The Brussels Journal reports that the
French government has officially declared the banlieu riots over. The
Police figures are at exactly 98 cars torched on Wednesday
night. This, the police say, isa normal average.Consequently
the 20th consecutive night of violence was declared the last one.
Yes, you read that correctly. 98 car-torchings a night is
“normal” in the glorious Fifth Republic in 2005. Civil order in the
banlieus has collapsed, but instead of addressing the breakdown the
French response is to define it out of existence. (In other breaking
news, war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ol’ George Orwell is
spinning in his grave.)
The American mainstream media, alas, have so much invested in the belief
that Eurosocialism is what we ought to be doing that they’ll
certainly take this as an excuse to drop the story. They’d rather cover
fictional riots in New Orleans than factual ones in Orleans, if only because
they can more easily blame George Bush for the former.
The article also observes:
…the French state was obliged to borrow money last week to pay the
wages of its civil servants.The money has run out. One must
concede: this is no example of a strong state.
My previous prediction
stands. We’ve seen only the beginnings of the reckoning for decades
of folly. I expect to have the last laugh on every single one of the
useless idiots who insisted on the superiority of “humane” European
welfare-statism over American cowboy capitalism. But I don’t expect to
enjoy that laugh very much, because the payback is going to be brutal,
bloody, and horrible.
I expect to have the last laugh on every single one of the useless idiots who insisted on the superiority of â€œhumaneâ€ European welfare-statism over American cowboy capitalism.”
Still counting your schadenfreude before it’s hatched? I’m sure it’s one of those dishes that are best served, if not necessarily cold, at least, well, ripe.
There are certainly a few singing that tune, possibly slightly fewer of them French than before, but I’ve always found the chorus of American voices hollering variations on “Tomorrow belongs to me” from Cabaret to be a bit louder. Just before the bit where the camera pans back to show the armband, of course.
But I donâ€™t expect to enjoy that laugh very much,
Nonsense, you’d kvell like a Jewish mother whose son just got into medical school.
One thing conservatives tend to forget when waxing gleeful about the Decline of Civilisation As We Know It in France is, in the LA riots after the Rodney King verdict, there were more deaths within a few hours than the banlieu riots produced for their entire duration.
The eurosocialist argument is that American society is less civilised and more violence prone, but of course there’s nothing to that, right?
in the LA riots after the Rodney King verdict, there were more deaths within a few hours than the banlieu riots produced for their entire duration.
This just proves that Europeans are less manly. Americans have real riots. Go USA!
Well, let’s see. Car arson is classically committed by the owner of the car for the insurance; a secondary reason is to conceal evidence for the commission of another crime in which the car was used. Civil disorder and terrorism is also a possibility. Some car fires are not arson and are simply the result of accident or negligence.
You give no indication of the relative purposes of these car fires, so let’s go with the raw figure of 98 French car fires per day. In the U.S. in 2004 there were about 226,000 car fires of all types (down from about 400,000 in 1999). That’s 730 a day, more or less. Now France has about 1/5 the population of the U.S., so scaling up by five gives us only about 500 car fires per night in a U.S.-equivalent-size France.
Sounds like (a) the situation in France is indeed normal, and (b) there are almost 50% more car fires in the U.S. (which is not in a condition of civil disorder, in case you wondered) as in France.
So, John, what was the rate of car-fires in France last year? Is 98 fires per night an improvement on it?
And how do we discover if they are burned to keep the fire-services busy, burned for insurance, or burned to cover other crime?
The phrase “98 cars torched” would seem to exclude the idea that owners were purposely burning cars for insurance purposes. So apples and oranges. Is it simplistic to assume that the previous totals of cars burned during the riots, by masked rioters, in defiance of the police, for rage-related purposes, excluded those burned by or on the orders of their owners for insurance reimbursements? Unless some sharp entrepreneurial arsonist had the happy thought, “Hey, I don’t have to take on the risk of burning these cars on my “to-do list” myself. I’ll just park them in front of Stalinist-looking apartment blocks and wait for darkness and riotousness!” ‘Tis an ill wind…
I think we could certainly evoke an “economic” explanation for the attitude of what you refer to as Eurosocialists. They have a lot of *emotional* capital invested in particular ways of seeing and taking the blinkers (blinders, as you say over there) off just hurts too much. It would mean confronting one’s own past opinions, which also involves becoming aware of the intellectual self-deception and self-satisfaction on which they were built. That hurts too much.
