Jacques Lesourne

The French Model The Rise and Fall Publication date : May 1, 1998

The French nation is unwell. Not a single social category or age group says it is satisfied with the status quo. What could be the causes of this crisis which does not seem to have hit other developed nations to the same extent? Does the fault lie in the collapse of certain ideologies that conveyed hope for the future? Or does it lie in the persistence of marketing tenets on the one hand, and of various types of political extremism, on the other? According to Jacques Lesourne, the French as a nation are suffering from depression because they believe their problems to be insoluble, and this belief is due to their ignorance of the roots of these problems and to their inability to decipher the present. ‘The French crisis is one of intelligibility,’ writes Lesourne. French society has been unable to internalise several phenomena: first of all, the transition from an industrial society to an information society; secondly, globalisation coupled with the crisis of the French prototype; and, finally, the recent evolution of demographics. Once the rocks of incomprehension have been cleared from our path, the rest of the road will appear clearly before us. The future is only dead in our minds. It is up to us to revive it. [...] In 1940, the French army disposed of almost as many tanks as the Wehrmacht, but our generals had no idea how to use them effectively. Defeat was in their minds. It is in order to avoid another defeat that Lesourne offers a global reinterpretation of the key problems underlying the French ‘illness’. As usual, he presents his arguments discerningly, clearly, and precisely. The solutions now depend on a clear grasp of his analysis of the situation.

A former director of the French daily Le Monde, Jacques Lesourne teaches economics and industrial statistics at the Conservatiore National des Arts et Mètiers (CNAM). His published works include Vérités et Mensonges sur le Chômage (Editions Odile Jacob).