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  • Paris Burns, The Second Leftist Utopia Burns With It

    Posted by Lexington Green on November 5th, 2005 (All posts by )

    The current intifada in France has stripped the American Left of its second Utopia in a generation.

    The Left lost its earlier worldly utopia when the Soviet Union fell apart. 1989 was not only the year that the countries of Central Europe regained their independence, it was also the year that the Left began to lose its organizing principle, its focus, and to begin casting around for a new organizing principle. The Soviet Union had been the focus of ardent loyalty amongst many American Leftists in the 1930s and for some up to the 1950s. After that the Soviet Union, whatever its defects, was seen as the supporter of progressive forces – and Leftist poster-children — of the day, like Mao, Castro, Che Guevara, the Viet Cong or the Sandinistas. Even into the 1980s there were many Leftists in the West who could come up with good things to say about the Soviet Union. And even as the rotten juggernaut began to crumble more and more visibly, it was at least still possible to attack its enemies as “McCarthyists”, and to despise anti-communists as hicks, militarists, religious cranks, and otherwise unsophisticated and contemptible.

    With the Soviet Union gone, the Leftists shifted or intensified their focus on various “progressive” causes, such as anti-globalization, environmentalism, multiculturalism and radical feminism. However, there was no particular geographic locus for these causes, no place where “real existing” progressivism could be found. The enemy, however, remained clear: The West, especially the United States and its capitalist economic system.

    What I have observed in the last few years, especially since the Iraq war began, is a strong revival of an older liberal vision, which saw Europe as being a model for a more socialistic society, which the USA should supposedly emulate. (Remember Mike Dukakis went on vacation with a book on Swedish land-use regulation for beach reading?) The idea has been promoted more and more that the European model of multiculturalism, socialist management of the economy, a relaxed attitude toward work, high taxes, lavish benefits, antipathy to Christianity, and pacifism is the one that the United States should emulate.

    This “European social model” has been presented and accepted by many as a more humane alternative to the savage capitalism of the Anglo-Saxons. This model is based – supposedly — not on competition and greed, but on solidarity, on protecting workers and citizens from the gales of creative destruction which make life for the grasping, vulgar Americans so insecure. Educated, well-to-do Americans envy their peers in Europe, who seem to get more respect just for having advanced degrees, and they don’t have to work as hard. This makes Europe seem like a worldly paradise to elite Americans. (I got exasperated with one friend who kept going on about how great it is in Germany – “look, I don’t envy them their life, and I don’t care what they think of mine.” He could not understand why I did not want to make America more like Europe, even when I explained it to him.)

    The deep problems the European “social model” suffers from are not focused on by our friends on the Left. The demographic death spiral, massive structural unemployment, increasing levels of crime (at or exceeding American levels in most cases), bureaucratic stasis which holds down growth and prevents the creation of new businesses, a business community focused on rent-seeking, a stifling PC multiculturalism, an unresponsive and unaccountable government at national and Union levels – this is all off the radar. And the biggest of all these elephants crowded into the room is the very large, unassimilated, unemployed and unemployable, welfare-supported Muslim minority. Warehoused in public housing projects which have been abandoned by the police, with no opportunity for gainful work, yet supported by relatively lavish benefits, this community has been a time-bomb waiting to go off. We now see that the French state, one of the most expensive, intrusive and arrogant there is, falls on its face when it is asked to perform its core function of providing physical security to lives and property. This is not a model anyone who is paying attention will want to emulate or adopt.

    In addition to thousands of cars, lots of buildings, and at least one elderly old lady doused with gasoline by the rioting “youths” of Paris, the American Left is also watching its default Utopia – their dream of the European welfare state — going up in smoke.

    (Of course they may not realize it yet. But I think these riots cannot be buried on page 8 of the newspaper forever.)

    Utopia: By popular demand, here is exhibit A (Mr. Rifkin’s book) of how Europe generally and France in particular have served recently as a Leftist utopia. There are others, such as Exhibit B (Mr. Kupchan’s book).

    Really, also, I do have friends who are lefties. I even married one. They often tell me how Europe is better than the dear old USA, more social justice, socialized medicine, etc. I say: So move there. One has. That’s fine. To each his own. I’ll stay in Chicago, thanks.

     

    55 Responses to “Paris Burns, The Second Leftist Utopia Burns With It”

    1. Eric Anondson Says:

      Many folks on the left have distanced themselves from the Soviet Union and their client states on the ground that those nations were tyrannies of a sort and not good examples of the ideal socialist paradise. And that it was the tyrannical nature of those states that overroad the utopian promise that was being planned for their citizens.