This is very good on unemployment in France’s and how that is related to “France’s rigid labour market”:
However, that is only part of the story. The truth that the mainstream media on both sides of the Atlantic does not want to confront is this one: that many European countries now have large and fairly disaffected Muslim minorities. This isn’t the “fault” of those countries as the instinctively “down with us” crowd that populates places like the BBC would have us believe. It’s simply an unpleasant fact of life.
Islam has trouble relating to the modern world and ugly things are happening wherever it rubs up against it. Here is the same writer, a highly intelligent – and unusually honest – psychiatrist looking at that wider social problem:
Most journalists and other opinion formers in Europe and the US don’t want to think about this – heck, don’t even want to *know* about it. It is simply too frightening. However, trying to ignore the problem and making up comforting “explanations” for the epiphenomena is throws up will not make it go away.
So you still keep forgetting us, Eric? Yes, you are basically right about fat-assed and faint-hearted Western Europe, but there are also we, Eastern Europeans to pour flesh blood into Europe. Err, actually I am a bit embarrassed as a Hungarian as we are too blindly following Western Europe, but, for example, Poland is just way cool. I think you know some policemen in USA who are called “*ski” and you know they are, err, not exactly bleeding hearts. Now just imagine a few tens of millions of them… Don’t worry, for the EU, we will save it.
In the college I had an American guy, Daniel Hutchinson as an English teacher. He is about fifty years old. He told us, that when they learned European geography at school, the western part of the map was just like it should be, towns, mountains, rivers… and the Eastern part just blank gray: it’s Commie land, so you don’t have to know it.
Now it’s just time to take that map out of your mind and stop acting as if Europe ended at Vienna…
The EU is an ill-conceived idea for reasons you make clear: there are vastly different cultures rubbing against one another over there.
The best thing the Hungarians, Polish, et al. could do for the EU is to get out of it.
I think I feel the same way about the UN as well. If Congress passed a measure withdrawing this country from the UN, I’d support it.
Heh. A disciple of Robert Heinlien yet. Never was less thought paid more than his little macho fantasies. Probably Jerry Pournelle could help you with your costume.
Oh well the American Idiot is well known worldwide, there is nothing new here.
Back to the weights, I need to be able to effortlessly crush such vermin.
Do What Now ??? … Standards and Practices !
The reason I do not agree that in the Middle Ages Europe was quite similar on the West and East. Later on, the Turkish invasion in the south, the parting ups of Poland and the general lag of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia and finally Communism made some differences, but it is still has the same roots, the same values.
On one hand, Western EU is changing, and not in a good direction – it has simply lost the recognition and the will to protect it’s values, it’s civilisation, and it’s culture On the other hand, the East, buried under some layers of cut-throat mafia-neocapitalism and postcommunist inefficiency, the flames of the old values are still burning. Just take a look at Poland – yes, the general fanatically Catholic nature of the country is indeed very boring, but these people still understand what civilisation is and what it should be, and quite dedicated to protect it. These people still know that the right answer for a riot is drawing a gun. They just need us badly.
What the West generally has forgotten is the art of discrimination. For example, in any office, there are more and less productive people. And more productive people tend to arrive at 10 o’clock and don’t stay longer than others. They can allow themselves to work less, as they do it better and faster than others. And managers usually turn a blind eye to this. I think it is quite common. This is the art of discrimination – one may do it, the other may not do it, and this is just works quite well this way. Yes, it is unjust, but such is life. Now, if we would have the equivalent of the typical Western European Leftist activist and even politician in that office, he would typically scream injustice and demand that either everybody be allowed to arrive at ten, or if that not possible, then forbid the good ones to do that then. And it would just break up everything – the will to work of the good ones, the dreams of the green ones to also become priviligized in one day, the logical social order etc. Luckily, I never met anyone like that in any office, but this the general way the Left wants to handle Arab immigrants etc. The art of discrimination is just forgottan. As I said before, “justice” is the root of many, many evil – it should be replaced with “motivation”.
The EU is an ill-conceived idea for reasons you make clear: there are vastly different cultures rubbing against one another over there.
The cultures aren’t *that* different (surely one workshy socialist is much like another), unless they do what the Americans want and admit Turkey, though getting all the economic and legal systems working together has turned out to be a bigger job than expected, and obviously there are a bunch of vested interests dragging their feet all over the place. The languages are a problem – the interpreting/translating costs in Brussels are getting out of hand, but the obvious solution is too favourable to the UK to be acceptable. The EU’s a bit of a shambles in some ways, and it’s not like anything else, but I think it’ll be a little while before it collapses utterly.
