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Hate and violence, in France and elsewhere

by Jerome a Paris Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 06:05:16 PM EST

From the front page

French philosopher André Glucksmann wrote a provocative piece in yesterday's Le Monde, where he bemoans the "winds of hate" in our country.

He has been a tireless militant againt Putin and Russia's ugly war in Chechnya and he also supported the invasion of Iraq on humanitarian grounds - Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator that needed to be brought down, and he had been critical before of the links between some parts of the French State with Saddam's Iraq. In that sense he is close to the neocons, pro-American and anti-Russian. He still sees America as a force for good againtt tyranny and hate. Despite this, his words on France are interesting, and also provide some deeper insights.


Translation by me from the article in French in Le Monde:



In France as in the United States, integration is rife with conflict and contestation.  No one questions the "Frenchness" of the peasants who impose their will with easy recourse to violence, and one must recognize a properly French virtue in the firebombs of the suburbs. It is in France that our nihilist firebombers learn that what makes you strong is your capacity for nuisance.

The more you break, the more you count.  France, both the left and the right, should take a look at the mirror provided by the rioters.  Who claims to control Europe while in a  minority, even if it means declaring to the countries which are just freed from the domination of their Russian master that they have only one right, to keep silent?  Who votes with a 55 % majority against Europe by adding its vote to those from the extremes and the racists?  Who takes the risk to demolish fifty years of efforts?  Who is ready to get WTO to fail and ignores, in the name of our 2 % of peasants,  immense African misery?  French diplomacy behaves in the international arena as if all relationships were about who's most harmful to whom.  Yesterday it was as friendly as possible with Saddam, today with Putin.  It dared call "resistant" the killers of Baghdad.

Similar nihilist behavior inside France creates its dreadful effects.  Examples of blackmail abound.  Lawlessness takes its toll both in elite France as in the lower classes.  Our suburbs are completely French.  It's much too easy to stigmatize foreigners.  The firebombers are definitely at home here.  They are citizens of a country where the winds of hatred blow.

Now, one may agree or not with that pretty dark vision of France (as it were, I think there is too much truth in there for comfort, even if it is a very partial and selective view), but this begs a more general question: why such nihilism? Why such hate?

This is a theme I have touched upon before - that of zero-sum games. Why, after many years of our civilisation successfully growing out of its earlier misery thanks to the adoption of win-win rules (demcoracy, cooperation, openness, accountability) are we falling back to older, almost feudal, rules of behavior?

Is it the pressure of the monetisation of value (only money grants value, and what cannot be "valued" - in dollars - has no value for our society) and the even stronger pressure to maximize such value in the short term?

Is it the disappearance of ideologies (national, political or religious) and the (stifling, but reassuring) rules they imposed on all in society from the onslaught of individual liberty - and our inability to replace collectively-imposed morality by personal responsibility?

Is it just a temporary aberration, when a selfish caste has taken advantage of the openness and the wealth of the system to, quite simply, cheat - and setting the precedent for everybody else to follow, until order breaks down and we come to our senses and kick them out?

Selfishness rules. Instant gratification has become a "human right" ( a "z'acquis sociaux" for the French). Our role models (people on TV) lead us in that direction by their example, and we hate it when we cannot do the same. Some of us are better brought up than others to resist the temptation, but are treated as naive or are abused.

How do we take a stand against hate? One thing is certain: not by becoming hateful ourselves.

Display:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/11/23/91326/633


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 09:26:19 AM EST
Having just read Glucksmann's op-ed in full, I must say I think it's one of the most inaccurate and overblown pieces of reactionary crap I've read in a long time.

Get this: Un seuil a été franchi. Voici venue l'heure du nihilisme. (We have reached a new level. The hour of nihilism has come). Nihilism is upon us -- again? (Seems to happen often).

This is from (yet another) reactionary thinker who was supposedly a late-sixties revolutionary. Doesn't he remember the old farts who used the same pompous language to bemoan the student revolt in '68? These guys -- the French nouveaux philosophes, some of the neocons, the Christopher Hitchenses -- were never on the left. They were reactionaries to start out, they followed the way the wind blew between '65 and '75, then they reverted to type. And ever since, their supposed lefty past gives them licence to be taken seriously when they spout media-friendly, dramatized, right-wing bull.

