Why the French Burn Stuff and the Brits Don't

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Greatest Sun headline ever, stopped by printers union

In her Washington Post column today, Anne Applebaum highlights some important differences between the sedate protests against spending cuts in the United Kingdom and the raucous street battles in France, where protestors have responded to an increase in retirement age from 60 to 62 (Sacrebleu!) by burning cars and shutting down fuel depots.

Part of the answer lies in historical experience. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the British, unlike Americans, have positive memories of wartime austerity and even rationing. More recently, Margaret Thatcher's 1981 budget cuts heralded real reforms in Britain and, eventually, a period of growth and prosperity. It is not unreasonable to imagine that these cuts will do the same. The French fondness for strikes is based on experience, too. Strikes, riots and street demonstrations led to political changes not only in 1789 but also in 1871, 1958 and many other times. Although they started over what seemed like trivial issues, the famous strikes of 1968 heralded genuine reforms in France and, eventually, a period of growth and prosperity.

True enough. But Applebaum misses a rather large point. Acknowledging that London also saw street protests, though with far fewer participants, she notes that they "looked suspiciously fringe, however, and many waved signs advertising the Socialist Worker, a newspaper nobody reads. " And this explains much of the difference between the two protests: In Britain, the fringe is still on the fringe. In France, it is unfortunately more mainstream—hence the need for massive spending cuts. Compare, for instance, the circulation of the Socialist Worker in the U.K. (8,000) to the communist daily in France, L'Humanite (figures range from 50-75,000) or the absence, thank god, of an English equivalent of popular anti-capitalist politician Olivier Besancenot.

Nor does the United Kingdom have a powerful union controlled by the extreme left. The 1984-85 miners' strike, led by the communist head of the National Union of Miners (NUM), Arthur Scargill, effectively broke the back of radical labor in Britain. (Recent revelations from Moscow and Stasi archives prove what many long suspected: NUM and Scargill solicited money from not just the Libyan dictatorship, but from East Germany and the Soviet Union.) And in France, Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), the second largest labor union, representing some 700,000 workers, has long been affiliated with the communist party and various other utopian left factions. Fun Friday fact: In 1945, the communist takeover of CGT so worried the anti-communist American Federation of Labor that the group opened offices in Europe to counteract Moscow's influence on unions across Western Europe. 

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  1. If only the French had some real world example of why you don’t let entitled fucks send your economy down the loo.

    1. The similarities go beyond the fucked up economy and deficit spending.
      It is no coincidence that the most violent protests were in countries where socialism is, if not a prevalent ideology, at least a significant force in the battle of ideas.

      You can only wonder what goes on in the heads of youths protesting against reforming unsustainable pension systems (for which they will have to pay), or, as in Greece, who murder pregnant women because they have the nerve to work while everybody else is protesting.

      But I guess that’s what it means to be caring and compassionate towards the less better off, what would cold hearted libertarians know about that?

      1. “But I guess that’s what it means to be caring and compassionate towards the less better off, what would cold hearted libertarians know about that?”

        I think environmentalism and “degrowth” are part of what’s going through their heads.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrowth

        There are people in this world who really do see economic growth as the cause of our problems and economic collapse as the solution.

        If government employment and pensions are crushing the economy, then I think that may be good news to them.

        Incidentally, I think this is another example of utilitarianism falling short. We need something more to address such people. Freedom is its own reward. If these people were plugged into that idea, I doubt so many of them would be doing what they’re doing.

        1. From the Degrowth wiki I linked above…

          “Degrowth opposes sustainable development because, while sustainable development aims to address environmental concerns, it does so with the goal of promoting economic growth which has failed to improve the lives of people and inevitably leads to environmental degradation.”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrowth

          How do we reason with people who oppose economic growth that doesn’t harm the environment on environmental grounds?

          Step 1: Abandon your utilitarianism.

          Step 2: ?

          1. Further, how do you reason with someone who could write in all seriousness ” . . . promoting economic growth which has failed to improve the lives of people . . .”?

            1. It boggles the mind.

          2. Step 3: Profit!!!

          3. A brave new twist on Malthusian Catastrophe. This time with depreciation (entropy) rather than population growth with the totally awesome our culture is constant and any deviation from this constant is a negative impact.

        2. I think this is another example of utilitarianism falling short. We need something more to address such people. Freedom is its own reward.

          Way ahead of you.

  2. “In Britain, the fringe is still on the fringe. In France, it is unfortunately more mainstream?hence the need for massive spending cuts.”

    I think it goes back to their founding mythology.

    In the US, when our populists reach back for American roots, they go back to the anti-tax origins that founded this country…

    In France?

    From the Paris Commune of 1789 to the the French Resistance fighting the Nazis during the occupation, modern France’s founding myths have to do with communism and socialism.

    That’s why the Communist Party was still relevant in France right up until recently–long after communism stopped being relevant everywhere else except Cuba and North Korea.

    It’s their founding mythology. For a lot of the French, that’s about Socialism and Communism like our founding mythology is about tax revolts.

