Most people must be wondering why the minor labor reforms proposed in France have set off such a firestorm of protest, and David Rennie points to the answer: France is in denial about capitalism.

PIPA [Program on International Policy Attitudes], together with the polling form Globalscan, asked 20,791 people in 20 large countries about their attitudes to the free market, and globalization. The key question asked respondents if they agreed or disagreed with the statement that "the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world."

In 19 countries, a plurality said yes - with the Chinese beating even Americans in showing the greatest enthusiasm for the new economic benefits, comforts, opportunities and freedoms that capitalism has brought them.

Fully 74 per cent of Chinese urbanites (the poll did not question rural dwellers in China) placed their faith in free enterprise. Others that were nearly as enthusiastic were the Philippines (73 per cent), the US (71 per cent), India (70 per cent), and Britain (66 per cent).

One country - France - disagreed strongly. Only 36 per cent of the French agreed that the free market economy is the best system, while 50 per cent disagreed.

French distrust of free enterprise far exceeded, by ten points or so, even such losers in the global capitalist rat-race as the Argentines and Russians.

Does anyone really doubt that President Chirac and Prime Minister de Villepin will eventually cave in and reject the proposed reforms? The Franch surrender, that's what they do.

(Here's more information about the survey of global attitudes towards capitalism.)

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