Like Glucksmann's tortuous justification of the use of the term racaille by Sarkozy without once calling into consideration the position and responsibility of the Minister of the Interior. Who cares if Glucksmann or somebody's concierge calls these kids trash/scum/riffraff? What matters is that the head of internal security and police for the entire country did so quite deliberately in an attention-grabbing TV sequence. And that the suspicion that he did so with the intention of stirring up trouble he could use to further his career is not so easily to be set aside. But Glucksmann's a "philosopher", so he tells us we should call a spade a spade (no pun intended...)

As for the part Jérôme translates, it's full of specious or overstated points. Chirac may have been clumsy in saying certain candidate countries "lost an opportunity to keep quiet", that does not mean the only right they have is to keep silent. And if Glucksmann wanted to stigmatize brutal, overweening language in diplomacy, he might have found a heap more examples a great deal more easily... Across the Atlantic? But would he look there?

Or "Who is ready to get WTO to fail and ignores, in the name of our 2 % of peasants,  immense African misery?"  What demagogy! It remains to be demonstrated that France is prepared to make the WTO talks fail. And why this use of paysans (peasants)? The big beneficiaries of the CAP are not small French farmers, but big agri-business, and all European (and American) agri-business is lobbying against the Doha Round. Ah, but in France, les paysans are an extremely ill-loved category, so much so that the word is semi-pejorative. (Maybe it's like racaille). And, most important of all, can we please stop this facile demagogic point-scoring using African poverty, which is the result of many complex causes and will not be wiped from the map by simply ceasing to support French farming. No, I'm not arguing in favour of protectionism or dumping, I'm just saying that Glucksmann is making easy, worthless points.

As for "Who takes the risk to demolish fifty years of efforts?", there's no short answer. The French, maybe, but also the Dutch, and no doubt the Brits had they been asked, and probably quite a few more European peoples, simply because they have been told and told and told that Europe is a no-good joke, and the fifty years of efforts they do not see.

But above all this nonsense about a country living by hate, inhabited by hate: what hyperbole. Oh, but Glucksmann has a book out. It's called Le discours de la haine (The Discourse of Hate). Whoda thunk?

So, Jérôme, sorry if I don't address your remarks built on Glucksmann's. I just don't think Glucksmann has got much to say.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 10:55:51 AM EST
These guys -- the French nouveaux philosophes, some of the neocons, the Christopher Hitchenses -- were never on the left. They were reactionaries to start out, they followed the way the wind blew between '65 and '75, then they reverted to type.

Nope, you've got it precisely wrong. They retain that same revolutionary fervour and belief in the possibility of creating a new, better world through sudden, violent change.

As for the part Jérôme translates, it's full of specious or overstated points. Chirac may have been clumsy in saying certain candidate countries "lost an opportunity to keep quiet", that does not mean the only right they have is to keep silent. And if Glucksmann wanted to stigmatize brutal, overweening language in diplomacy, he might have found a heap more examples a great deal more easily... Across the Atlantic? But would he look there?

He could have looked across the Atlantic - but why? He's French after all. What would you feel about an American who tells fellow Americans to shut up about Bush and look over the Atlantic at Chirac?  Chirac's diplomacy in the run up to the Iraq war (and afterwards) is not merely 'clumsy' but seen in a place like Poland in precisely the same way as Bush/Rumsfeld's was seen in France. Chirac and Schroeder's ongoing lovefest with Putin  is a constant  argument for Poland to oppose any European integration in foreign or defense affairs. Left-wing pundits like to point out that a majority of Poles opposed Poland's involvement in Iraq. That's true, but that opposition was shallow. The same isn't true of the even wider majority which is hostile to Putin's Russia.  When the EU brought in Poland and the Baltics it received countries where national identity was built in opposition to Russia as a colonial power. (The other post-communist members didn't have the fun experience of being part of the Tsarist Empire. Nor did they have the genocidal Stalnist occupation of 1939-1941 - something which the current Russian leadership feels was just fine. So feelings aren't quite as strong there).

by MarekNYC on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 12:59:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Last point first -- I didn't bring up Glucksmann's criticism on French attitudes to Russia because it may be one I have some understanding for.

