Paris is Burning

As I predicted two years ago, in Demographics and the Dustbin of History, Paris is burning. The banlieu riots are so out of control that the French have declared a national state of emergency.

Pardon while I quote myself:

[L]arge, angry, totally unassimilated immigrant populations that are reproducing faster than the natives. This is an especially severe problem in France, where housing developments in the ring zones around all the major cities have become places the police dare not go without heavy weapons…

The legions of rootless, causeless, unemployed and angry young men among Muslim immigrants may in fact actually be on their way to reifying the worst nightmares of native-European racists.

One way or another, the cozy Euro-socialist welfare state is doomed by the demographic collapse. Best case: it will grind to a shambolic halt as the ratio of worker bees to drones goes below critical. Worst case: it will blow itself apart in a welter of sectarian, ethnic, and class violence.

That welter of sectarian, ethnic, and class violence has begun. Not just in France, but in Denmark; and it will spread, because the underlying structural problems of the Euro-socialist welfare state are by no means unique to France. Germany, when it blows up (and I mean ‘when’, not ‘if’), is likely to do so in a bigger and uglier way. Watch what happens when the demogogues on both sides start mobilizing ex-East-German proles and Turkish gastarbeiters against each other. I’d say a resurgence of neo-Naziism among the former is more likely than not, well matched by a rise in Islamofascism among the latter.

Remember the field day Eurosocialists and their wannabes on the American left had over reports of riots and large-scale lawlessness in New Orleans? Remember all that lecturing and barely-disguised gloating? Hey there — those reports turned out to be frauds ginned up by our media; it turns out there wasn’t in fact anybody shooting at helicopters or raping people in the Superdome or practicing cannibalism. Too bad for you than France’s suburbs are having a real collapse into civil disorder that no amount of media spin can undo.

The riots in France are all the more telling precisely because they are not fundamentally about jihad (or not yet anyway; I expect the Islamofascists to successfully change their complexion soon). They are an entirely predictable consequence of the fact that the economics of socialism are not sustainable — a consequence I did in fact predict, in so many words. The economic and cultural isolation of the banlieus follows as the night the day from the French choice of a dirigiste, slow-growth, redistributionist, and ultimately stagnant system that has no place for the beurs other than as welfare clients.

One of the more…persistent…among my commenters wrote that he was expecting “fulsome schadenfereude” from me over this. So let’s get that out of the way: yes, after years of listening to snotty Europeans drone on about the superiority of their milk-and-water collectivism over the violent cowboy/capitalist American system, part of me is indeed tempted to enjoy watching all those pretensions go down in flames. The doom your folly has earned is upon you now.

But I’m only part-tempted, because what we’re seeing is a genuine tragedy. Europe, before its elites took the Marxist poison, was the cradle of the West. The best possible outcome for it now is to degenerate into an ugly collection of nativist, racist police states run by shrinking minorities of ever-more-fearful whites. The worst outcomes begin with Islamofascists successfully seizing political power and getting control of nuclear weapons.

Even in the best case there will be consequences for the U.S., of course. Our birth and immigration rates lock in growth until at least 2050, that is if we don’t tax and regulate ourselves into Euro-style stagnation (a real possibility, alas). But the European civil wars that are beginning now will surely spill over onto us, if only in the form of waves of refugees.


  1. I think you’re a bit overrating the whole situation..
    I mean, it’s really not as bad as the media show it is. :)
    Just a bunch of northern african young people that are bored and are now burning some cars (while mumbling some excuses the media fed them). It’ll end, and all in all it’ll just be a small gain in territory for the elections of fascist parties.
    But you’re right though! They are an entirely predictable consequence of the fact that the economics of socialism are not sustainable.

  2. Don’t kid yourself, Eric. European seigneurialism and Murkan seigneurialism are of a piece, hence my “Jacques Corneille” (Jim Crow) appellation of the French phenomenon. The cowboy/capitalist, one-dollar-one-vote system of America is simply an extension or displacement of the mercantilism as practiced by the British nobility we tried to escape. It’s even woven in our language: we call the Kennedy estate “Camelot” for this reason.

  3. To use a famous misquote: “What’s this ‘we’ sh*t, Jeff?”

    I’d always understood that the Kennedy time in power was referred to as Camelot to reflect its idealistic view that it represented a (quite mythical) golden age in American political history, when the country was ruled by a good and just king who would bring us out of the Dark Ages. The Left is quite subject to this particular fallacy.

    Meanwhile, the response of the American Left to the happenings in France is to deny that Paris is burning at all, and to complain that, if it is, it’s because the current right-wing French government (yes, they claim this with a straight face) hasn’t transferred enough wealth to its immigrant population, which should be corrected immediately with new, massive throwing of money at the disadvantaged in hopes that they will accept the largesse that is their rightful due and calm down.

  4. Fortunately, “only” one person has been killed during those riots in France. The primary damages have been on easy-to-target parked vehicles (around 7000 of them). It looks like most of the rioters were young and poor people with lots of unused free time and that they did it “for fun” (let’s not deny it, fires are beautiful things to look at). It was not a “revolution” or something like that: almost every fires were set on those people neighbours property (cars) or on their own schools, stores and sports halls.

    Compare this to the Los Angeles riots in 1992, where 50 to 60 lives have been lost in a much shorter time and more than 1000 buildings have been set on fire. Sure, burning cars in France were impressive on TV, but the level of violence has nothing to do with the 1992 events in California.

    So in spite of what has been written in US media, Paris is not burning (yet? Let’s wait for this three days week-end starting today). The UK news coverage has been much more balanced as far as I can tell.

  5. I think you made my point that Americans are fond of seigneurialism, and that being a lefty doesn’t change matters in that regard.

  6. The best possible outcome is that the French government cracks down on the rioters using the means and a new dynamic emerges whereby the North African immigrants realize that they need to integrate into French society to a certain degree (and Sarkozy is elected president). If these riots are what it takes to accomplish that, then they’re on balance a good thing.

  7. Hm… “The doom *your* folly has earned is upon you now.” (emphasis mine)

    So was that just a totally misrepresented Love-In in Los Angeles in 1992?

  8. After reading your comments on the Suicidalism post, I now realize that you’re some sort of anti-capitalist, extreme socialist kook that sees racists under every bed and racism behind every setback. As such, arguing with you is akin to arguing in favor of the Second Amendment to Sarah Brady. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have even bothered to point out your severe misunderstanding of the term “Camelot” as pertains to the Kennedys. (Personally, speaking as a conservative who very much believes that capitalism is the best chance anyone has for happiness, I abhor the term; I believe it conjures up an image of a happy time that, like what it’s being applied to, never existed in the first place.)

  9. To the author of “Paris is Burning”:

    This is the first time I read one of your articles on politics. Please, tell me it was not E.S.R., maintainer of the Jargon File, who wrote this article!
    As someone interested in politics – and if I may say so, not naive in this field of every day life – I must say that this article is neither useful nor worth being read, unless someone is interested in the author’s (very) personal dogma (on various topics), since it does not bear any substantial information about the things going on.
    However, there is one point about this article, why I am content having read it: This article shows that it is not important how competent you are in one subject, it is always possible to make a fool of yourself acting carelessly on unknown territory.

    If you are E.S.R., please abstain from acting foolishly. We do have to many people on this planet judging things they do not understand!
    As a word has it, the author of which I forgot: Wise men do have foolish thoughts too. However, they do not speak them out loud.
    I hope the point is clear, and it is not insult, it is advice.

    Uphold your reputation, you can lose it once only! Thank You for Your attention.

    P.s.: I apologize for my bad spelling, for I am not a native-speaker.

