France: Pity the Students

France is dying. We are witnessing its agony, while the patient refuses to take the medicine that can cure him. French university students have been rioting for over more than a week against a new labour bill recently passed by a large majority in parliament: the First Employment Contract (CPE, Contract Premier Embauche). In a country where the street is more powerful than parliament it is highly unlikely that the CPE will ever be enforced. Moreover, it looks like the CPE is going to be Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin’s Waterloo.

Villepin proposed the CPE to provide jobs for young workers, a group with staggering unemployment rates. Job creation in France is severely hampered by “social” legislation which makes it virtually impossible for employers to lay off employees unless the latter are paid high damages. The CPE enables French employers to lower the cost of job creation by allowing them to hire workers under the age of 26 for a conditional two-year period during which they can be fired without compensation. Parliament had good arguments for approving the CPE. Last August a similar bill was introduced to allow small companies, with fewer than 20 employees, to fire new employees during a trial period without the normal prohibitive procedures that make it impossible for companies to hire and fire in response to market demands. In barely five months these small companies created 335,000 new jobs. According to the Parisian research institute Ifop one third of these new jobs were the direct result of the new bill.

Unemployment in France is about 10%, but unemployment among 18 to 25 year olds hovers around 25% and is as high as 40% for the unskilled youths in the predominantly immigrant neighbourhoods – the banlieus – surrounding the large cities. Last November’s violent rioting of immigrant youths in the suburbs prompted Villepin to introduce the CPE. Though these riots were ethnic rather than social, social dissatisfaction certainly exacerbated the situation. The politically correct view adhered to by the French political elite, whom Villepin represents, is that the November “intifida” was a social conflict caused by high unemployment. Hence, it was only natural that the Prime Minister wanted to tackle the problem of youth unemployment with a sensible youth labour bill.

As soon as the French National Assembly had approved the CPE, however, the far-left student unions at the French universities called a strike. They occupied their universities and went on a rampage. Valuable university facilities, such as libraries, were vandalized and – as if to imitate last November’s immigrant youths – the French students (mostly indigenous French this time) spilled out into the streets, engaged in street rioting with the police and turned over cars, often setting them on fire.

The students received the support of the French trade unions, who have called for a national strike against the CPE on Thursday next week. According to the students and the trade unions the CPE erodes job stability and threatens France’s traditionally strong workers’ rights. Moreover, giving employers the right to fire people after hiring them, is said to be an “Anglo-Saxon” practice which smacks of “globalisation.”

Last November our friend Joel Shepherd, commenting from Paris, explained that there was some truth in the claim that social dissatisfaction exacerbated the situation of the immigrants. Joel described the situation in the banlieus:

There’s just no damn jobs. White college grads can’t get jobs, what hope do immigrants from regions with bad schools have? […] They can’t change schools to get a better education because the government says you have to go to the school where you live, and they live where they do because of the zoning laws... which I’m no expert about, but I do know that the government owns 30 percent of all housing in France, and poor immigrants basically live where they’re told. The government tries to give them everything and does it extremely badly, there’s no upward mobility, and it doesn’t breed a happy community. […] So yeah, It’s a stupid French government problem, […]

Indeed, the French are reaping the harvest of their own stupid policies during the past decades. The same applies to today’s student dissatisfaction. In France a university degree does not guarantee success in life. More important than universities are the so-called grandes écoles, such as the ENA, the École nationale d’administration. The ruling élite (to which Prime Minister Villepin and President Chirac belong but not, significantly, their rival, the “pro-Anglo-Saxon” Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy) consists of so-called énarques or ENA alumni. The state run grandes écoles can only be entered after taking two years of “classes préparatoires” (or prépas). It is very difficult, and costs a fortune, to get admitted to the prépas, with the result that university is only a second choice for many students.

For the French state, too, universities are merely second choice. While it subsidizes the prépas with 13,760 euros per head per year, universities get only 6,700 euros per head per year. Universities are typically overcrowded institutions, housed in old, delapidated buildings. In general students are not even free to choose their university, but have to go to the one nearest to where they live. Almost half of the students fail to pass the first two of the six years, and leave the institution after two years without a degree, entering the job market without qualifications. Mia Doornaert, a Belgian journalist who has lived in France for many years, describes French universities as “parking lots” for youths, where they can be stored for two years, allowing the government to pretend that unemployment figures are actually lower than they really are.