My point about Glucksmann not looking across the Atlantic was obviously meant to indicate that he is arguing entirely within an American, indeed pro-American, perspective. And I'm sorry I can't agree with you about the intensity and importance of Chirac's remark compared to certain remarks by Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Bush. Finger-wagging You're either with us or against us is something else again. What would you feel about an American who tells fellow Americans to shut up about Bush and look over the Atlantic at Chirac? Come on. You're once again making out that the noise level is the same on either side of the pond. It is not.

On your first comment, you may have a higher idea than I have of some of the neocons, but I don't see much revolutionary fervour in the nouveaux philosophes, and as for Chris Hitchens...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 01:56:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It can be useful to bear in mind the ideological colour behind some of Le Monde publications. This daily provides for a well-informed and rather accurate view in the news sections ; when it comes to the debate section (which I suspect the Glucksman piece appeared) one has to bear in mind that Jewish, not to say pro-Israel contributors make the bulk of it.
Most of the French nouveaux philosophes, not only Andre Glucksman, but also Bernard Henry Levy, nicknamed BHL in the socialite world where he spends most of his time, and Alain Finkielkraut, are from Jewish extraction. Some of them, in particular Finkielkraut, have been the advocates of tolerance and universality spirit we inherited from our "Siecle des Lumieres". Tolerance, belief in human rights, prevalence of reason over hatred and nihilism and a win-win attitude (in reference to Jerome's quoting the games theories) are not very popular for people who still believe that for one of theirs killed, one hundred will be wanted among the enemies.
Beyond the political motives, it is difficult to see in Gluckman's or BHL's soliloquies anything else as anxiety to be "in", to see where the land lies. In the current mood of suspicion we have in France, this is somewhat easier than standing for love and understanding between the cultures.
To get back to the games theory, John Nash, the very first to formalise it, was rewarded by the Nobel price decades after his work had been published, having lived an outcast for suffering from schizophrenia.

NB : it may to useful to mention that I was born in Poland, from a Jewish father and a roman catholic mother.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill

by Agnes a Paris on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 02:25:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it is difficult to see in Gluckman's or BHL's soliloquies anything else as anxiety to be "in", to see where the land lies.

Total agreement.

people who still believe that for one of theirs killed, one hundred will be wanted among the enemies

Who are we talking about?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 02:29:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Surprised you did not recognise the Israeli government in the way they handle the conflict with Palestinians. Interestingly enough, when you read the Bible, the tit for tat rule stands as a significant improvement in retaliation practises.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 02:35:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Surprised you did not recognise the Israeli government

I disapprove of the Israeli government's attitude to Palestinians, but I have difficulty in seeing where I should have recognized it in your 100:1 language.

I also don't understand how you can insinuate that the nouuveaux philosophes are Jewish therefore pro-Israeli therefore in favour of killing a hundred enemies for one slain, at the same time as some of them at least (Finkielkraut for example) support Enlightenment values... Or perhaps I'm not reading you properly. Can you be more clear?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 03:03:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Point taken. I was not clear enough indeed. What I was attempting to say is that some nouveaux philosophes may be backward-looking, reactionary people. What is worse, they talk and write in a simplistic way, naming with a generic term "hatred" what was rightly pointed out as frustration-fuelled violence. I remember BHL having written a book titled "Nietzsche and me" a few years ago. As it were the title is yet another evidence of how conceited he is. Fortunately, the book appeared boring enough not to have scored many sales, because Nieztsche's work is therein dangerously biased.
It is always easier to use striking, simplistic images and concepts than trying to educate people towards tolerance and ability to discriminate by themselves between right and "less right".

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 03:30:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, I understand you better now. And agree about BHL.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 03:34:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am fully in line with you as to the bemoaned Polish opposition to EU integration.
Back to Chirac, I find it amazing that there still be countries finding some legitimacy in his forays into foreign affairs : how could the US or any other major civilised country forget that avoiding jail ranks high in his credentials ?

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 02:31:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They retain that same revolutionary fervour and belief in the possibility of creating a new, better world through sudden, violent change.

This is what it makes them is advocates of the United States as agent of the revolutionary change. What is most important, intellectually and emotionally for them, is the taste for revolution, not so much its ends. When Marxism or some other leftist philosophy won't do, it'll have to be the "new American century," because real grassroots activism is not there bag and is "too hard." The US has power, and as such, it is much easier to attach their emotional and intellectual needs to it than to, say, Evo Morales in Bolivia.

