Recently, rioting and looting in France have again been making the headlines. The previous time was in July, 2010, when a mobster returning home after an armed robbery was shot by the police.
In the hours that followed, an entire district of the city of Grenoble was ransacked: shops and cars were torched. Today it’s the government's determination to raise French retirement age from 60 to 62 that lit the powder keg. In present-day France, it could have been any reason.
In another iteration of the mass hysterical neurosis that repeats itself year in, year out, French unions called for strikes and demonstrations. The left and the extreme left joined the movement. Thugs armed with iron bars padlocked factory gates. Agitators encouraged high-school and college students to join the protests.
Soon, tables, chairs and desks were afire in school courtyards. In Marseille, Nantes, Toulouse, sanitation workers walked off the job, leaving tons of trash-heaps on sidewalks that attracted large colonies of hungry rats from the municipal sewer system.
Fuel depots and refineries were forcibly shut, leaving many service stations without gasoline. Long lines of traffic formed at the entrance of stations still open for business. Multiple flights were canceled due to lack of kerosene. Cargo ships stood at dockside unloaded as dockers refused to work, hampering port activities. Gang members and thugs were quick to join the party.
In Lyon, in the Nanterre suburb of Paris and in other French cities, scenes resembling a nascent civil war occurred. Self-styled “commandos” armed with Molotov cocktails and other instruments of destruction launched assaults on shopping areas and government buildings. Policemen were ordered to proceed with caution: the authorities fear that any serious incident would likely aggravate disorder and lead to widespread uprisings, as in 2005.
At that time I wrote that France was no longer a “western country” and that rule of law had nearly ceased to exist. Since then, the situation has worsened. Approximately 700 “no-go zones” pepper France: enclaves ruled by gangs, drug traffickers and imams. Firefighters and doctors venture into these places rarely and only with extreme caution, when they have no other choice. Graffiti on the walls read: “French out!” or “jihad.”
Subjects like the Holocaust are no longer taught in many classrooms, and the word “Jew” has become an insult in many playgrounds. The burqa ban was passed, but will probably never be enforced. In a growing number of communities, young women without the Islamic veil risk assault or rape if they walk unaccompanied in the street.
France is a country in disintegration. A small minority of the population still lives comfortably in the more affluent neighborhoods, striving to maintain the property they purchased or inherited, while at the other end of the social spectrum, the ranks of those living in dire poverty are swelling fast. Fifteen percent of the population subsists exclusively on government welfare benefits. Unemployment has reached 25 percent among the 18 to 25 year old age group, while figures are far higher among segments of this group of Arab or African descent.
More than half the diplomas issued by higher education are worthless in the real world, offering no career path, no opportunity other than signing onto a long list of job seekers going nowhere. Many counter staff in fast food chains hold doctorates or masters’ degrees, yet prefer demeaning work to begging on the street. The French middle classes are disappearing and observe with anxiety the irrepressible growth of an underclass of immigrants increasingly marginalized and marinating in degrading frustration that’s highly conducive to all sorts of radicalization.
French education is in the hands of communists, socialists and greens who disseminate anti-capitalist doctrines and distorted views of history. The media echo these inept and fraudulent ideas, never offering a means to actually understand how the world works and the basic rules of economics. This encourages dangerously stupid and divisive slogans such as “The solution exists. The rich must pay,” to achieve wide support. More than twenty years ago, French jurisprudence was usurped by radical groups proclaiming that a criminal is primarily a victim of society, and that the duty of those who have more is to share with those who have less. Today, many French judges make rulings on ideological grounds, with little regard for the law.
Major reform or even a return to sanity appear unthinkable in these conditions. Nicolas Sarkozy has proven unable to enforce consistent principles, teetering for three years between indecision and authoritarianism, finally giving rise to massive, widespread rejection. His prospective successors, the leaders of the Socialist Party, speak irresponsibly and make senseless promises which they know full well are impossible to keep. A xenophobic extreme-right stirs the anger of some; a nihilistic extreme-left excites the hatred of others. No politician appears able to offer a path toward a promising future: at least no politician with the slightest chance to be heard.
The French public debt grows year after year toward a national bankruptcy that will be very hard to avoid. Abysmal deficits adversely affect not only a pension system built on a Ponzi scheme, but all redistribution mechanisms and a public health insurance system that, while promising free medical care for all, loses billions of euros each year and survives only thanks to a management shortage and a steady decline in the quality of care.
Investors feel uncertain. The present situation does anything but convince them that the future of France is bright.
Beyond France, the rest of Europe is also rotting. Greece is in an permanent downward spiral. Portugal and Spain are approaching collapse. Angela Merkel recently acknowledged that “multiculturalism” has failed; many Germans agree, but fear it’s already too late for a turnaround. The British government is currently trying to redress public finances, and can count on a population less attracted to anarchy than the French. But the UK is plagued by creeping islamization that barely anyone in government appears inclined to confront.
Elections crucial to the future of the United States are just around the corner. The overall situation in Europe, and especially the grotesque and frightening spectacle of today’s France, should strongly encourage American voters who have not yet made their decisions to think very carefully.
The Obama administration’s policies and projects bear a strong resemblance to those that led Europe – especially France – to founder on the brink of total self-destruction. Redistribute the wealth? It has already been tried and failed in Europe, and particularly in France. Establish a socialized healthcare system? This was also done in many European countries, including France. Multiply the number of people living on welfare, maintain high long-term unemployment, inject resentment into the business sector, and replace knowledge by propaganda? This was also across European countries, including France. The results are obvious. They’re in every newspaper.
After two years of Obama presidency, growing numbers of Americans want to to get up and scream, “Stop!” I understand them.
There are actions that must be stopped before the threshold of irreversibility is crossed. In Europe, and particularly in today’s France, that threshold appears to have been crossed already. Who wants to use recipes guaranteed to lead to decay and chaos?
Barack Obama no doubt, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid. Who else? You?