Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Pas d'ennemis a Droit, Pas d'amis a Gauche

What does the phrase "Pas d'ennemis a Droit, Pas d'amis a Gauche" mean? My superficial French would translate it as, "No enemies to the Right, no friends to the Left", but French is a subtle language with a lot of idioms and equivocal words.

A little help?

Update: According to commenter gdeb, the phrase should read, "Pas d'ennemis à Droite, Pas d'amis à Gauche," and literally means exactly as I guessed. It's apparently a metaphor for uncompromising partisanship and factional loyalty.

11 comments:

  1. It exactly means that. "No enemies to the Right, no friends to the Left".

    (however, there are a few slight mistakes : it should read "Pas d'ennemis à Droite, Pas d'amis à Gauche")

    I don't know where it comes from, but bear in mind that the french Right is like the american Left, and the french Left is more like extreme left in USA.

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  2. Thanks. It appears, then, to be a metaphor for extreme partisanship.

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  3. Guess that wouldn't speak too well to my recent interest in a A New Politics... in the USA.

    Given the corrupted state of the Union, the idea is to find those issues on which 'principled' people on the left and right agree. Then, organize to hold the fucktards in Congress accountable, regardless of Party affiliation.

    There is precedent for this, e.g., 2003 backlash against Michael Powell's FCC regulations that attempted to allow more consolidation of the media.

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  4. It's not a metaphor for extreme partisanship, but rather describes the long-term strategy of "shifting the Overton window". It's usually given the other way round (no enemies to the left...) to describe left-wing cultural hegemony. Left wing politicians face no career penalty associating with the far left, but right wing politicians fall over themselves to disassociate themselves from the far right, to appease those on the left.

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    Replies
    1. Clearly you are not referring to the United States! :-)

      Delete
    2. Yes, I am.
      De Blasio, new Mayor of New York is a communist.
      Obama faced no penalty for associating with terrorist Bill Ayers. Come to think of it, Ayers faced no penalty for being a leftwing terrorist.

      On the other side, right wing politicians are sure not to associate with the far right. Right wing terrorism is squashed, left wing terrorism is not.

      I'm sure you can think of more examples.

      Delete
    3. Good grief, James, you're a fucking moron! Go away and masturbate to your guns.

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. If you want to contribute to the discussion, you should do three things:
    1. Use a handle (and read the instructions)
    2. Make some substantive point
    3. Learn the difference between an ad hominem and an insult

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  7. In light of the recent comment, I will offer a substantive response to James's comments. First, this is a post about the meaning of a phrase in French, not politics. I have plenty of posts about politics and communism. The comment is completely out of scope.

    It's not a metaphor for extreme partisanship ...

    It's generally stupid to say that X is not a metaphor for Y. Metaphors are subjective. But if there ever was a metaphor for extreme partisanship, this would be it.

    ...but rather describes the long-term strategy of "shifting the Overton window".

    A metaphor can have many effects; being a metaphor and having some effect are not mutually exclusive. This seems like James's only valid point: I think the metaphor, and the extreme partisanship I see the phrase as a metaphor of, does indeed exist to try to shift the Overton window, both ways.

    It's usually given the other way round (no enemies to the left...) to describe left-wing cultural hegemony...

    Google sez (all searches quoted):
    "no enemies to the left" 19,400
    "no enemies to the right" 29,100
    "pas d'ennemis a droit" 2,140
    "pas d'ennemis a gauche" 8,360

    Looks like both are used; in English, leaning to the right, in French, leaning to the left. Curious. But James is simply wrong here; neither construction is "usual."

    ...to describe left-wing cultural hegemony.

    What precisely does James mean by "hegemony"? What's the difference between a "hegemonic" culture and a "non-hegemonic" culture? Culture might necessarily be hegemonic by definition.

    Since "left" and "right" are relative, "left-wing cultural hegemony" seems to means only that the culture is to the left of where James personally appears to be. So what? Why does culture need to reflect what James believes?

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  8. Left wing politicians face no career penalty associating with the far left, but right wing politicians fall over themselves to disassociate themselves from the far right, to appease those on the left.

    Is this true? James tries to support at least the first assertion in his response (noted below), but doesn't support the others, and does not support the claimed motive of "right" politicians.

    De Blasio, new Mayor of New York is a communist.

    James descends into self-parody. De Blasio is almost certainly to the left of where James is, but he is definitely not a communist. Apparently, James has "no friends to the left," and apparently does not bother to even distinguish between those on the left.

    Obama faced no penalty for associating with terrorist Bill Ayers.

    Whether or not Bill Ayers is a "terrorist" is at least debatable. Wikipedia is not the best source, but it does represent the default opinion, which is, of course, rebuttable, According to Wikipedia, "Investigations by CNN, The New York Times and other news organizations concluded that Obama did not have a close relationship with Ayers." Any contact was after Ayers had become, in the words of Weather Underground prosecutor William C. Ibershof, "a responsible citizen." There is no reason Obama should have to face any penalty for briefly coming into contact with a responsible citizen.

    Come to think of it, Ayers faced no penalty for being a leftwing terrorist.

    The government dropped their charges against Ayers because the FBI had violated not only his own constitutional rights, but the constitutional rights of thousands of others.

    Right wing terrorism is squashed, left wing terrorism is not.

    Please give me a single example of "left wing terrorism" that has not been "squashed" for any other reason than that the government egregiously violated the constitutional rights of the alleged "terrorists." Actually, I wouldn't mind an example of "left wing terrorism" in the United States after the 1970s.

    I have spent a half hour of my life explaining what should be obvious to anyone who does not have his head planted so deeply up his own ass that he needs a glass navel to read his Libertarian propaganda. I was much more succinct, and no less informative, in my original response.

    ReplyDelete

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