Ben P

by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 07:12:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If this guy had a real revolutionary bone is his body, he would support the riots. Instead he justifies Sarko. Rich.

Not to say that I am revolutionary. I'm not. But frankly, I don't have a problem with the riots. I don't have a problem with the French state taking measures to end them, either. But in the grand scheme, les emeuts were an effective means of publicising and redressing grievances. This guy's analysis is much too shallow. What kind of action is kosher for him?

by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 07:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is difficult for me to follow you on this one. I do have a problem with riots, as they affect regional trains traffic when tube drivers get molested. Sorry, this was not an an appropriate thing to say against such a serious background.
Enough developments  (Afew seems to have a pretty good insight- this is not flattery it's just I'm new on the forum-) have followed to further the debate on whether violence, symbolic or not, may help. The point is that this violence has led to drastic measures by the government (Sarko's "tolerance zero") if we are to enter an escalation in repression with cops behind each troublemaker, this is getting serious. "Droits de l'homme" , does it ring a bell ?

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 02:27:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was being fairly flippant here. But this guy's reaction to the riots is telling. Basically just a conservative/reactionary, however he wants to think about himself or whatever he did 40 years ago.

Ben P

by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 02:33:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh! Well, (like Le Monde) I wanted to give Glucksmann a hearing - it does not mean I agree with him all the way. I am very sympathetic to his efforts (and there, Le Monde has been on the same line) to criticize Russia and our shameful diplomacy with Putin.

Of course, his anti-aniti-Americanism is as absurd as the anti-Americanism he criticizes, but he does make some uncomfortable points. France's behavior in Europe has not been very smart, and the PAC we've discussed enough to know a little bit about... and his overall point that there is a lot of hate and pettiness in France today is still worth making.

His piece, in the end, is a great illustration of the principle that two wrongs do not make a right...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 02:59:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
His piece is a great puff for his book... ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 03:24:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I start with the principle that anybody who goes on TV or in the paper has something to sell or is a friend of an editor. Once you acknowledge this truth and properly discount the content provided, it's possible to take what's nevertheless genuinely interesting...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 03:35:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To be more specific, do you have a clue by how much to discount everything that is to be read in the papers or, worse, seen on TV those days ?

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 03:42:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I watch TV for a small number of reasons:

  • see crashes, disasters and other spectacular stuff;
  • know what the average joe has heard of;
  • sports

It's worthless as an information source otherwise. You need at least two sources to get an original quote right, and you need two sources with different, and known, biases, to get to the underlying facts. Reading British and French media on international affairs is actually a pretty good way to get rid of a lot of biases. And get the input from all of the world at Eurotrib everyday!

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 04:00:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You need at least two sources to get an original quote right, and you need two sources with different, and known, biases, to get to the underlying facts. Reading British and French media on international affairs is actually a pretty good way to get rid of a lot of biases.
I agree with this.  I also like Google News, in that they show 100's of papers stories on the same subjects.  But of course there is a built possibility of bias on the selection of stories.  But I also include a little TV--and love the ET discussion.
by wchurchill on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 01:51:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True that educated people who are able to share views with guys round the world can apply a discount rate. My concern is about those who have less access to alternative views, media, etc. ; they will take TV images for granted and will be more exposed to manipulation. Yet we all know the context of a policy aiming at controlling the media. Freedom is a never ending story.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 03:50:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that the problem is that you let philosophers write in your most influential magazines. And if that were not enough, you take them seriously. Learn from us Americans, only businessmen should be allowed to give opinions. It will make things much clearer. Snark?

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
Czeslaw Milosz
by Chris Kulczycki on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 08:28:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am very much into buying your argument. Snark.
It's just that our business model in France is somewhat flawed by the consanguinity of the business elites, top management at our most influential companies having graduated from the same "Grandes ecoles". I will not go for a rant against them, as I am myself a product of this so-called, would-be elite breed, but we could you a little bit of the diversity you have in the US companies. Businessmen only having a say would then make sense. :))

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 02:08:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And what exactly makes you think that philosophy is not a business - for those that are published in newspapers and write books and get to go on TV to talk about them?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 03:20:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just being overly idealistic, I guess.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 05:43:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To avoid spreading the opinion that all what Nouveaux philosophes write is crap, the "Wisdom of love" (not a self-help book as one may think)by A. Finkielkraut is a very worthy piece, providing inter alia a good vulgarisation of the work of Emmanuel Levinas, whose books are difficult to read unless you have a PhD in philosophy.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 03:39:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hehehe, Afew, sharp sendoff.

