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Welcome Back to Mars

Welcome to Mars

My Good Fellow Americans, I have to write that I am proud to be one of you, even if from recent history. I could not have written that when that photograph was shot, in 2005, when it quickly became the icon of my series Life on Mars, a documentary work of the craziness of the Bush era (the same Bush who by now we look to as a Statesman, compared to you know who), American politics, and caricatural aspects of American culture seen from an unforgiving European perspective.

Today this photograph should be re-baptised in a more suiting title
Welcome Back to Mars. Mars, the God of war. Because whether we have declared war or not, we are obviously at war, and with Russia of all countries. But this time we are on the good side, and boy, what a good side that is! Even Hitler could not unite the good part of the world against him, as fast as Putin did. I grew up during the cold war, and in France, not all that far from the demarcation line, even if the only connection we had with the other side of the iron curtain, was the Mistral, that cold wind that sweeps the Rhône Valley a bit too often, and comes all the way from the Oural Mountains. Much later we had the radioactive cloud from Chernobyl as well, which should have taught us to be more guarded against Russia. I did though, started my photographic journey and subsequent career, on a Russian cruise liner in 1972, but that is a long story, mostly involving France's long Socialist flirt.

During all my youth, and until these past weeks, as maybe many of you, I never felt threatened by Russia. They were just irrelevant, possibly charming, cute and certainly annoying at times, but impossible to take seriously. Hence the general wonder whether NATO served any purpose. Nobody wonders about that anymore, more than covid, Putin's madness has re-shaped the world, and under glorious American leadership.

President Biden said during the recent State of the Union, that
never had he envisioned a brighter future for this Country. "Folks," if I may, I believe that is true. Before long Putin will be dead or jailed, and it then will only be a matter of time, before the West extends all the way to Vladivostok. What a different world then, so much more peaceful, even if not totally, under American hegemony like never before.

In the meantime, the situation cannot end fast enough, especially for these poor Ukrainians whose stamina and uplifting spirit is irresistibly inspiring. They are on the real frontline, and I'd like to make a toast to their courage and selflessness. Another toast will be to Putin's certain demise. One sure and comforting thing, is that he is agonizing, day and night, wondering who will come kill him.


Welcome to Mars

This was shot in the summer of 2005, on Mars, the only Mars there is on Earth, in Pennsylvania. I was engaged then in a rabid outcry against the War in Iraq, had documented many protests against it, and key moments of American politics in the previous 12 years.

All that work became unified under the title
Life on Mars, because of this photograph that symbolized the kitsch gentleness which is in the American DNA, but also hides an odd personality disorder. That disorder often manifests itself in war mongering and a sense of entitlement that we Europeans don't recognize in us, even if Americans do look like us, mostly. This series therefore look at Americans as if they were extra terrestrials, a sort of Invaders if you will (you know, the TV series). Of course if extra terrestrials, Americans must be from Mars, since it is one of the biggest planets, is green like the Dollar, and is the God of War.


Trump in Selma

TheSilentMajority_2_1400px_CFascination for the Absurd.


I had to go see Donald Trump, and it was quite an eerie experience. This was in Selma N.C., about 57 miles from Durham, but in an alternate universe. I thought I'd be safe with my disguisement, but there is no mask for someone like me in such an environment. There is a video on the Facebook page of the Church of Photography (click on "videos" on the left) of this adventure by my companion film maker Stewart Nelsen in this adventure. The photographs here need no commentary.


Il a bien fallu que je fasse mon devoir professionel, et que j'aille rendre visite à Donald Trump. Le calendrier a voulu que cela soit à Selma, Caroline du Nord, à environ 95 Kms de Durham, mais dans un univers alternatif. J'espérais que mon déguisement avec T-Shirt nationaliste et casquette du tour de France me rendrait sufficient ridicule pour passer inaperçu, vain effort. La leçon est qu'il n'est pas de masque pour mon genre d'acabit dans un tel monde. Ma carrière d'agent secret est remis en cause. Mon compagnon dans cette mission, Stewart Nelsen, Réalisateur, a produit une vidéo accessible sur la page Facebook de l'Eglise de la Photographie (clicker sur "videos" dans le menu à gauche). Les photographies ici n'ont sans doutes besoin d'aucun commentaire.

IsisInfiltrator_1200px_CIsis Infiltrator

Chuck Cromagnon

LockHerUp_1400px_CThe People Want Games and Bread

Funny Investor

Cheerleaders_1400px_CThe Trump Cheerleading Section

TheMussoliniMoment_1400px_CThis Mussolinian Moment


More Art, Less Pope

Art pope, Moral Monday, Raleigh, North Carolina

This is how the photograph looked once framed for the
Truth to Power show.
More Art Less pope, Truth to Power
I made this frame out of pine, with a mirror-like black lacquer finish. Museum glass on the front with spacers, and acrylic in the back to allow seeing of the signature and text about history of the print and photograph.

This photograph has nothing to do with Francis, but rather with the fellow who at the beginning of this story was still North Carolina's Governor's Chief of Budget, a billionaire who made his fortune is the retail sector praying of the very poor, a character who goes by the name of Art Pope, and is to North Carolina what the Koch brothers are to America in these times where the Tea party is still a factor.

I believe that photography's strength is its strong tie to reality. As a result, my work is always organic, and its intensity is rooted in the historic, poetic or emotional relevance of what is taking place in front of the eyes of the viewer. This photograph is very straightforward, yet it is more than its "raison d'être," the slogan that makes it universal. It would be rather simplistic to just capture a good one-liner on its own, and while that is mostly what is possible when documenting a street protest, I am only interested by that when the composition is elegant and visually dynamic. As a visual artist, what I present on a wall has to be visually satisfying, a concept that may not be part of a lot of contemporary photography.

The satisfaction here comes a little bit from the richness of the contrast and the perspective on a downtown street that seems generically American. The texture of the photograph enjoys a grain that gives it an intriguing timelessness. Probably above all, the composition includes a theater of faces that is reminiscent of William Klein, the great American photographer from the 60's and 70's who first created that effect, notably piercing through the crowds on Broadway.
Truth to Power, Mayor Durham, Bill Bell, Randy Voller, Chairman N.C. Democratic Party

This is how this photograph goes beyond good photojournalism. A William Klein influence here is pushed into the 21st Century but through a political subject, something that Klein never touched. Thanks to technical advancements I was able to add optical qualities and an appealing treatment of the grain, which allow larger print sizes. Apart from featuring the creator of this slogan, that improbable blonde Rastafari-styled activist turned somewhat mysterious with her incognito glasses, the first person on the left, with his round features and his glasses delicately outlined in the out of focus foreground, frame the photograph in a multidimensional composition.
Truth to Power, Mayor Durham, Bill Bell, Randy Voller, Chairman N.C. Democratic Party

It is also worth noting that while being shot in Raleigh at a rather North Carolina specific movement, this photograph has universal resonance.

You can see prices for this print

The Honorable randy Voller, Chairman of the N.C. Democratic Party, and Durham Mayor Bill Bell were the first politicians to visit the Truth to Power show at Pleiades Gallery--see two top photographs on the right--for which this photograph was created. They both agreed that art has an important place to reclaim in politics.
Nicole Uzzell, truth to power

And here is Nicole Uzzell the creator of the sign and slogan, at Pleiades Gallery one year later.

Although it most certainly has nothing to do with this slogan or this photograph, Art pope resigned from his position as Deputy Budget Director shortly after the end of the show.


This photograph was presented to Pope Francis by the Vatican Nunzio (Ambassador equivalent) to the U.N. on September 24, 2016, during the Holy Father's visit in NY. Msgr. Kassas, First Secretary of the Holy See's Mission to the U.N. seen here when I delivered the piece on September 14, 2016, tells me that the Pope took the piece back with him to the Vatican.
Pere Simon,holysee mission


My Photograph at the White House

inauguration 2009 obama

Of, By, For


Because of the extreme symbolism and emotional vibrancy of this photograph of the 2009 Presidential inauguration, and thanks to generous contributors from France and the United States, it was possible to present President Obama an
Of, By, For print. It felt important to seize the opportunity to associate art and politics in marking this unique historic event appropriately.

The photograph was floating between two glasses in a blond walnut frame created in my studio. See photograph of the framed print, more information about this photograph, the list of contributors and press around the fundraiser

The French Ambassador, M. François Delattre who had been very supportive of this endeavor since its origin, was so kind to involve himself in the delivery mission. On the right is a copy of the thank you letter from the White House.

May this serve our countries' friendship well. The French Republic can be proud of its Washington Ambassador.


See article in the Durham Herald Sun about this.

2/ See article in the Dauphiné Libéré (in the French column at right) in Valence, my home town.



Le fort symbolisme et la résonance émotionnelle de cette photographie aidant, grâce à la générosité de contributeurs français et américains, il a été possible d'offrir au Président Obama un tirage de
Of, By, For. Il paraissait important de marquer de la sorte cet événement éminemment historique, et d'associer ainsi art et politique.

Le tirage est présenté flottant entre deux verres dans un cadre en noyer blond créé dans mon atelier. Voir la photo encadrée, davantage d'informations sur le pourquoi de cette opération, la liste des contributeurs et la presse autour de la levée de fonds sur
cette page.

M. François Delattre, Ambassadeur de France à Washington, qui avait soutenu cette opération depuis le début, nous fit l'honneur de mener à bien l'acheminement vers la Maison Blanche.
white house protocol franch ambassador_rostagni

J'espère que cette démarche servira l'amitié franco-américaine. La République Française peut sans doute être fière de la qualité de la mission accomplie par son ambassadeur à Washington.

Mise à Jour:

Voir article dans le Durham Herald Sun à propos de ceci.
white House_photo_obama_article

2/ Ainsi que l'excellent l'article à droite dans le DauphinéLibéré. Cliquez sur la photo pour agrandir.



The Iraq War Started 10 Years Ago

The American Way_Irak War
The American Way

Rex Quinn, professional right Wing Activist, Durham, Main Street and 9th, N.C., May 1999. The Project for a New American Century is already at work.

Rex Quinn, Activiste professionnel d'extrême droite. Durham, Caroline du Nord, Mai 1999. Le "Project for a New American Century," idéologie des Néo-Cons est déjà au travail.

Patriotic Warehouse
Patriotic Warehouse

Lowes, Durham, N.C., May 2003.

Supermarché du Bricolage, Durham, Caroline du Nord, Mai 2003.

Bush Is A Terrorist
Bush is a Terrorist

March against the War, Fayetteville, N.C., April 2004.

Manifestation contre la guerre en Irak, Fayetteville, N.C., Avril 2004.

The Price_Iraq War
The Price

Fayetteville, NC, April 2005. Parents of Soldier Killed in Iraq. During March against the war.

Fayetteville, Avril 2005. Parents d'un soldat tué en Irak. Lors d'une manifestation contre la guerre.

Bleak Omen_Election 2004
Bleak Omen

Durham, NC, November 2004. The day after the "re-election" of Georges Bush.

Durham Caroline du Nord, Novembre 2004. Le lendemain de la "ré-élection" de Georges Bush.

We Wont Be Silent
We Won't Be Silent

Washington, DC, March 2007. In Front of the Pentagon.

Washington, Mars 2007. En face du Pentagone.

Amour Pour La France
Amour pour la France

Protest against the upcoming war in Iraq, January 18, 2003, Washington, USA

Manifestation contre la guerre annoncée en Irak. Washington 18 Janvier 200

Symphonie Cretins Majeurs
Symphonie en Crétins Majeurs

Washington, DC, March 2007. Counter-protesters during march against the war.

Washington, Mars 2007. Contre-manifestants during manifestation contre la guerre.

The Three Musketeers_Anti-Zionism
The Three Musketeers

Protest against the upcoming war in Iraq, January 18, 2003, Washington, USA

Manifestation contre la guerre annoncée en Irak. Washington 18 Janvier 2003

Indeed_Army of One

Butler County Fair, PA, July 2005.

Station de recrutement, Foire de Butler, Pennsylvanie, Juillet 2005.

Orange Dream
Orange Dream

Washington, DC, September 2005.

Washington, Septembre 2005.


Ten years ago the war in Iraq was about to start. Ten years only, doesn't it feel older than that? Those sorry years must have count double. During these years, this country and us who lived through the ordeal have been marked. Of course that is nothing compared to the tens of thousands, civilians and soldiers who died in it or were irreparably wounded, including in their mind. We should never forget how even in a presumed democracy, stupidity and arrogance can so easily triumph over reason and wisdom.

I will publish one photograph in this post every day of this week, as well as on the
Church of Photography Facebook page, feel free to "like" that page and/or subscribe (see column at right) to this blog to stay abreast. Those photographs are important ones from my series Life on Mars which talks of America notably during the Bush era.


Ils y a 10 ans la guerre en Iraq allait commencer. Dix ans seulement, ces années de malheur ont été interminables. L'Amérique, et nous qui y avons vécu pendant ces évènements avons été marqués. Et bien sûr, cela n'est rien par comparaison aux dizaines de milliers de civils et soldats qui ont péris ou en sont ressortis meurtris, dans leur chair où leur tête. N'oublions jamais comment dans une présumée démocratie, l'imbécilité et l'arrogance peuvent aussi aisément triompher de la raison et de la sagesse.

Cette semaine je publierai chaque jour une nouvelle photo dans ce billet, ainsi que sur la
page Facebook de l'Eglise de la Photographie. Vous pouvez "aimer" cette page Facebook, et/ou vous abonner à ce blog (voir "Subscribe" dans la colonne à droite) afin d'être tenu au fait de tout cela. Ces photographies sont des composantes importantes de ma série La vie sur Mars qui montre l'Amérique notamment sous George Bush II.


