Saturday, April 01, 2006

Halte au blocage!

There was a general strike last Tuesday in France and another is threatened for next week. So every left-thinking intellectual is against the CPE? Think again. It's hard to find anyone intelligent who supports the current manifestations. Unlike the student revolt of the sixties, where important principles were in play, this time around it's mainly a bit of fun at the government's expense (and the country's).

A young man was handing out leaflets in the market today. It turned out that he was a student at the local teacher training college and was campaigning for a halt to the school and university closures that have severely threatened the ability of students to take their finals and get on with their lives. A friend's daughter is similarly disturbed that she cannot complete her M.A. this year because of the closure of Toulouse University.

The dirty little secret is that the main beneficiaries of the CPE would be the heavily unemployed urban under-26s without higher education. The whiter, especially male, graduates of university-level education aren't doing so badly and have no interest in changing the system. This is not so much a revolution as a reactionary movement of disaffected students, supported by the unions, who are very powerful despite representing only 5% of the workforce.

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