The universities have, however, become recruiting grounds for far-left activists. “The confrontation between riot police and enraged casseurs (smashers) fits perfectly into the oppressor-oppressed discourse they have been eagerly consuming for the past six years. [...] In the flaming imagination of this year’s crop of latter day revolutionaries the CPE will reduce workers to serfdom,” Nidra Poller writes in an analysis of the current student rioting in France.

They are, indeed, being reduced to serfdom but not, however, by Villepin’s CPE – a sensible measure which can only be qualified as being too little too late – but by the so-called “social” policies of yesteryear and by the “latter day revolutionaries,” the trade union leaders and the Socialist politicians intent on continuing their self-defeating policies.

Behind the scenes the politicians are playing their games. Nidra Poller: “Having failed to block the measure in the Parliament, the Socialists hope to bring it down with the battering ram of the French street, and reap the benefits in the 2007 presidential elections.

It is worth noting that the leaders of the Socialist Party, such as party leader François Hollande and his wife, presidential hopeful Ségolène Royal, are énarques as well. While claiming égalité there is no society in Europe as élitist and preventive of upward mobility as France. The best hope for France is probably Sarkozy, if only for the simple reason that he is not an énarque.

Meanwhile in America young people are reaping the benefits of Anglo-Saxonism:

U.S. college graduates are facing the best job market since 2001, with business, computer, engineering, education and health care grads in highest demand, a report by an employment consulting firm showed on Monday. […] In its annual outlook of entry-level jobs, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said strong job growth and falling unemployment makes this spring the hottest job market for America's 1.4 million college graduates since the dot-com collapse in 2001. The firm pointed to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers which showed employers plan to hire 14.5 percent more new college graduates than a year ago.

Vive ma liberté et prospérité

Vive ma liberté et prospérité. I am looking to get out of Europe. I will do my bit of fraternité from where ever I will land. And what about égalité?: check out the USSR, brother. It’s a dream, just as your French past.

That France has managed to

That France has managed to remain a relatively humanist country despite all of the pressures to follow the lead of the US and financial rape operating under the name of economic necessity in response to the "new globalism," is remarkable.
This is a prime example of what Bob Doney describes in his reaction: France is just doing what France always does (from 1789 onwards anyway) - taking to the streets in pursuit of some mad political goal and calling it by some pompous name made up of abstract nouns.

Get your head out of your esoteric pile of rhetoric! France suffers from two diseases: 1. by investing in prestige projects (ENA etc) it hopes to relive its past glory, and 2. égalité without having the prospérité, which is caused by short sighted leftist policies. I have witnessed from the first row how unions killed any effort to cut the costs in public healthcare despite democratically passed laws that are exactly aimed at reducing these costs. There was only one ‘social partner’ that was opposed to these laws: the unions. With other words there is no democracy in France. As soon as it is not to the liking of the unions, any democratically voted measure/law is killed. The same will happen to the CPE. French democracy is dead and France will follow.

Stop pointing at the US and masturbating over your own past. You get blind of it. Take a good look at yourself. A large part of the French income is coming from the French investments abroad. The financial elite is fleeing France. What is going to happen if also this elite decides not to have the income of the French investments abroad go to France? And let me tell you, this is going to happen.
France is paralyzed by its leftist thinking and dreaming of long gone glory. Only a revolution will get it out of there. I understand very well why the French ruling elite wants to get this European constitution rammed through all European throats.

France is dying...!

I think a bit premature. France's death and a sunny year in Brussels are not likely. That France has managed to remain a relatively humanist country despite all of the pressures to follow the lead of the US and financial rape operating under the name of economic necessity in response to the "new globalism," is remarkable. Are changes needed? Of course. But not the kind of change that would make the fattest of the fat cats smile their Cheshire smiles.

Re : France is Dying!


