For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been watching the Paris riots with disbelief. The rioters seemed foolish–raging against a pragmatic law designed with the country’s future in mind. I’d been unable to really articulate my view until I heard an excellent NPR radio program. It’s an episode (MP3) of The Politics of Culture:
Are the demonstrations in France over a new law intended to get employers to hire young people a sort of canary in the mine? Can European social democracy, with the generous benefits it guarantees, survive in the face of globalization? KCRW General Manager Ruth Seymour speaks with Sebastian Rotella, Paris Bureau Chief of the Los Angeles Times, who’s been covering the streets demonstrations, John Peet, Europe Editor for the Britain’s bi-weekly Economist, and French philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Leevy.
As NPR points out, there are a ton of ironies in the French protests. The weirdest is that the protesting groups–students, unions, and so forth–fought so hard in 1968 for change. Now they’re actually fighting for the status quo. They want civil servant jobs, long vacations and a 35-hour work week. The government, meanwhile, is trying to render change.
Whether you’re well-informed or totally ignorant on the Paris riots, this show is worth a listen. It’s about half an hour long. Thanks to Todd for introducing me to this podcast.
As a bonus link, here are some pretty remarkable photos from the Paris riots.