Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

France burns

Could someone explain what the hell is going on in France? I stop watching the news for a few days (figured I could do with a short break) and return to discover that France is being burnt down. It's all very strange.

One theory I've heard is that the recent deaths by electrocution of two Moslem teenagers from a socially deprived background have been like a spark to a pre-existing powderkeg of seething resentment and social alienation. Some people believe the police are responsible for the tragic deaths, and emotions that had been steadily building over a long period have finally erupted.

The response from the government has been draconian (instigating curfews and rounding up hundreds of people each night), insensitive and massively divisive (comments from the Interior Minister seemed to imply that anyone who sympathised with the stated reasons for the violence... even if not condoning the violence itself... were apologists for, and no better than, thugs and extremists). This has provoked an escalation in the violence.

Another theory is that the terrible deaths of the teenagers was the last thing the police wanted. Yes, they were pursuing the kids in response to an alleged crime. But the decision by the teenagers to hide in an electricity substation was completely outside the control of the police and had nothing to do with race, religion or social class. A tiny minority within the poorer communities... agitators, thugs and perhaps something even more sinister... have leapt upon this terrible accident and are ruthlessly exploiting it to forward an extremist agenda.

The deaths of those teenagers wasn't part of some great social exclusionary principle, but just plain bad luck. And while there's no question that inequity within society and racial and religious tension all need to be urgently addressed, the rioters are deliberately exacerbating the situation and dragging France further away from any kind of solution, not towards one.

Both of those theories (rough, ready and incomplete though they are) can adequately explain the events in France during the past two weeks. But neither of them really satisfy me. I think there's something going on that's being missed or ignored in the media.

My theory (also known as "The Truth") is that French automobile manufacturers and importers are secretly distributing flyers in the poorer parts of France promising a "bounty" on each car torched. In an era when high oil prices are making car ownership more expensive, people are far more likely to delay replacing their cars. A high oil price might mean record profits for oil companies, but it hits the automakers hard.

And of course, in these times of social inequity and increasing economic hardship within some French communities, there will always be a ready supply of unemployed young men who see no future. And they can be easily recruited as agents of the car industry to artificially raise demand for their product.

Think about it.

6 Comments:

Blogger Oscar Wildebeest said...

I reckon the CIA are involved, myself. What was it Condoleezza Rice said about the Iraq War? "Forgive Russia, ignore Germany, punish France."

She's practically incriminated herself.

8/11/05 21:52  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

Hmmm... I'm not so sure Oscar. If the CIA was involved I feel certain that Dick Cheney would have leaked the identities of the field agents by now.

9/11/05 21:54  
Anonymous MattAG said...

That is an oddly compelling argument as there does seem to be a disproportionate targeting of cars on the part of the dispossessed youth. You would think from the angle that the media is spinning that burning down the town halls or indeed attacking the other symbols of inequity would have featured in their actions. Typically rioting focuses on the hands of injustice i.e. the police. It really doesn’t make any sense why France should be any different.

10/11/05 18:49  
Blogger L said...

apparently they've detained over a hundred foreign rioters who have been involved....

11/11/05 06:05  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

The thing is, Matt; cars are extremely easy to get into the middle of a road and set alight. Just three cars can create a totally impassible barricade of burning twisted metal. It's really no surprise that widespread riots result in a huge number of cars being destroyed.

I'm just a little bemused by the the fact that the media seemed - for a few days - to be reporting nothing about the riots except the number of cars burnt. I find the headline "1,200 cars destroyed in night of violence" quite ludicrous when the headline could read "1 dead and 112 injured in night of violence".

L: apparently they've detained over a hundred foreign rioters who have been involved....

Bloody foreigners! You just can't trust them. Lock 'em all up I say!

11/11/05 11:59  
Blogger 01-811-8055 said...

I have a theory that the arsonists are actually taxi drivers drumming up new business.

11/11/05 16:52  

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