Reflections on the riots in France (2)

Last week I quoted from Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe and its discussion of the 2005 riots to provide what I thought was useful background on the current riots. Caldwell also has an excellent essay on the current state of French politics in the current issue of the Claremont Review of Books. I would guess this must have been written three or more months ago, but it is on point:

A number of things are converging to make French people decidedly uneasy about immigration. Africa is going to double in population in the next generation, to 2.5 billion. That’s about a billion more people than the continent has hitherto shown itself able to support. Much of Africa is French-speaking. French people assume that a Malian coming ashore on a trafficker’s speedboat in southern Italy will be less inclined to throw himself on the tender mercies of Calabrian tomato farmers than to seek fraternal help from a Malian diaspora that now numbers in the hundreds of thousands in the rich cities of France. All told, there are hundreds of thousands of immigrants arriving every year in this growing country of 68 million with a shrinking native population, and 41% are African. How this traffic is handled, who answers maritime rescue calls, where asylum seekers are allowed to debark—these questions have become a significant source of diplomatic friction between Italy and France.

After years of hearing immigration downplayed by official apologists, the French now realize just how much mass migration has changed the country. A report released by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies in late March revealed that a third of the people in France now have a “tie” to immigration—meaning they are either immigrants or immigrants’ children or immigrants’ grandchildren. Le Figaro runs stories about the “ultraviolence” of immigrant gangs in Marseille. This seems unrelated to Macron’s pension reform, but a lot of protestors bring it up. They sense that they are losing two years of retirement not because the system itself is unworkable, but because the nation has squandered the resources on the wrong things—offering to immigrants a welcome beyond its means, for example.

Caldwell’s essay in the current CRB is “Ungovernable France” (behind the CRB paywall at present). Unfortunately, what Caldwell says on this point is equally applicable to us, though I’m not sure how much of it we “now realize,” to borrow his expression.

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