A Bulky Hand is the twelfth and final novel in the series by Henning Mankell on the investigations of Inspector Kurt Wallander. This inspector he created and to whom he says he gave some resemblances to himself.
But beyond this narrative bias, the author lends to his hero feelings, behaviors of which it is not certain that it is only those of the inspector: the story takes place in 2002, the book is published in 2013 and, in January 2014, the author made public the condition he suffered from, advanced cancer, which prevailed in October 2015. Coincidence? Premonition? Predicting fatigue? Did he already know?
Anyway, a good part of this brief novel relates as much to the life of the inspector as to the plot itself: his weariness of life, his advanced age, the difficulties of the profession, the politics of the figure , the new delinquency, the insufficiency of the means, the assessment of an honorable but dissatisfied life … The incapacity to change by a too late rupture, even for simple holidays in the sun
In his note Wallander and I, Mankell affirms two things which seem questionable on reading the novel.
– I think I can say that it has never happened that Willander takes a more important place than history … It is not sure that this is the case here and maybe even Mankell’s life more than that from Wallander …
– Racism is a crime against which he revolts. This gives a reflection between police officers on the little interest of the press and public opinion wheb two people disappeared…, tattares … But asks to be nuanced when reading the novel.
In this story, the place of women is politically correct: one, his hierarchical superior, is a woman but very competent, specifies Wallander, the other is a medical examiner and very reliable and Wallander’s own daughter works in the same police unit than her father.
But in the intrigue, clichés appear: a brawl between drunkards during which a Pole kills an inhabitant, disappearance of the couple of tattares who abandon a caravan, after a theft of which they fear the consequences, and who return under a false name , their granddaughter prostitute is suspected of robbery finally the investigation reveals that the drama of fifty years ago, took place in a family of foreigners, Estonians …
It’s evident that Kurt Wallander is not a James Bond policeman. He is not a man of action called upon to confront high-flying brigands and international intrigue. In a world of his own where things change, neighborly relationships…, he works with a team: under the direction of Lisa Holgersson, with collaborators as needed: Morrisson his colleague but also Stina Hurlèn, forensic scientist, Stefan who look in the registers of civil status, Nyberg who searches the garden … And even his daughter, Linda who sometimes follows him.
He does not solve the problem with sagacity at Sherlock Homes. Rather through patient teamwork, forensic science, research in archives and outside information that advances the discovery of the solution.
The characters we know something about are alone: Wallander, separated, Linda to an intermittent lover, Ivar never had a wife, we don’t know much about Katja the young prostitute …
Finally, the story begins, on a Sunday morning, with the hope of finally finding the house of his dreams and closing in on it. It is the house where a parricide was committed and which made him know the greatest fear of his life, where he saw himself facing death. Discovering something he had never experienced before, an exhilarating whiff of life that made him realize that, despite everything, he is still alive.
A bulky hand, Henning Mankell, 172 pages, Seuil, 2014, translated from Swedish.
Beyond the classic war of figures between the organizers, the “occurrence” group and the government, everyone recognized that the number of participants in the demonstrations of Friday January 24 was greater than on the previous national day. With a background of constant support, with variables, of the population despite the difficulties caused by strikes and the media and government hype to oppose each other. Is this a sign of resumption of mobilization? Or a simple start when bills are presented to the Council of Ministers?
Anyway, the presentation of laws in the Council of Ministers and demonstrations testify that the confrontation continues.
A new event, always very lively, that never lets go ( « on lâche rien »). With a large first group, mixing Gilets jaunes, people unionized and unorganized. Behind them, a significant participation of groups who have come to add their own difficulties to the common demand against the pension counter-reform: lawyers, teachers, young people, significant presence of ATTAC, followed by the unions at the back of the demonstration, in particular from the CGT , more important.
The Constitution gives Emmanuel Macron and Édouard Philippe and their parliamentary majority the legal opportunity to override political, union and popular opposition. But they have just known a new and bitter disavowal, both political and technical, with the opinion of the Council of State (Coneil d’État) which confirms, very fortunately, that this counter-reform was also technically ill-prepared, and far from being universal , fair, balanced, simple … All qualifications that were already in doubt, including among the majority and the usual media supporters of the government.
What will Emmanuel Macron and his government do? Will they try, despite everything, to force their way? There is no doubt that it will not be as easy as they hoped.
Will they make concessions and try to obtain determined support from the reformist unions by abandoning, permanently, the painful pivot? In other words, disown Edouard Philippe and fall back on the Macron reform? Keep the essentials: the transition to retirement at points, the questioning of the status at RATP and SNCF in the perspective of opening up to the private sector. While maintaining specific regimes for regalian jobs? Will Édouard Philippe be thanked or kept in place to assume a strong political continuity with Castaner who defeats feet and hands …
The solution will take into account speculations on the presidential electoral deadline: municipal elections are already abandoned to statistical manipulations on the one hand and to a voluntary underestimation to be able to say in two months that they are less disastrous than expected .
It also depends a lot on the mobilizations in the coming weeks. Will the population move from survey support to genuinely political support? Will non-unionized or unionized workers, whatever their organization, give the decisive boost?
The Macron revolution is coherent, it is paraphrased from a famous statement: everything that is good for the first of the rope is good for all the French. It consists of replacing the logic of solidarity with an individual financial logic. Some examples.
Macron replaced the ISF (Solidarity Wealth Tax) with the IFI (Real Estate Wealth Tax). Which consists in subtracting financial wealth from the solidarity tax to allow its holder to invest as he sees fit: in other words, to subtract from public decision, from public interest, from solidarity, to give to individual decision , in search of profit which can, of course, lie in investing in French companies (advanced reason) or foreign companies or better in hedge funds or investments of which one of the most powerful is known today by all: BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, with nearly $ 7 trillion whose main customers are institutional investors (Wikipedia). The company displays exceptional operating profitability: buy without hesitation (JDD 18/01/20).
Maintaining the tax on real estate wealth is an incentive for the most fortunate to disengage from investment in real estate, taxed, to switch to investment in finance, not taxed. However, it does not seem that there is too much housing in France!
This small gift with declining state resources is accompanied by the reduction of 5 euros per month per household in Personal Housing Assistance (APL). Reduction of levy for large. Recovery on the poorest!
On February 1, the Livret A and Livret du développement durable rates will be lowered to 0.5%, the historically lowest rate, with inflation close to 1%. For the Ministry of Finance, the rate of the Livret A is no longer intended to cover that of inflation (Le Monde 12/01/20). There are 55 million Livret A in France because it is the easiest way for many individuals to have some resources available in case of need. The ministry thinks that this drop in rates should encourage to put the savings in more dynamic investments! More risky! Encourage the poorest to risk their savings! To become a merchant! To tell small holders that they should invest them is to push them to take risks, to convert to stock market speculation? Waking up can be painful in the event of an economic downturn or unexpected funding needs. It was possible to lower the investment ceiling (currently 22,950 euros) and reserve this advice for holders of the most stocked notebooks! Small Livret A holders will probably be content to see their savings deteriorate rather than risk losing them.
The executive knows that its decision is very unpopular and concerns practically all households that hold one or more Livrets A. The remuneration has become paltry. For Bruno Le Maire, maintaining a rate of 0.75% would have been irresponsible in relation to our policy of investment diversification. And irresponsible for the thousands of people waiting for social housing. In fact, reducing the rate to 0.50% will make it possible to build 17,000 additional social housing units and renovate 52,000 of them each year. The measure penalizes savers but would strengthen the housing policy … He forgets to say that to compensate for this drop in the rate of Livrets, he forced social landlords to reduce rents and therefore their means. In other words, he organized a 3-band coup on the back of the poor and a more discreet operation, for the benefit of the banks. Because they benefit from 40% of the sums collected: they will remunerate this savings at the rate of 0.5% instead of 0.75%: a gift of 400 million euros (Liberation 18/01/20). It is interesting to note that the minister justifies this measure by pitting small and poorly housed savers, not to mention the benefits that banks derive from it. He never said how many homes could have been built with the amount of the gift made with the removal of the ISF.
