off these drinks.

And I'm not criticizing these companies, am I?

I guess I don't know. But, anyway,

now let's talk about some of the other aspects of

anti-Americanism before I end in fifteen minutes or so with the

obvious ones, today.

Well, architecture, for example. Many of the debates about

preservation, about keeping Paris,

Poitiers, anywhere you want to name,

the beautiful center of Strasbourg, the way they have

always been, have involved fighting against the

skyscraperization, if you will,

the gratte-ciels, les gratte-ciels,

the skyscrapers in France. In the late 1960s there was a

huge debate over the Tour Montparnasse.

And the Tour Montparnasse is right on the--it's where the

Station of Montparnasse is in Paris, it's right beyond the

Boulevard Montparnasse there; was built with the enthusiastic

cooperation, if not money in the pockets, of George Pompidou,

the President of France, who said, "we must renounce

this outmoded aesthetic"--that's an exact quote.

And, so, the big battle over the Tour Montparnasse which

is--here I give my own view but, mon vue--it is a hideous

building that is a blight on the skyline of Paris.

And it's said the only thing good about it is you can't see

it when you're viewing Paris from the top;

and they have the elevator that shoots up to the top;

and it destroyed--well, anyway, what can one say,

it's an obvious thing. Now, people that defended the

Tour Montparnasse, which is identified with

Chicago and the skyscrapers, would say, "well,

look, well people criticized the Tour d'Eiffel,

the Eiffel Tower when it was built in 1888 and 1889";

and Zola was among those who signed saying this is awful,

it must go. And it is part of what people

go to see. Now, people do not go to see

the Tour Montparnasse because the Eiffel Tower represented

changes in industry and steel and iron and all this stuff,

and the Tour Montparnasse just represents kind of an American

approach to architecture that the traditionalists found

wanting. And, so, what they did

subsequently is they built La Défense,

which is outside of Paris but you can see it if you stand,

for example, in the Tuileries,

or around there; you can see it beyond the Arc

d'Triomphe--and that's where lots of business is,

that's the kind of Americanization of French

architecture and business. But generally the French have

been very good of trying to protect Paris from the planners

who would destroy the way the place looks with an Americanized

kind of architecture. There've been other problems

too. The constructions at Place

d'Italie and the Tour Montparnasse became only the

most famous. And appropriately enough,

these kinds of battles to protect Paris against this kind

of architecture have involved the far Right,

conservative Right; not the faisceaux,

the fascist Right, but the far Right,

like my late friend Louis Chevalier,

a very conservative man, who was the greatest historian

in Paris, or my friend François Laurier who's

now head of the committee to preserve old Paris--with people

on the Left, like sort of the French

equivalent to me, against the Center,

against the kind of planners who just want to

make money. But other aspects of

Americanization--the word pavilion in France--people

wanted to have their houses in the prosperous suburbs at best,

at Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse, for example,

most--or the suburbs, in the time we're talking

about, until 1945, are miserable

places, but that people in Saint-Germain en Laye in the

west of Paris or Versailles, you know what,

they wanted to have their pavilion which was a big kind of

modern Americanized house with all these things--cell phones,

refrigerators, all this business,

swimming pools and lawns. What could be more American

than lawns? Now, the vast majority of the

people who live in the Parisian region do not live in houses,

they live in apartments, and the vast majority live in

buildings that they do not own--or,

not the vast majority but the majority do.

But that became a big issue. The television,

the television--people thought that television would destroy

France. I used to say that when Charles

de Gaulle died, finally,

Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, he died of boredom watching

French TV; because French TV,

which has some of the best stuff around but also has some

of the worst, just talk shows that go on,

and on, and on, it's just numbing.

But also they took all these things that I've never watched

in my life, like Dallas, that used to be a big show and

all these things; I have no idea what they are.

But people--even our very dear friends, you go there and

they're watching this stuff. Well, TV's not just American,

but that whole kind of culture was identified with America,

and intellectuals didn't like that very much;

people should be reading books-- and they should be

reading books too, but who am I to say?

I watch ESPN hours every day and every game that's on,

so I can't really say I don't watch TV.

Clothing, it used to be--the first years and years that I was

living in France or went to France,

you could tell who was an American in about one second by

looking at their feet; I don't spend a lot of time

looking at people's feet but you could tell the way they looked

because they wore tennis shoes, and tennis shoes now are called

baskets. But now everybody wears them

the same way. And jeans the same thing,

because there weren't jeans in France;

now everybody wears jeans. I can still tell who's American

and who isn't, usually.

But the clothing that was identified with America was seen

as being somehow un-French. And of course there's the big

war between France high couture of French fashion and trying to

preserve, as Milan tries to also,

and they've been very successful at that.

But clothing was one thing as well.

Euro Disney, what can one say about Euro

Disney? Somebody called it a cultural

Chernobyl; Chernobyl was the big nuclear

plant that blew up in Kiev--and certainly the idea of Mickey

Mouse and Goofy and all these people.

And you go and you-- I've never been there, I would never walk

in the place; you spend cinquante

balles, you've spent, what, fifty euros to get in and

so your kids can get sick eating American cotton candy.

But, again, people go over the top.

Or McDonald's, ha ha. McDonald's, which started in

France really in the '80s. Burger King tried and failed.

Now, McDonald's is a big issue, and José

Bové, who came to Yale a couple of

years ago--José Bové is a guy who

now--who became identified with the struggle against McDonald's.

He actually lived two years in L.A., though he speaks

English--I wasn't here when he came,

my daughter was a translator for him, and introduced him and

all that. But he's the one who led the

struggle to try to first of all to preserve his part of the

Aveyron, Larzac, against making it a

strafing practice range for the French Air Force,

and has gone after McDonald's, as representing the

globalization that's going to hurt local commerce.

