Tuesday, April 04, 2006

 

Apres Moi...Le Merde

After observing French society explode over a new labor law:

Watching the protests in France over employment rights for the young reminds me of the book The Little Ice Age by Brian Fagan (great book by the way). In it, he describes the vast economic and cultural changes that took place in Europe because of the Little Ice Age (between 1550-1850).
The increasing rain and colder climate the Little Ice Age brought to Europe totally decimated the cultivation of wheat products that had become a staple during the Middle Ages.
Nation after nation in Europe turned to the potato -- which thrived in the colder, wetter climates -- for salvation.

Except for France.

The potato was beneath French culture and -- while England and Germany's economies thrived -- France endured 111 famines between 1371 and 1791, sixteen of them in the eighteenth century alone. Only the complete collapse of French society and subsequent French Revolution brought about a change in French thinking. Once French culture adopted potato production into their culture and economy, the cycle of famine ended. The productivity and reliability of potato farming helped increase
Europe's population and freed more nonagricultural workers for the Industrial Revolution.

The French only react after jumping into the abyss -- and not before.

Very pecuilar.

Now, there's an understatement!

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