By Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog
Paris has been a terrible place to live for over five years now – even tourists can tell.
The Charlie Hebdo attacks in January 2015 (because they just had to draw pornographic pictures of Prophet Mohammad) kicked off a fear-based culture which has culminated in the world’s most over-policed coronavirus lockdown, with over 800,000 citations issued.
But it’s been an endless climb of “culminations” for Parisians:
Installing bulletproof glass around the Eiffel Tower (I used to walk under it going to work each day – impossible now). Did the Bataclan massacre have to result in a state of emergency two years long? Certainly President Emmanuel Macron did not have to legalise it into common police practice. From November 2018 through May 2019 huge swathes of Paris were already on lockdown as every Saturday was an undeclared National Poseur Day: pretending as if lower class protesters weren’t being provoked, gassed, beaten, water cannoned, fined, jailed, crippled and even killed. The marches continued through the failed, record-long General Strike, which collapsed in January.
Trust me when I say that the non-stop police sirens during the two-day manhunt of the Kouachi brothers after the Charlie Hebdo shootings never really ended. In the poor northern area of Paris where I live the sirens became constant – for years everyone complains of “cowboy” police who have been over-empowered, but we have no idea how they could be or if they will ever be rolled back.
And during the Great Lockdown, by everyone’s account, this has gotten even worse… but at least now the rich areas are finally getting a taste of la justice à le cow-boy – that’s the only they’ll ever be rolled back, after all.
It’s not poor-Los Angeles helicopters, but the sirens can be exhausting. As for the “it’s not there” indifference towards all those other culminations – I simply don’t have the acting/posing abilities the aesthetic-minded French have, I guess? But I also don’t have the personal stake in France which – try as they might – the French cannot possibly disguise from themselves? They simply must find it very tiring to live in a country where the government – indeed, the national trajectory – has essentially zero open backers outside the bubble occupied by Parisian elites.
It’s not just the Macron era: Francois Hollande was so unpopular he couldn’t even stand for re-election; when Nicolas Sarkozy left he bitterly said “nobody will hear of me again” because the French so deservedly enjoyed kicking him.
The reality is that – Islamophobia aside – nearly everything I’ve described has been caused by France’s historical insistence on a united Europe.
How long will it take Brussels – and its string of puppets/clients – to kill the ‘French model’?
Anti-Muslim attitude is a problem, sure, but only a class analysis provides a satisfying explanation to the undeniable 21st-century decay of French life: Muslims did not force France to stop being French – collusion among the French 1% did.
(Of course, to avoid regular class analysis discussion the French elite keep insisting: “No, it’s Muslims who are ruining France.” Typical Western fake politics.…)
Ever since Mitterrand made his infamous austerity-embracing U-turn in 1981- on what would have been Western Europe’s most-leftist policy platform ever – France has allowed itself to be fiscally leeched blood-dry over the pan-European principle to try and win over Germany to “more Europe”.
It’s an amazing martyrdom – we shouldn’t denigrate such things completely. And a large part of France’s motivation is also to end the constant German aggression that dates back to 1870.
Recent history is really quite simple: in order to woo Germany away from a neo-imperialist partnership with their Anglo-Saxon American first cousins (which has run from 1945 until today), France keeps fiscally flagellating itself and others in Europe to woo Germany into joining a pan-European project; crucially, this project initially was based on a Gaullist “mixed economy”, but that was jettisoned in favor of Anglosphere neoliberalism, globalisation and hyper-financialisation.
Maybe other Europeans want in on such a project, but Germany does not and should leave: Germany’s role has been entirely negative, their economics entirely Austrian (pro-1%, rabidly anti-socialist), and the groundwork which they have ordered is totally incapable of providing post-corona stability. Few seem to grasp this Washington-Berlin neo-fascist alliance, even though it satisfyingly explains Germany’s essentially 5th-columnist role in the EU.
