Roger L. Simon

The latest French events

Despite all my visits to France and my past, er, personal connections with French people, I had no idea, until these recent demonstrations, that their first jobs out of school came with a no-firing clause. We competitive, voracious Anglo-Saxons just wouldn’t dream of such a thing. It wouldn’t cross our minds. So I was thinking this morning, while reading the NYT coverage, just how alien the French view is from ours. Take a look at this employment issue from another angle: Can you imagine wanting or even considering keeping your first job out of college for life? How extraordinarily dull. How fundamentally, well, conservative in a social sense. Most of us automatically view our first jobs as stepping stones (to a variety of destinations). But this is what all those kids and trade unionists are demonstrating about. For all their Bohemian bravura, the French are often the most conventional of people in their lifestyles and aspirations. Some people brand this a form of socialism, but I believe there is something more psychologically traditionalist or conformist in this. The socialism emerges from this essential conservatism, not the other way around. But having read this conclusion of the NYT’s article, I should shut up:

On Sunday, the defense minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, blamed the English-language press for being anti-French. “We have to get out of this situation,” she told French journalists. “This is bad for France, its economy. People who don’t like us, particularly the Anglo-Saxon newspapers, are using this to denigrate our image.”

Not to mention Anglo-Saxon blogs.