Sunday 30 April 2017

The French, Coming Apart

The French, Coming Apart Just Like the Americans . . . and the Brits
Stacy Herbert

29 April, 2017

Fascinating read looking at the rising similarities between France and the US as we see the rise of ‘the creative class’ and the decline (literally via increased mortality) of the former working class.

The laid-off, the less educated, the mistrained—all must rebuild their lives in what Guilluy calls (in the title of his second book) La France périphérique. This is the key term in Guilluy’s sociological vocabulary, and much misunderstood in France, so it is worth clarifying: it is neither a synonym for the boondocks nor a measure of distance from the city center. (Most of France’s small cities, in fact, are in la France périphérique.) Rather, the term measures distance from the functioning parts of the global economy.France’s best-performing urban nodes have arguably never been richer or better-stocked with cultural and retail amenities. But too few such places exist to carry a national economy. When France’s was a national economy, its median workers were well compensated and well protected from illness, age, and other vicissitudes. In a knowledge economy, these workers have largely been exiled from the places where the economy still functions. They have been replaced by immigrants.

In the US, the media (and 90% of journalists for online publishers live in a county that Hillary won) have reacted almost violently to the Rustbelt Americans who voted for Trump – calling them racist, fascist, bigots, etc. Worth reading the full piece to get more insight into what’s happening.

And this:
The old bourgeoisie hasn’t been supplanted; it has been supplemented by a second bourgeoisie that occupies the previously non-bourgeois housing stock. For every old-economy banker in an inherited high-ceilinged Second Empire apartment off the Champs-Élysées, there is a new-economy television anchor or high-tech patent attorney living in some exorbitantly remodeled mews house in the Marais. A New Yorker might see these two bourgeoisies as analogous to residents of the Upper East and Upper West Sides. They have arrived through different routes, and they might once have held different political opinions, but they don’t now. Guilluy notes that the conservative presidential candidate Alain Juppé, mayor of Bordeaux, and Gérard Collomb, the Socialist running Lyon, pursue identical policies. As Paris has become not just the richest city in France but the richest city in the history of France, its residents have come to describe their politics as “on the left”—a judgment that tomorrow’s historians might dispute. Most often, Parisians mean what Guilluy calls la gauche hashtag, or what we might call the “glass-ceiling Left,” preoccupied with redistribution among, not from, elites: we may have done nothing for the poor, but we did appoint the first disabled lesbian parking commissioner.

It’s an interesting take and complements our understanding of this notion of ‘fake news,’ which ‘la gauche hashtag’ have hysterically embraced as the antidote to their own failure to understand or even see those living outside ‘the functioning parts of the global economy.’ Now that the likes of Google and Facebook are responding to these hysterics by beginning to ‘block’ the voices of those outside the functioning parts of the global economy from any chance of being heard, it seems that the ballot box is the next to go? Surely ‘fake votes’ will be the next rallying cry from ‘la gauche hashtag?’

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