The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Run from Civilization


July 7, 2007

The very foundations of Western civilization are under attack in France–President Nicolas Sarkozy likes to jog.

From today’s Washington Post Style Page:

On the primary state television channel, France 2, Alain Finkielkraut, a leading French intellectual, recently demanded that Sarkozy give up his “undignified” exercise. Not only did he imply that exposing the boss’s naked knees is something that never would have occurred in the time of Mitterrand, much less Louis XIV, Finkielkraut claimed strolling is the proper activity of the thinking person, from Socrates to the poet Arthur Rimbaud.

“Western civilization, in its best sense, was born with the promenade,” said Finkielkraut. “Walking is a sensitive, spiritual act. Jogging is management of the body. The jogger says I am in control. It has nothing to do with meditation.”

Do your part to save Western Civilization–take a stroll.

Its quite serious. Western Civilization, built on a set of rhetorical commonplaces that articulate the ideas undergirding our contemporary democratic values and institutions (and a cannon) owes its very existence to the promenade. To Jog is to threaten the core identity of not only the French state, but the entire Western Alliance.

Or, maybe, its yet another way for the French to express their annoyance at all things American:

Sarkozy has fueled a French suspicion that running is for self-centered individualists like Americans, reports Charles Bremner, Paris correspondent for the Times of London.

“Patrick Mignon, a sports sociologist, noted that French intellectuals had always held sport in contempt, while totalitarian regimes cultivated physical fitness,” Bremner writes.

“Jogging is of course about performance and individualism, values that are traditionally ascribed to the right,” Odile Baudrier, editor of V02 magazine, a sports publication, told Libération.

If your president is into physical fitness and likes to run, he’s might be an anti-intellectual, self-centered individualist running a totalitarian regime…

This leads us to the only logical conclusion: Joggers, like strikeouts, are fascist. Do your part to save democracy in the West and take a walk.

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Dr. Peter Howard focuses on US foreign policy and international security. He studies how the implementation of foreign policy programs produces rule-based regional security regimes, conducting research in Estonia on NATO Expansion and US Military Exchange programs and South Korea on nuclear negotiations with North Korea.