The "mess" that is French politics

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The "mess" that is French politics

Post by tocyvi on Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:30 pm

I went to Guèret this morning to meet someone. When I went into the café where we were due to meet, peace and tranquillity reigned supreme. I came out about 90 minutes later to the sight of 3 tractors loaded with "merde", the intentions of which were abundantly clear. As I pulled away from the car park, I noticed a tractor-load of the same stuff had already been dumped at the entrance to the gendarmerie. I couldn't see what this particular "manif" was about, but I do find it inexplicably bizarre that these sorts of actions almost always end up with no prosecutions. The idea that this type of direct action is legitimate on the grounds that you don't like the direction of a government or whatever is, in my view, virtual anarchy.

I fully embrace the idea that people have the right to peaceable demonstration or even passive resistance, but this sort of puerile and petulant action which disrupts the lives of citizens going about their normal lives is indefensible. It does, however, seem to be ingrained in the spirit of certain sections of French people. However, it is more than this; France, whether it likes to admit it or not, is facing some rather unpleasant choices: unemployment is running at 11% and showing no sign of coming down; state spending continues unabated; the health service is haemorrhaging cash and the party is still going on. Air France recently tried to counteract the growing threat to their business from low-cost air companies by expanding its own budget version. Two weeks later, in the face of the usual round of strikes, it capitulated. This cost the already cash-strapped company approximately 500m€. So where does that leave Air France in the face of increasing pressure from the likes of Ryanair & Easyjet? From where I'm standing, it doesn't look good. Air France must change or die.

And this, it seems to me, is the problem. France just can't accept that the party is coming to an end. However much we may want to continue to live in a cosy, bubblewrapped world of yesteryear, it simply isn't possible when the rest of the world is passing you by. You can bury your head in the sand for a year or two but at some point you have to learn to face reality and the sooner that this happens, the easier it is to adapt. Unfortunately for France, that ship sailed long ago and when the "merde" finally does hit the fan instead of being dumped outside the local gendarmerie, a lot of people will get hurt. It is the duty of any government to prevent this happening and Hollande is failing magnificently by not doing anything to prevent it.
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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by very19 on Fri Nov 07, 2014 8:34 pm

Yes ! That's France Tocyvi... We use to call our president  chamallow president. Do you know those candy? (marschmallow candy).

trailers was loaded exactly with manure. So...  A very natural fertilizer. Not so serious incident  Very Happy

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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by tocyvi on Sat Nov 08, 2014 9:08 am

Hi very19
Thanks for your reply. I'm really interested to know what your view is on the longer term economic situation in France. Do you think that, generally speaking, French people accept that things will have to change or do they think that the status quo can continue unchecked.

I find myself in a strange position; I am not a great fan of galloping development but if the majority is moving relentlessly forward, it is impossible for the minority to stand still. The example of Air France is typical: what future is there now for this company in the face of increasing pressures from low-cost airlines? The fact remains that people will inevitably opt for a cheaper option and whatever one thinks of the rights and wrongs of this, if AF can't compete on economic terms, it is doomed to die.
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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by very19 on Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:03 pm

I think people think change (effort) is for the other "group". Every corporatist group defends its advantages. Our feeling is nothing can change, situation is blocked. In french we call that "chacun défend son pré carré". Man is selfish by nature. Isn't it? French more?...

Many french think we are going deeper and deeper in depression.

But it is very difficult to describe a general opinion. There is so much different opinions. You know the proverb " thousand priests, a thousand religions".

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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by tocyvi on Sat Nov 08, 2014 9:15 pm

very19 wrote:Man is selfish by nature. Isn't it? French more?...

Hi very19
Thank you for a very frank and honest appraisal. I don't think that the French are any more selfish than any other race. I do think, however, that they see a way of life to which they are attached, slipping away and they don't want to see it disappear. To a certain extent, I suppose, we are all like that. That said, I think they have a huge problem in facing up to reality and the longer this goes on, the harder it will be to address the issue and the more people will get hurt.

very19 wrote:Many french think we are going deeper and deeper in depression.

And I think that they are right. What I cannot see at this stage is any politician who is brave enough to put forward some serious plans on how this will be tackled. I can understand why, of course, because no politician wants to put his/her head on the block (especially in a country that has a bit of previous in this respect Wink )

(You write good English, very19, but in case you don't understand the expression "a bit of previous", it means that they have done something similar before!)
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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by very19 on Sat Nov 08, 2014 9:24 pm

tocyvi wrote:
(You write good English, very19, but in case you don't understand the expression "a bit of previous", it means that they have done something similar before!)