      I predict that before too long there will be searching for just exactly what it was about France that made the experiment not work. It won’t tag anything fundamental about the ideology of socialism/multiculturalism, but rather that France either hasn’t implemented it properly, or that France was still too authoritarian (too much power given to the police, military, executive, etc.) and not “‘democratic” enough.

      But then again, rioting on a massive scale has been a historical tradition in Paris. A cynic might say that maybe the immigrants have adopted the traditions of their new homeland. :)

    2. Lex Says:

      “… rioting on a massive scale has been a historical tradition in Paris…” True. And massive force to crush it has been a tradition, too, on occasion — remember the Paris Commune? The “whiff of grapeshot” that made a certain officer named Bonaparte famous? A spectacular crackdown is not out of the question. I hope it happens. The French have a strong — too strong — state. This is the moment it should be put to use.

      The Parisians riot as a form of political expression, since their democratic governance doesn’t work very well — you get the same gang of technocrats no matter which party is in charge. But I think this is different in kind from anything they have seen before.

    3. Bostonian Says:

      Eric A.: “… before too long there will be searching for just exactly what it was about France that made the experiment not work.”

      Yup, found one already. Over on the Beeb forum section, one commentator says this:

      “French capitalism is in deep crisis.
      For decades now,all French governments have been implementing neo liberal economic policies,resulting in perpetuating huge disparities in wealth,deep racism and inequality within French society.The riots are a very graphic expression of mass discontent and indicate that profound political,social and economic changes in the name of radical Socialism are urgently needed.The present capitalist system is both completely discredited and simply unsustainable.”

      Go here and search for “neo-liberal”

    4. Don Cesar Says:

      While it is certain that the “The Second Leftist Utopia”, is burning, the appeasement also know as restraint, will win accolades beyond belief.

      The spin will NOT be France lost, but will be viewed as a large win. It will be titled ‘How to Perfectly Handle the Irritated, Angry, Unassimilated Muslim and/or Others, We, the French, Chose NOT to Associare With, In Any Form’. This will become the Model of future dealings with radicals of all stripes.

      The logic behind this IS, as noted outside of the two idiots that died and one unfortunate woman, who probably will complete recover. No Blood has been spilled, at least to this point.

      Should the Muslims get a bit more ‘frisky’ and deaths start to occur, THEN what the head line of this article says “The Second Leftist Utopia Burns With It”, will have been accomplished.

    5. Lex Says:

      Bostonian, Classic find. Yeah, France is way, way too capitalistic. That’s the problem. D’oh.

      Don, I agree that Leftists will continue to praise France and Europe more generally. After all, many still say the communists were not so bad, etc. (My father in law will tell you with a straight face that East Germany was better than anything that we have now, since everyone had the dignity of knowin they would have a job, there was no inequality, and the arts were supported and classical music was made freely available. I could not make this stuff up.)

      But that there is no way that American Leftists are going to be able to sell this bucket of slop to American voters as a Utopian vision. And it will be harder and harder for the honest ones to sell it to themselves.

    6. Tex Says:

      Go here and search for “neo-liberal”

      There is no such thing as a “neo-liberal”.

      There are “[classical] liberals”, there are “libertarians”, there are even “free marketeers” and “capitalists” but the “neo-liberal” is overwhelmingly a boogeyman conjured up by critics of free exchange. The term “neo-liberalism” is a red flag, a near sure sign that you are listening to a straw man.

    7. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Lex,

      crime is bad in some areas, like Brussels, and big parts of France and the UK, but Germany is one of the safest places to live in.

      There also is no demographic death spiral, despite the decline in rates.

    8. Ralf Goergens Says:

      increasing levels of crime (at or exceeding American levels in most cases)

      It may be tempting to write something like this, but for the large majority of places in Europe nothing could be further from the truth.

    9. EU Rota Says:

      Socialism: Clarifying Up

      Building upon, clarifying and elevating this post in the Brussels Journal, Lexington Green of the Chicago Boyz takes it up a notch on the Left and the demise of another utopian delusion:

    10. gijoe Says:

      What the hell is wrong with a relaxed attitude toward work?

    11. Olaf Andersen Says:

      increasing levels of crime (at or exceeding American levels in most cases)
      It may be tempting to write something like this, but for the large majority of places in Europe nothing could be further from the truth.

      You seem to view America as a monolithic state, much as Americans view Europe.

      Crime in the rural areas of the US is as low, if not lower, than comparable areas in all European nations. If you want to compare crime in large cities, than obviously cities like New Orleans will be higher than most in Europe. However, cities such as New York City will have average to lower crime per capita than comparable European cities.

