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Francja-Elegancja

 
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Dołączył: 14 Wrz 2007
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PostWysłany: Sob 15:13, 15 Wrz 2007    Temat postu: Francja-Elegancja

Zdradzic to juz zadna sztuka we Francji, gdyz firma Alibila oferuja za oplata murowane alibi.
Tych ktorych dusi rodzinna sytuacja i dla tych co potrzebuja odrobine swiezego powietrza
jest oferowane murowane alibi.
Materialy z konferencji, rachunki z nieistniejacych restauracji, listy odbytych rozmow telefonicznych etc.
Korzystajac z uslug firmy Alibila niewierni malzonkowie moga beztrosko oddac sie
pozamalzenskim przygodom, bo zakupili sobie niepodwazalne alibi.
Cena €19 ($27) w gore.
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PostWysłany: Nie 22:24, 16 Wrz 2007    Temat postu:

a co na to policja? odkad pamietam jezeli ktos poswiadcza nie prawde to popelnia przestepstwo, no tak ale to oswiecona jewropa wiec kto sie bedzie takim drobiazgiem przejmowal
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PostWysłany: Czw 10:51, 29 Lis 2007    Temat postu:

Francuskie pole bitwy.







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PostWysłany: Wto 16:43, 04 Gru 2007    Temat postu:

To jest maciora i knury ktore wydaly na swiat to gowno ktore jechalo kradzinym motorkiem
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PostWysłany: Czw 14:13, 13 Gru 2007    Temat postu:

Cytat:

The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris
Surrounding the City of Light are threatening Cities of Darkness.
Theodore Dalrymple
Autumn 2002
Everyone knows la douce France: the France of wonderful food and wine, beautiful landscapes, splendid châteaux and cathedrals. More tourists (60 million a year) visit France than any country in the world by far. Indeed, the Germans have a saying, not altogether reassuring for the French: “to live as God in France.” Half a million Britons have bought second homes there; many of them bore their friends back home with how they order these things better in France.

But there is another growing, and much less reassuring, side to France. I go to Paris about four times a year and thus have a sense of the evolving preoccupations of the French middle classes. A few years ago it was schools: the much vaunted French educational system was falling apart; illiteracy was rising; children were leaving school as ignorant as they entered, and much worse-behaved. For the last couple of years, though, it has been crime: l’insécurité, les violences urbaines, les incivilités. Everyone has a tale to tell, and no dinner party is complete without a horrifying story. Every crime, one senses, means a vote for Le Pen or whoever replaces him.

I first saw l’insécurité for myself about eight months ago. It was just off the Boulevard Saint-Germain, in a neighborhood where a tolerably spacious apartment would cost $1 million. Three youths—Rumanians—were attempting quite openly to break into a parking meter with large screwdrivers to steal the coins. It was four o’clock in the afternoon; the sidewalks were crowded, and the nearby cafés were full. The youths behaved as if they were simply pursuing a normal and legitimate activity, with nothing to fear.

Eventually, two women in their sixties told them to stop. The youths, laughing until then, turned murderously angry, insulted the women, and brandished their screwdrivers. The women retreated, and the youths resumed their “work.”

A man of about 70 then told them to stop. They berated him still more threateningly, one of them holding a screwdriver as if to stab him in the stomach. I moved forward to help the man, but the youths, still shouting abuse and genuinely outraged at being interrupted in the pursuit of their livelihood, decided to run off. But it all could have ended very differently.

Several things struck me about the incident: the youths’ sense of invulnerability in broad daylight; the indifference to their behavior of large numbers of people who would never dream of behaving in the same way; that only the elderly tried to do anything about the situation, though physically least suited to do so. Could it be that only they had a view of right and wrong clear enough to wish to intervene? That everyone younger than they thought something like: “Refugees . . . hard life . . . very poor . . . too young to know right from wrong and anyway never taught . . . no choice for them . . . punishment cruel and useless”? The real criminals, indeed, were the drivers whose coins filled the parking meters: were they not polluting the world with their cars?

Another motive for inaction was that, had the youths been arrested, nothing would have happened to them. They would have been back on the streets within the hour. Who would risk a screwdriver in the liver to safeguard the parking meters of Paris for an hour?

The laxisme of the French criminal justice system is now notorious. Judges often make remarks indicating their sympathy for the criminals they are trying (based upon the usual generalizations about how society, not the criminal, is to blame); and the day before I witnessed the scene on the Boulevard Saint-Germain, 8,000 police had marched to protest the release from prison on bail of an infamous career armed robber and suspected murderer before his trial for yet another armed robbery, in the course of which he shot someone in the head. Out on bail before this trial, he then burgled a house. Surprised by the police, he and his accomplices shot two of them dead and seriously wounded a third. He was also under strong suspicion of having committed a quadruple murder a few days previously, in which a couple who owned a restaurant, and two of their employees, were shot dead in front of the owners’ nine-year-old daughter.

