Swans Commentary » swans.com December 19, 2011  



Perspectives: A Review of 2011


France 2011


by Marie Rennard



Pic: "Nationalist Cleansing" - Size: 11k
Nationalist Cleansing



(Swans - December 19, 2011)   One more year... yearning for the next one, 2012.

2012 will be, in France, a year of presidential elections. A chance, at last, to get rid of Sarkozy and an image of France the French no longer recognize as theirs. The fundamental values of our republic -- Liberty, Equality, Fraternity -- have been trampled on over these last years like never before, ever since the government of Pierre Laval in the early 1940s.

Let's take a few examples.

Liberty: The press first. According to "Reporters sans frontières," France has known from 2007 to 2010 an unprecedented decrease of the liberty of journalists, and is now ranking 44th, far behind other European countries (except Italy). More and more concentration of the media in the same hands, more and more cases of journalists convoked by courts, more and more despise from the politicians and the president himself towards journalists.

The individual liberties are shrinking too, with the adoption of new laws, like the one condemning the "insult to the national flag," or forbidding women to wear the burqa. With as a consequence, this case of an artist convoked to court because he had worn, during a show, a tricolor burqa.

Whether one is opposed to this last law or not, a problem remains. This special text is restricting the liberties of one special ethnic group, the Muslims, who have been over the last decades the scapegoat of our country. When, a couple of months ago, the building of the satiric paper Charlie Hebdo was set on fire in retaliation for the publication of caricatures of Mahomet, our minister of interior, Claude Guéant, made a clear distinction between Muslim and Catholic integrists. "Catholic integrists don't set fire," he said. At the same time, Catholic integrists were throwing waste oil at the spectators of a theater play (about the concept of the face of god's son -- Castelluci), and in 1988, Catholic integrists had set fire to a cinema proposing la dernière tentation du christ (Scorsese).

Equality: Whereas an increasing majority of people struggle to keep their heads above water, the more fortunate benefit from an imposition rate inferior to 1% of their income, whereas it ranks from 5.5 to 41% for others, depending on how much money they make. More and more divorced women live alone with their children on very low salaries (if they have a salary at all), in a misery nobody cares about. Other categories of people are extremely weakened. Many students properly starve, and a considerable amount of them has no other solution to finance their studies than prostitution, and the streets are filled with old women in their seventies or more, forced to beg to eat. They are usually widows who worked all their lives in small enterprises with their husbands, but are left moneyless because they are not eligible for retirement pensions. The situation of the majority of old people is declining too; one million of them live under the poverty line.

Fraternity: This is what is left for us to share -- brotherhood and sisterhood. With the freedom to vote, so long as we have it, a hope to change things and the liberty to laugh out loudly at the notation agencies who, in spite of their repeated failures, pretend to rule our world, if there is still a rule in the world beside the financial markets. Better laugh than cry...

This was 2011 in France. We can only look up to the New Year and beg that Sarkoland will become a bad memory.


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Published December 19, 2011