You are pretty darn biased but I enjoyed every single word :) I can't resist a good rant against those Nouveaux Philosophes and assorted boomery gasbags. I just can't help...
by Francois in Paris on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 07:11:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am actually part of the '68 generation. I was in Paris and Fontainebleau then (age 14, a bit too young to throw cocktails Molotov, but emotionally involved nevertheless) and at the risk of being flippant, I thought Glucksmann was an asshole then and he is an asshole now.

Though I have a deep appreciation for the phenomenon of '68 and what it brought to France I thought (and still think) that a lot of the so-called thinkers of the times were trendy Parisian gasbags that poisoned, or suffocated, a commendable popular movement.

All this to say, I totally agree with you, afew.

by Lupin on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 08:29:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People can and do become assholes, but it is rare for assholes to reform themselves. Think of it as an application of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 08:31:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The more I try to think of this as an application of the 2nd law of thermodynamics, the more my mind resembles an application of Chaos Theory...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 09:02:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Entropy, afew, entropy.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 09:13:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Entirely possible.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 09:22:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't in France in '68, but I do remember thinking that Libération took Glucksmann too seriously in the 'seventies. He and BHL cashed in on their "lefty past" even down to the uniforms they wore on TV sets, in Glucksmann's case long hair, blue jeans and sneakers, like he'd just run in from a street demonstration.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 09:07:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is called social classes. It has nothing to do with hate.. well maybe yes.. it is called hate to people of another class.. mainly a class above you.

This is why peasants can put anything they want on fire.. they belong to the same clas as "us". They are in the center of the society.

In the subrubs... uppsss , under class. Another social class.. go and watch out what they do...

It is a pitty eveyrbody forgot this language-social class.... it is so easy to interpret this phenomena with them..

Sometimes it loks like if the present elite does not want to use the differential geometry to explain Newton laws...upps sorry I meant: to use social classes to explain social unrest... go figure... now it is "cultrue of hate"...funny construction... cracking. I am gonna change my pants

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 02:20:23 PM EST
But the violence was turned against their own.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 02:53:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's actually psychologically predictable behavior.  Generally, people in hopeless situations will first work to get out of it, bargain, then compete, then turn on each other, then turn on themselves.  

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 03:01:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More than that, in this case, there's nothing contradictory in smashing an environment that is oppressive and gives you no way out. Nor in trashing schools that you know/feel have failed you.

Hate is not as accurate a term as oppression-fueled rage.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 03:14:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was going to answer exactly this.

The fact that they are attacking their environemnt does not mean that they are attacking people of their own.

I have not seen any attack on other member of their class. I have only seen attacks agains cars and schools.
It is not strange to see cars and school as symbols of the people that live with them but are "upper" than them.

School is the first place where they see the "other class": teachers, teachers and member of the state.

Regarding cars, well if cars are old, inexpensive cars.. then you are right, but I do not why, but I expect to burn them medium to expensive cars...
But I could be wrong

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 03:33:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The cars: it's smashing all the derisory symbols of what society might let them have if they're good.

Would they burn a big BM? Only after taking it for a run. It's more of a symbol of what society might let them have if they're bad...

Hens at the bottom of the pecking order become distraught with stress before giving up and dying (if pecked enough ;)). A wolf which is the outcast of the pack adopts sneaky, slinking behaviour, accepting the collective verdict but trying to survive.

But we have myths ;) We have culture. Humans who live at the bottom of the complicated and heavy hierarchy of our societies may show violence that is commensurate with the vitality of the ideal of equity.

These kids trash and burn because they know what is owed them. And it is owed them.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 03:50:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You and afew are both correct, of course.  My statement was overly simplistic and perhaps not even pertinent to the circumstances being discussed.  Just putting the information out there because it seems to be a point that people don't understand about human nature and they get hung up on it.

