French are getting ready to go back to school, back to work and back to the real world. Soon, hot news topics won’t revolve around holiday traffic chaos, hidden gems to visit, summer jobs and seasonal food. In September, people get back to business and the atmosphere turns serious.
France is sobering up after two months where the country was unofficially on pause.
“Where were we, already?” “Oh yeah… that new president that fails to win unanimous support… oh, and the labour code reform we don’t want… eh, we still have a migrant crisis, don’t we? What? Are you saying our eggs are actually contaminated? Rhô… merde…”
We won’t be here for the first national, general strike scheduled for September 12, but I already saw a couple of political gatherings and there is definitely more police in the street this week.
French are prone to contradicting, criticizing and even insubordination. Arguably, this kind of attitude gets them nowhere—major strikes and protests are fairly useless in the long run. Capitalism ain’t going anywhere, except deeper in our minds. Yet, the longer I live in North America, the more I appreciate the way some French still dedicate time and energy to fight the system. Many immigrants I know moved to Canada or the US because they wanted to live in a society ruled by neoliberalism and see the “power” of capitalist market forces work for them. Some French immigrants openly make fun of “socialist” governments and their safety net, and look down upon anyone using benefits such as employment insurance or parental leave. I was already left-wing before I settled in Canada and years of living the “free-market dream” strengthen my political beliefs. When one side rules and the other can’t do much but sell labour power to an entity, I’ll err on the side that’s powerless, thank you very much. I have dreams in which companies aren’t operating cookie-cutter corporate cults and in which creating and living are skills as valuable as making money.
I’ll protest too. I already do… in my own way.