Saturday, April 28, 2007

MRZine has an interesting interview with Paul Burkett:

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(US) Socialist Worker April 27th

The ISO's Socialist Worker (April 27th) has a May Day focus on immigrant stuggles.

The editorial is on 'Will Washington deliver justice for immigrants?', which usefully criticises the 'STRIVE Act' (that is the Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy Act proposed by Republican Senators Flake and Gutierrez).

There's an interview with Nativo López of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) on the politicians’ immigration proposals:“Enforcement-heavy and legalization-light”

And Lance Selfa contributes a piee on on 'Why business wants a guest-worker program' -"explains why labor has to reject any bill that establishes a second-class category."


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Labour slump

Labour slumps to lowest poll rating since 1983
By Andrew Grice
Independent 24 April 2007

Support for Labour has fallen to its lowest level since 1983 in the approach to next week's local elections, the latest monthly poll for The Independent shows.

CommunicateResearch puts the Conservatives on 36 per cent (up one point on last month's survey), Labour on 27 per cent (down four points), the Liberal Democrats on 22 per cent (up two points) and other parties on 15 per cent (up one point).

The poll was taken between Friday and Sunday and Labour's level of support may have been affected by damaging headlines over the cash-for-honours affair after the Metropolitan Police completed its 13-month inquiry and submitted its report to the CPS.

The figures suggest that Labour will suffer heavy losses in the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and English councils on Thursday week, giving Tony Blair a farewell kicking in his last contest as Labour leader.

Labour's support is the lowest in any opinion poll since 1983, the year in which it won 27 per cent at the 1983 general election under the leadership of Michael Foot.

Labour has lost ground among women in the past month, with support falling from 32 per cent to just 24 per cent. But it has the backing of 31 per cent of men. Support among those aged 18 to 24 has dropped from 39 per cent last month to 24 per cent.

Another worrying finding for Labour is that its natural supporters are less likely to vote for it than those of the two other main parties. CommunicateResearch found that the Tories continue most effectively to retain the loyalty of their natural supporters, with 90 per cent of those identifying themselves most closely with the party intending to vote for it. Eighty-one per cent of people who regard themselves as Liberal Democrats say they will back the party, while for Labour the figure is 80 per cent.

Although the Tories will be happy to be nine points ahead of Labour, they will be disappointed not to have benefited more from Labour's slump. The Tories' 36 per cent rating is still short of the 40 per cent they hope to achieve in the council elections in England to show they are on course for victory at the next general election.

The big two parties' declining share of the total vote is another feature of the poll. Among the other parties, 4 per cent of people support the Scottish National Party, which is ahead of Labour in Scotland and is on course on become the largest party in the Edinburgh Parliament. The Green Party is on 3 per cent, the British National Party is on 2 per cent, with the UK Independence Party and Plaid Cymru both on 1 per cent. Other parties scored 4 per cent.

Likelihood to vote among young people is dwindling. This month, only 17 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they were certain to vote, compared with 26 per cent last month. Thirty per cent in this age group say they are certain not to vote, twice as many as last month.

* CommunicateResearch telephoned 1,000 adults between 20-22 April. Data were weighted to take account of expected turnout and party identification for those who declined to say how they would vote. The sample was also weighted by how respondents said they had voted in the 2005 general election. CommunicateResearch is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Full tables are at

China Mieville

'I'm a fantasy geek'

For China Miéville, the question is not how he got into children's books, but how he got out of them in the first place. Michelle Pauli talks to him about monsters, the marginalisation of sidekicks - and evil giraffes.

Tuesday April 24, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

'I remember vividly what it's like to read a book as a 10-year-old ... China Mieville

According to fantasy fiction writer China Miéville, the world can be divided into two camps.
"When I was moving into my new house a few years ago we were having all our kitchen stuff delivered and my then-partner got off the phone, turned to me and said 'the fridge men are coming,'" explains Miéville. "Now, it seems to me that there are two kinds of people: those that hear that sentence and think 'oh good, delivery of the white goods', and then there's those people who imagine a kind of enormous cyborg thing..." Miéville trails off. There's absolutely no doubting which camp he falls into.

"I love monsters," he confirms enthusiastically several times during our interview. Fans of his adult "weird fiction" will already have met a number of his dark creations in his Arthur C Clarke award-winning novels Perdido Street Station and Iron Council.

Now it's the kids' turn. Miéville has turned his hand to children's fantasy fiction with a fast-paced firecracker of a book, Un Lun Dun. Set in a kind of upside-down London, an "ab-city" filled with all of London's lost and broken things, it tells the story of two girls who stumble upon the strange, alternate metropolis and must save it from a destructive enemy - a sinister smog. While the tale itself may have a familiar ring to it, everything about the world of Un Lun Dun and the characters that populate it is wildly, almost breathlessly, inventive. The imagery is surreal - characters have birdcages for heads, buildings shift around, words turn rebellious - and the wordplay adroit. It also strikes a rich vein of humour and fun. The Binjas are dustbins that sprout limbs and strike karate poses, the Black Windows are fantastic - in every sense - monsters at Webminster Abbey.

But - and blame Harry Potter, if you will - writing a kid's book has become something of a trend recently, with everyone from Jeanette Winterson to Jordan giving it a go. So what's Miéville's excuse?

"I remember vividly what it's like to read as a 10-year-old - that passionate inhabiting of a book," he muses. "I wanted to do something that was a kind of a homage to all those books I inhabited then, like Lewis Carroll, Joan Aiken, Beatrix Potter ... " He's been keeping up with the recent batch of top notch children's fantasy writers, too, namechecking Philip Pullman, Cliff McNish, Garth Nix, Clive Barker's kids books, Neil Gaiman and Philip Reeve (but not JK Rowling. "They weren't," he says, tactfully, "massively to my taste"). He argues that reading the writers at the forefront of the current resurgence in children's fantasy fiction helped galvanise him into getting started on what had been a long-held plan.

He had also, he says, come up with images and ideas which he felt found their natural level with a younger audience rather than his usual readership, as they were slightly whimsical, based on wordplay and punning. Or games: Un Lun Dun contains some truly evil giraffes, and when I ask Miéville what giraffes have ever done to him he explains that they were the result of a test he'd set himself. "It's almost like that Oulipo thing of Georges Perec's where you set constraints. I wanted to think of an animal almost universally considered adorable and make them a really scary baddie. So it had to be either giraffes or pandas ... You couldn't do that in an adult book."

His delight in the possibilities of children's fiction adds to Miéville's curious but appealing mix of the boyish and the donnish. His declaration that "I've been accruing image capital for a younger book for a long time and then I coagulated it" sounds completely natural coming out of his mouth; it is only when written down that it appears unwieldy. He is, in fact, full of words you don't tend to hear in run-of-the-mill chats with children's authors, or with many people for that matter - inchoate, concatenation, epiphenomena ... - so it comes as no surprise to learn that he was bound for academia before becoming a full-time writer and that he still has a foot in the door with what he describes, diffidently, as a "vague relationship" with Birkbeck (he is a fellow of the college).

Originally, he studied social anthropology at Cambridge followed by a Masters in international relations at LSE. His PhD was published as Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law in 2005 and he continues, he says, to read academic journals, go to conferences and write the odd paper. His politics don't just remain on the page, either. A committed socialist since his university days, he stood for Parliament in 2001 for the Socialist Alliance in North Kensington, winning around 500 votes. It also won him the epithet "the sexiest man in politics". He's laughed it off in the past - "Who's the big competition? Paddy Ashdown?" But there's no denying that Miéville's distinctive looks - muscular, shaven-headed with a quantity of ironware in one ear - are not remotely donnish.

And the boyish? Well, says Miéville, "If you write fantasy or science fiction you're often asked 'how did you get into it?' I actually always think the question is the wrong way round. It should be 'how did you get out of it?' And I never did. "

Born in 1972 in Norwich, Miéville's parents separated when he was young, and he and his younger sister were brought up in north London by his mother, a liberal ex-hippie. There were lots of books in the house and she wasn't a literary snob, so there was never a sense of being told it was time to "put aside childish things".

"Millions of kids love dinosaurs and monsters and rocket ships and all that stuff and then at a certain point they start to move towards a more 'realistic' - which I think is a very misleading term - kind of thing, possibly endogenously, possibly because of outside pressures," Miéville explains. "So I think you do have a licence to enjoy that fantastical stuff in fiction for younger readers. For many of the adult readers of Pullman and Rowling it's a kind of valve, you're allowed to indulge in it 'because it's for the kids, it's OK ... '" He is keen to emphasise that he's not advocating any kind of heavy-handed maintenance of a sense of "childlike wonder" as an adult but he does get impassioned about what he feels are unstated assumptions about what is and is not suitable fiction for different age groups.

In fact, Miéville seems to get impassioned about many things, which makes him very engaging company. Take sidekicks, for instance. They're a familiar sight on the fantasy scene - Batman has his Robin, Frodo his Sam - but it wouldn't be giving away too much of the plot of Un Lun Dun to reveal that the "funny sidekick" ends up playing more of a hero's role than one might expect.

"I always felt sorry for the sidekick as a kid," Miéville says. "They never got their due and it left a very bad taste in the mouth - they are defined by a subordinate relationship to someone else. I always felt like a bit of sidekick when I was a kid and it didn't feel fair. And so for a long time I've been wanting to write a book in which the sidekick got their day. That," he adds, "is one of the things in Harry Potter I did have a problem with - the whole house system in the schools where the Hufflepuff house's whole role is defined as 'sidekick' and the quality it is lauded for is loyalty. It's that kind of nostalgic dream of a butler class - I really, really don't like that".