The reform provides for a single retirement contribution rate of 28.12% on wages, but income above 120,000 euros per year will not give entitlement to retirement and will only be subject to a rate 2.81% of contributions, used to help balance the system. The sums which will not contribute to the balance of the system, on salaries above 10,000 euros per month, give a lot of hope to private insurance or other pension or investment funds.
Emmanuel Macron’s Liberal Revolution is underway: all free, all equal, all fraternal; all punters, all against all. Never stand in solidarity!
NB: even if work resumes without the total withdrawal of the reform project, the strikers have obtained a certain number of concessions. And no one knows what will happen in the days, weeks to come … One thing remains, the strikers are suffering a lot financially. Financial solidarity will be appreciated. Morally. Financially.
Below are some images of the January 16, 2020 demonstration in Paris. With greater participation from the teaching and cultural communities … And also police: on the route, many streets were closed by wire barriers …
In a letter to the social partners, the reformist Édouard Philippe is willing to replace the pivotal age with the balanced age of 64 in the plan to reform the pension system. And, as often, the form confirms the substance. Édouard Philippe does not withdraw, he is, in majesty, willing to withdraw, temporarily. Subject to an agreement between the social partners before the end of April. And under threat of taking by prescription the measures necessary to reach equilibrium in 2027.
Laurent Berger, adorning himself with peacock feathers, is proud to have obtained the withdrawal of the pivotal age, a victory for the CFDT! Of course the strike month has nothing to do with it! But he considers it necessary to continue (his) action for a fairer and more united retirement system!
The social partners? Medef agrees, we will not increase contributions. The CFDT also (the CGT is not, in the eyes of the Prime Minister, partners). If, unexpectedly, the CFDT did not agree, what could it do to oppose the orders? Definitely not a strike. Laurent Berger doesn’t like that. Neither demonstrations. If the CFDT had clearly joined the inter-union, the government would not have waited more than a month to abandon a measure that was not planned by Emmanuel Macron!
Who, for the moment, has played well. In the background, he let Édouard Philippe and the CFDT play, to oppose. To get the chestnuts out of the fire at the cost of a long strike, a few transitional measures that do not change anything fundamental to his initial plan. If not to multiply the paths facilitating the division of workers and ultimately leading to the goal decided initially.
Still, it’s not all over. Laurent Berger surpasses satisfaction. MEDEF savored, almost in silence. But the discontent builds up. It will speak. In two (municipal) months? In two years (presidential)?
The President of the Republic, the Prime Minister will not always get by on skills. By multiple categorical variants of transition to arrive at a universal regression system. By a new great debate. Multiple small debates (ecology, police). Macron, at mid-term, did not spark the creative enthusiasm he imagined after his election but two years of hard conflict.
What will this new long conflict lead to, without any real concessions? On bitterness, resignation? On the revolt? A unit, of low intensity certainly, is being born between Yellow Vests and trade unionists. Will it find its political extension?
The President of the Republic, the Prime Minister will closely follow the social movements of next week.
This is the question the media never ask. And yet. It could be in the coming days the fundamental question. Reformable in both senses of the word. Can he reform, depending on the political situation, can he agree to review his pension plan? Must be reformed, retired. In other words, submit or resign.
Question that may seem incongruous. But which arises after three years of records by Emmanuel Macron.
Shaking vigorously the coconut palm tree, Emmanuel Macron succeeded in setting aside many politicians and obtaining a comfortable parliamentary majority without real opposition: devastated left, marginalized, demonetized institutional right, it played the small French finance, he plays the big, international ..
Become the republican monarch, without real political experience, closer to the dollar than the bottom of the cows, Emmanuel Macron thought that everything was allowed. Playing me and the people, he wanted to take his place, all his place, without an intermediary body, assured that his judicious word would lead everyone.
But what can we see?
That the Republic experienced a first year of citizen revolt, around the roundabouts but apart from all the crosswalk and Macron had to concede a few billion. And some grenades which were not only tear gas and which have, perhaps, discouraged a certain number of Giets Jaunes (GJ yellow vests) but are not without consequences on the good running of the Republic: a considerable number of wounded, definitively amputated of a member or with an eye without counting the poor lady who was condemned for having wanted to close her window during the passage of a demonstration.
With another collateral consequence, an even greater gap between the people and the police, an increasingly right-wing police whose government must ensure its loyalty, with a few medals and the maintenance of a special regime …
The Yellow Vests protests weakened but persistent, Macron then launched his pension reform reform and it was the longest union dispute in the Fifth Republic. Small self-reform, Macron sends his ministers, especially his Prime Minister, to the front and remains behind while watching.
He apparently retains two possibilities: to forcefully and humiliate the two main union forces, CGT and CFDT, his dream, alone in front of the people but a people who risk being more rebellious than expected. Or give in on part of the reform which was not initially in his plan and make the CFDT the main interlocutor but strengthened after more than a month of strikes in which it did not participate.
The media, who do not wonder whether Macron is reformable, speculate every day on the weakening of the strike movement. Not on its strength, not on its persistence despite the financial difficulties of the strikers. Who predicted this strike would last so long? Who predicted that the majority of the population would support it, as polls indicate, as they supported the Yellow Vests to the end? And yet the polls are done neither at the request of the GJ, nor at the request of the unions!
On the other pan of the balance appear the divisions within the right or of the pro-government parliamentarians? Certainly the non-Macron right is opposed because Macron does what it would have liked to do and pushes it to the higher bid, to the fault. But reluctance exists within the presidential majority. And it is not certain that Edouard Philippe and Emmanuel Macron support each other fraternally. Nor that Macron is assured of the loyalty of the parliamentarians of LREM who return every weekend to their constituency. Nor that LREM is accumulating enthusiastic candidates for the approaching elections…
There is no doubt that if Macron was afraid in the stomach on the eve of the summer vacation, he is not yet rid of it. And his rotting policy, against a background of no political alternative, is at the mercy of the explosion from any incident.
In the meantime, everything must be done for the success of the demonstrations, the support of the strikers, the solidarity funds with the strikers are open …
RATP help for strikers!
For Parisians who can, transfer the reimbursement amount from the December Navigo pass to the solidarity funds…
For more information on the pension « reform »: (in french)
Since the denied turn of 1983, France has entered a long sequence, champ-contrechamp, right-left, and drawn into a spiral of continuous social regression following the triumphant liberalism of Margaret Thatcher breaking the unions of miners and Ronald Reagan that of the air traffic controllers. Relayed in Germany by the social democrat Gerhard Schröder and the work-study association SPD and CDU-CSU (social democracy and Christian democracy). The other countries of the European Union have gradually aligned themselves with mighty Germany. The big parties in France, whatever their name, have only followed the same path.
This long period TINA (There is no alternative) is not without serious consequences: increased inequality, social and political regression with disintegration of government parties and rise of right-wing and far-right populism. All accompanied by small indignant jumps of moderate democrats who, after each electoral defeat, hasten to affirm that, the worst not having happened, everything was fine, that politics, the only possible, was the right one, that ‘It was only necessary to continue it and even to accentuate it.
Right-wing and far-right populism in the European Parliament has not yet reached the level of blocking like in the Council, with the necessary unanimity in certain decisions, but the PES-EPP duo have lost the absolute majority.
All this and even the long and painful Brexit, the first exit from a country of the European Union, does not change anything to the blissful optimism: these British islanders voted for an irresponsible clown like the uncultivated Americans for a rude and ignorant character …
Fortunately, this is not the case in France where a centrist white angel, neither left nor right, who, by his youth, his dynamism, his interpersonal skills, his financial support, appeared to avoid the worst essential and transform the old country into a young growth: modern, computerized, profitable on the condition of eliminating the refractory Gauls, the illiterate and others less than nothing …
But the new world resembles, in certain aspects, the old world: since spring 2017, 16 ministers have resigned, including only one for political reasons and at least 8 forced for problems which have nothing glorious! We are far, however, from Nicolas Sarkozy and his large directory of lawyers.
