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  • Author: Suzanne Berger
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: French Politics, Culture Society
  • Institution: Conference Group on French Politics Society
  • Abstract: There are intense debates in France today over globalization and its impact on democratic values and practice. The arguments retrace in many respects a much older inquiry into the compatibility of democracy and capitalism. The history of the past two hundred years suggests that despite the inequities that capitalist economies generate, the majority of the electorate has not been willing to vote out the system. Capitalism was protected, in part, by the fact that these systems were never wholly democratic, but provided constitutional protections for property. And democracy was preserved, in part, by the fact that these systems were never wholly capitalist, but in fact within national borders found a variety of solutions for blunting the impact of market forces. If globalization means a world without national borders, one may question whether this co-existence of capitalism and democracy can continue, and in fact, much of the French debate focuses on this point. This article retraces the history of the borders of France and suggests that borders are political, not geographic, constructions and as such, are far from disappearing even between the US and Canada, even within the European Union. As long as states can still regulate economic exchanges in ways that differentiate their societies from adjacent countries, borders persist. Globalization does create serious new challenges, but the stark dilemma of choosing either a world of economic openness or a world of liberal democracy does not capture the real stake and choices available to France and other democratic societies.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Canada, France