TCS Daily

Millions of Terroristes

By Jean-Christophe Mounicq - May 27, 2003 12:00 AM

Sick people carried from one hospital to another because of strikes in hospitals. Students blocked at the entry of their testing center by examiners on strike. Parents trapped at home, unable to work because teachers decided the same morning that the school would be closed. People unable to get to their workplace because of a public transport general strike. Hours lost in huge traffic jams. A stranger would say: "What a mess!" A Frenchman would answer: "Why do you say that? This month of May has been a normal one! Should not demonstrations be followed by more demonstrations?"

The whole population of France is hostage to one or two million civil servants, the only ones who still go on strike while the rest of the population is frightened by the risk of damaging their businesses and losing their jobs. What is the term for a person who takes somebody else hostage? A terrorist. The French recognize it. The prime minister and the minister of education have stated clearly that the teachers and other public servants "should not take students and the rest of the population hostage." The head of the business union also said that demonstrators "are taking the French economy hostage." Clearly they are taking hostages. Clearly they do not mind acting like terrorists. After all, this did not prevent Yasser Arafat from winning the Nobel Peace Price, did it?

It is an old French tradition. Terrorism was invented by the French Revolution. In August and September 1792, the "Little Terror" took place. Between September 1793 and July 1794, the system reached a peak with the "Great Terror," the most disgusting and bloody period of French history. This terror, headed by Robespierre, was global: political, economic, military and religious. It led to thousands of arbitrary executions by the Guillotine.

The first genocide was committed at Vendee, by the Republican French against the Royalist French, in the name of human rights and republican values. Generals Westermann and Turreau reported to the Convention the fulfillment of orders: "All the villages, farms, woods, prairies and everything that can be burnt will be set to flame along with inhabitants..." Representative Garnier informed the Committee of Public Safety that "the Republican army of Brest has killed 3,000 women and thrown their babies in the river of Pont-aux-Baux." On 21 April 1794, Representatives Hentz and Francastel, champions of the "Final Solution," wrote: "you can be assured that Vendee is a desert. You could not find 12,000 living people."

The French are proud of their history. Many remember Robespierre as one of the most glorious men of all time. This partly explains why many French still have sympathy for terrorists and dictators from Fidel Castro to Saddam Hussein or Yasser Arafat.

As usual, public servants pretend to defend public services when they are actually defending public servants. They defend their own privileges, acquired by years of demonstrations. France illustrates perfectly the theories of public choice developed by James Buchanan. Behind the general interest lie the private interests of the people who have captured power. In France, public servants with the complicity of the main French politicians who are all top public servants, "Enarques," have the power.

The technique has proved to be very successful. In France, public servants now have better salaries, fewer working hours, longer holidays, and earlier and more lucrative retirement packages than workers in the private sector. On top of that, they benefit from the "employment security," a priceless advantage in a country with high unemployment. A recent poll showed logically that 77 percent of French citizens between the ages of 15 and 25 want to become public servants. Do the other 23 percent really want to take more risk and work more for lower salaries and pensions? Somebody should tell them.

As public services are also state monopolies, strikes are always successful. When public servants go on strike, the country is nearly paralyzed. The politicians have a tendency not to resist. This is a "natural" tendency, as they are themselves public servants who benefit from the many privileges linked to their political mandates.

The whole French system is very unfair. Civil servants and politicians are the only ones who are allowed to benefit from pension funds. Claiming that it was not safe for the public to have old air traffic controllers who react more slowly, French air traffic controllers won the right to retire before 50. But surgeons still retire at 65. Because their work was difficult 100 years ago, railroaders retire at 50. But people who have real difficulties, such as the handicapped, have to work 40 years to get a full pension...

The strike is such a part of their culture that public servants do not need to have one precise goal. Right now, teachers demonstrate against a small reform of the retirement system, against a law to decentralize and against the coming budget of the Ministry of Education. They demonstrate against everything. Suffering from a typically French schizophrenia, they demonstrate against violence at school but also against measures taken to diminish it. As for the employees of public transport, they demonstrate even if the prime minister has been careful enough not to reform their scandalously privileged so-called "special regimes." Americans developed the concept of preventive wars. The French prefer preventive strikes.

France is facing its biggest challenge ever: Its social security system, built by communist ministers after World War II, is heading for bankruptcy. How could it be reformed with a Nomenklatura of millions of terrorists? The first revolution was made because the privileges of the nobility were not financially sustainable, and the political system was stagnant. In today's similar atmosphere, only a new revolution can reform. Bush's team does not have to punish France; Chirac's team is already doing it. Without such a revolution, the French citizenry will inevitably suffer a sharp decline in their standard of living.

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