So you make a great distinction about it being the environment, etc., but my larger point is that people will indeed become self-destructive eventually -- it's not some inexplicable thing, it's predictable.  What's the argument then?  When it progresses from "good" action to "bad" action?  We cut ourselves off at the knees if we say certain violent, destructive acts are okay.

Having lived in areas where this sort of thing is a long-term problem, I've seen the left fall into this sort of logic trap with the right.  We explain behavior and, at times, it can come across as... not condoning, but saying the behavior is reasonable.  I think the discussion needs to be shifted.

Yes, there are reasons behind violence, but it is never a reasonable response, even when it's perfectly understandable and excusable.  Violence isn't reasonable.  The trap we fall into is arguing that it is.  What we can argue is that it's predictable and even inevitable if you keep trapping and pushing people.  

What's unreasonable also is expecting people to follow societies' rules when society isn't benefitting them.  What's also unreasonable is to expect people to live in hopeless conditions with no signs of change.  What's completely insane is to tighten police action against people who are already being harrassed by the police.  What's just plain ol' stupid is to push people and not expect to get pushed back.

I wrote about some of this here -- Watt's Riots: 40 Years and Counting.  If you're interested, there's some pretty good links in it about that and also the riots in 1992.  The yahoo link is expired, but the others work.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 04:04:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't objecting to what you were saying, just putting another focus on it. I agree with you completely. Violence is not reasonable and I didn't mean to say it was or to make it heroic. What is owed these kids is owed, but that doesn't mean they won't -- more than hurt themselves, get into a pattern of self-depreciation without realizing it. And I don't think their revolt will bring them changes in society that will benefit them.

Just that what they have been doing is not a product, either of pure hate, or of total incoherence.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 04:21:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed right. Although I would not be so sure that they will not change society..

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 04:43:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just that what they have been doing is not a product, either of pure hate, or of total incoherence.

I couldn't agree more!  And very well said, too.  I have a bad habit of never using one word when six will do.  My apologies if I sounded contentious -- I was actually agreeing with you all along and never thought you were trying to make the actions sound good or heroic.  Although there certainly is an argument to be made that violence can be heroic, just not reasonable...  :-)

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 04:49:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You didn't sound contentious, Izzy, you just like peanut butter, that's all ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 02:27:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not advocating violence...I am not from the school of tought that says that only violence works.
MY point is that violence indeed works sometimes, for better or worst.

Having said that, if there is a violence I understand deeply and I think it works is symbolic violence...
Vilence agaisnt other humans, sorry I never understand that nor support it, although I know that sometimes it works.

And this is the focus we are bringing, not that I do not like your perspective. Just the focus on symbolism violence used by social classes.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 04:42:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, as I said above to afew, I'm mostly agreeing with you (god help us when we find something to fight about!), and I agree that sometimes violence works.  I'd also go further and argue that at times it is the only option.

That said, I don't think there's any such thing as symbolic violence -- if nothing's getting hurt, it's art.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes

by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 05:08:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Symblic in the sense that is against symbols instead of persons.

Cars are symbols, schools are symbols...although is not symbolic is against symbols...

This is the way  we, posh, liberal elite people call it, symbolic violence.. Violence against symbols sounds too detailed for our detached natures..he heheheheh SNARK SNARK (against myself)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 05:16:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I dunno.  I got symbolic on some property with a lead-pipe one time, but the landlady took it really seriously.  I think she described it as violence when she called the police.  The symbolic aspects were evidently lost on her.  Whatever it was, it did guarantee that the next tenents had better plumbing.

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 05:29:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't symbolic violence one of the components of art? (Just a question...)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 01:34:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is indeed, that's why we have a graffiti section in one of our modern art museums in Paris.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 02:31:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely.  I wasn't joking about that part (I know sometimes it's hard to tell).

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 03:31:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In short, I would say yes, monetization is a big part of the problem. It comes in part out of the desire in academia to make all studies "scientific" and when they fail, they settle for quantitative. In part it was propelled by the ridiculous, simplistic, triumphalism of Fukuyama et al. at the end of the Cold War. The myth is, we won the zero sum game! Thus, we must keep playing, for we will win again. Those who look for other games must be cowards or traitors...

On other ideologies, I think this is a complicated one. In my lifetime I have seen a substantial improvement in the racial climate of the UK. This is in part because of the decline of some of the hateful ideologies.

