The Sixth Republic?
Posted by aogSunday, 08 June 2003 at 08:10 TrackBack Ping URL
There are a number of frightening reports out of France about the level of violence and disruption from current strikes putatively over pension reform. Claire Berlinski reports from Paris that the leading element of the strikes, the Transportation Union, would not in fact be affected by the reforms. USS Clueless has a collection of reports from France and suggests that this might be the start of a revolution.

There are two interesting issues here. One, as noted by USS Cluess and Instapundit, is why there is so little news about this in big media. The former suggests that

What the news is full of is the fact that the Poles are voting today on whether to join the EU. Hmmm... maybe someone's afraid of scaring the Poles away with inopportunely-timed news of just what they might be getting themselves into?
Like stories of the VRWC the idea that there exists some cabal that could make and enforce that kind of tradeoff. I would believe that in modern journalistic culture there is a strong bias to not report that kind of news. Perhaps it's because the Transportation Union is a Communist organization and the basic "no enemies on the Left" is kicking in.

As for the other interesting bit, that this might be the start of a revolution — maybe. But I don't see much chance for the revolutionaries to succeed. The majority of the French citizenry seems to be on the side of the government. Further unlike the first French Revolution the revolutionaries aren't even claiming to fight for "Liberty, Fraternity, Equality" but for extracting more money from the populace. It's as if the French Revolution had been lead by a faction of nobles on the basis that they weren't getting enough revenue from the peasants. While I can't imagine the protestors winning, I can imagine them bringing down the government. If there were a significant change in government (as opposed to the Chiraq administration falling followed by new elections, my bet for the most likely outcome) then I would bet on a move toward a strong man form, more Gaullist or in the vein of Napolean, although unlikely to be so overtly despotic. Hugo Chavez would probably be the best model of what would result in that case. I suspect that while the French citizenry isn't fond of the particular proponents of socialism in the street, they have not yet repudiated the underlying beliefs that drive those proponents. If these riots truly get out of hand it's going go be a rough few years in France at best.

Tracked from Low Earth Orbit: Sixth Republic Watch on 08 June 2003 at 08:40

Some flooding of the zone about the troubles in France. Some initial reports from France I weigh in. USS Cluess...