In the streets of Paris, very young people who are, ideologically, not only old but dead, are demanding that a law passed to make more work for them be repealed. The law states that anyone under 26 can be fired for any or no reason. That sounds brutal until we consider: everyone in the U.S. can be fired for any or no reason. It’s a radical concept called labor flexibility, which demands that workers earn their value in the workplace. If you are too valuable to be fired, you won’t be — although some other outfit might hire you away for higher pay.
We brutish Anglo-Saxons, in pursuit of flexibility, have under 5 percent unemployment. The bien pensant French, who get hired for life, have over 10 percent. For those under 25 — the young crypt-dwellers’ very cohort — unemployment is 23 percent.
What is one to make of this? The students think they are being revolutionary, but their demands for a “right to work” is wholly selfish. But the selfish motivation of the students is entirely misapplied: in fact, they are demonstrating against their own future. The willfull blindness about the future is the key to their behavior: we are confronting a species of political infantilism, of the kind prophesied by De Tocqueville, in which the world becomes just what we want it to be, and real-life deviations from this paradasiacal fantasy evoke tantrums.
BBC has an unintentionally hilarious site quoting some of the student stiffs.
“It is wrong to make it easier to hire and to fire people here in France,” says magnificently quoiffed Judith Duportail. “I know it is the case in other countries, but there you don’t have to wait months and months, perhaps even years, to get another job like you do here. I agree we must be flexible, but not like this.”
“I am in favour of more flexibility if at the end there is security as well – that if people are fired, they know that they can keep their apartment or get further training,” states Victor Vidilles, who is demonstrating with maman and papa. “This is really important, and we need to build that new society, not only in France, but in the whole of Europe.”
I have said before that socialism endured a curious after-death existence following the collapse of communism. It lived on under vague phrases like “social model,” and relied on the hyper-bureaucracy at Brussels to play the part of a more benign, but equally suffocating, Leninist vanguard. That zombie socialism died in 2005, when the EU constitution went down in flames. Like all zombies, of course, it staggers up again. But the students fouling up the streets of Paris are moral and political corpses twice over.
The French government, a creature of expediency, will unquestionably cave in and erase the offending bit of reality.
Strange brew: a nation driven by infantile dreams and behaviors lashed to a dead ideology. The political life of France, fatally entangled, Laocoon-like, in its moral evasions, more and more resembles the last chapter of a gothic novel.