10/02/2008

Lemennicier: "protectionism is detrimental to the very interests of the survival of the French language"

Bertrand Lemennicier, Professor of Economics, University of Paris Panthéon Assas, Head of the Laboratoire d'Economie Publique, (LEP/3DI) University of Paris Panthéon Assas, on the Toubon Law:

The Toubon Law[4] and The theory of the emergence of the State in Public Choice literature or in neo-classical economics[5] are two cases in point.

The first one is a side effect of the typically French protectionism of art and culture. To protect the French language from its "foreign rival" the English language, all conferences held in English on the territory are taxed by the State. The taxation is taking the form of forced Labour[6] or of a fine if we do not respect the law.

Bastiat, if such a law had been passed in his time, would have certainly used his scintillating wit of expression to show how protectionism is detrimental to the very interests of the survival of the French language. Between a Russian, a Peruvian, a French and an English there is an obstacle if they want to communicate to each other: the barrier of language. This obstacle can be reduced by adopting a common language: one of them Russian, Spanish, French or English. Once spontaneously adopted, all people are able to communicate their ideas to others. This is the reason why the French Public Educational system spends a lot of resources to made available to all the French, English as a common language.

At the same time the State have set up at great cost an obstacle to the communication between French and Foreigners: the Toubon's law. By forcing the French to speak French in France, the government enforces a monopoly on the language on the territory like he is doing with money: Euro or French Francs! At the same time Foreign people, if they want to communicate with French people, are forced to learn the French language. This law impedes the communication of ideas "scientific or non scientific" between French and Foreign people. If the exchange of ideas in the long term is an ingredient in the growth of knowledge for everybody, both French and Foreign people are made less wealthy by such an artificial barrier. Fortunately nobody respects the law.

[4] Toubon, one of the leader of a Right wing political party (RPR) was head of the Ministry of Culture when the law has been passed. This fact reveals how the RPR, our conservative party, like the socialist and communist parties, that never repealed the law, is both a nationalist and socialist party.

[6] It is forced labor because the organisers of the conference are forced to present translation in French through resume all communications presented in English if they do not want to be fined.

2 comments:

Ronduck said...

Bastiat, if such a law had been passed in his time, would have certainly used his scintillating wit of expression to show how protectionism is detrimental to the very interests of the survival of the French language.

And most of the world knows that Bastiat had a scintillating wit because they read him in English. In fact, I think that Bastiat's most fervent followers are here in the US.

Unfrench said...

Actually most French academics haven't heard of Bastiat. Most French are very ignorant of economics, much more so indeed than the Americans, and libertarian thinkers are totally unknown there, no matter where they are from. Not only do the French dislike libertarianism, but they don't even want to be reminded of its proponents. They are not interested in debating libertarian tenets. The French don't debate politics or economics outside of a very small ideological area, which is part of why French universities have fallen so far behind their free world counterparts.