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Weekend reflections

November 12th, 2005

Weekend Reflections is on again, a little late this weekend. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

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  1. November 12th, 2005 at 19:20 | #1

    There has been lot of discussion about the french riots; some calling it an intifada, others pointing out that it’s all economics. Does such an underclass exist in Australia?
    -Paul http://www.truckandbarter.com

  2. Terje Petersen
    November 12th, 2005 at 22:10 | #2

    It seems that Malcolm Turnbull might be more of a classical liberal than a conservative. He has joined with Petro Georgiou in publicly questioning the lack of safeguards in the proposed counter-terrorism package and the penalties proposed for sedition.

  3. November 13th, 2005 at 02:04 | #3

    Paul – no, not on any significant level, though there are pockets like Redfern and various second generation welfare dependent groups, particularly in the country.

    But I think you need a concentration of people, and probably a defined ethnicity and/or religion to provide a focus for an alternate identity.

  4. Derick Cullen
    November 13th, 2005 at 11:22 | #4

    There are some things specifically French about the displays of disaffection, but some lessons for the rest of us.

    One is the tensions inside a nation trying to live within the ideals of egalite, fraternite, and liberte on the one hand, and perceived assaults on their economic and cultural way of life. This tension is characterised by the headscarf debate which emerged a year or so ago. One way to forment pockets of disaffection is to impose unrealistic expectations of assimilation on minorities.

    The lesson for Australia is not to impose assimilation policies, or to wedge on differences, perceived or otherwise. Anti-terrorist legislation targets Islamists?

    Another is the economic restructure that anglo-saxon countries went through last decade. This is being worked through in Europe right now. Why are the Arab kids in the suburbs unemployed/unemployable? Setting aside the undoubted issues arising from the headscarf debate, see above, the jobs their fathers were imported to work in are disappearing as manufacturing goes global, protection falls and Eurpoe strives to move to a knowledge economy.

    The lesson for Australia. Don’t import uneducated workers to do low value jobs?

    A further one is that the disaffection is measured by the burnt car count, not a body count, suggesting its not jihadist.

    Whilst we may not have the massive disaffection demostrated in France, our government is flirting with policies which may propel us in that direction.

    I think at the end of it all, globalisation of labour markets is an issue which needs some discussion and thinking through.

  5. November 13th, 2005 at 12:18 | #5

    Whilst we are on the subject of political duplicity and intellectual self-duplicity, does Pr Q plan to post on the EU elite’s denials and delusions regarding the scale of its Islamic ethnic problem? These riots are the biggest civil disturbances in the EU in a generation.

    Clearly French policy, whether one thinks it is actually formal assimilation or real segregation, has failed to accomodate Islamic ethnics. Likewise British/Dutch policy of multiculturalism has failed to accommodate Islamic ethnics.

    This means that all EU settlement policies designed to accommodate Islamic ethnics have thus far failed, or at least been very disappointing. The whole exercise is starting to look like Gulf War II with no light at the end of the tunnel.

    Does anyone have any practical suggestions as to what settlement policy would accommodate large numbers of Islamic ethnics? Or is the problem the people – quantities and qualities – rather than the policy?

    The question looms as vital with the forthcomoing accession of Turkey to the EU. This may bring up to 70 million Islamic ethnics, with rights of passage, residence and income support, right into the heart of Europe. Those interested in the future of the EU project must find an answer to this before we plunge into uncharted territory.

    Just as in the lead up to the Gulf War, the people of the EU need hard facts and truthful explanations to make proper decisons. The time is long past for the “Wet constructivists” to politically correct “Dry conservatives” who have reservations about their vast plans to make the world over. These taboos have become the refuge of post-modern scoundrels.

  6. conrad
    November 13th, 2005 at 12:52 | #6

    The idea that it is an Islamic (versus ethnic) identity causing the current problems in France is rubbish Jack.

