Plucking the petals of the daisy

Translated by Xavier Padilla

2004 November the 8th

Jean-Pierre Petit, astrophysicist, 2004

The people from my generation may remember that it was a Brigitte Bardot film. But it's not about this daisy that I'm thinking today. I'm thinking of an image given to me by one of my readers. In France and in a number of other countries, we pluck the petals of the daisy. The establishement's power targets on liberties, social achievements, ones after the others. So long as there's no more unity, no more party or trade union able to take the defense of individuals, or companies' personnel, everything fades into silence. Each petal of the daisy does not react when its neighbor is plucked off, without realizing that one day it will be the next one in the list.

We do not see the emergence of an alternative solution, which is a fact that now reaches a desperating point. Periodically, Arlette Laguiller [French communist party candidate] rans into elections providing her little monologue with a monochordal tone, and bleating. She talks about the "Labourist's party" and about "the owners". If she denounces the crying injustices and the erosion of social rights, her politic message remains rather poor, non-existent, just like the one of all those claiming to be from "the left", no matter if this left consumes or not caviar. Some talks remaind us the "self-management" professed by the "sixty-eighters" [68's generation], the most beautiful rubbish that we could imagine in our social history. No, companies do not function when soviet-like workers are put in power. Communism neither worked. But, of course, things are more complex. Even if there was a good will (and honest personalities) in the URSS, that empire, build within the most violent autocracy, like that of such a butcher as Stalin, died of economic smothering, forced by the United States to develop a war arsenal that devoured the essential part of its gross national product. The URSS had never had the means of retaining at once the butter and the cannons. All ended up breaking down like a house of cards, and the Russians are having a hard time to pass form one extreme to the other, from one "planified economy", turning in a closed vessel, to a market economy. It all happens as if they've got all our faults at once, hardly profitting from some of the qualities of that system, and now the halls of their train stations are populated with children that prostitute themselves, street markets are stuffed with old people who sell herds to survive. The Soviet Social Security has been replaced by missery. In Cuba the American Mafia, promptly ejected by Castro, will reinstal itself before long in what once was its headquarters. Mao's China inherited the steel cane of its large quartermaster. Over there, they treat the invasion of drug by straightforwardly shooting any holder of the least hallucinogen. China came out the whims of its leader-gourou fucker of fresh flesh, an arts person who had in his time played the metallurgist with the effectiveness that we now know. For those unaware of: it was done by deciding that country men would produce from now on their own steel in the blast furnaces of the villages. While on the other side Stalin played the agronomist by just deciding, after the war, that his people were going to increase the agricultural outputs in a spectacular way by "plowing at one meter of depth", using tanks reconverted into tractors. The result were lands, in whole areas, unproductive for a good period of time, thanks to taking along the fertile ground to one meter of depth, and by turning the surface into a ground unable to react to the seeds.

In the Arab countries, existential anguish benefits religious leaders who throw at their flocks the charia, and the burka, like life belts vis-a-vis a Western confusion of manners, which spreads out more and more. This has the advantage of being simple, although it's a solution that goes back to a good millenium. That being so, it has response to everything. It provides a way of strict life, well defined, an ultrastable social system which complies to all inequalities and solutions with respect to existential anguish. All is envisaged. Whereas the Westerners drown their spleen with a blow of antidepressants, build walls or blindfoldly fire some missiles in the pursuit of another Biblical law, that of retaliation, on the other side a door of exit is being provided to the most desperated: that of the suicide, with signed guarantees concerning a beatification in the after-life. Unbeatable. But in the Arab countries, as in the United States, the political leaders do not send their offspring to butchery. Death, that always was for the poor, at all times.

The Islamic integrism system presents itself even like a political force of international scale. This system of the kamikazes is unstoppable. It is "the atomic bomb of the "technologically undeveloped", in front of which cow-boys equiped with lasers and thermonuclear weapons, assisted by hypersonic spy planes, provided with GPS self-directional bombs, remain completely disarmed. A situation of this kind has never been known. Historically, it is extraordinary. The European countries, as for them, resemble bales of straw which only require to ignite. The war of Algery is there to show that things can degenerate extremely quickly. With the first bomb which will burst, the extreme right will arise its dormant OAS [Secret Army Organization during the war in Algery]. Under whom's initiative? Good question. Who draws the strings? Who will launch the first wave of attacks in such or such European country? Would it be the religious leaders or... Americans themselves, seeking a means of forcing Europeans to join them in a crusade "against terrorism"?

