An Unnecessary Introduction


I’m extremely flattered that Reihan wanted me to be part of this merry band of blog heroes. I felt that I should write a perhaps tedious but necessary (or not) introduction post. Proceed below the fold at your own risk.

I’m French (and proud of it, to boot), I live in Paris and I am currently a business school student. Before that I studied liberal arts, went to law school and worked in corporate law firms, in lobbying, and ran a think tank. Now my ambitions are to build a family and to start companies, particularly in technology, and hopefully with added “social” value. I am an alumnus of the Conférence Olivaint, a terrific small student society that helps young people grow in wisdom and confidence. I am engaged to an economist, which may make us one of the few households where discussing the ECB’s rate policy is a form of foreplay. I am a believing Roman Catholic, and my views on other matters stream directly from my religious faith. I also have a tumblelog. (EDIT: I’m also on Twitter where you’re welcome to reach out like @ ecmendenhall )

I have much more sympathy with the American conservative movement than with the prevailing European political ideologies, even though sometimes my gaullist and jacobine roots may show. I believe that the healthiest societies are those that recognize the power of free markets as an engine of progress and social justice, yet put in place a non-intrusive web of rules and incentives that strengthen traditional institutions, in particular the family. I also believe that the values and long-term interests of democratic states are best served by a foreign policy that is pragmatic and hard-nosed yet biased by a moral outlook. I have been known to describe my political views as “ John Paul II + Milton Friedman “ but I like to think that what those two have in common is (despite what some critics claim) nuance, idiosyncrasy and good faith. Speaking of idiosyncrasy, I believe in giving kids the vote, abolishing prisons and schools (not public schools, schools), and in direct democracy.

I am an unrestrained techno-optimist. I believe that if you think the internet has changed the world, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. I believe we are at the outset of a shift bigger than the industrial revolution, where startups and small-scale but global-reach entrepreneurship will become the norm and large corporations dinosaurs. I believe that internet connectivity will allow the developing world to leapfrog the developed world and that Nairobi will be a bigger startup cluster than Silicon Valley sooner than any of us (including me) think likely. I realize that I am quite young and that my admittedly simplistic optimism seems naive, yet I am comfortable with these brash views. I realize that I may sing a different tune after I try to tap the power of technology as an entrepreneur rather than as a consumer and commentator. At the same time, I am terrified by the potential of technology to alter our very nature and bring about potentially totalitarian changes to our societies.

As you can tell, the issues that I will try to comment on in these parts include religion, politics and philosophy, technology, culture, business, and the intersections thereof. I will also try to comment on European/French issues and global issues from a European perspective.

I realize that I am very poor in terms of life experience and expertise, and I will try to compensate what may sometimes be brash pronouncements with an openness to being proven wrong. I also realize that the commenters here are the best bunch on the web and look forward to the discussions below the posts perhaps even more than the discussions in the posts.