    As you might notice, lots of the rioters were Africans, who come from countries that are often Christian — why don’t you look up the religous demographics of the French speaking African countries they predominately came from. You might also notice that they suffer from high unemployment and all the associated problems that go with it too. Futhermore, the young people causing the riots are generally about as religious as young Australians (i.e., not very). Most of the religious guys wandering around are in fact those that are least likely to shout offensive stuff at you at night, steal your wallet etc. . Thats what being strictly religious does to you.

    The authoritarian style religous groups that exist in the crappy neighbourhoods of France are quite a different group (and different problem) to the current round of rioters. They exist and get support in no small part because there is no law and order in these areas (since police don’t generally go into them), and they are one of the few groups trying to install it. Unfortunately, this means their idea of law and order, which is obvioulsy easier to exert on some groups (like young females) than others (like young violent males).

  7. conrad
    November 13th, 2005 at 13:35 | #7

    Actually Jack, I have a good thought experiment for you (and all those that want to claim the problems in France are due to religous identity)

    Lets say I could replace all the Arabs with similarly uneducated people from Cote D’Ivoire — a country with a split of both Christians and Muslims.

    Now lets say in one case, I could replace them with Christians from Cote D’Ivoire, and in another case I could replace them with Muslims from Cote D’Ivoire.

    It seems pretty likely that getting large amounts of poorly educated people that end up unemployed is going to cause me problems. Under your hypothesis (religious), you need predict that the problems are going to be worse in the Muslim versus the Christian condition. It should be easy to test this — all we need to find is the social data for Christian versus Muslim Africans in France. I can’t find it easily, but my bet (an ethnic hypothesis) is that they both show quite similar statistics (i.e., high unemployment etc.).

  8. November 13th, 2005 at 14:14 | #8

    conrad http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2005/11/12/weekend-reflections/#comment-36880Says: November 13th, 2005 at 12:52 pm

    [quote]The idea that it is an Islamic (versus ethnic) identity causing the current problems in France is rubbish Jack.[/quote]

    No. The vast majority of rioters appear to come from families with an Islamic denomination. In any case, I use the term “Islamic” purely as a nominal indicator. Much as people talk about “Catholic” and “Protestant” sectarians in Northern Ireland on the understanding that their fight is not really about the theology of divorce.

    Ethnicity is a combination or natural race and cultural religion. Islamic religion is the cultural side of the rioters ethnicity. African or Arabian race is the natural side. So there is no contradiction in talking about the religious aspects of ethnicity.

    [url]Futhermore, the young people causing the riots are generally about as religious as young Australians (i.e., not very). [/url]

    Islamic ethnicity is a very relevant indicator, but I agree not the whole story. Elsewhere http://larvatusprodeo.redrag.net/2005/11/09/vive-la-republique/#comment-36804 I described the ethnic rioters predicament as being caught between a rock and a hard place:

    “multiculture of pre-modern ethno-tribalism and a sub-culture of post-modern gangsta-globalism. Anything but a culture of modern “techno-nationalism.”"

    But clearly the “ethno-tribalism” aspect is as necessary as the “gangsta-globalism” part. Otherwise the Beasty Boys would be out there in the streets burning cars with the worst of them.

    [quote]As you might notice, lots of the rioters were Africans, who come from countries that are often Christian—why don’t you look up the religous demographics of the French speaking African countries they predominately came from.[/quote]

    Not really. Most of France’s ethnic immigrants come from Southern Eurasian and North African countries. These are predominantyly Islamic Arabian in ethnicity. So most of the rioters will be of Islamic religious denomination. Not many liquor stores have been looted.

    I doubt that Christian Africans are a significant faction amognst the rioters. Most of France’s African colonies were from the Northern Africa. Hence immigrants from them are likely to be Islamic. A few Francophone African colonies such as Gabon, Central African Republic, Benin, and Togo were Christian.

    But it is true, as a broad generalisation, that the rioters were virtually all of “Southern Eurasian/African” extraction ie Arabian or African. Whatever their religious persuasion. So ethnicity is still supremely relevant.