    1. You know, since the French gave us such a helping hand when we broke away from the UK, why don’t we lend them our founding mythology? It’s not like we’re using it.

      1. Yeah, they need a do over.

        Whenever they feel like they need to get back to their roots, that’s a bad impulse for them.

        The conservative impulse has to do with exporting the ideals of France through revolution too…

        Not a good impulse either.

        …but Paris is lovely.

        1. Well, maybe what they need is an American-style revolution, where France secedes from Paris.

        2. …but Paris is lovely.

          Which is better? The heat stroked grandmas, the dog shit, the gypsies* or the tipped over cars?

          *note i mention the gypsies to illustrate a poor minority that the great French socialist state has not lifted out of poverty…the gypsies should not be removed they should be have been made richer and integrated better rather then remaining poor and excluded.

          1. Paris is a fantastic city, but perhaps not so great for unfashionable americans.

            Many of the gyspies are recent immigrants from Romania. Their enduring poverty is hardly a phenomenon unique to France …

            1. I dated a Romanian woman some years before I met Mrs. Libertate. She hated gypsies.

              1. A friend of mine once worked as a tour guide for Kontiki. The local guide in Romania caused a bit of a stir when he announced “World War II came and Romania never had it so good – Hitler killed so many of the gypsies!”

                1. Needless to say my friend quickly took control of the microphone after that incident … 🙂

                2. “World War II came and Romania never had it so good – Hitler killed so many of the gypsies!”

                  +10 for evoking Hitler in a Moynihan thread.

              2. Most Europeans tend to fucking hate the Gypsies.

                1. She explained it to me. Romanians extra hate the gypsies because people in other European countries think the Romani come from Romania.

                  1. That’s right. It’s so bad that here in the UK, when I tell people I’m Romanian, I sometimes get a reaction like ‘wtf, you don’t look like a gypsy’.

                2. Is there anyone who has a strong dislike for them? The are a tad annoying.

              3. I dated a Romanian woman some years before I met Mrs. Libertate. She hated gypsies.

                Most Europeans do. To me, a red blooded American boy, born and raised, Gypsies seem a colorful, harmless part of fairy tales from times gone by and lands far away.

                My mother, a European, takes a different view.

            2. Their enduring poverty is hardly a phenomenon unique to France …

              Gypsies came to the states as well…

              Here they do not have the chronic poverty they endure in France.

              1. In fact i am pretty sure you can find Gypsies though out the Americas in a wide range of social and economic strata.

                In France they are poor and hated.

                1. OMG France mentioned in a post! I must immediately proclaim ‘merica’s superiority! I am a stereotypical jingoistic idiot! I am threatened by those uppity europeans!

                  1. OMG France mentioned in a post! I must immediately proclaim ‘merica’s superiority! I am a stereotypical jingoistic idiot! I am threatened by those uppity europeans!

                    Go Fuck yourself. My only criticism that is a cultural one is my criticism of the Dog Shit. The other ones are direct criticisms of their centralized socialist government.

                    I do like France’s corporate tax rate. It is better then our own.

                    1. I must immediately proclaim ‘merica’s superiority! I am a stereotypical jingoistic idiot?

                      Also i said this:

                      you can find Gypsies though out the Americas in a wide range of social and economic strata.

                      Note the use of the word “Americas” That includes both North America and South America.

                    2. You also specifically said:

                      In France they are poor and hated.

                      Guess what? In Spain they are poor and hated. In Romania they are poor and hated. In Italy they are poor and hated.

                      But you fixated on the dog-whistle of “French”, and that’s what db noticed.

                    3. Or it could be this was a post about France.

                    4. But you fixated on the dog-whistle of “French”, and that’s what db noticed.

                      The line I responded to was this one:

                      …but Paris is lovely.

                      Believe it or not Paris is in France not Spain or Romania or Italy.

                      If someone had said Madrid or Rome or whatever city you can find in Romania i would not have said anything…as i have not been there but I have been to Paris and i have seen the Gypsies there….and the poor gypsies begging in the streets does make Paris decidedly unlovely, as does the dog shit and turned over cars…knowing that grandmas died in crappy un-air-conditioned apartments there also tends to change the paler of Paris in my mind.

                      Also now that i am thinking about it the Graffiti sucked shit. Paris of all places should have better Graffiti…just saying. Furthermore I would jump in the Thames or the Hudson before ever dipping my toe into the Seine…that sewer is nasty.

                    5. I didn’t notice the graffiti or beggars or similar urban ills being any different from a large city in almost any country when I visited Paris a couple decades ago, but I DID sense a coldness or unfriendliness that was markedly higher than any comparable city I’ve visited since [say, New York, Berlin, Beijing] – and getting mugged 30 seconds after stepping off the lit path right under the freakin’ Eiffel Tower on my first night kind of cemented that impression. And the random dudes driving up next to me while I was walking down the street and asking me to go home with them was not the kind of “friendly” I was hoping for, either. All in all, a nasty place, Paris.

                2. There was a show about gypsies in America with Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard…The Riches? First season was alright.

