What's the matter with the French?

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Merckx index said:
...The "other people can't possibly understand our culture the way we do" argument is BS. It's the same argument S. Africa made to rationalize apartheid, and it's the same argument many Muslims use to justify oppression of women and an anti-scientific worldview. People of any country have not only a right but a duty to criticize what people in other countries do...
Or intervene militarily at the behest of those elected by many to protect the interests of a few.

I think in these times of overreaction to satirical cartoons, threatened book burnings and illegal wars, we could all use a bit of common sense instead of ranting and raving about other countries. I'm not saying that you're doing that - you're not - but a lot of people are and their generalisations and assumptions are breathtaking.

France takes its social contract seriously. I don't have - though I don't necessarily need - the figures to prove that the system's unworkable in the long term. It probably does need reform, but that's not why they are striking. This group of people is striking because they feel that they are being singled out, not because they are daydreaming Communists or some other bête noire du jour. Read the output of your 'foreign bureaux' if you want to know the arguments and evidence, which you probably already know anyway.
 
Merckx index said:
I went to jail as a political radical back in the day, so I do have some experience of these things. One of the things I learned is that regardless of the principles motivating some cause, the cause always includes a lot of "cultureless idiots". I also found that "sheep" are not the province of a single party or a single world view, they're found in abundance in any mass movement. The term "mass movement" basically implies the need for sheep.

The contents of the rest of your post I'm very familiar with. As I say, I was a radical once. Violence in the streets didn't work for us back then, it very likely won't work in France now.



I didn't say that America doesn't share a lot of the blame for what's going on. I simply said that what goes on in either country affects the other.
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I don't advocate violence either and I'd be interested to hear more of your activities in the Gen Pol Thread. Sounds like you had things to say back then. What could we learn from it?

Sadly the same thing has been happening in Greece recently. (Allegedly rich) kids playing at being anarchists, fouling up what was originally a valid grievance getting a public airing. :mad:
 
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rhubroma said:
So typical. The ones who were starting the fires decades ago in their youth, have sold out and have become the firemen of today. I'm not an advocate of violence, but your transformation is rather pathetic and so typical.

PS. What lacks in your final statement is any sense of proportion and measure. While each nation contributes to the totality, there are different quantities among the contributors. Thus your comments are being announced form the last pulpit that has a right to be preaching in this regard.

Translation: You wrapped youself in acedemia thus never having to grow up.

Sad really.
 
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Anonymous

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rhubroma said:
Oh, Scott SoCal. I was wondering how long it would be before you chimed in. So glad to hear from you! :)

Now kiss my a$$!

Getting called out can be uncomfortable.:)

How's Rome today? It's still raining in sunny SoCal.
 
Scott SoCal said:
Getting called out can be uncomfortable.:)

How's Rome today? It's still raining in sunny SoCal.
Partly cloudy and autumnal. Great time, this weekend, for a country sagra (folk festival) of funghi porcini and cinghiale (wild boar) with vino roso. Hope the sunshine returns in your world soon. Cheers. :)

Now, lick my balls!
 
Jun 19, 2009
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Izzy eviel said:
Sadly times change. We are living longer & spending more then we save. Retirement age needs to go up a few years everywhere i'm afraid. I don't understand why women need to retire earlier when they live longer thou:confused:
Why is everyone afraid of work? As Merckx said: do something meaningful. If you don't keep moving you will die. Time to buck up, folks. I thought you were hard cyclists!
 
Mar 13, 2009
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Merckx index said:
You go on strike just to protest raising the retirement age from 60 to 62? Is that such a burden? Life expectancy in most of the West, I believe, is around 80. Eighteen years of retirement isn't good enough? That isn't enough time to do all the things you couldn't do when you were working?
I only know the side of the story which the Syndicat d'Etudiants of my college always tells.

It's not that they raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, it's that they raise the amount of years that you have to work in order to receive a full retirement from 40 to 42.