    It is signficant that “Northern Eurasian” ethnics, from either East Europe or East Asia, did not feature amongst the rioters. France has plenty of immigrants from these regions. Nor in fact, have Gallic French youth been predominant amongst the rioters.

    The problem is that France has about six million Islamic ethnics, mostly native born and bred, who cannot fit into French society very well. This is three times the ratio as Britain, the next most Islamic ethnic state in the EU.

    No one seems to know how to accommodate Islamic ethic youths. Multiculturalism does not work. Assimilation does not work. Segregation is illegal and immoral.

    Perhaps things will get better as “les jeunes” get older. But the trend of ethnic violence is getting worse.

    And now Turkey wants accession into the EU. Can anyone give me assurances that ethnic riots will not become a recurring fact of European life?

  9. November 13th, 2005 at 17:42 | #9

    You should remember that this sort of thing is actually a peculiarly French form of political expression, and has been for generations. The muslims in France are actually revealing a certain depth of assimilation – assimilation to les miserables, to be sure, but none the less assimilation for all that.

    It should also be noted that official France has always been more accepting than the actual French people; it is the democratic spirit that expresses intolerance there. I could cite my mother’s experiences as a young Irish girl growing up in a small village near Paris in support, but space forbids.

  10. conrad
    November 14th, 2005 at 05:47 | #10

    Jack : I think you’ll find that Turkey is an extremely civilized place these days, despite people’s stereotypes who lump them with the “all countries in that region” cateogry. In addition, whilst still poor, IMHO, the Turks in Germany are much more decent than some of the immigrant groups in France, although I have never spent much time in Germany.

    You will also find, despite your assertions to the contrary, that there are sizeable African groups in France whose culture is quite different from North Africa, yet they are still poor and riot. How do I include these in your “Islamic ethnic case”, when they really should be called “Black Christians ?”

  11. November 14th, 2005 at 09:40 | #11

    conrad Says: November 14th, 2005 at 5:47 am

    I think you’ll find that Turkey is an extremely civilized place these days, despite people’s stereotypes who lump them with the “all countries in that region� cateogry. In addition, whilst still poor, IMHO, the Turks in Germany are much more decent than some of the immigrant groups in France.

    I am sure that “Johhny Turk” is a decent fellow on his own turf and the original Turkish immigrants are the best of the lot. The trouble is that, as time goes on and a new generation comes of age, the ethnic problems get worse, not better.

    I have about as much confidence in the Wets to manage Europes ethnic problem as I do in the Hawks to manage the Middle East terrorist problem. That is no confidence at all, based on a poor record. Nothing works: segregation, assimilation, multiuculturalism.

    You will also find, despite your assertions to the contrary, that there are sizeable African groups in France whose culture is quite different from North Africa, yet they are still poor and riot. How do I include these in your “Islamic ethnic case�, when they really should be called “Black Christians ?�

    I did not deny the existence of Christian Africans in the rioters, said “I doubt that Christian Africans are a significant faction amognst the rioters’. Why does conrad continually misrepresent me on this?

    Lets assume conrad is right that Christian Africans are a large fraction of the ethnic rioters, although he has not provided any links, stats or authorities to support his view.

    All this means is that we heave a racial ethnic problem to go with our religious ethnic problem. We now have a second class of ethnic rioters who fall under the sub-category of “Christian African”, rather than “Islamic Arabian” ethnics. Thats just great news.

    The problem is not “yoof” as such, for if so where are the Gallic and Asiatic “yoof” rioters?

  12. Ian Gould
    November 15th, 2005 at 13:41 | #12

    Jack,

    There seems to be little clear information about the eythnic mix of the people rioting in France. The standard media line seems to be “mostly North Afrian with some Black Africans and Europeans,”

    It is worth noting that one of the two youths whose death seems to have been the proximate cause of the riots was Malian. The majority of Malians are muslim but ethnically are subsaharan African rather rather north African.

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