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Why are the French ruling class so stupid?

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ticking_fool
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Mar 18 2006 13:52
Why are the French ruling class so stupid?

Does anyone have any thoughts on why the French ruling class seems to be so dumb? Everything they do in response to what's going on at the moment seems designed to drive all their enemies into the same camp. Using the CRS on white students is almost guaranteed to create links into the Banilieus, refusing to negotiate with the unions seems to be pushing them towards a general strike, and going after a whole demographic with the CPE rather than picking off one industry at a time, or wrapping it all up as training programmes or something was almost guaranteed to create broad based opposition.

How stupid are they? Why aren't they using the divide and conquer tactics that work so well here? I know that historically they tend to go in hard, but you'd have thought they'd have worked out that that doesn't work that well by now.

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Steven.
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Mar 18 2006 14:05

Yeah they haven't worked out the thin end of the wedge tactic have they.

It could be a mixture of ideology, and perhaps there is a massive economic imperative? But TBH it's looking as if the workers might win, so they would've been best off starting off small... But then maybe that's what the CNE was an attempt at.

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 18 2006 14:39
PJ Proudhon (MP) in a Parliamentary debate wrote:
In case of refusal we ourselves shall proceed the liquidation without you
another MP wrote:
who do you mean 'we'?
PJ Proudhon (MP) wrote:
When I say we, I identify myself with the proletariat, and when I say you, I identify you with the bourgeois class
other MPs wrote:
Its the social war!

Proudhon lost that vote (on a partial moratorium on debts and rents) 691:2.

Looks like open class war goes back a while! black bloc You never know, maybe the french bourge are suffering from some kinda guilt from their 'revolution' and the terror and feel obliged to unite and fall smile

Seriously though, I don't have a clue why they're so dumb - May '68 may have been about wider issues but the spark was riot police (CRS) brutality -

The Official History of the Metropolitan Police wrote:
The series of protests against the Vietnam War by students outside the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square in 1967 and 1968 were largely uneventful and well controlled. The notable exception was the violent demonstration on March 17, 1968 in which 145 Met officers were injured.

While the police may have been seen as "Pigs" in the eyes of some of the students, the Vietnam protests in London were in marked contrast to the blazing mayhem in US cities and on the streets of Paris, where the CRS riot police developed a reputation for brutality

... London had escaped the worst excesses on both sides

I don't get it at all. Divide and conquer is the oldest trick in the book and 'our' coppers don't seem to have a problem realising that escalation on their part generally spreads the sparks into a wider fire.

Never mind hey, No a la CPE! Pour la revolution sociale! red n black star

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madashell
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Mar 18 2006 15:26

Perhaps they're seeking a big confrontation, an attempt to smash the left, maybe?

alibi
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Mar 18 2006 15:28

a large part of this imo is the structure of the police force-

CRS live in barracks, sit in buses waiting for the riot, drinking wine with their baguettes...

sholudn't be a surprse that come deployment they are all hyped up for a ruck and end up making an situatuin twice as bad

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Steven.
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Mar 18 2006 16:45
alibi wrote:
a large part of this imo is the structure of the police force-

CRS live in barracks, sit in buses waiting for the riot, drinking wine with their baguettes...

sholudn't be a surprse that come deployment they are all hyped up for a ruck and end up making an situatuin twice as bad

Yeah, it could be they have a fair bit of clout. Hmmm are there any former Vichy regime types -or their nominees - still in parts of the government (unelected bits, like the security sevices/civil service)? This could explain some things...

Edit - that barracks thing has parallels with the Spanish Guardia Civil whose brutality escalated things a lot pre-revolution...

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jef costello
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Mar 18 2006 20:52

CRS are widely regarded as thugs. They tend to give you a kicking, thats a hospitalisation kicking not a few bruises, rather than arrest you, for everyday offences like thefts, pickpocketing etc.

They are fairly overtly racist.

They are widely hated by people in the banlieues because there are rarely police on duty at night, so if there is any crime the only option is to send in the CRS, vicious cycle of brutalisation.

