Longtime readers of this blog know that I'm a bit of a francophobe. I challenge anyone to spend three years working and studying in Paris without following suit. Since I moved away and started visiting France bit by bit - especially Marseille, where people were beautifully kind - on a rational level I know that Paris is not France, and France in general is a lovely country full of lovely people. On an emotional level - because of that time in Paris, France is a just a big rat-infested city full of snotty assholes who think they're clever because they know a lot but who can't analyze or synthesize their way out of a stubby paper bag. I'm trying to get over that. A few more trips to Marseille would help.
Anyways, emotionally revolted as I am by the French, one thing I will say about them: at least they're not a bunch of snivelling baby pansy-ass motherfuckers who are content to be swept into pauper's graves by the overwhelming tides of history, modern Anglo-Saxon style. "€36bn for the bankers and we get screwed" indeed. Yesterday as I read up on the strike I was sort of passingly impressed by the demands of the unions and bodies staging the strikes and demonstrations - in that it wasn't just a demand for social support, but for business support, in a real concerted effort to make sure labourers, who hadn't contributed to the economic crisis (not even indirectly through their retirement funds in France, as pensions still function as pensions there - they haven't been basculated into throwing all their scrimpings and savings into the stock market through mutual funds, like Ango-Saxons have), aren't the ones who pay for it.
But this morning I was extra-impressed by way of comparison when I read this in the Independent, a 'leftish' British paper, which treated the demonstrators, and the other much more serious and desperate demonstrators in southern Europe and the new EU entrant countries, as recalcitrant, incoherent children complicating an already complicated situation. Honestly, it makes me want to vomit. Let me put it like this: there's a reason that I, a British citizen, chose to work in Belgium, and looked for jobs in France, Germany, anywhere in northern Europe, basically, besides Britain. And it wasn't because I was anxious to fight with banks and utility companies in a language that isn't my first - that was just a fringe benefit. It was because the standard of life in Britain is absolute shit compared to the rest of northern Europe. Job security sucks, benefits suck, public services suck, the cost of living and average salaries are wildly unbalanced, and only rich people can afford to live close to their offices if they work in London; it has execrable wealth distribution even among normalish people.
And there's one reason for this: northern European governments get kept on their toes by their people. Elections don't come frequently enough to communicate effectively with them that way, and northern Europeans know you have to hit the streets when they do something that's not in the people's interest between-times. It's not rocket science - it's the purpose of public sector strike, the purpose of a demonstration: to act against the government in a way that isn't illegal when the government is acting against you in a way that isn't prosecutable. But not in Britain anymore, it seems, and hence their awful quality of life. I wonder why. I think it's because the Thatcher years saw the media managed so well during the strikes in the early 80's - really managed to present the strikers as Britain's problem, rather than the symptom of Britain's problem - and the media is still playing the game even today. That's what happens with you let Rupert Murdoch in. A national assfucking.