2012 Presidential Election First Debate

2012 Presidential First Debate

2012 Presidential First Debate

2012 Presidential First Debate

2012 Presidential First Debate

90 minutes passent, angoissante, et puis l'on n'a plus que la mémoire, parfois infidèle, elle aussi. Mes meilleurs duos qui permettront peut-être de garder un meilleur souvenir

90 minutes can be painful, isn't it? A few revealing duos that might help everybody feel better and keep a healthier memory

2012 Presidential First Debate


Rocking for Discomfort

Occupy Wall Street_On a Marvin Gaye Tune

On a Marvin Gaye Tune.
Zuccotti Park, October 28, 2011



Occupy Wall Street is about changing the way people think, it goes in the exact opposite direction that was America’s track for the past 30 years, and so far people follow. That is a true revolution, one with the most modern strategy : when people think differently, things change, deeper and for longer than the over way around.

I was lucky to be able to spend several days around Occupy Wall Street, in Zuccotti Park at the end of October, it was a true forum, a life laboratory where democracy was maybe not always pretty, but nevertheless at its best, as close as I can imagine of what it was in Athens, 2500 years ago. As the photographs below show, the creativity, the intensity of the reflection were astounding, and everyday would bring its own specific crop.

It is now gone, and many claim that is for the best. I don’t know, it seems very bourgeois to condemn the mess all this looked like from above and the sidelines, while much worse is tolerated elsewhere provided that it does not challenge the status quo. At any rate it is gone, but it is far from dead. It hibernates, and will blossom in full force in the spring. You can take it to the bank that this election year will be under its spell.

Occupy Wall Street_Class Warfare


Occupy Wall Street_Down to Basic

Open Fort

Occupy Wall Street_Move it Move it

Move it, Move it

Occupy Wall Street_ Frozen Sensuality

Frozen Sensuality

Occupy Wall Street

Le Cheval

Occupy Wall Street_Televised Revolution

Televised Revolution

Occupy Wall Street_Forever Anonymous

Forever Anonymous

Occupy Wall Street_AhAh

Ah Ah !

Occupy Wall Street_Where to Go

Where to Go

Occupy Wall Street_No Token Change

No Token Change

Occupy Wall Street_Something Different

Something Different

Occupy Wall Street_Le Quidam

Le Quidam

Occupy Wall Street_Musical Refrain

Musical Refrain

Occupy Wall Street


Occupy Wall Street_The Enforcers

The Enforcers

Occupy Wall Street_Mortgage Specialist

Mortgage Specialist

Occupy Wall Street_Discret


Occupy Wall Street_Forum


Occupy Wall Street_Bakunin Avenue

Bakunin Avenue

Occupy Wall Street_Born Again

Born Again

Occupy Wall Street_The News

The News

Occupy Wall Street_Troubling


Occupy Wall Street_Wayne and Bess

Wayne and Bess

Occupy Wall Street_La Main dans le Sac

La Main dans le Sac

Occupy Wall Street_Thou Shall be Good Neighbors

Thou Shall be Good Neighbors

Occupy Wall Street_Twilight Flash

Twilight Flash

Occupy Wall Street_Accross



La fonction de “Occupy Wall Street” est de changer le mode opérationnel de la pensée populaire. Le mouvement secoue la crasse, et part à fond de ballon dans la direction opposée de celle que les Etats Unis ont suivie depuis au-moins trente ans. Jusqu’à maintenant la population dans son ensemble, suit. Cela est une véritable révolution, une révolution à la stratégie parfaitement moderne : lorsque les gens pensent différemment, les choses changent plus facilement, mieux, et pour plus longtemps que si l’on impose un changement en espérant que les masses comprendront et s’adapteront. C’est un concept inverse à celui qui a prévalu historiquement de par le monde révolutionnaire universel.

J’ai eu la chance de pouvoir visiter le site historique de “Occupy Wall Street” à New York fin Octobre. C’était un forum effervescent, un laboratoire démocratique vivant, pas toujours très joli, mais où la démocratie bouillonnait, près de son apogée, aussi près que je puis imaginer de l' Athènes d’il y a 2500 ans. Comme les photographes ci dessus le montrent, la créativité, l’intensité de la réflexion y étaient surprenantes, et chaque jour amenait une nouvelle moisson.

Ce forum là n’est plus, et beaucoup se rassurent en disant que c’est mieux ainsi, même si il est un petit peu bourgeois de froncer le sourcil depuis ses hauteurs, à la vision contemplative d’une expérience parfois désordonnée, cafouilleuse et pas très bien mise, alors que l’on laisse filer sans histoire des situations bien pires mais qui ne clament pas la couverture des journaux ni ne remettent le statu quo en cause. Enfin, quoi qu’il en soit, “Occupy Wall Street” tel qu’il est né, c’est fini, mais l’animal est loin d’être mort. Il hiberne, et reviendra avec le printemps, plus pétillant que jamais, et vous pouvez parier gros que les élections Américaines danseront au son de sa musique.


Silent Tornado Menacing the Frontline

Raleigh, Rally for Wisconsin, February 26, 2011

Raleigh, Caroline du Nord, Manifestation en solidarité avec le Wisconsin,
26 Février 2011

On March 20, I found an email in my inbox, from Richard Ortoli, an elected French official representing French folks from the East Coast. The fellow was writing that he would like Nicolas Sarkozy to emulate Scott Walker in his attacks on the public employees "priviledges" and union rights. I forwarded that to my contacts at Radio France, he was interviewed, prosecuted, jailed, executed (just kidding, he was just interviewed for now) and the podcast of that is in the previous entry, or
here. An explanation of my "Frontline" concept is also at the beginning of that entry.

Here is the podcast of my conversation with Eric Lange of "Le Forum du Mouv" on Radio France on April 11, 2011, following up on what is described in the above paragraph, a translation is below :



... 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. With Eric Lange, The Mouv's Forum ....

Eric Lange :
Let's go the United States catch up with our friend the Photographer Jean-Christian Rostagni .. How are you doing Jean-Christian ?

J-C : Very well thank you, good evening Eric.

Eric Lange : Good evening, welcome to the show ... So it is you who talked with us several times of movements .. I was going to say "revolutionary," almost huh ? Marches in Wisconsin, of Americans who were protesting budget cuts in public service, in everything that is public service ... We talked about it because it is very rare that Americans march like that ... Huh .. what's new, what is going on now ? ... There are two things, there is that story of the American budget that passed this weekend ?

J-C : Yes, that passed at the last minute. And as for Wisconsin, there is, I think there is already one Republican senator who has been recalled, there is also ... There is a lot going on .. but if we want to make it simple, in short, we can observe that everything that the Tea Party and its Governor Scott Walker have done in Wisconsin, does not fare very well with that State's citizens, and there is an evolution in vote intentions favorable to Democrats, subsequently to what happened since the end of January.

Eric Lange : But as a general rule, in the U.S. it is open season on public services currently ?

J-C : Well yes, because on the top of it, all this in the end .. the Wisconsin is one thing, but as a general rule the United States at the federal level, are in the same situation as some states are, there are budgetary problems, which almost resulted in the shut down of the federal government last week, which is rather incredible, isn't it ? For all I know, I have never heard of any other country in the world were it was considered to shut down the government because people could not agree on budgetary issues, .. it is a different take on things I suppose. And so, there are problems of means, and once more, in Wisconsin, as in other states as at the federal level, what is in question is to decide whether the expenses are going to be cut, or are we going to increase taxes ? Because that is what the debate is about.

Eric Lange : And in the United States, it is the expenses tat are cut, right ?

J-C : Yes, because it is completely anathema to raise taxes. It is anathema, but there is the vague start of a talk about it. Because if taxes weren't to be raised, .. and also military expenditure, ok ? There is the beginning of a discussion that it is rather unbelievable that the United States spend by themselves, practically as much as the rest of the world combined, and to top it, at that price Americans don't even have such a great defense, since they can't really win a war in Iraq, they can't really kick the butt of the Taliban, and now that there was a call to intervene in Libya, they pulled out rather quickly because they thought that it was too expensive ... It is therefore appropriate to wonder what does it serve to spend such a fortune on the defense department, if at that price we can't even take care of Ghadafi ? And that we need the French to do it for us. It is rather unbelievable. And therefore some folks envision, well, actually few really do, .. there is only folks like .. not like me, because I don't account for much, but some intellectuals, .. some intellectuals like, let's say .. there is Joseph Stieglitz, who is a Nobel Prize winner of economy who says that, and here and there others do so as well.

So this starts to be said, and it is also starting to be said that it is rather incredible, in the United States, the top 1%, the top 1% of the richest Americans, ...... earn 25% of the revenues, so the ratio is 1/25, and the top 90% as well, own ... of sorry, the top 10% own 90% of the wealth. There is therefore maybe something that can be done there, because ..

Eric Lange : Yes, but there you are walking on some ground .. you are on a reflection path which is very European and French. Since you know the United States better than I do, can this type of idea, of debate, penetrate the American intellect ? They don't want .. you know that better than I do .. the less government intervention there is, the better they feel ...

J-C : Yes, well, I don't know ...

Eric Lange : Do you think it is evolving some ?

J-C : Well, .. it is always difficult to assess this kind of things, because we all evolve in our little bubble, and therefore, we all tend to surround ourselves, to exchange with people who are not too foreign to our own state of mind ... I sometimes listen to some alternative media where Joseph Stieglitz may be heard, but anyway, Joe Stieglitz is not somebody who is "underground" either, ok ? He teaches at Columbia, Paul Krugman says more or less the same, writes in the NY Times and teaches at Princeton. So all this is not that far away from what we call "mainstream," but it is also true that in the evening news this is never said, or then it will be glided over very fast. There is often somebody who is invited in some anecdotical fashion to say that kind of thing, but it is true that the focus is "what budget is going to be slashed?" "Who's pay is going to be cut?" And so on. It is not at all contemplated, for now at least, to say "wait up, there are some untouched pools of revenues, and maybe if we were to do that, there would not be any crisis any longer."

Eric Lange : That is not digestible there ... The word "social" remains a bad word ...

J-C : Uuuuh ... Well, I would rather say that there is like a media blockage, there is plenty of folks who strive to hide all this, more or less consciously, I don't know. I see that recently you had our friend Richard Ortoli, who came to speak on your antenna, who more or less was doing that on a French scale ... There are stuff like this that happen that ...

Eric Lange : Richar Ortoli is the Councilman for French living abroad who published a text on the internet in which he was saying what you say .. "that the United States are going to slash into public services' budget .. and dare to attack the unions of the public sector." And he was saying that maybe this is going to arrive in France as well ... But, you know, we had him on the phone .. and he was not necessarily for it, He said that in the United States, that's how it is ...

J-C : Well, all right. I am glad that you followed up on all this and you brought him on the air, because you are pretty much the only ones in France to do that. So I heard what he said ... He was back peddling, he was peddling backward very strongly, which makes me say that when the Tour de France, which is scheduled to come to Corsica soon .. in 2013 if my memory is correct, .. I need to precise that Richard Ortoli's origins are more or less from Ajaccio, .. he might have a card to play then, if the Tour organizers want to create a stage that would favor the adepts of back peddling, because he is a real virtuoso at that ... He nevertheless wrote, isn't it ? It is written black on white in his newsletter, .. that he was suggesting to Nicolas Sarkozy to inspire himself from Scott Walker's actions .. That's in short what he was writing in his post. So now I heard what he was saying on the air ...

Eric Lange : He was much more balanced ...

J-C : Yes, yes, yes, .. very well, I am happy that he comes back to more appropriate feelings ... I would have preferred if he had been a little more honest and had said "I am sorry, I am under bad influences in NY, I was brought to think certain things, and in the end well it is true that etc ... " So, he tried to drown the fish, that is not very important, that is not the heart of the issue. The core of the issue is that there are people like this, who when they see Scott walker, find him inspiring. I think that you asked him the right question "how is it that in a world which is more and more global, things always follow the same trajectory. Which is that we always want to import from the United Sates the good and the bad, often the bad, and that it apparently does not function very well in the other direction ? While when it come to social reforms, one might wonder if it is not rather the United States that should inspire themselves of the French or European model rather than the opposite ? This reminded me what I heard years ago, on France Inter I believe, "French love beautiful Americans" he was talking of American classic cars, "and they bring them in and transform them into homely fats." That is a little bit what Mr. Ortoli and others are busy doing, they want to import in france anAMerican model ... They import the worst and they leave the best.

Eric Lange : Jean-Christian, Jean-Christian I interrupt you, we must go, there is people waiting ... In any case it is always that famous debate between "what society do we want, more social, more government, what do we want ?"

J-C : Exactly, once more we could observe that in the past 10-15 years, the only ones who have benefited from growth, are the ones at the very top brackets. I was talking on teh phone with my friend Pascal yesterday, he was telling me that in France it is the same thing, in Paris it is now common to see 500,000€ cars on the boulevards ...

Eric Lange : Commonly, he is exaggerating a bit, there are not tons of it, but it is true that Paris is becoming a very expensive city ...

J-C : From what I hear, there is more and more luxury goods shops, .. and these folks need to find customers somewhere ... In any case this is not me who is saying this, it is once more Joseph Stieglitz, who demonstrate rather brilliantly, that the only ones who have benefited from growth in the last 10-15, even 20 last years are the 1%. As a matter of fact, he has a new book that I recommend to everybody "of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%" which is a twist on ...

Eric Lange : Jean-Christian, I interrupt you this time, as I feel it that you are going to start over, and we need to go, there is people waiting ...

J-C : All right, thank you Eric ..

Eric Lange : Thank you in any case, talk to you soon again, we'll come back for news regularly.

J-C : All right, thank you Eric. Bye ...

Eric Lange : Thank you Jean-Christian Rostagni, talk to you very soon ... 01-45-24-20-20 if you want to react on the importation of the American System ... We are going to put some music, "Larves in the hinge of light .." on The Mouv ...


Le 20 Mars dernier, je trouvai dans ma boite mail, un billet dit "d'humeur" de Richard Ortoli, l'un des conseillers des Français de l'étranger représentant ceux de la côte Est des Etats Unis. M. Ortoli concluait son billet par un désir que Nicolas Sarkozy s'inspire de Scott Walker Gouverneur du Wisconsin, et étudie comment il serait possible de réduire les avantages sociaux présumément considérables ainsi que les abus de droit de grève dont jouissent les fonctionnaires français, car l'on ne saurait durablement avoir une société à deux vitesses, où les fonctionnaires seraient privilégiés sans commune mesure avec le secteur privé.