Did the American falcons precipitate things by performing a self-attack, completely machiavelic, on the famous September 11th, which as a case isn't much clearer than the juice of a pipe? An erudite operation of international policy, leaving the hands free to magnificiently drop into insoluble and humanly catastrophic situations. Iraq incarnates the role of Russia's retreat. Historically these two situations are comparable.

Science does not bring either a solution, collaborating narrowly, as it does, with the military-industrial lobbies (which seems to have become, nowadays, a prioritary side of its "research and development activities"), a job where science ends up discredited. It serves, first of all, the race towards the highest profit rates and the circuits of power, or monopolies, with absolute irresponsibility, while launching out into the adventure of GMO, among others. From an increasing distance, the average people questions the big priests of science, the bearded ones wearing straps, or the disabled on wheelchairs which behave as gourous and promise to them... anything, those same ones who advance theories "which will prove to be useful in a few centuries, since they are too advanced", evoking the TOE, or Theory of Everything. All that is pitiful.

I don't have anything to propose. This is a report, that's all. What is to be howled, is the attitude of what is called our media. But what is media? The definition of Larousse is fuzzy. One reads there "diffusion of a mass culture". But there isn't only that to it. Our media are the windows by which professionals of information are supposed to inform us, to show us what occurs in the remainder from the country and in the rest of the world. In reality they floods us with stories of crushed cats, to better render us ignorant. Every day our TV news water us with various facts for better masking the international situation, depicted in a few minutes. The German/French TV station Arte is the "station alibi", where one tackles "great subjects", where one denounces without care one half-century old facts, for better hide what occurs infront of our eyes nowadays. It is to be wondered whether these people did not become professionals of the misinformation, actively or by mimicking. I don't know if there still exist Frenchs that believe anymore in their media, in what emerges from their small screen, in what they read in the columns of their newspapers (do you know that Le Figaro and L'Express are property of Serge Dassault?). I was looking recently at a Le Monde number (a body of press on which Dassault vainly tried to put the hand; but whom's this newspaper really is, who still thinks that this body of press is "objective"?). I think it was the October 19th, 2004 issue. A whole page was devoted to the extension of impoverishment in France. More and more unemployed, people "in end of rights", homeless individuals, folks expelled of their residences unable to face the rent, over indebted people, etc.. There was a whole page of it. But I didn't see evoked one of the great phenomena of our time, relatively recent, but which is likely to know an explosive expansion, to which a name was given: "delocalizations". It is very pretty as a finding. It was necessary to resort to a specialist in "communication" to choose this word, so little "charged", of so alleviating appearance whereas it covers future miseries, a vastness of distresses to come. A friend of mine, Jacques, was just telling me that a new European law passed. To "delocalize", for a company, is not needed from now on to find itself in difficulty. The move becomes licit if that "increases its competitiveness".

In a bookshop I foresaw books praising Europe, "so that we can build a strong Europe, to hold head with the Americans". That remainds a phrase on a Prévert's poem:

Ceux qui fabriquent dans des caves les stylos avec lesquels d'autres écriront que tout va pour le mieux

(Those which manufacture in cellars the pens with which others will write that all is going for the best)

Globalisation frightens me. When there was some discussion about seeing the Eastern countries enter "our beautiful Europe", I had imagined France invaded by Polish engineers agreeing to work with wages quite lower than those practised here. I had not thought that it would not even be necessary to bring over our ground the engineers, the technicians or the Polish workmen, but that it would be enough "to delocalize the companies". We'd always be lacking on imagination.

Do you remember robotics? We were supposed to go towards "a civilization of leisures". Humans wouldn't have to work any more, robots would do it for them while they would be turning in circles their thumbs. The truth is that this robotics, even if it increased productivity by employing workers who never protest, who don't need any Social Security nor sleep, nor holidays, turned into unemployment millions of human beings, like the formerly "silk workers", these workmen of the textile, who had been thrown to the street by the appearance of the Jacquart trades. An unemployment paid by a "generalized social contribution", always increasingly heavier.

Do you remember telecommuting? We were told "you won't need anymore to go somewhere in order to work. You'll work at home". When one saw working employment slip by, people said to themselves "we will become a population centered on services". Wrong: what I didn't see is that a company's personnel can also be "delocalized", including -and even starting with- those of the service companies. I saw a documentary on employees living in Romania, working remotely for a French company, with a third of our wages. And these people were delighted. Brilliant, isn't it? Does anyone realize what is being held under our eyes? In the Eastern European countries people cost three times less expensive. Indiens or Chinese workers may cost ten to twenty times less expensive. A friend of mine has a small company. He said to me, "in our products, 60 per cent of the production cost is labour. I'll tell you something: next month I have appointments in Czechoslovakia. That doesn't implicate a civic loss of direction. Now is 'that or otherwise disappear'".

