In the Wall Street Journal, Guy Sorman blames French riots on apartheid-like conditions in the suburbs:
The French would be shocked to be compared with South Africa of the past, but our suburbs bear more social resemblance to Soweto than Paris. We live in a discriminatory society where an invisible line separates the insiders from the outsiders. The insiders happen to be French, with a French family history extending back many generations. They are well educated, and reasonably well-off.
The outsiders happen to be from Africa—first, second or third generation, poorly educated, jobless and from a non-mainstream culture or religion. According to the French republican ideology, they all are French with the same rights. But the reality differs. Our economic policy has created a strong public sector and job market protected by high walls of restrictive regulation. If you're educated enough, you pass a civil servant exam and get a plum job for life. If you have the right connections and talent, the private sector treats you as a quasi civil servant. Firing an employee is nearly impossible. The outsiders without the right connections and education remain outside: All the regulations play against them.
It's a solid piece, though I'm not convinced sclerotic labor markets, absent mobility restrictions, fully merit the apartheid comparison. And Sormon fails to mention the French (and American, and Swiss, and Australian) policies most analogous to the indignities of Soweto and Langa. As Harvard's Lant Pritchett points out in an upcoming issue of Reason, restrictive border policies–which, as with apartheid, discriminate based on conditions of birth–uphold larger inequalities than South African segregation ever did. Further regulation of the labor market helps uphold that system by making liberal immigration policies untenable.
Elsewhere in reason: Tim Cavanaugh on how Anthony Burgess predicted all of this.