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Viva La Chance!

Christian Pott | 07.11.2006 12:24 | French CPE uprising 2006 | Migration | World

The solution to the problem cannot be curfews and tear gas.. Profit and power are set above social peace. Who is really responsible when the villa surrounded by barbed wire is charred one morning?


By Christian Pott

[This commentary published in: GLOCALIST Nr. 91/2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web. Christian Pott is a creative director and citizen.]

The French – whether an immigrant child or Paris gourmets cook – are traditionally a refractory people. As a nation, they collectively anticipate reactions voiced a short time later in all Europe. Beginning with Asterix and Obelix on the French revolution, this continued in the “No” on the European Union constitution and the social unrest now shaking the country. But dear EU citizens and politicians, don’t cherish any illusions that this is a unique French product like Bordeaux or baguette.

The reaction of the French interior minister describing the rebels as “scum” was neither appropriate nor helpful. These were French citizens, not Islamic terrorists or criminal bands, second-generation persons living in France with a better command of the language than graduates of the Lycee François. Their motivation is not oriented either in religion or in pranks. The lower social classes burn over poverty, frustration and hopelessness. This fire upwards devours all those who either will lose their jobs or feel deserted by the state. One may be glad that German pensioners no longer have the courage to walk the streets at night and that single mothers have no time to make Molotov cocktails. Amazingly politicians of all lands and colors dismiss the events as specific to France and the work of dark-skinner hooligans. Waking up at last, recognizing the true motivations and sounding the alarm bells would be more appropriate reactions. Powder kegs are all over Europe; only the spark is lacking. Examples are 4.5 million unemployed in Germany, 15% FPO voters in Vienna and the hopeless French in Paris suburbs.

Yes, an immigrant- and integration-problem arises if persons once called to integrate in the host country are not given any chance. Despite exclusion, they should behave orderly. However the train of successful integration left the station a long time ago from the Atlantic coast to the Bavarian forest. This train cannot be quickly stopped. Politics and society are responsible, not the immigrants.

The events in France make clear the explosiveness of social conflicts, the fury when they strike seemingly intact societies over night and how easily ideological pied pipers channel and exploit the discontentment – whether the discontent is now justified or not.

The solution of the problem cannot be curfews and tear gas. Concepts are needed that offer chances and perspectives to all citizens to understand themselves as an active part of society. Many EU countries are far from this promise given stagnating labor markets and collapsing social- and education systems. Profit and power are set above social peace. Who is really responsible when the villa surrounded by barbed wire is charred one morning?

Christian Pott
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