Return to Aix. First impressions.

I came down to Aix-en-Provence by train yesterday. On the way we passed through Lyon. Two things bleakly stood out: many walls smothered in graffiti and the large blocks of social housing.

I arrived in the evening. By the middle of this morning, I had been approached by three beggars.

I had supper with a old friend.  I asked about visiting social housing blocks in Marseille. She said there had been murders recently in Marseille. It might not be safe to go to those areas. But then, she reflected, those areas might actually be safer because they would have police there. She said that more than 300 extra police had been brought into Marseille to help deal with the violence.

There is a huge contrast: on the one hand, the beggars, the graffiti, the social blocks, the violence. On the other hand, the ultra-chic shops of central Aix and tens of restaurants here fully booked (admittedly on a Saturday night).

French politicians talk of ‘social solidarity’. They seem to have achieved the opposite.

  1. Now THIS is a social housing programme: 36 million new homes!
  2. What is the cause of the Paris riots?
  3. ‘Of 12 incidents that ended with the victim attending hospital, only seven were reported to police’
  4. Again the trustworthiness of government statistics in question
  5. How did gangs arrive on council estates?
This entry was posted in Behaviour & Crime, General, Housing, Work on the new book. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Return to Aix. First impressions.

  1. Walter E. Grinder says:

    Dear James Bartholomew,

    Your keen insight about France was, I think, fully anticipated 150-170 years ago by the seemingly clairvoyant French writer, Frèdèric Bastiat. May I recommend a recent and wonderful little intellectual biography of Bastiat by the Canadian, Robert Leroux. This is an outstanding study and representation of Bastiat’s thought and of his backbone in the face of formidable intellectual odds. Please see the details as follows:

    Political Economy and Liberalism in France: The Contributions of Frèdèric Bastiat (Routledge, 2011).

    Of course during the generation in France following Bastiat we have an even harsher ideologically overwhelming siege of liberalism and a near annihilation of liberal thinkers and of liberalism as a French doctrine. In the midst of this downturn of liberalism’s fortunes, we have another prescient voice in the wilderness on behalf of liberalism: Paul Leroy-Beaulieu. Leroy-Beaulier wrote two important works in both of which he saw the future clearly. Please see his following studies:

    Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, The Modern State in Relation to Society and the Individual (Swan Sonnenshcin & Co., 1891)

    Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, Collectivism: A Study of Some of the Leading Social Questions of the Day (John Murray, 1908).

    Bastiat and Leroy-Beaulieu are the two leading voices of undiluted and unterrified French liberal thought in the 19th centrury, Both seem to be making a bit of a comeback, at least in America and France. For example, the complete works of Bastiat [six volumes] is currently in the process of being published by the Liberty Fund in Indianapolis, Indiana. The first two volumes are now published and the rest are coming out over the next two years. I commend their writings to your attention. I think you will find kindred spirit in each of them.

    I always enjoy reading your writings. Please keep up your great work!

    Best regards,

    Ciao, Walter

    Walter E. Grinder
    President Emeritus,
    Institute for Civil Society
    217 Mountain View, CA 94043

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