However, only a blinkered nationalist analysis would stop here. France’s elite is just as 5th-columnist – they have joined Washington and Berlin because that is what neoliberal, globalist capitalism is: an international waging of class warfare.
Macron openly calls to end the French model – he is the new ‘EU patriot’
Because its basis is resolutely neoliberal and thus anti-patriotic (even within its new creation of a misguided “EU patriotism” – the accurate term is “patriotism for the EU’s 1%”), this version of the pan-European project is simply not worth it – all it has done is disregard democratic votes, empower bankers, produce Lost Decades and gut social safety nets. I personally don’t think a united, non-socialist Europe is good for the world, but I know this version of a united Europe is a catastrophe. And I know it is ruining France – I’ve not just lived it but documented it via daily hard news reporting for PressTV.
But Macron is of a new generation whose elite passionately believes that this pan-European project works – it has… but only for Europe’s elite. This unprecedented “neoliberal empire” is thus successfully perpetuating itself.
But it took a lot to get here: Hollande, Sarkozy, privatisation-puppet Chirac, Mitterrand – all of France’s elite kept sacrificing France’s 99% for an ideology of “more Europe”, which was first Gaullist-capitalist then neoliberal. Truly, the same can be said for the elite of all of Europe, but especially Latin Europe – just look at how Germany could afford a corona bailout 10 times the size of France’s bailout.
But since 2015 have no doubt: France’s Lockdown-pre-Great-Lockdown was entirely the result of widespread dissension for Brussels’ fiscal policies – this had to be repressed.
The modern French conviction that discussion-and-even-dissension is more than just tolerable but should be encouraged – this also had to be repressed.
The idea of French workers – foreign to the Anglosphere— that they should have economic stability and political-cultural influence also had to be repressed, thus the endless far-right economic reforms.
As I keep insisting, the global 1% insists that the bad example of the “French model” has to be destroyed and replaced with the US/UK/German model, with all its greater inequality, poverty and dull individual conformities and fears.
The “French model” cannot survive if the 1% is to preserve unaltered this version pan-European project which is resolutely neoliberal. This is proven by the recent diplomatic uproar caused by China’s ambassador to France, who criticised the inequality laid bare by France’s corona response:
“You have a new brand of Chinese diplomats who seem to compete with each other to be more radical and eventually insulting to the country where they happen to be posted,” opined a French analyst, but I get it: a person (in this case a diplomat) comes to France and they hear so very much proud talk about liberty, equality and fraternity… but they see that the first has been so distorted by the privileged class so as to totally eradicate the second and third. The Chinese ambassador is both disappointed and fed-up with France. He has become something Westerners cannot be – politically honest and critical of Western policy – without being condemned as a “radical”.
The French 99% tries to incarnate their post-French Revolution values (within the factual context that their revolution did not stand very long), but their elite do not. Foreigners simply cannot see true French values in action because what they are seeing are 1%er, neoliberal, “EU empire” values in action. The French elites’ values are not French but “European empire”; one cannot ever become elite anymore without displaying total allegiance to this empire.
It’s dismaying, and that is exhausting as well.
But while the future now only looks worse for the 99% across France, I imagine Macron couldn’t be happier.
Corona preserves Macron’s re(de)formist gains & wipes his promise-slate clean
Maybe the coronavirus break was just what everybody needed, not only Macron?
Think about it: a historic two-month General Strike had just failed in late January. Now that the pension reform was passed unemployment reform was planned for this fall, because there is simply no constitutional way to stop Macron. The Yellow Vests certainly weren’t going to stop. How can Macron afford to keep generating such public ill will? Was there going to be another General Strike? How can workers afford to do that?
You simply can’t compute all those facts.
Thus, pre-corona France was truly at a breaking point and exhausted. France was like two wrestlers who had each other in a stranglehold, but instead of letting go both decided to suicidally and murderously maintain their grip.