To me, selfishness rules because we have been sold the concept that it is through selfishness we progress and our collective acheivements have been and continue to be denigrated by comparison.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 04:07:07 PM EST
http://www.signandsight.com/features/459.html

has another very interesting interview with Glucksman.

by minuscle on Wed Nov 23rd, 2005 at 08:52:39 PM EST
by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 12:21:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
each country gets its allocation of long-lasting, never reforming themselves, assholes. That gives us material for easy rant. But sometimes it feels damn good...

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 04:16:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think this guy is offering much I agree with at all. The guy basically is a reactionary jack-ass.

I've been quite critical of France - economically and socially - in my posts since the riots, but this guy is way off base. A pompous reactionary, with his head in the clouds.

Ben P

by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 12:23:38 AM EST
If you do a google search for this guy, the second hit that comes up is from the website "fuckfrance," referencing to an article in which he blames Yassir Arafat for 9/11, and cited by the poster as their "favorite Frenchman."

Ben P

by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 12:27:00 AM EST
Yes, and actually, Le Monde today quotes him in an interview in Haaretz where he ends with this whopper:

"anti-racism will be to the 21st century what communism was to the 20th"*

Like I said, I respected his fights about Bosnia and Chechnya, but he has gone a bit crazy with the Iraq stuff. And now he is basically saying that the riots in France and ethnic/race based and that the real anti-semitism in France is amongst the youth of the banlieues.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 03:26:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is probably a nasty thing to say, but these two are not as well branded as BHL and I mistake one for the other sometimes...

The Haaretz interview is with Finkielkraut, not with Glucksmann. So both are loopy now. Damn.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 03:31:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, unfortunately, and the full Haaretz article is a strange read. Strange because Finkielkraut is supposed to be a philosopher, (like Glucksmann and BHL), but his thinking lacks philosophical measure.

People say the French national team is admired by all because it is black-blanc-beur ["black-white-Arab" - a reference to the colors on France's tricolor flag and a symbol of the multiculturalism of French society - D.M.]. Actually, the national team today is black-black-black, which arouses ridicule throughout Europe. If you point this out in France, they'll put you in jail

I can hear someone laughing, and I think it's Le Pen.

Unlike others, I have not spoken about an `intifada' of the suburbs, and I don't think this lexicon ought to be used. But I have found that they are also sending the youngest people to the front lines of the struggle. You've seen this in Israel - they send the youngest ones to the front because it's impossible to put them in jail when they're arrested. But still, here there are no bombings and we're in a different stage: I think it's the stage of the anti-republican pogrom. There are people in France who hate France as a republic.

He doesn't want to talk about intifada, but he goes into considerable detail to show he means intifada. He does seem to think it admissible to use the word pogrom, so heavily historically charged that one can only see it, in this context, as a provocation.

The interview is long and I won't give too many excerpts. Finkielkraut develops an appalling mix in which anti-racism equals anti-semitism, and in which he gives free rein to his own, unavowed, racism:

What connection is there between poverty and despair, and wreaking destruction and setting fire to schools? I don't think any Jew would ever do a thing like this.
<snip>
Imagine for a moment that they were whites, like in Rostock in Germany. Right away, everyone would have said: `Fascism won't be tolerated.' When an Arab torches a school, it's rebellion. When a white guy does it, it's fascism. I'm `color blind.' Evil is evil, no matter what color it is. And this evil, for the Jew that I am, is completely intolerable.
<snip>
This problem is the problem of all the countries of Europe. In Holland, they've been confronting it since the murder of Theo van Gogh. The question isn't what is the best model of integration, but just what sort of integration can be achieved with people who hate you

Enough. It's all down to hate and Islamic war on the West; and the interview is full of reactionary nonsense of all kinds.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 04:46:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Last I checked, a pogrom is an attack from the mainstream on a powerless minority, not a revolt of a minority against the system.

Then again, dropping the word pogrom in an interview with an Israeli news outfit can only be deliberate.

Shameful.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 05:46:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People say the French national team is admired by all because it is black-blanc-beur ["black-white-Arab" - a reference to the colors on France's tricolor flag and a symbol of the multiculturalism of French society - D.M.]. Actually, the national team today is black-black-black, which arouses ridicule throughout Europe. If you point this out in France, they'll put you in jail.

