Following the unrest in France

By    John Garner on  Monday, April 3, 2006
Summary: On the 28th March in the afternoon I was thinking, wow it's really quiet outside, that's weird I thought there was supposed to be a demonstration today. Normally I can hear the jostle of people and cars, buses etc. down in the street. I was looking out of the window and then about five minutes […]

On the 28th March in the afternoon I was thinking, wow it's really quiet outside, that's weird I thought there was supposed to be a demonstration today. Normally I can hear the jostle of people and cars, buses etc. down in the street. I was looking out of the window and then about five minutes later I started hearing distant noises slowly getting closer. It was an unusual experience like the way people describe tidal waves, all the animals have fled and there is not a sound and then you gradually start hearing the wave's destruction from a far getting closer.

When the mass of people did arrive it took ages till the last ones walked by, there was also no accompanying destruction. What was also amazing however was the age of people participating. There were children and young kids, high school kids, young women and men from the university, people about my age and older but there were also retired people (some of which I am sure were over 70).
It's highly probable that the full political spectrum was not represented in the demonstration but I wouldn't be surprised if France's population was entirely represented from 4 to 74 in the demonstration.

When I am aboard I often have people saying to me "I don't know how they get things done in France there always on strike". Having lived in England till I was twelve I still feel part English and having lived in France I feel part French but when I hear this type of remark in England I just feel that people haven't got a clue what is going on outside of their world.

In this case a right wing government is trying to bring in a law that will radically change the laws that govern everyday work all over France. The majority of people are entitled to a valid reason for being fired and have a trial period that is usually three to six months at the most but can sometimes be 9 months long. The new law doesn't require employers to provide any valid reason for firing somebody and the trial period is for 2 years. When I explained this recently to some friends abroad they didn't see what all the fuss was about.

This leads me to the article in the Guardian that I read recently "Why are the French so ready to take to the streets? Maybe because, unlike the British, they have something worth fighting for". This is the main problem and as the article says when you have right wing neo liberal American politician pointing to England as a better example I'd also find that far more worrying that gratifying...

It's true that there will always be people that think the individualist economic theory that is capitalism is best for them. I would prefer to be in a society that values individual differences and thoughts, but, that doesn't like with capitalism selfishly disregard basics. Where would you rather become ill in France or in England or the US ? Obviously if you are rich (which is not very many of us) then it doesn't matter but for the rest of us it does.

At the bottom of the article I came across this very interesting blog recently that gives pretty detailed accounts of what is going on in France (in English) and is an example of how blogs are sometimes more interesting than newspapers. You often feel that certain details and events get tidily hidden back at page 53 of the newspaper or in the case of an online newspapers it becomes a footnote link of sub article down near the bottom of front page...

Hey journalists can't win that easily, if they talk about events too much we'll say they are glorifying the whole thing and if they don't talk about it we'll say they're evil and deliberately hiding things from us !

The layout of the blog may take a bit getting used to; if you're looking for photos of the events be warned the photo area is a bit complicated to navigate (on the left you choose from the list which is truncated and there doesn't seem to be a full list) and only part of the list is displayed. At the same time the photo area has quite a few interesting functions like the ability to see a full screen slideshow of certain photos. An example of a set of photos from the 23th March in Paris and the 18th March in Paris. There are also photos of other areas in France...

The blog itself has accounts from different people, areas and even translations/summaries from newspapers that give a feel for what is going on, has been going on and what may be expected...

Article written by  John Garner

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