The Great Lockdown preserves in amber Macron’s pension reforms – it’s over. When France goes back to work they will be rushed through Parliament, and likely amid a ban on groups (protests) of more than a few score. The Great Lockdown gives the public a chance to forget about that fight and the elite a “just move on” filibuster to questioning journalists.
But it also ends the possibility of Macron’s autumn plans for similar deforms to the unemployment system. There’s no way that can go on with the state socialistically-shouldering 60% of the Great Lockdown’s lost revenue. However, France’s 1% has been waiting decades for the pension reform – think they aren’t pleased? Think they can’t wait until autumn 2021, when Macron can make unemployment reform his farewell political legacy amid General Strike 2? You must think the 1% doesn’t play tactical class warfare, which is chess, and instead thinks in nationalisms, which is checkers.
The Great Lockdown is also the single-best thing to happen to Macron’s re-election chances.
How can he now be faulted for failing on his signature promise – to reduce unemployment to 7%? How can he be faulted by the right for any economic failure – France simply has to spend their way out of the corona overreaction? How can he be faulted on the left for any economic failure – France spent a lot on the corona overreaction (again, a pittance compared to Germany and also a bailout weighted to the 1%)? Any fiscal policy promise and failure is thus absolved with this corona overreaction-distraction.
Any social policy failure is also old hat – we must focus on a post-corona world. French PM says coronavirus outbreak ‘under control’ but warns ‘life won’t go back to normal after May 11th’ – of course Macron doesn’t want to go back to normal – his popularity was in the toilet for years; his policy, his style, his bizarre and salacious scandals (highlighted by the Benalla affair, which only French people understand) and his constant elitist gaffes ensured it could only worsen.
But election sniping is such a narrow view, even if it is the dominant Western mindset:
Macron’s entire presidency has been an open assault on the French idea of what is “normal”. Destroying the French model – to satisfy and propel the neoliberal & neo-imperial pan-European project he sincerely believes in – has always been his political raison d’être. Macron undoubtedly will view himself as leaving as a hero for all his “deforms”, whenever he departs in ignominy.
I’ve had offers to work in the US: “Why would I want to be a political journalist covering such an atrocious, atrocious political culture?” But France has become nearly identical – instead of righteous, easily-triggered emotionality the French political talk shows rely on an endless reserve of indifference and sang froid (cold blood) to reach the same neoliberal aims; instead of Trump-Putin hysteria they use Muslim-hysteria.
So what is France’s future? It is Macron versus Marine Le Pen in 2022 – they are just as intellectually and culturally exhausted, bitter and hostile as the US. They would rather repeat corporate fascism than be creative.
Must I work on behalf of Le Pen, claiming that she is a “victory via defeat”? I did that, marginally, for Trump, but I didn’t have to cover the guy everyday! More Macron would be an even bigger defeat than Biden – the Ferguson, Missouri, protests weren’t anything like the Yellow Vest repression.
The West may have all the money but they have no good answers anymore. How could corona have uncovered anything but the truth of their underlying morbidity?
Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!
Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020
Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020
A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020
MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020
Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020
If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020
Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020
Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020
(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020
Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020
Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020
‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020
Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020
No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020
Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020
No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020
Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020
We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.
I was able to visit Paris in 2002. It was, then, just as you say now (though the city’s flaws have clearly magnified since). Everything was dingy, the taxis tried to gouge us on fare almost every time, store clerks almost always tried to ‘keep the change’, clubs would not let us in (unless we claimed to be Canadian), and a gang of drug dealers shadowed us for nearly a dozen blocks (as we were on foot).
The next day (during daylight hours), we ‘saw the sites’, the tower, the museum, the arch, the market, etc.
I was struck by a distinct sense, and realization, that a great people had once lived there and built all of these things.
Sadly, we did not encounter even one of these great people who had once walked the Earth there and lived. It was a bit sad, actually.