Now, according to them, the average student coming out of college finds their first job at 27. That seems a bit late for me, but that's what they say. Anyhow so add 42 years to that, and you'll be 69 when you can finally quit since you'll have worked 42 years.

Also this reform will make it even more difficult for young people to find jobs, since the elder occupy their jobs longer.

As I said, that's what they tell at my college. I do think that sooner or later all Western countries must face this decision in order to maintain somewhat healthy retirement funds.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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These French need to wake up and go the American way..70 is the best for even thinking of ceasing this work thing. And get rid of all that vacation BS..who needs it!! 10 days is enough..plus if 2 incomes won't handle it flip a coin with your wife to settle who will get the third job..plus at 70 you can still fold envelopes or polish jewelry. Heck lots of our 70 year olds have found a new life working at McDonald's,Wendy's or Walmart not for the money just to get out there and mix it up with all the super hip 16 year olds...fight on my French brothers..lifestyle is important..so is vacation..so is health care..we didn't learn sh!t from the old world. If anybody says look at the US..start a car or 2 on fire..fighting for a tradition may be worth it.. don't just accept anything Sarcozzzy says.
 
May 18, 2009
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rhubroma said:
It's not about work. But the management of society. And the course of history.
Why don't you hop on your scooter and ride to Paris and help the cause? Surely your idealistic unrealistic regurgitations will be much more of use to a punk throwing bottles at policemen in the Bastille roundabout than in here.

Don't let your life go to waste rubarb! Vive le France! Look forward to seeing you on CNN.
 
May 6, 2009
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Archibald said:
what's live without a little Revolution every now and then...


@ delbified: swings n roundabouts - what you may not make now, you'll more than make up for with government super. My old man held out from being poached to the private sector and the plus side for him was to be able to retire several years before some of his friends. They've needed to keep working close to 8 years longer to be able to come close to his super payout...
My mum works for the Queensland Health and actually makes more money working for the Government then what she would in the private sector. You're looking at going from around $21 per hour, full-time, down to about $16 per hour. **** that.

Boeing said:
My then fiance (now wife) and I spent 7 months traveling through France skiing the Haute Savoie

with the exception of the lady selling tickets at le musée du Louvre everyone we met, worked with and partied with was awesome.

I have never liked this generalization of all things french we read here.
With the exception of a Parisian bike store and a tourist office in Luchon, I found the French to not be arrogant, or indeed rather helpful.
 
May 22, 2010
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TheDuke said:
Now to the route of the problem, it’s not that the French consider work to be a burden any more than any other country – it’s just that they don’t agree with giving up the rights of the people – just because a government believes that it should be the case. As a whole we pay more and more every year in terms of taxes, in terms of utilities etc. But we receive less and less, e.g. Medical benefits, child support etc.
the social benefits traditionally provided by the state to French people are not rights, those are privileges that must be funded by the same people. the French have addressed the new austerity measures like all left wing ideologists - treating it as if the state is an independent entity that is stealing benefits from them. this is naive and wrong - the state is the people and it is broke. the candy jar is empty. demanding that the candy continue being dispensed shows that they are in denial over basic facts.

i work in Australia with a french colleague who gets 9 weeks annual leave! no wonder they are broke. compared to us, that's 5 weeks worth of productivity a year foregone. unions think that's wonderful but the current state of the French economy, sadly, is a timely lesson about the cost of such generous privileges. they ain't for free.
 
delbified said:
the social benefits traditionally provided by the state to French people are not rights, those are privileges that must be funded by the same people. the French have addressed the new austerity measures like all left wing ideologists - treating it as if the state is an independent entity that is stealing benefits from them. this is naive and wrong - the state is the people and it is broke. the candy jar is empty. demanding that the candy continue being dispensed shows that they are in denial over basic facts.

i work in Australia with a french colleague who gets 9 weeks annual leave! no wonder they are broke. compared to us, that's 5 weeks worth of productivity a year foregone. unions think that's wonderful but the current state of the French economy, sadly, is a timely lesson about the cost of such generous privileges. they ain't for free.
The State=the People is a both a continuous and discontinuous reality. The problem with your analysis, is that it takes no consideration of how the State has become broke, and by whom.

