A Solidaristic Understanding Of A French Problem

A Solidaristic Understanding Of A French Problem - A...

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A Solidaristic Understanding Of A French Problem In the eyes of Timothy B. Smith, France’s problems are not easily answered by globalization. In France in Crisis , Smith attempts to answer the fatal collapse of the social and economic realms of France with a critique discussing the failed execution of the solidarity ideal. Smith’s European perspective allows for him to question the ideologically corrupted French welfare state. He argues that France’s declaration to honor the ideal of solidarity is a hypocritical gesture given the failures of the nations politics. Smith offers examples of modern day France that do not fit his view of what a solidaristic society should operate as. Throughout the text he calls upon the superiority of Sweden in being able to adjust their social solidarity to the new demands of a free market. Smith lays out what he feels is the true answer to all of France’s problems, however the real question is whether or not solidarity is the real solution to the growing crisis. Smith brings the argument of “solidarity” to the discussion of what to do about France’s growing crisis. In his opinion, France is a nation that is not living up to an ideal that they define themselves with. He believes that the failure of France to create a true society based upon solidarity falls on the lap of poor political choices, not unavoidable circumstance. Smith states that, “a government elected with an official commitment to redistributing the nation’s wealth from the rich to the poor ended up exacerbating inequalities of wealth between classes and generations.”(pg.161). To understand Smith’s argument, you must first understand what he feels are the key elements of a solidaristic society. Smith believes that a country that practices solidarity would call for regular
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sacrifices for the national common good. This definition is not only his own, but also one of traditional French beliefs. Smith comments that, “Solidarity requires trust, transparency, and civic-mindedness”(pg.8). It invokes a concept of social mobility that is only achieved through redistribution of wealth to low-wage earning citizens. Smith calls upon examples such as Sweden which has created solidarity through a slow and deliberate process which includes everyone in the society by operating through civic discussions, negations, and compromises made in the common good. Income distribution plays a key part of solidarity. Solidarity does not leave the bill for future generations, and pays the price for its’ solidarity in the present day. Job risk is spread instead of allowing the risk of poverty and unemployment to fall onto an exclusive one or two socio-demographic group. Smith answers the French problem of lacking jobs with examples of well-run solidaristic societies in the Netherlands and in Sweden, which have experienced periods of wage restraint in the name of job creation. Taxes play a very important role in this ideological system as well. In a perfect solidaristic society, the tax system would be progressive.
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This note was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course JMC MC 201 taught by Professor Lindahl during the Fall '07 term at Michigan State University.

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A Solidaristic Understanding Of A French Problem - A...

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