Second in an occasional series on European politics.
In 1997, the year in which the United States was in the midst of a spectacular capitalist-economic boom, France was under the leadership of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin of the Socialist Party. "Center-right" President Jacques Chirac, formally Jospin's superior, was licking his wounds after a bitter electoral rout. Many free-market observers looked at Jospin's background and shuddered in fear of what they thought was to come.
In his youth, Jospin had been an avid Trotskyite and even a member of the Lambert Group in the Internationalist Communist Organization (OCI), an organization which desired, in communist fashion, to bring about the dictatorship of the proletariat and social justice. As late as 1979, at the French Socialist Party Congress, Jospin drew a clear line when he stated unequivocally that "the goal of the PS [Parti Socialiste] is not to modernize or moderate capitalism but [to] replace it with socialism."