An INTP's effort to make sense of the events in France

Monday, November 07, 2005
Some random thoughts on the events in France (and Europe) herewith:

First: the absolutely wonderful sense of schadenfreude after listening to the pompous lectures of the Europeans as well as some of my francophile expat friends on American failures during the recent spate of natural disasters; its admittedly juvenile but it does feel good.

Second: confirmation in my own mind that the French elites (Sarkozy, de Villepin, Chirac et al have purposely subjected the French government to immoblisme because they appear to me to be more concerned about winning the presidential election next year than making a large mistake than already made in dealing with the rioting.

Third: thought number two seques into this one--a political elite more concerned with its status goes a long way toward explaining how they could have marginalized a significant part of their population for so long.

Fourth: the big picture question: is this simply an exercise in economically and socially based frustration? or does it have a muslim foundation. I dont know the answer, but these two points seem to have emerged among our colleagues and ourselves as the polar positions. I believe it was Knuck that pointed out the question is really irrelevant, because even if it is strictly an economic protest, it does create a fertile foundation for jihadist recruiting: I mean, isnt that the left's view of the success among the theocratic/authoritarian middle east regimes that are all muslim to start with? Certainly, if their argument is correct there, why is no less correct among "les jeunes" of France? At any rate, I think the longer term consequences are more ominous than those speaking to the economic argument are willing to confront. It will also be interesting to see if this same sort of conflict spreads to the industrial areas of Germany with their large populations of Turks and Slavs.

Fifth: The failure of the whole western left's focus on multiculturalism--It looks to me like that whole philosophy is in shambles; I dont care if the US model is a melting pot or a salad--whatever the case, it seems to be preferable to what is going on in Europe.

Finally, what appears to me to be the failure of the MSM to really report on this with the same elan they did on the situation in New Orleans following Katrina--I hear long periods of silence among that commentariat who are always willing to demonize American for its failings but somehow unwilling to come to grips with an equally, if not more serious situation in the--ahem--"European Union."

I am sure there are even more issues involved, but these seem to be the most salient to me at this time.


Syl said...

What's 'INTP'?

RogerA said...

Myer Brigg's profile designation. Means that I dont have high closure needs, tend to be a thinker more than a feeler when making decisions, and need to understand the "big picture."

chuck said...


Roger, damnit, the word is schadenfreude, not schadenfreunde.

chuck said...

A curious phenomenon that could develop is this: suppose the riots have no direct Islamist roots. The far left, which has allied itself with the Islamists, will even so seek to find Islamist inspiration in the revolt. This is just speculation on my part, but it would mark the final decent of the left into irrelevance.

ambisinistral said...

The press coverage of the French riots has been atrocious. The transparent attempt never to mention the word Moslem is but one facet of their poor coverage.

For example, Scott Burgess at Daily Ablution has a post called French 'Scum' Exposed - They're Impolite Cyclists, Not Rampaging Arsonists concerning the frequent claim that Sarkozy's use of the term racaille (scum) was intolerably provacative and caused and esculation of the riots.

He points out that Azouz Begag, the Cultural minister who so vehemently objected to the term, had some interesting things to say iin a 2002 column. To quote Burgess' post:

How odd that there's been almost no coverage (except in a tiny Le Monde piece - 7 Nov., page 6, apparently not online) of a May, 2002 Le Monde opinion column, in which the affronted M. Begag refers to "youths of whom everyone is afraid"; misfits who "challenge every code of social conduct". While one might find this a pretty good description of the rioters, M. Begag refers, not to vicious gangs of thugs, but to those who "ride scooters without helmets, ride on the sidewalks in contempt of the pedestrians" and ignore traffic lights.

For M. Begag, these are the actions of - you guessed it - "racaille".

As usual the MSM's coverage went down the rabbit hole on the French riots. I wonder how their tea party is going?

Syl said...


Well, I think through the various options and their possible consequences, lay them out, then make the final decision on emotion. :)

A woman's prerogative, intuition kind of thing.

kikkokatty2433 said...

Non of it makes sense. Why someone would distroy their own things or anyone elses.

Syl said...

re the subject matter.

What I'm seeing is a group of people pushing back against any type of authority that is not their own.

In essence, they are seceding from France proper.

RogerA said...

Chuck--thanks! My mind seems to be caught in the friend thing--Most of my German centers around "ein bier, bitte," noch ein bier, bitte, etc :)

ambisinistral said...


