Culture

Oh la la, liberal!

Article published on June 8, 2005
Article published on June 8, 2005

“The European constitution? Too liberal”. In France the phrase has been on the lips of all supporters of the referendum No camp. Indeed, in the homeland of Voltaire, the word “libéral” is unpardonably offensive. And yet Chirac, himself a man of the Right, has boasted of the potential of the constitution to “fight against liberal globalisation”. Oh la la! But in Italian the adjective “liberale” could almost sound like a compliment. Of course the word has a specific political sense, though in economics the term “liberista” is more often employed. But it is nevertheless worth remembering that even erstwhile Social Democratic Prime Minister, Massimo D’Alema, defined himself as liberal. For the rest, in Poland “liberalny” is the most coveted characteristic of any self-respecting economy, as is the case in the UK – although here the political sense of the word varies according to who you ask: wearing trainers and smoking a joint? “Open-minded”. A preference for tea and Churchill cigars? “Woolly”.