  10. When Peak Oil brings the equivalent of the banlieue riots — and worse! — to our shores, due to a massive energy shortage and the pernicious tendency of the rich to hog resources, you may not be so quick to write us “anti-capitalist, extreme socialist kooks” off :)

    I was like you, once, actually, but careful reading of the arguments presented by knowledgeable folks like Mr. Nulan, Mr. Hanson and Mr. Wayburn caused me to lose faith in the one-dollar-one-vote “free market” to provide for the needs of six billion humans when times get lean (and they’re fixin’ to get real REAL lean!). And then I could no longer believe the lies that underpin capitalist Murkan “democratic” society.

    As for racism, it took 90 years and a bloody war to eliminate slavery, which was abolished in the British Empire with a single judge’s ruling shortly after this nation was established. The reason is because in the colonies and later in the U.S., slavery was intimately tied with our *economic* well-being, ever since Bacon’s Rebellion when the status of white servants was raised and that of black servants, lowered. Lincoln’s stated reason for fighting the Civil War was that without the South, there would not be enough money to support the Union. Since that war we have continued to find ways to justify forcible extraction of black labor (the most recent being the prison-industrial complex and War on Drugs), and the Fourteenth Amendment has been used more often to bestow rights on corporations than on blacks. Which again kind of hammers home my point about one-dollar-one-vote seigneurialism.

    Capitalism has afforded thee and me succor that in some ways would make the kings of old envious, so in some respects I hope I’m wrong and you’re right. But I haven’t found any evidence of KGB psyops in this reading of American history and governance, and I’m enough of a realist not to expect those hopes to come to pass.

  11. Ah, but when one reasons from incorrect premises, one reaches invalid conclusions. Start with the “one dollar, one vote” crap, and you’re bound to reach an invalid conclusion.

    Don’t forget that, unlike France, we have the right to defend ourselves with firearms, and the riots here will be of very short duration. One need look no farther than LA to see that.

  12. I am in fact writing this from France – the south of France to be exact – from Sophia Antipolis which is a kind of french version of Silicon Valley. I will allow you your temporary gloating as it is somewhat understandable but I must take issue with your dire predictions on the demise of white christian civilisation and culture in Europe. Anyone who thinks that the Islamist have any kind of chance of changing the course of European history should take a refresher coursre in European history. The peaceful fundamentally pacifist civilised Europe that exists today is but a temporary blip on a history soaked with blood – the world has seen no worse than the Europeans when it comes to kiling and genocide against others and amongst themselves. If shaken suficiently and if required the Europeans can change in a heartbeat into their former selves and it is this much more than any jihad threat that the world should fear .

  13. Don’t tell me this famous example never occurred to you:

    “The Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in the United States in an effort to make the circumvention of DRM systems illegal. It was passed without debate, and without even token opposition, Congress being lobbied by the content industries and apparently under the impression that it was a “technical” enactment, without significant public policy implication.”

  14. “Just a bunch of northern african young people that are bored and are now burning some cars (while mumbling some excuses the media fed them). ”

    Steven Andries – Last I heard, it was over 50,000 cars! I don’t know if you can overstate that.

    I didn’t see any of this coming but I don’t live in France. When all the rioting started, my first question was, how long have the French been oblivious to the possibility of this smoldering powder keg exploding?

  15. Jay,

    Neither you nor ESR nor any of the other free-market proponents ’round these parts have ever really held forth on the looming ecological and energetic crisis we face today beyond an enduring if seemingly misguided faith that the Invisible Hand Will Make Everything Better. If you have a capitalistic, free-market-based idea of how to resolve the “peak oil” (really a “peak energy”) crisis and ensure the potential for a high, sustainable quality of life for all, then I’d be inclined to hear about it, and to lend you more support.

    Invading more islamic countries to secure their reserves doesn’t count. And it would help if you took adrian’s admonition to heart and expressed your plan in terms of what’s feasible today rather than appealing to science fiction.

  16. I’m in full agreement with the original post. These riots are a symptom – or, if you prefer, an end result – of unsustainable economic practices.

  17. We didn’t invade Iraq to secure its oil. If we did, we wouldn’t have had the big surge in prices after Katrina. More incorrect premises, along with the whole idea that we’re facing any sort of an ecological crisis – itself a form of economic suicidalism.

    Wikipedia isn’t an authoritative source for anything, since it can be edited by anyone, anonymously.

  18. “I thought Steven Andries was being sarcastic at first… :)”

    Jeff – It’s just so hard to tell these days. But yes, I can be pretty dense sometimes. (DOIIIIEE!!)


    NY Times article — retina scan required, etc.

    “Just look at the newspaper photographs: the young men wear the same hooded sweatshirts, listen to similar music and use slang in the same way as their counterparts in Los Angeles or Washington. (It is no accident that in French-dubbed versions of Hollywood films, African-American characters usually speak with the accent heard in the Paris banlieues).

    They have believed in the French model (individual integration through citizenship) but feel cheated because of their social and economic exclusion. Hence they destroy what they see as the tools of failed social promotion: schools, social welfare offices, gymnasiums. Disappointment leads to nihilism. For many, fighting the police is some sort of a game, and a rite of passage.”

    What did I tell you? Jacques Corneille, leading to the rise of a gangsta culture, just as it has here. It’s the same old pattern, the same old song and dance (turn about and wheel about and do jes’ so), so the idea that this is somehow connected uniquely to French socialism is a canard.

  20. From Chris “Last I heard, it was over 50,000 cars! I don’t know if you can overstate that.”

    Euh … no. you added a zero here … it’s over 5000 cars.
    You can follow the count here:

    Craig said “These riots are a symptom – or, if you prefer, an end result – of unsustainable economic practices.”

    Hum … I’m not sure. I think one of the key problem with north africans came from our past colonisation. Colonisations were a huge mistake and we’re still paying for it, that’s why we tried to warn you about the long term consequences of your move over Irak for oil.

    Concerning the “unsustainable economic practices” even if I’m encline for a Britsh UK style economy I still think most economic models will strongly decline in the future (automation of tasks will provide less jobs than it creates, more and more and more retired people, etc…). I recommand the book “the future of money” from Bernard Lietaer to have clues:

    Greetings from France :)

  21. Jeff, your “racial seigneuralism” riff is tired nonsense. And will remain so until the day the French have North African Moslems as secretary of state, national security advisor, and justice on the supreme court. (Under a European government, not shari’a law.)

  22. Eric, would you be willing to predict when you expect things to blow up in Europe. Last I heard, curfews (a very modest level of force) are settling things down in France.

  23. Jeff –
    re “Peak Oil”

    This argument is getting a lot of play right now.

    It belongs to a class of memes that ought to be studied carefully in universities: ideas whose political currency is brought about by the confluence of multiple, fundamentally un-relatable events with a catchy, one- or two-word name. Usually these ideas are addressed in Proper Noun Tones by their partisans, who are happy to have self-explanatory support to prop up their preconceived notions about the world.

    1968 – “The Population Bomb is coming” – (Politically Disillusioned Baby Boomers)
    1999 – “The Milennium Bug is coming” – (Anti-technological numerologists)
    200n – “Peak Oil is coming” – (Anti-technological environmentalists)

    Anyone who isn’t interested in shouting about (or cowering in front of) the Whore Of Babylon and the Seven-Headed Dragon would do well to remember a few simple facts:

    1. New York City’s major environmental challenge in the 1890s concerned the disposal of horse manure
    2. Revolutionary new technologies are necessarily inconceivable today
    3. You can extract fissile Uranium and Plutonium-precursors from really common materials like dirt and seawater.

  24. One of the more…persistent…among my commenters

    So *I’m* the nutjob now? Persistently ignored is more like it. It’s not like I wouldn’t stop if I were to be soundly refuted with arguments of substance. Hint, hint.

    wrote that he was expecting “fulsome schadenfereude” from me over this. So let’s get that out of the way: yes, after years of listening to snotty Europeans drone on about the superiority of their milk-and-water collectivism over the violent cowboy/capitalist American system, part of me is indeed tempted to enjoy watching all those pretensions go down in flames.