To be satisfied with sarcasm on this renewed old world or to make the list of arrogant, contemptuous words of the young first would be a serious error. This should only make it clear that Emmanuel Macron is hardly embarrassed by his scruples or his compassion. Simply forced, again and again, to explain what he is the only one to understand.
The young Macron is dangerous by an unlimited ambition, linked to the new great forces of international liberal capitalism (the relations between Emmanuel Macron and the men of Blackrock displayed in broad daylight are the example of the moment). Using and serving to achieve his ends the international financial forces and political and police resources of the State whatever the obstacles.
He was elected in the face of politicians who, from the left or the right, have pursued the same policy since François Mitterrand and raised the far right by their conversion to European liberalism. Above all, he was elected, not for his program but against the far right, by a large majority of voters in the second round. Majority which allowed Jacques Chirac to do nothing and which allows Emmanuel Macron to do what he wants, despite the late scruples of some elected officials who were not very perceptive disappointed by this or that aspect of a rightist policy, however coherent.
An ambition driven at full speed, at least in its first part: reforming France, taking the lead in a liberal Europe and playing in the top three, United States, China, Europe, in other words, Emmanuel Macron, what whatever the price…. for the French and Europeans. And for the future of the planet because reforms cannot affect the interests of those who rule the world.
To do this, he must first change France and the French: align economic and financial policy with that of Germany. This presupposes that the policy begun by its predecessors should be carried out smoothly: compliance with the Maastricht criteria, that is, breaking all popular resistance, yellow vests or unions, in particular the CGT. At the same time, if it was possible to also break the CFDT which, on several occasions, give its hand … He showed his willingness to speak directly to the people and his contempt for the intermediary bodies, characteristic of populists. And a more and more limping ni-left-nor-right with the use of immigration or the most violent police repression since the war in Algeria.
To comply with the Maastricht criteria, his financial policy made him the president of the wealthy: transformation of the ISF into an IFI, to direct the money supply towards the financing of businesses (French?) And above all much more lucrative speculation (in 2019 , the soaring stock markets contrast with the diminished growth of the world economy) and the maintenance of the tax on real estate (no need for investments in housing?) much less easy to use, reduction of social contributions decreasing the revenue, opening up interesting prospects for pension or investment funds (Blackrock, evening visitor to Macron), privatization of Paris Airport after the great success of that of Toulouse-Blagnac airport… Of course to the detriment of the poor people through the destruction of solidarity from the end of the PLA to organized austerity with the reduction of jobs, the disappearance of public services … and pension reform.
With the hope of becoming the good pupil of the European Union at a very favorable time: Brexit, weakening, perhaps unsustainable, of Germany: Angela Merkel’s imminent departure, absence of a clear majority, aging of the population, economic difficulties … A favorable moment also to make the European Union a true liberal power.
To have his hands even freer on the international scene, Emmanuel Macron tries to detach France from an overly visible imperialist past or, at least to detach its image from: since the denunciation of the crime against humanity in Algeria, past almost unnoticed and yet inadmissible for a candidate for the presidency of the Republic if it is not followed, upon coming to power, of an important initiative for a great reconciliation … until the disappearance of the CFA in Africa, a sign of the subjugation of the former African colonies, replaced by the Eco with some ulterior motives on a renunciation-substitution…
Having greatly weakened the intermediary bodies, the unions in particular, having satisfied its national and international financial support, apparently rid of a bulky past, Jupiter would then be free to represent itself under the same conditions as in 2017 with the same result and to to project at the head of a liberal Europe perfectly suited to the interests of large multinationals.
Multinationals which are already shaping the new world with financial means superior to those of many States, technical means of influence more and more effective on the individual and collective decisions!
With this in mind, the old, perfected means that their yellow vests have experimented with on their injured bodies are perhaps only an anecdote but are above all a warning for all those who would like to oppose this new world by market.
It is not certain that the people, here as elsewhere, accept this future that is being prepared for them, this planned crushing. Increasing inequalities, between and within countries, jeopardizes relative democracy, as known until now, and cares little, beyond declarations, about the viability of the planet.
When, in 1989, three young girls from Aubervilliers appeared in high school with a veil that they refused to take off, the veil entered politics in France (1). The veil whatever it is, from the scarf to the burqini. Wherever you go, from school to university, from the street to work. Whatever the age, from young people to adults and children. Whatever the political orientation, from the far right to the far left. Whatever the season, but in the pre-election period, the question can be useful to mask the stakes of the election and make you forget the essentials.
The issue was not fully resolved by the adoption of two laws in 2004 (2a) and 2010 (2b). It arises in many other countries, Europeans where the Muslim population is more or less recent or countries with traditionally Muslim population. It has even been raised at the level of international institutions.
What can we say about it?
Il n’est pas question de discuter de ce que dit ou ne dit pas le Coran, pas plus que les hadiths. D’éminents musulmans le font depuis des siècles et ne se sont pas mis d’accord. On ne peut que prendre acte de ce désaccord.
There is no question of discussing what the Koran says or does not say, any more than the hadiths. Prominent Muslims have done this for centuries and have not agreed. We can only take note of this disagreement.
And what follows from it, at least partially: not all Muslim women have the same dress practice in the world, not even within a country except perhaps in totalitarian Muslim countries.
Some wear veils of all kinds, covering the whole body from head to toe, hiding the face and even the eyes or only the hair (3). Others don’t wear them at all and their dress is just as varied. This diversity in dress depends on everyone’s will, their possibilities, their social and political environment: fashion, custom, social environment, type of political power, national legislation, etc. (4).
The examples of European countries and countries with partially or totally Muslim populations (Annex 1) show that legislation and practice depend on the political situation and the will of governments, most often composed exclusively or mainly of men.
It also varies depending on the period: Turkey by Kemal Ataturk and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Tunisia by Bourguiba, Ben Ali and current Tunisia, Iran by Shah and Khomeini … With, sometimes, a continuity as, among others, in Saudi Arabia where the absolute monarchy has long been allied with Wahhabism, very conservative.
With this important variety of practices, the veil, it should be said the veils, appears at least as much a political sign as a religious sign. Political-religious? Individual or collective?
As in all European countries, society is strongly secularized. With in addition, laïcité which is part of its history.
French society today is, in an important way, the result of an age-old conflict between successive political institutions, royalty, empire, republic and the dominant religious institution, the Catholic church.
A compromise between republicans was imposed on the dominating Catholic Church, with the adoption of laïcité by the 1905 law of separation of the Churches (to take into account the other cults of the time, Protestants, Israelite) and the ‘State, ending a century of Concordat signed in 1801 with the Vatican, concordates then extended to the Reformed (1802) and Israelite (1808) cults. Alsace-Moselle, in 1905, under the authority of Germany, retained the status in 1919, despite its new attachment to France, after the end of the First World War. We should add the specific situations of Guyana for Catholic worship, Mayotte for Islam …
The Catholic Church strongly opposed this law, including long after its adoption.
It didn’t solve everything. It could not take into account Islamic requests, for example, which did not exist at the time. It didn’t even solve all the problems with the Catholic Church. It was supplemented, adapted, defeated by multiple texts under the different republics, depending on the circumstances and the balance of power. In particular, with regard to the funding of private schools, which are overwhelmingly Catholic .. Several texts since 1945 have contravened the principle public funds for public schools, private funds for private schools. Last example, the Blanquer law, making compulsory the education of children from the age of 3 years, education already assured at 97-98%, obliges the communes to subsidize the Catholic schools receiving these young children (5).
The laws of 2004 and 2010 were adopted to answer questions that had not yet arisen. They shared public opinion with less violence, however, than in 1905 when we could speak of the war between the two France.
The 1905 compromise seems to be the consensus today, even of people who do not know its terms or who would oppose it if it was under discussion. Besides, some ask for a review. Refused by many for fear of relighting the fire.
