Lecture 12, After May 1868

Lecture 12, After May 1868 - Thursday, AfterMay68 I...

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Thursday, March 28th 2013 - Lecture After May ‘68 I. Politics - European Union in 1993; the “Euro” in 2002 - In some ways, the great cycles of French history have run their course by this  point. Now it seems as if things are much quieter and humane. - France is now internationally a second-rate power. Perhaps the most significant  development has been France’s integration into the EU (an economic union, led  to the creation of the euro in 2002). - We are in the middle of a small final chapter of French history. - The one would-be major shift in French politics turned out not to be a big deal  after all (see below). - Francois Mitterand, socialist president, 1981-88; 1988-95 - Mitterand won the presidential election in 1981 with a socialist majority. There  was a fear of a left-wing reshaping of France. - He became president due to spikes in oil crises in the West (see below) - 1973 and 1979 oil crises; economic stagnation - Ended the long 30 years of economic growth. - Steadily growing unemployment and wide inflation preluded Mitterand’s being  elected. - This strange economic crisis really threw many of the Western industrialized  countries into recession. - “Socialism in one country” (1981-83) v. neoliberal economics (1983-  ) or inflation v.  deflation - Neoliberal/neoconservative economics - budget cuts; deflation (i.e. austerity). - France did something different. France elected Mitterand. He adopted an opposite approach of “going it alone” - socialism in one country - Where other countries were letting companies fail, Mitterand enacted a national  social program. - He reduced the retirement age, created jobs, etc. - This go-it-alone policy proved to be a total failure. Inflation continued. Foreign  investors avoided France. - France had to devalue its currency (the frank). - It is almost impossible to be socialist when everyone else is not. - Ultimately, the number of jobs increased slightly but there was not increase in  production. In 1983, Mitterand did a complete about face and began to follow  the model of other Western countries.
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