Now, McDonald's has tried to compromise in some ways,

and if you go get a McDonald's--and I won't go in

the place; well, I shouldn't say that

because we're recording this, but I haven't been in years in

France--but they have these little salads with a few pieces

of goat cheese in it, to go along with the two

million calorie burger, and all that.

But what José Bové did is that he and

his friends went up and broke up--didn't hurt anybody,

but they sort of trashed a McDonald's in Millau,

which is Aveyron, in the south,

right near this huge, huge bridge,

the biggest span bridge in Europe.

And of course he went on trial and he became a presidential

candidate, and I guess--my daughter said he was a great

guy. But McDonald's became an issue.

And I said, "well, maybe it won't work."

But McDonald's, because you can eat cheaply

there, because everything's so expensive in France,

so expensive, they're always just--well you

could drive by, there's one in Auvergnat,

there's one everywhere; they're always full of people

eating whatever it is they eat there.

So, it became a symbol more important than the reality,

McDo--McDo, comme on dit en français--became a

symbol of globalization, first of Americanization and

then of globalization. And then what comes along now

but Starbucks. There's three or four.

There's one in the Marais in Paris, there's one I saw

in--some are on Opéra, and there are a couple of other

ones there, and they soon will be everywhere.

And even hyper-marchés,

supermarkets; now, people don't just hate

supermarkets anymore, but they used to.

The big ones are Leclerc, and Auchan, and Mamouth and all

these--Leclerc is probably the biggest, I mean the upscale

version, after Marché. Now, I remember in the 1970s

that people thought that supermarkets were just terrible

things. Why?

Because they were going to, and did, destroy local

commerce, that most villages now do not have the little

épicerie, that grocery store,

that made it possible for old ladies just to walk the

equivalent of a few hundred meters to buy their milk,

and now they can't do that anymore.

Now, it's more than just the disappearance of a way of buying

food, it's the disappearance of a place where you get together

and exchange news in the morning.

Our grocery store disappeared about ten years ago,

or about eight years ago, because everybody goes to the

super-marché; hyper-marché,

super-marché, c'est la même chose.

Though the other thing that it could attack,

could interfere with, but has not as much as we

feared, were markets,

the Saturday market, the Wednesday market;

the Saturday and Wednesday market, depending on the size of

the town, that are all over France.

And in fact people still, even young people your age,

still have a sense that you've got to protect--you've got to

save the market and you've got to--the people that produce

there, that bring what they produce in

their fields there, buy goats cheese,

picodons, whatever, wine from producers

directly. And that's part of the

ambience, that's what's great about living in France,

or living in Germany, or living in Pays-Bas,

or living anywhere, in Belgium.

And, so, many people will go and buy the big things of milk

and the big items, paper towels and all that,

but then they will still go to the market, not just for a trip

of nostalgia but because the products,

they know they're buying from people they know and all that;

so that fear probably turned out to be less than one had

worried about. And then of course there's the

question of Franglais. Every about,

oh, maybe five, or six, or seven years,

somebody in one of the ministries gets it into his or

her head that Franglais has to disappear from the vocabulary,

the official vocabulary, the administrative vocabulary

of France. Franglais is the absorption

into daily parlance of words that are non-French,

of which--the first one that really took over,

at least in my memory, was le weekend.

And there were attempts, I think under Giscard

D'Estaing, and there's one even more recently under early stages

of Jacques Chirac's presidency, to send stern circulars around

saying in a correspondence you shall not use le weekend,

but you'd rather use la fin de la semaine,

the end of the week. Well, that lasted a matter of

days because that's simply not terribly practical.

English words began to permeate, with a sort of chic

sense of being cool, the French language--le

drugstore. I can remember around Paris

Saint-Germain, at the metro there,

en face, right across there was le

drugstore; and it was, it was a pharmacy

and it had your basic green flashing light saying it's a

pharmacy, but they also sold all sorts of things.

It was almost like anticipating a supermarket,

and the term was le drugstore.

It wasn't une pharmacie or la pharmacie,

it was le drugstore. And people debated that.

You could go on and on about this.

I'll just give you a couple of examples;

these are obvious ones, I just wrote them down because

they're obvious. Après les

sweaters; a sweater d'hiver;

voici les fully fashioned des beaux

jours; new, c'est smart,

s-m-a-r-t--vo ilà--votre

shopping club, le veritable wash and wear,

les drinks de gens raffinés,

the drink of people who are refined.

Now, this had already started to happen in the 1890s with

certain terms, as I suggested when I was

talking about Émile Henry,

that began to--the long drink, for example--that began to

infiltrate the French language. The hotdog became the chien

chaud, in these times of these various commands.

But basically with globalization and with the

American cultural dominance, these attempts are basically

just putting small fingers in very large dykes.

Why did it matter so much, all of this?

It's because France is no longer a great power,

and intellectuals and lots of other people in France,

including me, are determined that French

culture retain its place in the world.

And I am chronically sad to see another supermarket go up where

there already have been two of them;

it saddens me terribly to see the golden arches almost

everywhere now, and Subway,

which is a chain I actually happen to like a lot,

and those are becoming all over the place.

So, we're fighting against the ways that cannot be halted,

but in a way may not be all a very bad thing,

so long as a sense of perspective is maintained;

and that often was not maintained in the early days of

the almost hysterical battle against the mounting empire of

Coca-Cola. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving

vacation, see you next time, and Go Blue.

The Description of 20. Battles For and Against Americanization