Also, a very pretty young woman (and her mother) tried to pick my pocket at the ferris wheel. Then, smiled and flirted when I caught her…
Ah, gypsies. Be aware where your wallet and phone is. They are a race of survivors.
Lol, yes. We saw an entire band of them (selling trinkets) disappear in the blink of an eye, just before a bicycle cop bicycled through.
“I’ve had offers to work in the US”
Stay in France!!
No matter how awful Macron or anyone else is.
Unless you have lived in the USA you cannot imagine the terrible culture shock you will have to endure if you move here. The everyday ugliness.
The jaw-droppingly moronic political culture.
The terrible schools for your children.
The challenge of finding good food.
Just my 2 C/ worth.
And that’s not all!
* All the dollar bills are in the same color and size. It becomes annoying to dig into your pocket for the right denomination.
* Support for the $1 coin is scant, and $2 coins don’t exist. You’re forced to pay laundromats with stacks of quarters.
* Pennies are minted in copper-plated zinc, which is toxic when swallowed.
* No universal healthcare or paid maternal leave.
* Inadequate to nonexistent public transport.
* Customary/Imperial measurements (16 ounces to a pound, 12 inches to a foot, etc.), derived from the body parts of long-deceased English kings and queens, don’t gel well in a republic that has been using decimal currency since 1792. (Okay, YMMV on that last one)
Last time I had to stay in the US was in 2004 (I used to go on business trips quite regularly). Every single time, I had left home healthy, and always came back sick. I stayed at various places: east-coast, west-coast, Texas, Chicago. No matter where, I had to bear the same shitty culture which is too exhausting to describe in one comment.
I am not the romantic type, I do not fantasize about the distant past but to think about how beautiful this land must have been a few centuries ago and see how 100 years of modernism has transformed it (including its people, which I think of as a mix between hobbits – their worst traits – and orcs) is beyond depressing. I have nothing positive to say about this failure of a country. In fact, I do not see it as a country but a patchwork of disparate regions which are ruled by an extremely malevolent entity befogging the 99% with a fake sense of national identity (flag, constitution, myth of origin). This pseudo-country will eventually have to break up, for the world’s sake.
When it comes to France, I know this country fairly well since I was born and lived there until the age of 23 (I am 45 y.o. now). I experienced the dusk of the so-called French model as a kid and benefited from an education that was still high standard, even though it started downhill by the time I was in high-school. But from the moment I left, I could clearly follow the rot and decay spreading throughout the French culture from a distance. I will never live there again. The last 15 years have been so toxic that today, I no longer recognize this country.
Aegir, Where do you live nowadays, if I may ask, and is it a better place?
As my nickname suggests, I live in Scandinavia ;)
Where I live … well, it also reminds me a lot of the Shire and I have been living in the vicinity of its capital for many years. In my opinion, it is a better place in many ways : more quiet, people showing more respect for rules and appreciating a certain form of order + a tendency to discuss rather than bicker. So in a way, it is far less stressing.
But one would be blind not to see negative trends as well :
– an obsession with their homes, at the expense of the greater environment
– an urban population spellbound by easy money and credits, distorting all sorts of social traditions
– a tendency to literally dump everything that breaks down because buying new is so much better than fixing things …
– a certain latent arrogance (never really expressed directly) for the south and east
– an admiration for the american nightmare …uh! I mean dream …
– a political elite presenting as reasonable and rational but in reality, a bunch of cowards acting as big business and banks’ butlers
– an MSM spewing the same anti-Russia / China – pro-imperialistic BS as any other western MSM
– puddle dog of NATZO
– etc, etc
But all in all, I like it much better here, however I think that the next years will test the current state of things.
Thanks! Yes, it’s a shame that Scandinavia and Sweden in particular is under attack of those idiots with Coudenhove-Kalergi ideas. I hope that the Swedes will be able to avoid the disappearance of their culture and eventually society.