It is this acute sense of justice that fires Miéville's politics but, while Un Lun Dun and its smog monster may tap into the key environmental issue of the day, he is emphatic that politics was never the starting point.

"I didn't set out to make smog an issue. I was trying to think up cool monsters - which is what I spend most of my time doing - and I had various candidates for the monsters in the book and then one of the monsters that occurred to me was a giant, sentient, malevolent cloud... So the monster came first and that said, having done so I wanted to look at some of the issues about environmentalism in a non-hectoring way.

"I'm interested in politics so inevitably that stuff is going to be in there, but it's not the point of it."

As seems to be the way with Miéville, in the end it really does come down to monsters. He laughs: "I'm a science fiction and fantasy geek. I spend most of my time loving monsters - that's what I do."


Friday, April 20, 2007

Union decline

Reach of unions continues to fall
Andrew Taylor
Financial Times April 20 2007

The percentage of workers in a trade union fell last year by the biggest amount since 1998, continuing the long-term decline of the labour movement, according to official figures published yesterday.

The number of employees who were union members fell from 29 per cent to 28.4 per cent. The decline was much less for women, who are now more likely to be a member of a union than men according the Department for Trade and Industry.

Union membership, which peaked at 13.2m in 1979, when over half of all workers were members, has fallen to fewer than 7.5m as employment in traditional manufacturing industries has declined. Falling membership and subsequent strains on finances and loss of influence have triggered a series of union mergers in recent years.

The DTI reported that the proportion of male employees who were union members had fallen from 40.1 cent in 1992 to 27 per cent last year. Trade union membership among women by comparison had only fallen from 32 per cent to 29.3 per cent over the same period.

Public-sector workers, currently in a series of disputes over pay and job security, were also much more likely to be union members. According to the DTI only 16.6 per cent of private-sector employees were members of a union compared with 58.8 per cent of public- sector employees.

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said that unions were "running hard to stand still" but denied that they were in terminal decline. He said: "Today's relatively small fall in the number of union members is actually a union success story, given the continuing decline in traditionally unionised jobs in sectors such as manufacturing. Indeed after falling strongly through the 1980s andearly 1990s, union membership has roughly stabilised since 1997."

Mr Barber will head a TUC drive next week aimed at non-unionised workplaces. Around 2,000 employers will receive a leaflet explaining why unions are good for business. It will emphasise: "Union workplaces tend to be safer and have more highly skilled workers on better terms and conditions than similar non-unionised firms."

Mr Barber said: "The continuing success of unionised companies such as Tesco, shows that employers have nothing to fear from constructive relations with unions and much to gain from the boost to productivity from the training, participation and workplace safety."

According to the DTI, almost half of UK workers were still employed at workplaces where a trade union was present, while a third of employees, the majority of them in the public sector, had their pay and conditions affected by collective bargaining. Hourly earnings of union members were also higher, averaging £12.43 last year, compared with non-union members who averaged £10.66 an hour.

The TUC said: "Detailed analysis of the figures shows that unions are reaching out to new sections of the workforce - for example the growth in union density in recent years among women and professional workers. But unions need to runjust that bit faster in order to start gaining members overall."

It said that next month's merger between Amicus and the Transport and General Workers Union - to create Unite, Britain's biggest union with more than 3m members - would generate savings of £5m, which would be available for trade union recruitment.


Continuing the thread on the new SDS, here's something (long) and hopeful from the NYmag which I came across at the very useful Marxsite.

One, Two, Three, Four, Can a Columbia Movement Rise Once More?
Amid echoes of 1968, a new kind of radicalism struggles to be born.
By Philip Weiss
One Wednesday night this past winter, a group of radical students at Columbia University held a meeting with the moderate College Democrats. The topic: a February 15 strike of classes to bring the troops home now. The radicals were psyched.
“We need to take action!” said Karina Garcia. “People want to see that others are in motion, that something is happening around them, that students are striking, that people are willing to take to the streets.”
“People are at so many different levels of consciousness on this campus!” complained Kristin Wall, who was wearing a shirt with Arabic script and under it in English: WE WILL NOT BE SILENT.
“Good news!” announced Anusar Farooqui. “I wrote to Chomsky. He’s going to mention [our strike] in his lecture.”

Consciousness, Chomsky, the streets … the College Dems wriggled and winced. They had the air of earnest choirboys next to the motley radicals sitting disdainfully on the backs of their chairs. “Let’s treat the administration as a potential ally,” said a tall, redheaded Dem named Jim Downie. Why not get a letter from the administration saying that Columbia was officially against the war and that the university also wants the troops home now?

At the back of the room, David Judd, a computer-science student and member of the International Socialist Organization, paced with his head down, measuring linoleum squares against his battered sneakers. Every time a Democrat said the administration might help out, he said quietly, “They won’t … They won’t.”

By the time of the Columbia Coalition Against the War’s next meeting a week later, the Dems were gone. The negotiations had broken down over one issue or other: divestment, calling it a “walkout” not a strike, the Palestine issue. The radicals didn’t seem to care. They were drinking new political wine. Olivia Rosane brought in a wooden crate full of cold red apples, and the meeting had the boundless air of young people conceiving transformative commitments. “He’s a completely beautiful human, he’ll make everyone cry, he’s a Gandhian scholar,” Kristin said of a professor who’d agreed to talk at their rally.

Running down six flights at a break to smoke, Jake Matilsky and Anusar decided that the revolution wouldn’t happen without nicotine, and Jake—angular, hairy, with a ring on his thumb—said his parents’ generation was “MIA.” It reminded me of a lethal comment David Judd had made about his liberal mom: “She drinks a lot of lattes.”

The group of Columbia radicals is small (the most I ever saw at a meeting was 25, and not everyone in the room would identify as such), but it is part of a radical rekindling, or smoldering anyway, at colleges across the country. The SDS—Students for a Democratic Society—has lately reformed, with more than 200 chapters. A group called World Can’t Wait (to drive out the Bush régime) seems even more robust than SDS, regularly haranguing the young generation to shrug off its laziness. The war is all that most students have known as they came of age, says Allen Lang, one of WCW’s organizers. Even if they’re not at risk to go to Iraq, he says, the war has left them dispirited and searching for causes.

Mark Rudd, one of the earliest members of SDS at Columbia 40 years ago, tours campuses today as a hero. “I’ve detected a change among the youngest kids, 15 to 19. The events of the last three years have just shocked them to shit, turned their heads around. They’ve learned that they can’t possibly trust people in power, and you have to do something about it.” Rudd’s fellow SDSer Bob Feldman says, “People have been 40 years in the wilderness, that’s how we have to look at this.”

Feldman, Rudd, and company gave Columbia its brand in 1968: Radicalism in the Elite, at 116th and Broadway. Columbia loves and hates the brand. Freshmen read The Strawberry Statement, James Simon Kunen’s chronicle of the ’68 protests, before they arrive, and find the sex-and-demos plot still fresh. Even mainstream students speak of the sixties as a time of glory. Jess Blakemore, a College Democrat, cried after the talks between the radicals and her group broke down. “The legacy inspires me too,” she says. “I don’t know how many times we’ve sat at a College Dems meeting and said, ‘Columbia is supposed to be in the leadership of liberal activism among youth, and how do we step up again and take on that role we used to have? And that’s been a frustration … In that situation [’68], radicalism worked. A popular movement, getting the grassroots involved from the bottom: It ended the war.”

The institution itself seems to fear a radical revival. Columbia was deeply wounded by ’68. Professors were pitted against professors. The school’s status as a destination for the highly success-oriented took a beating, for a decade or two, and Columbia has lately sent the radicals signals that building takeovers will meet with more than arched eyebrows. “We’ve heard you can be expelled if you try to occupy Hamilton again,” Olivia says (and an administration spokesman concurs).

Today, two of the same conditions that produced ’68 are with us again: a horrifying war, and plans by Columbia to expand, this time to build a new campus in West Harlem between 125th and 134th Streets. And after years of absence, student radicals have rebuilt a platform at the school. Maybe it’s just a tree house, but they’re back. In the coalition’s meetings, idealistic kids debate how to retrofit the sixties for today’s crisis. “People don’t know that a 19-year-old girl desegregated the city of Nashville,” says freshman Lillian Udell, from Long Island. “It was college students doing that! Martin Luther King was running to catch up with the students. The adults should be trying to catch up to us. Because we have the power to change things now, and we’re going to use it!”

Whatever use it makes of those powers, the next left is determined to have an “intercultural” flavor, to use the Columbia buzzword. For the last two decades, the left was wrapped up in identity politics, which was more an etiquette than a politics. No one could get offended, you had to choose your words, and the right wing made legitimate fun of this (non-)thinking as political correctness. When I ask Kristin about her background, she rolls her eyes and says, “Father, left-wing gay. Mother, Christian apathetic,” as if those narratives we used to find so thrilling are a lot of noise. “Identity politics is tragic,” she explains. “It limits you to embracing only one kind of struggle.”

The prototypical next-left experience at Columbia is a media-savvy mash-up of Third and First worlds, of color and religion, democracy and insurgency. As Anusar, who is from India, puts it, “The social institutions that came out of the sixties, the huge intellectual liberation of student activism—it was global. And now we emulate that.”

The first thing you notice about Columbia is that the professors are more left-wing than the students, owing to the fact that much of the faculty came of age in the seventies. Last year, right-wing Columbia grad David Horowitz published a book called The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America—teachers who (the book flap claims) want “to kill white people” and “defend pedophilia.” Out of 101 wicked professors, nine are at Columbia. Horowitz’s book underscores a paradox about Columbia: Its image has been more useful to the right than to the left. “Fox News uses Columbia as a whipping horse for a left-wing institution, which I wish it was, but it is not,” says Andrew Lyubarsky, who heads the Working Families Party on campus.

