Gordon Brown states that France will crumble next

Gordon Brown has just stated that France is in line to be the next to crumble. I've only been here a few months so I'm not one to have noticed France to be in dire straits. Do you agree or disagree with his statement? Have you personally experienced or noticed things going downhill in this country?

France will be next to crumble

Maybe your most important but my most importand thin in life is good health and that certainly does not come free here in France!

Proudhon's house in Cluny is totally run down, and has been so for many years. It appears that no one wants to preserve it for posterity.

Methinks referring to Schickelgrueber and all his conundrums does not help or indeed encourage. However, political philosophy which is deadly serious, ideed far too serious for the most part, which for my sins is part of what I studied (along with economics, etc) need a large dose of what Spike Milligan or the Pythons could have done to it. That is a serious task in itself and no doubt would have Socrates spinning (with delight) in his grave. But the we have Sarah below with reality and people like myself who work in the at present very unpopular ‘human rights world’ (my wife and I are specialists in the study of children and have worked with street children, trafficking, etc) and are also finding the going tough. When the going gets tough it gets tougher for others and people who should be helping them find it tougher too and cease to be able to give what they would like to. The people gathering the enormous (also mainly notional wealth) in the small elite offer a few weasel words of sympathy but never a penny more than keeps them looking respectable. It is not just the Sarahs but everybody else who is on the line and here in France at least the people at grassroots level just keep going and scratching a survival day by day. In the UK the solidarity and will to survive that way are just not there. We value diversity yet it is the differences that let one go down while the other across the way somehow stays up and that is what the rich elite have on their side because it guarantees them no global revolution is ever going to happen.

On the surface the economic climate in my area (Tarn; near Castres) is not encouraging. Six small businesses have closed on my street in the past year, unemployment is not far off 10% etc.

But we are doing more and more 'troc' - bartering and exchange of services, produce etc. For example I no longer buy wood - I help clear land on the condition that I can take a winter supply. It's fun, outdoors, we do it in teams and finish off the day with a big boozy repas

I recently closed my atelier/shop and turned it into an online only business ( local people are buying cheap imports rather than arts and crafts) but my translation business is flourishing, particularly for multi nationals who need locally based interpreters.

Plus people I know who have gites/hotels/campsites have seen very little difference in their turnover.

I agree with Tina Hatch - don't let fear stop you..........the French are 'solidaire' so even if you hit hard times you will be amazed at the helping hands that appear.

Guess it all boils down to what sort of work you do?

NEVER EVER whilst we draw breath will things change, from what Ive been reading on here. people are saying the greedy few are swallowing things up ??--- look at our "Empire" what did we do there , simply rape and pillage the wealth of the countries we, as free men, occupied. Look at the industrial revoluton, it wasn't the workers that benefited, it was a few rich ones.Shoot forward to where we are now, exactly the same thing is happening, the difference being though, we now have a "rolling news media", everything displayed damn near before it happens.

So should we have a blanket suppresion on all news items ??, if we did at least we could wander around in blissful ignorance, or, should we listen to these "educated pundits" who get their information mainly from a computer programme that was written a few years ago and has been updated from time to time, based soley upon what happened to events after, lets say, the last Wall St crash, or the great depression of the U.K., they are based on times gone by and their look into the "future" is just that >>>>>>>>>>> a look.

I well remember watching a T.V. programme called --'Tomorrows world" --- a programme telling us exactly what we would have and what would happen in the years to come,it was on screen approx thirty years ago, and how many of the predicitions they forcast actually happened?? >>> just over two% of them.

Do any of you remember the Jimmy Young programme??, he would interview the grand and the famous, who would espouse the way the world was going, and nothing like it has happened that was predicted--talked about ----etc. So if you want to believe the "experts" by all means do so --me !!!! --- I am just going to sit here in blissful ignorance and smile at those of saying -------" we shoulld do something about this" or " Its so and so's fault".

Just as an aside, the ONLY way you will ever get the changes you want that you think would alter things for the better would be to elect another " ADOLF HITLER" , without his "final solution" policy, and somehow I don't think anyone has the guts to vote in a party, or a person, that wouldn't allow you to complain about the state of things.

Political philosophy with wit - love it Brian!

Sort of what I was getting at in my quirky way. Thus far no revolution has succeeded for those reasons and it would need a genius to think of one that would work.

Yes, Dr marx did just that and let us not forget the inspiration, debates and nose bleeding with the likes of Proudhon that contributed. The recent Russian empire that we knew as the soviet union and its ilk made monopoly capitalism out of selected bits of their work. NB, former influential Communists were billionaires within months!! Hobbes, can only agree and shows how little forward we have gone since hunter-gatherer Cro-Magnon people by our nature and then we need some Kant to mirror what we really are. As for a revolution, problem is the top of your pyramid probably holds all the aces, for instance how to afford a revolution. Apart from that, getting people away from HD widescreens may prove difficult!

Colin your description of capitalism also sounds like socialism with those at the top of the pyramid doing well while telling everyone below that we are all equal and everything is fair.

