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France may look bleak today, but its future is bright

Jun 30, 2023


Protesters in cities across France are torching cars and looting stores after a video went viral showing a police officer shooting a 17-year-old boy of North African descent during a traffic stop. Police have deployed 40,000 officers and armored vehicles to stop the widespread unrest.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan has a positive outlook for France’s future, as long as it resolves the long-standing racial tensions that exist in France today.

Excerpted from Peter’s June 30 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

Riots have broken out in France after police killed a 17-year-old kid. When a similar situation occurred in ’05, there were weeks of riots. We can’t be sure if the same will happen here, but it’s worth looking into based on France’s unique demographic situation.

The US is no stranger to issues of race, but there are constant conversations on the topic, and members of most minorities are represented throughout all levels of government. The French haven’t quite figured that out yet.

France deemed their ethnic conflict so extreme they had to redefine what “being French” meant. So whether you were Catalan, Basque, from Paris or Marseille…you were now just French. This made tracking and collecting ethnic data illegal and unconstitutional. So France doesn’t even know how big their racial problem is…

They’ve essentially institutionalized racism and created massive divides between urban centers and marginalized areas where these “2nd class citizens” live. Lacking a proper understanding of the situation has made allocating resources outside of law enforcement a non-starter, further dividing the groups and adding tension to an already unstable situation.

Despite this vulnerability, I remain optimistic about France’s future. Given its self-reliant economic system and strong demographic picture, they should be just fine…they’ll have to sort this other stuff out ASAP though.

Hey, everybody, hello from sunny Colorado. Today we’re going to talk about France. There have been a number of protests and a number of schools and police officers have been burned in the last couple of days, the triggering event is police killed a kid, I want to see was like 1517, something like that. And so there’s been this spontaneous uprising of violence. We haven’t seen activity like this since 2005. Back then similar cause police killed a couple of kids that were hiding from the police. And it triggered riots that lasted several weeks, too soon to know if this is we’re going to be one of those sort of explosive protracted events. But it’s worth considering because France is not like a lot of other places. Now, here in the United States, we obviously have a checkered past, a checkered present when it comes to issues of race, and it’s part of the conversation all the time. And they’re members of a number of minorities that are representative in governments at all levels, especially the national level, we’ve even had a black president. That is not the situation in France, in France, they made the decision back after the revolution, that ethnic conflict was so extreme that they had to redefine what the term French mean. So it didn’t matter if you were Catalan or Basque, or from Paris or Marseille or Alsatian didn’t matter. Everyone was French now, and all of the various groups that had been part of a series of civil wars and disturbances in France going back a millennium, all of a sudden, we’re considered all of the same family. And in the modern age, what that means it’s illegal, unconstitutional, even to collect ethnic data on the French population. And if everyone was just Basque or Catalan or French, or Alsatian, that might be okay. But that is not the France of today, as part of the colonial legacy, a number of people from the former colonies have moved to the mainland France, Metropolitan France, and even have French citizenship. In fact, in some cases, their great great grandparents had French citizenship. So these are not people who arrived recently. But because it’s illegal, unconstitutional to collect any sort of racial data, they exist as a sort of second class, that is, from the American term, almost undocumented, because of the racism that exists in all societies. So in the case of French, they don’t even know how big the racial problem is, it’s probably about 15% of the population is non ethnic, French, but legally French, and that has institutionalized the racism in a way that we have a really hard time processing here in the United States. In many cases, it’s more similar to what they’ve got in Brazil, you’ve got an urban center where the ethnic French live that is relatively well off. And then you’ve got a ring of suburbs that is more akin to slums, where most of the non ethnic French who are still French citizens live. And because the French can’t even do the first step of collecting data in order to get a good grip on what the size of the issue is, it’s really hard for the government to apportion resources outside of law enforcement. So in many ways, parts of France, even in their major cities, resemble a little bit of armed camps. And that makes it very easy for violence to erupt, because it’s, it’s not a big reach for people who are the subject of be living in the armed camps, to rebel against the people who are supposedly providing law and order. Now, for those of you who know my work, you know that I’m very bullish on France in the long run, they never bet their economic, much less their political system on globalization. And they never integrated their economy into the European Union, they’ve always seen themselves as a step apart. And that means that they’ve sacrificed a lot of efficiencies and a lot of the Reach they could have gotten under the globalized era, in order to maintain a more nationally oriented economic system that comes at a big cost. But it does mean As globalization breaks down, that the French don’t have that far to fall, because if the EU were to dissolve tomorrow, and freedom of the seas would cease to exist next week. The French economic system is largely in house, there are a massive producer and exporter of agricultural products. They’ve got energy nearby in both the North Sea and in northwest Africa. There are several countries removed from the Ukraine war, and what’s going on with the Russians. And their primary economic competitor is also their primary political partner in the current environment, and that is Germany. And unlike the French, the Germans have gone whole hog on globalization to the point that we’re already seeing massive problems there when it comes to exposure to the Chinese systems or the Russian systems or whatever, the French have none of that. And then finally, the French demographic is strong because there’s a neonatal sort of policy set that encourages people to have kids in large numbers. Given France the healthiest demographic structure in the world outside of New Zealand and the United States happens to be third in that regard among the advanced countries So all of these things add up to a strong prognosis for the French over the medium to long term but the racial issue is absolutely France’s Achilles heel and we’re seeing that boil up right now all right that’s it for me you guys take care

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