France is falling apart. Worse, it shows the signs of a galloping third-worldization. Food and drug shortages, degradation of public services, deterioration of cities, industrial and political disintegration, explosion of violence and illegal immigration… Soon, our society will have only one caste of the powerful and a mass of the miserable.
It’s the third world! This sentence, we hear it more and more often, whether in the bistro or on television sets. When I was a college student, we stopped talking about underdeveloped countries, a term considered offensive, to prefer that of developing countries. Well, many French people now have the feeling that their country is in the process of underdevelopment – or third-worldization.
It is impossible to list all the signs of this downturn, as there are so many of them. No offense to beautiful souls, the first, in any case the most visible, is the presence on our soil of many populations not only from the third world, which in a republican paradise would not be of any importance but which, often, have preserved their mores and even their anthropology, as in those plethoric families made up of a man, his wives and their numerous descendants. The massive arrival of asylum seekers who have become illegal immigrants has resulted in the return of veritable slums, planted along the highways. Elsewhere, there are pitched battles between rival clans, formed on ethnic bases, which dispute the control of territories and trade.
Our cities, once a symbol of civilization and the art of living, are plagued by street crime that can no longer be euphemized under the banner of incivility. Ghost construction sites, where you never see a worker working, abound there. In the name of the fight for the climate, the streets are now deprived of night lighting.
This visible third-worldization is perhaps the tree that hides the forest from the general decline. Another phrase is becoming commonplace: nothing works in this country! This inefficiency strikes first the administrations and the public services, formerly the jewels of a modern State. They are today the sicknesses of a State that is both omnipotent and impotent – the only exception being the tax authorities, the collection of taxes continuing to be done efficiently, at least for the average taxpayer who cannot play the leaps -borders to escape. The French are less and less well trained, cared for, protected, transported – and even imprisoned, as evidenced by the pitiful state of our prison establishments which, at the rate things are going, will soon have nothing to envy to Turkish prisons or brazilian.
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After all, it will be objected, we still remain the fifth world power. First, in statistical terms, it is to be seen. According to the World Bank, the French GDP per capita fell from 45,334 dollars in 2008 to 38,635 dollars in 2020 (in constant 2020 dollars. Our economy is also becoming Third World. According to Nicolas Baverez, the French only produce 36% of the material goods they consume. We import goods with high added value and now only export our luxury products, which is not nothing, but cannot constitute the only sector of excellence of a great nation. Our foreign trade is therefore structurally unbalanced, with a deficit that should amount to 156 billion euros this year (against more than 100 billion surplus for Germany despite the war in Ukraine). Despite Emmanuel Macron’s promises on the restoration of our industrial sovereignty, pharmacies are now instructed not to sell more than two boxes of Doliprane to each patient, this one still being manufactured in a China which is itself in a bad patch due to Covid.
Finally, another characteristic of underdeveloped societies, we are witnessing the slow disappearance of the middle class, eroded by globalization, and the emergence of a society polarized between the very rich and the poor who no longer live in the same world.
People will say that we are spoiled children, and that it would be enough to take a trip to Rio de Janeiro or Lagos to discover that we are still very largely privileged compared to a large part of the planet. Without a doubt. The fact remains that all the indicators that shape our future are red: the level of French pupils and students continues to drop, as does the performance of our research, our ancestral know-how is disappearing, for lack of transmission, the indebtedness reaches dizzying levels.
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It remains to be seen who is responsible for this long disintegration. We are tempted, of course, to accuse our leaders, guilty of culpable cowardice and inertia set up as a mode of governance. One has the impression that the last thirty years have been summed up by a series of bad decisions or non-decisions, as if our elected officials had given up acting on reality. However, should we exonerate the governed from all responsibility, when we spend our time complaining about what the community should do for us without ever asking ourselves what we could do for it? Transformed into a people of rights holders, we expect the nanny state to provide us with everything we want, including children and a normal family life, while finding its guardianship too burdensome. In a recent survey, 69% of those questioned support the right to laziness invoked by Sandrine Rousseau: like the food we eat, the trains we take, the clothes we wear do not make themselves, this means that a majority of French people find it legitimate that others work for them. Young people, who don’t have words harsh enough to accuse adults, recognize and even demand to do as little as possible at work. We learn that the RATP will pay a bonus of €450 to any driver who has worked three consecutive months without absence (apart from regular holidays), in particular without sick leave. This means that pride in a job well done is a thing of the past….
No doubt we have beautiful remains, including some great thinkers, artists and intellectuals. Only, we hardly see the next generation coming. If France is still considered a middle power, there are more and more reasons to think that its future is behind it. Rome was not defeated in a day. But she ended up disappearing from history.