That would be my take. They consider the neighborhoods to be defacto Moslem territories and as such it is intolerable to have infidels ruling them.

Dancing Crow said...

I am an American. I am shocked and horrified to see what is happening in France. I would certainly have it to be otherwise. That said, know this.

Blindness on the part of politicians and govt. officials is not limited to merely the US or France. ALL Govt.s must address their citizens with proper respect to their dignity and culture. Any failure to do so will result in more of the same.

The poor in the World feel trapped by regimes who do not treat with them in respect and dignity. If there does not exist a way to work their way out of poverty/starvation people revolt. Of all the World's people the French should understand this best! Vive Revolution!

Pure Communism was theorized/proposed to address this, but it cannot exist due to the selfish interests on the part of its administrators. That is why it failed in the Com-Bloc States.

Knucklehead said...


I was once upon a time interested in what the igniting impetus was. I think the time has passed when that was important to ponder. Now I wonder what will come of this.

...the big picture question: is this simply an exercise in economically and socially based frustration? or does it have a muslim foundation. I dont know the answer, but these two points seem to have emerged among our colleagues and ourselves as the polar positions. I believe it was Knuck that pointed out the question is really irrelevant, because even if it is strictly an economic protest, it does create a fertile foundation for jihadist recruiting...

I don't believe I have made the "fertile foundation for jihadist recruiting" case when it comes to these riots. Young men anyhwere on the spectrum from "hopelessly disenfranchised" to "dissatisfied with their current condition" will always be, and always have been, fertile ground for recruiting. That is, to me at least, a given.

Angry young men who have reached the point of thoroughly rejecting authority are capable of disrupting most anything from school dances to entire sections of modern cities and can do so with nearly completely spontaneously. What they aren't normally capable of is sustaining such disruptions and developing plans of action. That requires some level of discipline and angry young men don't do discipline very well absent leadership.

The sheer tenacity of these riots suggests that there is some leadership at work. I cannot accept that nearly two weeks into these riots they remain a matter of the spontaneous actions of angry young men.

If there is, indeed, leadership at work who is providing it? Some people seem to suggest that "simple" gangsterism is providing the leadership, probably drug traffickers and various other semi-organized, but relatively minor, criminal "masterminds". It is entirely possible that this is where the leadership is coming from. I sure don't know to any degree of anything approaching certainty. I just somebody is pulling some some strings attached to these angy young puppets.

One big danger is how long the French continue to fail to assert their governmental authority? The rioters seem to pretty clearly reject all forms of what traditionally passes for authority - police, parents, local "imams".

Some point to the rejection of the local imams as some evidence that this isn't an "Islamic" or "Islamists" thing. I don't see that activity as particularly meaningful since the French government has apparently spent a great deal of time and effort to create some sort of "approved" "Islamic" authority. It seems to me the rejection of all French authority would include these "approved" imams.

The longer this goes on without some for of recognizable authority the more powerful the vaccuum becomes.

I don't fret so much that these "difficult neighborhoods" represent prime territory for the recruitment of young cannon fodder to the Islamist cause (although that is worth fretting over). What I do fret over is the "difficult neighborhoods" represent a powerfully attractive, irresistable perhaps, prize for Islamist leadership.

These areas are crying out for, begging for, leadership. Someone is going to fill that market demand and it doesn't seem it can be the French or their approved imams. The best case scenario, sad as it is, is that "mere gangsters" will fill it. The worst case scenario is that some form of Zarqawi will fill it.

I have also tried to make the case that the background culture (Muslim) of these rioters is an important ingredient in this nasty stew.

Peter UK said...

The comparisons between immigration into America and immigration into Europe are dissimilar in a crucial respect.Immigrants to America are constructing a culture,immigrants to Europe are re-constructing a culture,one which is thousands of years old.
The culture of Europe was already under strain from EU integrationist policies and Gramscian undermining of its Institutions.
On top of the comes the largest human migration in history,if the short timescale is accounted for .In a few decades,nay, only a few short years whole cities have become a foreign land.
By and large the native populations have been extremely tolerant,if bewildered,by the influx of millions of immigrants.
But the main dilemma is,nobody,not the liberal elite,not the great and good,know just where this great social engineering will end up.

chuck said...

The worst case scenario is that some form of Zarqawi will fill it.