Je m'empressai alors de faire suivre le billet de M. Ortoli à mes contacts de Radio France, suite à quoi il fut interviewé dans le Forum du Mouv pour s'expliquer, voir précédent billet avec podcast
ici. Le Comité de Salut Publique délibère en ce moment sur son cas. L'explication de mon concept de "Ligne de Front" est aussi au début de ce billet-là.

Voici ici le podcast de ma discussion avec Eric Lange le 11 Avril 2011, en suite à l'interview de M. Ortoli :



On the Frontline, in the Shadows

Raleigh, Rally for Wisconsin, February 26, 2011

Raleigh, Caroline du Nord, Manifestation en solidarité avec le Wisconsin,
26 Février 2011

On the Frontline ? That is because I specialize in bridging the U.S and France, and that bridge constantly the making, can be considered as the frontline of the debate on democracy, certainly in the western world.

On March 20, I found an email in my inbox, from Richard Ortoli, an elected French official representing French folks from the East Coast. If you ever wondered why there was so many French here that you did not feel at home anymore, don't wonder any longer call homeland security, we even have representation!

The email (see reproduction in the French column and its translation below in this column) would not have attracted my attention, if not for the world "Wisconsin" in its first sentence. As you might know, I had just then published a tribune in Le Monde on the matter, and had spoken three times on Radio France about it (see entries
here, here and here), but was about the only one talking about this to French folks until Mr. Ortoli jumped in, hence my curiosity.

I can't remember now if I was surprised to discover that Mr. Ortoli, while presumably a little chocked by the methods, was nevertheless inspired by the substance governing Scott Walker's actions, and thought that indeed Nicolas Sarkozy should emulate the Wisconsin Governor. What surprised me for sure, was not that a right leaning French politician would think of importing the worst of American politics in France, but rather that the guy would have chosen the right to strike, which is as everybody knows, quite cherished in France, and even protected by the constitution, and that he would have thought of doing so when the corpse of the Wisconsin public workers' rights was still warm.

But nothing really moves us too much anymore here on the frontline, we built up the immunities for mental health survival, and therefore, a few seconds later I was forwarding Mr. Ortoli's email to the superior authorities, my Radio France contacts.

This is how we now get to hear Mr. Ortoli's voice, interviewed my Eric Lange on the Forum du Mouv, see podcast below, and its translation
here. It should be noted that the Tour de France is supposed to have a couple stages in Corsica in 2013, Corsica being where Mr.Ortoli is from. Mr. Ortoli might find then another opportunity to shine, as if we judge from this interview, he is certainly a virtuoso of back peddling.

I will be on the Forum du Mouv myself Monday April 11, to develop all this, and the podcast will be posted here as soon as possible afterward.


Translation of Mr. Ortoli's Email :

Dear Compatriots,

In Wisconsin, the new Republican governor Scott Walker did something for now unthinkable in France : he attacked public employees unions.

On march 11, he passed a law that weakens their power. From now on, they will not be able to collectively negotiate salaries or vacations. Raises will be paired with inflation, no more. Every year they will have to dutifully ask their members if they want to renew. Finally, every public employee in Wisconsin will have to spend a little more out of pocket for health insurance.

Neither the public workers marches, of a rare violence for the United States, nor the scants from Democrats, some of which fled to Illinois in order to prevent a vote to take place, not event the Capitol's occupation, deterred Scott Walker. Until the end he maintained that these reforms were necessary to balance the State's budget otherwise much in deficit. It is difficult to see clearly. Some say that the deficit will be of 3.6 billion in 2012, others estimate it to 2.5 billion. Unions claim that all this is much exaggerated, and that the Governor simply wants to eliminate their rights.

Of course the method used by Scott Walker is chocking. Of course the cuts planed in the new budget, notably for education, risk to harm everyone in Wisconsiin, whether public worker or not, But the Pew Research center finds in its polls that the Wisconsin Governor is supported by 31% of Americans ... His actions therefore signal a deep malaise. Is it possible to maintain as many inequalities between public and private sectors employees when unemployment nears 10%, and when most States are near bankruptcy ? Why should there be 2 categories of workers : those who risk unemployment, pay cuts, work until 70, and those seating on very generous social advantages at tax payers expense ?

The situation in France is not much different from that of Wisconsin, but Nicolas Sarkozy has too many problems with foreign politic now, to examine those issues carefully enough ... He first must restore the Foreign Affairs Ministry, damaged by Michelle Alliot-Marie fishy relationships and her subsequent firing from her post as Foreign Affairs Minister. But when he will have digested the government shake up, when the middle East fires will be calmer, and before the 2012 election that appears to be very hot if D.S.K. is a candidate, it is not impossible that Nicolas Sarkozy, by respect for those who voted for him in 2007, attempts something to break the omnipotence that unions exercise on French political life.

Madison/Paris, same fight ?

Richard Ortoli


Sur la ligne de Front ? C'est parce que je me spécialise dans le rapprochement des conceptions politiques, sociales et culturelles entre la France et les Etats Unis, et que cela peut être considéré comme la ligne de front du débat sur la démocratie, en tout état de cause pour ce qui est du monde occidental.

Le 20 Mars dernier, je trouvai dans ma boîte mail, un billet dit "d'humeur" de Richard Ortoli, l'un des conseillers des Français de l'étranger représentant ceux de la côte Est des Etats Unis. J'aurais sans doute envoyé ce billet sans humour aux oubliettes préconisées, si le troisième mot de la première phrase n'avait été "Wisconsin." Il faut dire qu'à l'époque je venais de publier une tribune dans le Monde basée précisément sur la situation et les événements du Wisconsin, que j'étais intervenu 3 fois sur le Forum du Mouv (voir billets
ici, ici, et ici) et que je pensais très autarsiquement être probablement le seul expatrié jusqu'à ce 20 Mars, à attirer l'attention des français sur ce sujet.

Curieux, je me mis à lire le billet de M. Ortoli (voir repro à droite). Je découvrais alors que ce Monsieur trouvait que les actions de Scott Walker (le Gouverneur du Wisconsin), bien que un peu choquantes dans la forme, étaient dans le fond néanmoins probablement salutaires et qu'il conviendrait à Nicolas Sarkozy d'examiner comment il pourrait en faire de même au pays de Cocagne.

Là j'étais surpris pour de bon, non pas qu'un politique apparenté de droite puisse avoir une idée aussi saugrenue,
Fighting Like an Egyptian

Raleigh, February 26, 2011,
Rally for Wisconsin

Raleigh, 26 Février 2011, Manifestation en solidarité avec le Wisconsin
mais plutôt qu'il ait le toupet de le claironner, et de surcroît aussi tôt, sans respect pour le deuil des pauvres bougres, alors que le corps des droits défunts des fonctionnaires Wisonsinois gisait encore chaud dans le Capitol de Madison.

Mais si sur la ligne de front l'on s'étonne encore, l'étonnement n'y est guère paralysant depuis longtemps, grâce aux immunités que l'on développe assez vite afin de garder une santé morale. Quelques secondes plus tard je faisais donc suivre le billet pas doux du tout de M. Ortoli aux autorités compétentes relevant de mon secteur, en l'occurrence mes contacts à Radio France.

Et c'est ainsi qu'il nous est donné d'entendre la voix de M. Ortoli interviewé par Eric lange dans le Forum du Mouv, voir podcast ci-dessous. Notons au passage que le Tour de France a prévu de passer par la Corse en 2013 je crois, et que si l'on en juge par la prestation de M. Ortoli à l'antenne (M. Ortoli est originaire des environs d'Ajaccio) celui-ci pourrait surprendre sans doute ne serait-ce qu'au titre de "régional de l'étape", à condition que les dirigeants du tour puisse concevoir un parcours privilégiant le rétro-pédalage dont notre ami corsico-NewYorkais est de toute évidence un virtuose de classe internationale.

Je serai à l'antenne sur le Forum Lundi 11 Avril afin de développer tout ceci, et le podcast sera posté sur ce blog dans la foulée.



In The News Today

News & Observer, April 8, 2011 / Mon journal le 8 Avril 2011


There has been quite a few good cartoons lately in the News & Observer. This morning's stopped me in what I was doing.
Here is as well, the rest of the page, with a letter to the editor for which I thank its author, as it is dead on target, and very enjoyable to read. An enlarged version in the French column allows for a better read of that letter.


Mon journal le News & Observer de Raleigh, a eu une bonne série de dessins ces jours derniers. Celui-ci m'a arrêté aujourd'hui. Le gouvernement Américain est en effet à moins de 24 heures de sa fermeture pour impasse budgétaire.
Les élus du Tea Party bloque le camp Républicain, et contemple avec joie la perspective d'arrêter le gouvernement qu'ils haïssent tant. Le tristement célèbre Newt Gingrish avait déjà fomenté une telle manoeuvre en 1995, et cela ne lui avait pas réussi du tout. Mon petit doigt m'incite à penser qu'il n'y a pas grand chose de nouveau sous le soleil, si ce n;est que celui là semble plus chaud, et je me régale un peu déjà, à contempler les dégâts auto-infligés au Parti Républicain. Dans moins de 24 heures nous sauront si ils sont encore plus abrutis qu'on le pensait. Surprenez nous!


A Rebrousse-Poil


Vitrine du Kiosque de presse sur 9th St. à Durham.

Le magazine "The Nation" avec le manifeste de l'intellectuel Français Stéphane Hessel en couverture.

Regulator BookStore, Ninth Street, Durham, NC.

"The Nation" with French Intellectual Stephane Hessel's manifesto on the cover.

La tribune ci-dessous est apparue dans Le Monde.fr le 10 Mars 2011, voir ici. Le même jour j'étais dans le Forum du Mouv de Eric Lange, pour écouter, cliquez sur ce lien :



Les mouvements du Moyen-Orient intéressent l’Amérique. En admettant que le président Obama n’en soit qu’un acteur réactif, il a, à tout le moins, compris immédiatement que c’était la chance des Etats Unis de sortir de l’engrenage militaire dont ils sont typiquement adeptes. Sans doutes Barack Obama comprend-il que si après neuf ans en Afghanistan, la plus puissante armée au monde du plus riche pays au monde n’est ni parvenue à dompter le Taliban, ni à convaincre les Afghans que l’Amérique avait mieux à leur offrir que les Islamistes, alors convient-il de sortir de la logique reptilienne. L’attitude du président Américain face aux révoltes du Proche Orient, prouve en tous cas qu’il est convaincu que l’image des Etats Unis en terre Musulmane est désormais plus stratégique que ses missiles intercontinentaux, et qu’il est donc vital que son administration défende dans le monde Arabe, les valeurs desquelles l’Amérique se réclame à tue-tête.

Tout cela passionne les Américains, obsédés par tout ce qui touche à l’Islam depuis le 11 Septembre, obsession qui se traduit soit par la haine, soit par le besoin de compréhension, selon qu’ils soient réactionnaires ou pas. L’on sait que les conditions économiques insupportables, sont à la base des récentes révoltes arabes. Toute proportion gardée, les Américains sont eux aussi dans une situation douloureuse. Depuis la fin de l'ère Clinton, le niveau de vie n’a cessé de baisser pour les classes moyennes, conséquence de la globalisation, de l’hégémonie du militaire aux dépends de l’investissement publique, alors que de puissants lobbies au service des privilégiés du Status Quo, martèlent la bataille des idées afin de livrer l’élection d’élus acquis, c’est bien le mot, à leurs besoins.

En Amérique aujourd’hui, 1% de la population détient 40% des richesses, et 22% des revenus. Les 5% les plus riches, possèdent autant que les 95% restant. C’est le pays du monde occidental où l’inégalité sociale est la plus forte,
la Suéde étant le pays le plus égalitaire, assez proche d’une égalité mathématiquement parfaite, ce qui démontre qu’elle est possible. C’est dans cette Amérique là que Barack Obama a dû concéder aux Républicains, fin 2010, une extension de deux ans de la baisse d’impôts pour les milliardaires et millionnaires, alors que leur déficit font courir les Etats Unis à leur perte. C’est dans cette Amérique là que le chantage au chômage autorise les coupes de salaires à répétition.

Aujourd’hui bien des Etats (des Etats Unis), sont en proie à des crises budgétaires profondes. Deux réponses seraient possible :
• Augmenter certains impôts.

• Imposer des réductions de salaires aux fonctionnaires, supprimer des postes, donc des services etc...

Partout où les Républicains sont en charge, et même ailleurs,
c’est la deuxième solution qui est choisie, l’autre étant parfaitement anathème. Pourtant remonter par exemple les impôts sur le revenu, reviendrait à faire payer tout le monde les services comme l’éducation, sans lesquels une société s’écroule. Mais il est plus expéditif pour les revanchards des acquis sociaux, de faire payer uniquement les fonctionnaires.

La pilule est amère, mais dans l’Amérique généralement obéissante, complaisante, contrôlée comme décrit précédemment, et du coup muselée, cela passerait. Le pêché mortel des Républicains, est qu’ils en veulent trop. L’un de leurs plus implacables soldats, Scott Walker, Gouverneur du Wisconsin porté par la vague Tea Partyesque, qui comme tout gouverneur se verrait bien carrément président, décide qu’il faut de surcroit abolir le droit de grève pour les fonctionnaires.
Existe-t-il un Vide Intellectuel Négatif ?
Car bien entendu si ce n’était pour ces scélérats qui se la coule douce
Is There such a Thing as a Negatve Intellectual Void ?
dans la fonction publique et sont payés si grassement, le Wisconsin aurait des finances parfaitement saines, sans doutes. Mais pourquoi, si les fonctionnaires du Wisconsin l’ont si bonne, pourquoi alors la queue est-elle bien plus longue pour avoir sa place à Wall Street, plutôt que son bureau à Madison? Et pourquoi, si la situation est si catastrophique, le congrès du Wisconsin a-il donné en réduction d’impôts aux fortunés et entreprises, ce qu’il cherche maintenant à prendre aux fonctionnaires?

