Welp, here’s another post about the miserable state of France. That country, through a series of coincidences (the main one being that my crappy rural high school had only one foreign language instructor, and that instructor was only certified to teach French) has become, as Paul Fussell would put it, my second country. Which is why it pisses me off (being angry is my usual reaction to being sad) to note that I doubt that it will be the last such post this year.
In other words, Jesus H. Christ, France.
I’m still going to be shocked, but not surprised, when the Eiffel Tower collapses. Worldwide dark humorists: if you think the American election is the sickest entertainment of 2016, you should try following Le Figaro.
And here’s the evidence that they were forgotten: early this year there came Nuit Debout, the completely stupid reaction to the Socialist government’s surprisingly free-market-based attempt to get Millennials into the workplace. At that point I predicted there would be new terrorist attacks in Paris, because terrorists can take advantage of the fact that Nuit Debout have got the police spread thin and completely demoralized. Lo and behold, the very same day I posted it, a jet from Paris to Egypt exploded (although as it turns out, this might have been the fault of bad safety policies on the part of EgyptAir; the real disaster is yet to come).
Then it started raining, and raining, and raining, and the Seine is now threatening to inundate Paris, floating 500 years’ worth of dead rats and (possibly valuable antique?) wine bottles down the streets past the department-store windows (I can’t wait to see the Chinese tourists’ reaction to that. Note: Chinese tourists are, to the French, the new American tourists. If you’re American and you have body armor and good rubber boots, this is the time to go to France, because no one will even notice how annoying you are).
Meanwhile, Nuit debout has metastasized into a bunch of grown-up strikes that have gone nationwide, crippling even the petroleum industry. Oooooooh, boy oh boy oh boy, would this be a great time to be a terrorist.
Jesus Christ, France. Christ on a red, white, and blue pogo stick wearing a djellaba.
Normally, as a labor libertarian, I am ALL FOR organized labor. The old libertarian shibboleth about how employment is a free contract freely entered into by two sides who both benefit so obviously it must be fair and blah blah blah, is kinda blinkered bullshit. One side of that agreement is generally hammered out by a person who is well fed, and the other side tends to be argued by a person who, inside the cheap suit, is secretly sweating about food and rent and will jump the gun on accepting jobs to stave off the wolf. You can’t argue a fair contract in a panic on an empty stomach. If you enter the job market without a trust fund, you wind up settling for earning far less than what you’re worth to the first few companies you work for, simply because you are desperate going into the negotiation. Which sets you up to have trouble saving up enough to look for a better job the next time around, which in the absence of a lucky break can lead to a lifetime of settling for bad deals; multiply that effect by millions of people and you don’t quiiiiite get a meritocracy (and deep down, whatever else I call myself, I’m fundamentally a meritocratist). Bosses rarely jump to give substantial raises for excellent employees when they’ve budgeted for a mediocre worker—particularly not when the labor market is continually softened by endless immigration. If one good employee walks away due to low wages, it’s not going to do much harm. But if the employees of a company freely organize together to negotiate for fair wages, they can threaten to interrupt business in a more important way than the departure of one unhappy worker could accomplish, and thereby argue wages to a fairer place. Without the government meddling with support benefits, the company’s bargaining tactic of withholding wages till an agreement was reached would be effective as well, so if things actually came to a strike, it would be short-lived, and the final wage agreement would at least have a shot at being fair for all involved.
So normally I admire the French culture of organized labor. The way their instinct is to stand up for themselves, instead of taking everything lying down the way the docile American worker is wont to do, is commendable. HOWEVAH, since most of the French industries that strike all the time are socialized, they aren’t striking against an employer so much as they are striking against EVERYBODY WHO PAYS TAXES, so they can blackmail the rest of society to give them high wages for working the fucking ticket window at the train station (and usually doing it very, very slowly). This, even under normal circumstances, is bullshit. The ideal use of organized labor is to make a free market work better and more fairly, not to make a socialized market work even more stupidly still.
But as it’s the current year, it’s fucking dumb as hell.
A leftist friend and cowriter of mine, David Wolin, tells me that the French still need to protest the el Khomri labor law, because once labor gains are lost, they’re impossible to get back. To that I say, not if you’re the French. Their national hobby is striking and rioting. They can get labor gains back within their own society.
What they CAN’T get back—once they lose it to mass immigration and Brussels and globalization and terrorist intimidation—is their national sovereignty.
I mean, they could, I suppose, but at some point in the nasty proceedings I imagine they’d have to nuke all the rest of us to do it. To save the striking for later—once this whole “you’re pretty much being attacked militarily and colonized on your own soil” thing gets sorted out—would be perfectly pragmatic given the French character. They won these labor gains in the past; they can do it again. (And anyway, the El Khomri law that Nuit debout is complaining about is arguably a gain for young workers, even if it may bite the butts of the useless Baby Boomers who have been sitting on the good jobs thanks to labor contracts that make it almost impossible for a bad employee to get fired.)
What they can’t get back are the people who will die in another terrorist attack if the Nuit Debout riots and escalating strikes continue to paralyze the police and other forces of order. What they can’t get back are the traditions and social cohesion they’re losing to globalism and, yes, Americanizing. Sorry, guys.
Kids, save your 1968-inspired posturing for a time when the Muslim population has either been assimilated or has fucked off back to some culturally comfortable shithole where they don’t have to look at women’s ankles. This is important. Europe must be defended before she can be improved.