From a dress point of view, religious men and women can wear the habit of their choice. The clothes of the priests, like the cassock, and especially the headdresses of the nuns did not go unnoticed. And the law found nothing to complain about. On the contrary, the courts have opposed, in the name of laïcité, those who wanted to ban them on the street. If, today, religious men and women are most often wearing civilian or discreet clothes, this is due to their evolution parallel to that of society. And, probably, the will of religious to drown in the crowd.
It is the result of a general secularization of society that affects most western countries.
Likewise, laïcité or the law have nothing to do with the disappearance of our grandmothers’ kerchief or even with the possibility for women to enter churches without covering their hair. Traditional clothing for Muslim men like the scarf of Muslim women was no problem. The abandonment of the traditional veils of the country, some of which hid their faces, and the adoption of the scarf or Islamic scarf reflected an adaptation to the society in which these women lived. As the former bishop of Hypponia said, “If you are in Rome, live like the Romans; if you are elsewhere, live as one lives there. »
The question was raised by the desire of some young girls not to come veiled at school, which does not seem to have posed a problem, but to refuse to withdraw it when entering school: the school issue and symbol of the historic battle for a secular state in the grip of the Catholic Church.
The next episode was the desire to wear the full veil in the street, which was absent and which is still often the case, sometimes even prohibited as in Algeria, in the country of origin of immigrant women and their daughters. integral, mainly worn by women in countries that are not very democratic and rarely on the cutting edge for gender equality. And here, more often it seems, by converts.
Then came the burqini … which should not be a problem, the beach being open to everyone in the outfit of their choice, excluding the total nudity reserved for places specially equipped for this purpose. If it does not hide the face, it cannot be prohibited: by order of August 26, 2016, the Council of State invalidated a municipal order prohibiting it on the beaches.
The question is different in swimming pools. The burqini cannot be prohibited as clothing. It can be as a swimsuit for hygienic reasons under internal regulations which prohibit all loose clothing like boardshort, bermuda … Other reasons have been cited in various countries to ban veils on the street, especially those that hide the face.
The question of the veil of mothers accompanying children on school outings is more complex: laïcité has been invoked insofar as these mothers contribute to the supervision. The personnel supervising the children is required to dress neutrally, this neutrality may be required for any person who fulfills this function. A legal argument could be invoked: the accompanying person, volunteer, is covered by insurrances for the children whom he accompanies and for himself, by the administration in the event of an accident. Almost agent of the administration, she must respect their status. This is not the case, if it is not covered … The Council of State ruled in 2013: as occasional collaborators, those accompanying are not subject to the religious neutrality imposed on teachers. Will we ever need the Council of State to define casual collaborator? Of course, this does not affect the many nannies, sometimes undocumented, who babysit in a private setting.
The veil in society.
The conflict over the veil is at the crossroads of several developments in society.
A tendency to liberate bodies, greater tolerance or use of women’s nudity. Questionable and contested by feminists but which sprawls in the street, advertising, on television, in the cinema, and which has existed since … in painting or sculpture …
A slow, difficult but continuous move towards equality and the veil can be seen as a sign of the accepted inferiority of women. The feminist movement shared on the issue.
The gradual erasure of the religious visibility of Catholics in the street and the search for greater visibility of Islam Conflict between secularization of society and counter-secularization of an Islam that did not live, like Protestantism or Judaism, this evolution which has not known conflicts and the relative appeasement of society by laïcité.
Of an Islam which is no longer that of immigrants in France called first or second generation. But in significant numbers the Islam of immigrants of France.Many of whom are French. From the colonial past. In a France where the rejection of a peaceful decolonization has led to the Algerian war which, more than half a century after the cease-fire, is not over (6).
Where the amnesty settled the legal question but not the decolonization of the minds like the truth and reconciliation campaign in South Africa and in other countries could do it at least partially … Many have not accepted independence. They see in anyone apparently of North African origin, an Algerian, a Muslim, an invader, a potential terrorist … Unfortunately, they are not the only ones … These French Muslims want to live in France, their country. Politicians have hardly heard them, have used them or ignored them, in short, the country does not meet their aspirations concerning equality, theoretical and above all practical.
They have been maintained in conditions denounced for too long, confinement in neighborhoods, stigmatized, without integration into official political representation. Continuing to be exposed to racism in everyday life but also, more seriously, in the search for a job, for accommodation, subject to facies controls, victims of police acts still going unpunished.
What is surprising for the people excluded in the return to the origins, in a return to the religious and for the Muslims, towards political Islam and an imaginary coming from the Near East, from Palestine.… Or towards those who recall that they are them, their parents, their grandparents, assigned to urban residence and identity, the continued victims of a system whose roots plunge into the colonial past, a racism that persists and a society that does not want or cannot change. And an imagination that more than British multicultural society comes from the cultural and media influence of the United States …
The freedom of veiled women
The veil can be interpreted in many ways. But it is everything, except traditional. Our grandmothers’ scarf has disappeared and those who wear it today do not want to revive this tradition. It is not a persistence of the veil of parents or grandparents in the country of origin.
It is used mainly by young women to assert a political and / or religious otherness, a freedom which they consider to be prevented but which is recognized by society, within the limits of the laws: no veil in school, no veil hiding the face in public space. An otherness-challenge claimed in response to an otherness-exclusion which they feel as a confinement. For some, it is an affirmation of personal freedom when it is perceived by many as a religious sign and / or subjugation. Those who wear it voluntarily, refuse that others want to release them, speak on their behalf. But in whose name are they speaking? Not of those who wear it by constraint. Immediate, family or indirect by pressure from those around them … They can’t go on TV to say. Those who speak cannot speak for them.
This is an incomplete paradox. They speak as (veiled women) so that they are not treated only as (veiled women) … but cannot speak on behalf of all veiled women.
And what about the freedom of young girls from 4, 5 or 6 years old? When will they be free to choose? At the cost of what ruptures?
After the veil at school, legally regulated by the law of 2004, appears the question of the full veil. Here again, it is difficult to speak for a few as representative of all the others … Their word hides the muteness of those who cannot be unveiled literally and figuratively.
The wearers of the Islamic headscarf can invoke beyond the religious obligation, a cultural or political or symbolic assertion of claim of freedom according to the interlocutors. Is this the case for the burqini? For the liberators, these women use it to free themselves from patriarchy and enjoy the beach !!!
The law guarantees the freedom to wear or not to wear the veil, to do Ramadan or not. In reality, this is not always the case. Women, young and old, can be bothered in town because of their veils. Others are if they go out without a veil in certain neighborhoods. Like people, men or women, who appear Muslim, can be annoyed because they eat in public during Ramadan. Inversion of facies hunting? Not institutional… The law is for freedom. The facts remain…
The use of « laïcité«
LaÏcité can be used for or against the wearing of the veil, for or against the ban, with the front reversed, even unduly in both cases. The anti-laïcité right of always, the whole right is not anti-laïcité of always, has seized the laïcité more or less abandoned for years by many people, too confident in their certainties … These new champions try to hide their anti-Arab racism there, even if many victims are not Arab, their hatred of Islam behind the fight against Islamism even when they attack simple believers or women who think, by this practice, to claim a place which is denied them.
Conversely, a certain left, instead of sticking to respect for laïcité and the law, invoke them or attack them to support certain behaviors with the hope of seducing populations, moreover, victims of class contempt: yesterday, Billancourt should not be despaired, today racialized classes should not be despaired by defending religious and political behavior which is not a class phenomenon, neither in France nor in the world. Who is promoted and supported by forces from here or the Middle East, who are not in favor of a popular, proletarian revolution.
Combining the veil, Islamophobia, racism is a serious political mistake. It is the same speech as the far right, as schematic. To call Islamophobic and racist anyone who is against this or that form of veil, in this or that circumstance, to racist anyone who criticizes Islam, rightly or wrongly, is playing the game of far right. What should people from the Maghreb who are against Islam do? Are they racist? What about Muslims who are against the veil? It is still the majority of women of North African origin who do not wear the veil, do not want to wear it or are against it? Are they Islamophobic? Are they racist? Should we reject them? Should they be in solidarity with people whose ideas and behavior they are fighting against?