Embarassed thanks. I have to confess googletranslate is often my good friend...

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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by Amber on Sat Nov 08, 2014 10:53 pm

I was never a fan of Maggie Thatcher (to put it mildly) but she did stand up to the power the unions had over the country. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a French politician who will, or is even prepared to try, to do the same in France and until that happens I can't see how the country can move on.

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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by Richard T on Tue Nov 11, 2014 11:13 pm

tocyvi wrote:I fully embrace the idea that people have the right to peaceable demonstration or even passive resistance, but this sort of puerile and petulant action which disrupts the lives of citizens going about their normal is indefensible.
It's probably defensible on the basis that it makes people take notice.

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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by tocyvi on Wed Nov 12, 2014 8:20 am

Richard T wrote:
tocyvi wrote:I fully embrace the idea that people have the right to peaceable demonstration or even passive resistance, but this sort of puerile and petulant action which disrupts the lives of citizens going about their normal is indefensible.
It's probably defensible on the basis that it makes people take notice.

Hi Richard
It's a rather dangerous precedent, isn't it? The fact that I don't agree with, or don't like, something that someone is doing, doesn't give me the right to take a series of actions that are not only disruptive to people who have no involvement in it, but are also illegal. Regarding the point that it makes people take notice, I wonder whether it achieves even that. I think weary resignation is the more likely response. The Gueret incident didn't seem to be attracting any support or interest in their cause; all I noticed was drivers getting rather hot under the collar because the route to the town centre was blocked by the gendarmes.
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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by Richard T on Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:00 am

tocyvi wrote:Hi Richard
It's a rather dangerous precedent, isn't it? The fact that I don't agree with, or don't like, something that someone is doing, doesn't give me the right to take a series of actions that are not only disruptive to people who have no involvement in it, but are also illegal. Regarding the point that it makes people take notice, I wonder whether it achieves even that. I think weary resignation is the more likely response. The Gueret incident didn't seem to be attracting any support or interest in their cause; all I noticed was drivers getting rather hot under the collar because the route to the town centre was blocked by the gendarmes.

Well this particular incident is hardly setting a precedent: similar action has taken place many times before, which may account for the "weary resignation" you identified.

Of course no-one has a legal right to break the law and if they do then they risk the consequences. History is littered with law breakers whose actions have achieved social and economic change in varying degrees. Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Emiline Pankhurst spring to mind. More recently there's rhe Fathers for Justice campaigners who climbed the walls of Buckingham Palace - many people have now heard of a relatively obscure organisation as a result. Then you have the perpetrators of the Toxteth riots in 1981; just see how much money was poured into regeneration of the area as a direct result of people breaking the law. The list goes on.

So although in an ideal world  no-one should have their daily routines interrupted by the actions of others, there's little doubt that direct (and sometimes illegal) action often produces the desired outcomes.

I would think that drivers getting hot under the collar for a minor disruption in Gueret town centre pales into insignificance against the disruption on the road I will have little option but to experience on my way to the UK tomorrow: the shameful national disgrace that is the Dartford Crossing. Give me farmers in Gueret any day. Smile

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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by tocyvi on Fri Nov 14, 2014 5:34 pm

Richard T wrote:History is littered with law breakers whose actions have achieved social and economic change in varying degrees. Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Emiline Pankhurst spring to mind. More recently there's rhe Fathers for Justice campaigners who climbed the walls of Buckingham Palace - many people have now heard of a relatively obscure organisation as a result. Then you have the perpetrators of the Toxteth riots in 1981; just see how much money was poured into regeneration of the area as a direct result of people breaking the law.

Hi Richard. I’m not sure I would put a few disgruntled farmers in the same category as Mandela et al.

The example you gave of Toxteth appears to suggest that if we are unhappy with our lot, it’s perfectly acceptable to riot on the basis that this will result in a change of mind. I would certainly agree that the black community had a very justifiable case; one is left, however, with the question of where the line should be drawn between what would and wouldn’t be legitimate causes for direct action.

The other point about Toxteth is that, to my mind, it was a problem that would only partly be resolved by finance; one of the main issues was the perceived racist attitudes of the police force and many would argue that the riots changed very little in this respect.

