Liberal Puritans with French Dreams

I’ve noticed a tendency with certain leftists upper-class politically correct puritanical types do not infrequently have a romanticized visions of France and French society. This came up somewhat strongly during the Iraq war, but a lot of leftists were thrilled that France opposed the war, and by extension viewed France has some kind of soul brother.
I was recently listening and NPR to someone waxing on about the beauty and expressiveness and sensuality of French culture and poetry, so this kind of romanticizing of all things French is not that unusual among a certain type of people.
Why is it so? I can only imagine that this romantic sensual image of France is a kind of fantasy outlet for the puritanism that so many of these upper income white politically correct types live under. And the fact is that the upper income establishment San Francisco culture is very puritanical, touch phobic, obsessed with sexual harassment and respecting personal boundaries. Relationships that are spontaneous and passionate or discourage, and instead should be negotiated through calm and respectful and prudent dialogue. This culture is not only against any type of sexual spontaneity, but it is also very demanding and rigid in terms of the workplace. In sum, it is a culture that does not allow people to express themselves, especially in a sensual sense, with a great deal of freedom.
Thus comes in the whole French fantasy, which represents everything that their rigid puritanical lives in the US does not. It’s like manga for the Japanese, which explores every prohibited and repressed fantasy in their controlling culture.
The whole French ideal also appeals to these leftists because it’s presents-in their eyes-a truly leftist socialist country, that unfortunately the US will probably never become. France is seen as a beacon of socialism, government run healthcare, day care and endless social programs, state run TV, a healthy anti-capitalist antibusiness mentality, and most of all an appealing anti-Americanism. Finally there is a certain sense of French artistic sophistication and snobbery that appeals to these upwardly ambitious Americans.
A small portion of the fantasy is, of course, based on reality. But the truth is that daily life in France is a lot less romantic than sitting in cafés and writing poetry, or spending the afternoon in some ever so charming outdoor bistro while eating magnificent food. In many ways the quality-of-life in France is poor, and poorer than the US. The whole socialist system has in many ways reduced the quality of life in France. Most of what the French romantically think of as France -beautiful architecture, fine cuisine, charming restaurants and cafés, has nothing to do with socialism, but everything to do with the private sector. All the beautiful historic parts of France that Americans dream about, where all built well before socialism came along. The reality is that the government in last 50 years has built some of the most god awful ugly architecture in the world in France. The government has no interest in grading buildings that are attractive because, unlike a normal business, they don’t have to attract clients.
Although France in many ways is leftist, in many ways America is much more leftists and politically correct then France is. For one thing the French are highly nationalistic, and are actually proud of behaving in a selfish way as long as our country benefits. There is no form of affirmative action to speak up in France, while racial discrimination in favor of certain dark skin racial groups is sacrosanct among the left in America. The French don’t seem to have much of a problem requiring that Muslim girls take off their headscarves in school, which is something any good progressives in America would not even dream of doing. The French don’t have the same degree of trying to always present a carefully balanced multicultural collection of people, and when in doubt always making sure that there’s an overabundance of dark skin people in any group. Until today the vast majority of French elites are white. The French are also generally less feminists than Americans are, and they don’t seem to have a great deal of sensitivity towards fat people either. Handicap facilities are generally less developed than in America. In many ways France is less politically correct than America is.
Anyway, life in France has its advantages and disadvantages, but the reality is usually fairly distant from the romanticized vision that many upper income leftists in America imagine. Woody Allen’s movie “Barcelona” was a similarly unrealistic fantasy about living in Spain, that as little to do with the lives of almost all Spaniards. I think that a TV show like “Beverly Hills 90210” is actually a lot less unrealistic than the movie “Barcelona”, or the fantasies that many Americans have about France.
I often find that progressive leftist intellectual types like to go on about how wonderful Europe is to try to impress everyone with how intellectually and culturally sophisticated they are, and how sensitive they are to leftist ideas. I remember one of the Woody Allen movies when Mia Farrow accused Woody Allen of pretending to want to do something romantic like live in Paris, when everyone knew that he wouldn’t be able to stand more than 24 hours away from Manhattan. Woody Allen statement about his dream to live in Paris was nothing more than a fantasy which he would occasionally trot out to impress people.

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