France’s Terra Nova: the danger of think tanks

At the end of May, I wrote a few posts at my place about French Socialists in light of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) sex scandal.

One of the posts included a profile of the think tank Terra Nova, which was poised to help DSK with his expected run in the Socialist primary for the 2012 presidential elections.  As we know, events in New York put paid to that.

However, Terra Nova has a few other tricks up its sleeve — a new electorate for France’s Parti Socialiste (PS).

Although founded recently — in 2008 — Terra Nova is an offshoot of former Prime Minister Michel Rocard’s deuxième gauche‘the second [read ‘new’] Left’. This movement began in the late 1950s but only began picking up steam after the May 1968 demonstrations. Rocard was one of the emerging PS stars who championed la deuxième gauche, which de-emphasises Marxism in favour of more communitarian solutions to socio-political issues.

Rocard has a key position in Terra Nova, heading it along with founder Olivier Ferrand.  Ferrand is a civil servant, born in 1960.  Too young to make use of May 1968 and radical leftist organisations, his generation opted for conventional routes to power.  Ferrand pursued Establishment education and credentials.  He attended the renowned Sciences Po (Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris) and one of the most famous grandes écoles, ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration), whose graduates are referred to as énarques.

Ferrand has had a career one can only dream of. He began in the French Treasury where he participated in international negotiations involving the G7, the OECD and the IMF.  Afterward, he was a general delegate to another think tank, one founded by DSK and Michel Rocard, called ‘A Gauche, en Europe’ (‘To the Left, in Europe’).  Therefore, Ferrand is far removed from the working-class, grass roots ethic which used to be part and parcel of the PS.

But, there’s more.  A number of cutting-edge companies have donated money to Terra Nova, among them are Microsoft, Total, SAP, RTE, Euro RSCG and Capgemini.

Capgemini — one of the world’s top 10 management consulting groups — gives us yet another link to explore.  Paul Hermelin heads Capgemini. Years before that he served as a Cabinet Director for DSK under Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (PS).  Hermelin is also a local Socialist councillor for Avignon.

And — Euro RSCG provides DSK’s PR.

Ah, the wonderful world of connections.

Ferrand has been steeped in globalism and a worldview encompassing sophisticated financial and economic considerations.  He is concerned with the flow of money, markets and people.  As a result, ordinary folk are just atoms or warm bodies.

Meanwhile, these ordinary folk — Frenchmen and immigrants who have been in France for a number of years — are apoplectic: thanks to a tanking economy and job losses, their future is going down the drain. But Terra Nova has nothing at all to offer them.

As evidence, here’s an interview from May 13, 2011, in Le Point (emphases mine):

Le Point: Your [Terra Nova] report suggests that the Left must modify its electoral strategy for 2012 by no longer depending on the working and middle classes for support.  Is this a wind-up?

Olivier Ferrand: No! We’re basing it on factual studies in France and in nine other countries (Germany, the UK, The Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary, Australia, Canada, the US) … The electoral base has changed …  Under Mitterand, the working classes were united by values, they no longer are. The left’s electoral base — its heart — was the working class.  It no longer is.

Le Point: What happened?

Ferrand: … The Left evolved with the impact of May ’68 and progressively adopted open values on sexual mores, the family, immigration, national identity and diversityOn the other hand, the working class retreated and became insular, having been worked over by the [economic] crisis and the fear of [losing their position as a social class], which has sent the FN [Front National] into overdrive. But a new electoral base has emerged, linked to open cultural values, [those which are] positive, tolerant, about solidarity, optimism, a hopeful future and comprised of young people, poorer working class areas, minorities and women.  This is the France of tomorrow.  They are [currently] outside of society … 

Straight out of the combined Marxist / Fabian / Gramscian playbook: youth, women, minorities! Near the end of the interview, Ferrand stated:

Terra Nova is a collective structure which works together with Socialist leaders and the Left, with Europe Ecologie and the PS …

And now, we come to the crux of the issue.

Terra Nova not only wants to court a new electorate but also plans on changing a free, democratic and fair way of voting.  The following appeared on their site on April 21, 2011:

‘Our electoral system is ageing badly. Its faults are becoming more and more visible’, Olivier Ferrand assures us.

Among these faults are ‘baroque candidacy rules’, ‘archaic’ … campaigns and ‘debatable’ financing.

Instead of France’s two-round voting — which I actually wish more countries would adopt — Ferrand proposes not a FPTP vote exactly, but a result based on what he calls

majority judgment

This means that the candidates winning the highest numbers of votes would be scrutinised by a panel which would then ‘grade’ or ‘mark’ each one in terms of overall ‘suitability’.  Therefore, someone like Marine Le Pen of the Front National would be prevented from winning, even if she had a majority of votes (doubtful, and, no, she does not have my support).  A Le Pen victory, in Ferrand’s estimation, would be

a major democratic accident.

So, in order to combat such a scenario, he proposes this panel of overseers — entirely undemocratic — which goes against the majority result system used around the world. ‘The people have spoken’? Not with Terra Nova. Talk about regressing to a feudal society.

Typically Socialist, typically elitist.

At the end of my post is a graphic featuring DSK’s digs in New York which satirises the whole PS outlook:

La diversité chez vous, la tranquilité chez nous.

7 comments for “France’s Terra Nova: the danger of think tanks

  1. john in cheshire
    November 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I wonder why our supposedly non-socialist political candidates don’t put more emphasis on the socialist leanings of their opponents, including an explanation of what voting socialist actually means. Is it because they are all, fundamentally, socialists?

  2. November 11, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    The Left evolved with the impact of May ’68 and progressively adopted open values on sexual mores, the family, immigration, national identity and diversity. On the other hand, the working class retreated and became insular, having been worked over by the [economic] crisis and the fear of [losing their position as a social class], which has sent the FN [Front National] into overdrive.

    And there it is in a nutshell. Why is permissiveness seen by the left as somehow of the working class?

  3. November 11, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    sounds very similar to communism to me.

  4. November 11, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    The socialist elite makes ‘permissiveness’ seem as if it is a product of the working class. It’s all part of the game plan. I saw a documentary about the Bloomsbury Group — on the BBC no less — a few years ago. Virginia Woolf was one of the most hateful snobs ever. She loathed the servants, thought them brain-dead. Therefore, by extension, the women servants should have been rendered uterus-dead.

    Yes, I do think that our many of our so-called Conservatives are actually Socialists. I have met a few in private and professional life. They do not seek to ‘conserve that which is good’. They seek to destroy it. Anyone who wishes to preserve our nation’s history and identity is seen as ‘rather quaint’ — an oddity. This is where someone else could step in — not sure who from the Tories — but, surely, there must be someone from their party!

  5. November 13, 2011 at 6:15 am

    A very prophetic choice of name, though, given Spielberg’s new series, where hippies meet with dinosaurs and it all ends in tears…

    • November 13, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      Gosh, Julia, that makes it even worse! Thanks … :/

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