The left-leaning Libération, one of the two daily newspapers the French intelligentsia reads, dismissed the marchers, referring with disdainful sarcaèm to la fièvre flicardiaire—cop fever. The paper would no doubt have regarded the murder of a single journalist—that is to say, of a full human being—differently, let alone the murder of two journalists or six; and of course no one in the newspaper acknowledged that an effective police force is as vital a guarantee of personal freedom as a free press, and that the thin blue line that separates man from brutality is exactly that: thin. This is not a decent thing for an intellectual to say, however true it might be.

It is the private complaint of everyone, however, that the police have become impotent to suppress and detect crime. Horror stories abound. A Parisian acquaintance told me how one recent evening he had seen two criminals attack a car in which a woman was waiting for her husband. They smashed her side window and tried to grab her purse, but she resisted. My acquaintance went to her aid and managed to pin down one of the assailants, the other running off. Fortunately, some police passed by, but to my acquaintance’s dismay let the assailant go, giving him only a warning.

My acquaintance said to the police that he would make a complaint. The senior among them advised him against wasting his time. At that time of night, there would be no one to complain to in the local commissariat. He would have to go the following day and would have to wait on line for three hours. He would have to return several times, with a long wait each time. And in the end, nothing would be done.

As for the police, he added, they did not want to make an arrest in a case like this. There would be too much paperwork. And even if the case came to court, the judge would give no proper punishment. Moreover, such an arrest would retard their careers. The local police chiefs were paid by results—by the crime rates in their areas of jurisdiction. The last thing they wanted was for policemen to go around finding and recording crime.

Not long afterward, I heard of another case in which the police simply refused to record the occurrence of a burglary, much less try to catch the culprits.

Now crime and general disorder are making inroads into places where, not long ago, they were unheard of. At a peaceful and prosperous village near Fontainebleau that I visited—the home of retired high officials and of a former cabinet minister—criminality had made its first appearance only two weeks before. There had been a burglary and a “rodeo”—an impromptu race of youths in stolen cars around the village green, whose fence the car thieves had knocked over to gain access.

A villager called the police, who said they could not come at the moment, but who politely called back half an hour later to find out how things were going. Two hours later still, they finally appeared, but the rodeo had moved on, leaving behind only the remains of a burned-out car. The blackened patch on the road was still visible when I visited.

The official figures for this upsurge, doctored as they no doubt are, are sufficiently alarming. Reported crime in France has risen from 600,000 annually in 1959 to 4 million today, while the population has grown by less than 20 percent (and many think today’s crime number is an underestimate by at least a half). In 2000, one crime was reported for every sixth inhabitant of Paris, and the rate has increased by at least 10 percent a year for the last five years. Reported cases of arson in France have increased 2,500 percent in seven years, from 1,168 in 1993 to 29,192 in 2000; robbery with violence rose by 15.8 percent between 1999 and 2000, and 44.5 percent since 1996 (itself no golden age).

Where does the increase in crime come from? The geographical answer: from the public housing projects that encircle and increasingly besiege every French city or town of any size, Paris especially. In these housing projects lives an immigrant population numbering several million, from North and West Africa mostly, along with their French-born descendants and a smattering of the least successful members of the French working class. From these projects, the excellence of the French public transport system ensures that the most fashionable arrondissements are within easy reach of the most inveterate thief and vandal.

Architecturally, the housing projects sprang from the ideas of Le Corbusier, the Swiss totalitarian architect—and still the untouchable hero of architectural education in France—who believed that a house was a machine for living in, that areas of cities should be entirely separated from one another by their function, and that the straight line and the right angle held the key to wisdom, virtue, beauty, and efficiency. The mulish opposition that met his scheme to pull down the whole of the center of Paris and rebuild it according to his “rational” and “advanced” ideas baffled and frustrated him.

The inhuman, unadorned, hard-edged geometry of these vast housing projects in their unearthly plazas brings to mind Le Corbusier’s chilling and tyrannical words: “The despot is not a man. It is the . . . correct, realistic, exact plan . . . that will provide your solution once the problem has been posed clearly. . . . This plan has been drawn up well away from . . . the cries of the electorate or the laments of society’s victims. It has been drawn up by serene and lucid minds.”

But what is the problem to which these housing projects, known as cités, are the solution, conceived by serene and lucid minds like Le Corbusier’s? It is the problem of providing an Habitation de Loyer Modéré—a House at Moderate Rent, shortened to HLM—for the workers, largely immigrant, whom the factories needed during France’s great industrial expansion from the 1950s to the 1970s, when the unemployment rate was 2 percent and cheap labor was much in demand. By the late eighties, however, the demand had evaporated, but the people whose labor had satisfied it had not; and together with their descendants and a constant influx of new hopefuls, they made the provision of cheap housing more necessary than ever.

An apartment in this publicly owned housing is also known as a logement, a lodging, which aptly conveys the social status and degree of political influence of those expected to rent them. The cités are thus social marginalization made concrete: bureaucratically planned from their windows to their roofs, with no history of their own or organic connection to anything that previously existed on their sites, they convey the impression that, in the event of serious trouble, they could be cut off from the rest of the world by switching off the trains and by blockading with a tank or two the highways that pass through them, (usually with a concrete wall on either side), from the rest of France to the better parts of Paris. I recalled the words of an Afrikaner in South Africa, who explained to me the principle according to which only a single road connected black townships to the white cities: once it was sealed off by an armored car, “the blacks can foul only their own nest.”

