Sunday, November 06, 2005

Intifada on the Seine

Violences : Chirac va r�unir un Conseil de s�curit�int�rieure

There is no denying the significance of the riots that have been occuring in thr suburbs of Paris for more than a week, and which seems to be spreading rather than calming down.

It's easy to gloat somewhat over the French often having lectured others over not having a sufficient social and inclusive model of development. At the moment there seems to be something distinctly missing in the French version of the so called European Social Model.

But these tendencies should be kept to a minimum. We are witnessing an explosion which has profound ramifications for numerous European societies.

There will be much discussions on this in the months ahead. We'll certainly hear the hard-line xenophobic voices that wants to close Europe to the outside world. Anti-immigration forces are likely to be strengthened.

But in my opinion the essence of the problem in the suburbs of Paris is long-term unemployment of the worst sort.

I vividly remember - and it was years ago- when I for the first time was confronted with young unemployed boys who had never seen their parents being anything but unemployed. It was in the heavily immigrant dominated suburbs of Paris. A friend of mine was a parliamentary candidate there.

A society that tolerates second-generation unemployment is almost certain to be a society heading for serious trouble.

But France has been among those countries rejecting the policies of increased flexibility that have the greatest possibility of creating new jobs and integrating new people into the labour market. Any policy of rigidity and priviligies on the labour market is a policy that builds barriers against the underpriviligied and the new.

This is what we are seeing. And the effects are not entirely surprising. Large cohorts of unemployed young men is bad news for stability wherever in the world it occurs.

Paris is certainly no exception to the laws of social and political dynamics.

Now the large question is whether we will learn the lesson and act accordingly.

Otherwise, the Intifada on the Seine risks being just be a start