    12. Bostonian Says:

      Tex:
      Well, if you read the rest of what the guy wrote, you’ll see he’s off his rocker in general.

    13. Melchior Sternfels von Fuchshaim Says:

      [Ralf]: It may be tempting to write something like this, but for the large majority of places in Europe nothing could be further from the truth.

      You are probably right as to incidence of crime, but the 2000 International Crime Victimisation Survey carried out by the U.N. found that, as to prevalence of crime, the U.S. was squarely in the middle of industrialized countries (Anglosphere, Western Europe, Japan) in all categories. You can read the summary here. More links here.

      The survey bypasses official figures and relies on uniform interviews with population samples.

    14. Helen Says:

      Lex,

      After the whiff of grapeshot and the post Paris Commune type executions, what do you think the French government should do?

    15. Olaf Andersen Says:

      You are probably right as to incidence of crime, but the 2000 International Crime Victimisation Survey carried out by the U.N. found that, as to prevalence of crime

      Actually, incidence of crime is decreasing in the US. Not sure about Europe

    16. actus Says:

      ” It won’t tag anything fundamental about the ideology of socialism/multiculturalism”

      Who thinks france — that guards its language to the point that you have to have government board approve your child’s names — is multicultural?

    17. Anarchus Says:

      Ralf:

      This statement is mathematical nonsense: “There also is no demographic death spiral, despite the decline in rates.”

      With native-born fertility rates ranging from 1.2 in Spain and Italy to 1.7 in France and Britain, the native-born population most definitely is in a death spiral.

      Even including immigration at present rates, the dependency ratio of 65& over to workers is going from the mid-20s in Spain and Italy at present to somewhere in the mid-60s by 2050 — if that’s not a demographic death spiral, WHAT IS IT?

    18. Anonymous Says:

      Western leftists will learn nothing from this. If they were capable of learning anything from history, they wouldn’t be leftists now. Rather, they will simply ignore this additional proof of the failure of their beliefs and will “move on.” As such, those who vaule true freedom will always have to fight for it, and leftists will always be their enemies.

    19. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Anarchus,

      Even including immigration at present rates, the dependency ratio of 65& over to workers is going from the mid-20s in Spain and Italy at present to somewhere in the mid-60s by 2050 — if that’s not a demographic death spiral, WHAT IS IT?

      i towuld be like that, given current technology levels and life expectancy. Until then, productivity will be much higher theough, and 65-year old much helthier than today, therefore being able to work at that age and way above. Just as todays 65 year old also are much healthier than those of decades past.

    20. DeWayne Says:

      Wingernuts are prone to a particularly obtuse thought process. And in a funny way, this bullshit could have been written with little modification from some fossil of the Soviet propaganda machine.

      Fifty years aga there was little difference between Birchers and Commies and that hasn’t really changed all that much – witness the smooth transition of someone like Horotwitz.

      And I how similar is the rhetoric here to Bircher crap written, say, in 1965 or 1967. Was Watts, Detroit, Newark about the direct failures of LBJ’s Great Society? Or the chickens coming home to roost in a racist society.

      Leaving aside the questionable existence of a left or how much evil is contained in the European social welfare state model, why not actually pay attention to the rightward movement of French policy, especially regarding immigrants.

      To do so would be to acknowledge how utterly empty and irrelevant is bullshit about leftist utopia.

    21. E. Nough Says:

      Bostonian, that BBC forum is a great link. Looks like the Left story about the riots is coalescing around two major points:

      1. This is the fault of the (white) French for failing to embrace the immigrants. Apparent response: more multiculturalism, more affirmative action (positive discrimination is the European term).

      2. The rioters are not just Muslim immigrants. It’s really a struggle between rich and poor. Apparent response: more redistribution and social equality — i.e. more socialism.

    22. Ralf Goergens Says:

      Olaf,

      I’m not seeing the United States as a monolithic entity at all. But neither is Europe. There are some places in both that distort the overall numbers.

      Melchior,

      thanks

    23. Byron Says:

      Those commenters above who argue that leftists will learn nothing from these events, or that they will learn the wrong lesson, are exactly correct.

      This is because leftism is not a social or economic theory in the usual sense of the term. It is instead a secular religion, one that promises earthly salvation. In Karl Popper’s terms, it is not a falsifiable set of beliefs. Data that are inconsistent with socialist ‘theory’ will simply be dismissed or reinterpreted. Socialist failures will be attributed to a lack of sufficient adherence to socialist principles by the regime in question. No degree of failure can ever shake the faith of socialist true believers because, in common with every religion, their faith is based in a yearning of the heart, not in empirical evidence.