Any society that removes a heirarchy (by revolution etc) simply replaces it, France is a great example, off with the heads of the chinless wonders then replace with the champagne socialists. So no matter who is at the top of the pyramid, if your are at the bottom you will always be stood on and kicked.

Brian - I think Karl Marx came up with something a few years back. Trouble is the Russians and others corrupted it just like capitalism. Maybe Thomas Hobbes summed up the human condition about right as “nasty, brutish and short” I’ve always taken the view that in its rawest form, capitalism is a bit like pyramid selling. A few at the top get rich quickly and within a short space of time all the money just runs out and those at the bottom of the pyramid (the majority) are left with nothing. Shall we start our own revolution?!

Or like us, having to suffer for their financial stupidity when we were financially prudent.

John, co-incidence, my son-in-law is Austrian, from Graz, and he and our daughter live in Munich! He is not a great fan of the Germans, says they have no sense of humour.

Irony continues - I was looking at news and lo and behold Branson has just acquired Northern Rock. I knew Richard when he started trading used records and importing 'ethno' stuff from developing countries and lived in a run down place on Eel Pie Island. Many of us who knew him gave up knowing him as he got greedier and hid behind the Mr Nice-Guy image and from what I have seen as false that mask may be he is indeed one of the nice guys! So expecting change and improvement in France or elsewhere when so much is being gathered into fewer and fewer generally unpleasant hands at costs of other people's livelihoods, etc everywhere is what we have. Time to stop it. The question is how? So far revolutions have not provided solutions, so somebody with a mind as sharp as Einstein needs to come up with something very soon.

Look at Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa's social status, background and posts in government prior to his own presidency and imagine that he was more than rhetorically going to change any rules. So the irony will continue and will Hollande be any better with his socialist cap on? I am not betting on that.

yes the real question is about hte whole system not just small measures within it. Interesting thoughts Brian but who on earth is going to actually change the system, Sarkosy spouted off after the last crash that he was going to change the rules but we're a long way off that. and it is so ironic that a few people make a fortune trading off the disaster of most!

And like you I fall between the Uk and French systems, I still pay volutary class 2 in the UK as it's only about £12 a month (yes I admit I've still got a few quid over there but just to pay these contributions) so at least <i should get a full pension, all be it very small, somewhere!

Norman and Andrew, the social costs issue is naturally an important one and a point where France can save money. For all of that it is marginal compared to the overall issues that are lead by aggressive capitalism (in the bluntest terms) and whilst I agree that as Norman says it is ammo for ending the ridiculously early retirement ages in a country where longevity is extending rapidly like elsewhere thus making enforced retirement a burden both on those who must stop working and the state that 'provides'. But it is merely the tip of the tip of an enormous iceberg and would not dent France so very much if not changed. That is why I looked at the wider question that includes France in terms of economics rather than finance and what the nitty-gritty is, not what is in various pots of actual finance. Andrew's point is very valid, especially if he has been here long. I have not and I am getting close to pension time. However I have lived and worked here and there for most of my life because that is the career I chose and have s*d-all in terms of UK state pension plus my private one was sold and resold several times and finally belonged to Mssrs Lehman, so by the time the little bit of compensation comes I'll be past caring. To this end many of us must work longer and to that same end we need greater stability in which to survive. At the moment that is not ensured by the economic situation of a large part of the world, especially the so-called establishment economies.

All true but there is no way that regulation of the futures market or, indeed, the global financial institutions is going to work until a truly global intitiative is implemented as money and locations of financial companies are so easily transferable. The euro was never going to work anyway in the form that it was set up as it was Mitterand and Kohl who wanted it as their legacy. In UK we find it almost impossible to create an interest rate and financial policies that work across the economies of Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland so there was not a snowballs chance in hell that europe would be able to find a formular that would work across 27 countries with such widely differing economies. And unless they standardise pension and social costs across the whole EU it will not work in the future as countries like germany and France will not continue to bail out other countries who have more generous pension and social costs than they have. In point of fact they are not actually bailing out the countries at all, they are simply bailing out the banks and other financial institutions who were daft enough to lend the money in the first place and saving the face of the politicians who allowed this situation to arise. Had this practice been followed by a british building society they would have been in court charged with irresponsible lending.

true, but some of us here are well off pension age and earn our livings here in France so the £/€ rate means nothing at all to us, in fact the last time I looked was 6 years ago when I brought the last of the little I had across ;-)

"Pouvoir d'achat" isn't wonderful for us I can tell you !

I spent many years in financial services in Uk and more than 30 years ago everyone knew that the increasing age of the population of europe was going to cause a severe problem for social costs and pensions but no one had the political courage to do anything about it. Countries like France, Italy, Greece etc were patricularly exposed due to their retirement age and social costs. This crisis will be good for France as it gives the government the ammunition it needs to force through the changes that it should have made many years ago. Britain, to its credit, started to make these changes in the last Conservative government and in this one. They would have done it more quickly had they not been forced into a coalition but better late than never. The advantage that those of us who are already here have is that, as the rest of Europe is lagging behind the UK and there is considerable doubt over in what shape the euro will go forward, the pound should continue to rise against the euro and that makes our pensions go further so marginally increasing prices here are offset by the incresing value of the pound. We also have the internet to scour the world for the best value.