« War Dems blitz Illinois | Main | Jeez, Louise »

Wild in the streets; all quiet in the Times

By Michael J. Smith on Wednesday March 22, 2006 03:06 PM

Of course I'm as pleased as Punch about the huge upheaval against the vile CPE law in France. Not only are the kids turning out against it, but two-thirds of the public supports them! I really do love the French.

My hometown paper, though, is not giving it much play. Here's today's spin, buried inconspicuously in the International>Europe section of the online Gray Lady -- the work of the ineffable Craig S. Smith, no relation of mine, I'm glad to say:

Facing crippling strikes and growing civil unrest, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin of France on Tuesday discussed watering down his contentious new labor law with legislators...

"The prime minister was very closed last week, but was more open to the idea of amending the law today," said Éric Woerth, a party legislator who attended the meeting. "Almost everyone agrees that we must do something, not because of the mobilization of the unions, but because the battle of explaining the law has been lost with the young."

Any significant weakening of the law will represent a serious blow to the prime minister, who hopes to run for president next year. It will also signal another defeat in France's long struggle to break the stranglehold of its rigid social-welfare system, which economists say has kept growth sluggish and unemployment high for decades. While there is no guarantee that the new law will create jobs, as the government contends, bowing to student and union pressure on it will call into question the current administration's ability to restructure the system.

France has a strong tradition of often violent demonstrations and paralyzing strikes that is largely tolerated by the broader population, which has a cultural mistrust of government even as it retains a deep sense of dependency on the state. The resulting tendency to rebel against any attempt to curtail entitlements has cowed many administrations into backing down from bold policies that might have helped remake the system in the past.

Comments (6)

Tim D:

That kind of biased coverage is certainly reminiscent of the vacuous reporting we saw back during the EU Constitution referendum in France.

Doug Henwood - sorry to keep bringing him up - demonstrated in his book After the New Economy that the countries that performed the best economically with the lowest unemployment and the smallest gaps in wealth were the Scandanavian countries (and to a lesser extent, Netherlands). He compared them to other European countries like France and Germany, which are increasingly liberalizing, and are thus beginning to resemble the "liberal" states, like the U.S., England and Australia - rising unemployment, growing gap between rich and poor. Strangely enough, he even showed through statistical analysis that the Scandanavian countries were further incorporated into the global economy than the United States.

Haha I suppose it really isn't all rainbows and sunshine there in Scandanavia. In an article that I read in the Guardian not so long ago, some Swedes were complaining about the declining standard of health care there:

Bernt Nilsson, 63, was initially impressed by his treatment when he had a heart bypass operation three years ago. But his image of Sweden's universally free healthcare system was shattered when he was told to leave hospital within a week. "I went home and nothing happened. No rehabilitation, nothing. They said I have such a good family they felt they didn't have to spend money on me."

Only one week...those fiends!

J. Alva Scruggs:
France has a strong tradition of often violent demonstrations and paralyzing strikes that is largely tolerated by the broader population, which has a cultural mistrust of government even as it retains a deep sense of dependency on the state.

I thought the state was the creation of, and derived its legitimacy from, the work and consent of the demos. I could be wrong. . . It might be a proprietary thing that grants and withholds, with supreme benevolence, these fruits and such that sort of magically fly into managerial baskets.


JAS -- No need to apologize for mentioning Henwood. He's really enlightening, and a terrific writer.

Tim D --Are you being ironical, you dog? Can you possibly believe that value is created by anybody but managers? Watchit, buddy -- people have heard a knock on their door for less.


to me its still just french gauche street theatre

hell they put these shows

into the street
like disney or macy's put marching cartoons

lets see
what happens come
nut crunch

ps the scandoids with their midget hgomogenious
polity have erected a comprehensive tax and transfer

and besides
several (swedes norway ) have stayed out of
the euro job killing zone

as an attack trained economist
my Rx for that
franco german bankers'
jobster torture rack

blow the f....ing
euro zone apart

let each country
thru restored
national currencies
seek their proper lower forex levels

oh hell this is a donk spank site

i'll shut up


JSP, you inveterate Francophobe. Theater it may be, but I wish our public was doing as well.


Just read a very astute piece of commentary in a WSWS article that pretty much captures the essence of the topic above:

The March 21 issue of the New York Times, which has featured front-page news on Belarus ever since, carried a 30-paragraph article by C.J. Chivers heralding the 300 student demonstrators as champions of freedom and democracy. Meanwhile, nationwide demonstrations and strikes in France against the CPE and the government involving hundreds of thousands of workers and students received six paragraphs. Tens of thousands of Indians in Ecuador protesting “free trade” talks with the US received a one-paragraph brief. Likewise, thousands of Asian workers in Dubai walking off their jobs in protest of the sweatshop conditions at construction sites also received one paragraph.

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Wednesday March 22, 2006 03:06 PM.

The previous post in this blog was War Dems blitz Illinois.

The next post in this blog is Jeez, Louise.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31