It’s putting everyone in one box, not chosen! Women without veils say: we do not reject religion as such but its archaic, restrictive customs, we want to promote equality between men and women. Do they have the right to assert themselves?
Mirrored, for the far right, anyone who is for the veil whatever it is, whatever the circumstances, anyone who is Muslim or even supposedly Muslim is Islamist. It is to assign these people to opinions which they overwhelmingly condemn.
In either case, this is not a way to move forward. It is to help the formation of antagonistic blocks, to prevent dialogue, to live together. But for some, isn’t that the goal?
In either case, it is not a question of laïcité even if some, on both sides, claim it. But, consciously or not, of clash of civilizations.
For elected leftists and some on the right, who are neither Islamo-leftists nor racists, supporting these clothing practices is a supposed way of ensuring social peace. Possibly, to collect some voices but perhaps they lose those of people who, although of the same cultural origin, refuse this practice.
There was a time, it may still be the case, where, hoping to obtain social peace, companies tolerated or favored prayer rooms at the workplace, which did not exist in the countries of origin. But there were also no strong unions considered dangerous … Where others who rebelled against working conditions, were accused of being contracted out by the Shiites …
In any case, the idea of social integration, of social struggle not to say class struggle was abandoned…
Islamists use the veil, in all its forms, to show their strength, to extend their influence. Particularly with the Muslim Brothers, with the coming of Khomeini to power in Iran, with monetary aid from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. But not all veils have the same meaning and not all women wearing veils are Islamists, even hidden. And there are not only shades of color between those who wear the scarf or the veil. Social peace is always a compromise. It cannot be obtained without the participation of the greatest number.
The majority can impose a law. More difficult to change behavior. It cannot convince. It can be useful at some point. A Minister of Interior who was not a tender – are there any tender? – said that the police were obliged to intervene when, somewhere, a minister had not done his job. The law can prohibit, prevent, punish certain acts. It is more difficult to change mentalities if the situation which provoked these acts does not change.
And after, beyond the veil …
In the assertion that there is no anti-white racism. Part of the left makes the same mistake. It’s right when they talk about systemic racism, institutional racism, facies control, housing, hiring … which is white racism. Very important. It adds to and strengthens popular racism, reinforced by colonial racism. We must combat all these forms of racism.
But to tell those who live in certain neighborhoods that there is no anti-white racism is to deny their experience, to reject them instead of listening to them. They feel this daily racism… denied by those who claim to fight against racism. They feel doubly assaulted. This can only make them racist or strengthen their beliefs if they already are. It is inviting them to join the only ones who recognize their situation and make it the main subject of speech. Here too, we must listen to those who suffer and not condemn a priori.
The place of Islam in society is posed through various questions, sometimes conflicting, which must be resolved by a dialogue, even a vigorous one. Without denying or seeking to poison things but rather to find a compromise.
Some questions are already on the calendar.
As the appearance of Muslim lists probably more numerous and more publicized for the next municipal elections, the demonstrations in the public square, the construction of mosques, the menus of the canteens …
In France, unlike the situation in neighboring countries, there is no major religious political party like the Christian Democrat party even if parties or people claim to follow this current of thought. Laïcité and the laws of the Republic do not prohibit the existence of religious, Catholic or Christian Democrat or … Muslim parties. Or lists, partially, totally or mainly, of Muslim candidates. These lists reflect, at the same time, a form of integration: participating in elections. And a form of marginalization felt: not satisfactory representation, on the lists in competition, of a current of thought.
Protests will likely arise against these lists which will be described, as in the past, of communitary list. Do we call Christian Democratic parties community-based? A possible controversy will arise over their right to exist. On their political significance.
These lists raise the question of what demand, what dissatisfaction they express, how and to what extent it is possible and necessary to respond to it. Possibly find points of agreement with these requests.
Among others, the insufficient number of places of prayer and the necessary construction of mosques, their funding, the height of the minarets more or less resolved by town planning regulations, the calls to prayer with the precedent of church bells ( implementing decree of March 16, 1906 of the law of 1905)…
On Friday, it happens that, for lack of space in the mosque, there are street prayers, worshipers in public space. To be otherwise, it would be preferable if the mosques were sufficient in number and places to properly accommodate believers.
Demonstrating in public space is a right. Whether the motif is festive, sporty, commercial, charitable or cultural. There is no special feature for religious events. No need to request authorization. Any event must be declared to the mayor or the prefect, with the object, the place, the route. So that the police can organize: traffic, overflows, risks of confrontation …
A demonstration may be prohibited for risk of public disorder. Particular conditions can modulate how to do on the public highway in conformity with the local uses like processions.
The recent demonstration against racism and Islamophobia (7) gave rise to comments. It was not religious but political. During the course , some organizers saw fit to shout Allah Akbar, the basic phrase of prayer for all Muslims. Rarely heard in the public square by non-Muslims who know Allah Akbar by the perpetrators of attacks on the public highway at the time of their action. There is no doubt that it is a banal call for Muslim believers, not for the mass of other believers or non-believers.
This is not, strictly speaking, a call for solidarity with the victims of racism and Islamophobia. Unconsciousness or provocation? In any case, this pushes towards the strengthening of oppositions, situations of confrontation. Was it the goal?
The question ofnativity scenes in public places does not concern Islam but clearly shows the ambiguity, the compromise of laîcité: free thinking opposed the presence of a nativity scenes in a town hall, a public place directly under the control of the State, because it infringes the principle of neutrality.
The nativity scene is a religious but also a cultural symbol which some believe is an integral part of the identity of the nation, as well as other traditions of folklore such as carnival …
The courts of appeal in Nantes and Paris did not judge in the same way. In the Council of State, for the public rapporteur, the principle of neutrality does not prohibit the installation of nativity scene on the public domain, except when a religious intention presides over this installation. A crèche can only be authorized in a town hall if it is temporary, is not accompanied by religious proselytism, has a cultural or festive character, linked to the Christmas event in Western tradition.
The fact remains that this demonstrates that French laïcité is Catholic or Christian laïcité. Even if the Christmas celebration is less and less perceived as a religious celebration and more as a celebration of family, children and especially trade!
There has already been a quarrel over France’s Christian roots that some want to exclude and others want to deny. It is obvious that France has Christian and even Catholic cultural roots. It is enough to see the number of municipalities which are called Saint … the number of churches historic monuments, works of art or holidays … without many being offended as a result precisely of the habit and secularization. To deny it is nonsense. But France’s cultural roots are also, and perhaps as much, anti-Catholic, the fight for laïcité is an example, and French literary history.
Public holidays: The Labor Code establishes that public holidays, paid and non-recoverable, cannot exceed the number of fourteen, and, despite the decrease in festivities related to religion and secularization, festivals of religious origin predominate . In mainland France, first on Sundays and then, 11 public holidays including 6 religious festivals (Easter Monday, Ascension, Whit Monday, August 15, November 1 and Christmas) and 5 non-religious (New Year’s Day, 1st May, May 8, July 14, November 11). In addition, there are particularities: for Alsace-Moselle 2 days (Good Friday, Saint Etienne), for the Antilles, November 2 (day of the dead), Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday and Abolition of slavery, May 22 in Martinique, May 27 in Guadeloupe, June 10 in Guyana, October 9 in St Barthélémy.
We can add school canteens: with or without pork, halal … This will remind some of the fish, unappetizing, of Friday …
The presence in France of a significant number of Muslims is a relatively new situation in the history of the country. Situation which is found in other European countries and requires an effort of adaptation of the ones and the others. With possible confits.
They would be avoided if the principles of freedom, equality of brotherhood were really applied. It’s illusory. If they are to be concrete, there must always be demands which may have difficulty being heard.
Because they question acquired advantages of which the beneficiaries are not always aware. Because certain claims can be considered inadmissible.
However, everyone must be able to express themselves and put everything on the table. And the compromises discussed. It is for society as a whole to discuss and set the rules.
