As millions of French citizens poured onto the Champs Elysees to bid their farewell to the unquestionable king of rock and movie star Johnny Hallyday, most observers — particularly those that are Millennials — were puzzled.
Why would the French — whose cynicism is legendary and whose agnosticism secular — discharge such an emotional tide over the passing away of a performer?
Further, why would Johnny Hallyday matter more than the European Soccer League Matches?
The answer is rather simple.
Hallyday brought to the surface the essence of being French.
Born under Nazi occupation, Hallyday carried the wounds of war children. They aimed at making up for scarcity with exuberance, for solitude with crowd pleasing, and for authoritarian rule with libertinism.
As a beneficiary of the Marshall Plan, Hallyday took part in closer exchanges between the U.S. and Europe.
These brought to France the music that was to define the 50s: rock and roll.
Hallyday personified the post WWII spirit of progress and positive change. His death reminds the French people how short-lived progress bubbles are. Imbedded as they are in the modern challenges of economic malaise and terrorism, the French sang to the good old days by dancing their way through Hallyday’s funeral.
In a sense, for a few brief moments, they enjoyed being collectively French, unbridled by the globalization which forces multiculturalism onto nations.
A similar anti-global reaction was to be found in Alabama where a special election to fill a senate seat was narrowly won by Doug Jones, a no nonsense democrat who while supporting part of the liberal agenda and is not a champion of globalization.
Jones won thanks to the massive turn out of African Americans who gave him the lead. But about 50% of the citizens of Alabama found it acceptable to vote for his rival: a person who had been accused of a fondness for underage girls.
This of course does not mean that the citizens of Alabama favor such conduct but that they would rather cling to their roots and fight globalization than continue to face economic decay and social unraveling.
To be sure, according to UNITAR surveys, workers in developed countries like the U.S. live in fear of pay cuts or unemployment as employers threaten to export their jobs to low wage countries. Also same source indicates that globalization is not working for the majority of the world.
“During the most recent period of rapid growth in global trade and investment, 1960 to 1998, inequality worsened both internationally and within countries. The U.N. Development Program reports that the richest 20% of the world’s population consume 86% of the world’s resources while the poorest 80% consume just 14%.“
Impoverished middle classes around the world are the prime target for populist plans, as they effectively mobilize their anger at sudden destitution to lambast political establishments all over the world.
As traditional political movements and state bureaucracies fail to produce public policies that address the failings of globalization, political instability will set in. And in this century it can be very dangerous, as WMD can be produced at home.
Published by LAHT.com on Monday December 18th, 2017