Now, if we would have the equivalent of the typical Western European Leftist activist and even politician in that office, he would typically scream injustice and demand that either everybody be allowed to arrive at ten, or if that not possible, then forbid the good ones to do that then. And it would just break up everything – the will to work of the good ones, the dreams of the green ones to also become priviligized in one day, the logical social order etc. Luckily, I never met anyone like that in any office
I know characters like this are a staple up and down the halls of Right-Blogostan, where our host claims to feel so out of place, but nevertheless I smell a strawman. Got any links to the writings of such people, any hard and solid examples? Even if you never met one in any office, they must be *somewhere*, right?
“Even if you never met one in any office, they must be *somewhere*, right? “
You misunderstood me: it was just an example, politicans and journalists projected into an imaginary business situation.
(Also, it is interesting that I look to you as a conservative: I actually also feeling it myself that I am pushed there both by the obvious impracticality and unmanlyness of the current stream of liberalism an by discovering an excellent book: Simone Weil: The Need For Roots. )
You misunderstood me: it was just an example, politicans and journalists projected into an imaginary business situation.
Imaginary politicians and journalists by the sound of it.
“Civil orde has collapsed”? I don’t quite think so. What we seem to be seeing is a lot of discrete acts of organized terror-vandalism. In a “riot”, one sees spontaneous mobs burning and ransacking (and sometimes killing) across a whole area, with hundreds or thousands participating. The French disorders seem to be attacks by groups of 4 to at most 20 goons, who show up, torch a car or three, then disappear. Sometimes they hit an official building. There have been a few incidents of large stores looted. There has been harassment of police with rocks and such, and a few incidents of birdshot fired at police. There has been very little stand-up resistance to police, and relatively few attacks on people.
I think this may reflect the different attitudes toward police force in France and the U.S. Despite all the talk about American brutality, the fact is that the French state is far more ruthless – and the “rioters” know it. If there was any blood shed by the rioters, the police would destroy them at once, and never mind the collateral damage.
Also, it is interesting that I look to you as a conservative: I actually also feeling it myself that I am pushed there both by the obvious impracticality and unmanlyness of the current stream of liberalism…
If you’re looking for a political philosophy with a bit more…testosterone than the average, why not take a look at Fascism? I know it may seem to have been a bit discredited back in ’45, but you have to think of that as Fascism 1.0. The idea that some people are just, well, less worthy than others has so not gone away. These days it’s more fashionable to base that unworthiness on the possession of bad memes (eg Islam, lack of faith in the market etc.) than on bad genes as such, but it’s all just information in the end.
Also, the Nazis had *great* uniforms.
First, thank you: whenever someone sweats really hard trying to piss me off I take it as a sign that maybe I wrote something not as stupid as I usually do but maybe I might be making a point. Whenever I get an answer that can be parsed (clue: this one just returns “?logic error”) then I think maybe I’ve just been an asshole again. Thank you for proving that it was not the case now.
As for acting as if taking this one seriously, I truly belive that in essence all people don’t even just have equal worth, but actually, all people have infinite value: every human being is a fantastically rich and worthy universe. (Clue: I am Buddhist, which means I tend to think all people are perfect beings who just did not yet recognized their perfect qualities.)
However, on one hand agreeing that there is not absolute truth and such no absolute morality and ethics, what we can see is whenever we subjectively decide to have a goal, then relative to that goal there are objectively right and wrong ways to achieve it in a given place, in a given time.
If we decide that the goal is to have a civilized, normal society representing the values of Western civilization, even if it has faults and deeply ingrained problems, then, compared to this goal, what some of the people are doing can be considered quite harmful. And, if we see a logical connection, or a practical one between social memes and harmful behaviour, then we just have to say it, unless we would become a “politically correct” (clue: hypocrite, liar) person. It’s just integrity. We can’t be doctors who do not tell a patient he is ill. It would just be ethically wrong.
But it is not anger, not hate and not Fascism. It is the doctor, surgeon, medical way of thinking. (No, I am no medic but I always seem to get into conversations when they are the best examples :-) ) I do not hate Paris rioters. I understand they are feeling oppressed. Still, I would do anything to stop the riot if it happened in Budapest, even killing them if I feel no other way to stop it, and if legally allowed (self-defense, or any special law for the situation). Not because I think they are not worthy as human beings. Just because I want to defend the values of this civilization. I’d avoid any violence whenever there still is even a meager chance to win by talking, but would support the use deadly force if there is no other way of restoring order. We as the civilisation just cannot afford to lose, no matter what.  Now if you think that I mean burning a few cars is threatening our civilization, it is just the wrong assumption. It is the moral, ethical behaviour of doing it, of ignoring civilized order, that is threatening. Not the material damage, but the damage to mind. The damage is showing others one can get away with it. This is the real danger.
