Saturday, April 22, 2006

The French Winemaker's Mea Culpa

Great, great article in today's Le Monde (in French) about how French winemakers have missed the boat on the international marketplace.


[Thanks to booknotes.buzzword.com for the photo.]

This sentence says it all:

"As concerns [globalization of the wine market], the country gives a sad illustration of the very thing that holds it back in general: a conservatism fed by the vanity of believing one can teach the whole World a lesson or two." ("Le pays donne dans ce domaine une triste illustration de ce qui le freine plus généralement : un conservatisme nourrit de la vanité de croire qu'on peut donner des leçons à la Terre entière.")

This is an excellent way to describe France's problem, whether it be in the domain of wine marketing, economics or politics. "La Vieille France" is guilty of harboring a self-satisfied attitude, of living upon the laurels of yesteryear, of clinging to musty socialist idealism and of smothering innovation, which in turn will conspire to tether this magnificent nation until it can dare to find a way to adapt without compromising its unique set of values. I believe it is possible; and the answer lies in opening up French society to the free market of young ideas instead of trying to preserve the status it once derived from ancient successes.

The only problem is that these tethers are also tied to a system of special privileges for a number of democratic minorities (the young, the unemployed, the federal bureaucrats representing 25% of the workforce, the unions, the unwed parents, to name but a few) who have been smart enough to unite in a common effort to stymie change and preserve their favoritism status quo.

It's a sad sight to behold.

Read more on France in an article of mine.

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