    Like this outweighs the imperial hubris of the Greater Middle Eastern Co-Prosperity Sphere? I don’t think so.

    The doom your folly has earned is upon you now.

    It’s only *France* fercrissakes. Everybody else in Europe finds their pretensions annoying as well, and moreover they seem to be getting on top of it now. A couple of desultory copycat attempts elsewhere do not a continent-wide dissolution into anarchy make.

  25. Mr. Raymond sir I’m not sure if you’ve heard of Rev. Donald Sensing’s series of posts entitled “The Forever Jihad” but I’m taking a wild guess here that you might enjoy reading the latest entry since it is written in the context of the Paris riots… I could be wrong though and apologies beforehand if I am.

  26. Jeff: I only wish it were true that we had a one-dollar one-vote system! Unfortunately, once a politician is bought, he stays bought. In the marketplace, if you run out of dollars, you have no influence. The reason you don’t like the marketplace as a system for running the country is because the marketplace responds too strongly to the decidedly low-brow desires of the lower classes. You prefer a society run by voters; typically wealthier than the average citizen.

  27. Has anyone considered that perhaps certain belief systems or ways of living, be they religious or cultural, are simply not conducive to success and civilisation and that rather than celebrating such “diversity”, we should laugh at these backward, primitive clowns who subscribe to such a medieval world view?

    The last I heard, Jews, Chinese or Indians didn’t whine about how disaffected they were or what a raw deal someone was or wasn’t giving them. They, in general, move to a place, study and work hard and within one generation are often in much better positions in all respects than the locals. Furthermore, they maintain their cultural heritage whilst successfully integrating into the broader culture. What a novel concept!

  28. “These riots are a symptom – or, if you prefer, an end result – of unsustainable economic practices”

    If these practices are unsustainable, then only because certain people make them to be unsustainable and _want_ them to be unsustainable – those people that get much more than their fair share of the world’s wealth. And they always want more and will blackmail us for more (i. e. less taxes, lower wages).

    The ideal way to go would be to tax them worldwide with the same progressive tax rate and no means to evade taxes. But because of the “prisoner’s dilemma”, that is very hard to achive.

    The pragmatic solution might be to cut down on social expenses – but politicans advocating this should clearly say:
    “sorry we can’t afford that today, even if the world is richer than ever, but we have to give in to the rich racketeers and lower our social standards so they get even richer – otherwise they will make it even worse for us.”

  29. “Fortunately, ‘only’ one person has been killed during those riots in France. The primary damages have been on easy-to-target parked vehicles (around 7000 of them).” There’s been some serious, although non-fatal, violence also, such as setting a handicapped woman on fire. IMHO, that’s morally as bad as murder.

    But when you are talking about “mere” property crimes, remember one thing first of all: poverty kills. That is demonstrated every day in Africa, as people die of AIDS that could have been delayed by thousands of dollars worth of drugs, or prevented by a few cents worth of rubber. It was demonstrated in France itself a few years ago, when about 15,000 elderly French people died in a heat wave, who could have been saved merely by air conditioning. Seven thousand cars burned is a lot of wealth going up in smoke. That’s 7,000 families that won’t be able to afford an air conditioner for Grandma in the next heat wave – or if insurance spreads the loss out, it might be hundreds of thousands of air conditioners lost…

  30. European civil wars, you say? Quite unlikely, since here in Europe the masses don’t have access to firearms. They can burn cars, but that’s all. On the other hand, the “security forces” they’ve got all sort of military-level killing machinery. Quite an unbalanced state of affairs, isn’t it?

  31. You really ought to talk to somebody actually in France. Everyone I’ve heard from who lives in Paris say they actually see nothing in the streets. It appears the violence is mostly in the suburbs (which unlike US suburbs are the lower class areas).

  32. Jeff Read – I urge you to discover a bit of chemistry history. Germany, being very poor in oil resources but with lots of coal, discovered how to convert coal to diesel duirng WW I. We still know the formula and can instantly end foreign oil shipments to the US by using Fischer-Tropsch conversion plants in Wyoming and Montana to gain instant energy independence @$32 a barrel. If peak oil ever happens (and we’ll know when it does), we’ll have an enormous price spike, huge conservation drives, and massive construction of tar sand plants and coal conversion plants to switch over. The tar sand development is actually cheaper @$11 per barrel but requires large amounts of water in the conversion process so it scales badly. Fischer-Tropsch scales quite nicely.

    If the worst peak oil scenarios happen, it’ll be two years of nastiness and energy reserve drawdowns from strategic reserves the world over and then new supplies will come online and we’ll adjust to $32 a barrel diesel and smile at the price. If more moderate peak oil scenarios occur, the price spike will either be milder, of shorter duration, or both. In any reasonable scenario, we have a plan B that gets us past the crisis.

    Frenchy – I do not despair over the loss of jobs. The human appetite has infinite needs, wants, desires, and whims. As the more basic ones are satisfied, new jobs will be created to satisfy those new desires. Many of these jobs will be as incomprehensible to us as a network administrator would be to a farmer a century ago.

    adrian10 – The Denmark riots were started over a series of cartoons (depicting Mohammad). What EU nation is so servile, so craven, so absent in cultural adventurism that they have no Theo Van Goghs or avant guarde cartoonists? The riots will flare up elsewhere, though I think that you are right that different nations with different laws will have different results.

    Der Weltraumpapst – You have laid down the logical foundations for a system of exit visas to eliminate the phenomenon of “voting with your feet”. The US has massive capital inflows in large part because people think that their money is safe here and that we offer a competitive rate on return. When that stops being true, the money will flow right out. The US attracts creative and productive people based on the same principles. They too can leave (and sometimes do for their own reasons).

    Would you feel comfortable with an exit visa system? If not, how would you ever actually put your ideas into practice?

  33. That there would be underclass riots in France was predictable. That France and Europe are doomed to fall to fascism is a bit more of a stretch. There is nothing going on there that’s particularly worse or more frightening than the United States was undergoing in the period from about 1965 to about 1982.

    The biggest item of data I think you’re missing, Eric, is the in-depth analysis that political scientists have done on the study of democracy, particularly liberal democracy as we know it. It is inherently far more stable than any other system of government once the median income rises above a certain point–and it’s not all that high a point. The problem they’re facing in France is mostly economic, and the fix is well in sight: enough young people who hate the system and recognize its limitations will demand change. For now it’s through incoherent violence, but soon enough it’ll be turned to the ballot box–and free people allowed free elections generally do not vote in fascism (it is a myth–a complete one–that Hitler was elected by the way, but even if he were the median income in Germany was likely a good bit lower than that of the kids rioting in France today).

    Most of the demographic trends suggest that by 2050, France will be 30% muslim or so. But by then they’ll likely have sorted out what works from what doesn’t economically, and being a muslim there will be about like being a Catholic here in America today: not much.

    The socialists will be disappointed that their dreams of the Marxist utopia won’t come to pass. The hard-core libertarians will be angry to realize that some market regulation and safety nets are useful after all.

    The “Peak Oil” crowd will be the most disappointed of all though. Their wet dreams of a horrible cataclysm will be dashed when the combined forces of democratic action and the market produce alternatives, most of which are available and abundant right now–they’re just more expensive than petroleum. Some a lot, some by only a whisker.

    Let’s see, turn all our electric generation over to breeder reactors, rely more heavily on coal for a few years in the meantime, get biofuels ramped up… yes, even if the dire “peak oil” fanatics have their way, it just means we’ll be on alternative sources sooner rather than later, with a few short term dislocations in the meantime.