L’un des problèmes de Scott Walker, est qu’il est dans son genre aussi dogmatique que le Mullah Omar dans le sien,
et du coup n’impose pas les mêmes efforts aux fonctionnaires réputés Républicains, comme les policiers et les pompiers. Il nous explique que c’est parce que l’Etat ne peut pas se passer d’eux, sous-entendu: si l’on n’a par contre, plus que des bras cassés pour enseigner vos enfants, ce n’est pas grave, tout est question de priorités.

Se passe alors ce que clairement Scott Walker et ses amis, trop convaincus qu’ils sont de leur mission salvatrice, n’avaient pas prévu: les Sénateurs Démocrates du Wisconsin s’enfuient, tout de bon. Une nouvelle variation sur “L’éloge de la Fuite” du professeur Laborit. Pendant 24 heures on ne sait pas où ils sont. ils sont réfugiés en Illinois, l’Etat, incidemment, dont l’étoile est Barack Obama. Sans eux, la législature du Wisconsin n’a pas le quorum pour passer la loi du Gouverneur. Des milliers de manifestants campent dans le Capitol, l’Amérique découvre qu’elle peut être, elle aussi, sujette à des mouvements populaires, oubliés depuis 1972, et ici sans aucun doutes en émulation avec ceux récents du Moyen Orient. Cela d’ailleurs n’échappent pas aux “révolutionnaires” Arabes, et des photos sur le net témoignent de la confraternité qu’ils ressentent pour leur frères Américains (voir photo dans le billet "The Cairo-Madison Express" plus bas, ou dans la catégorie archive "U.S. Politics"). Leur solidarité allant jusqu’à commander des pizzas pour les manifestants de Madison, le monde semble sans dessus dessous.

L’attaque contre le droit de grève est fomentée par l’internationale Tea Partyiste. L’Ohio s’apprête à passer une loi similaire, l’Oklahoma l’aurait déjà fait, le Michigan, le New Jersey et la Floride y aspire. Les Sénateurs démocrates de l'Indiana sont eux aussi en fuite dans l’Illinois, décidément le refuge de tous les desperados progressistes en ce début 2011. En Caroline du Nord par contre,
où le droit de grève a été supprimé en 1959, les manifestants réclament qu’il soit réinstauré. Le combat n’est pas sans rappeler la réforme des retraites en France, et l’hebdomadaire “The Nation” titre “Indignez-Vous!” en Français, cela fait plus révolutionnaire, avant d’exhorter les Américains à retrouver l’Egyptien qui sommeille en eux (voir photo en haut de ce billet).

Mais les réactionnaires sont à cœur perdu dans un catch pour lequel ils n’ont peut–être pas la carrure.
Une interview téléphonique de Scott Walker a surgit, par un journaliste se faisant passer pour David Koch, l’un des milliardaires qui contribue généreusement aux campagnes et au programme du Tea Party. La conversation révèle comment Walker considère ses fonctionnaires, et par contraste, comment il traite ses bienfaiteurs, les rois du capital. Mieux encore que dans l’incident de micro ouvert de Gordon Brown en Angleterre, l’on découvre un être glacial, méprisant, calculateur, déloyal, prêt à tout.
C’est le parfait antidote, car cet entretien montre comment les grands financiers tels que David Koch, propriétaire de la plus riche entreprise sans capitalisation boursière des Etas Unis, tirent les ficelles, et achètent les conditions politiques de leur enrichissement perpétuel. Par comparaison les dirigeants syndicaux semblent des enfants de cœur.

Le Tea Party est porté par la rancœur des perdants du jeu de dupes Américain, et c’est beaucoup demander que d’espérer de la clairvoyance des passagers d’un ascenseur en chute libre. Sans même parler d’équité, il est pourtant indéniable que les employés du secteur public pourraient établir des standards, remparts pour tous aux Etats Unis. Mais lorsque l’argent de la confrérie des magnats est déterminé à détourner le plus grand nombre de leur propre intérêt, il n’est pas certain que les Américains sachent émuler profondément les révoltés du Moyen Orient qui ont tant envie d’être leur inspiration. Ce monde à l’envers serait-il la meilleure façon de marcher droit? Des a priori fondamentaux, fondamentalement pris à rebrousse-poil.

Cette tribune a été publié dans Le Monde le 10 Mars 2011 , ici

The tribune below was published in Le Monde on March 10, 2011, see here. On the same day I was on "Le Forum du Mouv" (Radio France) to talk about the same subject, and the podcast is linked below. A translation of the transcript is available here.



The events of the Middle East interest America. Assuming that President Obama is only a reactive actor in this, he at least, understood immediately that it was the chance for America to step out of the military logic it is addicted to. Without doubt, Barack Obama understands that if after nine years in Afghanistan, the most powerful army in the world of the richest country in the world has neither managed to tame the Taliban, nor convinced Afghans that the U.S. has better offerings for them than the Islamists, then it is time to get out of the reptilian logic.

In any case the attitude of the U.S. president in light of the revolts in the Middle East, proves that he is convinced that the U.S. image in Muslim land is now more strategic than its intercontinental missiles, and it is therefore vital that its administration defends in the Arab world the values which America claims so loudly.

All this fascinates Americans, obsessed with everything related to Islam since September 11, an obsession that manifests itself either by hate or by the need for understanding, whether one is reactionary or not. We know that unbearable economic conditions are the basis of the recent Arab uprisings. Relatively speaking, Americans are also in a painful situation. Since the end of the Clinton era, the standard of living has been falling for the middle class, a consequence of globalization, of the hegemony of the military at the expense of public investment, while powerful lobbies at the service of those privileged by the Status Quo, pound the battle of ideas to deliver the election of officials acquired, it is the word, to their needs.

In America today, 1% of the population owns 40% of wealth, and 22% of revenues. The richest 5%, own as much as the remaining 95%. It is the nation of the western world where social inequality is greatest, Sweden being the most egalitarian one, fairly close to a perfect mathematical equality, which shows that it is possible. It is in this America that in late 2010, Barack Obama had to concede to the Republicans, a two-year extension of tax cuts for billionaires and millionaires, while their deficit cloud the U.S. prospect for a viable financial future. It is in this America that the unemployment blackmail allows repeated attacks on wages.

Today many states are facing deep budget crises. Two responses would be possible:

• Raise some taxes.

• Impose wage cuts for civil servants, cut jobs, services etc ...

Wherever the Republicans are in charge, and even elsewhere, the second option is chosen, the other being completely anathema. Yet raising taxes on income for instance, would make everyone pay for services such as education without which a society collapses. But it is more expedient for social gains revenge takers, to only make civil servants pay.

The pill is bitter, but in a generally obedient America, complaisant, controlled as described above, and consequently muzzled, it would pass. The mortal sin of the Republicans is that they want too much. One of their most implacable soldiers, Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin carried by the Tea Party wave, and who, as any governor could very well see himself President, decides that it is also necessary to abolish collective bargaining rights for State Employees. Because of course, were it not for those bastards who take it easy in the public service, and are paid so handsomely, Wisconsin finances would be perfectly healthy, no doubt. But why, if Wisconsin officials have it so good, why is the line is so much longer for a spot on Wall Street, rather than for an office in Madison? And why, if the situation is so catastrophic, did Wisconsin Congress give in tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, what it now seeks to take away from State Employees?

One of the problems of Scott Walker, is that he is in his way, as dogmatic as the Mullah Omar in his, and does not ask the same efforts from presumed Republican State Employees such as police and firefighters. He explains that that’s because the state can not do without them, understand: if on another hand we have half baked folks to teach your children that is not a serious problem, it's all a matter of priorities.

Happens then what Scott Walker and his friends, clearly too convinced that they are of their God given mission, had not expected: the Democratic senators from Wisconsin run away, without notice--A new variation on Professor Laborit "In Praise of Flight (to flee)" which is touched on in “Mon Oncle D’Amérique” a too little known gem of a movie by famed French director Alain Resnais--For 24 hours we do not know where they are. they fled to Illinois, the state incidentally, whose star is Barack Obama. Without them, the legislature of Wisconsin has no quorum to pass the Governor’s law. Thousands of protesters camp in the Capitol, America discovers that she too, may be subject to popular movements forgotten since 1972, and here no doubt in emulation with those of the Middle East. This does not escape the "revolutionary" Arabs, and photos on the net show the brotherhood they feel for their Americans brothers (see photo in the "The Cairo-Madison Express" below, or in the "U.S. Politics" archive category). Their solidarity goes as far as ordering pizzas for the protesters in Madison, the world seems upside down.

The attack against collective bargaining is instigated by the International Tea Partyist. Ohio is moving to pass a similar law, Oklahoma would already have done so, Michigan, New Jersey and Florida are aspiring to do the same. The Indiana Senate Democrats are also on the run in Illinois, definitely home to all progressive desperadoes in early 2011. In North Carolina au contraire, where the right to strike was abolished in 1959, protesters demand it be reinstated. The fight is reminiscent of the pension reform in France, and the weekly "The Nation" exhorts “Take Offense” "In French on its cover (“Indignez-Vous”) as that might sound more revolutionary, before urging Americans to wake up the Egyptian sleeping in them (see photo at top of this entry).

But the reactionaries have bitten in something that might be too tough for them to chew. A telephone interview of Scott Walker has come up, by a journalist posing as David Koch, a billionaire who contributes generously to the campaigns and program of the Tea Party. The conversation reveals how Walker considers his civil servants, and by contrast, how he treats his benefactors, the kings of capital. Even better than in the open microphone incident by Gordon Brown in England, one discovers an ice cold Jack, contemptuous, calculating, disloyal, ready for anything in order to win. It is the perfect antidote, for this interview shows how great financiers such as David Koch, owner of the United States largest privately held corporation, pull the strings and buy the political conditions for their perpetual enrichment. By comparison, the union leaders seem like alter boys.

The Tea Party is carried by the resentment felt by the losers of the American dupes game, and it is asking a lot to expect foresightedness from the passengers of an elevator in free fall. Nevertheless, without even talking about fairness, it is undeniable that public sector employees could establish standards, social firewalls for all of the USA. But when the money of the Brotherhood of tycoons is determined to divert the many from their own best interest, it is not clear that Americans will emulate the insurgents in the Middle East who yearn to be their inspiration. Would this topsy-turvy world be the best way to walk straight? Fundamental biases fundamentally rubbed against the grain.

This Tribune was published in Le Monde on March 10, 2011, here


The Madison-Raleigh Non Stop

Labor Rights Article in the N&O

Article sur la demande du droit de grève
Raleigh, Caroline du Nord

On February 22, I was invited in the Forum du Mouv," a Radio France Broadcast from Paris, to talk about the evolution of the migration of the Arab revolution on the U.S. front. That day the news had arrived that there had been some protests in Raleigh asking for the rebirth of the right to engage in collective bargaining in North Carolina. the podcast is linked below, and the translation follows. The podcast of my prior intervention on the original development in Wisconsin, is in the post below, or here.

Le 22 Février 2011, j'ai été invité dans le Forum du Mouv' pour parler de l'évolution de la transmission de l'esprit révolutionnaire arabe sur le front Américain. Ce jour là, la Caroline du Nord avait fait l'objet de manifestations demandant la réinstallation du droit de grève, perdu depuis 1959. Le Podcast est ci-dessous, celui de mon intervention précédente lors du déclenchement du mouvement dans le Wisconsin, est dans le billet précèdent ou ici.

La traduction du podcast est bien entendu pour le bénéfice des anglophoones.


: 01 45 24 20 20 to join us, we are going to talk about the sitcom "Skins" in a moment, but before that we are going to take a short trip to the U.S.A., isn't it, it is Jean-Christian who is here with us? ... How are you doing Jean-Christian ?

J-C : Yes, I am doing fine thank you, good evening.

ERIC LANGE : We come for some news, because a few days ago you were announcing to us that a revolution had started in Wisconsin.., nobody believed me here... it's funny, it is not talked about much here in the media ...

J-C : Well, you know, it is as always, even more so in France which is a country relatively conservative from an ideological point of view, ... not politically ... the French mind structure is conservative, which is why they always elect Presidents who are beyond 50 years old or even beyond 60, and consequently, I think that people have a hard time admitting to themselves that a movement.., how should I say, .. political, revolutionary, which begins in the Middle East, in the Arab world, may contaminate a Country as developed, as superior, as.. whatever as the U.S.A, but that is nevertheless what is going on...

ERIC LANGE : What is indeed going on.. I precise in two words who you are, Jean-Christian has a long history with us in the show, he has been living in the U.S. for ... a very long time, he is a photographer, and the other day you told us about this story in Wisconsin, where the Republican Governor wanted to pass a bill lowering State Employees compensation, and taking away some of their benefits, and consequently, in a surprising fashion for the U.S., there are thousands of Americans who marched in the streets in Madison.. where are we about that...?

J-C : The situation is rather in stand by if you will. In English we would say "stalemate," things are stagnating. We have on one side the Governor who is hunkered down on his position, and on the other side we have the protesters who do not back down either, because in fact, the most contemptuous aspect is that the Governor wants the abolition of right to strike for public employees, although in fact it is not as much the right to strike that he is after. In English there is something called "collective bargaining," and in France we do not dissociate the two, as evidently one goes on strike when demanding something, is the U.S. it is not as much the right t strike that would be withdrawn, as the right to get together to negotiate collectively: "collective bargaining." Is there a name in French for that?..

ERIC LANGE : The right to negotiate.. no..

J-C : Collective negotiations, if you will, what the C.G.T. the C.F.D.T. and Cny do.. and so, he wants to abolish that, because he is explaining us that otherwise things get too expensive, because State employees can then exercise pressures that are unbearable,,. .. and if we were to buy what he says, we would think that the State always has to backdown facing the pressure from its employees, and is always forced to pay them more. So we the wonder then how it is that all those employees are not millionaires, because if that is so, might as well ask for the same pay as in Wall St.... But.. that's how he sees it..

