The French, Coming Apart. A social thinker illuminates his country’s populist divide.
(...) Christophe Guilluy calls himself a geographer. But he has spent decades as a housing consultant in various rapidly changing neighborhoods north of Paris, studying gentrification, among other things. And he has crafted a convincing narrative tying together France’s various social problems—immigration tensions, inequality, deindustrialization, economic decline, ethnic conflict, and the rise of populist parties. Such an analysis had previously eluded the Parisian caste of philosophers, political scientists, literary journalists, government-funded researchers, and party ideologues. (...)
Most places where migrant and native French cultures mix, Guilluy expects, will evolve as did the northern Paris suburbs where he works. Twenty years ago, these neighborhoods remained a hub of Parisian Jewish life; nowadays, they’re heavily Arab. The young men living in them feel a burning solidarity with their Muslim brethren in the Middle East and often a loathing for Israel. Jews have faced steady intimidation in northern Paris at least since 2002, when the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks overlapped with the Palestinian “second intifada.” Violence is rising. July 2014 saw a wave of attacks on Jewish businesses and synagogues in the suburb of Sarcelles. Jews have evacuated some municipalities north of Paris, where, until recently, they were an integral part: Saint-Denis, La Courneuve, Aubervilliers, Stains, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine, Trappes, Aulnay-sous-Bois, and Le Blanc-Mesnil. Many Jews still live safely and well in France, of course, but they cluster together in a smaller number of secure neighborhoods, several of them on Paris’s western edge. Departures of French Jews to Israel run to about 7,000 a year, according to the Jewish Agency of France. Others go to the U.S. and Canada. The leavers are disproportionately young.read more