Though it is generally agreed that André Siegfried (1875-1959) was one of the most enduring and influential French commentators on the United States between the 1920s and the 1950s, scholars do not agree on the extent to which he should be considered anti-American. This article concludes that while Siegfried found the American social model to be profoundly unsettling, and that his views of the country's population were consistently informed by racist assumptions, he also evinced some admiration for its economic dynamism and regarded it as a necessary if problematic partner. Moreover, for much of his career many American commentators regarded Siegfried as a perceptive and fair-minded observer of their country, though by the 1950s his racist views drew increasing criticism. Siegfried's career thus illustrates the complexities of French intellectual anti-Americanism.
Why do the French appear as incorrigible anti-Americans? Why is France singled out as a bastion of systematic opposition to US policies? Anti-Americanism can be defined as an unfavorable predisposition towards the United States, which leads individuals to interpret American actions through pre-existing views and negative stereotypes, irrespectively of the facts. It is based on a belief that there is something fundamentally wrong at the essence of what is America. This unfavorable predisposition manifests itself in beliefs, attitudes and rhetoric, which may or may not affect political behavior. Is France, according to this definition, anti-American? It is difficult in practice to distinguish between genuine anti-Americanism (disposition) and genuine criticism of the United States (opinion). It is partly because of this definitional ambiguity that France appears more anti-American than its European partners. While it is not clear that the French have a stronger negative predisposition against the US, they do have stronger opinions about America for at least three main reasons: the deep reservoir of anti-American arguments accumulated over the centuries; the simultaneous coexistence of a variety of types of anti-Americanism; and the costless ways in which anti-Americanism has been used for political benefit. This article explores each of these three features in turn, before discussing briefly the consequences of French anti-Americanism on world politics.
Rhetoric, Agency, and Local Meaning
Elisabeth Kirtsoglou and Dimitrios Theodossopoulos
In this article we examine the content and rationale of anti-Americanism in Greece, drawing ethnographic information from two urban centers, Patras and Volos. We pay special attention to the conspiracy theory attributes of this rhetoric, and, instead of dismissing it or seeing it primarily as a manifestation of nationalist thinking, we attempt to unpack the threads of meaning that make it so appealing in local contexts. We look in particular at the etiology of blame within this particular discourse and try to explain the specific readings of history and politics that make it significant in local contexts. We argue that Greek anti-Americanism has an empowering potential for local actors, as it provides them with a certain degree of discursive agency over wider political processes that are beyond their immediate control.
This article contextualizes the recent debates about German and European anti-Americanism by highlighting the paradoxical nature of such sentiments. Using examples from the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, and the postwar period, this article shows that anti-Americanism arose less from divergent cultural trends and perceived "value gaps," as many recent authors have argued. Rather, anti-Americanism should be seen as a measure of America's continued influence and success. After all, anti-Americanism more often than not went hand in glove with "Americanization." Frequently, anti-Americans, namely those who are voicing anti-Americanism, were products of cultural transfer-processes emanating in the U.S. They also saw themselves allied with American anti-establishment forces. Thus, to a degree, anti-Americanism can be seen as by-product of westernization. Although the focus of this article is on Germany, the argument about the complex web of repudiation and embrace can be observed in other European (or even African, Arab, Asian, or South American) contexts as well.
The Fox Movietone Scandal and the Portrayal of French Violence in Algeria, 1955-1956
During the Algerian War, films and published photographs documenting brutalities committed by French forces were exceedingly rare, due to censorship and strict controls on journalistic access to the military. However, a dramatic exception to this state of affairs came at an early moment in the war, after a Fox Movietone cameraman captured footage of a French gendarme as he summarily executed an Algerian with a bullet in the back. When the journal L'Express printed frames from the film in December 1955, a scandal ensued that implicated the sitting government in Paris and stoked French anti-Americanism. This article explores the reasons for the scandal, its anatomy, and its longer-term implications for French representations of the violence of the Algerian conflict. It argues that widespread French assumptions about the appropriateness of France's role in Algeria ultimately served to neutralize the story told by the images, even as they were recognized as incontrovertible evidence of atrocity.