Over the last year, the most effective student activist at the school has been a boyish conservative who walks around campus quoting Plato and addressing any man slightly older than himself as “Sir.” Chris Kulawik writes a column for the school paper, the Spectator, and tries to bait the inert liberal masses by bringing right-wing speakers like John Ashcroft to campus and staging theatrical events. When Columbia screened Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, Kulawik held a global-warming beach party. (“There were more beach balls than Republicans,” snipes former Columbia Dems president Mike Nadler.)
“A lot of people called me a masochist because I came here,” Kulawik says. “But I have had to defend, articulate, and advocate my beliefs against really, really smart, talented people.”
Something else they call Kulawik is a high term of praise among Columbia students: careerist. “Chris can walk out of Columbia tomorrow and get a job at a right-wing think tank,” college journalist Armin Rosen marveled to me.

Kulawik’s biggest moment may have signaled the left’s rise. Last October 4, Kulawik staged a speech on campus by Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, a group of anti-immigration vigilantes. The invitation aroused left-wing students who regard the Minutemen as a hate group, and they planned a number of protests. The only one anyone remembers took place when Gilchrist came to the podium inside Lerner Hall, and a group including David Judd and Karina Garcia ran up on the stage and unfurled banners, one saying NO HUMAN BEING IS ILLEGAL. In the mêlée that ensued, a Gilchrist loyalist kicked a protester in the head and Gilchrist left the stage without finishing his speech.

Thanks to Columbia’s reputation, the Minuteman incident quickly became a national story. Talk-show hosts ranging from Lou Dobbs to Jon Stewart assailed the protest, and the New York Post compared those who rushed the stage to brownshirts. Attention turned to Columbia president Lee Bollinger, a legal scholar and free-speech expert. Mayor Bloomberg criticized Bollinger for not taking a firm stand against the disruption, while Bill O’Reilly of Fox News said Bollinger was “frightened” by a “Kool-Aid campus … [where] power is in the hands of the radical left.” Bollinger issued a statement two days after the incident saying it was “one of the most serious breaches of academic faith that can occur in a university” and promising action against the stage-rushers. What a black eye for Columbia! In online bulletin boards, students lashed out at Kulawik for bringing the show to campus in the first place.

The left should thank Kulawik. He had awakened the ghost of activism. Lillian Udell, the freshman from Long Island, was in the back of the hall that night, wanting to hear the speech, uncertain about the rightness of rushing the stage. In the weeks that followed, she felt energized.
“I was glad the whole thing happened,” Lillian says. “Something about Minuteman felt different. I thought, This is what the sixties felt like. There was an incendiary spark to it. It refocused media attention on the campus. And I thought we can use that advantageously, in terms of national and foreign policy.”

The incident also exposed what left-wing students saw as corporate hypocrisy on the university’s part. Two weeks before Minuteman, Columbia stopped plans for a speech on campus by Iran’s notorious president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, citing security concerns and “logistics.” Ahmadinejad had been invited by the dean of the School of International and Public Affairs; at a time of international tension, the speech would undoubtedly have been important. Whose free speech counted? Bollinger’s critics said he had deferred to big donors out of concern for his legacy: Columbia’s planned campus in West Harlem. And now Columbia was standing up for the rights of a right-wing fringe group, the Minutemen—“a hate group—as identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” David Judd said on the front page of the Spectator.

Olivia Rosane, an aspiring writer from Seattle, was radicalized by the episode. “The protesters were instantly vilified, rather than the university saying, ‘What were you trying to do, what happened?’”

Two of those left-wingers became campus figures after Minuteman. David Judd engaged in sharp debates on the undergraduate-student magazine’s blog, Karina Garcia debated Nat Hentoff on campus and did a speaking tour in California. I heard Karina described as a revolutionary. She is a shy person, and I was careful when I asked her about her political education.

“You know, I don’t have any illusions anymore,” she told me. “[Minuteman] opened my eyes. I used to consider myself a Democrat, too. The only change that can be made in this country is through organizing masses of people. Not lobbying the Democrats and praying they will change their minds. The people will make the change. Not the politicians.”

When she got up to go, she had a girlish smile. “Fuck it, I am a radical. I’m just not crazy.”
Israel-Palestine is the great wound in Columbia student life. There are many Jewish students, and the pro-Israel contingent often seems the predominant political bloc. But the pro- Palestinian activists are a vocal minority. When a Jewish student impishly invited Saifedean Ammous, a Palestinian grad student whose grandparents lost their land to Israel, to a party celebrating Israel’s birth on May 15 last year, Saif went, in his kaffiyeh, and angry words were exchanged. For liberal Jewish kids, the criticisms of Israel are agonizing, and the debate over its role in American foreign policy has stymied the antiwar movement.

“Palestine is the undercurrent in every conversation between the two sides of the progressive movement,” says coalition member Jake Matilsky. “It is emotionally charged, and not addressed in a pragmatic fashion … We need to lock ourselves in a room, the two sides of the argument, and talk about justice and its practical applications to Palestine. But we need to do it in a way that does not frighten away the Jews.”

Here again, the right wing has been an important actor in campus politics. Three years ago, a pro-Israel group called the David Project made a film called Columbia Unbecoming, documenting instances in which Arab and Muslim professors apparently badgered Zionist students over their views. It became a cause for pro-Israel groups. “Reporters from the New York Sun were on a witch hunt on campus,” says Zach Wales, a pro-Palestinian grad student. “Joseph Massad [a Palestinian professor] had to outrun a reporter. If he sneezed, they knew how hard.”

There are two narratives about the David Project on campus. Pro-Israel students say that it was inevitable. “MEALAC [Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures] was teaching students garbage,” says Andrew Avorn, formerly head of the Pro-Israel Progressives. “Those professors were saying things that were so untrue—it would be like if a physics professor gave you the wrong number for g [gravitational force].”

But left-wing and Arab students invariably describe it as a “witch hunt.” They saw professors intimidated. “Students were afraid. Professors were shown to be vulnerable,” says Sakib Khan. “[MEALAC] had a stifling effect on pro-Palestinian speech on campus.”

Columbia’s investigation of the case sought to balance the free-speech right of the professors against another right, that of students not to be intimidated. Arthur Eisenberg, a free-speech expert for the NYCLU, says the school deferred too much to an outside group that was trying to change Columbia’s curriculum. “The David Project crossed the line in ways that raised academic freedom concerns,” he says. “The Columbia academic committee that investigated the episode was insufficiently alert to that issue.”

The case was painful for all and turned Middle East discussion into a no-man’s-land on campus. “Up until recently, I was very afraid to express an opinion either way,” says Olivia. “It was a taboo subject. I didn’t want to be anti-Semitic or anti-Arab.”

Three years on and the mood has changed. Liberal Jewish kids seem to be trying to figure out how to think about Israel in ways different from those of their parents. At a recent Hillel event, a visiting Israeli scholar was asked to respond to the question “Is Zionism racism?” She dismissed the question out of hand. Then the room of 35 people went airless as the discussion was taken over by Saif, wearing his black kaffiyeh, who described the Zionist movement that had cost his family its land as a hodgepodge of colonialist and messianic ideas. “You might as well base citizenship on the horoscope. No Scorpios are allowed, and my family are Scorpios.” The Jewish kids, many of them members of Lionpac, the pro-Israel lobby on campus, sat shell-shocked. And yet: These kids thanked Saif for coming, and they had chosen the provocative topic of the session. Moreover, Saif was joined in his assault on Israeli history by a Jewish undergraduate, Noah Schwartz, who compared Zionist emigration to Palestine to a million Chinese showing up in Philadelphia. Later, Noah said that the fading of the mealac battle has allowed students to actually talk about the issues.

Still, the Israel-Palestine issue has thrown a monkey wrench into the old lib-left antiwar coalition. During Vietnam, almost all of the radical white students were Jews. Abbie Hoffman came to visit Columbia and said, “If you’re born Jewish, you can either go for money or go for broke,” Bob Feldman says. “Dylan was the model. We knew that Schwerner and Goodman [killed alongside James Chaney in Mississippi] were Jewish.”

Those Jewish kids felt like outsiders. When Mark Rudd was a boy, his father had changed his name from Rudnitsky because he didn’t think a Jew could rise above captain in the Army. “We never talked about being Jewish. Never once,” Rudd says of his classmates. “We were attempting to become Americans, we were attempting to escape the shtetls we were coming out of in Queens and New Jersey, escaping Jewish identity.” The Columbia leadership was an alien caste. “[T]he place was dripping with goyishness,” Rudd wrote in a paper he delivered in 2005, titled “Why Were There So Many Jews in the SDS?”

In the last 40 years, the sociology had a sea change. Jews occupy many important positions at Columbia, and pro-Israel Jewish kids on campus have a conservative vibe. Today, the vessel of American outsider energy that Rudd brought a generation ago would be Tina Musa. Soft-spoken, pretty, verging on suburban with her nostril stud and blue jeans, Tina is the daughter of Palestinian-immigrant professionals (she calls them refugees) and has a strong sense of commitment to the cause. Tina’s parents worry that she’ll blow up her career when she talks about, say, building a wall on campus to mock Israel’s “security fence,” but they also cheer her on.

