France's uncertain future

Feelings of cultural loss amongst the French, coupled with growing economic insecurity, point to a deeply uncertain future for the country, writes Christopher Goff.

The wave of Islamist terror attacks that rocked France in 2015 and 2016 did much to undermine the faith of ordinary French people in those institutions which are supposed to protect them, particularly the police. The terror attacks had the effect of making the French people nervous and uncertain, and their effects were felt right across French society. Many say their effects are still felt today and form a crucial part of the dynamic which has led to the rise of the Gilets Jaunes movement, of which widespread civil unrest has become part and parcel of.

Lots of ordinary French people look to the future with foreboding. The ever-present danger posed by radical Islam and its band of dangerous adherents casts a long shadow over the French Republic. Note that France is one of the most Islamised countries in the West and home to around 8.5 million Muslims – one eighth of its population is Muslim. Against a background of dwindling birth rates amongst the native French, Islam is expected to assert itself more and more and become the dominant religion in the country.

But it has been economic uncertainty rather than demographic change which has driven large numbers of people onto the streets in their high-viz yellow jackets and gilets. Reports suggests that many of the Gilets Jaunes are in work but are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, however, this is not to ignore France's problem of high rates of youth unemployment. French political commentators talk of a 'lost generation' of young people comprising those forced into higher education because of the lack of job opportunities, and those in employment but whose lives are being held back on account of poorly paid, short-term contracts. The 'gig economy' is as alive in France as it is in Britain, with job insecurity adding to the sense of precariousness felt by many French citizens.

One of the most interesting and at the same time most plausible reasons put forward to explain the widespread civil unrest in France is that lots of ordinary French people see the process of social change in their country as being something that comes 'from the bottom up', so to speak. Unlike in Britain for instance, and where the job of social change is left to political leaders. I am guessing this mindset has a lot to do with history in so far as France has bore witness to a number of different styles of government, as opposed to most other European countries which have seen maybe just two or three styles. Interestingly, France has been a monarchy, an imperialist empire, both a parliamentary and a presidential-style democracy, and also a regime during the country's occupation by the Germans.

It could be said that France is a country which thrives on social upheaval, and with it political renewal. 'If it is broken, lets replace it' the French say, whereas politics is seen as more of a process of renovation in other parts of Europe. Indeed, it is exactly this contrast in attitude between the French and most of the rest of Europe which has given rise to the Gilets Jaunes movement, and so it is unsurprising that many of its participants speak of their desire to create a Sixth Republic.

The hope amongst the Gilets Jaunes is that any Sixth Republic might correct some of the failures of the present political system and which the French no longer trust to deliver either a president or an administration which has at heart the interests of ordinary French people. Instead, the current system, led by a deeply arrogant President Macron, is said by many to only serve a globalist elite. President Macron has become a hated figure in the country. Someone who has indeed successfully managed to unite France's left and right, but only in opposition to himself.

Media reports suggest that more than sixty deputies belonging to President Macron's La République En Marche! party have been targeted with either insults or violence since the beginning of the Gilets Jaunes protests in November last year [2018]. As there has also been speculation that members of the Gilets Jaunes movement were behind a firebomb attack on the Brittany home of the President of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand, and who is a key ally of President Macron. LREM! deputy Sandrine Mörch has reportedly said of the violence in France: "Attacking a Ministry, vandalising parliamentary offices, hateful and racist letters against deputies, and now arson at Richard Ferrand's house. What next for elected officials"?

Hardline Gilets Jaunes have also have sprayed graffiti and set vehicles on fire in front of a number of elected officials' homes since the beginning of the unrest, while during Act VIII of the protests on 5 January 2019 a bulldozer was used to smash vehicles before it was driven into the offices of French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux. Other protestors were witnessed urinating on France's National Assembly and Senate buildings, prompting Interior Minister Christophe Castaner to say that these acts were "a threat to democracy".

Only in the words of France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, I think you have it: French-style democracy is under threat. One suspects, however, that a lot of ordinary French people might say of this claim 'And rightly so' because of their belief that democracy is failing them. And not only that, but I think the French are increasingly choosing to view democracy in terms of a threat to both their way of life and their values because of the way in which the state is using France's 'democratic' institutions, in particular the police and judiciary, to not only repress political opposition to Macron's government, but to suppress opposition to those policies of his which are aimed at cultural change. These being the policies which are nowadays termed 'progressive' by the liberal elites but which typically conceal a deep hatred for native people, be they native French, native British, native Germans, or native whoever because the trend towards cultural change is a Europe-wide one. Or put more accurately, it is a trend affecting all Western liberal democracies with majority European populations.

Disaffection amongst the native French is being fuelled by both economic and cultural factors. While the Gilets Jaunes movement initially formed on account of economic dissatisfaction, people are also beginning to understand that there is also a strong cultural factor at work, and this because lots of French people are feeling a strong sense of cultural loss. And what exactly is driving this sense of cultural loss? Immigration, of course. Only unfortunately for Macron, he is widely seen as both a supporter of globalisation, something which has heavily impacted on France's economy, and also of multiculturalism, which has of course widely impacted on the social and cultural life of the French nation.

Economic fortunes can fluctuate and governments can at times redistribute wealth from rich to poor, but the French are acutely aware of the fact that the seismic demographic change which has befallen their country is something which cannot be easily undone. The French are coming to the realization that in the future they will either have to adopt to the culture of Islam, or convert to the religion. France, and not unlike pretty much every other country in Western Europe, has been multi-culturalized against the will of its people. The people have never been consulted on the issue, and it is this more than anything else which highlights the abject failure of democracy for it is a system which allows a political elite to impose their will over the ordinary people who make up the majority.

More people went to join the Islamic State group from France than from any other country in Europe. The suburbs of France's biggest cities, in particular Paris, Marseilles and Nice, are said by some to feel like 'ungoverned territories'. France's high immigrant areas have become places the police fear to tread. And France today is badly divided: a Muslim nation sleeps in the belly of France like a pregnant woman carries an unwanted child.

France's Jews are starting to feel the heat. They are being assailed from two sides: the Jew-wise elements of the Gilets Jaunes movement are beginning to articulate their opposition to the far-reaching cultural and political influence that Jews enjoy in France, while Muslims hurl insults at Jews as they pass them in the street. But perhaps the most interesting aspect to this revolt against what some have taken to calling the 'Talmudic stranglehold over France', is that increasing numbers of native French are beginning to see their cultural loss not only as something that can be attributed to the presence of rising numbers of Muslims in their country, but also as something that the country's Jews bear a responsibility for. And this because it is now the case that lots of native French people see the multi-culturalization of their homeland as something that France's Jews have been working tirelessly to try and achieve. 'France's Jews can always flee to Israel. But where can the French flee to?' is what people are saying on France's Internet forums.

Recognizing that their cultural and political influence is under threat, France's Jews have responded – and as one might expect – by trying to tighten their control over the French nation by pressing for the introduction by President Macron of even more measures against what Jews term 'anti-Semitism'. And so France's contemporary dynamic has become self-sustaining: one in which the French people increasingly see President Macron as being in the pocket of an elite, willing it seems to do anything in order to continue receiving the support of this elite. And as evidence of the existence of this dynamic, speaking to leaders of France's Jewish community on 20 February 2019 President Macron announced a government crackdown on anti-Semitism, including a promise to change France's policing regulations so as to criminalize anti-Zionism.

Exactly whose pocket Emmanuel Macron is in has become increasingly obvious to the French people during his relatively short tenure as French President. Macron's is a government against, rather than for the native people of France.

Copyright © Christopher Goff
Tag: France
Uploaded: 17 March, 2019.