      It could be argued that a commitment to classical liberalism is no different. But the theoretical foundation in that case in much stronger, and the empirical evidence far more encouraging.

    24. pst314 Says:

      “Even into the 1980s there were many Leftists in the West who could come up with good things to say about the Soviet Union.”

      Even today. Case in point: Science fiction writer Terry Bisson is “a huge fan of the Chinese rev at least through the 70′s” (exact quote.) So the terror, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution were okay? The tens of millions who died in the terror and famine were excusable excesses? The scientific imbecility, economic cretinism and lunatic political fanaticism were understandable and perhaps necessary?

      I don’t think the left will ever lose its taste for crackpottery and thuggery.

    25. Anarchus Says:

      Byron:

      Great post.

      I wonder, though . . . . . What will the reaction of the leftists be when it eventually becomes apparent that radical Islamic fascists with WMD have the means to destroy all non-Islamic leftists?

      Will self-survival instincts kick-in, or will they quietly wring their hands on their knees?

    26. ShrinkWrapped Says:

      The French Intifada and the Failure of Language

      Day 10 of the French Intifada has brought another 900 cars torched, buildings burned, with evidence of some underlying organization tot he riots (whether pre-positioned and pre-planned or an emergent phenomenon is unclear at this point): Police found a…

    27. Brian Says:

      Any of you Commie/Birchers know what DeWayne is getting at? I’m baffled.

    28. mplspaul Says:

      I had the same question about DeWaybe. He seems to be assuming none of you have ever considered the possibility that 1960′s riots were obviously a payback for a racist soceity and so therefore have no answer to it. He may not have noticed that he’s reading the answer.

    29. Tex Says:

      see he’s off his rocker in general

      From 1990 to 2003, France’s Freedom Rate has remained about the same (from 6.7 to 6.9) while it’s Freedom Rank has fallen (from 20th to 38th). Neither factor suggests that “neo-liberalism” is the root cause of the riots. On the contrary. (The numbers come from Gwartney)

      As I was saying, the term “neo-liberalism” is a near sure sign of a straw man.

    30. Matt Says:

      Wow, I really have no idea where you managed to find that particular straw man. “Leftist utopia”?

      As a matter of fact, France has fairly hard-right, assimilationist policies that have resulted in alienation and joblessness among their immigrant population. Contrast this with the historical position of immigrant communities in the US, where over the course of generations immigrant culture became inseperable from mainstream US culture while preserving the fundamental values of our country.

      Check out Blogoland’s criticism of this post for some hard data on the French immigration policies that have led to this disaster. It’s more informative than indulging in fantasy schadenfreude against those durn snooty liberal intellectuals who hate freedom.

    31. Marcus Says:

      Matt: Wow, I really have no idea where you managed to find that particular straw man. “Leftist utopia”?

      Search Amazon.com for “Jeremy Rifkin”

      “European Dream” is more apt than “Leftist Utopia”, but if the shoe fits …

    32. Tex Says:

      Within the last week Molotov cocktails have been thrown in France, Argentina, and California. Funny how the distribution of violence is more strongly related to areas of strident anti-globalization rhetoric than the policies of “neo-libralism”. If the latter were the case, we would expect to see riots in Monaco rather than France, Costa Rica rather than Argentina, and Nevada rather than California.

    33. conservajerk Says:

      Great post, I built upon it in my blog:http://conservajerk.blogspot.com/

    34. It Should Be Noted Says:

      Mysterious “French Youths” Torch Paris.

      From the indispensable Little Green Footballs. Update: And from the WTF department:Gaddafi Offers Help Over Riots From: Agence France-Presse From correspondents in TripoliNovember 06, 2005 LIBYAN leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi called French President …

    35. actus Says:

      “Within the last week Molotov cocktails have been thrown in France, Argentina, and California. Funny how the distribution of violence is more strongly related to areas of strident anti-globalization rhetoric than the policies of “neo-libralism”.”

      Pro-globalization areas use cluster bombs and the US army.

    36. Dust my Broom Says:

      Paris is burning

      The media hasn’t been really good at telling us that fact. Paris is goddamn burning. Various reports are out that Jacques Chirac is just starting to react to the violence sweeping Paris – mostly due to last night where there were 1295 vehicles t…

    37. Tex Says:

      Tex: Within the last week Molotov cocktails have been thrown in France, Argentina, and California. Funny how the distribution of violence is more strongly related to areas of strident anti-globalization rhetoric than the policies of “neo-libralism”

      actus: Pro-globalization areas use cluster bombs and the US army.

      Washington is not bombing Paris.

      And you’re a little behind the times with your attempt to change the subject. It is the “insurgents” who are doing the lion’s share of the bombing in Iraq these days.

