Monday, November 07, 2005

Sacre Bleu

Have you noticed the recent outbreaks of rioting in Europe and especially France?

I can't understand how something like this could happen in some of the richest countries in the world. I am shocked, shocked to see the culture of violence and racism that seems to pervade Western Europe! It's amazing that this sort of thing can happen in countries that have outlawed gun ownership and provided universal healthcare. Go figure.


SirWhoopass said...

The post seems like nothing more than simple gloating. It's not like we haven't had similar problems in the United States several times over our history. Smug satisfaction at a breakdown in civil order is rather distasteful, and does nothing to further a discussion on the real problems.

The core problem driving the riots in France, an immigrant class that is dissatified with their treatment, would seem to be of particular interest to a federalist. The French, and most western European governments, have a specific policy of integration. They seek to eliminate cultural differences in the hope of creating a unified state. Note that a British offical recently stated that American-style mutliculturalism "is not our dream but our nightmare". Does this "rapid integration" model create a sense of entitlement which the society (even a welfare state) cannot support?

Is the welfare state itself the problem? One can note a general trend among the various immigrant groups during the history of the United States. They all start at the bottom of society, accepting menial physical jobs. This soon spawns a merchant class within the immigrant group, opening stores, restaurants, and other services. First, catering to other immigrants; later the larger society as that group is accepted (often because there is a new immigrant group to take the bottom position).

Hector Boiari was working as a waiter before he was a teenager. Later he was catering receptions for the President. Now, the company he founded (respelled as Boyardee) is so integrated that no one would consider it real Italian pasta. The point is such an opportunity does not exist in a regulated welfare state. Intelligent and hard-working immigrants cannot pull themselves up and create new businesses and opportunities.

Cato said...

Well said. The greatest predictor of social unrest is the lack of social mobility. I think we've done social mobility comparatively well in this country, but whenever it breaks down you see riots, even here.

Orrin Johnson said...

I think it's less smug satisfaction than a well deserved "I told you so." The French and those here who hold them up as some kind of ideal of liberte', egalite', franternite' to club us barbarian Americans with need to pay close attention to what's happening over there.

I agree completely with the point about social mobility, and I know publius rex does as well. It's ironic that the creed of socialism, so smug in its belief that it will eliminate class completely, has instead so solidified it wherever it has been tried. And a system so concerned with job security has instead created double digit unemployment and zero GDP growth. Never has there been a more clear example of Hell's Road's paving stones.

But I disagree that these problems are akin to any of our more recent examples of American civil unrest. Post Katrina NOLA was limited in scope, and was a result of a corrupt and incompetent local government (compare to all the looting that DIDN'T happen in Miss.). It was also short lived and over-reported, as were the Rodney King riots. Even the New York Civil War draft riots and the Chicago race riots were limited in their area and timeframe. And the WTO riots in Seattle were rich white kids with nothing better to do in a city run by people who embrace their ideology as part of the charm of the city.

In France, the riots are everywhere, from the Riviera to Paris itself. And now it's spreading to Belgium and Germany, with their similar national failures. Unlike our own egregious examples, it's not a corrupt or imcompetent local government thing, but a deep-seated national and cultural phenomenon that's been allowed to grow gangrenous over decades.

I also disagree with SW on the French's "integration" policy. While they claim this to be the case, in reality they have a de facto policy of segregation and apartheid. The news keeps refering to the French "suburbs," but this is misleading. The reality is that they are government projects and ghettos designed to keep the undesireables out of the more "traditional" French parts of their cities. In fact, they specifically DON'T integrate their imigrants and minorities. They don't insist they speak French. The very fact that they believe in God is looked down upon. The mountains of socialist regulation won't let them start businesses.

Part of this is purposeful, part of it is simply an unforeseen result of policies which don't allow employees to be fired, and therefore don't encourage hiring.

Finally, there's the under-reported fact that this fire is being fueled by radical Islamist groups that are using this as an opportunity to spread chaos through a very weak point in the bullwark of Western Culture. (Despite, of course, the fact that the French have been so notoriously unwilling to engage in any meaningful acts that would help combat global Islamist terrorism. Or rather, BECAUSE of that fact - no bully fears a coward, which in all seriousness is something one would imagine the French would have learned by now.)

