The story behind the riots sweeping across France It has two juicy ingredients that, unfortunately, encourage its political and media use: immigration and the Police. The death of Nahel, the 17-year-old who died last week after being shot by an agent while trying to flee from a roadblock without a license, has been used by many to denounce racism and xenophobia of France and, particularly, of its security forces, which they label as violent.
“We are living what we already live in the US with issues related to police action against blacks. I remember a case in which it was discovered that the policeman was also black, and that blacks hate blacks seems more complicated,” says Florentino Portero, a historian and international relations analyst, ironically. In this sense, he warns that not even riots originated as a result of the death of Nahel can be explained by appealing only to the great migratory problem that exists in the neighboring country.
To the lack of integration of those immigrants who come from former French colonies -this is not the case with Chinese, Portuguese or citizens of any other nationality-, two issues are added that have nothing to do with this phenomenon, but with the history of a country that has in its genes the calls jacqueries or peasant revolts of the Middle Ages and in which citizens -French or not- have become accustomed in recent years “to a standard of living that is not viable“.
“As usually happens in this type of thing, there are different planes or layers, and one is just as important as the other,” insists Portero, who ironizes again by assuring that, contrary to what it may seem, the violent “are behaving like authentic French: burning town halls and burning mayors is a medieval tradition”. Fortunately, this is no longer literal, but in recent days they have seen attacks against the homes of several councilors, against which the violent have launched cars on fire.
The imprint of the jacqueries
As a historian, Portero vindicates the past to understand the present. Hence, in the first place, he appeals to the already mentioned jacqueriesin which the peasants attacked the lords, burning all institutional elements. “These riots are a great tradition and, so much so that France, which is probably the country on the planet that has generated the largest and best cultural heritage, is possibly also the country where cultural genocide has reached the highest rate,” he explains.
Thus, he insists that, despite the fact that many may think that the German invasions are to blame, “it is the French who have carried out the greatest cultural genocide in history, basically in the French Revolution, taking down convents.” , churches, palaces, town halls… Everything”. And, in this context, “what we are seeing now is one more chapter of this tradition“, he defends.
Starting from this premise, he recognizes that it is evident that behind all these revolts is an immigration that has a colonial background: “It is not people who come from anywhere, they are people who come from areas of French colonialism and who have not given way to full integration.” The problem is that these young people “are no longer Moroccan, they are no longer Algerian, but they are not French either, and they live in environments where the French State is not present, just as the Spanish State is not present in many parts of the Basque Country or Catalonia”.
Refers, in the case of the neighboring country, to the environments of large cities that were industrial and therefore attracted low-skilled human capital to work in factories. “These people have not integrated, and they have not integrated, to a large extent, because they did not want to, but also because French society is in a deep crisis.”
a wealthy society
Thus, we come to the third level: the great riots that have been taking place in France for years by a society “that is accustomed to a level of well-being that is not economically viable“. And in this chapter, the analyst quotes from the great protests for the delay of the retirement age to those led by the so-called yellow vests, which later spread to other European countries. “Those were not North Africans. In other words, the revolts also respond to the refusal of the French to make the changes they have to make to adapt to a global environment and to the digital revolution, but within that general revolt there is a sub-revolt in the environments of large cities, where the sectors of non-integrated immigrants are very, very important”.
These areas have become lawless cities, in which not even the French educational system can fulfill its role. At this point, Portero highlights the importance of the Liceo, a public education system that was created in order to equalize all citizens. “Suddenly, the French speak the same language, since they did not before, and have the same concept of France -explains the historian-, but, in addition, the Lyceum is an instrument of social promotion, since it equips any citizen of a good starting formation and allows him to access the universities or the grandes écoles”.
What happens is that, according to Portero, “where immigrants do not want to integrate and become strong, the rest of the population flees and goes to other neighborhoods, and the Lyceum that remains in the area where people who do not integrate stop fulfilling their rolestop creating French citizens and stop allowing these young people not only to integrate, but to promote themselves”.
In addition to what has already been mentioned, the great tension that exists in these areas and that fully affects the security forces. “This young man did not obey and the agent fired. And I do not know French law and I do not know to what extent the Police had the right or not to do so, but what I do know is that he was under a lot of stress – insists Portero -. And while This is happening, the revolt is being legitimized and this is causing discomfort among the French Police, which the minister will find out when he asks for their help, because the Police do not feel protected by their authorities”.
The problem is that this feeling comes from afar: “When I said before that, in these areas, the French State does not exist, I was referring to this… In the trials they wash their hands. And what the French government is doing is not intelligent , because All those police, first, they’re going to vote for Le Penbecause the Government is surrendering to the unruly, when now more than ever it would be necessary to manifest the firmness of the State; and, second, it is going to stop doing and he is going to say that the minister should go to put order“.
In short, the whiting that bites its own tail and that places France in a delicate situation that, however, the analyst, for the peace of mind of all Spaniards, does not see as transferable to our country: “Today, that immigrant population does not even It’s not so big, it’s not so badly integrated as to be a problem. Now — 50 years from now, things can change.”