 Thus I have mixed feelings with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On one hand, they were utterly terrible and maybe the War would have been finished with a smaller sum of dead ones without them. On the other hand, I feel it to be generally right that civilisation blew two iron fists to it’s enemies and said “don’t fuck with me”. It was quickly understood. The funny thing to this is that my country was also an enemy in WWII. We were just too cowardly to overthrow our rulers even we ourselves did not like…
The article doesn’t distinguish between intentionally burned cars and cars that just catch on fire. The question we should ask is this: How many cars should we expect to see on fire in france on a normal day?
1) Pretty consistently over the course of my ifetime I see about 2 burning cars every 10 years. Every one I’ve stopped to ask about appears to have been accidental. (Electrical short, broken gas line, etc.) Thats 2 burning cars per 3650 days.
2) I only see about 10 km^2 of land per day.
3) France is about 1000km x 1000km. That’s 10^6 km^2.
4) That works out to (2/3650) * (1/10) * 10^6 = 82 burning cars/day.
So from my experience I expect France to have 82 spontaneously burning cars/day. 98 per day is pretty damn close to that. My generous conclusion is that Paul Belien has mistaken normal accidents for social unrest, and he needs to be more careful in his judgements where numbers are concerned.
whenever someone sweats really hard trying to piss me off I take it as a sign that maybe I wrote something not as stupid as I usually do but maybe I might be making a point.
Do I really give the impression that generating a whole paragraph requires breaking a sweat?
Whenever I get an answer that can be parsed (clue: this one just returns â€œ?logic errorâ€) then I think maybe Iâ€™ve just been an asshole again. Thank you for proving that it was not the case now.
Spare me your compiler messages, please. Are you really saying that an answer that makes sense (if that’s what you mean by”can be parsed”) means you may have been being an asshole? How odd. If I get an answer that makes sense I tend to think that communication may be taking place. But perhaps I delude myself.
As for acting as if taking this one seriously
You might be taking it a little too much so, IMO.
I think the way people respond to teasing can be illuminating. People who seem to be thin-skinned about something may (who knows?) be concentrating on maintaining some rather fragile internal structure, which only further questioning will reveal – either that or they’ll get *very* snitty indeed.
If we decide that the goal is to have a civilized, normal society representing the values of Western civilization, even if it has faults and deeply ingrained problems, then, compared to this goal, what some of the people are doing can be considered quite harmful.
Sure – but if one of the deeply ingrained problems is that Western Civ turns out to be doomed, a few tens of thousands of burned cars may not be that big a deal. I’m not supporting the rioters, either, just trying to keep them in proportion.
 Thus I have mixed feelings with Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
You’re not the only one – I live in Japan, and have a Japanese wife. It’s hard to argue with the idea that the planned American invasion of Kyushu was going to be an almighty bloodbath – a scaled-up version of Okinawa – but I reckon a lot of stuff about attempts by the Japanese to negotiate surrender terms (as well as the reasons for Japan’s attacking America in the first place) gets brushed under the carpet. History is written by the winners, after all.
OK, you clearly won this this round – it seems I need some more practice to learn to thwart trolling in an elegant way. Saying that, may I now ask why did I actually got that teasing?
As on topic, whether this civ is doomed or not I honestly don’t know, but I guess it is not. American entrepreneur spirit, West Europen deep roots in thousand-years old values, and Eastern European tendency for clean, swift, direct solutions cutting Gordian knots – I think this can’t be a doomed mixture.
What we really need to get rid of it is guilt. I think it is guilt that makes us so amazingly unable to stop immigrants at he border and ask “Do you have knowledge, wealth or at least proven perseverance to offer for citizenship?”
(AFAIK, there was a Japanese letter seemed as thwarting America’s demand to surrender, that was just saying “we are considering” mistranslated by the Japanse embassy as “we reject”.)
it seems I need some more practice to learn to thwart trolling in an elegant way.
I normally think of trolling as a crude attempt to wind a whole forum up at the same time – something I avoid. The important thing to remember is that once you let someone get under your skin, you’re generally toast. It has to be a game.
Saying that, may I now ask why did I actually got that teasing?
Er…you brought up the unmanliness of liberalism. I’m not that much of a believer in liberal values, but I’ve been defending them here. The right (and some so-called libertarians) w
As on topic, whether this civ is doomed or not I honestly donâ€™t know, but I guess it is not. American entrepreneur spirit,
I know they think of it as fundamental, but it’s basically enabled by cheap energy, which they confuse with technology.
