24 April 2007
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Our international conference on Comparative Patriarchy and American Institutions was an intellectual and scientific success. Our attempt to draw a big audience, however, failed. No more than 70 people came through the doors during the three-day period of our conference at Chambéry to listen to our 18 guest speakers and attend the Thursday afternoon performance of the one-woman play "Louise Michel", by the Parisian actress/playwright Marie Daude. Nevertheless, the quality of the papers presented at this conference as well as the artistic expositions on this subject were extraordinary. We are planning to publish the results of this conference before the end of calendar year 2007, and we will of course notify each of you as soon as this book is available.
Once again, I must thank the interpreters for their generosity --for their inexhaustible and invaluable expertise-- which made such an important contribution to the successful communications during the three days of this conference And of course I must thank, as well, Frédéric Méni for his indispensable assistance in helping us navigate the sometimes rough waters of administrative procedures associated with this conference.
Intellectually and scientifically, our conference was a great success. I truly believe that the forthcoming book, the publication of which has been guaranteed by our sponsor at Chambéry, Professor Christian Guilleré (Director of the research laboratory, Langue, Litterature, Société at Chambéry), will make a serious, scientific contribution to our understanding of different forms which patriarchal social structures have taken in the course of modern history.
During these very busy days, we received many items of mail, much of it concerned with political institutions in France and the United States --two of the world's oldest modern democracies. Below, are two Internet sites which invite us to compare the historic crises these two democracies are now experienceing. The American scholars attending our conference last week in Chambéry (Dr. Caroline de Pottél, of the San Diego Psychoanalytic Institute, and professors Dr. Deborah Small of California State University-San Marcos and Dr. Candace Falk, of the University of California-Berkeley), referred to gender relationships as a key to understanding common epistemological confusions, such as the failure to distinguish between difference and opposition, or the collapse of distinctions between opposition and contradiction. These errors, it was pointed out in discussions at this conference on "Patriarchy," have a devastating effect: they provoke social polarizations and reify rapport de force relationships, which quickly become major obstacles to democratic communications within the nations' institutions --both large and small, from nuclear families to transnational corporations. One very visible result of these fallacies is the emergence of a new paradigm, the formation of a more cynical type of modern patriarchal practice which assumes leadership positions at various levels of the numerous power pyramids, a virtual proliferation of dependent social hierarchies, whose very legitimacy is belied by the necessary violence (and threat of violence) that is employed in order to maintain their status quo.
Our first item below is the podcast of a performance by democratic comedian Stephen Colbert who was a guest at the White House Correspondent Dinner one year ago, on April 29, 2006.
Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent Dinner 04/29/06
The second item is a French critique of presidential hopeful, Nicolas Sarkozy, whom many fear will lead his nation into a serious regression, a harmful setback to democratic expansion in France, if he is elected next month to a five-year term as President of the Fifth Republic.