The youth in France realize they are being called to make sacrifices by their father's generation and their father's, father's generation for a situation caused by them that they didn't create, for which, however, they will not be asked to pay the (brunt of the) consequences.

The priviliges of which you speak (and your mentality fits right in with prevailing Calvanist American one, because your last statement demonstrates a total lack of social awareness and meager civil and cultural development), are in fact the burden of sacrifices which each democratic citizen is called to do by the State in terms of tax contributions based upon individual income. It was up to the State to manage the kitty well and is, thus, not the fault of the citizens if this has not been done.

The evolution of democracy in Europe in the immediate post WWII era, had been based on the ideals of a social project that was seen as (and of course is) an extremely high form of civil behavior and social attainment, as set against the more crude and savage form of capitalist democracy in the US and to correct the evils of industrial age worker exploitation (which basically meant capitalist slavery).

It was the third way between ultra-liberal US capitalism and marxism. And it worked better than either system until the devestating market conquest of the neo-ultra-liberal capitalism and deregulation esposed by Regan and Thatcher on the one hand, and the fall of Communism on the other; and the rise now of a type of embrionic marxist capitalism in China, with all its simmilarities to the inhumane industrial capitalism of the West during the XIX and early XX centuries.

France and Europe's third way has been, and should still be, an example of the most civil and socially just form of capitalism and democracy that has been created to date. It is therefore trully a pitty (and a victory of incivility over civility) to see it being dismantled by the liberal (in the capitalist sense of the right wing in Europe, rather than the social left wing sense in America) public officials and policy makers here so brutally and barbarously, who have caved into the pressures of globalizzation. And it is a globalizzation that was herladed by the fall of communism which left the world with just one superpower, America. Not surprising, therefore, that its form of a deregulated market of neoliberal capitalism began to predominate over all the markets including Europe's, though has now been seen for what it truly is with the collapse of the US housing market and the current woes of Wall Street. Whereas the American superpower and its global and market hegemony is today having to contend and compete with a China that has entered the market with a whole new culture and set of uncivil mechanisms, which are just as iniquitous and equally barbaric like the factory capitalism of the industrial revolution.

This is why the French demonstrators are rightously so indignant over what their government policy makers are doing to the system, because it is destroying a third way that has represented no less than the most evolved form of democracy the world has known caving into barbarity.

Sure it has costs, nobody has ever doubted that. And they are costs the majority of people in France and elsewhere in Europe have been willing to pay, which ensured them good medical care, retirement subsudies, fine schools and public transportation, etc. It is a model that should have been exported around the globe, had it not been for the oppressive forces of America and now the rising East. And such costs certainly pay for more noble and civil things, than to subsidize the illegal wars faught by the neocons and neoliberal capitalists for oil and other economic and political considerations we presently have.

Their voices thus represent no less than defending a world of civility over the one of barbarity that is decidedly winning, because it has the support of the rich and the powerful no more. And, as I have said before, this isn't only about present concerns, but the course of history. ;)
 
ChrisE said:
Why don't you hop on your scooter and ride to Paris and help the cause? Surely your idealistic unrealistic regurgitations will be much more of use to a punk throwing bottles at policemen in the Bastille roundabout than in here.

Don't let your life go to waste rubarb! Vive le France! Look forward to seeing you on CNN.
Hey it's not my fault that I'm enjoying my life, despite being based on my unrealistic regurgitations as you see it.

Though rather than being concerned about my life "going to waste," as you so hypocritically mention, I'd instead be decidedly more burdened over the frightfully underdeveloped mental state of your head, with its crude and ill formed mental processes.

Surly you must have something to contribute to the discussion other than your insults toward me, though I fear it's simply beyond you. :cool:
 
May 18, 2009
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rhubroma said:
Hey it's not my fault that I'm enjoying my life, despite being based on my unrealistic regurgitations as you see it.

