Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gall in Gaul

Job Blows
The newest fashion in France is threatening to blow up your work place. It’s all the rage--or should I say outrage?
France, a very capitalist country no matter what our yahoos fantasize, is suffering from capitalism’s current crisis just like us. Layoffs and rollbacks are rampant. People are hurting--but not so much as here since unemployment payments are generous and no one loses health care or pensions when they get the boot.
Nevertheless, they’re pissed. But instead of getting boozed or beating the wife and kids, they wax militant and take it out on the people who are actually to blame, their patrons (bosses). In several factories and work sites around the country, workers have wired gas cylinders in place and vowed to set them off if their demands were not met. Here in the states, such militancy is unimaginable. But if it somehow occurred, it would be no big deal. The masked ninja cops would be sicced to destroy and devour the dissidents. The media would scream terror. Public opinion would cheer the cops.
Unlike the moderate Barack Obama, France’s conservative Nicholas Sarkozy doesn’t have the option of simply blowing away troublemakers. Sarkozy has to deal with not a dumb and docile but a sharp and refractory populace. A murderous government attack on the working class would bring millions of Frenchies, who have a gene that stores 1789, 1830, 1848, 1871 and 1968, into the streets. Or, at any rate, that's the French establishment's fear.
You know what happened? Capitalism, which is overwhelming even in France, wins--but not totally. The workers get the bum's rush. But they also get the equivalent of 40 grand each in added severance--and amnesty for their violent threat.
Yeah, we’re all capitalists now--though alternatives are beginning to bubble. But we poor Americans, largely thanks to our attitudes, live in a capitalist country where the workers fear the bosses. The French live in a capitalist nation where the bosses fear the workers.
Until we change our attitudes, we will remain the patsies of the planet.