Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Time for a Change in Civic Society

The riots in France have been drastically reduced, some say, thanks to emergancy measures implemented by the state. This is important because now it is time to bring the fringe groups into the debate. After period of calm, grievences can more effectively be aired. I don't profess to know all about the state of French society. What I do know is that the immigrant populations have been largely marginalized. Should European-descent French capitulate and acknowledge a deep cultural divide that cannot be bridged? Yes, says Paul Belien:
Those media that tell us that the rioting “youths” want to be a part of our society and feel left out of it, are misrepresenting the facts. As the insurgents see it, they are not a part of our society and they want us to keep out of theirs.
Please read this piece if you can. Samuel Huntington is probably posting it on his wall right now. Belien seems to believe that there is no hope for compromise because of deep-rooted cultural difference between the immigrant minorities and the European French. This is not about getting one group "in" to society and culture by assimilation. This is about getting the groups "in" to the civic debate. I'm very sure that parliamentary procedure can resolve many of these issues.

Oh and by the way:
"The concept of French identity remains rooted deep in the country's centuries-old culture, and a significant portion of the population has yet to accept the increasingly multiethnic makeup of the nation. Put simply, being French, for many people, remains a baguette-and-beret affair."
Vive la France.

Comments:
I heard a French socialist leader at the weekend who said that the riots show that integration has worked (France has a policy of making everyone French while Britain enforces multiculturalism). These youths who have been told all their lives that they should have the same rights and aspirations as the European french around them have suddenly discovered that they don't. And since there are no nonwhite national legislators in France (amongst other failings), there is no way to influence power except through torching cars! Makes you think about what OSU students have to riot against. Here is a good article in the guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,1641907,00.html
 
That article gives nice summary of the situation. This is not about class in a primordial sense. This is about class in civil society. Who speaks for the masses and whether anyone speaks for them at all, that's what is important here. It all comes back to representation in a government that they are constitutionally entitled to.
 
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