Fino’s Guide to the French – Issue #2 – Latin Ethics

Hopefully Humorous Observations and Occasional Tips in Dealing with the Gauls and Parisians


“In the United States there’s a Puritan ethic and a mythology of success. He who is successful is good. In Latin countries, in Catholic countries, a successful person is a sinner.” Umberto Eco (Dec 18, 1988 NYT)

Let’s not forget that at the base, France is a Latin (read CATHOLIC) country. Perhaps there is some truth in the expression that the nice guy finishes last because the “bad” or just “mis-behaving” guys tend to get all the credit and limelight. Take the infamous Clinton Cigar episode from a while back. OK, a LONG while back but whatever. The French viewed that event a pure comedy. No righteous indignation. No shock. Just pure comedy. While the Democratic was wringing their hands and considering impeachment, Wild Bill was seen as a hero over here.

On the other hand, talking about money or wealth in France is considered taboo for the most part. In fact, one of the criticisms that a French person will raise against Americans is the show-off attitude. That being said, the current Sarkozy regime is a very “showy” administration complete with the model/singer/fabulously wealthy first lady and all. But there again, could you imagine an American president getting divorced a few months into his term and remarrying almost immediately afterwards? I can’t in any case. But outside of this exception, in general, do not flash money around and talk about your Swiss bank accounts in company of French people unless you wish to never gain their trust or friendship.


About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
This entry was posted in blogging, life-in-france, Paris, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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