France, a great country, in great turmoil
The terrorist, moral and economic crisis in France
Paris Night is one keyhole of many through which to see deeply into how France works, or has worked, for several decades.
That the country is in a deep crisis, of terrorism, of moral decay and of economic failure, there can be no doubt : President Hollande himself says so.
The causes and symptoms have been increasing for many years but outdated ideologies, hubris and complacency blinkered politicians, the public and the media.
In the last five years or so, there has been a slow awakening to some realities. The, on August 25, 2014, Hollande dissolved the government in response to repeated mutiny by his economy minister.
The country, admired around the world for the past glories of its culture, for the lasting image of “la belle vie” , and for aspects of its education, science and industry, is caught in the tumult of an institutional and moral breakdown which is both the cause and product of economic failure. In common with many of its neighbours, it greatly under-estimated, or chose to ignore, subversion of its system of values by imported cultures and also organised crime, despite riots in suburbs and a state of emergency in October and November, 2005.
In April 2013, the country was shaken by one scandal too many in the form of an admission by the budget minister Jerome Cahuzac, responsible for fighting tax evasion, had lied to conceal secret bank accounts abroad. Hollande, himself elected as a Socialist president as the result of the Strauss-Kahn scandal, then warned that corruption threatened the very survival of the Fifth Republic.
In January, 2015, France, Europe, and indeed many people around the world, were shocked out of complacency by the massacre of cartoonists at the French left-wing satirical publication Charlie Hebdo and by murders in related attacks by Islamic jihadists which took the lives of 17 people.
In November, 2015, more attacks by jihadists, some of them from “sleeper” cells in France and in Belgium, murdered 130 people in Paris and gravely wounded many more. On November 16, Hollande told the Senate and National Assembly, called to an exceptional Congress at the Palace of Versailles, that “La France est en guerre” (France is at war) against Islamic terrorism, mainly in Syria and Iraq, but also in the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Sahara Africa. On January 18, 2016, with one year left of his five-year mandate as president, Hollande declared the country, suffering from an inexorable rise of unemployment, was in a state of economic emergency similar to the emergency caused by terrorism.