2 a – Law n ° 2004-228 of March 15, 2004 in application of the principle of laïcité, the wearing of signs or outfits showing a religious affiliation in public schools, colleges and lycées. Art. L. 141-5-1. – In public schools, colleges and lycées, the wearing of signs or outfits by which pupils ostensibly manifest a religious affiliation is prohibited. 2 b – Law n ° 2010-1192 of October 11, 2010 prohibiting the concealment of the face in public space. Art. 1 – No one may, in public space, wear an outfit intended to conceal his face
3 – Different types of veils.
Hijab: does not cover the body, only the head, leaving the face visible. Niqab: covers the face except the eyes. Mainly worn in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Chador: traditionally worn in Iran and in some countries of Central Asia. The face is not covered, but the piece of fabric covers the whole body. Burqa: Full veil worn in Afghanistan, covers the body and the face.
4 – A study was published in 2013 by the Pew Research Center on 20,000 people from 7 countries with a Muslim majority (Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey). Everywhere, a majority considers the hijab necessary. It is most cited in Tunisia (57%), Egypt (52%), Turkey (46%) Iraq (44%), Pakistan (32%) followed by the niqab (31%) and the hijab (24%) .
5 – The Blanquer law of 07/29/19 concerns few children (25,000), since 97- 98% of children in this age group are already in school. But collateral effect, in fact main, the law allows a new transfer of public money to the private school. The State allocates to each municipality the resources corresponding to the increase in compulsory expenditure which it has granted in application of the provisions of articles… within the limit of the share of increase resulting directly from the reduction to three years of the age of compulsory education. Or, 100 to 150 million euros per year, at least half of which will be paid for by the municipalities of private nursery schools.
6 – As in Algeria moreover: on the occasion of the hirak, the demonstrators against the Algerian power do not miss the opportunity to condemn foreign interference, under French understanding and the government speaks of some of its opponents as a party of France.
7 – It was also questionable and provocative by the use of children who carried a five pointed star to compare them to the Jewish children of which number ended up in Auschwitz.
President Macron and his government want to distort (déformer/réformer) pensions, in particular by abolishing special regimes, by establishing a point of financial equilibrium … (1) He has also decided to abolish the regime of the President of the Republic. Could have done better for health and social security: retire.
In 1982, an ordinance instituted retirement at 60, for 150 quarters (37.5 years) of contributions, at the full rate of 50% of the average annual salary. It was the good old days ! In a few weeks of 1993, Édouard Balladur tackled pensions in the private sector: the contribution period for full-rate retirement rose to 160 quarters (40 years), with a discount of 2.5% per missing quarter. The pension, calculated over the best 10 years, progressively over the 25 years, is no longer indexed to wages but to inflation. How to separate active and retired workers.
The new world on the move (La République en marche) follows the old pattern of unraveling.
É. Philippe: current retirees will not be affected by the reform. Understood by people aged 65 and over, the only age group which, at 49%, supports the project. Also supported by executives / intellectual professions above 55% against 27% of intermediate professions, 19% of employees and 16% of workers (2).
Today, under the general regime, the legal retirement age is 62. In practice, workers leave full rate at 63.3 years after 41.3 years of activity and the amount is calculated over the best twenty-five years.
To push for its reform, the government puts forward two strong arguments: abolish special regimes, create an universal and just regime. Communication is closer to advertising than to the truth.
The government counts 42 special regimesalongside the General Regime, the Mutualité sociale agricole, the Social Security of the self-employed. In the special regimes, 3 groups: civil service (civil and military officials), companies and public establishments, other regimes around a profession or a company.
The Labor Code (code du travail) recognizes 10 special regimes with 418,776 contributors, 1.4% of the active population, and 930,277 pensioners, according to estimates by the Social Security Accounts Commission for 2019. By integrating civil service and regimes assimilated to regimes special, this total climbs to 4.7 million contributors, or 15.7% of the working population, and 4.3 million beneficiaries (3).
The Ministry of Health and Solidarities puts 11 regimes on the list fixed by decree in December 2014. In its annual reports, Social Security (Séccurité sociale) estimates that there are 13 special and assimilated regimes but does not take into account civil servants, sometimes integrated into special regimes.
In front of this historical diversity, incomprehensible to ordinary people but the fruit of past struggles, Macron speaks of a universal, egalitarian system.
Beyond the intention and over the declarations, the complexity of the situations makes it necessary to adapt to social realities and the balances of power that multiplies the initial, unique model. De Gaulle, more modest, ruled the country of 258 varieties of cheese…
If a Macron reform is successful, there will be a diversity of 10, 11, 13 or 42, with two points in common: tougher conditions for access to retirement and reduction in pensions. All, progressive to be less confrontational … Liberation has published a list of special plans with the number of contributors and pensioners… (appendix 1) To stay quantitative, contributors / pensioners, a few examples show strong differences. To this should be added the diversity of methods: rate, duration of contribution, pension level, etc. The current conflict mainly affects: 2,058,000 civil servants and contributing military personnel for 2,355,000 pensioners; 2,223,000 territorial and hospital officials for 1,155,000 pensioners; 143,000 contributors to SNCF in 2017, 261,000 beneficiaries
Conversely, some plans have a few dozen contributors or pensioners and are in the process of disappearing: the last beneficiary of the Hérault railways fund died in 2017.
The candidate Macron’s program in 2017
Macron proposed an universal pension system where an euro contributed would give the same rights, regardless of when it was paid, regardless of the status of the contributor … without affecting the retirement age, in pensions and the pay-as-you-go system (système par répartition).
Behind this announced simplicity, the reform must take into account many specific cases: caregivers, family situations, life accidents, unemployment, hardship … In total, 132 pages by Jean-Paul Delevoye, to present his proposals, without responding to all questions (4).
The government project
Behind the declarations, simplification, justice, universality, appeared the idea of the government, especially of Edouard Philippe, the pivot point at 64 years because the increase in life expectancy would involve the need to increase the years of work . Which has not been the case until recently.
É. Philippe does not hide the financial nature of this point: it will be up to the steering body of the future system, made up of union and employer representatives, to chart the way to financially balance the system in 2027. So according to his agenda: age of balance, 62 years and 4 months in 2022, 64 years in 2027 to clear the deficit. With the possibility of retiring earlier with a reduced pension (penalty) or later with a bonus. Objective, more than 3 billion euros in savings in 3 years (5).
The pension system has a variable deficit: 2.9 billion euros in 2018, 0.1% of gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Orientation Council for Pensions (COR). According to another report, the deficit could reach 7.9 to 17.2 billion euros in 2025. But spending on pensions should remain stable between 2018 and 2030, from 13.5% to 14% of GDP.
Revenue and expenses
The increase in life expectancy, in number of elderly people and in number of retirees are facts. Revenue and spending on retirees are choices. To obtain their balance, one can increase or decrease expenses and / or receipts.
Discreetly, successive governments have decided to reduce revenues by exempting certain social contributions, reducing public services … Amputated revenues, it is proclaimed the deficit and to restore balance, reduce spending is necessary by a new method of calculating pensions including the famous point or the number of retirees by raising the retirement age …
The question of increasing revenues will not be asked. However it is possible: by fixing the same rate of levy to all, which is not the case for high incomes (6), by taxing capital income, by aligning the wages of women on those of men, by regularizing undocumented workers, by fighting against illegal work which would remove unfair competition … but we reduce the number of labor inspectors…
All measures that would increase the return of contributions. Especially by reducing the number of unemployed, the main plague of society: we prefer overtime work, without social security contributions, the lengthening of the working years, instead of favoring the distribution of work. Work less to work all? The choice is made: reduce expenses when the number of elderly people increases! It can only be by reducing the amount of pensions and the number of pensioners!
É. Philippe is committed: when converting points into a pension when an active person retires, a contributed point will always be worth an amount equal to or greater (but not less) than the basic amount entered in the reform (7). Even if inflation is galloping? How will Philippe be able to keep his word in a year, two years … if another government passes a law that contradicts its promise?