Though rather than being concerned about my life "going to waste," as you so hypocritically mention, I'd instead be decidedly more burdened over the frightfully underdeveloped mental state of your head, with its crude and ill formed mental processes. Surly you must have something to contribute to the discussion other than your insults toward me, though I fear it's simply beyond you. :cool:
Admittedly the bolded part is pretty funny. Good job! :D

All I am saying is that you should put your money where your mouth is. Rioting in a democratic society over things other than unfair treatment towards race, gender, etc. appears assinine to me. From your perch on a sidewalk in Rome tossing out insults on your laptop it probably all seems like a normal day in paradise.

Instead of tossing out homo-erotic insults towards Socal Scott, as I said why don't you skip on over to Paris in your tutu and toss some rocks at a gendarme. Watch out for the beatdown....this revolution stuff hurts sometimes.

They elected this guy. They knew what they were getting. The majority rules. Instead of rioting, work towards electing somebody else.
 
ChrisE said:
Admittedly the bolded part is pretty funny. Good job! :D

All I am saying is that you should put your money where your mouth is. Rioting in a democratic society over things other than unfair treatment towards race, gender, etc. appears assinine to me. From your perch on a sidewalk in Rome tossing out insults on your laptop it probably all seems like a normal day in paradise.

Instead of tossing out homo-erotic insults towards Socal Scott, as I said why don't you skip on over to Paris in your tutu and toss some rocks at a gendarme. Watch out for the beatdown....this revolution stuff hurts sometimes.

They elected this guy. They knew what they were getting. The majority rules. Instead of rioting, work towards electing somebody else.
You do realize you are a tool???

And I have been and I'm very active in the democratic demonstrations, which we often get in the piazzas here. You see I choose to hold the leadership under account for its actions. When I don't like something I take up the public square with the others. It's simply democratic.

If you feel comfortable with the leadship and in all its decision making processes with how it effects your life and history, you are obviously prefectly at liberty to not participate.

I think your attitude, however, is truly lax and ultimately a cop out and saves you from the commitment that actully a healthy democracy absolutely needs, but which the leadership almost always finds so problematic, because in point of fact democratic. People like you are just cruising along in life and, in allowing the leadership to go pretty much un-checked, become accomplices in the terrible state of democracy, and especially the US democracy, in the world today.

Thirty years of deregulation started the process with Regan, the neocons in Iraq have done the rest. I'm not comfortable with it. Neither are the demonstrators in France.
 
Sep 25, 2009
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Le breton said:
Gauging French politics through a US mirror is bound to give the result you demonstrate in the rest of your post : utter nonsense.
i spent a lot of time in america, years on end and then go back, sometimes i just marvel why such a great and developed people are so politically naive en masse.

but the op is intellectually curious and honest i think.
 
Mar 13, 2009
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python said:
i spent a lot of time in america, years on end and then go back, sometimes i just marvel why such a great and developed people are so politically naive en masse.
"Upon entering the United States, one enters a news-vacuum. The people of the United States have achieved a level of auto-censuration that any Third World dictator would be proud of."

- Paul Watzlawick
 
May 18, 2009
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rhubroma said:
You do realize you are a tool???
And I have been and I'm very active in the democratic demonstrations, which we often get in the piazzas here. You see I choose to hold the leadership under account for its actions. When I don't like something I take up the public square with the others. It's simply democratic.

If you feel comfortable with the leadship and in all its decision making processes with how it effects your life and history, you are obviously prefectly at liberty to not participate.

I think your attitude, however, is truly lax and ultimately a cop out and saves you from the commitment that actully a healthy democracy absolutely needs, but which the leadership almost always finds so problematic, because in point of fact democratic. People like you are just cruising along in life and, in allowing the leadership to go pretty much un-checked, become accomplices in the terrible state of democracy, and especially the US democracy, in the world today.

Thirty years of deregulation started the process with Regan, the neocons in Iraq have done the rest. I'm not comfortable with it. Neither are the demonstrators in France.
Yes.