The average visitor gives not a moment’s thought to these Cités of Darkness as he speeds from the airport to the City of Light. But they are huge and important—and what the visitor would find there, if he bothered to go, would terrify him.

A kind of anti-society has grown up in them—a population that derives the meaning of its life from the hatred it bears for the other, “official,” society in France. This alienation, this gulf of mistrust—greater than any I have encountered anywhere else in the world, including in the black townships of South Africa during the apartheid years—is written on the faces of the young men, most of them permanently unemployed, who hang out in the pocked and potholed open spaces between their logements. When you approach to speak to them, their immobile faces betray not a flicker of recognition of your shared humanity; they make no gesture to smooth social intercourse. If you are not one of them, you are against them.

Their hatred of official France manifests itself in many ways that scar everything around them. Young men risk life and limb to adorn the most inaccessible surfaces of concrete with graffiti—BAISE LA POLICE, fuck the police, being the favorite theme. The iconography of the cités is that of uncompromising hatred and aggression: a burned-out and destroyed community-meeting place in the Les Tarterets project, for example, has a picture of a science-fiction humanoid, his fist clenched as if to spring at the person who looks at him, while to his right is an admiring portrait of a huge slavering pit bull, a dog by temperament and training capable of tearing out a man’s throat—the only breed of dog I saw in the cités, paraded with menacing swagger by their owners.

There are burned-out and eviscerated carcasses of cars everywhere. Fire is now fashionable in the cités: in Les Tarterets, residents had torched and looted every store—with the exceptions of one government-subsidized supermarket and a pharmacy. The underground parking lot, charred and blackened by smoke like a vault in an urban hell, is permanently closed.

When agents of official France come to the cités, the residents attack them. The police are hated: one young Malian, who comfortingly believed that he was unemployable in France because of the color of his skin, described how the police invariably arrived like a raiding party, with batons swinging—ready to beat whoever came within reach, irrespective of who he was or of his innocence of any crime, before retreating to safety to their commissariat. The conduct of the police, he said, explained why residents threw Molotov cocktails at them from their windows. Who could tolerate such treatment at the hands of une police fasciste?

Molotov cocktails also greeted the president of the republic, Jacques Chirac, and his interior minister when they recently campaigned at two cités, Les Tarterets and Les Musiciens. The two dignitaries had to beat a swift and ignominious retreat, like foreign overlords visiting a barely held and hostile suzerainty: they came, they saw, they scuttled off.

Antagonism toward the police might appear understandable, but the conduct of the young inhabitants of the cités toward the firemen who come to rescue them from the fires that they have themselves started gives a dismaying glimpse into the depth of their hatred for mainstream society. They greet the admirable firemen (whose motto is Sauver ou périr, save or perish) with Molotov cocktails and hails of stones when they arrive on their mission of mercy, so that armored vehicles frequently have to protect the fire engines.

Benevolence inflames the anger of the young men of the cités as much as repression, because their rage is inseparable from their being. Ambulance men who take away a young man injured in an incident routinely find themselves surrounded by the man’s “friends,” and jostled, jeered at, and threatened: behavior that, according to one doctor I met, continues right into the hospital, even as the friends demand that their associate should be treated at once, before others.

Of course, they also expect him to be treated as well as anyone else, and in this expectation they reveal the bad faith, or at least ambivalence, of their stance toward the society around them. They are certainly not poor, at least by the standards of all previously existing societies: they are not hungry; they have cell phones, cars, and many other appurtenances of modernity; they are dressed fashionably—according to their own fashion—with a uniform disdain of bourgeois propriety and with gold chains round their necks. They believe they have rights, and they know they will receive medical treatment, however they behave. They enjoy a far higher standard of living (or consumption) than they would in the countries of their parents’ or grandparents’ origin, even if they labored there 14 hours a day to the maximum of their capacity.

But this is not a cause of gratitude—on the contrary: they feel it as an insult or a wound, even as they take it for granted as their due. But like all human beings, they want the respect and approval of others, even—or rather especially—of the people who carelessly toss them the crumbs of Western prosperity. Emasculating dependence is never a happy state, and no dependence is more absolute, more total, than that of most of the inhabitants of the cités. They therefore come to believe in the malevolence of those who maintain them in their limbo: and they want to keep alive the belief in this perfect malevolence, for it gives meaning—the only possible meaning—to their stunted lives. It is better to be opposed by an enemy than to be adrift in meaninglessness, for the simulacrum of an enemy lends purpose to actions whose nihilism would otherwise be self-evident.