Those divisions were plain at the antiwar coalition’s meeting to choose speakers for the teach-in following its February strike. Two of David Judd’s choices were guaranteed to make the pro-Israel community crazy. One was Hamid Dabashi, a professor of Iranian studies (and one of the 101 most dangerous professors); the other was Saifedean Ammous, the Palestinian graduate student whose editorials in the Spectator routinely generate a whole page of angry responses. It was the tensest meeting of the coalition I observed.

David Catalinotto, a decidedly laid-back Jewish member of the coalition who spent most meetings covering a page of a dog-eared notebook with intense doodles, voiced concern. “There are a very large number of Jewish liberals on this campus who do have sympathy for Israel. I’m out of the closet here.” Those students would be “deterred” from participating if Palestine was on the agenda. The coalition was at its best focusing on Iraq.

The left-wingers stuck to their guns, but nicely. Karina said, “Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, these issues are connected.” Aaron Hess said, “The issue of the occupation of Palestine has been ignored too long by the antiwar movement. We should remind ourselves, who have been the main victims of racism in this war? Arabs.”

Catalinotto wasn’t the only Jewish kid who was concerned about Israel. If the coalition wanted to grow, it had to address that concern. That night, the students came to a creative solution. They weren’t going to lose the Palestinian issue—Israel/Palestine was a key part of the Middle East policy puzzle—but the coalition would keep the headline Iraq.

The solution provided an opening for students coming from a pro-Israel background. Miriam Aranoff, a prepossessing woman with thick, dark hair and wire-rimmed glasses, told me she’d been active in Hillel because of its social nature: bringing Jewish kids together (so they’d make Jewish families) over pizza and ice cream. But Miriam had gravitated to the coalition because of the intellectual atmosphere: “Awesome.” She’d read about these kinds of idea-fermenting places but never experienced one on campus, even in classes. It was like a salon. “People come in with basic political assumptions, and they’re never discussed,” she said. “Here, they’re discussed.” On Palestine, she wasn’t sure of her own ideas; she just knew they were changing. At least here she could listen and be listened to.

The coalition’s navigations didn’t please everyone on the left. Tina Musa had co-founded a new group of mostly Palestinian students called Filasteen. After the coalition downplayed Palestine, Tina decided not to co-sponsor the rally.

When Noam Chomsky visited campus in February, he did as he had promised Anusar and endorsed the strike, though he also scolded the student audience. They had the power to stop the war. “That’s really in your hands.” Students in countries with far less freedom had done much more, he said crankily.

Even with Chomsky’s backing, the rally was something of a bust. The radicals had been flyering the campus like crazy, but when they struck classes at noon, it didn’t have the gong effect they had hoped for. It was a cold day. Most students just kept going to classes. Student journalist Armin Rosen snickered that more kids had walked out of his suburban Maryland high school at the start of the war. The coalition had dreamed of 1,000 students; standing at the microphone, sick to her stomach with adrenaline, Blair Mosner of the coalition announced that 400 people were there. Others said only 200. Some walked away when they heard the word Palestine—Tina Musa had agreed to speak after all.
“Goddamn self-important protesters,” an anonymous commenter said on the gossipy blog boredatbutler. “They think the world gives a shit … guess what—it doesn’t. If they actually want to change things, maybe they should use their brains for a change.” Of course in ’68 the protesters were also self-important, and the masses had ultimately moved. Though it took a year and a half of organizing.

The new radicals tried to reach out. They formed a Committee About People’s Opinions and went up to kids on campus to ask why they hadn’t struck. Students said it’s not like they support the war, but there’s nothing they can do. And they question the idea that troops should come out now. Wouldn’t chaos result?

The radicals took that as their greatest challenge. “People are overwhelmingly stuck on ‘troops out now,’” Blair said at a meeting. “We need to answer the question. I think we can win the debate. But we have to have a debate.”

They invited the College Dems to debate the question this month. They wanted Chris Kulawik to come, too, and to get someone to say that the U.S. should stay the course.

The radicals were casting about for speakers. One of their best weapons was Rahel Aima, a freshman in the group who grew up in Dubai of Indian-immigrant parents. She knows the Arab world, she knows how repressive even liberal Dubai was when it came to her doing “hard politics” there. She also understands the Arabs’ feelings of injustice.

“The view of Americans is, ‘Why do they hate us so much?’” she says. “What a question! There is such a disconnect between how Americans think they’re seen in the world and how they are seen. Americans will never be greeted as liberators in Iraq. No matter how much help you give, America will be seen as an occupying force. Iraqis will always view America as, ‘What are you trying to get out of us?’ Iraqis would welcome a U.N. force or a force from fellow Arabs.”
To watch her was to watch an intelligent, privileged international fall in love with Western freedom. “I feel so excited, I have four years in front of me,” Rahel said. “People tell me, ‘Columbia has been dead for years, and you are so lucky, you’re getting here and it’s starting.’”
In one way, the radicals’ strike had been a success: It got attention. It was on the front page of the Spectator for days on end in a fairly positive light. If Iraq was a horrifying meat grinder, at least the antiwar coalition was morally engaged. The College Dems seemed jealous. They organized their own show of anger on Iraq. They started a campaign to collect a penny for every life lost in Iraq (an idea that Jake, who still had a passport to both radical and mainstream, gave them), and they went with the figure widely cited on the left: 655,000 Iraqi civilians. The Dems were working within the system, giving the money to UNICEF.

On the fourth anniversary of the war in late March, the Dems held an event called “Number the Lives” out on the college walk, and they covered yards and yards of butcher paper with tally marks as a way of numbering the dead. They’d only gotten to 45,000. Those grim hatch marks taped up on the stone walls were one of the few public signs during the time I visited the school that anyone seemed to care about what was going on in Iraq.

Jess Blakemore, wearing big turquoise Ralph Lauren sunglasses, buttonholed students to ask them to call their congressmen. Congress was the place to stop the war. The radicals think placing so much faith in politics is misguided. They don't get excited about Obama or Clinton or Edwards. David Catalinotto walked by, and walked away, dismayed by the “rivalry” between the coalition he was in and the Dems.

The ’68ers were able to win over 1,000 or more mainstream Democrats, who came out for strikes and takeovers. They did so by showing the mainstream students that the liberal Establishment was implicated in the war. “Vietnam was a liberal war,” Rudd explains. “Well-meaning liberals got the nature of reality wrong. They said the Vietnam War was a well-intentioned error. No, we said, it was a policy of aggression, imperialism.”

Another reason mainstream students joined up was visceral: the draft. When Bob Feldman knocked on doors at night, kids invited him in to smoke dope and talk about the war because they were afraid. After Vietnam, the government acted to make sure that that Ivy League conversation wouldn’t happen again. According to veterans’ advocate Tod Ensign, the Defense Department’s switch to an all-volunteer army was propelled partly by an argument from conservative economist Milton Friedman that elites must be able to attend college and train for professions without the fear of doing military service. “The bulk of the anti-Vietnam protest was driven by the draft, it was true self-interest,” Ensign says. By ending the draft, the government ended elite “divisiveness.”

It also ended the radicals’ sense of cataclysmic drama. “We didn’t think we were going to live past our twenties,” says Feldman. “I assumed there was going to be a revolution in the seventies. I overestimated the ease with which American society could be changed. Because it was so easy to shut down Columbia.” Feldman and his friends paid a price for their commitment. His former roommate Ted Gold died in an explosion at the Weathermen’s Greenwich Village safe house in 1970. His old Columbia friend David Gilbert is still in prison for the famous Brinks robbery, which resulted in the deaths of two policemen.

And yet, I heard young Columbia radicals using the word revolution. I asked David Judd what that meant.
“I don’t think it’s impossible for there to be a revolution in the United States. But I don’t think we’re anywhere near one,” he said. “In the sixties and seventies, they were vastly deluded about that, and now people make a similar mistake. Because it’s demanded of us, ethically it is what needs to happen, therefore it can. It’s a perspective that leads you to make all kinds of mistakes.”

Would you ever put your college career, or life, on the line? I asked. David splayed his fingers and grimaced as he thought it over. “It’s hard to answer that question without sounding tepid or silly. It’s too abstract. Ask me whether I’m willing to lay down my life for a cause when there’s a realistic chance of that and I will give you an answer. I would hope that I would give you a positive answer. I could manage to ruin my career and get myself expelled from Columbia, but I can’t conceive of a realistic situation where that is going to be productive. I am willing to accept a minuscule risk of expulsion for what I’m going to do.” (A week or two after our conversation, the Spectator published the results of the Minuteman investigation: Among eight students disciplined by the university, Karina had been censured, and David had gotten a warning.)
Hanging out with the College Dems at their rally, I heard lots of career talk. Who worked for Hillary, who worked for Spitzer, who’s at the school’s think tank, the Roosevelt Institution. When a poised former president of the College Dems stopped by the table, Jess Blakemore cooed, “Twenty years from now I’m going to quit a lucrative job to work on Seth’s campaign for president.”

Olivia explained to me that career anxiety is the biggest impediment to anyone’s taking over buildings this time around. “I don’t see that [takeover] as a possibility for my generation, and not just because of the draft thing,” she said. “We have just been so brainwashed on the importance of college, and of a prestige college, and we pay so much for college. The idea of skipping out on an entire semester or risking expulsion—I don’t think we’d be capable of it.”
“Brainwashing?” I said.

“When I was in high school, a guidance counselor came into my group of honors American-studies students and said, ‘You are all competing against each other for places in the Ivy League and the UC [University of California] schools.’ ” The comment angered Olivia. Yet she wonders if her generation can’t escape it. “We’re always being told about how few jobs there are, how few important schools, etc. In an anthropology course last year, our professor [Elizabeth Povinelli] said there is ‘a discourse of scarcity.’ I feel that. I don’t know if we can transcend that.”
And Columbia, she said acidly, is fine with that. “I get the feeling the university would rather have us go out there and make a bunch of money and give it to them than have us go out and make the world a better place.”