    Have no fear for France, or Europe. Most of them are starting to realize the same lessons the U.S. learned in the 1980s, and are beginning to make noises about adapting. The more crazy things get, the sooner they will. Because despite what the doomsayers think, free market democracy works. It’s often messy and often seems like it can’t possibly work it’s so crazy and takes such frustrating directions sometimes–just like open source software.

  34. Dean, you’re assuming that the French system has as much flexibility as the U.S.’s did. It doesn’t; they’ve chosen a rigid, dirigiste model that can’t adapt without collapse. You also appear to be ignoring the long-term demographic-collapse problem France has, which the U.S. did not and does not. You should read the Zinsmeister article I cited.

    I’d like to be as optimistic as you are, but I have a disadvantage; I’ve lived in continental Europe. I understand the cultural-political pattern they’ve trapped themselves in by experience. It’s going to get horribly, horribly ugly over there before it gets better, if it ever does.

  35. Eric,

    Last information I had says Murkans aren’t breeding at replacement levels. What population growth we do have comes from immigration — much of it illegal immigration. Which has its own dire implications for this society, not even considering how easy it would be for brown-skinned Arabic terrorists to disguise themselves as brown-skinned Mexican border-runners.

  36. Let’s not forget that if it weren’t for the U.S. assuming the cost of Europe’s defense for decades, those socialist systems would already be in shambles. Having a few good friends in London and Copenhagen I’ve seen the building resentments between the natives and the immigrants. These friends of mine harbor a growing resentment toward immigrants due to debilitating taxes and “fees” imposed on them which are used to coddle non-productive immigrants who constantly denounce the systems of their adopted nations. It is obvious what this situation becomes when taken to it’s conclusion.

    Given abundant recorded history, only a person ignorant of that history and of human nature would support socialism. It’s becomming clear that European socialism has enabled the mechanisms of their own demise.

  37. esr,

    Being a person who respects our right “to keep and bear arms” I am interested in your opinion of San Francisco’s recent gun ban. From what I understand, not only are handgun sales banned but those who own them and keep them in the home must turn them in. Why can’t the anti-gun crowd see the correlation between gun-bans and increased violent crime? Are criminals, who by definition do not respect and obey laws, going to suddenly abide gun confiscation laws? Is this logical? What say you?

  38. > markm Says:
    > …poverty kills…
    > That’s 7,000 families that won’t be able to afford an air conditioner for Grandma in
    > the next heat wave – or if insurance spreads the loss out, it might be hundreds of
    > thousands of air conditioners lost…

    I believe I (and, I think, ESR also) have concluded that poverty only kills when the economy is shit… i.e. it’s not a healthy free market.

    It’s a bit hard to think about and explain.

    In a healthy free market, time is money, pure and simple. If you’ve got time, that time will be valuable to somebody even if you aren’t very skilled. Somebody will at least want you to mop their floors. Since you won’t work if you’re dead, you’ll be paid enough for you to survive on because the employers will want the work to get done rather than have dirty floors.

    My idea essentially is that the free market will find a “survival equilibrium” in response to the fact that workers won’t work without it. In a healthy economy nobody should ever starve to death.

    I’m interested in what markm and esr and everybody here thinks about survival equilibrium.

    NOTE: there should be a theoretical point where survival equilbrium breaks down, where there simply isn’t enough food to possibly sustain the existing population. But in a modern economy, food can be mass-produced for almost free, so this won’t happen until we stop expanding and fill all the available space completely — standing room only. It’ll take the human race billions of years to expand thru the visible universe, so we don’t have to worry about this for awhile, in general.

  39. Dear Eric,

    I think it is Islam and too-tolerant Liberalism, and other social factors to blame, not the economic factors of Eurosocialism: the missing jobs in Europe are exactly same jobs that have moved to China by the so-called “free markets”.

    I don’t understand Libertarianism: why would theoretical “free markets” and globalism be more useful than the pracical benefit gained from a proctective, mercantilist, outsourcing-forbidding nationalist economy? If protecting national interests is OK in politics, then why not in economy? Just take the example of Singapore and many other Eastern states.

  40. So the riots are owing to the “underlying structural problems of the Euro-socialist welfare state”.

    that must be true if there’s both “underlying” and “structural” in the sentence. :-)

    To borrow a phrase, “up to point, Lord Cooper”.

    Yes, I think it is a factor. No, I don’t think it is a complete explanation.

    One could, for example, also point to the liberal belief, dominant in Europe, that “culture” does not matter and has been superseded by abstract doctrine (e.g., natural rights or human rights or Millian utilitarianism or whatever). It would have been reasonable to believe such things in the 18th (maybe even 19th) century; but for a very long time – and even if one puts the theoretical dificulties aside – that has looked like a very silly belief.

    I recall an essay I read some ten years or more ago. The writer suggested that Hegel had believed that “moral life only flourishes where individual identities are constituted by their imbededness in a homogeneous moral community”. The writer, a well-known academic in political philosophy of a liberal persuasion, went on to say that conservative thought should, indeed, have taught us that individuals are actually “social artifacts” but that the consequences that Hegel believed to flow from that do not do so. Such a Hegelian “moral community”, he suggested, is no longer possible even if it were desirable. He cited the liberal-conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott, and suggested that a cultural propensity to respect _lex_ (the rule of law) is all that is necessary.

    Two comments:

    (1) that cultural propensity is not necessarily widely spread;

    (2) Oakeshott may be wrong and Hegel right and what then?

    What then is this: France, and much of the rest of Europe, will have brought a heap of pain on its head by assuming that culture doesn’t matter much, and that you can simply encourage mass immigration and assume that there will be no great difficulty in the assimilation of immigrants even where their lifeways are totally different from those obtaining in the host country.

  41. Dear Damian,

    I would not confuse the welfare state with cultura overliberalism – although the ruling Left preaches both, it is still not the same. While I agree that this kind “multicultural” liberalism is not working because people tend to stay with their kind and maintain enclaves, and if they inherit antisocial memes as is the case with the Islam meme with Arabs, then they will cause many trouble and ultimately should be exluded from the welfare state – as a Hungarian journalist half-jokingly stated, only a few turns of the De Gaulle carrier could ferry these people back to Africa – the welfare state itself is not a problem, only when it is mixed with irresponsible Liberalism.

    Welfare state does not have to be overliberal and irrespective of cultural differences – it is easy to imagine a welfare state that is actively protective of national interests and cultural heritage, one that is not afraid to discriminate. Some kind of “organic state” – although of course in much more humane and modern and secular way than the original “organic state” concept of Franco.

    To take a simple software example: tax hardware and give the money to Open Source projects.

    Welfare state CAN work if it uses taxation and redistribution as a way to motivate positive behaviour instead of trying to be “just”.

    Actually, it should not even be called a welfare state, but a kinda “developer state”: tax should be used not for welfare but for motivating innovation and general society-friendly behaviour.

  42. I seriously doubt that this round of riots will threaten the French government’s future existence. However, they are proof that the French don’t understand their poor Muslims any better than other countries.

    And if the French don’t understand their poor Muslims, they won’t adress their concerns. Those poor Muslims are healthy, young, willing to work, and many have proven they are willing to be violent and don’t consider themselves French at all. Where do you think that will lead?

  43. Johann Bauer wrote:

    > This is the first time I read one of your articles on
    > politics. Please, tell me it was not E.S.R., maintainer of
    > the Jargon File, who wrote this article!

    It sure was, and I’m sure he’s thought quite a bit about
    this stuff. The idea that someone like ESR can write
    something like this didn’t fit comfortably into your
    worldview. That could be because he’s a fool, judging
    things he doesn’t understand. Take a few minutes, though,
    to consider that the problem could be with your worldview.