That is one of the reasons that, when I approached groups of young men in Les Musiciens, many of them were not just suspicious (though it was soon clear to them that I was no member of the enemy), but hostile. When a young man of African origin agreed to speak to me, his fellows kept interrupting menacingly. “Don’t talk to him,” they commanded, and they told me, with fear in their eyes, to go away. The young man was nervous, too: he said he was afraid of being punished as a traitor. His associates feared that “normal” contact with a person who was clearly not of the enemy, and yet not one of them either, would contaminate their minds and eventually break down the them-and-us worldview that stood between them and complete mental chaos. They needed to see themselves as warriors in a civil war, not mere ne’er-do-wells and criminals.

The ambivalence of the cité dwellers matches “official” France’s attitude toward them: over-control and interference, alternating with utter abandonment. Bureaucrats have planned every item in the physical environment, for example, and no matter how many times the inhabitants foul the nest (to use the Afrikaner’s expression), the state pays for renovation, hoping thereby to demonstrate its compassion and concern. To assure the immigrants that they and their offspring are potentially or already truly French, the streets are named for French cultural heroes: for painters in Les Tarterets (rue Gustave Courbet, for example) and for composers in Les Musiciens (rue Gabriel Fauré). Indeed, the only time I smiled in one of the cités was when I walked past two concrete bunkers with metal windows, the école maternelle Charles Baudelaire and the école maternelle Arthur Rimbaud. Fine as these two poets are, theirs are not names one would associate with kindergartens, let alone with concrete bunkers.

But the heroic French names point to a deeper official ambivalence. The French state is torn between two approaches: Courbet, Fauré, nos ancêtres, les gaullois, on the one hand, and the shibboleths of multiculturalism on the other. By compulsion of the ministry of education, the historiography that the schools purvey is that of the triumph of the unifying, rational, and benevolent French state through the ages, from Colbert onward, and Muslim girls are not allowed to wear headscarves in schools. After graduation, people who dress in “ethnic” fashion will not find jobs with major employers. But at the same time, official France also pays a cowering lip service to multiculturalism—for example, to the “culture” of the cités. Thus, French rap music is the subject of admiring articles in Libération and Le Monde, as well as of pusillanimous expressions of approval from the last two ministers of culture.

One rap group, the Ministère amer (Bitter Ministry), won special official praise. Its best-known lyric: “Another woman takes her beating./ This time she’s called Brigitte./ She’s the wife of a cop./ The novices of vice piss on the police./ It’s not just a firework, scratch the clitoris./ Brigitte the cop’s wife likes niggers./ She’s hot, hot in her pants.” This vile rubbish receives accolades for its supposed authenticity: for in the multiculturalist’s mental world, in which the savages are forever noble, there is no criterion by which to distinguish high art from low trash. And if intellectuals, highly trained in the Western tradition, are prepared to praise such degraded and brutal pornography, it is hardly surprising that those who are not so trained come to the conclusion that there cannot be anything of value in that tradition. Cowardly multiculturalism thus makes itself the handmaiden of anti-Western extremism.

Whether or not rap lyrics are the authentic voice of the cités, they are certainly its authentic ear: you can observe many young men in the cités sitting around in their cars aimlessly, listening to it for hours on end, so loud that the pavement vibrates to it 100 yards away. The imprimatur of the intellectuals and of the French cultural bureaucracy no doubt encourages them to believe that they are doing something worthwhile. But when life begins to imitate art, and terrible gang-rapes occur with increasing frequency, the same official France becomes puzzled and alarmed. What should it make of the 18 young men and two young women currently being tried in Pontoise for allegedly abducting a girl of 15 and for four months raping her repeatedly in basements, stairwells, and squats? Many of the group seem not merely unrepentant or unashamed but proud.

Though most people in France have never visited a cité, they dimly know that long-term unemployment among the young is so rife there that it is the normal state of being. Indeed, French youth unemployment is among the highest in Europe—and higher the further you descend the social scale, largely because high minimum wages, payroll taxes, and labor protection laws make employers loath to hire those whom they cannot easily fire, and whom they must pay beyond what their skills are worth.

Everyone acknowledges that unemployment, particularly of the permanent kind, is deeply destructive, and that the devil really does find work for idle hands; but the higher up the social scale you ascend, the more firmly fixed is the idea that the labor-market rigidities that encourage unemployment are essential both to distinguish France from the supposed savagery of the Anglo-Saxon neo-liberal model (one soon learns from reading the French newspapers what anglo-saxon connotes in this context), and to protect the downtrodden from exploitation. But the labor-market rigidities protect those who least need protection, while condemning the most vulnerable to utter hopelessness: and if sexual hypocrisy is the vice of the Anglo-Saxons, economic hypocrisy is the vice of the French.

It requires little imagination to see how, in the circumstances, the burden of unemployment should fall disproportionately on immigrants and their children: and why, already culturally distinct from the bulk of the population, they should feel themselves vilely discriminated against. Having been enclosed in a physical ghetto, they respond by building a cultural and psychological ghetto for themselves. They are of France, but not French.