                  1. That was about “Irish Travelers”, not Roma.

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Traveller

                    1. If you ever see “Snatch”, Brad Pitt played an Irish Traveler in that…

                      But most people usually only remember Brick Top, one of the most memorable characters in film–ever.

                    2. I’m more of a Bullet Tooth Tony man, myself.

          2. there aren’t any gypsies in Paris. They all get shipped out to Marseilles.

            1. They were in Paris in 1979. My friend giving me the tour pointed out the gypsy pickpockets on the Metro and how they worked, and the gypsy beggars who held drugged puppies or babies in their laps for sympathy.

          3. It’s my understanding that one of the issues with the Roma is that they don’t necessarily want to be integrated.

            I think that tends to be pretty standard–that the people who complain about a lack of “integration” aren’t typically the minority… It’s usually the majority complaining about the minority not integrating and being more like them.

            1. I think that tends to be pretty standard–that the people who complain about a lack of “integration” aren’t typically the minority… It’s usually the majority complaining about the minority not integrating and being more like them.

              In the US in terms of populist rhetoric that is true. but in terms of government policy a gypsy or a Jew or a Mexican can come here and be themselves and can get a job or start a business and be left alone.

              Also as a US citizen and I assume some white dude you have to admit to being culturally influenced by other cultures present in the US. We don’t have a ministry of language here also we do not set the bar to employment as high as France and other European nations…the same goes with starting a business.

              Economics matter in integration. In the US our relatively liberal labor markets and business regulations allow people from other cultures to quickly start earning income and building independent lives. You can’t do that in Europe nearly as easily.

              1. Education for them isn’t necessarily valued the same way other French people value it. Having a profession or getting a college degree may not count for squat in that culture.

                They have their own language.

                I’m not comparing the experience of African-Americans in every way to this, but there are some similarities that might be illustrative.

                The urban black kids I knew in LA didn’t want to grow up and be just like suburban white people. The success of marketing the gangster image probably has something to do with this; that image offers an image of success–without being like white people.

                The Roma situation is like that too–times 10. It’s not true of all of them, of course, but many of them don’t want to be French. They want to live in France, but they may have a separate Roma identity that in no way wants to be French.

                It’s not like German, Irish, Italians, Jews, African-Americans, Latinos and many other ethnic groups that all melted into what we think of now as American.

                What do you do with Romanian nationals who definitely don’t want to be French?

                “Economics matter in integration. In the US our relatively liberal labor markets and business regulations allow people from other cultures to quickly start earning income and building independent lives. You can’t do that in Europe nearly as easily.”

                I think the welfare state has a tremendous impact on people’s tolerance for immigrants–especially illegal immigrants. I suspect the bigger and more intrusive the welfare state, the more hostile people are likely to be to immigrants.

                I suspect the Arizona law people went bonkers over recently can be partially understood as a reaction to the expansion of the welfare state–specifically ObamaCare.

                When people are forced to pay for each other, I think they just tend to be a lot pickier about who they’re willing to pay for.

                1. I was just watching BBC World News yesterday and they had a little feature on the Roma and how many of them live in poverty (even though the young men were running around in new Adidas jackets). One of them said about France that they gave them money there but they didn’t give them any money in Romania. Another guy said he was 24 and couldn’t feed his 3 children–keep your poor-ass dick in your pants and stop breeding, please.

                2. I think we want to look at the same phenomena from different perspectives. you want to look at it from the dominate cultures perspective while i want to look at it from the minority cultures perspective.

                  I guess my point is that Roma in the US not wanting to be like our dominant culture have an easier time then Roma who do not want to be French. I attribute much of this to our economy.

                  But you do bring up a good point about education. i don’t know how french schools work but ours k-12 seems fairly mild in its cultural indoctrination and for collage so long as you avoid the Schools politically correct culture you can still get an education without much fuss.

                  African Americans seen to be an exception…but middle class blacks really do not seem to have a problem here. it really is the persistent poverty of the inner cities that seems to be the bucking trend.

                  Still one has to admit that in the US black culture has had a huge influence over our dominant culture. Sadly this has not translated into full integration.

                  note: when i use the word integration i do not mean they become like the majority…what i mean is they can have a job and have a life and feel apart of this county and not be excluded from it. Minorities can still retain their cultural differences.

                  1. I assume you mean ‘a part of this country’. Sometimes a space can make a huge difference.

                  2. I assume you mean ‘a part of this country’. Sometimes a space can make a huge difference.

                    1. How many times you crack me in the balls with the damned submit button can make a difference, too.

                    2. With all due respect i heard many americans discussing about gypsies in Romania without really knowing much about them.

                      There is an actual reason romanians dislike them, mainly to do with the fact that at least half are criminals. And their poverty is mostly due to their leaders which are incredibly rich and opulent. And many fake poverty because they get their money illegally.

