Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Adloyada: Paris is burning

An interesting perspective on the riots in France - Adloyada: Paris is burning. The author suggests that the riots are "the ultimate outcome of years of a statist system which has preserved a higher level of social protection and security for its own, whilst permanently marginalizing the children and grandchildren of the immigrants who were imported to do the work nobody wanted." She also tells a very interesting story about living in France as a teenager in 1960 and encountering young Algerian men:
I found I constantly got picked up by young Algerian men. It eventually penetrated my consciousness that the reason they made such a beeline for me was that no French girl would so much as look at them, and they were desperate for some sort of social and preferably sexual outlet.

I did begin spontaneously to think about what led to this state of affairs. Previously I would have thought of it as the product of something we in those days called prejudice. But I worked out for myself that it was more than that. There was clearly a system of importing the poor and desperate of actual or former colonies as cheap labour, and that the system would discard this labour as soon as it had served its purpose. It was my first serious independent accomplishment in political and sociological analysis, though it would be another twenty eight years before I got round to acquiring any formal qualifications in either subject.

The impact was powerful enough to have influenced my thinking till this day. The current riots,although they involve Muslims, seem to me to have much more in common with the riots and slogans of the black consciousness movement of the seventies. That manifested itself in Britain over incidents to do with alleged police brutality, or the failure of the police to solve murders or other serious crimes against black people.

I must say that whatever the ultimate reason for the riots, I have been quite astonished at the ineffectiveness of the police and government response in France. Only now are the police being given the power to impose curfews.

And one of Adloyada's commenters makes a point that I have also wondered about:
The Paris riots have this in common with the UK riots. I've not seen one interview with a decent ordinary person who has had his car torched, or with someone running a marginal, probably uninsurable business, now wrecked.

The media report either the clash of civilisations or the romantic rebel harbingers of revolution.

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