Saturday, November 05, 2005

Cul de Sac

Coverage of the ongoing riots in France, unsurprisingly makes a pass at what, while entirely bypassing why.

In contrast, Theodore Dalrymple practically inverts that imbalance.

In so doing, he raises more issues than one would think possible in one article.

The "what" is bad enough.

Supine judges:
[who] often make remarks indicating their sympathy for the criminals they are trying (based upon the usual generalizations about how society, not the criminal, is to blame); [one of whom released] from prison on bail ... an infamous career armed robber and suspected murderer before his trial for yet another armed robbery, in the course of which he shot someone in the head. Out on bail before this trial, he then burgled a house. Surprised by the police, he and his accomplices shot two of them dead and seriously wounded a third.

Ineffective police:
[recently] two criminals [attacked] a car in which a woman was waiting for her husband. They smashed her side window and tried to grab her purse, but she resisted. [Someone] went to her aid and managed to pin down one of the assailants, the other running off. Fortunately, some police passed by, [but] let the assailant go, giving him only a warning.

Crime rates headed skyward at the rate and violence of a orbit bound rocket:
Reported crime in France has risen from 600,000 annually in 1959 to 4 million today, while the population has grown by less than 20 percent (and many think today’s crime number is an underestimate by at least a half). In 2000, one crime was reported for every sixth inhabitant of Paris, and the rate has increased by at least 10 percent a year for the last five years. Reported cases of arson in France have increased 2,500 percent in seven years, from 1,168 in 1993 to 29,192 in 2000; robbery with violence rose by 15.8 percent between 1999 and 2000, and 44.5 percent since 1996 (itself no golden age).

Resigned citizenry:
... in a neighborhood where a tolerably spacious apartment would cost $1 million[, three] youths—Rumanians—were attempting quite openly to break into a parking meter with large screwdrivers to steal the coins. It was four o’clock in the afternoon; the sidewalks were crowded, and the nearby cafés were full. The youths behaved as if they were simply pursuing a normal and legitimate activity, with nothing to fear.

But it is the why behind all this that is particularly fascinating; although, "fasciniating" seems at least inadequate, and possibly inappropriate, for a situation for which every likely outcome will assume some crimson shade of horrible.

Just how did France come to such a dead end?

A vicious combination of "rationalism", multiculturalism, wage/employment policy, and welfare fed dependency.

How could this outcome be laid at the door of "rationalism?" Well, like this:

[The] housing projects sprang from ... Le Corbusier, the Swiss totalitarian architect—and still the untouchable hero of architectural education in France—who believed ... areas of cities should be entirely separated from one another by their function, and that the straight line and the right angle held the key to wisdom, virtue, beauty, and efficiency.

The inhuman, unadorned, hard-edged geometry of these vast housing projects in their unearthly plazas brings to mind Le Corbusier’s chilling and tyrannical words: “The despot is not a man. It is the . . . correct, realistic, exact plan . . . that will provide your solution once the problem has been posed clearly. . . . This plan has been drawn up well away from . . . the cries of the electorate or the laments of society’s victims. It has been drawn up by serene and lucid minds.”

In other words, forests of stack-a-prole flats.

Add to that the toxin of multiculturalism. Whatever one may think of the notion it no culture is any better than another, allowing immigrants to set themselves apart from the culture of their adopted country is a guarantee to employment in marginal jobs, the sort that only those natives with substance abuse issues or a criminal history otherwise take.

France has long derided the Anglosphere's bloody in tooth and claw economies. The French, in contrast, have decided upon the more compassionate path, where high minimum wages and employment security policies insulate its citizens from the vicissitudes of laissez-faire capitalism, and ensure everyone earns a livable wage while simultaneously enjoying the pleasure of a 35-hour workweek.

Everyone with a job, that is. For the result of these policies is employers extremely reluctant to hire because of the difficulty and cost of firing. Never mind that extremely bothersome supply and demand thing. Who would have thought increasing the cost of workers would make employers want fewer of them?

So between stack-a-prole flats, populations encouraged to isolate themselves, and an economy giving a whole new meaning to dirigisme, is anyone surprised the unemployment rate is upwards of 20% in the immigrant ghettos?