ERIC LANGE : But you, in your own look at things, from your own prism, it is evident that those movements in the U.S. are influenced by what has happened in the Magreb?

J-C : Well yes, in fact is not even I who demonstrated that, it is you....

Laughs ...

J-C : When we spoke Friday, it is you who fetched--I would love to have that picture--you told me that yu found that photograph in the Canadian press in which some guy was holding a sign in arabic that meant "Get Out" (as in Tunisia)...

ERIC LANGE : yes, that's right, a guy who had copied in arabic the sign "Get Out" which he had presumably saw on TV or on the net, that's right..

J-C : So, you saw the photograph ?

ERIC LANGE : yes, I saw the photograph, i need to fetch on which blog, site that was ...

J-C : Please retrieve it, send it to me, I would like to put that photograph on my own blog..

ERIC LANGE : I think it was on Cyberpress.ca, you know, that site which regroups press from Canada

J-C : Cyberpress.ca, I'll look for it....

ERIC LANGE : ..But has it grown now..

J-C : ..Well, I don't know if you recall, Friday at the end of our conversation I was saying that "Yes with a little luck, the movement will spread all the way to North Carolina .. one may always dream." these are my words from Friday. And this morning, the dream turns reality, I see, front page in my paper, the Raleigh paper, the North Carolina State's Capital. It was a little on the side, but it was nevertheless front page, that there had been a protest yesterday in Raleigh, asking for the reinstallation of collective bargaining rights in North Carolina (see article here), and clearly the article was linking that to what is going on in Wisconsin. There is therefore a snowball effect if you will, what is going on in Tunisia influences Egypt, what is going on in Egypt influences Wisconsin, what goes on in Wisconsin now influences people in North Carolina, on the whole those folks are black, because blacks in North Carolina, in the South as a general matter, are the ones who have the most.. have the most interest.., the largest tendency, to be pro-unionist, .. sorry, that's English, pro-union, they are the most likely to have "ethnic" opinions .. no, that's no correct either, well.. you know what I mean, they have a strong sensibility for a vision of society which would be more "Socialist" than wild Capitalism, if you will...

ERIC LANGE : "Socialism" is a bad word in United States...

J-C : "Socialism" ? Oh yes, it is a very very bad word ...

ERIC LANGE : Jean-Christian, I am surprised, I have been wondering since the beginning of this story, if really ... Because you know, we talk of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, China, Bahrein, .. and now we talk of the United States.., I don't know what is going on... Is there really something...

J-C : We need TV crews to re-focus on the United States, because here is the main field of operation now..giggle...

ERIC LANGE : You are going to see that we are going to be guilty of .... giggle...

J-C : Yes, well, I don't know if we are going to be responsible for it, but I think that... Everything is there.., there are pressures, political ones, social ones, which are strong,.. in the United States at the end of the day, as there was in the Arab world when all this started,.. maybe a little less strong in the U.S. .. but no matter what, if one wanted to look into it, .. much stronger than one imagines I think, in France anyhow, .. and then .. that creates.. that allows, .. that motivates people in doing something, I mean after a while .. enough is enough.. and...

ERIC LANGE : Well, .. Americans are starting to change. Jean-Christian ? Thank you, thank you for the news, we keep in touch, and we follow this, I am going to follow this up close...

J-C : Well, very well, and send the TV crews will you?

ERIC LANGE : Ok, I am going to send teh TV crews, ok. Hey Jean-Christian, that's it, Anneka put a link to your blog, on our blog, if the listeners want to discover your work and all your photographs.

J-C : Thank you very much.

ERIC LANGE : you are welcome, thank you very much Jean-Christian...

J-C : Talk to you soon Eric.

ERIC LANGE : Talk to you soon. 01 45 24 20 20 of course if you want to talk of the United States with us, and Jean-Christian's blog, you go on the forum's blog, ericlange.org, you will find the link to go see everything he does.


The Cairo-Madison Express

Pyramide 1972

The Cairo-Madison Express

On February 18, I was invited in the Forum du Mouv," a Radio France Broadcast from Paris, to talk about the possible contamination of the Egyptian revolution into the U.S. through Wisconsin. the podcast is linked below, and the translation follows.

The photograph above is rather unremarkable, but is one of the very few I have left from what I photographed in 1972, the only time I ever went to Egypt, and my early debut in photography. My mother, step father and your immodest reporter, took a two week cruse around the mediterranean that summer, organized by the "benefit bureau" of the State company that they were working for. It is the same organization that in 2009 allowed us to spend "
A Socialist Vacation among Princes and Divinities" but that is a different story, for later. The cruse brought us in several Arab countries, our first encounter with that culture otherwise present in our streets, but with which we never interacted. It is during that trip on a Russian cruse liner (yes, the benefit bureau was a little run by communists) that I started my companionship with photography. My father had lent me his Foca, a 1950's French take on the Leica, and all was captured on Kodachrome 25.

In those days I listened to a lot of Crosby Stills Nash & Young ....


ERIC LANGE : 01 45 24 20 20 If you would like to add some opinion about the reliability of information on the web.... The revolution has started in the United States and we'll talk about it in a minute, just after the announcements, please stay with us ...

ERIC LANGE : 01 45 24 20 20 If you would like to continue, and this time it is indeed Jean-Christian who is with us, good evening Jean-Christian ...

J-C : Yes, good evening, good evening Eric. It was weird earlier to hear my name, I thought "but I am not on the phone" ... (Eric had announced the previous caller as "Jean Christian" while his name was really "Christian")

ERIC LANGE : But yes, what is going on ...? Tell me Jean-Christian, you sent us an email earlier on, and I therefore looked on the net, and as we were talking earlier in the show of verifying infos on the net, I looked around, and all this seems perfectly true, there would be like a perfume of revolution in Wisconsin, a State of the U.S.A. ?

J-C : Yes, yes, the ways of the lord are unfathomable are they? Who would have guessed that a revolutionary movement or a revolutionary aspiration that would have originated in the Middle East or in the Magreb, would end up so quickly contaminating the U.S.? Who would have guessed that?

ERIC LANGE : We need to briefly recount the story. In Wisconsin, stop me if I am wrong, there is a Republican Governor, who yesterday wanted to pass a budget that was going to restrain public services a lot, and consequently, there has been some protests.

J-C : Yes, well if we wanted to develop the analogy, we could say "A governor/Dictator" because, sure, he has been elected, but he was elected in a State, Wisconsin, which is traditionally a State more or less to the left of the political spectrum, on the whole, just as there are some districts in France which are more traditionally Socialist than U.M.P (President Sarkozy's party). And one day they made a mistake, they voted Republican, in the last election, because they were seduced by some sirens, but nevertheless, Wisconsin is not Alabama or Oklahoma. And here we have a Governor, who like many Governors nowadays in the U.S. is forced to.. has to deal with some atrocious budget circumstances because with the crisis they have less and less revenues and yet there is still just as much expenses to face.

Something needs to be done, but the only thing he can think of doing is proposing to eliminate positions, and distribute pay cuts. And on the top of that, which is already plenty controversial, and to spice the sauce, that Governor adds to the bill a provision that will take away bargaining rights. That is something that already exists in a number of States in America, notably in the South where I live. In North Carolina, folks like my wife who are State Employees, since she is an elementary school teacher, do not have bargaining rights, and God knows that is not good. In Wisconsin they have kept that right, and they are threatened to have it taken away. so they are not happy at all and they take it to the streets.

But there is something that is even more hilarious, although what preceded was actually not funny, so it becomes hilarious when we learn that there are 19 Republican Senators in Wisconsin, and 14 Democrats. 19 vs. 14 the Republicans are bound to win all the times, except that in order for a vote to happen, there needs to be a quorum of 20. So yesterday, the Democrat Senators of Wisconsin, that's unbelievable, they left.

ERIC LANGE : They left the State altogether to prevent the vote to take place!

J-C : They left the State and as of this morning in my paper, nobody knew where they were. For all I know they are in the studio next to yours, or in Canada, we don't know, because they left Wisconsin since if it was possible to apprehend them, they could be forced to take a vote.

ERIC LANGE : You are telling me that in an American State called Wisconsin, the Republican Senator in place, huh.. the Governor, sorry, wanted to pass a list of reforms, of bills, that the population is protesting in the streets, that opposition Senators have left the State in order to prevent a vote to take place. But when I looked I saw some photographs, it seems that some folks were occupying the place, aren't they?

J-C : Yes! Necessarily, all this creates a synergy. When I make an analogy with Egypt or Tunisia, it seems a little stretched at first ...

ERIC LANGE : huh, yes, a little ...

J-C : But in fact it not that much stretched, because the problem is still along the same lines. If you want, we have in the U.S. ... The top one percent in the U.S. owns 40% of the wealth, and 22% of earnings, these are official statistics, I don't make them up, and if were declining the whole picture--we might not have time on the air right now--we would discover that there are discrepancies in revenues, in wealth, and therefore in power that are unbearable. Consequently when we arrive in crisis situations such as now, when there is a real issue of revenues (for the State), we deal with some characters who are eventually in position of power like this Wisconsin Governor, who would rather resort to pass bills that would be already unbearable due to the pay cuts, that if they were implemented in France, I mean, would set the Country on fire ... And then as if that wasn't enough he wants to modify laws as to take away the right to strike and to collectively bargain... I don't know, where are we now, Burkina Faso ?...

ERIC LANGE : What is crazy is that for once Americans have come down in the streets. It is rather rare, that they protest, occupy places, that they start such a political action to counter a decision ... it is rather crazy stuff...

J-C : it sure isn't common, and we can't help wonder ... maybe the Egyptians have inspired the folks in Wisconsin....

ERIC LANGE : Well, I don't know, I saw somewhere, .. it was in the Canadian Press. they were explaining that they had noticed an American protester who was there, in Wisconsin, it's Madison huh, the town's name, he had a little sign with written in arabic "Get Out" (what folks were writing and saying in Tunisia). And so I imagine that the guy had seen the news, and he copied ... it is a real acknowledgement from one protester to the ones in Egypt.

J-C : It is not possible to state that the spirit of Egypt or Tunisia ...

ERIC LANGE : no no but ...

J-C : And still ....

ERIC LANGE : And still one may wonder ...

J-C : Yes, we may wonder because, it is also true that in the U.S. as in France and practically anywhere, a lot of attention has been paid to the events in Egypt, above all, because they understand (the Americans) the implications that this has about the relationship between the U.S. and the Arab world,, if you wish, it is talked about all the time, even last night in the news there was a ton on Egypt, so somewhere no, it is not innocent ...

ERIC LANGE : it does not come out of nowhere, no. Jean-Christian, in any case, thank you for telling us, and keep us informed, next week, so that we know what is going on.

J-C : My pleasure, and maybe by contagion it will spread everywhere and maybe even in North Carolina, one may always dream huh?

ERIC LANGE : Thanks a lot Jean-Christian, thank you, we'll follow it. Is Wisconsin becoming the Tunisia of the United States? It is crazy!

Le Cairo-Madison Express

Le 18 Février 2011, j'ai été invité dans le Forum du Mouv' pour parler de la possible contamination des Etats Unis par la révolution Egyptienne au travers du Wisconsin. Les similitudes ne sont pas si fortuites que cela, comme on le découvrira dans le Podcast ci-dessous.


La photographie à gauche n'a rien de particulièrement remarquable, mais a l'avantage d'être l'une des rares qu'il me reste d'une brève escale en Egypte en 1972, à mes tout débuts en photographie. Cet été là, ma mère, mon beau-père et votre immodeste reporter, avions fait une croisière autour de la Méditerranée, croisière organisée par le comité d'entreprise d'EDF, la CCAS dont nous bénéficions. C'est cette même CCAS qui nous permettra en 2009 de passer "Des Vacances Socialistes parmi les Princes et les Divins" mais cela est une autre histoire. Le paquebot était Russe, et c'est durant ce périple qui nous emmenait pour la première fois en visite notamment dans le monde Arabe, que je découvris la photographie. Mon père m'avait prêté son Foca, que j'alimentais avec du Kodachrome 25.

En ce temps là j'écoutais beaucoup de Crosby Stills Nash and Young ...

La photographie ci-dessus me viens grâce à la vigilance de mon ami Rodrigo Dorfman, et appartient à
The above photograph arrives here thanks to my friend Rodrigo Dorfman's vigilance, and belongs to http://twitpic.com/419nfm


Justice not Just Us

Justice, not Just Us
Fayetteville, N.C., April 2006

Justice, not Just Us

(Revised on November 16, 2010)

Much has been written about the Tea Party (see entry
"Sur la Route du Tea Party" ) and its nonsense is now well documented, as well as the superficial reasons which prompted its partisans to espouse its agenda and vote accordingly. It is crucial though, to realize that the Tea Party would still be mostly a fantasy in Carl Rove’s and Dick Armey’s plotting strategies, if not for two American fundamentals:

* Self-Righteousness
* Lack of education.

The lack of education deprives many citizens of the tools to understand what is going on in the world and the U.S. This for instance, allows an irrational fear of socialism (see entry
"Le Rouge et le Noir" ) from people chronically victimized by the breed of capitalism exercised here. Such fear may be why 25 % of Americans associate Barack Obama and Hitler as several polls confirm, since it has weirdly settled in America, that Hitler was a Socialist or a Communist, we are not sure. More broadly, the American brand of education is hollow enough that it prevents many to hold any perspective beyond much of what they know from direct experience. Add self-righteousness, and the mix becomes toxic for democracy, as then all kinds of easy to swallow, bogus arguments, will result in the individual responding very predictably to stimulations aimed at exacerbating frustration levels and at re-enforcing the idea that she/he, does not get the rewards deserved.