West Europen deep roots in thousand-years old values,
Don’t, you’ll start certain parties off on diatribes about Marxism, the betrayal of those values, kowtowing to people with stringy beards etc. We’ve suffered enough.
and Eastern European tendency for clean, swift, direct solutions cutting Gordian knots
Getting rid of Communism?
I think it is guilt that makes us so amazingly unable to stop immigrants at he border and ask â€œDo you have knowledge, wealth or at least proven perseverance to offer for citizenship?â€
I get the impression perseverance isn’t in particularly short supply, at least on the border with Mexico. Or Europe, if the tales of people-smuggling are to be believed.
(oops, posted accidentally)…The right (and some so-called libertarians) would have you believe they’re responsible for most of what’s gone wrong in the world since 1945 (some will go back further). I enjoy…debating this viewpoint.
Shenpen: “Now itâ€™s just time to take that map out of your mind and stop acting as if Europe ended at Viennaâ€¦”
Dude, I lived in Bratislava for a while (I also lived in Budapest too). Whilst I liked it, it sure doesn’t compare to Vienna (actually, Bratislava is a bit of a hole, and large parts of Slovakia — namely the Spis region — are downright third world), which is less than an hour away. (Okay, relax, I’m just winding you up.)
My thoughts on eastern Europe are that whilst I do indeed think that the best thing for such countries would be for them to get out of the E.U. (which I would recommend to anyone actually), and that there’s a certain degree of optimism and entrepreneurialism going on, I don’t think they’re necessarily as wonderful/vivacious as many would like to believe. I had my fair share of experiences (in several countries) with the lazy, unenthusiastic and bureaucratic, not to mention the downright shifty, in various interactions ranging from ticket inspectors on trains to private businessmen of various kinds. Of course, I also had all sorts of positive experiences too. What I’m getting at though is that eastern Europe is not as cool as some would make out and it has its fair share of the same problems as western Europe — perhaps that’s just people.
Also, I think eastern Europe needs to sort out its attitudes on at least two fronts. The first is its whole relationship with the Roma (in general, but specifically in Slovakia, there seems to be a bit of a periodic open season, with tacit public support, by skinheads on the Gypsies), and also with civil liberties. I got the distinct feeling in many eastern European countries that people probably wouldn’t protest the government, much less do anything even remotely crazy due to the fairly scary nature of the local police/security forces. So whilst I think that western Europe has all sorts of problems, I think there are several areas where it has it all over eastern Europe.
Finally, for all their faults, countries like the U.K. or Denmark have never embraced the crazy political systems that seemed purpose-built for eastern Europe. I’m a firm believer in the old saying that people get the governments they deserve.
actually, you are certainly right about the majority. But, there is I think some general human trait, that if people are put under pressure, while most people will become dumb, gray and just concetrate on basic survival, there is a significant minority who take great inspiration of it, and do amazing things. Many of the greatest work of art, science or thought were done where there was severe opression, and people want to either fight it, or work it around, or trying to shut them from uncomfortable reality and take an escape in a scientific or artistic pursuit by doing it truly well.
It seems to me that pressure pushes people to extremes: they either become really low-quality (and the majority does just this) or become really high-quality. Under pressure, there is no middle way.
Now, what it seems that after official oppression has ended, pressure still remained both as a kind of depression and as the unofficial grip of “old boy’s networks” on society who were not interested in any kind of real change. Communism was inherently feudal, a right-wing theocracy with holy books, prophets, a saviour, heavy nationalism barely disgusied as internationalism, and all those kinda stuff. The feudalism just continued, in an informal way.
So, the pressure stayed, and so stayed it’s ability to push people to the extremes – most of them to the bad, but some of them to the excellect extremes. And that’s important. In today’s world, a few hundreds or thousands of really great people can do a lot more than tens of millions of average. And by saying great I do not imply inspiration, but the willingness of accepting perspiration.
Put put it in a more direct and practical way, you have three options here 1) be a wage-slave, barely getting the minimum to keep alive 2) take part in the old feudal game of lying, schmoozing, “networking”, bribing and other such stuff to raise to upper-middle class 3) decide you don’t want to be poor, but not also want to be a dishonest person, but live a middle-class life based on your talents and work. If you choose the third path, an amazing quantity of perspiration awaits – because you get hindered every possible way by the first two types of people, because none of them is interested in actually improving anything – which means they don’t need and even feel threatened by you willing to use your talents to really do things.