The French state has to break the unions and they need to claw back the relatively privileged status of the french working class.

They got through a similar law without a whimper, they expected this would be the same.

They misjudged and can't risk backing down, even Sarkozy is offering limited backing to Villepin, they can't risk losing. Villepin would have to resign.

Sarkozy has been making noises over immigration. The French take these disturbances less seriously. It may be that they can rush through heavier anti-immigration stuff of they back down here.

If only we could muster half the fight, we'd be in a much better position.

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 18 2006 21:13
alibi wrote:
a large part of this imo is the structure of the police force

So I suppose the question then is why hasn't the French State reigned in the paramilitary CRS since they escalate everything they touch?

Then again, we talk about how CRS brutality provoked May '68 (well I did wink), but high point though it was black bloc circle A red n black star, we lost cry, so maybe they ain't so dumb if they provoke open confrontation and beat us, a la Thatcher? Didn't deGaulle deploy french troops in Germany to the border in '68 and the students shit themselves and the workers were stitched up by the union? As long as we're outgunned then open confrontation maybe suits them, even if it harms their 'democratic' credentials? (actually I read somewhere there were workers councils formed in the army too in '68 but wasn't widely known at the time? rambling a bit ...

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 18 2006 21:39

yeah I suppose. can't have everything all at once i suppose roll eyes grin

so I guess were back to ticking_fool's question: "why are the French ruling class so stupid?", or at least why don't they reign in the CRS?

EDIT: 1868? confused roll eyes

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 18 2006 22:10

Surely it's more likely that Villepin et al were pressured to act about French youth unemployment and decided to take drastic measures?? It's a miscalculation by the government. And as soon as protests started, it became necessary to crush them, which meant sending in the state's goons.

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jef costello
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Mar 18 2006 23:15

They need the CRS.

Boot boys are required to hold back the banlieues.

The French govt took a gamble with the CPE and lost.

Offering up Villepin as a sarcifice is a little painful but not critical. Giving the CRS a chance to crack some heads never does any harm.

Identifying student radicals/leaders is always worth doing.

They may have underestimated the reaction but there is still a chance they'll win.

The legislation has already been passed it will take at least another month to force a retreat and that will bring down at least Villepin and possibly the government. Sarkozy isn't quite ready for that yet.

I reckon the unions will sell them out and they'll be a compromise, this isn't as significant as it would be here, not to say that it isn't important but it is less important than similar events here would be.

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 19 2006 12:09

It seems most likely to me that Villepin will try and divide the movement among class lines - maybe incorporating an exemption (or reduction) to the CPE for the unskilled/menial labour that would traditionally be taken by working class banlieu kids. Perhaps he'd concede a couple of revisions for employment over a certain (high) figure too, so students have something to aim for.

If I were the bourgeiosie, that's what I'd do anyway. smile

Hermit in Paris
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Mar 19 2006 12:16

with regard to my post on the other thread, it is increasingly my opinion that this is all a byzantine power play between sarkozy and villepin. The cops let us construct a little set piece at the place de la sorbonne and were very hands off while we bent and battered their fence, smashed stuff etc. They explicitly opened an access which they had previously closed.

The risk is that the hands-off tactics of the CRS w/ regards to the students is a false-sense-of-security tactic, enabling the spectacular image of popular insurrection which is so politically useful for sarkozy, and then when the ti,e comes and the tide turns also the crushing of that insurrection.

I think we might be pawns in sarkozy's game, and I don't know how to escape that. General strike?

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jef costello
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Mar 19 2006 12:59

A general strike is the only way. The legislation is still active, until it is withdrawn it can be used. IF staying in the streets doesn't work then it'll need strikes country wide.

Mike Harman
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Mar 19 2006 13:00

needs strikes right now before it winds down or gets crushed.

what's "wildcat" in french? embarrassed

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 19 2006 13:12
Hermit in Paris wrote:
I think we might be pawns in sarkozy's game, and I don't know how to escape that. General strike?

Hmmm. thats the problem. I guess a general strike would call his bluff pretty effectively.