                      You should see some gypsy neighborhoods in romania full of 2-3 story houses with a couple of mercedes or bmw cars in the driveway. That is because they are organized in a feudal way and the leaders get most of the money earned by the underlings. They are mutilating children to send them to beg, and even those who are not maimed are sent to beg. You see a dirty girl begging one day and the same girl with half a pound of gold jewelry the next day. There are some very poor, true, and there is discrimination, but they are victims of the behaviour of the majority.

                      There were integration efforts. Special places in top high schools and universities for gypsies when non gypsies had to take special exams to get in, the received free apartments which they destroyed and turned to ghettos, and other things.

                      Many of them are thieves. In rural areas they steal whatever is not nailed down, they drive their animals through other peoples cultivated fields, the cut down trees illegally in forests belonging to the state or private people. Most of the mob like organizations in romania are gypsies, running protection rackets and generally intimidating people. They claim when they get to france they are attacked in romania, but more often gypsies attack and rob and extort other people.

                      Children for gangs and beg, steal or bully other children. Adults continue doing the same more organized. They dont pay taxes but get access to education and health care. They have their own courts and ignore state laws. And business among themselves is mostly done in gold coins, so they are not that poor (rather libertarian if you ignore the fact that they have 0 respect for other peoples property). They practice arranged marriages, selling young girls and a ton of other archaic things.

                      If they wanted to fit in they would. There are more then a million of them who are integrated, just another million who arent because they dont want to. Sorry if I sound extreeme but im tired of self righteous foreigners who accuse romanians of not accepting gypsies without knowing much about the situation. You hear racism and start getting offended. A good example is a Madonna concert in which she started talking against racism and was booed by 20k fans. Their are problems but not just because of non gypsies.

                    3. I think one of the reasons we Americans tend to talk about integration in other countries so much is becasue we have such big problems with it ourselves.

                      Sort of like the ancient Greeks, talking about “moderation in all things”, the ancient Greeks being, perhaps, among the most immoderate people ever. We’re sort of like that in that we see the solution to our problems well enough to recommend it to other people, but not well enough to do it ourselves.

                      It’s easier to see other people’s flaws, and like they used to say, “If you can’t laugh at yourself…try making fun of other people!”

                      Our American cities are full of millions of examples of our own issues with integration. From the gangs of Los Angeles, to the mosque at Ground Zero, from the anti-immigrant law in Arizona to the hippies of Vermont (who really shouldn’t be allowed to vote)…

                      It’s just easier for Americans to talk about someone else’s problems. …once in a while. It helps us ignore our own.

                    4. Thank you for your informative post.

                      A very good friend of mine is hungarian and early on in our friendship he made some crack about gypsies and I shot him a nasty look. He later basically explained to me what you just said and the anti-gypsy sentiment made a lot more sense.

                      It is similar to all the integration problems and tax problems with the amish with a hundred times the crime.

      2. What was it Paul Johnson once said of France? ‘an agrarian nation that has take up too much of our time and our attention?’ Likely paraphrased that, but it was a good remark. Love their cinema and literature, but damn they be dumb about the essentials.

        1. Thomas Jefferson said “every man has two countries: his own, and France.”

      3. All the Frenchies that gave us a helping hand had their heads chopped off. But I believe we should temporarily borrow their founding myth to deal with the D.C. Feds.

        1. Yeah, didn’t Jefferson say something about a little revolution now and then?

          Anyway, whatever debt we owed France from back then, we paid in 1918. And on the beaches of Normandy. Drive the Kaiser and the Nazis out of their country? They got a pretty good return on their investment.

          And if it wasn’t for the United States? France would be an insignificant province in the Soviet Empire!

          Otto was right!

      4. We did.

        They bungled it and ended up with the Terror and the Napoleons.

    2. Would someone like to buy some pegs? My neighbor makes very nice ones and I am selling the ones I stole them. I also have this lucky heather that will bring you good luck, my neighbor has a nice heather patch too.

  3. There’s a good reason right there why this type of extreme leftism will never actually take hold in American unions.

    Imagine for a moment, a burly guy in a denim jacket with the sleeves cut off, who drives a Camaro, owns a boat and two jet skis, hunts, takes fishing vacations and belongs to the NRA, finding out that his union leadership accepted money from Libya.

    1. The fact that the US Government also actively encouraged criminal organizations to take over unions (eg: Teamsters) as a preferable alternative to the Communists was a contributing factor.

      1. Well, the mob is (was) very patriotic…

        1. Well, the mob is (was) very patriotic…

          The stories surrounding Lucky Luciano’s patriotism are actually quite inspiring.

        2. Well, the mob is (was) very patriotic…

          Socialists also tend to be very patriotic.

          1. I see no tension what so ever with being an anarcho-capitalist and a patriot. Love of country is practically synonymous with hating the thievery of the state as it is your neighbors, family and self who are being robbed.

            1. Love of country

              I was using “patriotic” as a synonym for “nationalist”

              But yeah there is a difference between the two words and a libertarian can be a patriot of the non-synonym variety.

              1. Patriot is definitely one of the most abused words in our political culture. I like the phrase, ‘my country, drunk or sober’ because there is humility and warts and all there, whereas, ‘my country, right or wrong’ is just a pig headed attitude.