What is defined so far is a populist nation, and such a regime could theoretically be conservative or progressive, although latter societies have a harder time locking minds as they are typically education prone. In the U.S. the distribution of enlightenment antidote is done through media (Fox News, Rush Limbaugh etc…) which are devoted to shamelessly destroy the natural impulse that this country would have to reform itself in the face of numerous and recurrent failures : permanent poverty of certain social/ethnic categories, inability for the United States to compete in the globalized economy that it so adamantly advocated for, astounding inequality levels with the one top percent owning as much wealth as the bottom 95%, blatant inefficiency of the health care system, especially compared to those of European "socialist nations," etc... But the impact of those media is only possible due to the lack of critical sense, and critical sense is typically the result of a good education. It is true that enough reasonably well educated folks are very conservative. This is where self-righteousness kicks in, as being conservative is inherently about being satisfied with the primal packing order. Self-righteousness
prevents those folks from seeing that others have not had the chances, circumstantial, genetic, familial
This Appeared in the Raleigh, North Carolina News & Observer on November 12, 2010 and illustrates the cult for the wealthy in the U.S, see focus on text below
and what not, that they have enjoyed.
Ceci est apparu dans le News & Observer de Raleigh, Caroline du Nord, et montre le culte pour les grandes fortunes aux Etats Unis, voir vue du texte ci-dessous
It is then easy for those privileged folks to rationalize that "others"
need to work as “hard” as they have, will then be rewarded since the system is presumed perfect, and that in the meantime, there is no reason for them, the worthiest, not to get a tax cut. Self-righteousness is not an American monopoly, it is universal, but in a society relying so much on individualism, the idea that the righteous will be rewarded and that the sum of them will be the pillars of a successful nation, invasive self-righteousness is the collateral unforeseen, unrecognized and unspoken damage.

Self-righteousness is so rampant in this country that it might as well be part of the D.N.A. I remember my dentist’s assistant, 15 years ago, when I was still new here, asking me if “I had been working hard lately? " That always shocked me, because I never felt that I worked especially hard, nor that she did either. In my book,the hard working folks are the ones going down in the mine, building roads in the heat or the cold, that’s hard work. Being a photographer, no matter how many hours one puts in a week, does not qualify for hard labor. That is so un-American of me, which is how this photograph “Justice, not Just Us”, struck me. It is a rather simple image, well composed and featuring African American activists, but other than that, simple. The strength of a photograph does not always resides in its sophisticated innovative way. Sometimes its intimate connection with contemporary affairs, the testimony given, its originality, makes it attractive. Here this exceptional play on words based on a probably typical African American slide on the last syllable, a principle often found in Rap or Blues, profoundly underlines that justice should not be dispensed only for “us,” whether for the one self or the one nation, which in many American minds is most certainly the "chosen" one. This photograph was shot at the time of the war in Iraq, when many of the same who now vote for the Tea Party’s agenda were satisfied to fight Al Queda in other people’s country so that they would not have to fight them here, which was the ultimate argument given to justify the unjustifiable. This photograph is still very current, like
"Dans les Moments de Vérité," it promotes the necessity to be intellectually honest, which my math teacher when I was thirteen, taught us is the most difficult yet indispensable thing to do.

Justice pour Tous, pas que pour Nous

(Révisé le 16 Novembre 2010)

Beaucoup a été écrit sur le Tea Party (voir post
"Sur la Route du Tea Party"), et les raisons pour lesquelles ses partisans épousent la cause ont été abondement couvertes. Mais l'on aurait tord de prêter trop d'attention à ce qui motive en surface les adhérents à ce mouvement, car celui-ci ne serait encore qu’un fantasme dans l’imagination machiavélique de Carl Rove (architecte des campagnes de George Bush II, et fondateur de "American Crossroads" l’un des bras "teapartyesques"), et Dick Armey (lieutenant de la révolution Républicaine de 1994 et président de "Freedom Works", un autre bras "teapartyesque"), si ce n’était pour deux composantes fondamentales de la société Américaine:

* L’autosatisfaction, l'arrogance, la bonne conscience, la propension de l’individu à se croire plus méritant.

* Le manque d'éducation.

L’ignorance empêche une grande partie des citoyens Américains d’avoir une perspective sur le monde, d’en comprendre la situation, les aboutissants, y compris en ce qui concerne leur propre pays. Cela permet par exemple, grâce aussi à 60 ans de propagande, la peur irrationnelle du “socialisme” (voir post
“Le Rouge et le Noir”), chez ceux qui sont en fait des victimes permanentes du capitalisme encore assez pur en vigueur ici. Une peur irrationnelle? Indubitablement, 25% d'Américains associaient dans un sondage récent, Hitler et Obama ; l’honnêteté force à préciser que Hitler ne se trouverait pas en si mauvaise compagnie si il n’avait pas nommé son mouvement “National Socialism.” Plus largement, l’inculture limite l’horizon d’une grande partie de la population Américaine à ce que ces gens connaissent directement, garantissant ainsi assez bien la pérennisation de la médiocrité. Si l’on ajoute l’autosatisfaction, la défense naturelle qu’à l’individu dans une société basée sur l’individualisme, le mélange devient toxique pour la démocratie, puisqu’il suffit alors de diffuser des arguments faciles et démagogiques, pour que les masses se montent contre une cible donnée.

C’est le rôle de Fox et sa filiale Fox News ici, soutenus par les Rush Limbaugh de tous acabits, ces animateurs de radio qui passent leurs journées à débiter courtes vues, mensonges et coups bas sur tout ce qui n’est pas en ligne avec l’orthodoxie de la classe dominante blanche et chrétienne. Fox appartient à Rupert Murdoch, le Berlusconi Anglo-Saxon, si ce n'est qu'il n'a lui, jamais été élu Chef d’Etat. Cette chaîne de télévision au ton résolument populiste et qui par comparaison fait ressembler TF1 à Arte, est la source d’information des masses populaires dans un pays ou l’intellectualisme est mal vu. Cela en son temps avait servi la stratégie de George Bush, lui permettant d’arriver au poste d’idiot du village en chef, avec l’Américain moyen convaincu que le président était l’un de ses semblables.

Dans la stratégie de l’establishment conservateur Américain, les Fox et Rush Limbaugh de tous poils permettent de contrecarrer la tendance naturelle que les Etat Unis auraient à se réformer dû aux constats d’échec répétés dans autant de domaines que la persistance d’un niveau de pauvreté incompatible avec le statut dominant des U.S.A., une inégalité de revenus avoisinant celle de républiques bananières (1% des ménages possèdent 40% des richesses, autant que les 95% du “bas de l’échelle”), le coût et inefficacité du système de santé, notamment comparé à ceux de L’Europe dite “Socialiste,” l’incapacité de ce pays à s’adapter à la globalisation pour laquelle il a pourtant milité milité si ardemment, les déficits budgétaires et de la balance des échanges chroniques qui mettent le Dollar en péril ...etc. Mais l’impact de ces sources de désinformation ne peut exister qu’en absence de sens critique, un sens critique qui est typiquement le résultat d’une bonne éducation, tant académique qu’au sens plus large qui englobe les valeurs d’une nation et est inculqué à l’individu par son environnement. L’on objectera que aux Etats-Unis comme ailleurs, bon nombre de conservateurs ont un excellent niveau d’éducation. C’est là que l’ingrédient numéro un, l’autosatisfaction, l’arrogance de la bonne conscience, interviennent, empêchant certains de ceux qui pensent avoir réussi, de comprendre, si tant est qu’ils essaient de la faire, que les autres du fardeau d’en bas, n’ont avant tout pas bénéficié des mêmes circonstances familiales, historiques, génétiques, qui ont fait d’eux ce qu’ils sont. Les nantis aiment souvent blâmer la plèbe pour sa situation, convaincus que lorsqu’ils travailleront autant qu’eux, et prendront autant de décisions difficiles mais méritantes, les plébéiens seront récompensés par un système nécessairement sans faille, puisqu’il les a consacré eux, les nantis, dans leur position. Aux Etats Unis il n’est pas rare qu’ils ajoutent alors, qu’en attendant, eux les nantis pourraient utiliser à bon escient une réduction d'impôt fort méritée, et nul doute salutaire pour la nation dont ils sont le moteur.

Les Américains n’ont bien entendu pas le monopole de l’autosatisfaction, qui est à peu près universelle. Mais une société comme celle des Etats Unis, fondée sur l’individualisme, l’idée que les vertueux seront récompensés et que la somme de leurs valeurs créera les piliers sur lesquels la nation toute entière reposera, génère une autosatisfaction envahissante, aussi sûrement que les radiations s’accompagnent de chaleur. C’est là une conséquence imprévue, inavouée, et d’ailleurs inexplorée, d’une charte sociétale en rupture délibérée avec la tradition Européenne dont elle est issue, et une contradiction de plus pour le pays le plus religieux du monde occidental, où l’on s’attendrait subséquemment à bien davantage d’humilité.

L’autosatisfaction est si omniprésente aux Etats Unis qu’elle y semble atavique, sans doute inscrite dans le patrimoine génétique. Je me souviens, il y a quinze ans au moins, j’étais encore tout neuf ici, de l’assistante de mon dentiste qui me demandait à chaque visite si “j’avais travaillé dur ces jours-ci ?” Cela me surprenait toujours, parce que dans mon esprit, on ne travaille dur que dans la mine, aux champs, au bord des routes, aux travaux forcés, et en tout cas lorsque la sueur est versée quotidiennement et abondamment. Dans mon état de photographe, quel que soit le nombre d’heures qui fasse ma semaine, on ne travaille pas dur, on travaille peut-être intensément, mais ce n’est pas la même chose.

C’est ainsi que cette photographie “Justice, not Just Us,” m’est apparue aussi critique. Cette une image assez simple, bien composée, et figurant des activistes noir-Américains, mais malgré tout, simple d’un point de vue photographique. la force d’une photographie ne vient pas uniquement de sa sophistication, son innovation dans l’art photographique. Parfois l’adéquation avec le temps présent, le témoignage apporté, son originalité, confèrent un souffle attirant. Ici le jeu de mots basé sur la prononciation, une dérive du sens par une glissade sur la dernière syllabe, ce qui est assez volontiers noir-Américain, et dont le principe se retrouve dans le Rap et le Blues, est particulièrement fin et puissant. Ce jeu de mots va directement à la racine du problème Américain, la contradiction fréquente mais rarement admise, entre l’impératif moral et l'intérêt individuel ou collectif d’une nation qui s’imagine élue. Cette photo a été prise au temps de la Guerre en Irak, lorsque beaucoup de ceux qui soutiennent aujourd’hui les thèses du Tea Party, se félicitaient que leur pays aille combattre Al Queda sur le territoire d’autres peuples, afin de ne pas avoir à le faire dans leurs banlieues. C’était en tout cas l’ultime argument employé pour justifier l’injustifiable. Cette photographie est toujours d’actualité, comme
“Dans les Moments de Vérité,” elle demande l'honnêteté intellectuelle sans laquelle une société se fourvoie et court à sa perte.

More on the Air :

I appeared in Eric Lange's broadcast on Le Mouv (Radio France,
see site), to discuss this on November 2nd, 2010. The podcast of this conversation is linked below.


Et sur les Ondes :

J'ai eu le plaisir d'être invité dans l'émission d'Eric Lange, Le Forum du Mouv (Radio Farnce,
voir site) le 2 Novembre 2010 pour discuter des élections de mi-mandat qui avaient lieu ici ce même jour. Cette discussion se réfère à ce qui est expliqué dans ce blog, et son podcast est accessible ci-dessous.



Sur la Route du Tea Party


La Prophétisation de la Parousie de Novembre
November's Prophesied First Coming


Sur la route à travers la Virginie, des pancartes assez larges, ici et là, annonçaient “November is coming” (Novembre Arrive). Elles étaient en blanc sur noir, élégantes, mais tout de même, annoncer ainsi l’arrivée par ailleurs prévisible de Novembre, c’était plutôt déroutant.
Il me fallut un moment pour réaliser qu’il ne s’agissait pas de concerts rock prochainement dans ces cambrousses. “Americans for Prosperity,” la légende devenue lisible au detour d’un virage me fit percuter.

Bientôt une autre moisson de pancartes détonnait : “Hurt U.S. Congress.” Pas “Hurt for U.S. Congress” et encore moins “Hurt for Congress,” qui suggèreraient que l’on se languit du Congrès.
Typiquement l’on écrit “Machin For Congress,” l’absence de “for” ici, induit l’idée de faire mal (hurt) au Congrès. Il existe véritablement un Robert Hurt, le bien nommé, qui se présente aux élections du Congrès dans un district du sud de la Virginie. Lorsque les multitudes veulent faire expier le Congrès pour ses pêchés soit-disant ruineux, cet animal fait un usage brillant de son patronyme.

Ces gens, le Tea Parti, en veulent à la terre entière, encore que principalement à Obama, mais aussi aux politiques en général, et au Congrès entre autres, puisque c’est pour lui que l’on vote bientôt.
Même les Républicains classiques qui ont le tord d’être en place, sont réputés faire partie du problème. La solution : les remplacer. Dans un tel environnement, Robert Hurt est l’homme de la situation, un don de Dieu dans une région qui lui est toute dévouée. Tout de même “Hurt U.S. Congress” c’est puissant, et pour le coup comment s’étonner que ses panneaux se retrouvent semble-t-il au delà de la circonscription qu’il convoite?

Le Tea Parti c’est le parti du “contre.” “Contre” comme “je suis contre tout ce qui prélève des impôts.” D’où le nom, acronyme de “Taxed Enough Already” (Taxé déjà Suffisamment) mais qui trouve surtout son origine dans la guerre d’indépendance où à Boston pendant la “Tea Party,”
l’on jeta à la mer les Anglais et leur thé avec, ce thé (tea) que le roi d’Angleterre taxait comme Louis taxait le sel. Le Tea Party c’est aussi est sans doutes avant tout, un mouvement libertaire, encore que libertaire pépére ; les libertés certes, mais surtout celles qui nous conviennent.