Catch wrote:
needs strikes right now before it winds down or gets crushed

black bloc grin

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Joseph Kay
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Mar 19 2006 13:21
Catch wrote:
what's "wildcat" in french?

grève sauvage - according to google translate and my dictionary (literally strike wild/unauthorised/(savage!) circle A

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Lazy Riser
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Mar 19 2006 13:42

Hi

Quote:
Why are the French ruling class so stupid?

Maybe it's a brain drain caused by over-regulated labour markets. Once again the bourgeoisie provide the means of their own doom.

Or perhaps they’re stupider than the average elite due to the decapitation of their finest minds during the revolution.

Love

LR

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jef costello
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Mar 19 2006 13:46
Lazy Riser wrote:
Or perhaps they’re stupider than the average elite due to the decapitation of their finest minds during the revolution.

aristocracy bore the brunt, especially the stupid ones.

Mike Harman
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Mar 19 2006 16:37
Joseph K. wrote:
Catch wrote:
what's "wildcat" in french?

grève sauvage - according to google translate and my dictionary (literally strike wild/unauthorised/(savage!) circle A

ta!!

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Demogorgon303
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Mar 19 2006 21:00

I think part of the reason why the right wing of the French bourgeoisie is so extraordinarily dim is related to its problematic transition from feudalism to capitalism. The French Revolution obviously exterminated the aristocracy and provided a clear ideological break - far more explicit than the English Civil War for example. But all this did was entrench the peasantry, with its love for small holdings on the land with the only force able to to turf them off (the aristocracy) wiped out. The weight of the peasantry (and now their descendents, the infamous French farmers) has always been a drag on France's attempts to industrialise and modernise agriculture. In the financial sphere, too, the French bourgeoisie were way behind the British - Napoleon's military success was built on plunder of the conquered lands, rather than the strong credit ratings that the English state used to bankroll its allies on the Napoleonic wars. Indeed, Marx coined the word Bonapartism to describe a situation where the ruling class was too weak to impose its rule over society and the state steps in to fill the gap.

Contrast this to the British bourgeoisie, who upon realising that they did not yet have the strength to truly dominate society, formed an alliance with the more progressive elements of the aristocracy. The French political system never really developed an intelligent and sophisticated right wing, tied to heavy industry or finance like the Tories in Britain.

Without this competent right-wing, the French bourgeoisie had great difficulty in bringing in the massive attacks that other countries unleashed on the proletariat in the 80s and 90s. Those that were brought in had to be carried out by the left, which has contributed to discrediting leftist forces in the eyes of the workers and radicalised them.

As a result, they're now stuck in a situation where they are carrying a massive welfare state, an ever growing deficit, have a working class radicalised by mass unemployment and the obvious betrayals of the left. The increasing pressure of the economic crisis is compelling them to act but they lack the room for manouvre (having left it late in the game) and the competence to carry these attacks out.

But don't underestimate the French bourgeoisie. The right wing may be dumber than a brick, but the left is far more sophisticated. And to paraphrase Marx, the bourgeoisie is never more intelligent than in a time of crisis. Despite the massive significance of this movement, we are not in a revolutionary situation - the working class is not sufficiently mobilised, nor is its consciousness advanced enough for that. And there's no way the bourgeoisie in other countries is just going to sit back and let French incompetence threaten the whole system either.

We should not have illusions. This movement will eventually be defeated and dispersed. Yet it will have ploughed a deep furrow in the working class and provide a reservoir of experience that will inform our future struggles, an important step on the road to the revolutionary confrontation with capital.

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madashell
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Mar 19 2006 21:51
Demogorgon303 wrote:
We should not have illusions. This movement will eventually be defeated and dispersed.

What makes you say that? The French state is already on the back foot and is offering concessions in the hopes of killing the movement (and have failed thus far to do so), the protesters have the majority of the population on their side and the unions all seem quite prepared to call a general strike if the government doesn't back down soon.

It looks to me like they've already won.