Those who retire at the pivotal age will receive a pension calculated on the normal value of the retirement point. For those who leave before, the value of the point will be reduced, for those who leave after, the point will be improved in the same proportions, X% per year… (7). Another encouragement to work more at the expense of those who cannot find a job.
It revolves a lot around the pivot!
After proclaiming, loud and clear, that it is going to unify the pension systems, the government must adjust the pivotal age according to certain criteria and … power relations.
The Minister of the Interior has already made derogatory promises to his troops who support him as the rope supports the hanged man… after the defection of 3 CRS companies during a Parisian demonstration … He announced the maintenance of the advantages of special police regime … the retirement age (52 for men in uniform and 57 for commissioners) and retirement calculated like everyone else, over the entire career but including all bonuses … resulting in pensions equivalent to those of today. But following a declaration by Macron ensuring that the military maintained their regime, the police demanded a future pension plan aligned with that of the gendarmes, which was more advantageous (8).
Like what, the fight pays especially that of the police, essential to an austerity government which handles austerity and stick.
The bonuses would also be included in the calculation of pensions for public sector employees. Compensation for those who receive it: 20% of the remuneration but varies greatly from one agent to another. Those who receive little or no bonus have a lot to lose, especially teachers (9). For them, it is the salary that would be highly upgraded. In addition, a bonus of 5% retirement points will be granted for each child from the first and another 2% for families of 3 or more children (10).
Bonuses could also be granted depending on the arduous nature of the work (11). Despite Macron’s class contempt for whom far too many French people have no sense of effort. And who does not love the word of arduousness because it gives the feeling that work is painful !!! However, courageous, Jean-François Cesarini, former socialist, deputy of LREM, and humorist (dark), proposes, for the teachers, a weighting linked to suicides by job, which proves the painfulness. Bad idea for J-M. Blanquer (minister of Education) because the average suicide in Education (5.85 per 100,000) is far below the national average, or 16 people per 100,000 in 2012 (12).
Will farmers get this hardship bonus? The 2014 ONS report reported their excess mortality by suicide, more than 20% above the national average, with approximately one suicide every 2 days (13). The increase in life expectancy is, for the government, an argument in favor of a later retirement. No for its modulation! Jean-François Cesarini could have used it as a criterion. It is, perhaps, unwelcome for a ex-socialist now LREM. At 35, the life expectancy of a worker is more than 6 years lower than that of a manager according to INSEE, average between 2009 and 2013 (14). Shouldn’t that be taken into account for retirement age?
Better still life expectancy in good health: number of years that a person can expect to live without suffering from incapacity in the gestures of daily life. In 2016, it was 64.1 years for women and 62.7 years for men according to the DREES (Direction de la Recherche, des études, de l’évaluation et des statistiques) (15). Life expectancy, without sensory and physical problems, for managers 35 years old is 34 years (35 +34 = 69), for workers, 24 years (35 +24 = 59). The majority of workers are in poor health before they even reach the pivotal age! Managers live longer, healthier, have higher and longer pensions (16). The pivotal age of financial equilibrium seems more telling for the government than the pivotal age of human equilibrium!There has been talk of the dangerousness of certain trades, and workplace accidents? In 2018, 651,103 accidents, 2.9% more than in 2017: including 551 fatal in 2018, 530 in 2017, not including farmers, self-employed workers, civil servants. No one will be surprised that their frequency is higher in construction and public works, 73.2 per 1,000 employees, then sailors, 64.8, than in banks, insurance and administrations, 9.9 per 1000.
The fatality rate for occupational accidents among seafarers is the highest, 0.461 per 1000 seafarers and 0.748 per 1000 fishermen. Risk 5 times higher, 8 times for fishermen, than in the construction industry with 0.093 per 1000 employees and 15.6 times higher than in all professional sectors combined with 0.0295 per 1000 (17). Of course, other professions are also at risk: pruners, roofers, the steel industry, garbage collectors … (18).
The Prime Minister was anxious to reassure the military, the police and hospital workers, by undertaking that the arduousness of their profession is indeed a criterion in the calculation of their pension (19). What can sailors, pruners, openers … and everyone else do to make themselves heard?
The snow was dirty (1) is not a crime novel by Georges Simenon where the commissioner Maigret must find the author of a murder. It is, apparently, the black story of a young man who seeks his place in a world, complex, that he hardly understands, that he discovers little by little and who will condemn him for acts of which he knows nothing. . But it’s a lot more.
The novel, written in 1948, recalls the situation of many European countries during the Second World War: a country occupied by a foreign army. But there is nothing to say which country. The story takes place in an innominate country, an allegorical image of many others. If the main character who is not from a particular country, he is well of his time.
He will act steadfastly to accomplish the destiny he has chosen to be himself.
At what price !
In this crime novel, the narrator is closer to the hero, both observant and observed. He shows the world as he sees it, feels it, guesses it, imagines it.
Simenon describes the society in which Frank lives: the inhabitants of the building where his mother runs a brothel and provides him with a financial well-being and some facilities…; the dodgy bistro where he meets his eldest friend of a few years and where he wants to conquer his place. In a city where cohabitate, mix or fight dangerous networks more or less powerful: resistant, traffickers, police … An outside world, dominated by appearances where everyone suspects everyone. But behind this world of appearances, there is another, discreet, occult, anonymous, violent. Powerful.
The young Frank, fatherless, without real education, unscrupulous, determined, manages to make himself a place in this society governed by distrust, by fear, by a discreet police who belongs to another world. His desired amorality, without superego, contempt of men and even more of women, his refusal of any apparent sentimentality, love or pity, neither for himself, nor for others, allows him to become unique, in his own eyes, superior to everyone he meets. But alone.
The assassination of an occupation officer near his house gives him the assurance of being at or above the level of the others. Assassination free, without reason, without any feeling of guilt, without even having to talk about it, to take glory. Successful technical operation. His next-door neighbor, the father of a young girl, understood that he is author of this assassination. He will not speak. This establishes a strange link between them. Reciprocal adoption. Quiet.
The revolver, stolen from the officer, provided him with new, obvious proof of his superiority. He can go further. To obtain money with the help of two accomplices, at the cost of the murder of an ex-nurse who recognized him. A murder committed by necessity, coldly, but which, this time, does not leave him indifferent, shakes him for a moment.
Having a lot of money, he can display his wealth and even his interpersonal skills, thanks to a card obtained from the occupant at the same time. This card ensures him a certain impunity, a discreet, perhaps dangerous consideration, and makes things easier for him. He has moved up in the hierarchy of the environments he frequents.
But he needs to go further to show himself that he is not just above all the others, those under-nothings he despises. He must affirm by a new crime, more serious and intimately, that he is above all morals and feelings. Including his own feelings, which he refuses. But that shake him up.
This time, his act accomplished, he is helpless but as he wanted: unique. Faced with his destiny… Without having seen what he thought he was seeing.
This fate has a surprise in store for him. Absurd. He is arrested, not as he more or less thought, perhaps hoping, for one of the crimes he committed but for reasons that initially escaped him: the possession of money stolen from the occupant’s offices, his relations with people belonging to a network that he did not know about!
His fight then took on a different form. In another universe, prison, always alone and physically isolated: he must face the abstract machine of offices and these gentlemen, these grey, anonymous men, and resist torture sessions because…
There’s no reason because… He has no reason to be here. Absurd: for crimes he didn’t commit. He doesn’t know what the machine and the grey men who torture him want to know. He has no reason to talk or not to talk. He only knows that even if he sometimes dreams of what his life could have been like with a beloved woman, hanging a child’s laundry out of the window, his destiny was not to be Frank, husband and father, his destiny is the one he chose, without because… to be resistant against everyone, against everything, against Frank. To be.
He did what he had to do.
And the young girl who was his victim because he felt a love he refused to acknowledge. The one he thought, on several occasions, that she was like the others, is there. With his father. That he had chosen, not knowing why. And she speaks neither of pain nor forgiveness, she knows that he is unhappy and says nothing about it. She’s not like the others. She came here, just to tell him she loves him.