Dans le Tea Party on veut protéger les libertés Américaines de Washington
, qui semble vouloir tout réglementer comme dans l’enfer de l’Europe Socialiste.
Dans le Tea Party on veut qu’on nous foute la paix, qu’on nous laisse vivre comme avant, quand tout allait bien, quand l’Amérique vivait sous le status quo anglo-saxon, lorsque le Taliban était à la solde de la CIA, et que ni les Chinois ni Al Queda ne s’opposaient à l’hégémonie de l’oncle Sam. Dans le Tea Party on est typiquement blanc, et ok financièrement, du coup on panique un peu lorsque le monde change comme ces temps-ci. Par contre on ne se préoccupe pas trop du climat, car comment concevoir que l’homme puisse avoir en son pouvoir de défaire ce que Dieu a créé.

Sorte de bouquet final, je tombais sur l’une de ses pancartes prophétisant l’arrivée du mois de Novembre, au pied de trois croix érigées au bout d’un champ, le long de “Swing Bridge Road” (route du pont qui balance), ce qui tombait à pic vu qu’il s’agit en effet de changer le vote (swing the vote). Les trois croix annonçaient sans ambigüité que l’on était ici en terre si ce n’est sainte, en tous cas évangéliste, cette branche des fous de Jésus à la droite de la Chrétienté Protestante.
Les Évangélistes sont 60 millions aux Etats Unis, soit un Américain sur cinq, ce qui est aussi, coïncidence, le nombre d’Américains convaincus que Barack Hussein Obama est en fait un Musulman. L’histoire ne dit pas combien d’entre eux pensent que c’est un cousin de Saddam Hussein?

Le Tea Party ce n’est pas les évangélistes, et vice versa, mais il y a beaucoup de superposition. Sarah Palin l’a compris dès le début, jointe maintenant par Newt Gingrich, l’ancien héros de la “Révolution de 1994,” l’ex “Speaker of the House,” le troisième poste le plus important de la hiérarchie constitutionnelle, et aspirant au remplacement d’Obama. Newt Gingrich et le Tea Party font appel à la hantise qu’ont beaucoup d’Américains pour le gouvernement, qui serait comme un pêché originel, l’incarnation de l’inéficacité et de l’entrave à la liberté. D’où la stigmatisation de la politique actuelle pour avoir accentué le déficit et créé une réforme du système de santé qui mettrait les Etats Unis sur le chemin de la même ruine gangrénant déjà l’Europe réputée Socialiste, entendez “Bolchévique.”

Newt se laisse même aller dans l’islamophobie. Il a évoqué récemment un danger sous-jacent causé par certains musulmans
qui n’auraient de cesse de conquérir le monde, et l’Amérique en chemin. Selon lui, d’aucuns s’emploieraient déjà à insinuer la charia en lieu de la bonne loi Américaine.

“La peur, c’est depuis toujours le chantage du pouvoir” déclamait Bernard Lavilliers il y a plus de 25 ans. McCarthy l’avait sans doutes compris avant lui, puis Georges Bush et son émule Nicolas Sarkozy, maintenant Newt Gingrish tente d’en remettre une couche. Dans tous les cas, le but n’est que de préserver, l’emprise de l’establishment sur le monde.

Il est intéressant qu’il y ait dans le programme du Tea Party la disparition du Département Fédéral de l’Education, cela bien sûr afin de réduire le déficit.
Mais où était le Tea Party lorsque Georges Bush faisait déjà exploser le dit déficit pour financer ses guerres imbéciles tout en réduisant les impôts, notamment ceux des plus riches? N’est-il pas révélateur que les “tea baggers” (partisans du Tea Party) veuillent éliminer le département de l’éducation, dans un pays où celle-ci est déjà lamentable, mais par contre ne disent rien du “Département de la Défense,” qui a lui seul dépense autant que la somme des budgets militaires des 13 autres nations les plus militarisées?

Cela montre bien que dans leur ensemble, ces obstructionnistes ne sont obsédés par l’explosion du déficit que parce que c’est un véhicule pratique pour exprimer leur rancœur face à un Président qu’ils soupçonnent d’être coupable des pires pêchés, y compris celui de vouloir supprimer quelques privilèges de l’establishment, de maintenir l’avortement légal ou de restreindre la vente d’armes à feu aux citoyens, qu’ils soient empoisonnés à la testostérone ou pas.

Cette tribune a été publié dans Le Monde le 20 Octobre 2010 , ici

Ainsi que dans l'Humanité le 21 Octobre,

Vous pouvez trouver une série de photos sur le Tea Party, ici


On the road into Virginia, some large signs by the road, were announcing "November is coming." The signs were stylish, white on black, but announcing that loudly the upcoming arrival of November is puzzling, is it not? At the risk of appearing a little slow, I must admit it took me a while to realize that this was not about a rock tour soon to perform in the outback. The subtitle: "Americans for Prosperity," was the give away.

Other signs soon appeared, and equally intriguing: "Hurt U.S. Congress." Not "Hurt for U.S. Congress" and even less "Hurt for Congress." There is really a Robert Hurt, running for Congress in a district of southern Virginia. That fellow makes brilliant use of his name in a context where the multitudes dream of punishing Congress. These people, the Tea Party that is, are mad at the whole world to be sure, although primarily at Obama, but also at politicians in general, and at Congress among others. Even regular Republicans, if incumbents, are considered part of the problem. The solution? Replace them.

It is clear that the Tea Party is a party against. "Against" such as "I am against anything collecting taxes." The Tea Party is mostly a libertarian movement, although comfort libertarian : freedom, all freedoms, but especially those that suit us. It is about protecting American freedoms from those in Washington obsessed with regulation as in the European Socialist hell. Tea baggers want to be left alone, until of course protections are needed from communists wanting daughters to have abortions, or from gays out to desecrate marriage. They want to keep living like we did before, when all was fine under the Anglo-Saxon Status Quo, when the Taliban was on the CIA's payroll, and neither the Chinese nor Al Queda were threatening Uncle Sam's hegemony. Tea baggers are typically white and financially ok, which might be why they panic when the world changes.

I saw a “November is Coming” sign at the foot of three crosses erected at the end of a field along "Swing Bridge Road," another omen, most likely. Evangelical land, obviously. Evangelicals are 1 out of 5 Americans, which is also, coincidentally, the number of Americans believing that Barack Hussein Obama is actually a Muslim. It is not known at the moment how many of them believe that President Obama is a relative of Saddam Hussein.

The Tea Party is not the evangelicals, and vice versa, but there is much overlap. Sarah Palin understood that much from the beginning, now joined by Newt Gingrich. Newt and the Tea Party appeal to the mistrust held by many Americans for the government, mistrust born out of self-righteousness. Hence the need to stigmatize the growing deficit and the creation of a health system reform that puts the U.S. on the road to the same presumed ruin as Europe. Never mind the Euro is now back to $1.38. Newt recently even let himself go into Islamophobia, trying to scare Americans about a supposed subversion of American law into Sharia law.

"Fear has always been the blackmail of power," Bernard Lavilliers, a French artist, sang over 25 years ago. McCarthy understood that before him, then George Bush. Now Newt Gingrish tries to apply another thick coat. All for the preservation of the establishment’s grip on the world.

It is interesting that the Tea Party advocates for the disappearance of the federal department of education, in order to reduce the deficit. But where was the Tea Party when George Bush was already exploding the deficit to finance his wars of folly while cutting taxes, particularly those of the richest? Is it not telling that "tea baggers" want to eliminate the Education Department, when education is at abysmal levels, but say nothing of the "Department of Defense," which on its own spends the equivalent of the next 13 most militarized nations’ defense budgets?

This suggests that these obstructionists are obsessed with the explosion of the deficit because it is a practical vehicle, an alibi to express their anger and resentment against a president they suspect guilty of the worst sins, including that of considering eliminating a few of their handlers’ privileges, wanting to keep abortion legal or God forbid, possibly restricting the sale of firearms to citizens, whether testosterone poisoned or not.

This Tribune was published in Le Monde on Oct 20, 2010, here

As well as in l'Humanité,

You will find a series of photographs on the Tea Party, here


The Union Square Paradox

UnionSquare, Paradox

The Union Square Paradox
Manhattan, December 2009.

Le Paradoxe de Union Square
Manhattan, Décembre 2009.

The Union Square Paradox

We are on Union Square, Manhattan. You wouldn't know, it looks like a scene out of Brave New World. There are lads in the foreground, busy handing political flyers, it is Union Square after all. In the background is a very sleek, metal and glass building and on it some numbers keep changing as if it were a counter. A counter to count what? How many cars go by, what the production has been today, how much is left to do until the end of the month? Is it Brave New World or not?

I asked the folks in the photograph if they knew what those numbers were about. They did not, were not wondering either, I guess as long as it does not affect the taste of coffee... In fact I had already asked my wife before, and she had said that it was the national debt. I just wanted to be sure, because that was too much. Come on, a counter measuring the national debt on a Best Buy building? It is not Aldious Huxley now, rather Peter Sellers.

But everybody was adamant, my wife, Mario who has been living in NY for 30 years, and several older folks who have been around enough to pay attention. As a matter of fact, Google "Union Square Numbers" and you will find several docs who indeed acknowledge the urban legend:

This One (scroll down)

This other one

This one for good measure

In fact this has nothing to do with the national debt, it is modern art, like me. This is part of an art installation, a tribute to time done by artists Kristen Jones and Andrew Ginzel called The Metronome:

see Wilkipedia

We are in the fourth dimension.

Yes but then why is everybody convinced that this is the national debt figure? Because Americans know that they are in deep debt, and consequently a number with more digits than the brain can assimilate, has to be the debt, especially if displayed so conspicuously. Collective psychosis. Americans are in fact pretty much as much in debt as Europeans, except that at that price, they don't have the same common wealth in infrastructure, physical and social. Yet it is the Euro that goes down against the Dollar and the European economies which are presumably in such bad shape!

This is the God father of all paradoxes.

PODCAST : I have appeared on the French NPR (France Inter) in Eric Lange's show "Allo La Planéte" on June17, 2010 to speak about this photograh, the podcast is below.


Le Paradoxe de Union Square

“Union Square” parce que c’est là que cela se passe, à Manhattan. “Paradox” parce que ce qui s’y passe est paradoxal. Biensur il s’agit d’un univers comme si inspiré du Meilleur des Mondes, celui d’Aldious Huxley. On y voit des quidams qui s’agitent, dans tous les sens, et il y a un bâtiment, bien moderne, qui fait sérieux, comme celui du patron, avec tout un tas de chiffres qui défilent. Ca doit être un compteur, mais pour compter quoi? Les gens qui passent, combien ils produisent, ce qu’il reste à emmagasiner d'ici la fin du mois?

J’ai demandé aux gars dans l’image, si ils savaient à quelle sauce ils étaient comptés? Ils savaient pas, s’étaient pas posés la question. Sont pas curieux faut croire. En fait on dit que ces chiffres, ce sont ceux de la dette. Oui, LA DETTE! Ce qu’on doit, tous, enfin... eux, les Américains. C’est ce que la rumeur dit, si on demande à des ceusses qui ont une idée, ils disent tous, c’est la dette, pas d’exception, en fait c’est documenté, sur Google.

Ici (descendre dans la page)

Ici aussi

Ici encore

Incroyable non? Ben non, c’est pas incroyable, les ricains doivent un paquet au reste du monde, surtout les Chinois, alors, non, c’est pas incroyable.

Je veux dire que ce qui est incroyable c’est qu’on ait pu trouver un farceur qui soit aller placer le compteur de la dette sur le mur d’un magasin “Best Buy,” l'équivalent de Darty ou la FNAC. Fallait avoir envie de rire non? Du genre “allez, voyons voir si on peut s’endetter un peu plus aujourd’hui? En s’y mettant tous au doit pouvoir alléger les chintoks d’un milliard de plus...” Extraordinaire!!!

En fait, le problème, c’est que le compteur ne mesure absolument pas le dette. En fait c’est de l’art moderne, comme moi. Mais là c’est une sculpture, qui mesure le temps qui passe, qui est passé et qui reste d'ici à Minuit.

voir Wilkipedia

Un peu dure à suivre, mais rien d’autre qu’un hommage au temps, nous sommes dans la quatrième dimension.

Oui mais alors, pourquoi tout le monde croit-il que c’est la dette? Parce que les Américains sont aussi endettés que les Européens, et qu'un numéro avec plus de chiffres que le cerveau ne peut enregistrer, ce ne peut être que la dette, surtout si affiché sur un mur, comme un avertissement. Symptôme de psychose sous jacente. Surtout que à ce prix là, les Américains n'ont pas la moitié du patrimoine des Européens en terme d’infrastructure, tant matérielle que sociale. Mais c’est l’Euro qui baisse contre le Dollar, et les économies Européennes qui seraient au bord de la banqueroute.

Le pére de tous les Paradoxes!

PODCAST : j'ai été invité le 17 Juin 2010 dans "Allo la Planéte" l'émission d'Eric Lange sur France Inter pour parler de cette photo, et j'y fais aussi un appel du 18 Juin 2010 (l'émission commence à 23:00, mais continue le 18 Juin jusqu'à 1:00), pour offrir une vraie solution pour les retraites. Le podcast est ci dessous.



The Health Care Divide

Hi Haters / Salut Mauvais Bougre


Il y aurait tant à dire sur ce sujet, que je n'ai pas le temps d'écrire en ce moment, mais au lendemain de la perte du siège de Ted Kennedy, il est grand temps de montrer quelques photos qui en disent long.

(Cliquez pour agrandir les images)


There would be much to write about on this. Unfortunately I do not have the time right now, but on the day after Ted Kennedy's seat was lost to a Republican, one espousing whole heatedly the Republican destructive agenda, and running against the President's Health care reform attempts, it is time for me to at least let a few photographs loose.

(Click on Photographs to see them larger)


Le Rouge et le Noir

RATHER DEAD THAN RED, Raleigh News & Observer, April 7, 2009


In 1831, Stendhal published "The Red and the Black," a classic of French literature where clergy and revolutionary aspirations confront each others. Clearly the present circumstances in America oppose reactionary forces to the ones of change, whatever the latter entails. Some today in the U.S. are just as entrenched as was the 19th century French clergy, to keep the social order as they have always known it. In order to sway public opinion, the fundamentalists of the status quo imply that Barack Obama is a modern Julien Sorel, the hero of Stendhal's novel, a calculating fellow working on seduction, a socialist in disguise, a black man that will turn us all red.