Ah, but Zarqawi started in Jordan as a gangster and, I believe, a rapist. Just as the brutal and criminal Stalin replaced and executed the big shot intellectuals with the bulging brows, the criminal element will probably replace the Bin Ladens and Zawahiris.

Why pansy-assed intellectuals fantasize that they can swim with the sharks beats the hell out of me. Probably just another symptom of the profound stupidity of "intellectuals".

MeaninglessHotAir said...


As for "Islamic" and "socio-economic", the two explanations are not unconnected. As you point out, bad socio-economic conditions lay the groundwork for Islamofascism. On the other hand, what hasn't been pointed out so explicitly is that some versions of Islam lay the conditions for bad socio-economic conditions. By turning the women into second-class baby-factories, Islamic ghettoes can produce a lot of disaffected young males who are not subject to the well-known civilizing influences of women. Therefore, the separation between these two causes is to some extent a false dichotomy

Peter UK said...

I have often wondered if bin Laden is not also hiding from any pretenders to the throne,after all there is a lot of money at stake.
It always appeared to me that Zarqawi was making a name for himself,like any other underboss.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

dancing crow,

I agree with you. Governments have an obligation to deal with poverty and unemployment and leaving large portions of their populations to this fate without a helping hand is criminal.

Unfortunately, there is vast disagreement on how to go about this. Roughly speaking, there are two very sincere camps. One camp believes that there hasn't been enough socialism. The other camp believes that socialism itself is creating poverty and unemployment. I happen to belong to the latter group.

Until the government chooses the right policies to help the poor, the mere willingness to help the poor will not suffice.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


By the way, I am an ENTP.


You need to go take the test.

Knucklehead said...


Thanks for pointing that out. I have this recurring vision of "Islamism" being, essentially, nothing more than a disguise used by a bunch of particularly clever and ruthless criminals.

How to be a major criminal enterprise 101

Step 1: Appear to be something other than what you are
Step 2: Get those who are stupid enough to believe you are what you appear to be to give you enough money to cover basic opex.
Step 3: Extort enough capital to fund growth from those smart enough to recognize you for what you are but too weak to stand up to you
Step 4: Once you have sufficient cash flow go after the big money by bribing and extorting western governments.

chuck said...


Non of it makes sense. Why someone would distroy their own things or anyone elses.

What's to explain. They don't destroy their own stuff, just that of the neighbors and the gringos. Tons of fun, stay out late, play hide and go seek, and burn stuff up. The only thing more entertaining would be to blow stuff up and advance to rape and pillage. Struttin' your stuff and lording it over the neighborhood is called social mobility.

Perhaps you haven't payed much attention to history and the stuff that turns youth on?

Knucklehead said...


Destroy other people's stuff to demonstrate the capability and willingness to do so. This establishes future targets for extortion.

The only reasons to destroy something on one's own is misdirection (he can't be one of the arsonists - his car was also burned) or to demonstrate that the thing has no value to you (I don't give a damn about my BMW. Once I've driven the infidels out I'll have more BMWs than I can count and a driver for each).

truepeers said...

Chuck, some intellectuals are not pansy-assed but sharks themselves. Stalin started out as a poet and seminary student!

terrye said...

Maybe the sad truth is they don't have anything else to do.

The French keep a roof over their heads and feed them but they lack purpose.

The riots give them purpose if only for awhile.

All of a sudden they are somebody.

Kind of like the KKK. They liked to think they were religious too. They liked to think they had been mistreated too.

Jamie Irons said...

Roger, I habe doch viele Schadenfreunde.


Jamie Irons

chuck said...

More on the power vacuum at Harry's place.

Stalin started out as a poet and seminary student

That's true. Of course, he *was* from Georgia. You know, where the swim team was photographed floating on their backs while smoking cigarettes ;) Even so, Stalin soon moved on to bank robbery and spent time in Siberia while the worker's champion Lenin was lounging about on the boulevards of Zurich and begging his mama for funds.

Rick Ballard said...


The trick is to find a mass murdering "applicator" of Hegelian historicism who didn't have at least some intellectual pretensions. Pol Pot, maybe. Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler and Mao were all expositors of one branch or another. Not to mention the French intellectuals who did so much to lay the groundwork for the Great Terror.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


Pol Pot had great intellectual pretensions, educated in Paris under the best Communists.

What about Chavez? He seems to be a plain old thug, too dumb to hide it. Very much in the Sulla/Marius mold to my eye.

truepeers said...

