Tuesday, November 08, 2005

French Government's Carrot and Stick Answer to Riots

My right-wing compatriot, sixstringslinger, offered the following post on the Reformed Leftist blog and included it in our discussion of the November 2nd World Can't Wait rallies. Though Slinger disagrees, I don't believe the French riots have anything to do with George Bush or the movement to remove him from office, so I am starting a new post.

sixstringslinger said...

Here, this oughta satisfy the poor, repressed, unassimilated lads:


De Villepin Springs Into Action

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has a plan for stopping the orgy of destruction and violence in his country—give the rioters lots of money, preferential treatment, and expanded social services, and crack down on discrimination against them: French PM announces raft of measures for riot-hit poor suburbs.

The intiatives are:

- the creation of an anti-discrimination agency with special officials appointed to be in charge of certain regions, and making the fight against discrimination a national priority;

- 20,000 job contracts with local government bodies or associations paid a minimum wage would be reserved for those in the suburbs struggling to find work;

- an extra 100 million euros (120 million dollars) for associations that work in the neighbourhoods;

- 5,000 more teaching assistant posts in the 1,200 schools in districts designated as troublespots;

- the creation of 15 more special economic zones that provide tax breaks to companies that set up inside them as an incentive to boost local employment.

Villepin also said ‘social imbalances due to an insufficiently controlled flow of clandestine immigration’ would be tackled.

No word on whether similar handouts are planned for those who lost cars and shops at the hands of these poor disaffected youths.

More socialism will make everything better. I mean, it's worked so far, hasn't it? Well hasn't it?
I won't answer Slinger's question about socialism. I will, however, make the observation that this is the vegetarian half of the French government's carrot and stick approach to dealing with the chaos that has engulfed the nation.

These initiatives are designed to help ease the tensions that created the spark for these riots in the first place - 60% unemployment, racism, religious and cultural discrimination.

From the article referenced above:

"Many of the areas affected by the initiatives are impoverished districts on the periphery of cities and towns populated predominantly by families which immigrated from France's former colonial possessions in Africa.

The youths perpetrating the violence that has gripped the country since October 27 are mostly drawn from the large Muslim communities that live in the neighbourhoods.

They have complained that, though often born in France, they endure racial discrimination when looking for work, have poor-quality education and few economic options other than to participate in the trade in drugs and stolen goods that is rife."

The conditions that created this atmosphere are quite similar to the conditions found in urban areas all over the rest of Europe, and aside from the Islamic culture, they are similar to conditions found in inner cities and small towns all over the United States. Slinger voiced his concern that such riots might occur in the large immigrant communities of Michigan. I assured him that Dearborn and other largely immigrant areas of Southeastern Michigan are quite wealthy and too powerful politically to exploed like this. His real concern should be that other poverty stricken areas don't end up igniting based on France's model.

Again, though the media is painting this as an Islamic "Intifada", this is an old fashioned riot - poor people rising up in frustration over their living conditions. A corespondent on CNN compared these disturbances to the Los Angeles riots of 1992 stating that the community feels they have been wronged and they are lashing out in frustration.

Spontaneous riotting, however, is not the solution to these problems. Organization and strategic action are a better course. Riots only cause the second half of France's proposed solution:

The Stick.


The French Government has authorised a range of emergency powers in an effort to combat 12 nights of rioting.

The move, announced by interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy, allows local authorities to impose curfews and lets police perform raids without warrants."

" The emergency powers were invoked under a 1955 law and it is the first time it has been implemented in mainland France.

The law was originally passed to combat violence in Algeria in its war of independence against France from 1954-62. "

The Algerian war for independence was a bloody conflict with massive casualties on both sides. The difference here is that the fires burning in this latest uprising seem to be the work of angry teenagers, not an organized independence movement with both offensive and defensive capabilities.

The unenviable task of the French government now, is to quell the violence without escalating the bloodshed. They have shown remarkable restraint so far, but I imagine their patience is wearing thin.

We'll see whether these kids have any teeth left to eat those carrots after the French authorities wield the stick.


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