Then into the job void steps the welfare state, which hopes to ease the burden of these immigrant communities, with their disproportionately high unemployment, and thereby ".. concerning itself with the details of their housing, their education, their medical care, and the payment of subsidies for them to do nothing."

France, worshipping the god of Reason, while simultaneously ignoring basic economics and the most fundamental elements of human nature, now has a grenade strapped to its chest. It beggars the imagination to conceive of any outcome that does not have the word disaster intimately attached.

And while we are on the subject of begging, this whole dispiriting situation begs this question: why there and not here?


Blogger Oroborous said...

NYC was kinda like this, until Giuliani was elected.

The key is that petty crimes CANNOT be ignored.

The smash 'n grab guy should have been detained, even if for whatever reason he wasn't ultimately prosecuted, and the Romanian youths should have been chased off by the people around them, or detained by the police.

Ignored and successful petty criminals sometimes turn into successful major criminals, and people who otherwise wouldn't commit crimes sometimes come to believe that no one cares or is harmed, if those who commit crimes are never called into account.

Actually, the same applies to major crimes.
It just has to be a tolerated activity, regardless of how serious.

As for "why not in America", the answer probably has to do with who is "us", and who "them".

America has had serious race riots before, when underclass frustration boiled over, but fewer since Blacks became accepted in every aspect of society, and could see "the man" as "us", rather than "them".

It's also why there isn't much support in America for European levels of income taxation.
Most Americans believe that they might someday be rich, and so the rich are potentially "us".
In Europe, most can see that the rich will always be "them".

November 05, 2005 9:55 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


We indeed had similar problems, as all the race riots so clearly showed.

And for many of the same reasons -- the wider society forcing the minority into isolated enclaves, lifetime welfare entitlement, and relegating them to stack-a-prole housing (Cabrini Green, anyone?), just to name several.

But Dalrymple's analysis lends me to believe that several additional factors are in play here -- economic policies that can only be termed delusional, for one. Unlike France, providing economic opportunity for blacks never threatened the gravy train for everyone else.

For another, unlike the US, France is essentially a unitary state. In the realm of ideas, there are no sources of competition. It is as if all the US became Washington, DC.

I hadn't really followed coverage much until reading this article. In ways that it never did for the US, the outlook for France seems very bleak, indeed.

November 06, 2005 6:22 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Great post, Skipper. Watching the intermittent coverage, I was asking some of the same questions.

The planners and elites running France into the ground are not acting rationally, rather they are striking a pose as rationalists out of some bizarre worship of the goddess Reason, which, similar to the worship of the cargo god by south sea islanders, they expect to be handsomely rewarded for their fanatical faith in the the face of contrary evidence.

There is a saying about conservatives being liberals who were mugged. The French are being mugged and worse, but why the lightbulb does not go off above their heads is beyond perplexing. I almost think that national ego is at the root of it. The rationalist dream is their way to triumph over the Anglosphere. To admit to the loss of that dream is to admit that the Americans and English are right and they are wrong. Could it be that they would rather destroy France than let it become Anglicised?

November 06, 2005 8:21 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


As Oroborous noted, we trod some fair distance down this path ourselves, and reaped what we had sowed nearly 40 years ago.

It takes some powerful obeisance to the goddess of "Reason" to ignore all that evidence staring them right in the face.

Perhaps there is something to the need to believe.

November 06, 2005 8:46 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Far be it from me to defend France, but it's not so much the current leaders and elites of France who are resistant to the economic and social changes that will be necessary to see France through to 2050, it's the common people - conditioned by the former leaders and elites to believe that the fairy-tales about less work and earlier retirement could be true.

Now they riot and go on general strikes every time cuts to benefits or agricultural subsidies are proposed, or the retirement age is questioned.

France's hoi polloi appears to be willing to kill the Golden Goose, rather than accept fewer eggs.

November 07, 2005 1:55 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


To your points I respond thusly:




To which I might add this: evolution is implacable.

November 07, 2005 4:44 AM  

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