And if you live through that, this is such an amazing hard school, that it will make you not only very productive, but also get some kind of bravery, of not getting scared by any task or problem. Pressure makes some people truly exceptional. And a few hundreds or thousands are enough to make some truly great things.
BTW, I am offtopic. It is not these things that we can really help Europe. I tried to express it in a gentle way, but it doesn’t seem to be successful, so to put it more directly: we can help Europe because we are aggressive, proud, short-tempered bastards and if Gypsies would ever, ever try the same thing as Arabs in Paris people would go the streets with baseball bats to teach a lasting lesson of who can be fucked with and who not. I am not trying to convince anyone this is right or useful or whatever, I just saying it as a kind of matter-of-fact, as I know people and know this would happen. Helping the EU means that if in ten years a few tens of thousands of Easterns will live in Paris then the same would happen at the next riot.Yeah, I know it sounded rude and not civilized. But Europeans just have to learn to be a man again – the world is just not a big cake where one can just pick the cherries off. Sorry. This is the important thing for us now. All the stuff about pressure making some people exceptional is actually a bit less important.
… and actually I got very scared when I realized it: oppression is actually useful, because people develop excellent qualities fighting it. Just imagine how dramatically would the enthusiasm drop in Open Source if Microsoft went broke and thus no real big, ugly dragon remained to fight with. I truly hope someone will prove I am wrong, because I don’t like this idea and is actually quite scared of it, but it just seems too damn logical…
to put it clear, my problem with Liberals and Left is that they those type of people who when casually watch a football match, will instinctively support the weaker party. What I would think to be a good idea instead is either to just enjoy the game and support no one, or to play the role of the impartial judge and support no one, or look who’s more dedicated to fair play and support them. These would be the ideal stances, I think.
However, if it is not possible, I think it is still less wrong to just pick the one you feel to have some kind of emotional connection with, say, they are from your home town, or, if nothing else fails, you could just pick the stronger one, just because it is natural: both history and nature tends to do that. But never ever support the weaker one in that case when you can’t find any better causes to support them other than they are the weaker ones. The Left seems to act as if the weaker one would be always right, and I think they created a world for us in where saying something like “Yes, I will be tolerant, but only as long as you don’t abuse it!”, which is quite natural, truly sounds kinda right-wing.
I think it is the root cause of all minority problems (and not just racial/ethnical ones) – the weaker party gets treated with tolerance, patience, charity and general goodwill, which is basically right, but if they abuse it, then I think the contract is broken and they just need to be reminded that all they have been granted was through the favor of the stronger party, because stronger party wanted to become ethical and civilized and thus not oppress others unjustly – but these favors could easily be revoked if they don’t behave… it’s just natural. Isn’t it?
And there are some things Europe needs to learn from America – I think both E. and W. Europe. A friend of mine is now in Sunnyvale and he is just completely fascinated by how the peple live and think. He says that Americans have some kind of deep natural-bord belief that you have nothing to prove in your life, you don’t have to take pains to show you are a worthy member of the society, or to show off you are cool or whatever. Compare, for example, music clubs in England and the USA. In England, there is the famous Gatecrasher, which is considered No. 1 trendy place. And there are teens called “crasherkids” who spend hours and hours before parties to look good in the most extreme ways possible, generally managing to dress in a way that makes dancing completely uncomfortable. But I’ve heard that in the USA people go out in the most casual outfit possible, that is practical for dancing, and don’t care about what place is considered the most “in”, they just decide what they like. They don’t feel that they would have anything to prove. And my friend says that this mindset is also in work – you don’t have to prove you are worthy of respect by pulling of some all-too-clever miracles, they instantly respect and accept you, which he found a very surprising experience. Actually, pulling of too-clever tricks he says is actually discouraged: he says he is always expected do work in a way that is understandable for everyone else, even if it means you don’t use all your abilities to it’s full extent. Amazing. This might be the reason that American hacker culture became orders of magnitude more successful the Europe-based Commodore democoder culture – while the later folks pulled off many amazingly clever tricks, but had a “lone hero” attitude that’s just doomed to fall. For example, there is one Russian guy, Eugen Roshal behind the only software that can make having to use Windows at work bearble: FAR Manager. And it is just every way better than mc. But he does not open the source, he does almost all the development alone etc. It’s an amazing work, it’s just doomed to fall. Europe needs to learn communication and cooperation from America. But in order to achieve that, we need to learn something deeper: to accept and respect each other without having to prove the worthyness for respect, and gain some self-confidence that we don’t have to become “lone heroes” in order to be respected.