  44. Paris riots coming to America. . . What is the plight of America’s black males? Consider this.

    I write the following because Tom Birdsong, Assistant Managing Editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on Wednesday, November 9, 2005, said, “No one is going to write about your family’s plight.” Thereafter, Mrs. Estelle B. Richman’s staff (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania‘s Secretary of Welfare) became very rude and indifferent to our emergency situation. In fact, Ms. Richman’s chief of staff, Linda Hicks no longer accepted our calls. Christian Bowser actually laughed about our situation. Inez Titus, became even more stubborn with her unlawful position. The Executive Director for Western Pennsylvania Department of Welfare, Tim Cornell (Mrs. Titus’ supervisor) has yet to return any of our calls.

    Nonetheless, a man was shot to death in a cinema lobby shootout after watching gangsta rapper 50 cent’s movie “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” prompting the Loews Cineplex at the Waterfront in West Homestead (just east of Pittsburgh) to stop showing the film. I was there with my family (common-law wife and three minor children). That is, although determined eligible, my family has again been denied the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (“LIHEAP”) federal entitlement for the fourth or fifth straight year. Without heat during the cold winter months a theater provides temporary shelter (allowing my family opportunity to give relatives “a break” from our nightly sleep-overs).

    What happened at the Waterfront? Shelton Flowers, 30, of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, was shot three times and died later at a local hospital. Flowers had just watched the movie and got into a confrontation with three men in the bathroom. A fight ensued and spilled out into the concessions area, where Flowers was shot. Immediately, Loews Cineplex pulled the movie as a precaution. The R-rated movie is based on Curtis “50-cent” Jackson’s own life which includes drug dealing, time in prison, and getting shot nine times. Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom, Inc., removed billboards for the movie near some inner-city schools after Los Angeles area community leaders complained last month.

    Wilkinsburg, just east of Pittsburgh, is a town that was once synonymous with white supremacy. It is a town that had a mere 502 black residents in 1950 when its population hit 31,000, and only 224 more black residents 10 years later. But, over the next few decades, almost like a prophecy, the black population rose to 90 percent. That is, just a little more than 200 years ago Andrew Levi Levy, Sr. named the town “Africa.”

    The borough grew from Levy’s land and other plots (such as the curiously named “Pious Purchase,” and others called Rippeyville, McNairsville and Sterrett Township). It was incorporated some 118 years ago and given the name Wilkinsburg after Judge William Wilkins, the Secretary of War under President John Tyler. Nonetheless, many of its current residents still believe Wilkinsburg is no different today than it was in the 1920’s when hooded knights of the Ku Klux Klan cavorted. They say whites still control the town with black “puppets” politicians.

    While other cities the size of Pittsburgh has seen a steady growth in gun crime, our gun violence trajectory appears to have exploded. Community activists, politicians and crime experts all have brainstorm strategies for stemming violence. The residents here had hoped for a comprehensive plan of action that would have addressed part of the root causes that lead our neighbors to take up guns. But, the answer given is more of the same. The local politicians have taken a page from the George W. Bush handbook (Madison Avenue to sell our reputation).

    We have our three rivers, a beautiful skyline, a romantic culture district, a few of the country’s best hospitals, excellent universities, and the like. But, there’s never anything mentioned about our blighted downtown business district, the high unemployment rate of black males, increased gun violence, and the growth of conservative republican complacency.

    It’s no secret any more that economic conditions for blacks in Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities is precarious. Black residents rank low compared to the national average of income, employment, and education. We have chronic problems of gang and drug violence, family breakdowns, soaring incarceration rates for young black males, and abysmally failing public schools. Wilkinsburg residents are, in fact, the best example of the 13 percent of the United States’ (black) population still living chained in by a Bush presidency, with our eyes riveted on the wall of the white media (Madison Avenue) in front of us, where we see nothing but shadows made by powerless leaders hiding behind us.

    We could debate endlessly the role of such squeamishness in concealing and exacerbating the problem with race relations in both Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania. We could also discuss the minor role played by gangsta rap music. But, what we should consider is how right-wing conservatives, such as Senator Rick Santorum, have convinced so many blacks that shadows from behind (self-indulgent grab for expensive cars, clothes and money of black republican conservatives living in our affluent North Hills neighborhoods) are reality.

    Many of the black residents of Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities believe a lot of the Madison Avenue nonsense. They believe things that are just not true. And, the Republicans gets their strength from this.

    The bottom line: The root cause of the shooting at the Loews Cineplex is the apparent political cleansing of true democrats from local politics. Gerrymandering and electoral manipulation (just plan “punk ass” democrats) have left the city with zones of endemic poverty, an absence of social services, crumbling infrastructure, and appalling schools. After the radicalized poverty of black America was laid bare in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina almost everyone expected some change from white America. But quickly the Bush administration and the Republican party have lapsed back into policies to further divide America.

    In the 1990’s white America built prisons to house the disproportionately black inmates it had planned to toss into jail (in the years that followed) to reassure the affluent majority it complacency with race issues. One of every eight black males between 25 and 29 years old is behind bars on any given day according to the Sentencing Project, a nonprofit group that seeks to reduce incarceration rates. If this rate continues, one of three black males born today will be imprisoned at some point in their lifetimes.

    A local daily “conservative right” newspaper, “The Pittsburgh Tribune Review” recently feature an article written by Walter Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University. In the article “Ammunition for Poverty Pimps” Mr. William suggested the Census Bureau’s 2004 current Population Survey found two segments of the black community. One segment suffers only 9.9 percent poverty rate and another suffers 39.5. He surmised that one would be a lunatic if they believed white people practice discrimination. He concluded, among other things, that the only distinction between the two segments was marriage. Adding, “If today’s black family structure were what it was in 1960, the overall black poverty rate would be in or near single digits.”

    I guess Mr. Williams failed to consider the proof that demonstrates blacks are denied opportunities in forms of employment, education and even human treatment. For example, on October 18, I borrowed a little more than $50 to buy a bus ticket to travel halfway across the state for an oral test given by the Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission. I was well dressed in a dark business suit and could have been easily mistaken as a black republican conservative. However, while on the elevator headed for the floor for the testing, a white woman asked me if I was allowed on the floor where the testing was being held. She suggested that because I was black, “I had no business on their elevator.” She ordered me off the elevator on a lower floor and said that she would have to call up stairs to let the staff know I was on my way.

    Soon thereafter she was advised that I was scheduled for an oral test on the floor I was trying to get to. But, she still refused to compromise. She announced that I wasn’t permitted to travel through their office without an escort. Interestingly, it was additionally odd that the State required a monitor to sit in with me during my testing.

    Nonetheless, getting back to the LIHEAP issue, the federal entitlement program provides waivers and reduced heating rates to low-income households. It is a federal program that assists those who cannot pay their bills. Eligible households can receive assistance through a direct payment to energy vendors that supply their fuel, or through a crisis component during weather-related emergencies. To be eligible for the program, household income cannot exceed 135 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines: $12,920 for a one-person household; $17,321 for two persons; $21,722 for three persons; $26,123 for four persons; $30,524 for five persons. For larger households, the guidelines increase by $4,401 for each additional person. Homeowners, renters (including those whose rent includes heat), roomers and subsidized housing tenants may be eligible.

    I have a good understanding of the program because I was previously employed by Allegheny County as a planner and wrote grant applications for the agency that implements the program. However, in 1989, I was fired in retaliation for organizing a union. The political sub-division said I was terminated for being tardy four times in a four-month period. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”)identified a white female working in the same office as having been tardy 71 times during the same time period and not disciplined. But, the PHRC ruled it was bad management and not discrimination.

    Ever since my termination the political-subdivision has found some way to retaliate against my household, i.e., always reaches from any available loophole to frustrate the process and deny my family the federal entitlement. In the past, I have complained to the State, federal government (FBI), courts and media to no avail.

