Torn France: The stressed country

Five years after the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the November terror: France is in a deep identity crisis.

Illustration: Katja Gendikova

It is a serious and heated discussion in France: How do you dress for school? Belly-free is not possible, say stick conservatives. This clothing debate now appears even more bizarre than usual against the devastating background of a second corona wave with high case numbers and strict regional restrictions, which are protested by those responsible there because they are not allowed to participate in decision-making. The new bans severely weaken the “France Relance” plan recently announced by President Macron and the government under the new Prime Minister Castex to revive the corona-plagued economy. But they are not yet comparable to the repressive nationwide lockdown in spring. The state currently wants to avoid it at all costs and therefore appeals to the citizens: internal reason, please (and properly dressed) not to overdo it with the beloved savoir vivre.

The unfortunate clothes debate, it appears like a lost piece of a French society puzzle. It is a jigsaw puzzle in which a nation that has been stressed on various levels has come to a standstill. So how torn can jeans be in the classroom? Education Minister Blanquer from the ruling LREM party is seriously calling for a “tenue républicaine”, whatever it may be – perhaps a floor-length tricolor for Elev: inside in the national colors, one would not seriously throw in. Under the hashtag # lundi14septembre, students recently campaigned vehemently not to allow short skirts and co. To be banned anywhere.

Instead of calling out solidarity and laissez-faire in unison in a community that claims freedom on paper, there are contradicting signals from society and politics. Here people, mostly men, who cling to traditional conventions, ultimately work on a figure of thought that never existed in reality, even before 1968: good old France, France, in which women and girls, depending on each other They knew how to behave in a flirtatious to “decent” situation, men were still “real”, seductive men, and the many immigrants, mostly from the former French colonies, were obediently ghettoized.

Of course, France has not only been harboring social explosives since the appearance of the yellow vests at the end of 2018. That phenomenon, like the uprisings in ailing French suburbs as early as 2005, shows, however, as if in a burning glass, resource and distribution struggles. And: excessive violence by protesters and the often racist state power. This complicated social situation has nothing to do with the republican pathos that President Emmanuel Macron avidly serves in everyday life. It is characterized by frustration and feelings of inferiority on the one hand and elitism on the other.

New breaks in society

The former editor-in-chief of the German edition of Charlie Hebdo, Romy Strassenburg, recently said succinctly in a taz interview (when the trial of the Islamist-motivated attack on the satirical newspaper began) that the French dose horribilis In 2015, with its big questions about identity, religion and terror, it was replaced to some extent by new questions that revealed new breaks within society. The public focus is now less on the detached, radicalized young Muslims, but more on a frustrated white lower class in peripheral urban areas who do not shy away from violence. France, according to Strassenburg, “is probably even further away from social unity or pacification than in 2015”. Now on Friday two journalists were caught in a knife attack near the former office of Charlie Hebdo injured. Identify anti-terrorist units; it remains uneasy – also on the subject of Islamism.

After the Islamist attack in front of the former seat of the satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo” in Paris, the main suspect confessed to the crime. The man arrested after the attack was taking “responsibility for his act,” it said on Saturday, September 26th. from investigative circles. As a motive he named the republication of controversial Mohammed caricatures by “Charlie Hebdo”, which he “could not stand”. (afp)

In early September Macron gave a speech at the Panthéon in Paris, where many French celebrities are buried. The tenor of the speech: The values ​​of the French Republic such as freedom, equality, fraternity and secularism are “indivisible”. And in a discourse in mid-June after the second major Parisian anti-racism demo, Macron actually said: “This fight is unacceptable if it is captured by separatists.” You have to act against racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination, but please don’t . How then? The country clearly has problems with the acceptance of its state organs – and people who think critically about it are pilloried.

France is drifting apart at critical points. And the monetary gap between the poor and the rich is growing steadily. Social housing, for example, has become noticeably less under Macron. A so-called tax on the rich never came. Whether there is good education and good support often depends on the “right” address – and the qualification at an elite institution – in the centrally managed hexagon, which is strongly geared towards the president. Those who apply for jobs, for example, often fall through the grid due to their non-French sounding name and origin from suburbs that are considered desolate.

System of inequality

Only recently, the powerless, conservative human rights representative of the government, Jacques Toubon, recalled that the “system of France” as a whole must be called into question: “a system that creates and maintains inequalities”. For people who do not look French and / or are not materially well off, “the republic does not keep its promises”.

This condition existed before Macron, but contrary to his promises, almost nothing has happened under him in terms of social and appreciative opportunities for advancement. That Macron is meant, who in his 2017 election campaign with the movement La République en Marche (LREM) like Kai aus der Kiste successfully advocated a France “beyond right and left and on the move”, the man who supported the socialists and the conservatives largely cannibalized to this day. That Macron, who in his election campaign was emphatically social democratic and multicultural. And now, in view of the likely final electoral duel in 2022 between him and Marine Le Pen, the head of the Rassemblement National, strategically moves ever further to the right in his domestic political agenda. Garnished with wishy-washy slogans like “Look ahead and don’t leave anyone behind”.

This mix now drives quite a few in the party into dismal perplexity; the mood is bad and trench warfare at LREM. Several MPs have left the National Assembly and Pierre Person, LREM Deputy Chair, has recently resigned. Aurore Bergé, a more conservative MP, recently warned in The world: “Our movement is in a real malaise. We no longer know who we are and what we stand for. ”What the self-absorbed“ Roi Macron ”probably doesn’t care about – for him, technocratic and vertical governance is more important. He sees movement as a vehicle for power.

Socialists as good as dead

The opposition parties, which are heavily revolving around themselves, and the first visible successes on the Franco-German EU axis after a long time are not (yet) making things really uncomfortable for Macron. The Parti Socialiste (PS) is as good as dead and is only discussing the question of whether it would not be smart to gather behind the Greens (EELV), which were very successful in the last European and local elections. But EELV is clumsy at the national level. Does the party even want to gain power, does it want its own presidential candidate?

The Greens are neither trying to clarify their relationship to liberalism, nor are they clear about whether they are striving for a radical, more emotional course or a more rational, moderate one in the future. And two influential figures at EELV, the Grenoble mayor Éric Piolle and the EU parliamentarian Yannick Jadot, are not green in the truest sense of the word. Cooperation with the conservative Republican Party (LR), also divided and divided, is, unlike black-green options in this country, zero issue for both sides. And then there is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, head of the left-wing movement La France insoumise, who is perfect in populist rhetoric. But since neither the Greens nor the Socialists will agree on him as a presidential candidate, the left will probably remain disparate for the time being, unless a left-wing party with a majority for a change is founded.

In contrast to Germany, where due to the electoral system and the federalist principle, a new party cannot march through from a standing start, in France it is much easier to bundle moods and sensitivities in one movement at the national level, see LREM. If Macron, as the most powerful in the state and the current government, does not slowly succeed in defusing the social explosives with rationality and foresight, the mood, which is doubly stressed by Corona, can brusquely tip. The country would then experience a violent reprint of the yellow vests or similar social, thoroughly heterogeneous movements. As a precaution, the national anthem, the bloodthirsty Marseillaise from the days of the revolution, is sung at demos of all stripes.

The republic – it is currently stressing the people in France. She doesn’t let go of her.

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