French Perceptions of the Anglo-American World in the Long Twentieth Century
This article attempts to reconstruct a genealogy of one of the most ubiquitous terms in contemporary French politics: the Anglo-Saxon. It traces the emergence of the term in the second half of the nineteenth century and examines its numerous meanings through the twentieth century. Rather than assume that references to the Anglo-Saxon have been little more than straightforward forms of anti-Americanism or Anglophobia, it suggests that the term has been mobilized in specific debates, both as a reflection of French decline and as an alternative “model“ to which France should aspire. A study of the notion of the Anglo-Saxon thus offers insight into how the French have imagined two of their most prominent global competitors and how they have come to terms with the consequences of social and economic modernization.
The transatlantic fallout preceding and immediately following the opening
of the Second Iraq War in 2003 was accompanied by an unusually
widespread public contempt for U.S. President George W. Bush. No doubt,
vast majorities in Germany (and in many other European countries)
rejected the Iraq invasion. But how should we interpret their motives?
Was criticism levelled against a specific policy or was it based on negative
stereotyping of America? Three kinds of arguments have been brought
forward as to why the latter should be the case.
Ruth Hatlapa and Andrei S. Markovits
There is no question that with Barack Obama the United States has a rock star as president who—behooving rock stars—is adored and admired the world over. His being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize nary a year after being elected president and barely ten months into his holding the office, testified to his global popularity rather than his actual accomplishments, which may well turn out to be unique and formidable. And it is equally evident that few—if any—American presidents were more reviled, disdained and distrusted all across the globe than George W. Bush, Obama's immediate predecessor. Indeed, the contrast between the hatred for the former and the admiration for the latter might lead to the impression that the negative attitudes towards America and Americans that was so prevalent during the Bush years have miraculously morphed into a lovefest towards the United States on the part of the global public. This paper—concentrating solely on the German case but representing a larger research project encompassing much of Western Europe—argues that love for Obama and disdain for America are not only perfectly compatible but that, in fact, the two are merely different empirical manifestations of a conceptually singular view of America. Far from being mutually exclusive, these two strains are highly congruent, indeed complementary and symbiotic with each other.
The conceptual history of 'economic development' is often told as a US-centered story. The United States, according to the standard account, turned to economic development as a tool in its struggle for global dominance during the Cold War. In line with recent research, this article demonstrates that the post-World War II boom in economic development had European origins as well, and that it originated as a joint response to the Cold War and to the unraveling of European empires. In particular, emphasis is placed on the little-studied contribution of a French Catholic activist who helped redefine economic development in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The Dominican Father Louis-Joseph Lebret stood at the head of an influential movement, which conceived of economic development as a way to save both France and Christianity in a moment of crisis for the French empire and for the Roman Catholic Church. In his writings, Lebret bestowed renewed legitimacy on the French 'civilizing mission.' He also revived elements of interwar Catholic thought to argue for the imperative of building a new moral-economic order that was neither communist nor capitalist. Far from a marginal historical actor, this theorist-practitioner was successful in his efforts, and gained followers for his vision of economic development in France, in Vatican City, at the United Nations, and in various former colonized countries.
Cheryl B. Welch The Demands of Liberty: Civil Society in France Since the Revolution by Pierre Rosanvallon
Sylvia Schafer Sexing the Citizen: Morality and Masculinity in France, 1870-1920 by Judith Surkis
Patricia Tilburg Blessed Motherhood, Bitter Fruit: Nelly Roussel and the Politics of Female Pain in Third Republic France by Elinor Accampo
Max Likin Between Justice and Politics: The Ligue des Droits de l’Homme, 1898-1945 by William D. Irvine
Sean M. Kennedy French Anti-Americanism (1930-1948): Critical Moments in a Complex History by Seth D. Armus
Clifford Rosenberg God’s Eugenicist: Alexis Carrel and the Sociobiology of Decline by Andrés Horacio Reggiani
Julie Fette Crises of Memory and the Second World War by Susan Rubin Suleiman
Chris Howell Changing France: The Politics that Markets Make by Pepper D. Culpepper, Peter A. Hall, and Bruno Palier