Through the spring the radicals limped along. I watched three of them go to a CIA recruiting session; they were quiet and polite. The coalition’s meetings were low-energy. The radicals seemed to be waiting for the next spark.

One night, I was wondering what the point was when I noticed two radicals avoiding each other and then coincidentally leaving Hamilton Hall at the same time, in that time-honored way that said they might be a couple but they weren’t telling anyone. The two were from sharply different cultural, racial, and religious backgrounds, and their friendship, or whatever it was, felt as special to this time and place as, say, James Simon Kunen going back to make it with his girlfriend after seeing cops club demonstrators during a “Jewish race riot” on upper Broadway in the spring of ’68.

The coalition was filled with different identities. I looked around the room. Anusar and Rahel were global citizens with Anglo-Indian accents. Karina was the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Samantha—Puerto Rican? Blair had grown up among Zionists, she said, as if they were Martians. As for Deena Guzder, I had no idea. When I’d brought identity issues up with her, she told me to back off. “I don’t describe as anything. I think labels constrict people’s understanding of concepts or ideas.”

Bryan Mercer, a black student who had lately visited the coalition from the anti-Harlem-expansion group on campus, also shrugged off labels, saying that one pleasure of Columbia in this era is that of playing with identities. Sort of like Miriam’s fleeing pizza and ice cream and all the good Jewish boys at Hillel.

For nearly twenty years, identity politics has ruled the left, keeping everyone in his little box. Indeed, the Iraq war had paralyzed the left by playing on sectarianism at every turn. Clash of civilizations. Islam versus the West. Jewish neocons and Evangelical Christians plotting against Persians plotting against Zionists. Shiites murdering Sunnis murdering Shiites.

How suffocating. The kids felt suffocated. That was the radicals’ one real achievement, the space they’d made for one another. They were reinventing the mixer. Maybe that’s how they will lead us.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Dohrn replies to Phelps on New SDS

Regarding "The New SDS"
by Bernardine Dohrn

The following is Bernardine Dohrn's letter to The Nation regarding Christopher Phelps' "The New SDS" published in its 16 April 2007 issue. -- Ed.
The Nation Chicago

Christopher Phelps has written a timely but ultimately disappointing article about the vibrant and growing student movement. He transforms the tough challenges of movement-building into a set of tepid formulas about what not to do. The new wave of student activism in America and around the world is a hopeful development worthy of our active participation and respect. Yet Phelps focuses on the sectarian divides of the MDS generation rehearsing old political grudges or offering simplistic "lessons" from the New Left, rather than highlighting the steps forward and the common ground between radical organizers.

Our points of convergence (young and old, organizers and activists) are numerous, including the need to strive for participatory democracy and non-exclusion, resist the savage US wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, fight brutal poverty and gluttonous wealth here and globally, act to end catastrophic climate change, racial injustice and patriarchal power, and reject the permanent so-called war on "terror" in toto. Phelps would have benefited from more attention to what led to coordinated anti-war actions on 60 campuses last month, and to the new SDS's diverse political campaigns ranging from getting military recruiters out of high schools and off campuses to anti-sweatshop coordination, from opposition to police violence against the community to protest when war criminals speak, from support for Assata Shakur and the new Panther 8 defendants to fights for universal health care -- radical youth organizing is broad and deep. This is the power and the inspiration of a vast, left umbrella network with variety and vigor.

Phelps stereotypically characterizes me as a "celebrity" while the male ideologues are described by what they say about politics. I object. Who knows why any speech or article is well received? At the SDS conference at Brown University in Spring 2006, it seemed that the political substance of my talk was what generated the positive response from students: the urgent needs to reject the framework of US military and economic empire, to forge active opposition to white supremacy and grapple with the issue of multiracial organization, and to reckon with the importance of direct action to organizing and educating. I intentionally ignored the challenge to debate the issue of what killed SDS 38 years ago and who was right when, in favor of exploring what we all can do, in solidarity, now. Building bridges between issues, finding points of convergence, and creating an independent radical movement resonates across generations. The last thing the new SDS needs is patronizing elders wagging their fingers with cautionary tales.

Bernardine Dohrn activist, academic, and child advocate, is director of the Children and Family Justice Center and clinical associate professor of law in Chicago. She is also a director of the Monthly Review Foundation.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Weekly Worker # 668 April 12th 2007

Weekly Worker (April 5th) leads with the smiling happy faces of the released British army personnel, 'Only pawns in their game' (although the cropping on the righthand side gives more focus to the pensive looking guys over there), with a subtitle suggesting that the propaganda manoeuvre was designed to swing opinion in favour of a 'surgical' strike against Iran. Hmm, not convinced, think its more the case of a botched attempt to convince us that we are in the right and that our lads and ladette got treated badly.

Eddie Ford follows the story up with 'Hostage crisis and reactionary schemes', which lets us know that a) British imperialism has been humiliated;
b) Ahmadinejad has got lots of troubles and this is a good way of blaming the 'little Satan';
c) and the regime was in a win-win situation;
d) Britain seems to have done a 'non-deal deal', lots of murky unexplained business.
e) Ahmadinejad comes out emboldened over other issues, especially nukes.
f) There are differences between the US and British imperialism over Iran.
g) This is the context for letting the sailors sell their stories, winning public support for participation in a 'surgical strike'
h) US offered help that was refused, and basically went along with a diplomatic 'solution'.
i) Will Hutton in The Observer (April 8th) thinks its an augury of 'soft power', but this is wrong, especially if you imagine what would happened if it had been American sailors being captured;
j) and then imagine the Iranian response in Iraq!
l) Especially as al-Sadr is in Iran, getting praised, etc.
m) Al-Sadr's political programme is reactionary, would necessitate annihilating political progressives;
n) so Neither Washington nor Tehran.

Eddie follows this up with 'SWP backs the mullahs - official', which starts with the Iranian teachers strike and HOPOI, contrasted to the SWP and Casmii (Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran), reading the possible ambiguities in the SWP position; but the SWP's 'real position' is revealed by this from SW on April 7th: “Millions of ordinary people in Iran are determined to resist any new attempts by the US and Britain to undermine the Iranian government. The anti-war movement around the world must stand by them”, which the CPGB reads as emblematic of the SWP's brand of 'anti-imperialism', with the Iranian regime as a strategic ally against imperialism. Eddie finds this obscene, totally against the demand for working class political independence. And, of course, this part of a wider retreat from class politics, including Respect, etc. And, says Eddie, the SWP is paying a price in loss of members.

Yasamine Mather weighs in with 'Double standards in London and Tehran' which starts with the lack of legitimacy for the US-UK in the region, but focuses on domestic reasons for the seizure of the sailors and the timing, etc. Confessions are pretty routine in Iran, and the treatment of the regime's domestic enemies has been far far worse: thousands killed, tortured, etc. Mather doesn't think Ahmadinejad got entirely his own way, the release was a 'caving in', there were negotiations and it has secured a place in the fortcoming Cairo conference on Iraq, and finally there is domestic criticism.

Jim Moody reviews more bad news from IPCC Group II: Climate Change 2007, moving to the need for an alternative strategy and finding the SWP response just platitudinous, with a failure to condemn Kyoto as a resutl of its pursuit of broadness. The Socialist Party advocates nationalization as its solution, but fails to address the international nature of the problem.

Mike McNair has two dense pages taking on the Revolutionary Democratic Group's 'democratic permanent revolution'. Yawn.

Chris Knight has two interesting pages on the March for Social Justice in 1997 and the role of Reclaim the Streets in solidarity with the dockers and Reclaim the Future. This is fascinating and useful, and there's an interesting point about Seattle not coming out of nowhere: there's been the dockers International Day of Action in 1997. The Liverpool dockers lost their dispute, but changed the world. I don't quite agree, there is a case to make about international solidarity being inadequate to win the dispute, especially in contrast to what the TUC should have done. But despite this, its an interesting recuperation of a neglected piece of recent history.

And finally 'Sheridan to back SNP' continues to attack the whole 'SSP experience' as a disaster.


Socialist Worker # 2046 April 14th 2007

Socialist Worker (April 14th) has an agitational frontpage, with a nice photo of a field of Iraqi flags labelled 'A million march aganist the occupation' (but is this the usual exaggeration - I've heard half a million estimates), plus a 'Join the protests on 1 May. Break Brown's wage freeze' with quotes from a Kevin Courtney of the NUT executive. The tone, taken up by reports from the NUT conference, is one of anger and activity. Elsewhere Esme Choonare takes up the defence
of public libraries and several student nurses talk to Yuri Prasad. Tim Riley looks at the failure of Labour's New Deal scheme.

The Iraq story is followed up on the backpage with a story from Simon Assaf: 'Iraqis Unite to Demand U.S. Out' following Moqtada al-Sadr's demonstration in Najaf, who comments about the scale of his following, but also the divisions in the Mehdi Army, with some supporting retaliatory sectarian killings, but with Sadr calling on his supporters to not attack other Iraqis. There was a Sunni delegation on the march.

May 3rd elections: there's a booster story for Respect, but also mentions of Galloway joining Sheridan for rallies in Scotland and a London Respect meeting to select candidates for the GLA elections in 2008. Unite Against Fascism also gets a column for its activities.

