Let me take you for a walk. It’s a warm afternoon, and we’re in a regional city in France. We start by the pier, where attractive French couples young and old stroll along the water, taking in the embrace of the sun onto their already-bronzed limbs alongside the embrace of their loved ones. The pure white sheen of the boats in the dock is soothed by their sunglasses.
We head up, inland. We pass by an attractive collection of cafes and restaurants of varying price ranges, serving charcutterie, pizza, seafood, and wine. The French, and a scattering of tourists, sit in animated conversation in groups of friends. A family of four sits at the end of the row of establishments, the children surprisingly well-behaved and eating spaghetti bolognaise.
After this, a railway station. As we pass through the station, we see various benches at the platforms occupied by groups of youths of varying ethnicities, dressed like American hoodlums (merci, mondialisme!), playing music from their phones and in exuberant discussion about their plans for later that night. Down the passageway from one platform comes the smell of hashish.
We walk further up still, up one of the hills upon which the city is built. We pass a group of happy French students at the nearby university heading down the hill. As they pass, we turn to the left and see an African hairdresser’s with a group of Senegalese dancing together to some fuzzy tune coming from an old television inside. Going further up, we pass a park. Some Maghrebis loudly play football with one another, as others sit on the grass in a circle smoking yet more hashish. Two blonde girls pass them by. They cat-call them; the girls ignore them. A French family plays badminton in the far corner of the park.
On we walk, as the hill gets steeper. At our right, a series of tall apartment buildings halt the sunlight from falling on our faces – laundry hangs out of some balconies. At the bottom sits a café, occupied entirely by older Arab men. By this point, we look ahead of us and see another, smaller town centre, with a cluster of semi-detached houses. A trio of older French ladies have met each other on the street and are discussing the latest scandalous gossip.
Now let me take you to a different place entirely.
We are in the centre of a regional city in northern England. It’s the same time – a Friday evening. It’s an overcast day, and the remains of drizzle from earlier lay on the pavement. The centre is bustling with t-shirted and short-skirted young men and women, veritable scholars at the local ex-polytechnic, already stumbling at the start of their night of drinking. Meek groups of Chinese students weave their way through the growing debauchery.
As the night falls, the taxis pick up the pissheads and bring them from A to B. But the lips of the drivers have never touched a green-glass bottle themselves. The drivers are from the Mirpur region of Pakistan – young and old, these men control the taxi trade in this city and so many others like it. One cab unloads a group of English women, all mutton dressed as lamb, screeching loudly in their thick provincial accents and ready to blow a significant chunk of their post-industrial wages on cheap thrills. “Fucking slags” the driver mutters to himself as the cab door is half-heartedly closed.
As we continue down the street, and the queues for the bars and clubs grow, two bouncers throw out an unruly yokel, who proceeds to head to Kebab King with his friends’ arms around him in support. As the madness of the streets clears, and we head into a more suburban area dominated by students, another taxi is seen pulling up by a house. A young man gets in, and gets out, within less than a minute. A drug transaction. The MDMA-dealing driver pulls away into the night, out to an unassuming terraced house in the north-east of the city where he and his people live.
As we plod up the hill, we pass by a park. Empty. The blades of grass and the seats of the benches are damp and unattractive. Only the neighbourhood pub, The White Lion, bathed in the yellow vomit of the street light, shows any sign of life.
The aim of this piece of phenomenology is to sketch the different spirits imbued in the English and French city as their native conceptions of public space meet the varied consequences of mass migration. The main point here is enviro-cultural: the English public space is one that exists indoors and on private property, with the French public space being outdoors and more genuinely situated within the commons. This in turn reaffirms the insularity and fragmentation of the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in England, whereas Maghrebis and Africans in France are led to be active participants in the colonisation of French public space.
As far as public space goes, climate is king. The English don’t really do cafes, preferring indoor, alcohol-centred locales like pubs. The culture of hanging out in parks is weaker, in part due to wetter weather and the society that forms around those material conditions. It does of course still exist, but only marginally so, and is largely confined to native chavs and Afro-Caribbean wastrels.
Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, who together constitute over half of UK-based Muslims, are notably insular. A quarter of Pakistani men are taxi drivers (and half of Bangladeshi men work in restaurants). Pakistanis in Britain account for 3.4 per cent of births, but 30 per cent of children born with recessive gene disorders – with 55% of Bradford’s Pakistani community marrying their first cousins. If that isn’t a self-reinforcing hamster wheel of insularity, I don’t know what is.
It was out of taxi drivers, notably from the particularly backwards Mirpuri community who constitute 70% of British Pakistanis, that a scandal like Rotherham could arise. A cab driver is his own man, working the hours he wants and going broadly where he wants to. A Mirpuri driver will see more than his fair share of outrageous thots, whose booze-fuelled degeneracy is a world away from his own background. In fact, he’ll see it every weekend – picking up the post-industrial pissheads who drink themselves to death.
He will thus come to the conclusion that English girls are ‘easy meat’, even if this is an extrapolation from 50 year old mutton-thots to 13 year old schoolgirls. A lot of these men, especially the younger ones, are involved in the drug trade to varying degrees, with many deliveries coming from taxi drivers who capitalise on their own mobility. This itself is often underpinned by a mutual agreement with the hot-headed Islamists that they limit their drug dealing to the kuffar as a form of jihad.
It’s all isolated, quiet, and hidden. They are in fact so insular and clannish that they are less noticeable than the Arab or Turk that typically constitutes the Muslim population in France. They stay in the taxi and the ‘community’. They do not hang out in the parks. They do not go to the bars and drink as some Turks or Maghrebis might. Even the infamous street prayers of Paris do not exist in London.
There are many reasons for scepticism towards these peoples on the part of English natives. They are fundamentally Other after all, even if not being visibly criminal. And when visible criminality does arise, it is often a hyena-criminality that invokes seething anger amongst ordinary working folk. But because the lives of these peoples are so hidden, it is easier for the middling sorts to delude themselves, imposing their own false notions onto what they must ‘really be’. This alien world of cousin-marriage, belief in magic (jinn), and grave consequences for apostasy goes unseen.
This is all radically different in France. Here, the café is king. The parasol-decked restaurant abounds. The waterside promenade moulds the town to its designs. All but the far north of the country has more sunshine than England; the Riviera has over a thousand hours more per year. It is therefore no wonder that the French town square has more in common with its Latin cousins than its neighbours to the north.
What else does this beget? African street vendors, selling worthless cheap tat illegally, abound. They put their fake designer bags and sunglasses on a rug, and if police are spotted they tie it all up into a makeshift knapsack and run for it. Immigrant drug dealers laze about in the heat, killing time between young white men asking to buy something from them. Parks are inevitably used more than in England, and thus attract a greater number of scum whose presence does not glide well with happy young French people, particularly women who are able, as Europeans, to celebrate the human form in their manner of dress. Warmth and sunlight allow for public benches everywhere to operate as acceptable communal hangouts to a greater extent than in England – these benches are thus sites of low-level antisocial behaviour.
Above all, this conception of public space is one in which the onus is firmly on the state-led police force to ensure order is maintained. In the English example, when socialisation is so heavily weighted towards bars, pubs and the like, order is enforced through the private security contracted for a given locale (bouncers). These two systems of security and the means by which they regulate antisocial behaviour (both against lumpen immigrants as well as against native dalits) operate in accordance with very different logics.
First, any given amount of public space, divided by the number of police officers on the beat, is going to give us far, far less cover than a single bouncer covering the area of a bar. This should be perfectly obvious. The finite space of the bar also makes it difficult to run or hide from security. It also gives the bouncer seriously more ‘skin in the game’ than a policeman – a real incentive to catch perpetrators given their small and exclusive jurisdiction.
Second, the concept of the threat of removal is entirely different. Should a troublemaker – assuming he can even enter a bar in the first place – mess about, he will be swiftly ejected from the premises. It is a low-value, high-risk space, with not much going on compared to the entirety of the country’s public space, but with a high risk of ejection. By contrast, under a progressivist government, the public commons are high-value, low-risk spaces – spaces that offer loads but are very difficult to deny to anyone (through deportation, imprisonment, execution etc.) due to various pieces of national and supranational legislation that are objectively pro-criminal.
Third, the grounds for a pretext of removal are different. A bouncer can kick you out or deny you entry or any reason – it could be that he just doesn’t like the look of you. A policeman needs grounds upon grounds for arresting an individual in the first place – even past criminal convictions will often not cut it.
