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by Jean-Emmanuel Ducoin

Loss of Citizenship

Translated Sunday 28 February 2010, by Alison Billington and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Our sense of reason is irretrievably offended when we hear the words "unemployed, at the end of rights [to unemployment insurance]"

History and its torments teach us that the effectiveness of an ‘idea’ is never isolated from a social or political process. Just the opposite is true, the horror of a notorious concept imposed on us by those who govern us can not escape its regressive, ideological context, where human life and the minimum for existence, which are supposed to be inalienable, become negligible quantities. So our reasoning falters, without possible recovery, when we hear these words, ‘Unemployed, at the end of rights.’ The very expression, in its indignity, such an insult or a denial of the idea of belonging to the republic, symbolizes, by itself alone, the mental state of France on her way to social fragmentation. An organised taking away of citizenship. Step by step…

Our era is becoming savage. Already capitalism’s adjusting variable, share-holders’ cannon fodder, the unemployed workers, can lose their rights overnight. Citizens of so little consequence that they do not deserve any solidarity… If mere moral protest isn’t enough, let the demagogues of chit-chat and charity business look with their hands on their hearts at the soul-destroying statistics. More than 1 million more unemployed will not benefit from any indemnity at all before the end of 2010. So how many will be eligible for the minimum social security benefit, RSA [1] or ASS [2], worth hundreds of euros? A minority. At least 600,000 French are going to join those with nothing, for whom life balances in poverty.

In earlier times, the rampant culpability of the powerful would sometimes vanish behind the cloud of finance-liberalism and the policy of every man for himself. Now, their faces unmasked, they invent a macabre vocabulary : ‘Loss of rights’. While they save banks with injections of billions of euros, just as a hail of bullets falls on the sacrificed, while they set up a fiscal shield and are forever reducing employers’ fiscal costs, while they declare an extension of the age of retirement and introduce an austerity super-plan, they shower us with the usual speeches. ‘Public debts’, ‘realistic principles’, ‘globalized economy’… which they say they are trying to "moralize"! Didn’t Sarkozy mention on TF1 [3] the sunshiny tomorrows and a lowering of unemployment to come. Lies. And there’s a cynicism even more scandalous since the aforesaid persons who ‘lose their rights’ soon won’t be even counted in the official unemployment figures, like so many others…Except that this ‘loss of rights’, so shameful and glib, betrays a reality, the intolerable reality of those excluded, chased, crushed in silence by the universal rolling mill of the profit machine.

So it is no time to shilly-shally. It’s time to bring in genuine and durable solutions by creating an indemnity system that is definitely there for all unemployed. Read the accounts that we’re publishing today. More blows of the hammer on the gilded doors of those in power. More courage is combined, to resist and to live, just live, in dignity. Yes, this courage, in so far as it’s a question of dealing with present realities, and urgently. Like an uprising of the masses.

[1revenu de solidarité active/active solidarity revenue: a French unemployment benefit brought in by the new unemployment law

[2allocation specifique de solidarité/ a French welfare benefit

[3a French television channel

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