Alex Callinicos's column is titled, 'This profits boom can't be sustained', reporting a Financial Times story about record levels of profitability for British corporations. Alex is concerned whether this means the boom slump cycle and tendency ofr the rate of profit to fall has gone away, but, thankfully, he doubts it. He points to a squeeze on household disposable income to argue that exloitation is still key, and that increases in household debt make us more vulnerable to interest rate rises - a tendency even more strongly pronounced in the US. The US profits share rose from 7% to 12.4% between 2001 and 2006, but American profits are now starting to fall. Alex's conclusion: profits might be driven up to boom levels, but they can't be sustained.

SW reports from France about 'The real alternative...' pointing to the race between Sarkozy and Royal, but with background in struggles that have 'shaken the political terrain over the last few years., referring to the No vote for the EU constitution, riots in the autumn of 2005, the anti-CPE struggles of March 2006. SW points to Olivier Besancenot of the LCR as 'expressing the spirit of the resisance', drawing in new forces, speaking to big meetings, and keeping ahead of the other left candidates. Controversially Callinicos in SW had a while back advised Besancenot not to stand but to support Jose Bove's candidature, but the blogger critics (here and here) are making too much of this: largely for sectarian purpose I think.

Leo Zeilig does the centrepage spread on Zimbabwe, 'From Liberation to Dictatorship': NOT backing Mugabe. And Kieran Allen has a detailed page devoted to 'Resisting Corporate Power' in Ireland, based on his new book.


MOD futurology

Revolution, flashmobs, and brain chips.
A grim vision of the future
Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday April 9, 2007
The Guardian

Information chips implanted in the brain. Electromagnetic pulse weapons. The middle classes becoming revolutionary, taking on the role of Marx's proletariat. The population of countries in the Middle East increasing by 132%, while Europe's drops as fertility falls. "Flashmobs" - groups rapidly mobilised by criminal gangs or terrorists groups.

This is the world in 30 years' time envisaged by a Ministry of Defence team responsible for painting a picture of the "future strategic context" likely to face Britain's armed forces. It includes an "analysis of the key risks and shocks". Rear Admiral Chris Parry, head of the MoD's Development, Concepts & Doctrine Centre which drew up the report, describes the assessments as "probability-based, rather than predictive".

The 90-page report comments on widely discussed issues such as the growing economic importance of India and China, the militarisation of space, and even what it calls "declining news quality" with the rise of "internet-enabled, citizen-journalists" and pressure to release stories "at the expense of facts". It includes other, some frightening, some reassuring, potential developments that are not so often discussed.

New weapons
An electromagnetic pulse will probably become operational by 2035 able to destroy all communications systems in a selected area or be used against a "world city" such as an international business service hub. The development of neutron weapons which destroy living organs but not buildings "might make a weapon of choice for extreme ethnic cleansing in an increasingly populated world". The use of unmanned weapons platforms would enable the "application of lethal force without human intervention, raising consequential legal and ethical issues". The "explicit use" of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons and devices delivered by unmanned vehicles or missiles.

By 2035, an implantable "information chip" could be wired directly to the brain. A growing pervasiveness of information communications technology will enable states, terrorists or criminals, to mobilise "flashmobs", challenging security forces to match this potential agility coupled with an ability to concentrate forces quickly in a small area.

"The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx," says the report. The thesis is based on a growing gap between the middle classes and the super-rich on one hand and an urban under-class threatening social order: "The world's middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest". Marxism could also be revived, it says, because of global inequality. An increased trend towards moral relativism and pragmatic values will encourage people to seek the "sanctuary provided by more rigid belief systems, including religious orthodoxy and doctrinaire political ideologies, such as popularism and Marxism".

Pressures leading to social unrest
By 2010 more than 50% of the world's population will be living in urban rather than rural environments, leading to social deprivation and "new instability risks", and the growth of shanty towns. By 2035, that figure will rise to 60%. Migration will increase. Globalisation may lead to levels of international integration that effectively bring inter-state warfare to an end. But it may lead to "inter-communal conflict" - communities with shared interests transcending national boundaries and resorting to the use of violence.

Population and Resources
The global population is likely to grow to 8.5bn in 2035, with less developed countries accounting for 98% of that. Some 87% of people under the age of 25 live in the developing world. Demographic trends, which will exacerbate economic and social tensions, have serious implications for the environment - including the provision of clean water and other resources - and for international relations. The population of sub-Saharan Africa will increase over the period by 81%, and that of Middle Eastern countries by 132%.

The Middle East
The massive population growth will mean the Middle East, and to a lesser extent north Africa, will remain highly unstable, says the report. It singles out Saudi Arabia, the most lucrative market for British arms, with unemployment levels of 20% and a "youth bulge" in a state whose population has risen from 7 million to 27 million since 1980. "The expectations of growing numbers of young people [in the whole region] many of whom will be confronted by the prospect of endemic unemployment ... are unlikely to be met," says the report.

Islamic militancy
Resentment among young people in the face of unrepresentative regimes "will find outlets in political militancy, including radical political Islam whose concept of Umma, the global Islamic community, and resistance to capitalism may lie uneasily in an international system based on nation-states and global market forces", the report warns. The effects of such resentment will be expressed through the migration of youth populations and global communications, encouraging contacts between diaspora communities and their countries of origin.

Tension between the Islamic world and the west will remain, and may increasingly be targeted at China "whose new-found materialism, economic vibrancy, and institutionalised atheism, will be an anathema to orthodox Islam".

Iran will steadily grow in economic and demographic strength and its energy reserves and geographic location will give it substantial strategic leverage. However, its government could be transformed. "From the middle of the period," says the report, "the country, especially its high proportion of younger people, will want to benefit from increased access to globalisation and diversity, and it may be that Iran progressively, but unevenly, transforms...into a vibrant democracy."

Casualties and the amount of damage inflicted by terrorism will stay low compared to other forms of coercion and conflict. But acts of extreme violence, supported by elements within Islamist states, with media exploitation to maximise the impact of the "theatre of violence" will persist. A "terrorist coalition", the report says, including a wide range of reactionary and revolutionary rejectionists such as ultra-nationalists, religious groupings and even extreme environmentalists, might conduct a global campaign of greater intensity".

Climate change
There is "compelling evidence" to indicate that climate change is occurring and that the atmosphere will continue to warm at an unprecedented rate throughout the 21st century. It could lead to a reduction in north Atlantic salinity by increasing the freshwater runoff from the Arctic. This could affect the natural circulation of the north Atlantic by diminishing the warming effect of ocean currents on western Europe. "The drop in temperature might exceed that of the miniature ice age of the 17th and 18th centuries."

Hussey on French youth

A fascinating article by Andrew Hussey about the discontented youth of Paris. Hussey is an interesting writer: his Paris: A Secret History is a great romp and his biography of Guy Debord a good account of a contentious figure (but I haven't looked at his book on Bataille). Depressing point here: no-one talks about the left in these articles. But there's a deeper concern: is France, despite the struggles that have slowed the pace of this down since 1995, inexorably moving towards a Thatcher-Blair neo-liberal future.

The boulevard of broken dreams

It is the epitome of romance and style. But Paris is in the grip of an unprecedented 'flight of the young', with the disenchanted looking to London and New York for a new life. On the eve of the French elections a generation of young Parisiens, frozen out economically and racially, are turning their back on the city Andrew Hussey
Sunday April 8, 2007 The Observer

As you step off the Eurostar at Gare du Nord it's sometimes hard to know whether you're really in Paris or still in London. This used to be one of the smokiest, dirtiest and most romantic railway stations in Europe. These days it is as anodyne, clean and dull as Paddington. With its Upper Crust sandwich bars and McDonald's, it even looks like west London. Worse still, the same effect is starting to take hold all over Paris: there's a massive Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Elysees, Starbucks is now all over the city - even in the former avant-garde stronghold of Montparnasse - while Lily Allen, who is never off the radio or telly, is the latest style icon for all snotty Parisian gamines under the age of 20.

You don't have to spend a long time in central Paris, however, to realise that there is one massive difference between the two cities. Unlike grimy, busy London, Paris still moves at a relatively stately place. The long boulevards are usually uncluttered, even at rush hour. It's almost always possible to get a decent table in a good restaurant without a reservation, even on Friday night. But as it slowly dawns on you that Paris is a sedate haven for the middle-class and the middle-aged, the fashionable areas of town - the so-called beaux quartiers - can suddenly seem not just beautiful but eerie. This phenomenon is most marked just south of the Champs-Elysees, near Place de l'Alma, where Diana met her death. This is the heart of Paris, the most important and cosmopolitan city in Europe; but with its empty avenues and silent and uninviting streets, it can look just like the opening scenes of a zombie movie. It's then that you ask yourself the question that has been nagging you since you arrived here: where have all the young people gone?

Interestingly, 'la fuite des jeunes' ('the flight of young people') has also become a burning issue in the French press, including Le Monde and, most notably, the daily Le Parisien, which for months has regaled its readers with the tales of young Parisians finding the good life at the other end of the Eurostar. Indeed, the real issue in this election - at least for young voters - is not la securite (crime and delinquency), but unemployment.
The politicians who are arguing that they will clean up the streets are still fighting the last election; meanwhile, young people in France look at the latest statistics - one in eight unemployed in some parts of Paris - and begin to despair of ever making a living in France.

The simple fact is that, in the past few years, young people have been leaving France in unprecedented numbers. More worrying still is that although depopulation was a worry in the French countryside in the Sixties, it now has become a specifically urban phenomenon. Nor is it confined to Paris: Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux and Marseille can all report an exodus of young people towards les pays Anglo-Saxons (the United States and the UK). This fact was acknowledged by politician Nicolas Sarkozy when he made his flying visit to London last month to visit the French community there - at 400,000 people this is (as the newspaper Le Parisien helpfully pointed out) equivalent to one of the largest French cities.