Richard T wrote:…….disruption on the road I will have little option but to experience on my way to the UK tomorrow: the shameful national disgrace that is the Dartford Crossing.

Whenever I travel back to the UK (as I did a couple of weeks ago) I dread the interminable queues at Dartford Crossing for which I pay £2.00 for the privilege. I understand that in 2015, we will have to book and pay in advance for this nightmare; how this will work is anybody’s guess but I’m betting it’s done for the benefit of the operator rather than the consumer. I hope you had a reasonably trouble-free journey.
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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by Richard T on Fri Nov 14, 2014 11:24 pm

tocyvi wrote:I’m not sure I would put a few disgruntled farmers in the same category as Mandela et al.
In their time all the people I mentioned were lawbreakers and it is only with hindsight that we now understand the significance of what they achieved through their illegal activities. In years to come perhaps we'll all be saying "you know what, those farmers in Gueret were spot on. Just look at what they achieved!".

The example you gave of Toxteth appears to suggest that if we are unhappy with our lot, it’s perfectly acceptable to riot on the basis that this will result in a change of mind. I would certainly agree that the black community had a very justifiable case; one is left, however, with the question of where the line should be drawn between what would and wouldn’t be legitimate causes for direct action.
I don't necessarily condone illegal action. What I am saying is that it often achieves results which simple debate, or voting in or out of politicians, or letters to The Times etc rarely achieve on their own. In fact I think that in terms of campaigning for social or economic change the two methods of action - let's say democratic means and direct action - are complimentary. Most successful campaigns seem to be a mixture of the two. Think gay rights; think animal rights; even the Disability Discrimination act of 1993 came about partly through disabled people risking arrest for their direct action. And were it not for the Tolpuddle Martyrs who were shipped off to Australia for their grubby little activities one wonders whether the modern trade union movement would exist.

The whole point about change is that it's often a minority view versus the prevailing (ergo) majority view. So I'm not sure that we could, or should, try to define what is and isn't a legitimate cause for direct action. History is usually the judge.

The other point about Toxteth is that, to my mind, it was a problem that would only partly be resolved by finance; one of the main issues was the perceived racist attitudes of the police force and many would argue that the riots changed very little in this respect.
That may be true but I suspect that it provided additional ammunition for those that have since accused the police of institutional racism. Also of course there's never any guarantee that any sort of action, direct or otherwise, will achieve the desired outcome.

Richard T wrote:…….disruption on the road I will have little option but to experience on my way to the UK tomorrow: the shameful national disgrace that is the Dartford Crossing.

Whenever I travel back to the UK (as I did a couple of weeks ago) I dread the interminable queues at Dartford Crossing for which I pay £2.00 for the privilege. I understand that in 2015, we will have to book and pay in advance for this nightmare; how this will work is anybody’s guess but I’m betting it’s done for the benefit of the operator rather than the consumer. I hope you had a reasonably trouble-free journey.

Well I didn't know about the proposed changes at the Dartford Crossing (along with 85% of the UK population apparently) so thanks for the heads-up. In fact it appears they are due to be in place by the end of this month. A quick look at the payment arrangements suggests your number plate will be imaged, you can pay in advance by opening an account or you can pay in arrears by phone before midnight the day after you travel. Oh yes, and the toll charge is going up to £2.50!

If you don't pay you'll be hit with a £70 penalty notice. Given the volume of international traffic it makes me wonder how they will pursue all those lorries driving back to Poland and if your car has French number plates perhaps you too could get away with it, just as foreign nationals do in Portugal which has a completely electronic payment system on all of its toll roads.

In the event my journey through the crossing was relatively hassle free - partly because I was told of a little wheeze to jump the queue a little before you get to the toll booths. Nothing illegal of course. Wink

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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by tocyvi on Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:51 pm

I await, with some trepidation, my next sally through the Dartford Tunnel. I fully expect to see a steaming pile of 'ordure' blocking the entrance, with Richard atop, placard akimbo, exhorting us all to swim across the Thames rather than pay the £2.50 toll charge. Bon courage, mon ami! I am with you all the way......right up to the point where the water begins.
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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by Richard T on Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:29 pm

tocyvi wrote:I fully expect to see a steaming pile of 'ordure' blocking the entrance...
Preparations are already under way:


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Re: The "mess" that is French politics

Post by tocyvi on Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:04 pm

Laughing Laughing Laughing
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