    Consider this, when the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan passed through Western Pennsylvania in September 2004, the LIHEAP offered free water heaters and furnaces. Income restrictions were waived allowing the affluent to participate. My family was denied relief because the deed to our house is recorded in our minor son’s name. But, LIHEAP allows renters and other non-homeowners to participate.

    The current issue involves Duquense Light Company’s termination of our electric service immediately following the close of last year’s LIHEAP program (March 31, 2005). Although they already had $371 as a security deposit the utility company terminated service and demanded $866.01. And, despite the fact that we didn’t have any electrical service, the next month we received an unexplained bill for almost twice the amount actually due: $1,646.17. Because we are current living on “food stamps” we were forced to go without electric until the start of the 2005-2006 LIHEAP program.

    As a “food stamp” participant we received our LIHEAP application early and returned it weeks before the November 7 start. In fact, as we do each year, we contacted Mr. Cornell’s office to advise him of our situation (requested that he process our application to allow the electrical service to be restored on November 7 without a 72-hour wait). Mr. Cornell didn’t respond.

    Mrs. Titus, Mr. Cornell’s assistant did call on November 7, just before the closing (3:00 p.m.) of her office. She advised our application would be denied – “Duquense Light now demanded $2,600.” To memorialize the outrageous response I requested permission from Mrs. Titus to allow a “three-way” connection with the local media Channel 4). I called Channel 4 because I was given its “gold medal” for outstanding community service in 1989. However, during the three-way conversation Ms. Titus refused to acknowledge her previous position (Duquense Light demand of $2,600). She would only say our family was being denied the federal entitlement. Immediately, I voiced a complaint to Mr. Cornell’s secretary. She suggested that I call Harrisburg (Department of Welfare’s main office). She provided me the number.

    Precious Perry answered the Secretary of Welfare’s telephone. She transferred me to Ms. Richman’s chief of staff (Linda Hicks). Mrs. Hicks promised to have Christian Bowser call before five p.m.. But, it never happened. At 9:00 a.m. the next morning (November 8), I called Mr. Cornell’s office and left another message requesting a return call. I also called Mrs. Hicks again and questioned why Mrs. Bowser never called.

    This time, Mrs. Hicks promised to have Ms. Bowser call before 11 a.m.. Mrs. Hicks asked us to “call back if Mrs. Bowser failed to call.” It never happened.

    I did call Ms. Hicks at 12:00 noon but she rushed me off the phone. She gave me Mrs. Bowser’s telephone number and requested that I call her directly. I called the number but got Mrs. Bowser’s voice mail. I left a message explaining the situation. Mrs. Bowser never called back.

    On November 9, 2005, I called Mrs. Hicks again to advise Mrs. Bowser’ failure to call. But, Mrs. Hicks quickly rushed me off the phone again. She said that she would no longer address the issue. She said “communicate with Ms. Bowser from that point.”

    Thereafter, I called Mrs. Bowser’s and spoke with her secretary. I left another message. Even more frustrated now, I called the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I spoke with Mr. Tom Birdsong. I advised him of our situation and asked if he would investigate the issue in a “confidential” manner. He said that he would forward the information to Larry Walsh. I informed him that in the previous years I have communicated with Mr. Walsh but nothing was done. I even told Mr. Birdsong that I once connected a Post-Gazette columnist, Tony Norman, and allowed him to participated with a three-way telephone call (allowed him opportunity to monitor a call to prove how rude the LIHEAP program staff was acting). Mr. Birdsong said he would have Mr. Walsh call.

    At approximately 4:00 p.m., I was finally able to get Mrs. Bowser on the telephone. She laughed at our situation!

    After laughing, Mrs. Bowser would only reiterated Mrs. Titus position, “Duquense Light can demand funds that are not owed.” She added, “Mrs. Titus’ position is final.” She said she would have Mrs. Titus send us a rejection letter.

    Immediately, I called Mr. Birdsong. But, he became rude. The conversation concluded with Mr. Birdsong saying “No one is going to write about your family’s plight.”

    50 cents, during an interview on ABC’s “The View,” said he was saddened by the fatal shooting: “I feel for the victim’s family in this situation.” He added, “But you know, these weren’t kids. This was a 30-year-old man (who) had a dispute with three other guys.”

    I’m older than 30. But, what is rage? How come I’m able to control my anger? Would I have controlled my anger if one of my family members was hit by a stray bullet during the shootout?

  45. European civil war is the correct word for this understandable revolt! france is not africa or irak – this is the middle of europe and i don´t understand why nobody stops the chaos and destroy!

  46. Shenpen: Well, a libertarian would say there’s no legitimate thing known as national interest in politics because there’s no legitimate thing known as the state.

    Anyhow, onto the whole idea of free markets and globalism. The idea is that if people, ideas and money are free to move around then they’re free to find the most fertile and productive ground so to speak. It’s like social freedoms — when people have civil liberties they’re more likely to work harder and succeed. The more you hamper any of this movement, the more you set yourself up for a fall if something goes wrong in your domestic economy, but more importantly, the more you leave yourself open to competitors busily trading ideas, workers and resources to produce a better or more efficient product or service. In time, you’ll be so far behind in the race that you’ll be completely dominated by your competitors.

    History has shown that civilisation and the development of technology moved at the fastest pace in certain areas of the world due to such freedoms. It’s no co-incidence that populations well placed on trade routes and active in trading benefitted from greater technology and a higher standard of living. Likewise, you can take a region like western Europe, that was certainly far behind other regions and civilisations until only a few hundred years ago and trace its meteoric rise in part due to the liberalisation of ideas from the Renaissance to the Reformation to the Age of Enlightenment and beyond. Meanwhile, other civilisations that had been much further in front (eg. Islam or the Chinese), either stagnated or actively closed off, and thus, sealed their own dooms.

    Globalism isn’t some recent phenomenon that began when Nike was founded. It’s been going on since neolithic times and probably before. The same forces have been at work for thousands of years. It would be a mistake to consider our time unique in that respect.

  47. Shenpen: I didn’t answer all of your question in my last response. I was thinking about protectionism in the interim. Basically, the reason libertarians are against protectionism, nationalisation, etc. is that it’s a form of welfare.

    It is also, in the long run, not productive, despite what people might think. Essentially, it’s a case of swings and roundabouts. These sorts of parochial economic practices have hidden costs and the consumer and/or tax payer ends up propping up such protected industries, which is a waste of money that could be better spent or invested.

    There is, of course, no country that operates on any idealised economic model. They all work on some sort of compromise. However, if we look at Singapore, as you stated, I’m sure we’d find that Singapore doesn’t have much of a food growing industry. It would be 1) a great waste of land and other resources in terms of cost/benefit, and also, 2) it could probably never compete with its cheaper neighbours. As such, it would be ridiculous to support a farming industry that would have to be heavily subsidised to compete with that in Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. Instead, Singapore (and Singaporeans) realised long ago that it could pour its money and people into other ventures, make lots of money and import food from elsewhere, thus enjoying a high standard of living. This is standard operating procedure on how to be successful in the free market, although Singapore is in a fairly unique position of course. That other parts of the developed world (namely both the E.U. and U.S.A.) give out massive subsidies to their farmers is ridiculous and really counter-productive. For a country like the U.S.A., primary industry is never going to make money, so it’s a bad investment.

  48. About globalism: It seems to me that whenever it happened in history, it always happened the same way: a few financial giants utilized the global opportunities to create cheap, low quality production in huge quantities by utilizing cheap resources and/or cheap labour, and swiftly killed the high-quality, low quantity competition of artisans and craftmen and “guilds”. In a quantitative sense, yes, it is good for the economy, but it only gives us more stuff, not better stuff.

    It happened this way in the Roman Empire, it happened this way in the 18th century, and it happened this way in the last decades.