      2. Is that true? Holy shit.

      3. I recently read Red Harvest and wondered how much truth there was to it. Not the specifics, of course, but the general idea of someone in gov’t getting gangsters to take over in preference to Wobblies or reds.

    2. +1000 On the money. All the union guys I know are pretty much white ethnics of Polish and Italian decent who love Buchanan.

      1. A month or so ago I read about a union guy who had been doing canvassing for Democrats for the election. He was worried because he kept visiting union households and hearing Rush or Beck or Hannity or O’Reilly in the background. LOL.

    3. Except for the fact that most of America’s union members are no longer burly guys in denim jackets with sleeves cut off driving camaros and owning boats and jetskis.

      Most of modern America’s union members are SEIU/AFSCME skinny, paper-pushing, middle-managerial, useless, incompetent, latte-drinking, Prius-driving, hipster fucks who take 6-week long taxpayer-funded vacations to Paris and think the Libyans are misunderstood and oppressed because of their exotic ways.

      1. That’s true, but I look down my nose at the Prius drivers, so don’t associate there wit. Guys I have in mind, some Teamsters that deliver for Bath, Body & Beyond (yeah, Gus, you filched those sandlewood smelling bath beeds for your wife, riiight) and a cop who runs a pizza joint who isn’t as bad a guy as that sounds. All of ’em Buchanan men.

        1. The real shit kicker there, Gus is short for Pegasus. His for fucking real middle name. His mother is an artist from Poland who drew the winged horses as her preferred subject matter. Hear tell it from him, she did pretty well as an artist in Warsaw but had family in England and the US so she moved and later married.

        2. Also union members still build shit…like roads and power cables and buildings…they would fit your description.

          1. Nah, they’re usually wiry little Mexicans who pile into pick-ups. They do like their denim though.

            1. Nah, they’re usually wiry little Mexicans who pile into pick-ups.

              I was speaking of government roads government power cables and government buildings

              1. Government union members might control the administration and bidding process, but the contractors (and subcontractors) most everywhere now hire Mexicans and non-union labor, except in the deep blue places where they have no choice otherwise.

        3. “. . . but I look down my nose at Prius drivers . . .”

          Yeah, goddamn them for doing something different.

          1. Since when is driving a Prius ‘doing something different’?

          2. Just to add to the list my monocle sided nose is too snooty for:

            guys who tie sweaters around their shoulders.

            lady commercial spokes women who start to lisp when they get to the precious and adorable part of their pitch.

            Guys who order the chicken at a steakhouse (okay, that guy use to be me).

            Guys who let their hippie girlfriend or ex-wife talk them into becoming vegetarians (okay, that guy use to me, but it didn’t last long.)

            Grad students (stopped with the Masters like everyone else who has places to go, things to do, people to see).

            It’s pretty much a list of things I feel sorry for. The Prius owners are the exact opposite of the car owners I envy, those who can afford the guzzler H2s and the guy who can afford the Jag. But the Prius owner, I just shake my head and think, ‘he did that to himself? On purpose like a stinking vow of poverty?’

          3. If you are one, I’m sure you have positive qualities that more than offset that one negative given you are a member of this fine and well bred establishment.

            I’ll end with an all too familiar quote but one most apt for the occasion.

            A club that would not have me as a member is damned to trial, tribulation and a head on smack with by none other than the son of the morning star himself — Damien Hesse, Astronaut

  4. What is weird is that both countries acted exactly the opposite when Hitler attacked them.

    HITLER!!

    1. You know who else acted different when att…wait, that doesn’t work…

      1. George Orwell claimed Hitler’s attack would herald a new era of English Socialism. Where land would be given to the people and the communists would fall and how it would be so different then other nasty races socialism as it will be singularly an English one and not a fascist one. (seriously his big defense of English socialism is that it would be a nationalist movement opposed to the German social nationalists. Seriously fucked up)

        After reading “Why I Write” I am wondering what the big fuss is about Orwell’s politics. It is only slightly more sophisticated then Tony’s and less coherent.

        1. Are you saying there may be a decent novel or two in Tony? Perhaps when you consider he lacks the recursive reflectiveness that can lead one to self doubt and writer’s block, maybe so.

          1. Are you saying there may be a decent novel or two in Tony? Perhaps when you consider he lacks the recursive reflectiveness that can lead one to self doubt and writer’s block, maybe so.

            Well i did say Tony had a more coherent political philosophy….so it is possible that having incoherent politics may have aided the creation of Orwell’s work…an aid tony would not have relatively.

            But then again maybe the act of writing is form of fascism…in that case Tony could write 10 masterpieces easily.

            1. This dog is smarter than Tony.

              http://tinyurl.com/2e52fl5

              1. That dog is clearly a racist.

                1. Dogs are color blind.

                  The dog is more likely a hunting dog that understands how to cage wild boar.

