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The French Spring



This year, the spring in France is unusually cold and rainy, coming up after the frosty and long winter. Only last Sunday was different: the sun pushed the clouds away, for the first time for a few months, and immediately the lucid Parisian air warmed up and trees broke in full bloom. The French were cheered up after long gloom and went to demonstrate against neoliberal policies of their new ostensibly socialist government. This Blairite ‘socialism’ is symbolised by the new gay marriage and adoption bill that the government tries to push through the Parliament despite popular rejection. The French police, brutal as ever, wielded batons, tear gas and arrested the demonstrators. Sixty-seven of them were in prison after the mammoth manifestation of March 23. (They apparently were released). The newspapers speak of the French Spring, echoing the Arab one.

The new President Francois Hollande is quite unpopular; his ratings are the lowest of any French president since presidential popularity began to be rated in 1981. For the simple reason: his socialist party continues with the same neoliberal policies, this time in agreement with the tame trade unions. The Wicked Witch of the West is dead, but her spirit is still with us. The ministers have offshore accounts they previously denied. By the new ‘national agreement’ (ANI), the employers will be allowed to extend working hours, to reduce salaries to the minimum and to enforce «working mobility» by sending workers to far-away plants. If they refuse they can be fired without compensation. The family allowances shrink, the pensions stagnate and do not keep up with the inflation. France, like the rest of us, was robbed by the bankers, and the working people are left to pay the bills. The families of French workers have difficulty to have their ends meet. They view the gay marriage and adoption bill as a part and parcel of this neoliberal attack on their lives.

In order to become a law, the bill had to be approved by the Senate and then it should come again to the National Assembly, the lower house. Recent protesters manned a picket for the time of the debates, starring Cardinal Barbarin, the Archbishop of Lyon, the Primate of the Gauls and the second highest ranking man in the Catholic Church in France. Still the Senate approved the bill with wafer-slim majority of two votes, both given by deserters from the Gaullist party representing the French overseas. Now the tents of the protesters are pitched in front of the National Assembly, and the police expects more trouble for April 23, the day of the final vote brought forth by the government.

The socialist party and its allies, soft Communists and Greens, still insist on the unpopular bill. They care more about their sponsors, rather than for the ordinary French families who hardly can feed their own children, say their opponents.

The biggest manifestation of March 23 against the bill gathered over a million participants in Paris alone. The French police claimed there were only three hundred thousand protesters. They learned from the American repression of the Occupy movement and falsified the photos of the demo. On the protesters’ site one can see the sloppily Photoshop-doctored photos: in order to fit their numbers, police erased not only the marchers, but the dividing lines and trees off the Avenue de la Grande Armee near the Arc de Triomphe.

The French people are really upset by the bill. Traditionally extremely tolerant to all sexual proclivities, they justifiably refuse to see it as a “struggle for gay rights.” For them, this is a new step towards the Brave New World of tube-manufactured children, towards inhumane capitalism where money buys all and ordinary working people are deprived of everything: of steady work, of respect, of families, of homes and even of their children.

The supporters of the bill are pushing with their standard soft-leftist agenda of caring for everybody – gays, lesbians, immigrants – but the working class majority who are castigated as “bigots, homophobes and anti-semites”. Indeed they took a leaf from the pro-Israel supporters (who always defend their untenable positions by crying “antisemitism”) and bewailed the “homophobia” of the protesters. They claimed that a gay was beaten up somewhere, and that the protesters (sic!) were guilty of incitement, though there is a considerable and well-publicised body of Gays against the Bill who joined the demo and fought the bill together with the rest of the French.

Of course, adoption agencies support the bill. Each adoption brings tens of thousands dollars to the agencies, and now they will have new clients. Middle Eastern wars like the Syrian civil war encouraged by France will provide the desired orphans. Or not necessarily orphans: there was a famous scandal when the agencies imported children for adoption from war-savaged Darfur. The children were stolen or bought from their parents. Some of them allegedly ended up in the organ transplantation clinics.

The new bill will boost the intermediaries who supply surrogate mothers from the former colonies and poor Third World countries; the courts enforce the contacts so these women will have to part with their babies whether they want it or not. Indeed the new neoliberal law restores slave trade to the position it lost in 19th century. Moreover, bearing in mind the opening for transplantation, it can restart a neo-cannibalism, too.

Europe is in bad shape. This year I surfed on the crest of early spring through many small towns and villages of France, Italy, Spain; the old continent is dying out. The houses stay empty and boarded up; only tourists and immigrants remain at large. The big cities are overcrowded, the rest is dead, as if the dreadful prophecy of Iliya Ehrenburg (detailed in his 1920s novel DE Trust) that big money will destroy Europe, came true. The good old Europe was destroyed by combination of Right and Left policies. Thatcher (and her counterparts in European countries) eliminated the working class, industry, education; shifted incomes from ordinary people to the rich; afterwards, came Blair (and his counterparts elsewhere) and completed the job, by destroying the family and planting his surveillance cameras on every courtyard. The right created debts, the left came to collect and pay the bankers.

Israel Shamir is now in France, and he can be reached on

Israel Shamir can be reached on adam@israelshamir

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