Excuse me.. when has France fought a war recently that the US has not gone in and saved their proverbial..
"French ham" rear ends. Hmm! The Maginot Line was a disaster and a JOKE! And if the US had not shown up Vichy would be all over the French countryside right now. The US saved France's bacon in WWI as well. We will not talk about all the other things.. but as I remember it the US went into Tripoli while France paid tribute! please do not think that the
character of Lancelot du Lac from Camelot is scattered all over the French countryside.. he is not! There are a few things the French like to take credit for
conceiving.. wine is one.. not too bad.. But I have tasted better in Germany as well as Italy! Diplomacy.. and everyone always thought that prostitution was the "oldest profession"! Lovemaking.. sorry would rather be carried off by a brutal Viking.. at least I would be able to"feel it" Not to mention not having to fake the orgasm. After all politics with the French is a little bit like being screwd "without the benefit of intercourse"!Godliness.. De Gaulle is dead! That was your last shot at it! France is not the godliest country alive, even if they are crying..
Cest Moi! As for changes being made.. did you French not have the Algerians, Moroccans, Tunisians, Libyans, Syrians, Lebanese, etc.. rioting, looting and bombing in the cities in France during the 1950's!
Looks like as if nothing has changed! Ah the little grey cells mon ami.. are the French employing them!

Odin be Praised!  Baldur Save Us!

Is there a hand on your hip

Is there a hand on your hip when you write, "Excuse me..." ?

France, you may know, was invaded by Germany, suffered greatly, and was grateful for the aid of Allied Forces in WW II. They have known privation that we have never known in the US. At present we fight a battle against the enemy within, the right wing Christian party of Bush. And the "godliest" notion has no rational place, given that the notion of god is one up for discussion.

Not on my hip cleaning my nails with an old traders tomahawk!

Ohhhhh! They have known privation that we in the US have never known.. I guess you have
not been to Apallachia, ANY Native American Indian concentration camps ..ah I mean ghettos.. no yes ah the right word reservations. No inner city areas..As for the French being invaded by Germany.. well they did a lot of invading on their own too did they not..Or did you think all those arabes.. got there by magic! I seem to remember they were doing their manifest desitny gig all over the middle east and they are also the lovely people that brought the US the war from Dien Bien Phu! Now my "eastern relations" got screwed royally in the French and Indian Wars. So do not expect me to have any Sympathy for the Devil! I seem to remember small pox infested blankets and before you blame that one
solely on the
"english conquerers" the French did it also!
We will not even go there about the lovely French fathers teaching the little native children and the pedophilia pre-1776. Nor their enthusiastic sampling of the native females. Ah it's nearing May and the French can get quite lusty!

And no I was not standing with my hand on my hip.. just cleaning my nails with an old trading tomahawk!

Odin be Praised!  Baldur Save Us!

Death to France

France is dying. We are witnessing its agony, while the patient refuses to take the medicine that can cure him.

Hang on a minute. France is just doing what France always does (from 1789 onwards anyway) - taking to the streets in pursuit of some mad political goal and calling it by some pompous name made up of abstract nouns.

Bob Doney

France is dying.

The day may very well come, that France may speak to one another with a Arabic dialect. The Muslim are a coming and with them is Islam. Their greatest battle for survival may soon be upon them and the rest of EU. "May all the world watch."


France is dying and its love/hate relationship with muslims

Panamboy the arabes and muslims have been in France since before the 1950's.. they had colonies there.. you see! In the 1950's they clamored for independence, liberte, equalite, fraternite ..yada yada yada and got it! If the French were going to be nasty and throw them out they would have then. Because they bombed Paris like it was WWII all over again! But the French did not. they had them cleaning the toilets,cooking their meals and acting as nannies, etc. etc. ad inifinitum. They are probably one of the few countries in Europe outside of Great Britain
that had a long. long history with the muslims and the arabs. this is not to say that the Arabs and muslims in France should n ot behave.. they should. But the French were opening
their borders to them in droves for their own reasons long ago.. And have known how they were far longer than the rest of Europe.. in fact they could have WARNED the rest of Europe.. they chose not to.
Suddenly, because they were not chosen host country of the decades.. they are incensed!
That is all I am saying..

Odin be Praised!  Baldur Save Us!