Shenpen: To play devil’s advocate for a second, perhaps this notion of pressure and achievement is overblown. Perhaps there’s something to be said for the sort of person who is extra-ordinary at the ordinary, for example, someone who just has a pretty good relationship with his or her kids, or something to be said for the Epicurean/Lucretian life. Maybe it’s too easy to get hung up about carving your name into world history in stone rather than simply living life.
My point about the Roma wasn’t that if they start trouble, people should or shouldn’t come down on them in some hard way unknown to western Europe. My point was that during the mid to late nineties there were a lot of completely unprovoked attacks on them. Certainly, beating up an old Gypsy woman or kicking some guy to death is one way to express one’s manliness…
I think also that you overstate this whole issue of manliness and zest for life a lot though for two quite obvious historic reasons. Firstly, the major movements in European/western culture and thought all originated west of the Danube. Sure, eastern Europe had its contributors, but in the main, European/western culture is really derived from the British Isles, France, German speaking middle Europe, and Italy. The Renaissance, Reformation, Age of Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, etc. were not spawned in eastern Europe. Secondly, for all this purported manliness of eastern Europe, they didn’t exactly rise up against their Soviet oppressors, nor even their Nazi oppressors in the main. About as manly as it got was marching the Jews off to Auschwitz or force marching a bunch of German speaking women and children out of Bohemia after WW2. I’m just not convinced that eastern Europe stood up for much of anything anytime.
Also, regarding the whole issue of image consciousness when comparing the U.S. and Europe, I think you’re viewing the U.S. through rose coloured glasses.
People everywhere in the world have their own ways of measuring status and sorting out who is cool and who isn’t, and this is just as true in the U.S. as in Europe as anywhere else, even if it manifests itself in different and less obvious ways. That having been said, you only have to watch about ten minutes of MTV or see one rap video (that is generally all about ostentatious displays of wealth and sex appeal that usually crosses the line into unintentional self-parody within about three seconds) to see that it’s pretty obvious that there is definitely a “coolness” and an “uncoolness” and there are great swathes of the population fully tapped into the notion. Also, you only have to look at some of the crazy hair (that must take hours to fix) of both black women and (usually southern or mid-western) white women to see that there are a lot of people who don’t just go out there in the most casual outfit possible (and then there are huge alternative scenes where the whole point is to hone to perfection the art of not actually appearing to care about anything, but where there is indeed a whole lot of effort going on). I think people play the same fundamental games in most places.
Shenpen: Football isn’t a very good analogy for the sort of reflexive Euroliberal support for the underdog you’re complaining about – it’d be more instructive to take a real example like Israel-Palestine – and I don’t particularly feel like Israel are “from my hometown”. Moreover, picking the stronger one because it’s “natural” would have suited (say) the Nazis just fine. I don’t plan on taking ethics lessons from Genghis Khan any time soon. Yeah, people who take advantage of tolerance extended towards them deserve to have that tolerance withdrawn, and it usually is.
I don’t know a lot about teenage subcultures in the US or Britain, though I know Britain has some really mindless ones and I suspect the US does too, but it’s hard to generalise about Britain and even harder to do so about America. And what’s this about American hacker culture being “orders of magnitude more successful” than the European? That’s not what I’ve heard at all.
yes, surely was some white trash skinheads attacking others for their skin colour in the early nineties, but as soon as their political supporters (some members of the Parliament) were not reelected, it was soon put out by the police. Some remnaints of them still exist (Blood & Honour and other assholes) but are mostly harmless now.
As for this manliness kind of thing, I am glad you mentioned these historical events as I am also exactly meaning them: yes, while Gothic, Renessaince and later Baroque culture and science was developed in the West, the East was busy protecting them from Mongols and Turks. Thus came the roots of this kind of warrior culture I am talking about.
As for this in the last century, in WW2 people were not sure who is worse, Hitler or Stalin. Many considered Stalin worse. There was not clear whom to rebel against. Later on, when the picture was more clean, 1956 Budapest, 1968 Prague and the 80’s Solidarity movement in Poland showed people still have the nuts.
As for significant scientific or cultural breakthroughs, I’ll make my point clearer: this environment ( = the majority) is totally hostile for innovation. Most people still carry the serf or landlord mindset. There were a lot many amazing individuals, who could not be succesful because of it. But nowadays technology makes it possible that only a handful of people can do amazing things. And these people are put tru such a hard school because of this hostile environment, that they learn to become really productive. But before that happens, we need to learn communication and cooperation and drop the “lone hero” mindset. A first apperance of this can be the CCC project which is something like Ruby on Rails but even more powerful as it is not necessarily web-based, but supports good old desktop and even console environments that are much more suitable for serious applications. However, the first thing you do when installing the CCC compiler is install it’s X fonts package, as it insists on using it’s own fonts. This is exactly the “lone heroes reinvent everything” mindset we need to drop real soon now.