    And if we would like to preserve – or actually: reinvent – a “artisan’s republic”, where work is considered a form art, a way of living and a thing of personal pride, instead of just being parts in a mass production machine – then I think the only way to do it is a strong national state. I am longing for something like the old republic of Rome. Yes, it is an idealistic dream, but I have no other idea: socialism did not work, and unless we think that a global market dominated by Dilbert-like contraselective big corporations who make amazingly dumb decisions is a good think then free markets also don’t seem to work well. I simply have no better idea…

  49. I feel something completely blind in this kind of libertarianism that ESR and others preach: while I agree that feeling a general distrust to a big, bureaucratic, not transparent, too-powerful state is a clever thing, then why don’t you feel the same distrust for a market economy dominated by big, bureaucratic, not transparent, too-powerful corporations? Why don’t just be a general anarchist and be against everything that’s too big, be it state or corporation? Why don’t we make it a central ideology that human beings are “designed” (by evolution) for small-group cooperation and every organization too big is unnatural and should therefore be distrusted? How can a market be called “free” when it is dominated by a few giants that live of their weight, not by innovation? How can one honestly think that big corporations, where people want to avoid responsibility instead of achieveing things, are the ideal players in the market? Have you truly learned nothing from Dilbert? Why don’t just have a grassroot economy? Why forget that the original Adam Smith concept of free markets consisted of theoretically unlimited players and not a few oligopolic corporations – an economy of craftsmen, artisans and smallholders?

    I just can’t get it.

  50. Eric,

    No wonder there so many people who don’t like you in the open suorce community if you say so many stupid things.

    First, your “it’s all the eurosocialists fault because they are Marxists in disguise” is completely stupid. France has been more governated by right wing people than left wing people during the last fifty years (twice five years of left wing, then five years of center left). Plus one of the parliament (le Sénat) is almost perpetually right wing. So much for the Marxist country.

    Second, you must not believe CNN. You, as many people, completely forget the magnifynig effect of the TV. The young men burned cars *because* there were TV cameras, just *before* the cameras. Just to illustrate that point, you must know that most of the “riots” occured in very limited area. So limited that in most of the towns where they occured, people living 200m away of the events learned that it occured on TV. Most events were very limited in space, but the TV don’t show you the actual scale.

    Third, you speaked about “the long-term demographic-collapse problem France has”. Ok. Please get informed before speaking about subjects you know nothing about. Several serious studies show that France is currently one of the few European countries with a positive demographic growth, unlike Germany which is getting too old and has an alarmingly low birth rate for example.

    Last, you say you lived on continental Europe. Ok, but in which country? Maybe you didn’t realize, but European countries are very different. Hey, we don’t even speak the same language! You can ask O’Reilly; they organized EuroOSCON and discovered that contrary to their first belief, Europe can’t be understood as a federation of states like the USA is.

  51. Anyone who would use the word “Islamofascist” is an idiot, at best — willfully ignorant at worst. “Marxist poison”? What does that mean.

    I would wager you’ve read no books of any substance or academic quality on either Islam or Marxism.

  52. “And if we would like to preserve – or actually: reinvent – a “artisan’s republic”, where work is considered a form art, a way of living and a thing of personal pride, instead of just being parts in a mass production machine – then I think the only way to do it is a strong national state.”

    Bollocks, as the Brits would say. The way to support “true” artisans is to support true artisans, via the market. If you want a superb, hand-crafted table, instead of what you perceive as some mass-produced piece of crap, then go out and find a craftsman and purchase (or trade) one from him. Or, learn the skill yourself even.

    However, not everyone wants that. Not everyone wants to buy his kid a Stradivarius violin. Some just want the cheapest model they can pick off a rack in a music shop. Hell, not everyone can afford such a thing anyway, and it’s ironic that the people who often complain loudest about globalisation are those who also complain loudest the plight of the third world. Yet the only way for a lot in the third world to move forward is to get cheap access to mass-produced goods. That’s how it happened in the west.

    It might surprise you that in many ways, I agree with you about quality and a particular style of life. I moved out of the city recently because I wanted to flee the rat race. I’m busily trying to grow a lot of my own food (with mixed success), and in a few years, I’d like to become quite self-sufficient (in that wacky libertarian sort of way). I’m not looking for a lot of consumer goods or a materialistic life.

    However, I don’t want to impose my set of values on anyone else, and also, even if I did, some sort of collectivistic, top-down approach wouldn’t work anyway. If you want to change the world, change yourself first, find people of like mind, and maybe the ideas will spread.

  53. Shenpen: As to your second post, many libertarians do have big problems with huge corporations (especially their tie-ins with government and what they receive from each other).

    The thing is though that at the end of the day, one can support small players in the private sector (either local producers, or try to do things oneself). However, try not paying the state what it demands of you! To do so, you have to be very secretive about your black market activities. You don’t have to be secretive about going down to a local cobbler’s shop rather than the Nike Superstore though. Fortunately, we’re not at the stage where corporations actually do control our lives. Phil Knight is not going to send a bunch of pimply seventeen year old sales clerks to arrest you if you don’t buy a shoe that looks like a Christmas tree. Not so if you mess with government.

  54. Dommage que seuls des américains s’expriment sur cette question. Il faudrait savoir de quoi il retourne exactement avant de pérorer à tort et à travers :

    Please read this for enlightment :

    Alain Finkielkraut: “The illegitimacy of hatred”
    Interview by Alexis Lacroix
    [17 novembre 2005]

    The philosopher Alain Finkielkraut (1) gives us his initial reactions to the riots in the French suburbs.

    LE FIGARO – What political and intellectual conclusions do you draw from the riots?

    Alain FINKIELKRAUT. – I am terrified by this violence. Terrified but not surprised. There were symptomatic signs; for example, the booing of the Marseillaise at the France-Algeria soccer game, and students being attacked during a demonstration against the Fillon law. There had been publications warning of the likelihood of such events: Emmanuel Brenner’s Les Territoires perdus de la République (“The lost territories of the Republic”); the Education Ministry’s June 2004 report on signs and manifestations of religious belief in certain schools in difficult suburbs. We learned that some pupils, and those who influence them, accuse the national history curriculum of presenting a partial, biased, Judeo-Christian view of the world. Examples abound, from refusing to study how cathedrals were built, to refusing to acknowledge the existence of pre-Islamic religions, to the kind of agitation inevitably provoked by any mention of the Algerian War or the Middle East.

    Some people have gone as far as to talk of “civil war”. What is your view on that?

    There is no war today between non-immigrant French people and the others, nor is there one between the cities and the suburbs. The primary target of the violence is the people living in the immediate area. And they are the ones asking for Republican order to be restored. Trendy middle class greens who cycle around Paris are much more likely to be sympathetic to the vandals than are poor motorists living in the Seine Saint-Denis suburbs.

    Were there any other symptomatic signs of the riots?

    Listen to this charming couplet from a rap song: “France is a bitch, don’t forget to fuck her like a slut until she’s exhausted, you gotta do her, man! Me, I piss on Napoleon and General de Gaulle.”

    But are the excesses of the music sub-culture really directly linked to the riots?

    If the people who set public services on fire, who throw boule balls at policemen from the top of tower blocks, and who attack fire fighters, had the same colour skin as the rioters in Rostock in reunified Germany in the 1990s, there would be universal moral outrage.

    But moral outrage is prevalent in some places.

    No, what is prevalent is understanding, a process of marginalizing the sentiment that all this is unjustifiable and replacing it with a search for causes. In the Rostock situation, politicians, journalists, community leaders and sociologists cried with one voice: “Fascism will not pass!” But since these boule ball-throwing, Molotov-launching rioters are French people of African and North African origin, explanation drowns out indignation and turns it against the government and French inhospitability.