WillsWilde
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Mar 19 2006 22:20

I think there is good reason for (cautious) optimism but although I don't know what the nature of the CGT is now, in 68 it's role was regressive and duplicitous. They and the UNEF are conducting negotiations or parleying w/ the State, whether or not these bodies are truly empowered or in the trust of the rank and file, I don't know.

The French students and the people behind them need their movement to spread non-heirarchical forms of organization, councils, etc., address this as not a single-issue beef but as symptomatic of the bankruptcy of the entire system. Communication is essential. At this moment, all the raw materials for a state of dual-power are present. If that manifests, then the State either capitulates-not likely, though it would have to seek the aid of foriegn power, smear the dissidents, etc- or civil war. and i don't think there's going to be any peaceful transition to Lib Commism.

But the Western press is ignoring and or misrepresenting this movement, because it is scared, it's hard to slur a massive, obviously inclusive WC movement with the usual Red or Anarchist baiting. So they are waiting for the right provocations or trying to cook up the best lies they can.

I'd like to know if the CNT have gone into overdrive in the Propaganda department, they should appeal to the WC in a non-denominational and passionate way. I can't read their website, no French here, heh, heh. red n black star

ALL POWER TO THE IMAGINATION

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madashell
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Mar 19 2006 22:31
WillsWilde wrote:
The French students and the people behind them need their movement to spread non-heirarchical forms of organization, councils, etc., address this as not a single-issue beef but as symptomatic of the bankruptcy of the entire system. Communication is essential. At this moment, all the raw materials for a state of dual-power are present. If that manifests, then the State either capitulates-not likely, though it would have to seek the aid of foriegn power, smear the dissidents, etc- or civil war. and i don't think there's going to be any peaceful transition to Lib Commism.

Hmm, it seems a little silly to me to describe anything short of a revolution as a "defeat." Surely the repeal of the CPE would be a massive victory for the French working class? It'd certainly be a victory for the anti-CPE movement, by definition.

WillsWilde
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Mar 19 2006 22:52

I don't think the repeal of the CPE would be a defeat in of itself...but along the way, the people are learning of/remembering/actualizing the immense power they have. Which they should continue to exercise. Remember, a lot of people are going to go down for this, repression and surveillance will tighten up, etc...detainments, murder-by cop...they may find themselves in a position where there's no turning back, and that there really is nothing to be lost by making the Social Revolution.

Or just, everything back to normal, still Capitialism with no gains, just no givebacks. red n black star

UNDER THE PAVING STONES, THE BEACH

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madashell
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Mar 19 2006 22:59
WillsWilde wrote:
I don't think the repeal of the CPE would be a defeat in of itself...but along the way, the people are learning of/remembering/actualizing the immense power they have. Which they should continue to exercise. Remember, a lot of people are going to go down for this, repression and surveillance will tighten up, etc...detainments, murder-by cop...they may find themselves in a position where there's no turning back, and that there really is nothing to be lost by making the Social Revolution.

Or just, everything back to normal, still Capitialism with no gains, just no givebacks. red n black star

UNDER THE PAVING STONES, THE BEACH

A victory is a victory, with the CPE defeated, it'll be much harder for the French state to try anything like this again in the near future.

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jef costello
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Mar 19 2006 22:59
Demogorgon303 wrote:
The French Revolution obviously exterminated the aristocracy.

The aristocracy survived, it took a hit and was psychologically affected by it.

Quote:
But all this did was entrench the peasantry, with its love for small holdings on the land with the only force able to to turf them off (the aristocracy) wiped out. The weight of the peasantry (and now their descendents, the infamous French farmers) has always been a drag on France's attempts to industrialise and modernise agriculture.

If it asn't for the EU then they would have fucked them years ago.

Quote:
Contrast this to the British bourgeoisie, who upon realising that they did not yet have the strength to truly dominate society, formed an alliance with the more progressive elements of the aristocracy. The French political system never really developed an intelligent and sophisticated right wing, tied to heavy industry or finance like the Tories in Britain.

French State has been much more interventionist, especially post war.