You mentioned their admiration for the American dream, I had noticed that as well. Here a video fragment of what remains my favorite comedian, it’s about the American dream, “cause you have to be asleep to believe it”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLODGhEyLvk
If you liked that one here’s one more on topic because it’s about ‘germs’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnmMNdiCz_s
You are right in all respects.
Still, reading all the negatives, I feel moved to add a positive.
New England is pretty nice.
I was more commenting on the bigger perspective. I drove 1000’s of miles throughout the US and there are pretty nice places about everywhere.
But some are a lot nicer.
The landscape and the culture.
When it comes to saltwater, call me an Atlanticist.
France has been a Rothschild’s playground since 1789, when the Rothschild’s planned and financed the so-called ‘French Revolution’. It’s no big surprise that Frances top 1% of the population is globalist in it political and economic outlooks. The only time France was not fully controlled by the globalists was during the reign of de Gaulle, who was removed in 1968 by the same methods that were used in 1789. Now the French regret he was removed. Too late I am afraid. I fear that Frances future is none too bright.
You think we all don’t know that BF? Of course. That’s basic history.
But you’re acting like 1789 and 1968 were the exact same thing. They weren’t to the French.
Ahum, the French weren’t the same either…
“But it took a lot to get here: Hollande, Sarkozy, privatisation-puppet Chirac, Mitterrand – all of France’s [Leaders] kept sacrificing France’s 99% for an ideology of “more Europe”, which was first Gaullist-capitalist then neoliberal. Truly, the same can be said for the [Leaders] of all of Europe”.
As a life-long proponent of United Europe, who thrilled to see de Gaulle speaking perfect German to extend the hand of friendship to a former enemy, I am disappointed by the course that European Leaders have followed: abandoning socialism, dropping more bombs on Yugoslavia than the Nazis did, and extending NATZO into the worldwide enforcer of Anglo Zio Capitalist resource wars. Europe now has socialism only for the rich. Its 0.1% of self-styled “elite” are nothing but a “kakistocracy” of vulgar plutocrats. The France and the Europe that I knew and loved are being erased from the pages of history.
A better example of Ramin’s thesis, that the quality of a government depends on the moral quality of its Leadership (previous article) it would be hard to find.
“Paris has been a terrible place to live for over five years now – even tourists can tell.”
And everybody knows what the problem is too: all the non-French and anti-French foreigners that the Empire imported to annihilate the French Nation (which is to say, ethnic French Europeans). The process of soft genocide is being carried out against all European people as well. Since Europeans and European derived diaspora peoples are the global minority par excellence, the demographic war on French people is just part of a wider global genocide against a people who are utterly defenseless, numerically insignificant and ruled over by hostile, foreign (globalist/j*wish) caste that has a deep and abiding racial hatred for European people.
Keep blaming race for Europe’s problems – the problem is pathetic European men.
Only the women have enough pride to muster even bygone pathetic Gaullist corporate fascism in France these days – Marine Le Pen. All the Frenchmen are running to kiss the hem of Dearest Mutti next door. But that’s just like German men, who are just as whimpering.
Pathetic how European men let themselves get pushed around like this. But they do, and that’s why they talk about “racial hatred for European people” – real men don’t talk like that. Waaah waaah, we’re not pure bloods anymore, waaaah waaaah!!!!
Swamping Europe with third world immigrants is the Coudenhove-Kalergi plan to subjugate the original Gallic population to NWO policy. Merkel and May are equally guilty of this subversive policy to undermine French and British society.
I am not sure how Germany or the Germans are to blame for the disaster France is today.
France has been betrayed by its arrogant, self-serving elites, century after century.
Whilst Germany has been a US occupied zone ever since WWII.
And yet, according to the author,
“ze Dschörmans are to blame”.
How retarded is that, cher Monsieur?
Having lived in Paris, even if beneath the Eiffel tower or in the midst of some shoddy bidonville district, has apparently not afforded the author any greater analytical insight to write home about.
