Engaging Culture

France’s Deep Fear of Change

Remember the Paris riots at the Sorbonne in 1968? Freedom of expression, Vietnam, and political change were the topics then. I was in my last year of Junior High, (what we Boomers used to call “middle school”) and I remember the idealistic protests and the visions of a new generation. But fast forward to the riots in France today, and you’ll find something dramatically different.

It’s almost as if the French young people of today couldn’t be more different than those in 1968. James Graff, writing in the March 27th edition of Time, sees something dark in the recent Paris riots: “A deep fear of change.”

He quotes Dominique Moisi, deputy director of the French Institute on International Relations who says, “French Youth of 2006 are the exact opposites of those behind May ’68. Today’s demonstrators are in a very real manner reactionaries, rejecting any prospect of more risk.”

The big beef? France wants to make it easier to fire employees, because the current labor laws make it so difficult to dismiss badly performing employees, companies aren’t hiring. They’re not interested in putting up with the difficulty of trying to get rid of bad employees. But with soaring unemployment, France is trying to make the workplace more competitive. And French workers, used to having a job for life, aren’t interested.

Somehow the ideals of freedom and change, have been lost in the desire for a cushy life.

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  1. bummer i could believe it only because the french can be adverse to change in general… i still love em. great culture, style, intellegiensia, technology, art – VERY post church sensitized… socialized programming definitely works against a entrepenerial mentality. i would do mission trips with french and they would do two weeks and still have 3 weeks to vaca’- woah.
    gotta love the mealtime mentality over a glass of wine and good conversation – is good for relationship. the school system is tough, jobs are limited, so for the few who make it they wouldn’t like the risk of getting cut lose. getting laid off sucks.

    **high marks for Supinfocom French animation programs that were strong at Siggraph last year.

  2. All the world is being subjugated by the lardi assed world wide American terrorists, who undermine all the globe’s superior cultures by whatever means, to create day time television watchers educated by mcdonalds and drinking coca cola while stuffing burgers in some soulless shopping mall, showing films of terrible violence and gratuitous sex. France with a far better culture, which has up to now cared for it’s people, is being penetrated by america disgusting system of free trade free raid, and if that means killing millions of citizens so be it.

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