        2. But there was already a British Union of Fascists who were nationalists and officially opposed to the Nazis.

  5. Is Reason going to review Bloodlands?

    http://www.economist.com/node/17249038

    Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. By Timothy Snyder. Basic Books; 524 pages; $29.95. Bodley Head; ?20. Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

    IN THE middle of the 20th century Europe’s two totalitarian empires, Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, killed 14m non-combatants, in peacetime and in war. The who, why, when, where and how of these mass murders is the subject of a gripping and comprehensive new book by Timothy Snyder of Yale University.

    The term coined in the book’s title encapsulates the thesis. The “bloodlands” are the stretch of territory from the Baltic to the Black Sea where Europe’s most murderous regimes did their most murderous work. The bloodlands were caught between two fiendish projects: Adolf Hitler’s ideas of racial supremacy and eastern expansion, and the Soviet Union’s desire to remake society according to the communist template. That meant shooting, starving and gassing those who didn’t fit in.

    1. Thanks for the tip.

      I’ll get a copy of that book.

    2. “The bloodlands were caught between two fiendish projects: Adolf Hitler’s ideas of racial supremacy and eastern expansion, and the Soviet Union’s desire to remake society according to the communist template. That meant shooting, starving and gassing those who didn’t fit in.”

      Sounds similar to the American experience, then.

      1. Except we used union labor to build our ovens.

  6. Why the French Burn Stuff and the Brits Don’t

    Actually, I thought it had more to do with the fact that the Brits wouldn’t riot without a permit.

    1. i was thinking the ASBO sanctions would be brutal.

    2. CCTV actually.

      1. Ugh, I cringe every time I watch Torchwood or Sarah Jane and every goddamn mystery is solved by looking at the CCTV records that presumably follow you around every waking moment. It’s really killing drama there. Oh, and freedom.

  7. Now I want to read about this “Sam” person who had her “assets” insured for ?1/4m. What is wrong with me?

    1. That’d have to be Samantha Fox.

      1. Ha, I had forgotten about her.

    2. I went to the site the image came from. I think it’s someone named Samantha Fox.

      1. Or maybe Samantha Fox.

  8. You guys sure it’s not because the protesters knew the French government always surrenders? Of course, the counter-protesters will cause the original protesters to surrender. Then, the counter counter-protesters will get the counter-protesters to do the same. The vicious cycle will continue until the US, Brits and Canadians bail their asses out again.

    Haven’t any of you people read a history book? This happens in France every 40-50 years or so.

  9. France is what happens when the the nobility win the contest with the yeomanry and the king wins the contest with the nobility; the peasantry overthrows the king and drags everything into the mud.

    England is what happens when the nobility bests the king, then the yeomanry bests the nobility. The ambitious peasantry filter up into the powerful and orderly yeomanry.

    America is what happens when almost everybody of ambition (the slaves being an important exception) is in the yeomanry to start with and the absentee nobles/king can be removed from governance with minimal disruption.

    1. America is what happens when almost everybody of ambition (the slaves being an important exception) is in the yeomanry to start with and the absentee nobles/king can be removed from governance with minimal disruption.

      And it sure doesn’t hurt when there’s an ocean between the yeomanry and the nobles/king. India is another example that works, but their caste system fucked up their chances at being another America.

      1. India is another example that works, but their caste system fucked up their chances at being another America.

        How well does Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the Americas do in this regard?

        1. I don’t think they apply to Aussie or NZ because they never really overthrew their government in a conventional manner. They still have a strong relationship/identity with the crown.

          Regarding the rest of America, they haven’t done nearly as well as we did developing into a stable form of government. Not to say that we haven’t really dropped the ball in some ways, but I’d take what we have over most of the tin-pot dictators scattered throughout the Americas. (And Canada follows the Aussie/NJ pattern.)

        2. Australia, New Zealand, and Canada fit the US model pretty well, maybe more so since they got rid of their noble rulers with even less disruption (they still have the Queen, but she doesn’t really do anything). The rest of mainland America doesn’t work out as well since they had the Iberian class system transplanted on them to one extent or another. To a degree they’ve kind of followed the French model. I don’t know enough about West Indian history to say much about them, but for the most part the slaves made up the majority of the population there, so I’m sure that had a big influence. I guess Haiti could fit in the French category.

        3. Australia, NZ, and non-French Canada wind up somewhere between the US and Britain because they didn’t have the sharp clean break the way the US did, but they didn’t have resident nobility, either.

          Quebec is just weird; it wound up in its own bubble of 18th Century rural French society moved to a frontier and then overlaid with British government. The Quebec model is accordingly its own thing, with the proviso that the reactions are still moderated by its presence in Canada.

          The rest of the Americas were, as Ornithorhyncus says, societies organized on a typical class system. This put their popular revolutions in the same “peasant revolt” class resentment as you got in the French Revolution, and the same dynamic.

