Rebellion of the Periphery. Against the Value System that Changes Labor Markets into Slave Markets

By Sabine Kebir

[This article published in: Freitag 46, 11/18/2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

The supposedly well-built new Europe where everything would be better for everyone has experienced something that only occurred in countries described as the “periphery,” a stubborn youth revolt met with the reaction of state of emergency. This revolt did not remain at the periphery of the French capital but seized the whole country and even leaped over to Belgium.

After the media nourished the specter the more it was shown, they suddenly cut down the reporting. However as is characteristic for specters, they cannot be repressed. Speaking psychoanalytically, the repressed overtakes us again.

Aren’t we experiencing in France episodes of a world war between Christians and Jews on one hand and Moslems on the other hand whose seed is the unsolved Palestine problem? There is no prospect this war could end like the wars of the 20th century that Europeans recall as “world wars.” At that time the sovereignty of conquered countries was acknowledged by the world community and therefore could be quickly reconstructed. This is different now. On one side is a West deeply convinced by its own right wing. People who are against this war hold the western “value system” to be more convincing the more it is destroyed in practice. On the other side is a disguised and diffuse entity denied political sovereignty a priori because it supposedly has no “modern” values. The diffuse form actually proved again and again to be a monster whose head can be constantly knocked off with high tech but regenerates in a puzzling and mysterious way.

While the events in France were reflected in detail by the media, the youth participating in the revolts had no religious motives. Although they went to the worst schools of their land, they were astonishingly able to name the true reasons of their rebellion. The sacrosanct basic rights of western citizens were denied them, namely building a self-determined life independent of state alms. This fact was formulated for larger parts of the aboriginal – old-established – population, not only for Moslems and other immigrants in Europe. The young French of North African descent are outraged over a policy of transforming labor markets into slave markets that began in the European Union. The real meaning of this reform called transformation is that being a slave has already become a privilege. That young Moslems often refused this privilege take action against this development more self-confidently than the aboriginals is doubtlessly connected with their feeling of being crowded near the diffuse monster without making a choice or decision. Although the rebels distance themselves explicitly from this monster, they draw their strength from its obvious invincibility.

On the other hand, the old Europeans with their political parties can still not believe what is happening to them with the change of the labor markets. They imagine themselves more in a team of aboriginals than a Moslem one-Euro jobber who begins tomorrow in the position of Moor soldiers planting tulip bulbs in the flowerbeds of public parks. Hardly anyone dares remember that such works until recently were performed at contractual conditions. To the autochthon who sell their labor ever more cheaply, I count Old Europeans and immigrants from Eastern Europe. There the readiness to accept miserably paid subordinate work in the West has been tradition for centuries. Whoever thinks in cultural clichés may see there the beautiful Christian discipline instilled in them but lacking to Moslems.

In this crisis affecting all Europeans, only the French government commented in an oblique way as one could expect. Ascribing responsibility for the riots to “organized crime” – drug dealers and women traders – means awarding no legitimate political representation to the protest. Doesn’t “organized crime” thrive because the labor markets collapse? Doesn’t it represent the most powerful part of an inevitably growing informal economy? We gladly close our eyes to this as long as this economy only appears in precarious quarters with exploited workers at fruit stands or in oriental bistros. This is all regarded as harmless since – unlike “organized crime” – it does not grasp the life of our well to do. This informal economy is even explicitly desired because it is a model for the direction in which everything should develop. Adjusting to the social perspective of the disadvantaged or underprivileged is no longer central.

The western claim to recognize persons as individuals breaks down here. This failure is obviously becoming more dangerous. The time window for a human life in which education and finding a vocation are good ideas will not be open long.