With his father, who also understood. He whose son committed suicide and who puts his hand on his shoulder, like a father. And tells him about the hard job of being a man.
1 – La neige était sale de Georges Simenon Livre de Poche, 1948, 284 pages
2 – Below, a brief note on the film : La neige était sale, film from Luis Saslavsky, 1953, 1h41
The snow was dirty. The film.
Based on Georges Simenon’s novel, Luis Saslavsky made a film, very different from the note presented above.
Franck’s behaviour is largely induced by his family environment, the absence of a father, of course, but above all by the conflicting feelings he has for a mother, a prostitute, who placed him as a nanny, who then became a brothel owner. Which ensures him a material well-being…. In a flashback, a scene illustrates this situation: the mother’s visit, accompanied by a potential father, to the nanny…
Without faith or law, Franck seeks his place in a dangerous environment. He stole and killed, twice. But is arrested for acts he didn’t commit.
The film is located: in France, during the German occupation of the Second World War. In this post-war period, a story that takes place during the Occupation cannot avoid talking about heroic resistance
He is incarcerated with the resistance fighters who take advantage of an air alert to try to escape. Uprising detainees are killed. But Franck took advantage of their rebellion to escape and return to his mother’s house. A brief escape, as he was denounced by one of his mother’s residents and became again a prisoner.
Frank is not a heroic resistance fighter. He’s just a thug in prison with some resistance fighters. For reasons of censorship, it is said that the story is set in a Central European country.
Franck’s story goes from an unhappy childhood to a criminal youth in a complicated world he doesn’t understand. He ends, however, by finding his redemption in the love shared with the young girl who has been also his victim. And a father at the same time…
Le Lagon noir (1), two police puzzles in Reykjavík, capital of Iceland, and Keflavik, the neighboring American base. Two worlds connected only by the workers who, every day, go from one to the other. The isolation of places and populations, the loneliness of people in an insular novel.
The policemen of the Criminal Brigade, Marion and Erlendur investigate, together, after the discovery of the body of a man, thirty yearsold, in the lagoon while the inspector Erlendur is interested, for personal reasons, in the unexplained disappearance in 1953 of a girl of 19 years.
Twenty-five years after this disappearance, life has changed even if the places are the same, if Icelanders will always work at the base. All US military now live on the base, a real city with shops, bars, bowling, cinema …
In the capital, the barracks, filthy, occupied in the fifties by the poorest families, after the departure of the American military, were replaced by buildings and a swimming pool. The shortage of the post-war period has diminished. But bringing alcohol, American cigarettes or marijuana from the base always provides some additional income at the cost of minor risks.
Simultaneous investigations into both cases help to keep the reader’s attention alive. By the hypotheses discussed by the policemen, their assumptions or those of the witnesses or suspects questioned … Specific to mislead the reader. But also by the description of a person, a place before knowing its identity, by the change of inquiry from one chapter to another or, more abruptly, a paragraph to the another, from one sentence to another, on the occasion of exchanges or a thought that suddenly comes to the mind of a policeman …
First, the novel presents what will be the setting for some of the first puzzle. The hangar for planes, with gigantic walls, at the vertiginous ceiling height, of the American military base, planted on the moor where only the most hardened plants survive, while the icy wind violently hits this obstacle. The envelope of his screams. Suddenly, the fall of a pipe and then a thud as a falling body of the ceiling. And the silence of the night.
Not far from there, a young woman heals psoriasis by going for solitary and nocturnal baths in a lagoon, where she appreciates the soothing softness of the water, the beauty of the place, magnificent and disturbing with its lava fields, the steam of rising water and the sight of a thermal power plant. After an hour of bath, she barely discerns what she thinks is a shoe on the surface of the water … which turns out to be the foot of a corpse. Starting point of the investigation on the american base, essentially.
To solve the enigma of the corpse of the lagoon, to find the cause of its vertiginous fall, suicide, accident or crime whose possible mobiles could be drug dealing, espionage, passionate crime … the difficulty lies in the space: the extraterritoriality of the US sovereignty base, even though there is collaboration between the two inspectors of the Icelandic Crime Squad and a US military policewoman officer.
The difficulty of the investigation into the girl’s disappearance comes from time that does not work in our favoras in many areas. In town, 25 years after the fact, witnesses have disappeared, memories fade. This obsessive search (2) of Inspector Erlendur is oriented by social or psychological considerations, sometimes mixed to explain the disappearance of a beautiful girl from a good family on the way to school that she took every day, along a neighborhood with a bad reputation …
For a reader who does not know, these two surveys show the country, the social situation in the city and even the Icelandic cuisine by the meetings of the inspector Erlendur with witnesses who help him to progress … The presence of Caroline, the American policewoman, unaware of everything about Iceland, is another way to recall the hard history of the country, a people accustomed to starvation, basic facts, political or cultural. A way to enlighten the reader also on the political situation of the 70s and the relations between the almighty United States and small Iceland. And even on some very discreet activities of the US Army …
All on a background of double isolation. Two islets on the same island. A foreign military base, artificial life, autonomous, under the authority of the first world power, totally cut off of its immediate environment. Connected to the United States and Greenland by air. Where the inspectors feel like they are in Texas, a few miles from home.
The capital of a small, unbearable country, at the end of the world. Coldly swept by the wind. Without any real connection to the rest of the world.
These two islets, isolated from the rest of the world, rub shoulders, ignore each other or despise one another. The Icelanders have only old ties with the outside world: a mother of Danish origin for one, a stay in a sanatorium in Denmark, of which there remains only one correspondence for the other, for a third, tastes sartorial and musical, longing for a stay in the United States …
The soldiers of the base are exiles, in penance, without any contact with the country.
Isolation and loneliness: all the characters live alone, widowed and single (sic), divorced, separated. Witnesses, friends or family members. Inspector Erlendur, recently divorced, is looking from afar at her daughter in the school yard. Commissioner Marion learns during the investigation of the death of his only friend. The American policewoman is there, following a breakup. Happy times are in the past. Or finish there: the only person who had an emotional connection to the base and the city is found in the lagoon …
In these two worlds, the truth, the legality are variable according to the circumstances … At the bottom of the scale, small traffic with the excuse of the shortage or a need of cannabis to calm the pains of a sister with cancer. For the command of the base, preservation of a state secret in the context of the Cold War. For the three policemen Marion, Erlendur and Caroline, progress in investigations towards justice … The three police officers, however, are marked by a contemporary humanism, quite formal, which makes them affirm their anti-racism, their feminism, their compassion for all those who suffer even if they do not conform: Caroline protects even the unfortunate who has treated hatefully for the color of the skin … All this hides a personal crack mentioned more or less discreetly.
The author himself is the victim of this discreetly nationalist insularity: the victims in both stories are Icelandic, the culprits are an American soldier and an unfortunate psychopath of Danish origin … Battle of the polices, the American Goliath is defeated by the Icelandic David. It is certain that this small people must be strong to survive in an environment, near or far, as difficult.
A true black and cold novel. Where the positive points are rare. The professional respect and understanding of the American policewoman with the Icelandic inspectors to advance justice against all odds. The discreet reinforcement of the links between the two icelandic inspectors ….
It’s a pity that in this well-conducted novel, well located that makes known Iceland and its people, are some clichés, clumsiness of vocabularies, which are not always the fact of the characters and that must be attributed to the translator or the author … the vertiginous fall or scaffolding of a vertiginous height (15 times in the novel) were not essential, any more than the hangar or the gigantic walls (9 times).
1 – Le lagon noirUne enquête de l’inspecteur Erlendur de Arnaldur Indridason, Editions Métailié 2016/audiolib (10h05) lu par Jean-Pierre Delhausse.
2 – As a result of a personal misadventure, Erlendur’s obsession with those who have disappeared or those who have survived. Which of the two I am, the one who lives or the one who dies (Steinn Steinarr, 1908-1958, great Icelandic poet)