          In the Continental European/Latin American dynamic, power wounds up concentrated in two places; the upper class and the lower class. The upper has all legitimate power; the lower the power of numbers to tear everything down. The middle class winds up torn in half, resenting the upper class and fearing the anarchic chaos of the lower class. The result eventually moderated out in France to an elite of the Ecoles running the country, matched by a socially acceptable degree of mob violence used as a combination vent and signaling mechanism. When less stabilized, you get a seesaw between ossified reactionary oligarchies and revolutionary radical tyrannies, depending on which type of lawlessness the middle class has a current marginal preference for. See Latin America, 1820-present.

  10. Why the French Burn Stuff and the Brits Don’t

    Come on! The French just have that certain “Je ne sais quoi”.

  11. Speaking of Moynihan and minority integration here is a fun video:

    http://reason.tv/video/show/michael-moynihan-discusses-the-1

    I am beginning to hate that woman from Russia today.

    Though it is funny how she got Mikey to agree with things he most definitely does not agree with.

    Next time Moynihan say “The racist element of the tea party is a minority element and not the dominant message i have seen. They focus on economic issues not cultural issues.”

    If you have to practice it.

    1. The best part is at the end and you can see a light go off in Moynihan’s head.

      “Oh shit what just happened”

      1. Here is a screen shot of the exact moment Moynihan realizes that he just got tricked into calling the entire Tea Party movement; lunatics

        http://reason.wikia.com/wiki/Moynihan_“Oh_Shit”

        Comedy gold.

    2. That was teh awesome. Rushky spy chick hoodwinked our comrade.

    3. Speaking of Moynihan and minority integration here is a fun video

      Look, anytime you hear somebody refer to gypsies as “the Roma”, it pretty much screams “SWPL Bozo” in flashing neon lights.

  12. Why do West Virginians burn couches while Michiganers burn cars?

    1. I was not aware of either activity. The propensity of a form of criminal behavior where evidence needs to be disposed is differentiated in these respective states, perhaps?

      1. It usually accompanies a celebration of a big sports victory. In Montreal, they prefer dumpsters, while in L.A. they go straight for the cop cars.

        1. Weird, when I was at Carolina and we won a major event, we would just hump each other on Franklin St.

          1. We did the same thing at Duke, but with women.

    2. Oh, they burn couches in Michigan, too. See “East Lansing”…

      Plus, the RichRod influence may bring couch burning further south in the state….although he’ll have to, you know, WIN something to test that hypothesis.

    3. Not much couch burning in WV these days. The Mountaineers are not likely to win many big games as long as Coach Gomer is around.

  13. “In 1945, the communist takeover of CGT so worried the anti-communist American Federation of Labor that the group opened offices in Europe to counteract Moscow’s influence on unions across Western Europe.”

    By the way, the work of the AFL-CIO in winning the Cold War remains among the most under-reported and forgotten aspects of the Cold War. …forgotten by my fellow Americans that is.

    It’s probably hard for young people today to imagine how staunchly anti-communist and pro-free market some of our unions and union leaders used to be.

    But there was a time not so long ago, when some of the most important labor leaders in this country thought that breaking down trade barriers–which kept American goods out of foreign markets–was very much the proper role of unions. …with the USSR being about the biggest trade barrier to American goods imaginable.

    Conservatives have made a mistake in recent decades of abandoning our pitch to labor, but labor was once an important part of the Reagan Coalition.

    If we want to take the Tea Party all the way home, and kick Obama out of our White House, then I think we should probably start working on rebuilding some of our old alliances–right about now.

    Maybe there’s no George Meany out there anymore, but now’s about the time to start looking for one.

    1. You act like we owe them something. Nope. Not even the time of day.

    2. I would love to do an experiment, let’s say in your west coast state, you continue to play nice with the unions both public and private letting them fuck you in the ass KY Jelly free; in my state we not only have right to work laws but in addition, no restrictions on employment based on membership in a monopolistic guild allowed, period, and then in twenty years lets compare notes.

      If anything, there should be a quantitative valuation on what they have amassed due to restrictions on trade and labor through laws that deny liberty and be made to pay it back.

      1. “no restrictions on employment based on membership in a monopolistic guild allowed, period”

        So even if an employer wanted to restrict his hiring to union members you would bar it? How libertarian of you…

        1. So even if an employer wanted to restrict his hiring to union members you would bar it? How libertarian of you…

          A deliberate misreading.

          1. How so? I pasted his exact words. If an employer wants to contract only with union members why shouldn’t he be allowed to?

        2. MNG if yuo are going to engage in badfaith argumentation, avoid my post; I wont tolerate it.

        3. Please do note, what you suggest in your deliberate misreading is no more authoritarian than the actual laws on the books that have been pushed by unions for over a century. The only difference is it goes against their interest instead of giving them a coercive lever. Funny, how you notice the authoritarian nature of such laws in the context of management, but not labor and guild where it actually does exist.

      2. I didn’t say anything about playing nice with the public employee unions.

        I said there were unions in the past who hated communism and championed free trade, and I seconded Moynihan’s example of that.

        The fact is that northern and mid-western blue collar, yes, unionized workers supported Ronald Reagan and his big tent, which made the good things Reagan did possible.

        And if we want to enact change even more dramatic than what Ronald Reagan did, then we’re going to need at least as much as support as he had.