That's right Rick, so how do we explain the Burkes? What's the truth to a fruitful intellectual life, and why do so many intellectuals miss it?

Syl said...

Roger and MHA

I don't belong here. I think I'm a lefty!


slightly expressed introvert

slightly expressed intuitive

moderately expressed feeling

slightly expressed judging

Knucklehead said...


You are. The "right" has come to you. The "left" has moved away from you. This is the nature of things if one is constant.

Rick Ballard said...


I've been trying to frame a post on Burke. Vnjagvet made an astute comment the other day about the changing use of descriptors by different generations. I believe the terms he used were feel, for the younger generation, think for the Boomers and see for their progenitors.

Burke had great intellectual curiosity and equally great disdain for experimentation based upon theory. He "saw" things as they existed and knew himself well enough and honestly enough to also see other men as they were. Acknowledging the absolute necessity for change, he sought at every instance to ameliorate the potential damage arising from enthusiasm that did not acknowledge the dangers involved with it.

It would be difficult to find a greater contrast in thought than that between Burkean concepts and those espoused by the cretins who have attempted to realize Hegelian historicism. Dangerous fools fumbling through their own ignorance in the forlorn belief that prolix complexity bears a relationship to truth.

Ecco, le francese.

truepeers said...

Acknowledging the absolute necessity for change, he sought at every instance to ameliorate the potential damage arising from enthusiasm that did not acknowledge the dangers involved with it.

the necessity for change...So Burke was a neocon:-?

But seriously, if you acknowledge the necessity of change is there not some way to redeem Hegel from the horrible perversion his ideas got from Marx & Co.?

Change is necessary because some kind of conversation, exchange, aka dialectic, is necessary.

chuck said... there not some way to redeem Hegel from the horrible perversion his ideas got from Marx & Co.?

Why, yes, there is. You can point out that Hegel proved the existence of precisely seven planets from first principles. It is one of the glories of philosophy.

Syl said...


I'm also an 'innie'. Does that make it okay then?


Rick Ballard said...


Determing the influence of Hegel upon Strauss is beyond my competence. It seems to be that Strauss may have fallen in love with the density of Hegelian prose in his selection of esoteric over exoteric expression but actually nailing either of them down conceptually is about as easy as nailing jello to a tree.

I accept the necessity of a dialectic but synthesis involving immutables always brings me up a tad short. The little 'nature of man' problem simply does not seem (to me) to be tractable.

That does not mean that I wouldn't slap my forehead while exclaiming "Well, duh" if someone articulated a comprehensible resolution - I jist ain't seen it yet.

vnjagvet said...

ENFJ for me all "moderately expressed", with the N for intuitive the highest expression at 50%.

Interesting. Sounds ok for a trial lawyer from reading the mini analyses.

That's good to know after all these years.

One thing is clear in France. The French and other Europeans are a whole lot more tolerant of rioting thugs on their own continent than they are on the North American continent. Seems counterintuitive to me. And somewhat perverse.


Schaden Freunde is literally "shameful friends" in German. In keeping with our admiration for puns, I believe you have coined one. If not, it might be a "freundian" slip.


RogerA said...

VNJAGVET--you are right about the pun--and I assure you it was unintended as was revelling in the French "discomforts" That's Chuck's schadenfreude :) But your translation has equal merit! This one is right up with with Ich bin ein berliner (unity with Berliners or I am a creme filled pastry)

And HOW did this thread become a seminar on Hegel? There is not telling which way these things go.

vnjagvet said...


Also, I caught you at Althouse today in the middle of the blogspat between "Mark" and "Critical Observer" arguing the niceties of an Alito 11th Amendment opinion.

That is a continuation of the thread involving the redoubtable Armando about which I commented last week.

There are probably few more esoteric issues involving both Constitutional Law and Federalism than this one.

BTW: Alito is "in the mainstream" on this one. Not just on the right of the mainstream as asserted by Mark but in the mainstream and technically correct to boot.

You held your own, and asked the right questions in my opinion.

Knucklehead said...

You mean to tell me that this is an actual word with an actual meaning?

I always it was "schade, Freud", a shortened version of "Das ist schade, Freud", a "no shit, Sherlock" sort of statement that was the odd German equivalent, roughly speaking, of "iife sucks and then you die" or "it sucks to be you" or, perhaps, "shit happens".