The echoes of the riots of November 2005 are never far away in discussions of the new French emigrants. This was when, for more than a month, the suburbs outside more than 20 French towns burned as youths torched cars and fought the police, triggering the call for a state of emergency. The riots were blamed on poor housing and heavy-handed policing. No official recognition of racism has taken place. And so resentment lingers among the mainly black and Arab kids who feel excluded from the centre of Paris. The latest manifestation of this ever-present anger surged to the surface in a riot at the Gare du Nord a week ago last Wednesday, when kids just off the RER train that links the suburbs to central Paris rushed to the aid of an illegal immigrant who was being battered by police for not having a metro ticket. The ruck lasted seven hours and cost several hundred thousand pounds.

Sarkozy, former Minister of the Interior and now presidential candidate for the ruling right-wing UMP, visiting the scene hours after the riot, amid the burnt-out shops and wrecked bars, declared the battle a victory for common sense. Such incidents all help account for the success stories quoted in Le Parisien, which have notably highlighted the examples of young beurs (Arabs from North Africa) who have escaped racism in France to find good jobs in London, in the City of London. According to Algerian singer Rachid Taha, based in Paris, this racism is a legacy of the Algerian war of independence from 1954 to 1962. 'An Algerian in France still frightens the French,' he says. 'They think he's still a terrorist who'll cut your throat for nothing.' In London, Algerians talk about their absorption into a friendly Anglo-Asian, Muslim community.

'Fucking hell! Who are we going to vote for now?' asked the headline on the cover of last week's Technikart, the hippest and most influential youth-oriented magazine in Paris. Inside, journalists analysed the 'disarray' of the young generation of voters when confronted with the 'non-choices' of Sarkozy, Segolene Royal, the later starter Francois Bayrou and the sulphurous Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the National Front. Candidates were assessed according to their views on a range of allegedly 'youth' issues, ranging from the legalisation of cannabis to gay marriage: all were found nul or catastrophique.

In the same issue novelist Virginie Despentes, the voice of youthful feminist dissent in France, states that she won't vote for any of the 'fakers and frauds on offer. Better to leave France for good.' In the same cynical vein, Marc Weitzmann - one of the most influential figures on French youth in the past decade, a novelist and former editor of rock magazine Les Inrockuptibles - has claimed Sarkozy as the only choice. In a recent interview, Weitzmann declared that the intellectual left was dead in France, strangled by middle-class and middle-aged functionaries who despised youth and sought only to enhance their pension plans. 'There is no other choice,' says Weitzmann, a former avant-gardist and supporter of such radicals as philosopher Guy Debord and novelist Michel Houellebecq, 'Sarkozy does what all politicians do, only he does it better than most of them.'

Following Weitzmann, Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, probably the most fashionable and dashingly youthful philosopher (he's in his early thirties) on the Left Bank, writes of 'democratic nihilism' and describes France as a 'failed state'. Didier Lestrade, founder of the Aids campaign group Act-Up, puts the angry voice of the French clearly: 'We're sick of voting against things. When are we going to have someone that we can vote for?'
The politicians themselves are watching the arguments among young people with a degree of caution. More to the point, after the fiasco in 2002, when Le Pen terrified the French nation (and the rest of the world) by making it to the second round of the elections, largely because of voter apathy in the first, the big political parties are eager to court young first-time voters as insurance against such variables.

The emigration of so many young people is seen most threateningly in the press as the victory of Anglo-American capitalism (most French youngsters dream of London or New York) over the French socialist model. But there is more at stake than money and jobs. Racism, poor housing and the stagnant nature of French society are also, damagingly for the present government, all cited by the present generation of young people as reasons to get away.

This is why the main political parties in France, as the presidential election finally gathers real pace, are eager to capture the youth vote as the potentially most volatile and decisive factor in a campaign that has been far from an easy ride for any of the candidates.

'It's not that I dislike Paris or France,' I was told by Jérome Leboz, a young Breton who came to Paris from Morbihan with his parents as a small child, 'but it's just become more and more impossible to see any future here if you're French.' Leboz is 24 and has a good job as a junior manager at a factory in the suburb of Levallois. But his salary barely covers his rent (in a low-grade apartment in the suburbs) and his bank refuses to give him any form of loan, let alone a mortgage, until he can name the day that he will have enough capital accrued to pay it off.

'It's a trap,' says Leboz. 'Everybody in France wants security - in their job and house - but if you are young you are denied access to owning your destiny for so many reasons. I work hard but it can seem pointless. I have enough money for a few drinks and maybe a club at the weekend, but so what? It's not a future.'

Leboz is up against the unbending nature of French society, which, in stark contrast to the liberalising movements in the rest of the Western world, is still a mixture of rigid bureaucracy and heavy-handed paternalism. More specifically, the so-called taxe Delalande - a crippling levy on any company that sacks anybody over the age of 45 - means that businesses are weighed down with an ageing workforce and unable to offer jobs to younger workers. Since the tax was introduced in 1987, the French workforce has grown older and slower, while youth unemployment has risen in the same proportion.

Whenever French young people demonstrate against the precariousness of short-term employment - as they did last spring - they should really be demonstrating against this tax. This must be one of the few countries in the world that actually has a tax that all but excludes young people from participation in real life until middle age.

But most telling of all, especially in a country that prizes education so highly, is the rocketing number of jobless graduates. According to a survey conducted by the Centre for Research on Education, Training and Employment (Cereq), of 25,000 young people who left education in 2001, 11 per cent of graduates were unemployed in 2007. Unemployment was even higher - 19 per cent - among those without a degree.

These really are staggering figures - far worse, for example, than UK unemployment figures at the depth of the Eighties slump, even in the post-industrial black spots of the North. What makes the situation even more desperate is that - unlike the UK, which in the Eighties was shedding an ageing and ill-educated workforce - the new unemployed of France should represent the future. Instead, this all adds up to a massive wave of youth disaffection, which may indeed be the real deciding factor in the elections.

Like so many of his generation, Leboz is contemplating a move to London. 'I have studied hard and worked hard,' he says. 'But I can't wait that long to begin living my life.'

'One of the difficult questions for young voters in France is that we don't know who is on the right and who is on the left any more,' says Myriam Kalfon, 24, a film student from the not terribly posh 13th arrondissement. Kalfon, like many of the young people I spoke to in Paris last week, would like to vote for Royal 'because she's a woman; because she should be kinder; because she might soften French politics'. But in reality, Kalfon has divided loyalties. 'I think Segolene is also very posh,' she says, 'and very distant from ordinary people. Also she defends things that are wrong - the big public bureaucracies and the administrations that slow everything down or make life impossible for young people.'

Kalfon thinks that Sarkozy, with his promises to reduce the public sector, may have the real answers but is too swaggering, too unpleasant, too cocky to be worth a vote. She mentions centrist Francois Bayrou, but like nearly all the young people I speak to, dismisses him as a 'teacher' and therefore 'boring'. 'The truth is', she says, 'I don't know who to vote for.' This is the most common refrain I hear among young Parisians. Most of them, from all ends of the political spectrum, are acutely conscious of their responsibility to vote and wish to avoid the kind of political accident - as it is commonly perceived - that allowed Le Pen a shot at the presidency last time. But they are also cautious, and don't want to give away their votes too easily.

Kalfon's view - that there is no right and left in French politics any more - is also typical. More specifically, Royal's Socialist party is seen as defending the vested interests of the bloated administrative classes - precisely those forces that hold so many young people back. Sarkozy, on the other hand, is a straight-forward right-winger who nonetheless, because he advocates entrepreneurship and individual businesses, appeals to website designers, DJs, hip-hop record label owners and, especially important for Kalfon, young film-makers. 'It's a real dilemma,' says Kalfon. 'I hate everything Sarko stands for, but sometimes I listen and it seems he's right.' I am even more surprised by her view that what France needs is a Tony Blair figure. 'He is a socialist, but one who believes in freedom and flexibility.'

I am rather taken aback by this statement, but it is not the first time in recent months that I have heard Blair cited by French people, especially young French people, as an emblem of change and youth. But then, Blair probably does seem a relatively fresh figure to a generation of French youth who have known nothing but the same parade of elderly dinosaurs in power since they were born.

'You can see how sad Paris is by its nightlife,' says Kalfon, who loves to go out but is bored of the same limited round of expensive clubs. 'There is none of the street culture of London here. It is as if young people are not wanted here, either in work or just for fun at night.'

Actually, it's not that Paris doesn't have young people or a youth scene, but that over the past decade or so the young have been increasingly driven out of the city centre by a combination of high prices and restrictive laws on noise and nightclub management. There is still a relatively thriving bar scene out at Oberkampf and the Canal Saint-Martin, east of the city. Unlike, say, Manchester or Barcelona, where the urban centres have been painted in primary colours as party central, youth culture in Paris tends to occupy space at the edges of the city.

The result is that at night Saint-Germain-des-Pres - the area where Western youth rebellion was born in the Fifties in a blur of angular hard-bop jazz and existentialism - is dead as a ditch, no more than a crossroads flanked by Armani and H&M. A mile or so up the road, the Quartier Latin, until the early Seventies the home of Parisian bohemian youth, is now no more than a tourist trap. Even the Marais, for the past two decades the part-Jewish and now mainly gay district, is no more than a playground for a well-heeled international clientele, lacking anything like the gritty edge of Soho, where all sexes and races mill around overcrowded and riotous pubs. The Marais, even at its buzziest on a Friday night, seems both relatively sober and - I use the word advisedly - rather straight.

