Sunday, 3 July 2016

The people for whom globalisation isn't working were invisible - until now

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Christopher Caldwell, one of my favourite writers, discusses the ideas of the French geographer Christophe Guilluy about globalisation in a very interesting article here.

If Guilluy is right, and I think he is, we are using antiquated categories that make the most explosive social problems of our time wholly invisible to us....The dividing line on most issues is whether people are being helped or hurt by the global economy.
A journalist or sociologist or businessman looking only at Paris, with the best faith in the world, cannot form an objective view of whether France is doing well. You talk to rich and poor, old and young, black and white, male and female, immigrant and native .  .  . but these are all people for whom France is 
"working." What is more, the mainstream sources from whom one might absorb alternative information — journalists, television broadcasters, comedians — all inhabit this same world. Those who do not are so absolutely invisible that they cannot even be analyzed. You wouldn't know, for instance, that 64 percent of working-class people in France favor the death penalty.
Even if Paris does not need a middle class, it desperately needs a lower class. Those symbolic analysts require people to chop their sushi, mix their cocktails, dust their apartments, and push their children's strollers and their parents' wheelchairs. This means immigrants — and increasingly it means only immigrants. Because who would you rather have washing your bathtub for 12
euros an hour? A laid-off factory worker who used to get 30 euros an hour and seven weeks' vacation and who is now looking daggers at you? Or a polite woman from Mali, for whom the smell of Formula 409 is the smell of liberation? The banlieues are an integrated part of the world economy. There is now an immigrant-descended petite bourgeoisie. Naturally, as rich people monopolise the private housing stock, poor newcomers monopolise the welfare housing. Far from being a drain on rich people's taxes, these projects provide subsidised housing for their servants.


This explains Brexit, Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen. 

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