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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Et pendant ce temps-là

by Michel Guilloux

And Meanwhile

Translated Wednesday 18 December 2013, by Isabelle Métral

This government’s obsession, it seems, is now to bring this country within the rule of the financial jungle. The method used: hypnotic therapy.

As was not just predictable, but inevitable, massacres are multiplying in Bangui, indiscriminately targeting those, women and children included, who are supposed to be yesterday’s slaughterers. The French president’s choice of policy lays the burden of responsibility on our country, not just on its soldiers. France’s setting the dates of elections in the Central African Republic is a true measure of France’s respect for the CAR’s so-called sovereignty. When blood and war compound the destitution that results from neo-colonial plundering, it is not to be wondered that the youngest turn to France, the homeland of the Enlightenment. To be deserving, and justly proud, of their hopes, France should at long last opt for an altogether different, and far more honorable path.

On the political scene now, it has been ages since the “distinctive vision of France” [1] sank into oblivion, supposing it has ever been clearly defined, or not always betrayed… For today’s pale copy of the UMP Under François Copé’s leadership is launching into a neck-and-neck race with the National Front, while the National Front itself, buoyed up by the media-relayed, currently prevalent amnesia, has one of its leaders impudently declare its allegiance to “social Gaullism" [2] The Roma are branded as domestic foe, aliens as foreign enemy. The end of this well-known tune in two cracked voices has been experimented for a decade: the war of each against all.

The number of French salaried workers earning the minimum wage has increased by 500,000: this government’s economic policy has pushed down 500,0000 more workers into the bottom low-wage category, there to remain. This is the necessary counterpart of the explosion of social inequality that some will pass off as religious or “racial” contrasts. The TVA hike from January 1st, should the government uphold it, will contribute to make life still harder for millions of households. Seeing that the richest in this country have had their light tax on wealth reduced, how could discouragement and populism not thrive?

As the year is coming to a close, the campaign for the next local elections – an important forum for the citizens of this country –is beginning. While in Parliament, far from the public ear, the outright scrapping of local cooperative structures, or even of whole départements, the Rhône, or Paris, is being debated. And unseen by the public eye, the Interior Ministry is changing the boundaries of cantons (counties, or districts) in a manner not unworthy of the Pasqua-Pandraud tandem’s past gerrymandering.

[1“All my life I have entertained a special idea of France (naturally imagining it) as the princess of the fairy tales, or the Madonna on the frescoes, and being promised, so to speak, an eminent and outstanding destiny.” Translated from Charles de Gaulle’s Mémoires de guerre (War Memories), Tome 1 (Book one), Plon pub.,1954.

[2The notion was a “third way” proposed by de Gaulle and his followers as a by-pass of the capital-labor division.

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