Thursday, November 10, 2005

Couple of links

One is a Guardian article from my friend Suse. A western journalist managed to find some people who were rioting, and then let them speak for themselves - I know it's shocking.

Sylla summed it up. "We burn because it's the only way to make ourselves heard, because it's solidarity with the rest of the non-citizens in this country, with this whole underclass. Because it feels good to do something with your rage," he said.

"The guys whose cars get torched, they understand. OK, sometimes they do. We have to do this. Our parents, they should understand. They did nothing, they suffered in silence. We don't have a choice. We're sinking in shit, and France is standing on our heads. One way or another we're heading for prison. It might as well be for actually doing something."
The other is from Ampersand, written by an American who had lived France for 10 years. He gives the economic background over the last fifty years or so:

If France's population of immigrant origin -- mostly Arab, some black -- is today quite large (more than 10% of the total population), it is because there was a government and industrial policy during the post-World War II boom years of reconstruction and economic expansion which the French call "les trentes glorieuses" -- the 30 glorious years -- to recruit from France's foreign colonies laborers and factory and menial workers for jobs which there were no Frenchmen to fill. These immigrant workers, primarily from North Africa, were desperately needed to allow the French economy to expand due to the shortage of male manpower caused by two World Wars, which killed many Frenchmen, and slashed the native French birth-rates too.

Moreover, these immigrant workers (especially Moroccans, particularly favored in the auto industry) were favored by industrial employers as passive and unlikely to strike (in sharp contrast to the highly political Continental French working class and its militant, largely Communist-led unions) and cheaper to hire. In some industries, for this reason, literacy was a disqualification -- because an Arab worker who could read could educate himself about politics and become more susceptible to organization into a union.
Unfortunately I don't speak French but this looks good, if you do.

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