Moving on, the problem is not with the demonstrations; it is the disruption of life, and the violence, ie these "types" of demonstrations. Deregulation happened as a result of the vote in a democratic process. Of course, the people that voted that way in the US had no idea they voted for that and continue to vote for that. They are voting for more important things like restricting the lazy blacks from taking their job, the assault on baby Jesus that is abortion, somebody trying to take their guns away.....you know "freedom" issues. :rolleyes:

So, you just let us know when you go to France and start chunking rocks, etc. at the Police.

Also, can you fill us in about how a govt, ie the people, pays for something it has no money for? That may give some insight to the rioting. If I have insight into how that works, I think I can use it next time I go into the Porsche dealership. I figure if I go in and exercise my rights by requesting a GT3, if they refuse maybe I can start tossing some rocks around, breaking some various stuff, etc.

Maybe I can fly you in for your leadership and experience in this type of activity. I can let you out in the parking lot and you can go in and break some stuff, and they will know they are dealing with a professional. Then I could come in and immulate your display of rights. If I went in first, or by myself, I may not destroy some stuff in the righteous way and I may just end up with a Carrera or something.

Heck, we may get 2 GT3's out of this scene. What a deal!
 
ChrisE said:
Yes.

Moving on, the problem is not with the demonstrations; it is the disruption of life, and the violence, ie these "types" of demonstrations. Deregulation happened as a result of the vote in a democratic process. Of course, the people that voted that way in the US had no idea they voted for that and continue to vote for that. They are voting for more important things like restricting the lazy blacks from taking their job, the assault on baby Jesus that is abortion, somebody trying to take their guns away.....you know "freedom" issues. :rolleyes:

So, you just let us know when you go to France and start chunking rocks, etc. at the Police.

Also, can you fill us in about how a govt, ie the people, pays for something it has no money for? That may give some insight to the rioting. If I have insight into how that works, I think I can use it next time I go into the Porsche dealership. I figure if I go in and exercise my rights by requesting a GT3, if they refuse maybe I can start tossing some rocks around, breaking some various stuff, etc.

Maybe I can fly you in for your leadership and experience in this type of activity. I can let you out in the parking lot and you can go in and break some stuff, and they will know they are dealing with a professional. Then I could come in and immulate your display of rights. If I went in first, or by myself, I may not destroy some stuff in the righteous way and I may just end up with a Carrera or something.

Heck, we may get 2 GT3's out of this scene. What a deal!
I don't buy a Porsche. ;)
 
Mar 10, 2009
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Christian said:
I only know the side of the story which the Syndicat d'Etudiants of my college always tells.

It's not that they raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, it's that they raise the amount of years that you have to work in order to receive a full retirement from 40 to 42.

Now, according to them, the average student coming out of college finds their first job at 27. That seems a bit late for me, but that's what they say. Anyhow so add 42 years to that, and you'll be 69 when you can finally quit since you'll have worked 42 years.

Also this reform will make it even more difficult for young people to find jobs, since the elder occupy their jobs longer.

As I said, that's what they tell at my college. I do think that sooner or later all Western countries must face this decision in order to maintain somewhat healthy retirement funds.
Christian, forgive me for dipping in. Your perspective regarding working life rather than focusing on retirement age is an interesting one. I read somewhere in the last 10 days that President Mitterand reduced the retirement age from 65 to 60 as a political stunt during one of his campaigns. Is this correct?
 
Thanks for all the input, folks. When I started this thread, I didn’t know a lot about what was going on over there. I did read some stuff on the internet, but one of the main reasons I posted here is because I was sure in the reactions I would learn something. People generally don’t post on forums unless they have a very strong opinion on the topic, and I find that there is no learning experience like listening to strong opinions, whether I agree with them or not. Some of you have said things that it would have been difficult for me to hear anywhere else, just because you are so passionate about your beliefs.