Sorry to say, but his articles on Europe remain a disgrace, wholly unfitting to this otherwise great site.
‘Sine ira’ as the Romans said. And a little bit more “studium” would be greatly appreciated.
Just my ‘deux centimes’, pardon my candour.
LOL, I am very glad to get your message! Sometimes I wonder if the Mods are filtering out the negative comments… I am very glad to see they are not.
Well, I am not blaming “ze Germans” – in fact I explicitly, & repeatedly point out how such narrow jingoisms supply totally unsatisfying analyses. In this article alone I must have said several times how class analysis must never be ignored – it provides the largest lens through which to comprehend Western capitalist-imperialist disasters. So I think you have quite misunderstood my point, to accuse me of such a facile and xenophobic.
I certainly not only pardon but appreciate your candour! But – amid this corona economic chaos – I wouldn’t pay two whole centimes for it.
That reminds me:
Some of the comments on some of Mr. Mazaheri’s recent columns have alleged that Britain and France have attempted to destroy Germany as an economic power, especially at a time when the British pound ruled the world.
Question is, was this “German aggression” from before or after Britain and/or France declared war on Germany?
Yeah. “German aggression”?
Granted, Kaiser Wilhelm II was an Idiot.
But you can’t blame WW1 just on him.
Mainly it was British and French aggression against Germany.
Remember the Berlin-Baghdad Railway?
The Brits were never going to let that happen.
Churchill was salivating over butchering the Ottoman Empire and getting a big chunk of it, also a piece for the Jews.
“German aggression” is a cliche that makes the ignorant think they know something.
Almost everything around and concerning the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan massacres point to false flag operations. This including the source of the weapons, the patsies errr ‘perpetrators’, the stand down of the large number of gendarmes gathering on the opposite side of the street of the Bataclan and hundreds of other weird facts and happenings.
Smells like, sounds like, looks like, a duck called Operation Gladio (1, 2, 3?) to me.
Two things …
1) Ramin mentioned the “offending” text that appeared almost two weeks ago on the website of the Chinese embassy in Paris, but didn’t provide a link to it. For those interested …
… here is the French original:
… and this is the same text in Yandexian English:
I find the “pamphlet” refreshingly undiplomatic, honest and straight to the point. But I’m not surprised by the hostile, yet slightly subdued reaction of the French government and of the western media as a whole. Obviously, they don’t like to be publicly confronted with their own crimes and failures, so they are of course outraged. But how can you vent your anger without drawing even more attention to the accusations? Wonderful.
2) Since weeks I’ve been looking each day at the covid statistics of a number of countries, using the figures from Wikipedia. What I find most appalling is the huge gap in the death rates of covid-positive diagnosed patients between France … and the rest of the world! As of Thursday the French death rate hit the 18% mark, which means that so far almost 1 in 5 French patients have died from the disease. Unbelievable! Why is no one ever talking about this?
UK data always arrives late, so I have used Wednesday’s data for the UK rate. All other rates are based on Thursday’s data. For some reason China (or Wikipedia) no longer publishes the absolute number of deaths, so the rate cannot be calculated. But until two weeks ago it used to be at around 4.5%.
This is because France is just counting everything as corona deaths.
IIRC correctly I read that in Week 11 France reported – seasonal flu deaths. That’s obviously impossible.
Things like this are why the death toll rates are totally useless – everyone is following their own standards.
Does France have a political reason to keep people from gathering (like in protests)? LOL, yes.
The lack of data means other standards have to be used in conjunction – like common sense… which has instead been thrown out the window.
The Native French have spirit of nationalism and revere the goals of the original republic like no other.
Macron and the elites will fail in their attempts to destroy it.
I doubt the people will forget the past.
In Germany too there will also be a similar situation sooner or later.
Same for Italy, Sweden Norway & Holland. The EU’s days are numbered.