April 29, 2018


A French revolution that pushed immigrants to the margins (Nabila Ramdani, 29 Apr 2018, The Guardian)

Revisionists have claimed that the 22 March student movement that occupied Nanterre's main administrative centre in 1968 was concerned with the plight of the poor and disenfranchised, but there is scant evidence to support this. Instead, the reasons for the action ranged from anger at the rough handling of anti-Vietnam war agitators to a demand for men and women to be able to sleep together in halls of residence. [...]

Yes, workers from minority communities participated in the strikes that accompanied the rioting, but lack of identity papers often excluded them from the trade unions that joined the students. As today, many from immigrant backgrounds stayed away from officialdom because of the constant menace of deportation.

They were particularly fearful of the police. Contrary to the misinformation, the brutal reputation of the armed and baton-wielding CRS was not earned in 1968, but during the Algerian war. After one peaceful pro-independence demonstration in Paris on 17 October 1961, up to 300 Algerians were murdered by the CRS. Many were thrown into the Seine and drowned, close to the Sorbonne. Thousands more were rounded up, beaten, even tortured. British historians Jim House and Neil MacMaster described this massacre as "the bloodiest act of state repression of street protest in western Europe in modern history".

In comparison, '68 was far less bloody. There were no fatalities and those arrested were generally well treated. Despite dramatic images of burning cars and smashed pavements, the riots were more of an early media spectacular than a genuine display of grievance.

The French economy was doing very well at the time, as the Trente Glorieuses - 30 boom years starting in 1945 - kept the traditional bourgeoisie replete with disposable cash and consumer goods. None had any real stomach for a fight. Some claim Charles de Gaulle's administration was threatened at one point, but a simple call for new parliamentary elections in June 1968 was enough to end all the trouble.

Paris is a city of illusion and those who watched the événements fizzle out as quickly as they started soon began to fantasise, awarding them a significance that was not warranted. Now bidonvilles like the one in Nanterre have turned into "ZUS" - state jargon for areas of decrepit housing, high unemployment and rampant discrimination.

Unlike in Britain, where integration and social mobility have been given a far higher priority, France's "apartheid" system persists, according to former minister Jean-Louis Borloo whose new report castigates a "national amnesia" and calls for a radical solution.

There is nothing for immigrants to be assimilated into.

Taking Religion Seriously (Pierre Manent and Rémi Brague, 4/27/18, Libertyy & Law)
Editor's Note: This exchange between French philosophers Pierre Manent and Rémi Brague originally appeared in the January issue of the French journal L'Incorrect as "Rémi Brague & Pierre Manent: Duel de Géants" in January. L'Incorrect is a new conservative-minded journal of ideas in France that challenges the presuppositions of political correctness. We are grateful to the editors of L'Incorrect for permission to reprint this important discussion and to Daniel J. Mahoney and Paul Seaton for their translation. [...]

Pierre Manent (PM): [...] We have made ourselves prisoners of a much too restrictive definition of the French regime, by reducing it to the categories of a rather aggressive secularism. We need to enlarge our understanding of ourselves and, in this enlargement, grant an adequate place to the Catholicism that played such a great role in French history and consciousness.  To be sure, that cannot take on an institutional or constitutional form, and that is where Houellebecq's proposition goes beyond the limits of a reasonable proposal, as he himself knows very well.

This would be an essential element in giving a definite physiognomy and consistency to the community that receives Muslims. Muslims have a very strong collective awareness of their religion, one which nourishes social affects and extremely significant shared mores. One cannot give them as their only destination a society exclusively defined by individual rights, by the neutrality of the State and other institutions vis-à-vis religion, this is to invite them into an empty space, into a wasteland. Whether the society of individuals repulses or tempts them, or both, it does not bring them any new principle of association, it gives them no reason to go beyond a total and complete identification with Islam, in order to participate in a new form of community, or communion. In order for Muslims to be decently received and live happily in France, it is important that they know that they are not in a Muslim nation, that this nation possesses a Christian mark, that Jews play an eminent role here, and that religion does not give commands to the State and the State does not give commands to religion.

These guys apparently slept through the Long War.  The confinement has lasted over 200 years--it is all empty space.

Posted by at April 29, 2018 8:11 AM