These are, I believe, significant factors in why the phenomenology of mass migration and modern urban existence, and public discourse surrounding it, is so different in these two countries – although it is a matter far too complex to boil down to this handful of observations. It is with these eyes, however, that we can see why the French frequently describe their malaise as insecurité, something that lacks a direct cognate in the English socio-political experience.
How these matters are solved politically is an important question. In this British context, I would argue that the overarching question of Order that I have broached, being one that is less immediately militant and pressing, and a situation in which the Other is kept significantly more isolated from day-to-day existence, is one that will largely take place at the level of formal politics and the deeper and less accountable reaches of the para-state. I can imagine institutions more readily making use of the comparatively vibrant right-wing mass media to shine light on issues, alongside quasi-crypto-reactionary elements in nominally ‘libertarian’ or ‘conservative’ think-tanks to quietly nudge discourse in a rightwards direction. Perhaps this is overly optimistic, but progressivist liberalism will remain on the back foot for the foreseeable future in the form of a relatively right-wing Tory government, with the possibility of a successor to UKIP arising out of the current morass to demand law-and-order/patriotic policies in a policy context that has (with any hope, soon) left Brexit behind it.
Seeing public spaces staked out as gang territory across the towns and cities of France is a different story altogether. As Moldbug noted a decade ago, the presence of a gang contesting public space is a directly political act – one that challenges the legitimacy of a Sovereign in a given territory. It is plainly evident that the French Fifth Republic faces a far greater crisis of legitimacy than the British state – Scottish claims to independence from the Union notwithstanding.
From this question of space-occupation that plagues France – and for that matter Germany, but for simplicity’s sake let us stick with France – there can only be two options of response, short of the descent into anarchy of a given town or city. The first is the top-down option. This means that changes in governance structure of a given territory, notably in criminal legislation and the enforcement of that legislation, measurably changes the quality of existence towards Order and sanity.
Let us take a concrete example of an attempt at something approaching a top-down solution: Robert Ménard, mayor of Béziers in southern France, population 71,000. Ménard, a Front National-affiliated mayor, managed to achieve results upon his election on a law-and-order ticket. He imposed a curfew on minors. He banned spitting in public. He very publicly issued new 7.65 calibre handguns to police. To top it off, he mortally offended the French secularist wetties by hosting a great big public Catholic mass, sponsored by state funds (I don’t know how he got away with it).
But even then, Ménard ran into the limitations of the French Fifth Republic. His proposed referendum on whether Béziers would accept their allotted migrants from Calais was struck down by the courts. His attempt to collect demographic statistics on the inhabitants of the town was halted, as it was against French law.
This brings us to an important point of rupture, and an important matter to note in moving forward. What if Ménard had refused? What if he penned up the town’s allotted migrants ‘inhumanely’? What if he kept recording demographic statistics anyway? How much could Ménard keep the national authorities running around in circles? What, indeed, would happen if those new 7.65 calibre handguns ended up directed at an encroaching national police force, who themselves were none too keen on subduing the men of Béziers? All very interesting questions.
What else might happen in response to a situation in which control on the streets was being lost to immigrant gangs? We have discussed the possibility of the state restoring Order. But what about other governance structures?
Let us say, hypothetically, that a new force steps onto the scene in an increasingly anarchic town shackled with poorer prospects for state-driven restoration. A gang of men finds the state of a town square to be appalling. They band up and hassle the cat-callers and drug dealers, successfully repelling them and restoring order. You can work out how this story goes. We can already see the germs of what might grow from these developments, in the form of various Identitarian groups on continental Europe. These are the germs of a bloody civil war. I fear that this is the fate that may await France, especially given the strictures of the Fifth Republic’s electoral and devolution mechanisms that have denied Marine Le Pen victory in 2017 and may yet do so again in 2022.
Many of past and present generations on the continent grew up in towns that were clean, safe, and civilized. Environments that, for the most part, allowed normal young people to occupy public space. And yet when the quality of such areas change, with groups of people serving no civilizational purpose roaming where they did not before, it is immediately palpable. Larger settlements descend from law and order first, and others follow. It is this basic phenomenon, this first-person view from the street, beyond the abstraction of a terror attack on the other side of the country or continent, which surely sounds the alarm for any decent person.