    Instead of being outraged by the scandal of schools being burnt to the ground, people pontificate about the despair of the arsonists. Instead of actually hearing what they say – “Screw your mother!”, “Screw the Police!”, “Screw the State” – people listen to them, or, in other words, convert their calls to hatred into cries for help, and their vandalising of schools into calls for education. Such fanciful interpretations should be abandoned immediately and replaced with a literal reading of the events.

    A reading which rejects the culture of excuse?

    The vandals aren’t demanding more schools, more crèches, more gymnasiums and more buses. In fact, they’re burning them down. And this is the way they react to all the institutions, obstacles, barriers and delays between them and the objects of their desire. Children of the TV remote control generation, they want everything, right now. And for them, “everything” is “cash”, brand-name clothes, and “chicks”. And the ultimate paradox: the enemies of our way of life are also its absolute caricature. What we should be able to re-establish is a different system of values, a different relation to time. But politicians don’t have the power to do that.

    Has the political establishment capitulated before the might of the media?

    The bottomless vulgarity of talk shows, the brutality of video games, the daily diet of simplification and ribald unpleasantness served up by the “Guignols de l’info” (a daily satirical TV show with puppets, Translator’s note) – all of that is beyond the reach of politicians. Moreover, if they tried to tackle the problem, editorialists would immediately denounce their actions as a totalitarian attack on the freedom of speech. Perhaps Nicolas Sarkozy, the Minister of the Interior – and maybe he’s not alone in this – tends to act in too spectacular a fashion. And the term “rabble” should not be part of the vocabulary of a politician. But what can you say about people who, feeling insulted and humiliated by the term, react by burning down schools.

    But they are the victims of record rates of unemployment.

    Today, when the heart of humanism no longer beats for schools but for those who burn them down, nobody seems to remember that pupils don’t go to school in order to get a job but in order to receive an education. The primary objective of education is just that: education. Which, by the way, is always useful. Just as the Republic must reclaim its “lost territories”, the French language must re-conquer the dialect of the suburbs, that simplistic, aggressive pidgin which is so pathetically hostile to beauty and nuance. This doesn’t guarantee a job, but it is a necessary precondition of getting one.

    But discrimination does exist.

    In this situation, we should obviously be careful to avoid stigmatising an entire category of people. Born Polish in France, I myself am a second generation immigrant and sympathize very strongly with all the Black and Arab pupils who, because they prefer degree-holders to drug dealers, are the victims of persecution and racketeering, and called “buffoons”. People like that should be helped; employment discrimination must be fought relentlessly; we must work tirelessly to promote equal opportunities, encourage what’s best in the projects, replace the tower blocks, and stop the ghettoization of the suburbs. But it would be naive to imagine that such measures would put an end to vandalism.

    How can we be sure?

    This spate of violence is not a reaction to the injustices of the French Republic, but a gargantuan anti-Republican pogrom.

    So the riots are not a reaction to the Republic’s having abandoned its “lost territories”?

    If these areas had really been abandoned, there wouldn’t be any buses, crèches, schools or gymnasiums to burn down. And what is absolutely scandalous is that the authors of these feats are being given the glorious title of “natives of the Republic”. Instead, the illegitimacy of their hate should be highlighted and they should be shamed, just as soccer fans who go to games to start fights, and who make monkey noises whenever a black placer gets the ball are shamed, even if they too are socially marginalized. The heat of shame is the basis of morality. Victimization and heroization are an invitation to commit more crime.

    Does expiating the crimes of colonialism lead to violence in the suburbs?

    No, of course not. But appeasing this kind of hatred by effectively saying that France is worthy of being hated and introducing this disgust of the self into the teaching curriculum will inevitable lead to disaster. These revolting rebels take the contemporary trend of focusing on rights to the complete detriment of obligations to the Nth degree. And if the educational establishment itself encourages them, then we really have reached a pretty pass.

    Is the French model of social integration in crisis?

    A lot of people are talking about the failure of the Republican model of integration. It’s absurd. The Republican educational ethos has been dead and buried for quite some time. It’s the post-Republican model, trendily relaxed and obsessed with social issues, which is collapsing. And it is, alas, an indestructible model, since it feeds off its own fiascos. Every time it fails, it just does more of the same. And it’s at it again: scorning the truth, schools in France will happily drown the diversity of the origins of the slave trade in an ocean of liberal anti-Westernism. The subject of colonialism will be presented not as an awful and ambiguous historical phenomenon, but as a crime against humanity. Which is a way of rising to the challenge of integration by hastening France’s disintegration.

    (1) Latest publication: Nous autres, Modernes (Ellipses).

  55. “…so much talk about The System, and so little understanding.” –Robert Persig
    in Zen, the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

    But the author has a good handle on it. All government is in some degree socialist. The productive eventually drop out or go to some lesser socialist environment to get lower tax rates and/or to pay lower wages. No way to stop it, this tax/wage competition. It’s a dog eat dog world and everyone’s wearing milk bone underwear, to borrow a quote from the TV show Cheers.

    Live with it. Adjust or die.

    All this yakking about how one prefers one system over the other is a form of wanking.
    It’s The Calculation Problem, stupid.

    As for the “Peak Oil” meme…not likely. More likely the planet runs out of refining capacity due to socialist government meddling. I’ve never heard of oil being produced from EPA paper reports or environmental impact statements. The plethora of fools running loose on the planet will, of course, blame the free market when the only place it exists is the black market.

    Do you have your donkey and wooden hoe yet…your cap and ball musket?

  56. You can get the tax rate dropped to zero by moving to Libertaria^WSomalia. Of course, you can’t trust anyone there, not even the bodyguards you have to hire if you are a businessman.

  57. I enjoy your articles, I guess they are kind of like the code of
    your thoughts. A part of me wonders if you believe the things
    you put forward or are working from a higher point of view
    and the articles serve only to spark debate.

    Lets concider this predition of things spining
    out of control
    in France. These view have been held by countless
    generations, that some how everything comes to a
    head. One thing I notice that your articles lack is
    a history of the side you tend to oppose. I guess
    that is why you always miss certain points.

    The african in France, is there, as a result of the
    French colonisation. For every effect there is
    a cause. Your prediction is nothing new. Our
    oldest Holy(unholy) book, the bible contains
    this same postion.

    In the case of Africa we see a large number of
    Africans taking refuge in Europe. The press
    would have us believe that this has to do
    with bad governance and coruption in Africa, when
    the root lies fairly at the feet of capitalism.

    A last thought
    The world is fighting its third war, problem is we
    have not realised it yet. We still expect war to
    be about guns blazing (I am sure you would like
    that). But the third war is a slow war because
    both sides dont know what they are fighting for.


  58. “These riots are a symptom – or, if you prefer, an end result – of unsustainable economic practices”

    If these practices are unsustainable, then only because certain people make them to be unsustainable and _want_ them to be unsustainable – those people that get much more than their fair share of the world’s wealth. And they always want more and will blackmail us for more (i. e. less taxes, lower wages).

    The ideal way to go would be to tax them worldwide with the same progressive tax rate and no means to evade taxes. But because of the “prisoner’s dilemma”, that is very hard to achive.

    The pragmatic solution might be to cut down on social expenses – but politicans advocating this should clearly say:
    “sorry we can’t afford that today, even if the world is richer than ever, but we have to give in to the rich racketeers and lower our social standards so they get even richer – otherwise they will make it even worse for us.”

  59. Ha! Ha! ha!

    How funny it is to read this in december 2008, with the US financial system in shambles, the US auto industry teetering on the verge of collapse, and unprecedented foreclosures!!!

    Looks like the capitalist system didn’t fare better than the socialists…

  60. >Looks like the capitalist system didn’t fare better than the socialists…

    Really? I must have somehow missed the collapse of civil order throughout the Anglo-Saxon capitalist world, the declaration of a multi-national state of emergency and gendarmerie armored cars in the streets to suppress nightly car-burnings by Moslem “youths”.

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