From this morning’s Guardian:
Last night I posted this piece pointing out how neglected (and perniciously ridiculed) direct personal experience of a situation has become in our culture.
I’d like (briefly) to colour in that philosophical piece – which reached several conclusions, of which for me this was the most central:
I live in France, so the examples are French; but they’re also in the news right now. At the head of this post you can see the Guardian’s ‘take’ – and Sapin’s spin – on “how France is doing”. Before these Q3 results, the Q1 and Q2 contractions were ‘unexpected’ – but now Sapin says the country is on course to reach its targets next year.
It’s always an unexpected failure, and it’s always going to be put right next year. But Sapin insists that 2017 projections “are not called into question”. This is a bit like saying it is a mortal sin for Christine Lagarde’s projections for Greece since 2014 to be challenged.
My main large town is Villeneuve-sur-Lot. This area – in south-west France – is a normally prosperous agricultural region covered in retail parks and business centres. I go into Villeneuve maybe twice a week. All anyone with eyes has to do is walk around Villeneuve and realise within hours that the Hollande government, the ECB and the European Commission are lying through their teeth.
This isn’t just my opinion: ask any SME owner, retail outlet manager, restaurateur or supplier….”Nous sommes en faillite” they say: we’re broke. Or – at best – “Things are very slow”.
The closure-tally this year in my immediate area is seven restaurants, 5 small food stores, two clothing shops, 2 bathroom centres, 2 cycling shops, 3 garden suppliers, 2 butchers, 6 cafes, 3 bars, an enormous builders’ merchants, 4 newsagents and a supplier of agricultural equipment.
The economy here is on its back, and every last supermarket chain is losing share to the discounters. The grey-import ‘fin de serie’ shops are booming.
But now Schäuble’s Troika wants to squeeze every last penny of tax from sole traders already on their uppers. The idea that the French would acquiesce in that approach would be risible even in boom times. As things stand now, it would hand a million votes to Marine LePen.
Whatever your view on Brexit, you would be crazy to take a decision based on the naked propaganda output of EU institutions and the British press. The worst culprit online remains EUObserver, which has gradually degraded into a stream of nonsense. This morning’s ‘report’ on the Calais jungle ‘dismantling’ is a classic:
Missing from the piece:
The Guardian piece about this was headed with a picture of three young teenagers, taken with the guns and booted legs of French riot cops in the foreground for maximum effect. On this occasion, yes – the boys had the look of minors; but two questions remain: why no girls or pre-pubescents? And what were they doing in this camp if they have no relatives in Britain – what sort of parents sent them there under these circumstances?
Reading an account based on an agenda which might or might not be apparent is nowhere near enough to justify a comment from anyone about anything. But it doesn’t hold the activist beeleeevers back.