The state, while concerning itself with the details of their housing, their education, their medical care, and the payment of subsidies for them to do nothing, abrogates its responsibility completely in the one area in which the state’s responsibility is absolutely inalienable: law and order. In order to placate, or at least not to inflame, disaffected youth, the ministry of the interior has instructed the police to tread softly (that is to say, virtually not at all, except by occasional raiding parties when inaction is impossible) in the more than 800 zones sensibles—sensitive areas—that surround French cities and that are known collectively as la Zone.

But human society, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and so authority of a kind, with its own set of values, occupies the space where law and order should be—the authority and brutal values of psychopathic criminals and drug dealers. The absence of a real economy and of law means, in practice, an economy and an informal legal system based on theft and drug-trafficking. In Les Tarterets, for example, I observed two dealers openly distributing drugs and collecting money while driving around in their highly conspicuous BMW convertible, clearly the monarchs of all they surveyed. Both of northwest African descent, one wore a scarlet baseball cap backward, while the other had dyed blond hair, contrasting dramatically with his complexion. Their faces were as immobile as those of potentates receiving tribute from conquered tribes. They drove everywhere at maximum speed in low gear and high noise: they could hardly have drawn more attention to themselves if they tried. They didn’t fear the law: rather, the law feared them.

I watched their proceedings in the company of old immigrants from Algeria and Morocco, who had come to France in the early 1960s. They too lived in Les Tarterets and had witnessed its descent into a state of low-level insurgency. They were so horrified by daily life that they were trying to leave, to escape their own children and grandchildren: but once having fallen into the clutches of the system of public housing, they were trapped. They wanted to transfer to a cité, if such existed, where the new generation did not rule: but they were without leverage—or piston—in the giant system of patronage that is the French state. And so they had to stay put, puzzled, alarmed, incredulous, and bitter at what their own offspring had become, so very different from what they had hoped and expected. They were better Frenchmen than either their children or grandchildren: they would never have whistled and booed at the Marseillaise, as their descendants did before the soccer match between France and Algeria in 2001, alerting the rest of France to the terrible canker in its midst.

Whether France was wise to have permitted the mass immigration of people culturally very different from its own population to solve a temporary labor shortage and to assuage its own abstract liberal conscience is disputable: there are now an estimated 8 or 9 million people of North and West African origin in France, twice the number in 1975—and at least 5 million of them are Muslims. Demographic projections (though projections are not predictions) suggest that their descendants will number 35 million before this century is out, more than a third of the likely total population of France.

Indisputably, however, France has handled the resultant situation in the worst possible way. Unless it assimilates these millions successfully, its future will be grim. But it has separated and isolated immigrants and their descendants geographically into dehumanizing ghettos; it has pursued economic policies to promote unemployment and create dependence among them, with all the inevitable psychological consequences; it has flattered the repellent and worthless culture that they have developed; and it has withdrawn the protection of the law from them, allowing them to create their own lawless order.

No one should underestimate the danger that this failure poses, not only for France but also for the world. The inhabitants of the cités are exceptionally well armed. When the professional robbers among them raid a bank or an armored car delivering cash, they do so with bazookas and rocket launchers, and dress in paramilitary uniforms. From time to time, the police discover whole arsenals of Kalashnikovs in the cités. There is a vigorous informal trade between France and post-communist Eastern Europe: workshops in underground garages in the cités change the serial numbers of stolen luxury cars prior to export to the East, in exchange for sophisticated weaponry.

A profoundly alienated population is thus armed with serious firepower; and in conditions of violent social upheaval, such as France is in the habit of experiencing every few decades, it could prove difficult to control. The French state is caught in a dilemma between honoring its commitments to the more privileged section of the population, many of whom earn their livelihoods from administering the dirigiste economy, and freeing the labor market sufficiently to give the hope of a normal life to the inhabitants of the cités. Most likely, the state will solve the dilemma by attempts to buy off the disaffected with more benefits and rights, at the cost of higher taxes that will further stifle the job creation that would most help the cité dwellers. If that fails, as in the long run it will, harsh repression will follow.

But among the third of the population of the cités that is of North African Muslim descent, there is an option that the French, and not only the French, fear. For imagine yourself a youth in Les Tarterets or Les Musiciens, intellectually alert but not well educated, believing yourself to be despised because of your origins by the larger society that you were born into, permanently condemned to unemployment by the system that contemptuously feeds and clothes you, and surrounded by a contemptible nihilistic culture of despair, violence, and crime. Is it not possible that you would seek a doctrine that would simultaneously explain your predicament, justify your wrath, point the way toward your revenge, and guarantee your salvation, especially if you were imprisoned? Would you not seek a “worthwhile” direction for the energy, hatred, and violence seething within you, a direction that would enable you to do evil in the name of ultimate good? It would require only a relatively few of like mind to cause havoc. Islamist proselytism flourishes in the prisons of France (where 60 percent of the inmates are of immigrant origin), as it does in British prisons; and it takes only a handful of Zacharias Moussaouis to start a conflagration.

The French knew of this possibility well before September 11: in 1994, their special forces boarded a hijacked aircraft that landed in Marseilles and killed the hijackers—an unusual step for the French, who have traditionally preferred to negotiate with, or give in to, terrorists. But they had intelligence suggesting that, after refueling, the hijackers planned to fly the plane into the Eiffel Tower. In this case, no negotiation was possible.