I said picking the stonger only when you have no other idea, for example, when they are morally equivalent.
another misunderstanding: yes, there was a European Unix-hacker culture, but in the eighties the Commodore democoder culture was much more prominent. I am not talking about current day KDE and such stuff (although KDE still shows some remnaints of a mindset that is not very good in cooperation, but wants to reinvent everything). Todays popular computing culture has two most imporant roots, the Unix culture and the microcomputer culture. Microsoft arrived from the later one, and Windows users are still suffering from the microcomputer mindset. And, the highest level of microcomputer culture were the demoscene, which was mostly North Europe based. I just can’t convince my democoder friends to switch to Linux: if you have an Amiga wired in your brain, it is very hard to understand Unix. Although I was not a democoder, it was hard for me too, actually, it was hard for me even to understand PC architecture, that a keyboard is not necessarily built into the computer :-)))
Shenpen: I don’t know much about technology and computers really, so I won’t say anything on that side of things.
Also, I’ll settle on the issue of race relations in eastern Europe, even though I’m somewhat suspicious.
Now, onto the rest.
Honestly, it’s not like eastern Europeans lived with the sword in their hands. They were just like western Europeans. Fairly ragtag armies were levied in times of stress, or there were more professional standing armies. The majority of people most of the time were farmers, craftsmen, etc.
Your whole point about protecting the west from invasion is bad on two accounts. Firstly, I’ll see your Jan Sobieski and raise you a Charles Martel. Secondly, as I recall, Hungary didn’t do much protection of anyone against the Turks since it couldn’t even protect itself from them. If you want to make the point for Poland protecting the west, I could perhaps buy that, but pretty well everyone else (including the Russians, whom the Golden Horde were still collecting tributes from into the Renaissance and beyond I believe) was pretty damn useless.
Likewise, with the twentieth century, when both communism and fascism were going strong, eastern Europe embraced them with open arms or put up token resistance at best. By the time eastern Europeans finally knocked over communism a child with a feather duster could have done so. If you want to talk about a real resistance or warrior culture, look at how the Afghanis defeated the Russians. They put you lot to shame.
look at how the Afghanis defeated the Russians. They put you lot to shame.
Ideal terrain for it, though. And those Stingers played a part for sure.
Actually, I am getting a little tired of this conversation. All I can say that I sense some kind of energy here, sensed more in Serbia, and my friends report they sensed it even more in Russia, Poland and Ukraine. However, whenever I been to Austria, Denmark and Italy, all I could see was soft people who take everything for granted and live in a way as if this level of comfort and peace would be an inseparable attribute of life and not something that must be appreciated, consciously preserved and protected.
As for the historical facts, remember how the Russian princes were fighting each other or how from, three different infighting factions of Hungary, one and half embraced the Turks… remember, I said warrior culture, not a united warrior culture standing against common enemy. I said a couple of times we must learn cooperation…
Shenpen: I think such complacency may be typical of the middle class though. If and when more of eastern Europe becomes middle class we’ll probably see it also become less inclined to go and break stuff or other people. Heaven forbid that I should defend western Europeans here, but maybe (for now at least) they’ve had their fill of wacky governments sending them to die as cannon fodder. I don’t know about the Serbians. I think perhaps that whole Balkan region may be a part of the world where sense never becomes fashionable.
As for historical facts, for every war or battle or infight fought in eastern Europe, there were three in western Europe. Pretty well at some point or another someone somewhere in western Europe was fighting. I think the difference was that they managed to produce a few useful things and ideas along the way too, which wasn’t necessarily true for most of eastern Europe.
Don’t trust French official numbers.
I do trust my cousins, who are Gendarmes, that this problem is being swept under the rug by the government.
If these numbers are so normal, why did they make international news?
What’s going to happen in Spring when it’s not too cold to riot again?
These problems will never go away for the simple fact that the root cause, the lack of assimilation into French society of the Moslem community will never go away. It will never go away, for the simple fact that the Moslems don’t want to be assimilated. They have every reason to not want to be assimilated, but instead they take a perverse pleasure in being a violent counter culture, making themselves into an underdog, and dwelling on it, scared of losing the sympathetic vindication that the world gives them as an underdog and underground culture. There is no solution until the violent elements have been removed.