        There’s no reason why free trade and capitalism shouldn’t improve the lives of union workers. We need to get them on board with that.

        1. IIRc the Teamsters endorsed Reagan in 80.

        2. Hmmm, didn’t Reagan double the payroll tax?

          1. Not sure I follow…

            Are you saying that blue collar union members didn’t support Reagan becasue of something or other…?

            I wasn’t talking about an opinion. I was talking about a fact.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reagan_coalition

            Reagan beat Carter because he stole a big chunk of the Democrat’s union vote, and he slaughtered Mondale for doubling down on the same demographic–after he did all those things from ’80 to ’84 that supposedly made union members so mad.

            Ronald Reagan was a union man. Ronald Reagan was the head of the Screen Actors Guild. Ronald Reagan hated communism as he did–in no small part–because of what communists did to screen actors during the Red Scare.

            Ronald Reagan cut his political teeth speaking to GE’s unionized workforce.

            Nobody hates public employees unions more than I do. Nobody hates what the UAW has done to Detroit or the American taxpayers (in cahoots with the Obama Administration) more than I do.

            But I can hate the sin and not the sinner. And one of the good reasons to despise the UAW is because of what they’ve done to their own members. That union destroyed whole cities–true–but look at what they do to their junior members! Sorry you get such a raw deal, kid, but all your bargaining power is going to pay for members who retired twenty years before you were born?

            Capitalism could free them from that. They should know about it. All blue collar workers should know about what Capitalism can do for them, and Reagan showed us, even when unions were more important than they are now, we don’t need their leadership to make a difference.

      3. no restrictions on employment based on membership in a monopolistic guild allowed, period

        Key word to understanding the passage is monopolistic. Monoploies on labor being what is, can only be provided by government edict. Hence a clause underscoring the restriction being one on government our cleverer than thou union cheerleader expects from me is entirely unnecessary.

        You really don’t need to indulge in bad faith argumentation, your talents are well above that.

        1. Monoploies on labor being what is

          Monopolies on labor, labor being what is,

    3. People forget for example when the AFL-CIO welcomed Solzhenitsyn at a time when the Ford administration snubbed him so as not to upset the commissariat back in the USSR.

      1. People forget that the AFL-CIO sought out and worked to decertify unions who they thought were working against American interests.

        “Trade-unions deemed leftist, including the United Electrical Workers and the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Employees of America, were dismissed from the CIO by the early 1950s. AFL-CIO unions then cooperated with employers to raid and decertify leftist unions.”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Meany

        For a long time, the AFL-CIO used to publish a newspaper called the “Free Trade Union News”.

        We need union leadership like that again.

  14. Free Mumia, WTF? If he was innocent, the po lice would have killed him a long time ago.

  15. Interestingly, iirc the protests in France have a bit of a Tea Party angle in that many of the protestors note their anger at austerity cuts is augmented by their government’s bank bailouts…

    1. You’re really straining this morning, aren’t you?

      1. I often strain in the morning like MNG did here. It’s usually when I’m constipated and am trying to push out a massive shit. Hey, just like MNG did here as well.

        And I thought I had nothing in common with him.

  16. God, I wish I lived in France.

    1. We could take up a collection.

      Seriously.

      The Send Max to France Permanently Fund?

      We could raise that around here in a weekend!

      1. If i am ever rich i will buy a banner ad at reason for that.

        1. Speaking of ads i was thinking the other day a business could give reason magazine money and still write it off on their taxes.

          Simply buy ad space in their magazine or website.

          Advertising is a business expense right?

          1. Donations to the Reason Foundation are tax deductible.

            1. Yes, but we probably need to incorporate as something or other to accept tax deductible donations for the Send Max to France Permanently Fund, don’t we?

              Otherwise, we could set it up on Facebook tonight.

  17. A l’eau, c’est l’heure.

  18. Is that you, Jean Bart?

  19. What is weird is that both countries acted exactly the opposite when Hitler attacked them.

    Yes, the French tried to continue to fight and take heavy losses in the face of an attack for which they were unprepared while the British dropped their weapons and fled back across the Channel.

    If you want to fault anyone fault the hidebound senior command of the French Army for not anticipating the new kind of tank and air war the Germans unleashed not the French soldiers who paid the price for their leaders lack of preparedness.

    1. B-but, Surrender Monkeys! Freedom Fries!

    2. “If you want to fault anyone fault the hidebound senior command of the French Army for not anticipating the new kind of tank and air war the Germans unleashed not the French soldiers who paid the price for their leaders lack of preparedness.”

      Most of us making fun of the French do not do so because of this part of their WWII history, but because after they were defeated so many of them were quite willing & and heavily inclined to kiss up to their German conquerors’ arses and champion their causes. While some fought to throw off the yoke, many more had no problem going along.

  20. Further Friday fun fact: the AFL, and later the AFL-CIO, thanks to the efforts of Jay Lovestone and others, fought the commies for decades. There’s a fascinating bio of Lovestone out. You can read about him here at Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Lovestone

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