It started during the fall campaign, when the soon to become “Joe the Plummer” asked Obama if he was going to raise his taxes. Obama answered that he was advocating for some redistribution of wealth. REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH? For some time the pundits thought that Obama had made a major strategic error. He became accused of being a Socialist who wanted to take Joe's dough. Sarah Palin was not completely discredited yet, and she and Mc Cain grabbed that appearance of an opportunity and ran on it to the end. Few at the time voiced that "redistribution of wealth" did not equate to socialism, that the U.S. was already "redistributing wealth" to the great sorrow of most Republicans, and that nevertheless absolutely nobody would call the U.S. a socialist nation. Even fewer, if any, murmured that Socialism after all was not such a bad word, that most of Europe, at least by comparison to the U.S. is perceived as being "somewhat" socialist, and is shown as an example of progress, a desirable place to visit if not to live, by many educated Americans.

It is inspiring to note that in their desperation to find an angle against Obama, the Republicans chose to use "socialist" as an epithet, rather than the more classic "communist," the mother of all bad words. Communist would probably have been perceived as too much for what is after all a very mild mannered man, nobody's idea of a rabid Bolshevik. Yet calling him socialist, a rare sign of sophistication from folks who generally promote primary thinking, begs the question: what does that mean? Everybody knows more or less what communism means,
but socialism is fuzzier, as it has evolved in time. Socialism was never defined very precisely, but clearly started as a somewhat collectivist vision of social organization. In today's practice, socialism is merely a humanitarian approach to capitalism, one that understands that society, its economy, has to provide a balance in wealth distribution and that a super concentration of wealth at the top does not bring peace.

Several months of political quietness followed Obama's victory, but by now his opposition has re-organized, and is back on the socialist refrain, playing on the libertarian cord to promote an antiquated discredited conservative agenda. It is stunning to this observer that fifty plus years after Mc Carthy, and in the midst of an economic crisis that many claim, sounds the end of capitalism, being associated with socialism in America, is still like having the plague. When capitalism has failed health care in America, has brought so many Americans lately into bankruptcy, has proven ineffective at providing a sorely needed high speed train network and other essential infrastructure to America, wouldn’t it be wise to have an open mind and recognize that whether one calls it socialism or a bigger place for government intervention, something needs to be done to keep the fox out of the hen house?


Lorsque Stendhal publie Le Rouge et le Noir en 1831, il cache dans un drame romantique une remise en question des valeurs du Clergé sous lesquelles s'arc-boute la bourgeoisie. Parallèlement, dans l’ère Obama, l’Amérique est le théâtre d’un conflit entre les forces réactionnaires et celles de progrès, quelle que soit la définition de celui-ci par ceux qui ont gagné l’élection présidentielle. Nombre de conservateurs Américains d’aujourd’hui sont aussi fervents défenseurs de l’ordre social établi, que l’était le clergé Français du 19e siècle. Afin de gagner l’opinion publique à eux, ils insinuent que Barack Obama est le Julien Sorel contemporain, un séducteur calculateur qui dissimule une âme socialiste, un noir qui si l’on n’y prend garde nous tournera tous rouges.

Tout commença pendant la campagne de l’automne 2008, lorsque celui qui allait devenir “Joe Le Plombier” demanda à Obama si celui-ci avait l’intention d’augmenter ses impôts. Le futur Président répondit qu’il était favorable à une certaine redistribution des richesses. Patatras ! Pendant quelque temps les commentateurs politiques crurent qu’il avait commis une bourde aux conséquences stratégiques incurables. Obama fut accusé d’être un socialiste qui voulait prendre l’argent de Joe. Sarah Palin faisait encore illusion, et en compagnie de Mc Cain elle pressa l’argument jusqu’à l’écoeurement du patient. Peu à l’époque murmurèrent que “redistribution des richesses” n’équivalait pas à socialisme, que les Etats Unis redistribuaient déjà une certaine partie des richesses, trop aux yeux de beaucoup de Républicains, mais que quoi qu’il en soit, personne ne suggérerait que l’Amérique fut socialiste. Encore moins, si aucuns, n’osèrent qu'après tout socialisme n’était ni un gros mot ni un grand maux, qu’une bonne partie de l’Europe, en tous cas par comparaison avec l'Amérique était plus ou moins socialiste et néanmoins perçue par nombre d'Américains éduqués comme exemplaire, comme un lieu de villégiature si ce n’est de résidence particulièrement tentant.

Il est remarquable que dans leur désespoir à trouver un angle d'attaque sur Obama, les Républicains préférèrent l'épithète “socialiste” à “communiste,” le père de tous les vilains mots. Communiste aurait sans doute été perçu comme excessif à propos d’un homme qui se complait dans la mesure, et n’est ni de près ni de loin, l’idée que quiconque puisse avoir d’un Bolshévique. Néanmoins le qualifier de socialiste, un rare signe de sophistication de la part de ses opposants de droite généralement coutumiers de la pensée reptilienne, force à s’interroger sur le sens véritable du mot? Chacun sait plus ou moins la signification de “communisme,” mais celle du socialisme est plus diffuse, semble évoluer avec le temps et la géographie. Si le socialisme ne fut jamais défini formellement, il est certain qu’Il vint au monde pour y apporter une solution collectiviste aux problèmes que le capitalisme naissant du 19e siècle rendait évidents. Aujourd’hui, le socialisme que Marx concevait comme une étape vers le communisme, est devenu une évolution humaniste du capitalisme, une vision sociétale qui comprend l’intérêt de l’existence d’un partage plus ou moins équitable des richesses pour qu’une relative harmonie et paix sociale puissent engendrer la prospérité.

Plusieurs mois de calme suivirent la victoire d’Obama, mais l'opposition maintenant rassérénée reprend le couplet socialiste, jouant avec la sensibilité libertaire afin de pousser ses thèses conservatrices. Je trouve stupéfiant que plus de cinquante ans après le Mc Carthysm, et au milieu d’une crise économique qui selon beaucoup, sonne la fin du capitalisme, être associé avec le socialisme aux Etats Unis, serait toujours comme avoir la peste. Lorsque le capitalisme ruine le système de santé en Amérique, a mis bon nombre d’Américains en banqueroute, c’est prouvé incapable de générer ou maintenir un réseau ferroviaire et d’autres infrastructures qui manquent cruellement aux Américains, il est vraisemblablement temps pour ceux-ci de faire preuve d’ouverture d’esprit et de reconnaître que quel que soit le nom qu’on lui donne, “socialisme” ou “plus grande intervention de l’état,” un nouvel ordre de bataille est nécessaire afin de garder le renard à l’écart du poulailler.


The Flag

The Flag

November 25, 2008

Since the election of Barack Obama, this November 4, we are told that some liberals, or should I probably say, “some progressive minded folks,” have started to fly the flag on their house. That's news. An article in the paper explained that these guys are proud of their country again, hence the display. This prompted the "nationalist guard" to write to the editor that these shameless Americans (these occasional flag wavers) should be proud of their country regardless of who is in the White house. Naturally this prompts one to wonder whether the pride for one's nation should be unconditional?

Le Drapeau

Le 25 Novembre 2008

Depuis l’élection de Barack Obama ce 4 Novembre, l'on nous dit que certains “gauchistes” ou encore “progressistes,” se sont mis à déployer le drapeau Américain sur leur maison, ce qui est nouveau. Le journal explique que ces derniers adeptes du drapeau à tous vents, sont redevenus fiers de leur pays, et veulent le faire savoir. Cela a rendu furieux les habituels agiteurs du dit drapeau, et certain écrirent au journal, clamant que ces mauvais Américains devraient être fiers de leur pays quel que soit son président. Naturellement l'on se demande alors si la fierté que chacun peut avoir pour sa patrie doit être inconditionelle?

AMERICA IN DENIAL. Mc Donald Drugstore, Durham, NC, September 2001

I have been living in this country for 15 plus years, and I am still not sure where that flag business comes from. I have always seen way more flags everywhere in this suburb of the world than anywhere I have been before, including banana republics. The only place where I have seen flags in approaching amounts is Switzerland, and yet, not to the U.S. extent. I am not sure whether it is a coincidence or not that Switzerland is a federal State as well. Clearly there was a resurgence of flags after 9/11, that can still be felt today, as one can always count on the nationalist crowd to be vocal. One of the laws of social genetics appearing to be that hawks always crow louder than doves.

As has been admitted by now, the U.S. in the aftermath of 9-11 missed a chance to build on the worldwide sympathy it then enjoyed. Instead, the Bush rulers opted for a reptilian type response with slogans like "you are either with us, or against us", telling Americans and the world, that terrorists were after their freedom, thereby building on the persistent myth that Americans are the freest people on earth. The sprouting of flags after 9-11 seems by and large to be a symptom of people responding favorably to those theories, hence my title for the photograph above, "America in Denial," which is also the title of my series on this subject: the omnipresence of the flag in today's America and its function as a tool to own Americans by the guts. See the Art series
HERE and a longer stock version on the American Flag HERE.

The photograph "Patriots' Warehouse" is especially rich. Of course the subject is rare. Only in America, and not every day, would one see in the western world such a full scale example of nationalism and military pride. This is a subject one would rather expect to find in U.S.S.R., North Korea, or the like. I was lucky to be allowed to take this photograph, and lucky to be able to find such an harmony of colors, lots of red and blue, the store and the flag colors blending, and that cart passing by on the foreground which brings life to the stripes of the flag.

Six years have passed. It is a different America, and here, in the photograph "Error in the War on Terror," it is a different crowd, a New York one, Bohemian, the current hippy, yet I find it symbolic of a different state of mind, one certainly less conservative than the rest of the nation, but not as divorced from it as it once was. Still a full crop of stripes, but "Why are we fighting?" says the barmaid's shirt.

Isn't it stupefying how fast reality has imposed itself to America?

Denial has certainly not vanished for good from American politics, but it has been severely defeated, and now the victors are claiming the flag too, which they say had been hijacked for too long by the nationalists.

It sure is a beautiful flag.

Cela fait plus de 15 ans que j'habite dans cette banlieue du monde, et je ne suis toujours pas certain de l'origine de cet engouement que beaucoup d' Américains ont, pour leur drapeau. J'ai toujours vu davantage de drapeaux ici que n'importe où j'ai pu aller dans le monde, y compris les républiques bananières. Le seul endroit que je connaisse où l'on puisse trouver l'étendard national dans une densité approchante, est la Suisse, mais tout de même pas dans une telle proportion. Le fait que la Suisse soit aussi un état fédéral n'est peut-être qu'une coincidence .

Il y a clairement eu une éruption de drapeaux après le 11 Septembre. On en voit toujours les signes, quoique amoindris, conséquence naturelle de la force vocale des nationalistes. Une des lois de la génétique sociale n'est-elle pas que les va-t-en guerre crient toujours plus forts que les pacifistes?

Il est désormais admis que après le 11 Septembre, les Etats Unis ont gâché l'élan de sympathie que les attentats leur avaient amené. Le régime Bush a opté pour une réaction de caractère reptilien avec des slogans comme "soit vous êtes avec nous, soit vous êtes contre nous," prétendant que les terroristes en avaient à la liberté des Américains, perpétuant par cela le mythe de la supériorité américaine en matière de libertés individuelles. Il semble que dans l'ensemble, le déferlement de drapeaux après le 11 Septembre soit un symptôme de l'adhésion populaire aux thèses de Bush, d'où le titre de la photographie ci-dessus. "America in Denial," ("L'Amérique en dénie") qui est aussi le titre de ma série sur le sujet de l'omniprésence du drapeau dans l'Amérique d'aujourd'hui, et de sa fonction comme outil permettant de prendre les foules par les tripes. Vous pouvez visioner Americal In Denial
ICI, et une version stock sur le drapeau Américain ICI.

La photographie "Patriots' Warehouse" est particulièrement riche. Le sujet est hors du commun: où dans le monde industrialisé, si ce n'est aux Etats Unis , pourrait-on voir un tel exemple, grandeur nature, de nationalisme exacerbé et de fierté militaire? Ne s'attendrait-on pas à trouver cela en U.R.S.S, en Corée du Nord où l'équivalent? J'ai eu la chance d'être autorisé à prendre cette photo et d'y composer une telle harmonie de couleurs où celles du magasin se fondent avec celles du drapeau. L'image bénéficie d'une prédominance du rouge et du bleu, avec un chariot qui passe au premier plan et anime les rayures du drapeau.

Six ans ont passé et l'Amérique a changé. Ici sur la photo "Error in the War on Terror," l'ambiance est toute différente. Bien sûr l'on est à New York, l'ambiance est toujours moins conservatrice à New York, mais celle-ci n'est plus aussi étrangère à celle du reste de la nation. Toujours un foisonnement de rayures, mais le polo de la serveuse dit "Why are we fighting?" (pourquoi nos battons nous?)

N'est-il pas époustouflant de constater la vitesse à laquelle la réalité s'est imposée à l'Amérique?

L'incapacité a adresser tels qu'ils sont, les problèmes qui remettent en cause une vision du monde aussi impérialiste que forte à servir l'auto-satisfaction, n'a certainement pas disparue pour toujours de la politique américaine. Mais ses protracteurs les plus véhéments ont été décimés, et les vainqueurs veulent aussi réaffirmer leurs droits sur le drapeau, qui disent-ils, a été depuis trop longtemps, kidnappé par les nationalistes.

C'est sûr qu'il s'agit d'un bien joli drapeau

EMMIGRANT BANK. NYC, December 2007

MENEMSHA. Martha's Vineyard. August 2008

STEEL PHANTOM. Butler County Fair, PA. July 2005

4TH OF JULY FUN. Durham, NC. 4th of July 2007.

4TH OF JULY PEPS. Durham, NC. 4th of July 2007.

VICTORY SCENE. Raleigh, NC, Primary night, May 6, 2008.

VICTORIOUS HOUSE. Durham, NC, March 2009.