A few points. Someone noted this is not really about the retirement age, but a protest over a deeper, more long-term problem. I think that’s like saying the student protests in America (and Europe, to some extent) of the 60s were not about the Vietnam War, but the military-industrial complex, or still more fundamentally, the capitalist system. It’s true the leaders of these protests had larger issues in mind, but the masses of people whose bodies lent the protests serious credibility were drawn in mostly by antagonism to the war. And I believe that’s the case in France wrt retirement age. A focal issue that draws in the crowds. Surely if Sarkozy caved in on this issue (which he won’t, and I would say, can‘t), most of the steam of the protest would dissipate, but that would not signal much change in these deeper issues.

This leads me to another lesson from the past (history does repeat itself in many ways). One of the great failings of the so-called New Left in America in those days, IMO, is that it was unable to connect to most of the middle class (other than mostly white students). There was a lot of mockery of the middle class, which is echoed today in mockery of the Tea Party (“cultureless idiots“). I am not a supporter of this movement, but it should be pretty obvious that you don’t advance your cause by suggesting that people who don’t agree with you fail to do so only because they are duped and deluded (no matter how certain you are that that‘s the case). Believe it or not, most Tea Party members do have an IQ of greater than 80. If all the articles, books (e.g., What's Wrong with Kansas?), etc. trying to "enlighten" them have not swayed many of them, maybe it's not just because they're dense or evil.

The Left in America today (such as it is) is making this same mistake as it did back then. The more they criticize the Tea Party as ignorant, the more elitist the Left appears, not just to Tea Party members, but to others more in the middle. I don’t know how much of a problem this is in Europe, where the political spectrum is considerably left-shifted from what it is in America, but over here it is helping to shift the spectrum much further to the right. Setting fires in the streets is easy. Sitting down to talk with people you don't agree with is horrifically difficult and frustrating.

As far as economics goes, I think there is blame enough to go around for everyone. I have lost my shirt on a house that I own, but I don’t blame anyone for that but myself. I took a chance, I knew there were risks, and I got burned. I don’t blame a bank for pushing this mortgage on me, I understand math well enough to know what a mortgage is, and what it implies in terms of my responsibilities. I also knew that by buying at the time I did, I was contributing to a bubble that had to burst sooner or later.

And though I think that major financial institutions have gotten away with crimes, so have many “ordinary” Americans. I know a few people, and have heard of many more, who have simply stopped paying their mortgages. Some people have walked away from properties because their value is less than the mortgage, which I think at the least is unethical. Some have continued to live there, getting away with not paying anything for months because the banks are so overwhelmed with paperwork that they can’t pursue the default (my experiences with banks strongly suggest that this is the major cause of all these "robo signings", not from any evil intentions). And there are major movements in the U.S. now of people who have been foreclosed on who refuse to move out. These are people who had to know when they bought the house the risk they were taking, and now they want to be excused--at the least, they want to pay less than they were contractually obliged to pay (short sellers, who sell their house for less than the mortgage, and aren‘t obligated to make up the difference, are doing the same thing). Please. For some of these people the alternative may be to live on the street, so I can understand that, but most of these people have other options (which they managed to exercise before they bought the house). If ordinary people will engage in dishonesty like this, why is anyone surprised that people who were in positions of much greater economic power would also be dishonest?

Which brings me to a final point. Someone (who obviously doesn’t know me) suggested I was an academic who had sold out the cause (or words to that effect). Actually, my life since the 60s has been far harder and more dangerous than it was then. It’s one thing to be behind physical bars, knowing someone is going to spring you soon and you will get off with a misdemeanor that’s soon forgotten. It’s quite another to become convinced that the “system” that all of us are embedded in is far more encompassing than a government or cabal of industrialists, and that the only way to free ourselves from that is a life that, in effect, recognizes that we are always in prison. Some of the posters here, e.g., rubroma, imply that life was beautiful at some point in the past (but when exactly I’m unclear--maybe sometime between the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam and the Reagan/Thatcher era? Or was it between the end of WWII and the defeat of Mitterand?). All I can say is my major lesson in the late 60s was that it doesn’t matter whether the chains are made of gold or steel, they’re still chains. And once you understand that, your life changes in unimaginable ways. The enemy is not the state; it’s you, though your understanding of “you” is very different from the conventional one.

