The French Tradition of Striking

The French once expressed their discontent by putting up barricades. Today, they go on strike.

It is true that barricades have not been seen in Paris since May 1968. Charles de Gaulle, who was president at the time, decided to remove the cobblestones and cover the streets with asphalt instead. No more stones, no more barricades. But going head to head with a strike is both different and far more complex, especially given that the vast majority of French people believe the action is necessary — even when they are affected by it. The government of Emmanuel Macron, like those of his predecessors, continues to hope in vain that service users will turn against the strikers. After all, they cause problems for users, make them waste a lot of time and money, and what’s more they are civil servants who cannot be fired.

However, this matters little to the French, who all unite in their support of the strikes — theatrical representations of past revolutions, which still inspire a certain national nostalgia. But when the dust settles, no one emerges victorious. The


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