Friday, March 30, 2012

Forsane Alizza

Hmmm. So, on the one hand, the police are confident that Mohammed Merah was a lone wolf who exaggerated his ties to organized terror groups, while on the other hand, they swooped in to arrest, in Toulouse and several other cities, 20 members of the group Forsane Alizza, which they say wanted to bring the caliphate to France. No necessary connection, of course. It's good to know that the police are on the job, but it would also be nice to know how Merah accumulated a stockpile of weapons and €26 000 euros in cash while ostensibly under (loose) surveillance by the DCRI.

"Fractures françaises"

A book entitled Fractures françaises by a geographer named Christophe Guilluy is supposed to be the sensation of the campaign season, influential on the campaigns of both Sarkozy and, to a lesser extent, Hollande. And what is its message? That les classes populaires (les classes populaires de souche, s'entend, pas celles issues de l'immigration, bien sûr) are unhappy and that the key to victory is pandering to their concerns (about identity, immigration, jobs, globalization, Europe, etc.).

Listen up, people! The fracture sociale has been rediscovered with regularity in every election season since 1995. The political geographers are always leading the charge. But if any political analyst who looks at the polls for Le Pen and Mélenchon can't tell you that there is a large pool of disgruntled voters disgusted with both major parties and somewhat unmoored from traditional left-right loyalties, then he has to be blind. These are not revelations; they are truisms, which busy ministers enclosed in Parisian cocoons may forget between elections, but really, if they're paying attention, they haven't forgotten. Evidently the profession of political consultant is underdeveloped in France. There's a career opportunity here for an enterprising young person among the "periurban unemployed," whose mood matters for a few months every five years. (h/t Arun Kapil)