Letter: British beef war

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The Independent Culture
Sir: As an Englishman living and working in France it saddens me to see the lack of cultural understanding demonstrated by sections of the British press. For me, the French ban on beef is not just a simple case of protectionism nor can it be adequately explained by some cynical analysis of French domestic politics.

Rather, the crisis is the inevitable consequence of the coming together of two differing social models. The Anglo-Saxon market economy with its minimal state philosophy and its motto of caveat emptor has collided with the French mixed economy in which the people refuse to allow the market to rule with absolute authority.

In France, most people still believe in a society based on the precept of "all for one and one for all". Today they call it "solidarite" but it dates back to the 1789 revolution and it means that the French are happy for their politicians to take steps to protect them, and indeed they insist on it.

Britain's society, on the other hand, is increasingly individualistic. The social contract is not as strong as it is in France.

Instead of trying to ram our beef down their throats we should be pushing for more open and honest debate with the French about how our differences can be preserved within the context of the EU.


Nancy, France