Wow, just wow. I'll try to put this in American context:

"People say the American basketball "dream team" is a mark of pride. Actually, it is embarrassment because 10 of the 12 players on it are black, which arouses ridicule throughout the world, because people know America is not 80% black. If you point this out in the US, they'll put you in jail."

Can this guy be serious?

by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 02:50:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is why I say Le Pen is laughing. All the more that Le Pen is a full-throttle ideological anti-semite, and he's getting this kind of wonderful comment from a Jew who several times in this appalling interview claims to be speaking as a Jew.

I should think Le Pen has had this piece framed and hung on his wall.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 03:35:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
just saw that the MRAP (which basically stands for "against rascism and for friendship among nations") has filed a complaint against Finkielkraut on the grounds of the Haaretz piece. Strangely enough, the LICRA (International League Against Rascism and Antisemitism) did not.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Sat Nov 26th, 2005 at 07:09:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
meanwhile, the Domaines (who manage the French public-owned heritage) are staging an auction of guns and rifles ! I dunnot feel like joking though...

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Sat Nov 26th, 2005 at 07:29:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This supports the idea that people write good books (referring to the one I was recommending, written by Finkielkraut but in the late eighties) until they get renown enough to go on TV shows to get audience for whatever crap they produced. Then it is business indeed. You can sell anything to anyone, provided it is well-publicised. Not by me, but a major executive at Procter&Gamble.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 05:50:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So basically, this duo are a bit like the French version of Chris Hitchens.
by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 02:08:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]


When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Fri Nov 25th, 2005 at 04:12:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We should be racist, then!!?? OK . . .
by Ben P (wbp@u.washington.edu) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 02:10:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Glucksman comments on France as if it weren't inhabited by 60 million different individuals. Not worth a penny to me. He may raise a few good points, but these we already knew about and had agreed on before reading him!

For the same amount of time, people should instead read the results of a 5-year running pan-european survey (honoured this time are Italy, France, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Poland), which details how foreigners are perceived in different countries. (an article in French on this here, original survey as PDF document in Italian here)

For those stuck with English, here are some extracts:

Should the right to vote be given to legally-residing/tax-paying foreigners for Municipal Elections?

France - 82,1% yes
Italy - 73,9% yes
Germany - 62% yes
Poland - 56% yes
Czech - 44,6% yes
Hungary - 31,9% yes

Should the right to vote be given to legally-residing/tax-paying foreigners for Parliamentary Elections?

France - 67,1% yes
Italy - 65,3% yes
Germany - 57,7% yes
Poland - 46,6% yes
Czech - 38,5% yes
Hungary - 27% yes

Are foreigners a threat to our culture, our identity, our religion?

France - 22,4% yes
Italy - 26,6% yes
Germany - 29,2% yes
Poland - 32,5% yes
Hungary 46,3% yes
Czech - 46,6% yes

Are foreigners a threat to jobs?

France - 26,7% yes
Italy - 35,1% yes
Germany - 39,9% yes
Poland - 60,5% yes
Czech 65,1% yes
Hungary - 72,3% yes

Are foreigners a threat to public order and security?

France - 22,8% yes
Germany - 34,1% yes
Italy - 39,2% yes
Poland - 40,0% yes
Czech - 61,1% yes
Hungary 61,8% yes

Are foreigners a ressource for the economy?

Hungary 61,1% yes
France - 59,7% yes
Germany - 57,1% yes
Italy - 46,9% yes
Czech - 35,5% yes
Poland - 12,2% yes

The presence of foreigners is good for our cultural development?

France - 71,7% yes
Germany - 64,2% yes
Poland - 52,2% yes
Italy - 51,4% yes
Hungary 49,7% yes
Czech - 28,8% yes

In the original PDF document in Italian (I don't speak Italian but it's kind of easy to understand the numbers on the pictures!), there are also charts showing how some results have evolved over the years that this survey has been running. It's interesting to see that in France, trends have been the same everywhere except for question "are a threat to public order" which rose rose rose up to the 2002 elections (surprised?), and then fell right back down to where it was.

by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 05:47:59 AM EST
I missed your comment earlier today. Could you do a diary with this? Thanks.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 12:38:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, I created a diary entry with all the data above ... and more.
by Alex in Toulouse on Thu Nov 24th, 2005 at 06:06:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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