Someone else told me: "one could put a label on products saying 'made by French labour'". But who would do that? A consensus will be created. The opportunity is too significant and the phenomenon is now too common. And then, what is "100 per cent made in France" now? Nothing. Tomatos are Spanish, screwdrivers are German, processors are manufactured in Asian countries. By putting Czechs, Polish or Chinese to work, one will gently load the pockets.

Where does one go like that? Which politician could still tell us that we are simply going somewhere? In a liberal model, the capital, the system of production moves towards what ensures the strongest rate of profit, i.e. towards the areas of the globe where Social Security coverage is the weakest. It's in the logic of things. Since it becomes possible, because of this globalisation, "to delocalize" practically all activities, including now the "thanks to Internet" services, one goes towards a levelling to the workers' inferior living conditions, as well as towards a noisy rise in the incomes of both the "new rich" and the "former rich", who will become still more rich by taking advantage from increased rates of profit and from less important indirect labor costs.

Here you see towards what our democracies converge, democracies that take now forms of complete kiss-assholes. What can we do? Virtually nothing. There is no alternative policy, only a choice between an evil and another evil.

Poor countries will benefit there. China wakes up, as Pierrefitte forecasted in a book of success, "The Day China Will Wake Up". A billion men are thirsty to consume, travel, see their standard of living go up. But all will occur as in communicating vessels. The workers of the "rich countries" we live in will pay the bill, and this bill will be enormously steep. It has been repported that a big employer have said: "we will continue doing delocalizations until French workmen agree to be paid like the Polish". There is a friend of mine, a lady who is education adviser in a college, close to Paris. She recently put an advertisement to recruit a school supervisor, a simple supervisor* ("put yourself in row with your comrades"). She saw people graduated from university arriving. She asked them: "but why you postulate?". Answer: "it's better than assembly line work and at least one sees people". A sign of the times. All that will become current currency in a few years. The response of our government? Chriac decides the creation of "houses of employment".

There is nobody to talk about it, in our media. They amuse us with television games. In these games the people "win" ("We'll see how much you win"...). By looking at "Star Academy", young people dream of an easy means to get out of their filth, to reach notoriety, and make easy money. That's what's fascinating, all these "trades" which seem within the reach of the first who comes: singing, kicking on a ball, playing a comedy. They agitate in front of us the "miroir aux alouettes"** of the tele-shoppings. All that would put humans to think disappears (the lastest edition of the scientific TV programm "E = m6" is nothing any more than a sponsorized show, in the form of games). Readers, televiewers, are like the panic-stricken passengers of a sinking ship. They see people who have first class tickets forward themselves to luxurious boats, true "safeguard-yachts" (in all press shops you'll find the Yachting magazine, with a great choice of lifeboats models for the well-off). But for the steerage passengers nothing is envisaged. They just feel that the ship lists and downfalls, while on the backgroung the orchestra plays "Closer to you, my God", and that a Fellinian pope continues to oppose to the use of condoms.

The consumption of antidepressants increases. But why? What's so wrong with these people that makes them take drugs in this way? Life isn't beautiful?

I just learned something: Israelis would have taken a delivery, ten days ago, of two thousand bombs guided by GPS, self-directional, able to strike their target with a margin of a few meters. The press starts to talk about it. This development has its logic. The Americans are completely bogged down in Iraq. By taking the freedom to act along they've made the United Nations, whose resolutions are nothing any more but paper rags, loose all credibility. Nobody still believes for a minute in the existence "of weapons of mass destruction" in Irak, pretexts for this invasion. In fact, the goal was different. Iraq has very significant crude oil reserves. It is indeed the only country that could have allowed, by pushing the production, cause a drop in the oil price and by doing so exert a pressure on the Saoudien regime, which finances the coranic schools throughout the world, as all extremist movements. It does so because in the country these radical Islamic forces are extremely powerful. Bin Laden is Saoudien. The family reigning in Saudi Arabia for a long time does not hold any more the country. There remained the weapon "oil", and behind it the American cane, through Aramco. But all that is finished. Which country the United States could threaten? Where is the strategy of dominos which preached that by destabilizing Iraq all other Arab countries would follow? Uncle Sam is having a hard time.