The price we pay for failing to see this is to face the same dilemmas, again and again. E.g., is it right or ethical to resort to violence to overthrow a government you consider oppressive? If you say yes, as some posters here suggest, you sanction actions from people you may disagree with profoundly--from the OKC bomber to a Republican congressional candidate in Texas who recently said that violent overthrow of the U.S. government is “on the table”. If you say no, maybe you feel you are condoning a government that engages in what you deeply believe are criminal actions.

People have grappled with this problem, and many other, similar dilemmas for the entire history of civilization. How much longer it will take before people recognize that there is no solution to such questions within ordinary humanity--that they are built into the species--I have no idea. It’s certainly much more comfortable to believe that everyone will live happily ever after in some hybrid capitalist/socialist state where all are taken care of from cradle to grave. The fact that such states never last long (and even while they do exist, only with major inequities) ought, it seems to me, to clue us in to the notion that the problem goes far deeper than what the system of government is.

Peace, everyone. But also war, because peace only emerges through waging war.
 
May 22, 2010
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rhubroma said:
This is why the French demonstrators are rightously so indignant over what their government policy makers are doing to the system, because it is destroying a third way that has represented no less than the most evolved form of democracy the world has known caving into barbarity.
that's an interesting analysis and essentially how i understand french social policy was constructed. i like the French and in principle, the 'third way', but there's one part of your analysis that doesn't add up. as i understand it, the current economic crisis has been brewing for a long time as many western economies have maxed out the credit card to fund state provided social benefits. it never added up but successive govts continued the practice, knowing they'd be out of office before the sh*t hit the fan - which was the GFC.

what doesn't add up is that neoliberal capitalism as you refer to it is supposed to reduce govt debt, by reducing spending. this - political and economic ideology - is what the French blame, as you seem to have, for the austerity measures. but it's not true - it's not ideology that's driven the French govt to reform its social policies, but a much more powerful force - namely a debt crisis. much of western europe is broke and can no longer afford to fund retirees - it is a looming disaster.

to characterise austerity measures that have been designed to mitigate that crisis as an ideological shift is misguided. it's reality. i would argue the problem is that the French want their cake and to eat it. the "third way" is a noble concept, but it's not going to generate as much wealth as more pure capitalist economies. if the French had acknowledged this and shown restraint, instead of demanding the state spend on social benefits to keep pace with wealthier capitalist countries, it would have probably worked. but they couldn't restrain themselves - they got greedy.

the problem with these discussions is that they tend to evolve into high minded philosophical debates about economic and social policy. the truth is, the French are facing the same problem that has afflicted any individual with poor budgeting skills - they're broke. it's that simple. pretending that there's really heaps of capital, it's just that the state needs to be more efficient, is a reflection of their being in denial.
 
delbified said:
as i understand it, the current economic crisis has been brewing for a long time as many western economies have maxed out the credit card to fund state provided social benefits.
Widespread credit card use began in the US in the 70's. It was a way for the capitalists to maintain mean wagers down (which, considering inflation and all the rest, have not grown really since then), while allowing workers to still consume which is absolutely necessary in the capitalist economic system. Then the same lending institutions were able to collect interest on workers debt from money that they, the workers, weren't getting in their pay checks; and then invest those profits on new loans to workers to profit on top of. Nice system!

Before they realized what had happend, workers in the US were becoming increasingly in debt, a situation in which, for the first time in history, wealth and material gains, had no bearing on real earnings. It was thus a kind of virtual wealth maintained by the hegmony of the dollar, though in the end is destined to cause serious problems.

From what I know in Europe, or rather more specifically Italy, credit card use only became fashionable in the 90's, and still today not on the scale of America. Italians are suspect and fear living with debt oppression.

Though how this ties into this discussion with France, I honestly have no idea at the momment.
 

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