The French Exception

Meunier, Sophie
July 2000
Foreign Affairs;Jul/Aug2000, Vol. 79 Issue 4, p104
This article focuses on outcry in France against globalization. Indeed, in a nearly unanimous show of national support, France is now taking the international lead in the outcry against globalization. Some might find it paradoxical that one of Europe's most successful economies would attack globalization so forcefully. France's unfolding conversion to market liberalism is partly a conscious effort by policy- makers and partly an unintended byproduct of European integration. Despite France's dirigiste past, the recent wave of mergers, hostile takeovers, and shareholder capitalism has actually met general public acquiescence. The French movement is so strong that it is poised to take on an even greater role, affecting European integration and the international antiglobalization cause itself. It is noteworthy that antiglobalization sentiment is much stronger in France than elsewhere, and that French politicians have felt compelled to take the international lead in the march against "Anglo-Saxon globalization." The distinctive attributes of French society can best explain this phenomenon, especially the 1990s shift in the arguments against free trade from the economic to the political and cultural realms.


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