The attacks against the pipelines cause a drop in the production of crude. Suddenly the price of oil goes up. By one of those whims of the economy, the dollar falls. Subsequently, America can export fully at will and Western economies end finding themselves doubly destabilized. But, with respect to the Saoudiens, who meanwhile fill their pockets, this effect is the opposite of what was required. Brilliant: Bush and his band have put their finger into the eye all the way down to the shoulder. What has to be done? To invade Saudi Arabia? To parachute special forces onto Mecca while threatening to blow up Kaaba? At the Pentagon that might has been considered.

One has never been in such a shit since the after war. Before, we experienced the cold war risks. There was the case of the missiles in Cuba. We re-examined the images where Russian commanders of submarines said "yes, we had thermonuclear torpedes in our tubes". But today the risk is completely different. Whereas the Berlin Wall does not appear any more, in the form of fragments, except in museums of modern art, the economic war is declared. It rages in all fronts. China is a swarming and industrious anthill which experiences an exponential development. In the country sports halls hundreds of Chinese learn foreign languages by howling nationalist slogans. The war of Opium, they will make us pay it, and expensively.

The United States, therefore, cannot threaten anybody any more. How to invade another country? With which troops, which men? The poor people which hope to obtain American nationality start to understand that one can simply be killed like a fool in this little game. Then Iranians decide to make isotopic enrichment. In all clearnes: they prepare the first atomic bomb of the Arab countries. Not the first of a Moslem country since the Pakistani have already theirs. But the Pakistani are already busy with India, which has also his, ready to tear them down if they bat an eyelid. Iran has already missiles of a sufficient range to strike Israel.

The Israelis informed in October: if in four months, from now to February nobody has stopped this bomb race in Iran, they will destroy the Iranian nuclear installations, with their bombs guided by GPS, piloted in descending phase, enjoying a precision of about a meter. They are people who do not joke. They already destroyed Osirak, the nuclear engine that the French had built for... Saddam Hussein (these are, by the way, the same French who nuclearized Iran). But who can do something? Who can prohibit Iran to continue its Great Opus? The United States, the UN?

One would believe oneself in Monte Carlo. Which are the options?

- Understanding that Israelis will put their threats at execution, Iranians will raise the foot on the last minute.

- Or? ...

Israelis do not have a choice. Of course, they have nuclear weapons embarked in submarines that cruise in the Mediterranean. They have their "deterrent power". It is said that they have 200 thermonuclear warheads. But their country is so small that with some bombs it can be ereased off the map. This is tempting. But, well, if that happened, an Israeli submarine would fire a missile right on Mecca and the various large Arab cities would undoubtedly be wipped off the land.

What's your choice? If that's real, the third world war will begin in February. But that perhaps will not occur.

At any chance, go to the nearest church and burn a candle there. I go there at this pace. I have not another idea.

In this moment, the question which agitates French media is the opening of a gay pay-per-view TV station, with four porno movies per week. Patrick Sebastien tell us about a girlfriend of his which holds a brothel, and adds that "politicians are among the most perverse". Literally enthralling. Do you imagine a small Moslem who looks at this kind of programms, in his neighbourhood? The impression is simple. Our Western society is in full decomposition. However, what people do when a society breaks up? Either they completely let it go, plunge into depression, drugs, all possible drugs, or they seek "certainties", a "strong power", "inflexible laws". Currently, I find that there are only three possible options:

1 - You look at TF1*** every evening, by gradually increasing the amounts and you stuff yourselves of Prozac.

2 - You become integrist, of one edge or another.

3 - You try to think by yourself (that it is hardest).

In my website I have talked about the death of my friend [scientist] Jacques Benveniste, who was "killed on the spot by the front of scientific integrism, of bloody stupidity, of irrationality, of selfishness and of sillyness". I asked that people send letters to his laboratory. Simple gesture. Rate of reaction: 1 per cent. Indifference? No, saturation effect. In France people are drowned in their problems, their concerns, they are lost, desperate, and become passive. I believe that I start to undestand them better. I don't know if I would like to be twenty years old today. Often, between friends of my generation, we tell ourselves: if someone made us 45 years younger, what would we do? None of us finds what to answer. That recalls the famous sentence:

God died, Marx died and myself I do not feel very well

J.P.Petit, Oct 2004    

Footnotes :

* A word game: school supervisor as "pion" in French, which means also "pawn" (from chess game) in English.
** Lure for attracting birds.
*** Television Française 1, comercial TV station.

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