Quote:
As a result, they're now stuck in a situation where they are carrying a massive welfare state, an ever growing deficit, have a working class radicalised by mass unemployment and the obvious betrayals of the left. The increasing pressure of the economic crisis is compelling them to act but they lack the room for manouvre (having left it late in the game) and the competence to carry these attacks out.

problem is that the French working class doesn't believe that it is middle class. They are far more united, that's why they can win and hold onto concessions. The economic problems France is facing are products of this.

French protectionism has meant that France itself is fairly stable/stagnant, but it cannot be colonised, even if the best way to get growth is to invest abroad.

WillsWilde
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Mar 19 2006 23:12

Yes, I wouldn't say brink, I am optimistic, romantic, etc.

I don't see any signs of slowing down, tho.

Recomposition process is important, like I said...

Quote:
learning of/remembering/actualizing the immense power they have

I'd like to think that they are pissed not merely because they want the assurance of a decent job. More to life than a decent job.

Since 1936 I have fought for wage increases. My father before me fought for wage increases. Now I have a TV, a fridge, a Volkswagen. Yet my whole life I've been a chump. Don't negotiate with the bosses. Abolish them

Oh, here in the colonies, it's "Shit', not shite, heh.heh. wink circle A

Mike Harman
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Mar 20 2006 00:19
madashell wrote:
Demogorgon303 wrote:
We should not have illusions. This movement will eventually be defeated and dispersed.

What makes you say that? The French state is already on the back foot and is offering concessions in the hopes of killing the movement (and have failed thus far to do so), the protesters have the majority of the population on their side and the unions all seem quite prepared to call a general strike if the government doesn't back down soon.

It looks to me like they've already won.

I think they may win in the sense that we won the poll tax - then got council tax shortly afterwards...

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madashell
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Mar 20 2006 15:36
Catch wrote:
madashell wrote:
Demogorgon303 wrote:
We should not have illusions. This movement will eventually be defeated and dispersed.

What makes you say that? The French state is already on the back foot and is offering concessions in the hopes of killing the movement (and have failed thus far to do so), the protesters have the majority of the population on their side and the unions all seem quite prepared to call a general strike if the government doesn't back down soon.

It looks to me like they've already won.

I think they may win in the sense that we won the poll tax - then got council tax shortly afterwards...

Depressingly probable sad

toussaint
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Mar 21 2006 10:35

First, i'm french, i live in paris so excuse my bad english.

I do not understant why so many of you think that the french ruling class is stupid.

I think that it's more difficult for her to break the resistance of the working class. If it was possible to use the same tactic that the english ruling class, The french bourgeoisie would have done it.

It is a little stupid to think that the french ruling class has not studied the way the english bourgeoisie has done in england for exemple and do not dream of doing the same here.

The problem is that the social conditions are not the same.

It is not possible for the french ruling class to use the same tactic than the english one.

In 68, you seems to forget that the situation in France was more instable than in england. The bourgeoisie needed De Gaulle, a strong state, and strict laws to controle the situation.

The algerian war, the presence of a strong communist party are examples of the instability of the situation.

And more than in england, it was necessary to the french ruling class to use the force.

The existence of the CRS for example is an adequate answer to the instability of the situation. The french ruling class knows better than any ruling class in the world how to controle the french working class. It is a little prententious to imagine that from outside, without a great understanding of the french history and the french society that it is easy to know how to rule the country.

For differente reasons, there is a great history of violent revolutions and general strikes in this country and the french working class like any in the world has a memory and use it.

It is not possible to forget that the french ruling class is not as strong as the english one and that it is more difficult for it to rule the country and to fight against the worging class.

When you have to controle demonstrators who are ready to confront violently the police you need to have CRS.

When you know that the consciousness of the working class does not permit you to convince people that neo-liberal measures are good for us, you need to fight directly against the working class.

And it is more and more urgent for the french ruling class to break the resistance. The bourgeoisie need to create the same conditions than in england for exemple to be stronger and to confront other bourgeoisies.

This is how i think, you should understand the situation here.