Kalfon identifies herself as both Israeli and French, a combination she finds increasingly difficult. 'I think Paris has always been an anti-semitic city, but I didn't notice it or even think about it a few years ago. Now I don't like too much to go to really Jewish areas. I don't know why - I love the Hebrew language and am proud to be a Jew. I just think the climate is changing, and Paris is becoming a less tolerant place.'

I mention 19-year-old Ilan Halimi, who was kidnapped in February 2006 in the traditionally Jewish area of Rue des Rosiers, then tortured and murdered by an anti-semitic gang. 'It's not good to think about,' she shudders. 'This is not the Paris I want to live in.'

Frederic Castor, a 30-year old black guy from French Guiana, a would-be writer and music fan, is also convinced that France has become less racially tolerant and more dangerous in his lifetime. 'I can remember the Eighties, even the early Nineties, and France was not like this, so tense and hard.' Castor lives in the suburbs in Asnieres-sur-Seine, scene of some of the worst disturbance during the riots of November 2005.
'It was terrible. I don't approve of violence or rioting,' he says, 'but you can only understand how bad it is to live here if you're black or Arab, when every time you go into a shop you don't know, you become an object of suspicion.'

Castor never took much interest in the Anglophone world when he was a child, but now he is working hard on his English language skills, hoping to make it as a translator, a writer, a screenplay author. 'I never used to, but now I dream of New York or London. I envy the air of freedom. That is what we are losing in France.' In recent years, he has stopped going into central Paris more than is strictly necessary. 'I am just an ordinary guy,' he says, 'maybe with some intellectual ambitions, so I cannot take the humiliation of being searched by police for nothing, and I hate the gaze of white people when that happens. It's a complete humiliation. What we are seeing in France is two sorts of apartheid - first there is the hatred of young people, and then there is the hatred of people of colour. To be young and black in Paris is a source of dishonour and shame.'

Castor's view accounts for the simmering tensions that mark each encounter between immigrant youth and the police - who in Paris in particular have always been organised on quasi-military lines. It also explains the slow death of youth culture in the centre of the city. When I was a student in Paris in the Eighties, it was common enough among white kids to spend the night moving between the mainstream discos such as Le Palace, and the underground African or North-African clubs, then mainly in the 11th or 12th arrondissement. This is no longer the case. 'Black kids from the suburbs won't come into Paris now unless they have to,' says Castor. 'Why should they? They don't need to know white people.'

The divisions in French society around the issues of race and youth are evidently growing ever sharper. But what is truly dangerous is the way in which the main political parties seem to be in deep denial about this. I spoke briefly to Justin Viasse, an academic at the distinguished Sciences-Po and co-author (with Jonathan Laurence) of a recent piercing study of discontent in the suburbs called Integrating Islam. 'There are only two people who can really change things in France, and that is Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal - Le Pen only wants to go backwards,' he said. 'But I am not sure if they have understood the complexity or urgency of the problem.'

This seems to be very much the case. When I asked Royal, in an interview last summer, whether she had plans to tackle the despair of youth, she fudged the issue: talking endlessly about 'professional training', but never really acknowledging that the 'flight of youth' had any basis in reality, and certainly not in failed racial or economic policies. But by then she also had committed the fatal error of saying the rioters of November 2005 should be sent to boot camps, thereby alienating not only the kids in the suburbs but all those who thought they had a point. Since then she has struggled to make any impact with the younger generation.

Sarkozy is an altogether more macho figure - but he, too, needs the youth vote. 'Sarko', however, plays badly with the younger voters, both as the nasty-minded provocateur who called the November rioters 'racaille' (scum) and as a posturing would-be tough guy. 'Sarko has balls,' I was told by Rachid, a young Algerian from the suburbs, 'but he has all the wrong ideas.'

Even many of the older generation, who want to like his tactics against 'hooliganism', see him as a bully and a thug. But above all, what 'Sego' and 'Sarko' and the others are finding, much to their consternation, is that young people in Paris are not only conspicuously absent from the mainstream life of the city but are turning their backs on the traditional French values that politicians have so far taken for granted - that the 'flight of youth' from France is no mere reflection of temporary unemployment statistics, but marks a generational change that will have consequences over the coming years and decades.

Politicians of all parties have signalled their fear that Paris may become just another provincial city in the new globalised and multiracial Europe. While London is slowly pulling ahead of the rest of Europe as an economic powerhouse and a magnet for migrants - becoming in the process the New York of Europe - Paris, with its rising unemployment figures and stagnant economy, seems to be travelling in completely the opposite direction.

Youth emigration on such a massive scale is the clearest signal of all that France is in deep trouble. 'Of course I am patriotic and glad to be French,' says Frederic Castor, contemplating the new horizons of Southwark or Brooklyn. 'But the problem is - for how much longer?'
· Andrew Hussey is the author Paris: The Secret History, now out in Penguin paperback

Her placard says: 'I want to succeed in France. Let's get a move on!'
Helene Lamouroux24, student
'There is a lack of dialogue between generations, and between those who are in power and those who aren't. There is a lack of solidarity. Everyone is too focused on their little problems.
'I spent a gap year in Argentina and saw how people with very little - without grants and benefit, or in public universities whose fabric is crumbling - can be creative, work hard, have high standards and a smile on their face. We grumble a lot, but I also quite like that French thing of speaking out when things aren't as they should be.
'The riots in 2005 showed that there are problems. The student demonstrations against the first employment contract in the spring of 2006 also showed a sense of dissatisfaction. But life has got harder for everyone. We all have to try harder.
'French society is terribly fractured. The left-right divide is part of that and, to me, it's an outdated concept. That's why I'll vote for [centrist] Francois Bayrou. He tries to unite people. I was pleased to see the socialists come up with a female candidate, but I won't vote for Segolene Royal just because she's a woman. I get the impression someone else is writing her script. As Interior Minister, Sarkozy put police everywhere. In his rhetoric, he increases the divisions between people by emphasising their differences.
'My boyfriend is trying to start his own video production company. It's a nightmare because of all the charges and paperwork. I want to start my own communications agency, but if I can't get it off the ground in six or seven years, I can imagine leaving for a dynamic country like Canada, the US, Spain or Britain.'
Interview by Alex Duval Smith

'The police with us, not against us'
Alexandre Lacour18, unemployed
'French youth have been abandoned by the generation that's in power. I had problems in school, but because I had passed my 18th birthday, the education authorities didn't care about giving me guidance.
'I've heard teachers say, "I don't care what you do. I get my salary at the end of the month." No one should ever hear that from their teacher.
'Both my parents used to be in the police. It's not surprising that there were riots in the autumn of 2005. They were a response to the police, who are rude to young people and constantly asking for our ID. They need to be completely restructured.
'The police who deal with us are inexperienced officers from the south of France who are sent up here to cut their teeth in the suburbs. Their attitude is, "We're going to show those Parisians that they're not in charge."
'I love Paris. But here, unless you're working or studying, you get up to no good. France has become very splintered and selfish. Everyone has their clan - the racists, the anti-gays, the Jews, etc. People should mix more and try to get on.
'I was brought up with the idea that there is only one party, the Socialists. I shall vote for Segolene Royal. I don't see her as particularly great, but she has many experienced politicians around her. As a woman, perhaps she will have the quality of calming things down in politics. Sarkozy is, if anything, more terrifying than Le Pen. At least it's clear where Le Pen stands.'ADS

'I'll take an interest in politics when it takes an interest in me'
Kalilou Sissoko19, professional handball player
'The candidates to succeed Jacques Chirac seem less crooked, but I have doubts about Nicolas Sarkozy. He says he's changed, which makes you wonder whether he has just changed because there's a campaign on.
'My father is from Senegal and came to France in 1983. He rose from being a cleaner to being a part-owner in the hotel where he worked. I shall vote for Segolene Royal, because she is of the left. She is the one candidate who has the good grace to not lump youth and delinquents together in every sentence. Her approach is that everyone has the right to live together. Sarkozy just divides people.
'There is a real problem between the police and young people. I was sitting with a friend in a sandwich shop and the police came in and asked for my ID. I said, "Why don't you check the [white] guys out there on their scooters?" They just said, "Are you trying to tell us how to do our job?" and that was the end of the conversation.
'My handball club pays me €590 [£400] a month if we win, €380 if we lose. I'm going back to school to get a diploma so I can get a job as a salesman, but I'm also hoping to get hired by a bigger team and earn more from my sport. I've been to Spain and Portugal and life seems a lot better there - more optimistic. At least, if you cannot get a job, it's warm.' ADS

'They said to me: "You'll never find work"'
Hamid Senni31, company director in the UK
'My parents came to France from a very poor mining area in the south-east of Morocco. We were told that if we respected French values and studied hard, we'd break out of poverty. But when I applied to business school, they told me I'd never get a job. I wouldn't know the right people. I thought: isn't this the country of supreme meritocracy, where skills are more important than background?
'When I tried for an internship in the final year, I couldn't even get an interview. I had to escape, so I went to Sweden to finish my studies. Going there made me realise just how bad the discrimination was in France. I sent five CVs to the UK and was offered three interviews. A few years later, as a project manager for Sony Ericsson, I went back to Paris on assignment. Everyone in management positions there was white and male.
'When the internet bubble burst, I lost my job and my family persuaded me to return to France. From November to March, I spent five days a week looking for a job and got one interview - as a door-to-door salesman. Then I applied to other countries and landed interviews all over Europe. I landed a job with BP in London and now I run my own consulting firm.
'The situation in France is like the caste system in India. If you are born in a certain social area, that's where you'll remain.'
Interview by Killian Fox