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by Maurice Ulrich

Hard-Hearted France

Translated Friday 18 July 2008, by Gene Zbikowski


Gentle France, which has been the subject of a great deal of talk recently, that France in which we wish to believe, became hard-hearted France yesterday. What a foul first deed for the French presidency of the European Union it is, this draft pact on immigration which has been, it seems, largely agreed to by the 27 member states! It is, according to one of the ministers present, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, an immigration policy “that is entirely consistent with democracy and civilization in Europe.” That sentence says it all.

If you reduce democracy and civilization to a given geographic area, to Europe, you deny their universal dimension. It’s saying that is what’s good for some does not go for others. Democracy behind walls and barbed wire barricades – that’s not democracy! And it is France, the country of the rights of man, under the Sarkozy administration, which is creating two categories of human beings. Free people – and the others. The former have the right to cross borders and to work where they please in Europe, or to get a tan in the poor countries, to set up their factories there, to drain their raw materials... While the others must pass check-points, are subject to quotas, are obliged to prove their good will, not to say their submission, and are forbidden to have a family life or to enjoy the rights of citizenship.

Nicolas Sarkozy has made a big deal of his planned Union for the Mediterranean, whose first summit is to take place in less than a week, on July 13. That date was not picked at random, since it is the eve of Bastille Day. The French president hopes thus to enhance his international status, to acquire the status of a man who unites peoples, in Europe and beyond, in North Africa and in the Near and Middle East. But the message that was sent to these peoples yesterday is quite a different one. Liberty, equality, fraternity? No. The message says: You are not free like us, you are not equal like us, but of course you are our brothers – our little brothers.

Once again, as is habitual for this regime, the policy of “chosen immigration,” amounts to a twisting of words, the way they say “freeing work” for smashing labor laws and “reforming” for going backwards. Who’s doing the choosing? Once again, the French head of state, his administration, and in particular his minister of immigration, Brice Hortefeux, are trying to get us to believe that it is a matter of establishing a free contract, in which of course the prospective immigrant has duties — duties on which his rights depend. Except that free choice does not exist for those from outside of fortress Europe. It is the country, the countries that receive the immigrants that will do the choosing and that will draw on – when and where needed – the brains and the hands that they need for a while, in order to get a given job done, before they hand the immigrants back their suitcase and their return ticket.

This policy does not concern immigration alone, although the subject of immigration is open to all forms of demagogy and misuse. Indeed, there’s no aspect of immigration that they cannot use, and use to their benefit. The capacity to work. The blackmailing with insecurity. The pressure on everybody’s wages and benefits when the immigrant does not enjoy the same rights as other workers. The creating of anti-immigrant sentiment, which leads men to misdirect their anger.

But the draft pact on Europe goes even further. Not only does it reflect a world situation in which certain countries intend to maintain forms of domination over other countries, but it also aims to set up a new world order, one that is based on unequal relations between countries, is backed by the armies of the stronger countries, and that uses hunger and energy as weapons. A new world order that serves the domination of globalized capitalism. The European immigration policy confirms a desire to use all human beings – not just the immigrants – as if they were an element in lean production, to be bought and sold on the market.

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