April 11, 2006



From CNN: French protests target new reforms

French students, emboldened by President Jacques Chirac's cave-in on a youth jobs measure, prepared new protests Tuesday to try to get rid of other government labor reforms.

Unions declared victory on Monday after Chirac abandoned the measure that had spurred nationwide unrest, paralyzed secondary schools and universities and created a crisis for the government.

Chirac's retreat, and school vacations that started this week, may make Tuesday's protests smaller than previous mass nationwide actions. But police deployed around Paris several hours before the protest, on alert for more of the violence that has marred many marches.

Students hoping to make use of the momentum to force the government to back down on other measures planned demonstrations Tuesday across the country.

Scattered groups staged impromptu protests: Dozens of students blocked a bus depot in the southwestern city of Toulouse; others briefly stormed the tarmac of an airport in the western city of Nantes before authorities peacefully removed them, according to radio reports.

UPDATE -- April 12: From TIME: Liberty, Equality, Mediocrity by Charles Krauthammer. (via InstaPundit)

The French are justly proud of their revolutionary tradition. After all, 1789 begat 1848 and 1871 and indeed inspired just about every revolution for a century, up to and including the Russian Revolution of 1917. Say what you will about the outcomes, but the origins were quite glorious: defiant, courageous, bloody, romantic uprisings against all that was fixed and immovable and oppressive: kings, czars, churches, oligarchies, tyrannies of every kind.

And now, in a new act of revolutionary creativity, the French are at it again. Millions of young people and trade unionists, joined by some underclass opportunists looking for a good night out, have taken to the streets again. To rise up against what? In massive protest against a law that would allow employers to fire an employee less than 26 years old in the first two years of his contract.

That's a very long way from liberty, equality, fraternity. The spirit of this revolution is embodied most perfectly in the slogan on many placards: [...] "Against Precariousness." The precariousness of being subject to being fired. The precariousness of the untenured life, even if the work is boring and the boss no longer wants you. And ultimately, the precariousness of life itself, any weakening of the government guarantee of safety, conformity, regularity.

That is something very new. And it is not just a long way from the ideals of 1789. It is the very antithesis. It represents an escape from freedom, a demand for an arbitrary powerful state in whose bosom you can settle for life.

Posted by Forkum at April 11, 2006 07:20 PM