April 26, 2016


French-bashing bashed : With the country spectacularly failing, the citizens are again taking to the streets - but they are demanding more state, less reform, and higher walls against the rest of the world. (J. MILLER 26 April 2016, OpenDemocracy)

The real problem is not the French[...]but the French state itself, its para-religious republicanism, and the immobilism of a nation which has been expropriated by a ruling class that is as incompetent as it is delusional. The worship of the king has been replaced by the worship of the state. Like Jabba the Hutt,  this enormous sluggish monster squashes every sign of vitality, inflates pomposity, protects privilege and infantilises the French people. 

The Fifth Republic has spawned a culture of clientelism that extends its tentacles into every part of the French economy and communal life. Nowhere is its failure more evident than in the hundred or so slum suburbs that even the French prime minister has called "ghettos".  But all young people suffer with a youth unemployment rate of 25 per cent. It is bizarre that young people in France are currently demonstrating against changes to the employment code that actually make it harder for them to find jobs. The clustered failures of the state have produced an economy on its knees. If France is useless, it is not as a result of its language, but of statolâtrie. In a nation that professes a republicanism of liberty, equality and fraternity, none of the above are being delivered.

This isn't about François Hollande. Don't be fooled by the pretence of political debate and parties. The so-called right-wing National Front has an economic policy indistinguishable from that of the extreme left, made more toxic with a racist nationalism.  Many of those now flocking to it are actually former supporters of the Communist party. France is, rather, crushed by a dysfunctional polity of clientelism, political corruption, fear of change and not least, psychosis.

The parties offer various types of pantomime, with no real choice except for the personalities. Politicians of all parties enrich themselves with multiple mandates (being elected mayors and deputies at the same time, for example), collecting multiple salaries and multiple pensions. There are 5.6 million fonctionnaires (civil servants), many of whom report that they are stressed and depressed because they don't have enough to do. Claims of French productivity are absurd in a nation where the state accounts for 58 per cent of GDP. 

Vast swathes of the economy are essentially parastatal, such as EDF, Renault and Air France. Commerce is rigidly regulated as the elaborate layers of government look after one another very well. Air traffic controllers have struck 34 times in 7 years. There are more police assigned to keeping Uber shut than the channel tunnel open. Even dental hygienists are outlawed, lest they unfairly compete with dentists. Even the media is rotten. Le Monde collects 19 centimes in state subsidies for every copy sold. Journalists who hold the prized press card get a special tax rebate.

France gets much mileage out of its tenuous connection with the famous revolution.

They're still unreconciled to their centuries of defeat in the Long War, so they can't accept the democratic capitalist house cleaning they require just to make the twilight years comfortable.

Posted by at April 26, 2016 5:04 PM