A terrible chasm has opened up in French society, dramatically exemplified by a story that an acquaintance told me. He was driving along a six-lane highway with housing projects on both sides, when a man tried to dash across the road. My acquaintance hit him at high speed and killed him instantly.

According to French law, the participants in a fatal accident must stay as near as possible to the scene, until officials have elucidated all the circumstances. The police therefore took my informant to a kind of hotel nearby, where there was no staff, and the door could be opened only by inserting a credit card into an automatic billing terminal. Reaching his room, he discovered that all the furniture was of concrete, including the bed and washbasin, and attached either to the floor or walls.

The following morning, the police came to collect him, and he asked them what kind of place this was. Why was everything made of concrete?

“But don’t you know where you are, monsieur?” they asked. “C’est la Zone, c’est la Zone.”

La Zone is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

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PostWysłany: Wto 9:46, 05 Lut 2008    Temat postu:

Cytat:
The Postcolonial Uprising in France
Posted November 16th, 2005 by
PTZeleza in European Affairs
For more than two weeks now, fires of postcolonial fury have been raging across France, burning public buildings and private businesses, torching schools and police stations, incinerating cars and the conceits of this proud post-imperial country, exposing its contradictions and conflicts hidden deep in the suburbs—the banlieues—of post-industrial squalor and the national psyche of racial and religious intolerance.
The state is shaken, so is the society, and both are desperately seeking to explain and contain the crisis, shifting from one characterization to another, one strategy to another. It is not just the banlieues that are in flames, but the very idea, the cherished ideal, the illusions of French republicanism. Memories of May 1968 are mined for illuminating parallels. But this civil unrest appears different, it is more widespread and more destructive than the student revolt of thirty-seven years ago, with a cast of actors unfamiliar in a country so enamored by its revolutionary traditions and its bequest of human rights to the world. The social crisis triggered by the riots evokes another history, the history of empire and anti-colonial struggles.
It is a postcolonial uprising: Africa striking back.The flames were sparked by the deaths of two youths of Tunisian and Mauritanian descent on October 27, who were electrocuted in a power substation while fleeing the police. From the shabby, segregated suburbs of the unglamorous Paris visitors and the smart classes never see, the explosion quickly spread to hundreds of cities and towns. By the end of the first two weeks of the uprising more than 7,000 vehicles and dozens of buildings had been destroyed, more than 2,500 people arrested, thousands of police were mobilized to patrol the restive streets, and a state of emergency was declared. Not even elegant, tourist Paris could escape as police ringed the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees and nervous western governments issued travel warnings. Already reeling from losses of the EU constitution referendum and the Paris bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, the French establishment went into panic with emergency cabinet meetings, although President Jacques Chirac uncharacteristically disappeared from public view leaving the stage to the good-cop-bad-cop routine of his two aspiring successors: the second generation immigrant interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, with his inflammatory disdainful rhetoric and vague noises about “positive discrimination” and the unelected aristocratic prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, with his more diplomatic utterances and promises of more jobs and services.
The street battles have helped frame the uprising, or riots as the media prefers to name and contain them, as a duel between the repressive police and rampaging youths.
The French police are notorious for their harsh treatment of youths of African descent, which escalated after the current rightwing government launched its so-called zero-tolerance anti-crime campaign as it lurched further to the right in an effort to appeal to an electorate increasingly frightened by globalization, ‘Islamic’ terrorism, and ‘foreigners.’ The political class was alarmed by the 2002 presidential elections. In the first round, and for the first time in the forty-four year history of the Fifth Republic, a neo-fascist party, the National Front, came second by winning nearly one-fifth of the votes cast and beating the socialists, and its leader Jean-Marie Le Pen proceeded to run against Chirac in the runoff elections. This is the political context in which the uprising has been taking place—a country that has been drifting steadily more rightwards since the 1990s.
It should not be surprising that the lead in the uprising has been taken by the youth because it is they who have borne the brunt of social and economic marginalization. Children of various generations of African immigrants, the youths have been trapped in a vortex of high unemployment, impoverishment, discrimination, disaffection, hopelessness, and isolation. They are an alienated diaspora for whom the dualities of culture and citizenship are particularly agonizing in a society that refuses to recognize difference in principle or uphold equality in practice for its minorities. Their weapons of struggle are as characteristically French as they are reminiscent of anti-colonial protest—streets are their theatres of demonstration, violent demonstrations. And they resort to the old technologies of firebombs for attack and the new technologies of mobile phones and the Internet for organization.
Attempts, quite predictable ones, have been made by ideologues of the regime and frightened observers elsewhere to dismiss the riots as rampages orchestrated by criminal gangs, or to see the sinister hand of Islamic extremism behind them, as the outbreak of the French intifada. It is a fact, of course, that a large proportion of the African diaspora population in France, the largest in Europe, is Muslim, but this is not a religious rebellion. Indeed, the Islamic Organization of France, an umbrella organization that was only allowed to form as late as 2003, issued a fatwa prohibiting Muslims from taking part in the riots, and many Muslims have participated in multi-religious and multi-cultural marches against the violence. Nor is the uprising, ultimately, simply a youth rebellion, the violent irruption of youth into the public sphere of rigid social immobility and righteous secular indifference. It is about the failure of the French model of citizenship and integration rooted in the history of French colonialism and its unresolved aftermath.

