Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Front National and the "Popular Classes"

Why does the FN appeal to les classes populaires? A Fondation Jean-Jaurès study tries to answer this question:

Sur 85 pages, ils livrent les ressorts de cette progression: il ne s'agit pas «d'un effet des discours populistes», mais plutôt d'un «basculement» dans l'opinion entre fin 2010 et début 2011, et de «représentations structuré(es) par un sentiment général d’"insécurisation"». Les auteurs mettent en évidence la corrélation d'un cocktail explosif: «insécurité économique» et «sentiment d'insécurité physique».
This is reminiscent of the US Tea Party phenomenon:

Deux épisodes ont déterminé cette vision. D'une part, le fait que les Etats ont «sauvé» les banques, mais que, une fois redressées, elles«n'ont pas joué le jeu et l'Etat s'est fait berner». D'autre part, la question grecque. «Pour les milieux populaires, l'austérité imposée aux Grecs n'est pas le fait d'une décision politique, nationale ou européenne, mais d'une décision des marchés financiers», décryptent Fourquet et Mergier. 

Sex obligatory in marriage, French court rules

A French court has awarded a woman damages because her husband wouldn't have sex with her.

Architecture and Oppression

A very nice piece by Scott Sayare on changing architectural theories of housing for the poor (in this case in La Courneuve):
Erected in the 1960s, the 4000 was meant as a utopia, an experiment in social engineering that would rationalize the lives of the immigrant workers it would house.

The theory of the day, drawing on the architectural philosophy of Le Corbusier, held that residential areas ought to remain separate from roads and the workplace, and so the cluster was built as a sort of island; residents trudged across a muddy field to reach the adjacent train station. Each airy apartment was equipped with a bathroom, a relative rarity in Paris at the time. The complex was deemed revolutionary.

A model of the 4000 was exhibited at the Grand Palais in 1961.
And yet, while the particular philosophy underlying the 4000 has been disavowed, few French officials have jettisoned a belief in the primacy of architecture in shaping social outcomes, said Marie-Christine Vatov, the editor in chief at Innovapresse, a media group specializing in architecture and urban planning.
 “Mixing” and “openness” have replaced “separation” and “uniformity” as the watchwords of the day. But the central lesson of the past decades, Ms. Vatov said, has been the error of such faith in the power of architecture.

Rumors Swirl Around European Banks

European policy makers, determined to avoid such a catastrophe, are prepared to use hundreds of billions of euros of bailout money to prevent any major bank from failing.
But questions continue to mount about the ability of Europe’s banks to ride out the crisis, as some are having a harder time securing loans needed for daily operations.
American financial institutions, seeking to inoculate themselves from the growing risks, are increasingly wary of making new short-term loans in some cases and are pulling back from doing business with their European counterparts — moves that could exacerbate the funding problems of European banks.