As in any democracy, the French deserve the government they choose. That's not to say (a la' Ward Churchill) that anyone deserves to be beaten to death, or to have their car or home burned to the ground. There is no excuse for the violence. But the French CAN choose to truly embrace freedom, open their markets to all, loose their xenophobia, and fight terrorists instead of funding them like they did with Saddam. Until they make that choice, they will continue to suffer. And that is a tragedy for the entire world.

SirWhoopass said...

I did not intend to imply that the French policy of integration was actually a successful venture. Far from it. But the existance of such an official policy creates an expectation.

Although widely predicted, the violence has not spilled over into Germany. It is noteworthy that Germany does not have an integration policy similar to France. Germany is much less supportive of immigration, some would say hostile. Recent immigrants to Germany have no expectation that they will be accepted into German society. This is in contrast to France, where the offical policy is that they will be accepted as equals (even though second and third-generation immigrants from Algeria are still outcasts).

I disagree that there is any organized Islamic radical movement behind the riots. First-hand reporting has indicated that they aren't well organized. Also, French Muslims have almost always stood united with the nation against external Muslims (when the external groups threatened French interests). The known French Islamic organizations have been proactive in denouncing and attempting to defuse the situation, although to little effect.

I'd suggest that an organized resistance is but a fantasy of left-wing individuals. They want to think that there isn't something fundamentally wrong with the welfare state, and that religious radicals are behind it. The evidence, however, points in the other direction.

PubliusRex said...

...It's almost as unseemly as smug gloating over a natural disaster in the United States....

Certainly one interpretation of the unpleasantness over there is a warning of the dangers of mass, unassimilated immigration. I believe that 10% of France's population is African and Middle Eastern Muslim, largely unassimilated, underclass and hostile to France's culture, or presently, lack thereof.

curious said...

You seem to be suggesting that the solution is to avoid creating a sense of 'entitlement' -- that if we let them know up front that they are second-class citizens, they won't riot. I would guess that riots are more likely sparked when some incident shows people that they are truly second-class citizens, without a way into first class. E.g. the Rodney King riots, sparked by what was perceived as proof that police officers were free to beat up African-Americans as they wished.

PubliusRex said...

I am not sure I said that. However, entitlement is an evil sense. It's the soul of envy and sloth. A sense of indebtedness to society is much more desirable and is the source of charity.

Unfortunately, our society is pervaded by a sense of entitlement, which may be attributable to the welfare state. Everywhere I look, people are saying, "where is mine?" From affirmative action, to taxpayer funded abortions, to prescription drug plans.

All of this poses a threat to the American work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit that allowed us to rise from a rural nation of farmers to surpass and dominate indolent Europe.

But I am not sure that entitlement is the reasons for the riots. The MSM have largely ignored the cultural aspects. Funny how according to the left, we're the ones producing discontented muslim youths, yet they're rioting against France. There's at least some component here that the rioters almost exclusively come from the 10% of unassimilated Arab and African muslims.

Orrin Johnson said...

Curious, thanks for joining us - I hope for many more liberal voices in the future to keep the dialogue alive.

When we say "sense of entitlement," we generally use it to mean "entitlement to the fruits of other people's efforts just because we're alive." I feel a "sense of entitlement", but only to the right to be left alone and to leave my opportunity for social and economic mobility in tact.

The French minorities have been told over and over again that they are entitled to government handouts, and that's the benefit to giving up their rights to entrepeneurship and become upwardly mobile. But then they see the Euro-French living it up in the cities, naturally assume THEIR government handouts are better (which is the truth), and feel entitled to an equal share of the "free lunch."

It's pure, misleading rhetoric and hyperbole to suggest we think the French should just tell the people outright they're second hand citizens. Please read the earlier posts more carefully for the truth. Instead, we are saying that they must be allowed MORE freedom, and the need to understand they are entitled to opportunity, not "free" stuff.

We worry about immigrants "taking our jobs," and institute "buy American" campaigns. The French worry about immigrants taking their jobs, and shove them in ghettos and then institute social job controls that prevent them from ever taking those jobs. You tell me which is preferable.

PubliusRex said...

...Moreover, in France, social mobility is almost unheard of. Once a ward of the state, always a ward of the state. The stagnancy of the society contributes to those who came poor staying poor and feeling *second class.*

Hipicide said...

France sucks and so does their wine.