The uprising of 2005 is the latest in a cycle of postcolonial revolts in France. Riots broke out at regular intervals in the 1990s in various French cities, among them the riots in Lyon in 1991 and 1996, in Paris in 1997 and 2000, and in Toulouse in 1998. The summer of 1983 was also rocked by riots in minority neighborhoods of several cities. But 2005 is the year of the most widespread civil unrest in recent French history. The declaration of a state of emergency in a major European country shows the gravity of the crisis confronting the French state and society. It is instructive that the law used to proclaim curfews was originally drawn up in 1955 to suppress unrest in Algeria during the liberation war, and it was last used in 1984 to quell turmoil in the French Pacific Ocean territory of New Caledonia. The archives of colonial repression have been reopened and come home to roost. It is a poignant, tragic irony: the African youths seeking freedom in postcolonial France are being fought with the same law used to fight their grandparents’ or parents’ generation seeking freedom in colonial Africa.
France has always prided itself on its revolutionary and republican traditions that gave the world the slogans of liberté, égalité, fraternité (freedom, equality, brotherhood). Missing was the idea of diversity. National myths reveal the virtues as much as they hide the vices that are embedded in a country’s collective consciousness. French republicanism claims to recognize individuals, not groups; it promotes an integration model of common citizenship unmarked by ethnic, racial or religious differences. It allows no room for identity politics. For immigrants it means that their cultural origin, religious orientation, and racial classification is ignored at best and actively suppressed at worst. There is no place for multiculturalism in this model, for affirmative action for historically oppressed groups, no institutional and ideological mechanisms to acknowledge and address social inequality that more often than not is based on group identities, however tenuous or stereotypical, imagined or real those identities are, rather than on the content of an individual’s character. Denying the social existence of races and racism in a multicultural society is a foolish fetish at best and a dangerous dogma at worst.
In a country where it is even illegal to collect or keep statistics on race or religion (so that the population of ‘blacks’ or Muslims in France is often based on educated guesses rather than official census data), there can be no systematic programs to rescue ethnic minorities out of their economic and political ghettoes. Not surprisingly, despite having the largest non-European immigrant population in Europe, outside of sports and entertainment, the number of minorities in senior positions in the public and private sectors is miniscule even by the abysmal standards of much of Europe. Minorities are largely invisible on television and there are none in parliament, but they make up more than half of the prison population. An integration model that claims color-blindness in a society where overt racism is rampant offers a recipe for institutionalized racism. Denied recognition and redress through the law and state institutions Muslims, for example, are forced to focus their energies on such highly symbolic, but significant, issues as the right of girls to wear the hijāb in public schools. Predictably, frustration and anger among the diasporan Africans is vented, periodically, through riots. The 2005 uprising only came as a surprise to those whose heads are buried deep in the fantasies of French republicanism.

According to its patriotic defenders, the French tradition of racial tolerance was born during the Enlightenment and articulated in the work of the celebrated eighteenth century thinkers—the philosophes—and sanctified by the revolution that ended the ancien régime and gave way to democracy and republicanism. This, the story goes, marked the rise of the free citizen. Yet, revolutionary France was no less beholden to African slavery than its western European rivals, and later no less imperialist and colonialist. The philosphes were advancing doctrines of biological racism while at the same time they were proclaiming human equality. In short, negative attitudes towards Africans are as firmly embedded in French culture as elsewhere in Europe. France may be different only in the degree to which it refuses to recognize that it has a racial problem deeply rooted in its modern history.

Colonialism reinforced the contradiction at the heart of twentieth century France and imperial Europe as a whole: the self-aggrandizing conceits of civilization wrapped in the silenced or sanitized barbarities of colonialism. Despite self-serving claims to the contrary, French colonialism was no less racist than that of the other European powers. Assimilation, the official French policy of colonial governance, was not a doctrine of racial equality, but of African inferiority; it was based on the arrogance that only those Africans who whitewashed themselves into Frenchness could be accorded full human rights and social recognition. But French colonialism was not a humanist project, so assimilation always remained confined to a tiny elite: the bulk of the masses in the colonies were “subjects” prey to the abuses of forced labor and summary justice. But even the evolues—the assimilated elites—discovered the cruel fiction of assimilation when they went to France where they were recast as despised natives, as mimic men from an inferior race. They channeled their anger and angst into negritude, the poetry and philosophy of African self-affirmation.

Assimilation failed in colonial Africa; the uprising shows it has failed in postcolonial France. French colonialism denied separate identities to the colonies claiming they were an indissoluble part of France, postcolonial France denies multicultural identities to its citizens from the former colonies claiming they are individual citizens. Such are the depths of denial that a law was recently passed making it mandatory for school textbooks to put a positive spin on French colonialism, to extol its benevolence and the benefits it bestowed on Africa including North Africa—a blatant attempt to wish away the Algerian war (which was not officially called a “war” until 1999), the bloodiest war of African liberation that killed more than a million people and tore France itself apart and ushered in the Fourth Republic.

It was colonialism that gave France its African diaspora that it has had so much difficulty in integrating and whose uprising we have been witnessing. The first African migrants in modern times to arrive in France came following the conquest of Algeria in 1830. The African presence grew during the First World War when tens of thousands of workers and troops were recruited from the French African empire, some of whom remained in France after the war. African migration increased during and after the Second World War as more workers were recruited and some demobilized soldiers settled in France and the country sought to marshal cheap labor from its colonies for economic reconstruction and the postwar economic boom, which lasted until the early 1970s. In the 1960s there was widespread confidence in the country’s capacity to absorb and integrate the newcomers.
But the consensus for an open immigration regime crumbled as both the postwar boom and the self-assured Gaulist era came to an end at the turn of the 1970s. Ironically, as immigration restrictions were imposed African migrants in France increasingly took citizenship and brought their families, thereby not only swelling their numbers but also turning themselves from temporary immigrants into a permanent diaspora. Immigration played an important role in the rise of the right-wing National Front whose electoral victories, in turn, facilitated the drift towards conservatism in French politics even during Francois Mitterrand’s ostensibly socialist era in the 1980s and early 1990s. Immigration was embroiled in concerns about French national identity being decomposed and reconfigured by the forces of European integration and globalization at a time of slow economic growth and massive cultural transformation.

In the 1980s and 1990s African migrations continued, indeed accelerated, when African economies began reeling from the recessions of structural adjustment programs and several Francophone countries such as Algeria and Cote d’Ivoire erupted into bloody civil wars. This ensured that the African immigrants would be at the center of painful debates about French identity and citizenship, especially since, like in the other industrialized countries, it reflected important shifts in the composition of previous flows dominated by fellow Europeans and Christians. The imposition of tighter immigration controls were accompanied by increased regulation of labor markets, which were reinforced by a new strategy of attacking and limiting the rights of established immigrants.

Clearly, the current uprising led by the African diaspora in France is rooted in the complex and combustible mix of a long history of racism that has diluted the promises of citizenship for the African French and exposed them to discriminatory policing, harassment and violence; a sluggish economy that has left high rates of unemployment for them especially the male youth; and a rigid model of integration that fails to recognize that France is no longer a monolithic country, if it ever was, but a multicultural country which is home to millions of Africans from the ex-French colonies in North, West and Central Africa.

It is easy to see the uprising as a reflection of the peculiar failings of the French state and society, as chauvinistic commentators from countries that have no love lost for France have been wont to. For some it is payback time, for French commentators are often quick to point fingers when other western countries are in trouble from their restive minorities. But the problem goes beyond the rigidities of the French republican model of integration. Other models have been no less fraught with problems and eruptions of racial violence and social conflict—not the multicultural model of Britain and the United States, not the discredited guest-worker model of Germany. At heart is the fundamental inability of Euro-American societies to accept racial difference without stigmatizing it, without marginalizing, alienating, and criminalizing racial or religious minority populations. Neither the model of color-blind equality nor lip-service multiculturalism can succeed as long as each retains the stubborn virus of social and spatial apartheid. What is needed is genuine equality.
It follows that the solutions to the social crisis exposed by the uprising lie in a multiplicity of state policies and societal responses. There can be little doubt that the economic and social alienation of minorities would diminish and integration would accelerate with full employment, and the provision of better housing, social services and community policing. But the rioters who have been burning French cities and perhaps burying the cherished myths of the French nation are seeking more than access to jobs and less harassment from the police. They are demanding mutual respect, social recognition, and the full rights of citizenship based on equality of opportunity and power. If the Europe of African and Asian diasporas remains separate, unequal, and unhappy the other Europe of imagined purity will periodically pay high material, political, social, and moral costs.

The French uprising is not only a wake up call to France but to the whole of Europe where the populations of African and Asian Europeans will increase regardless of efforts to create “fortress” Europe. Europe’s aging and diminishing population needs, notwithstanding periodic fluctuations in the labor market and of economic cycles, workers from the global South. For their part, African countries will continue to export their labor and cultures to the global North including Europe. This is not new: Africans have been exporting their labor and cultures since the grim days of the Atlantic slave trade. What is new is that Africans in Europe are demanding recognition as Europeans, African Europeans. It is a moment made possible by the conjunctures of postcolonialism and globalization. If the underlying fury behind the fires this time is not addressed once the uprising comes to an end, sooner or later there will be other uprisings in France and in other European countries as well. This is the opportunity France must seize from the tragedy of the postcolonial uprising that has gripped world attention since the flames of rage began sweeping across the country from the banlieues of Paris.
First Written November 15, 2005
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Requiem for Black France

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