    38. actus Says:

      “Washington is not bombing Paris”

      Neither are the argentineans and the californians mentioned.

      “It is the “insurgents” who are doing the lion’s share of the bombing in Iraq these days.”

      Really? i’d be surprised if we didn’t use much more ordinance than they did.

    39. Kitty Litter Says:

      IS PARIS BURNING?

      Speaking of the Dems,ChicagoBoyz point out, Paris Burns, The Second Leftist Utopia Burns With It: In addition to thousands of cars, lots of buildings, and at least one elderly old lady doused with gasoline by the rioting “youths” of Paris, the Americ…

    40. alibidrain Says:

      Huh?
      Utopia my ass.
      The leftists I know make fun of the French as much, if not more, than Conservatives.
      Of course the leftists I know also make fun of leftists.

      Anyhow, just because you WANT to believe something doesn’t make it true.

    41. towel head Says:

      If France really wanted to stop the riots the authorities would issue shoot to kill orders.
      The French are afraid to offend the Muslims.
      They would rather watch their cities burn than confront the evil.

    42. The Pink Flamingo Bar Grill Says:

      Denial not just a river in Egypt, Belgravia dispat

      A couple or more articles that provide more evidence for my point of view and less for the moderate lets understand them view.

    43. Get real! Says:

      A few cars get torched and suddenly every know-it-all is pounding away at his keyboard his direct-from-God vindication of pontification, as if. France’s socialist government worked for some things and failed at others. Just like the policies of the U.S., the U.K., or any other country. We’ve had our share of rioters and looters: New Orleans, Los Angeles, etc. And yet our government enacts policies that are more racist, not less; increase rather than diffuse tensions. Where is the right’s Utopia? Washed into the Gulf, along with a thousand made-in-China refrigerators?

      Isn’t it nice to sit back and smirk behind your television and computer screen and have all the answers for those poor little folks who have to – or at least want to – work for their tiny little living? What a smug, arrogant little hypocrite you are, Lexington. Shame on you.

    44. Ginny Says:

      Get Real, I’m interested in some specific “racist laws” that were enacted because of rioting and looting. Were these local, state or federal? Some specific instances might give us an arena to discuss.

      Also, I’m a little unclear of what “Right’s Utopia” you refer to? (The right does not believe in Utopias – it may argue that the best shouldn’t get in the way of the better. What best & better are you referring to?)

    45. Purple Avenger Says:

      So Real, if all your rationalization and spin is true — how come they’re burning Paris rather than NYC or LA then?

    46. John L Says:

      Mr Green’s article here is right on target,……with only one exception. His Left Utopia, he continues to attribute to Socialism and it’s failutes. In fact it IS Collectivism, but it is none other than the old 20th century version of Fascism, pure and simple.

      Clearly, most of “Old Europe” is living under a Fascist form of government, some more than others. But, in truth, it is State control and heavy regulation of Industry(the means of production), and the placation of the masses with the ‘social’ Nipple, that is supposed to keep them placated.

      Unfortunately, someone forgot to include the Islamic masses that moved in, hoping to partake of the good times, when Europe was not in the process of being dragged down into the economic gutter.

      And Bat Ye’or has been correct all along. It was a combination of Fascism, coupled with the creation of Eurabia, that is the icing on the cake.

      So, in the spirit of getting things correct, think FASCISM, not Socialism here. And make no mistake: the “Third Way” will NEVER work,

    47. George L. Says:

      I thought Chicago was a mini-France. A one-party, gun-banning, socialist shit-hole rife with corruption and a large welfare-supported underclass.

      Am I wrong, Lex?

    48. The Right Nation Says:

      Monday Night Round-Up

      RaiNews 24′s lies about “white phosphorous flares” used by US Army at Fallujah were peddled to everyone (AdnKronos, AGI, Corriere della Sera, L’Unità, Repubblica) and they are the opening title at Google News. But this “terrible chemical weapon” is u…

    49. Shining Light in Dark Corners Says:

      French Riots Reminiscent of 1968 Race Riots in US

      Riots have spread and worsened across France. Rightwing extremists in this country have characterized this tragedy unfolding as the “French Intifada” led by what the blog chicagoboyz.net calls “the very large, unassimilated, unemployed and unemployable…

    50. saltino Says:

      “intifada” in Paris, are plus minus ten years from Los Angeles riot, really the welfare is died in Europe? Are u sure? U write… Intifada in Europe? Where is the wall… at place de la bastille? Please keep your mind in a trouble question, what is last liberal emperor? This emperor it’s still in my country, in my town exactly, at Rome… 2000 years ago.
      (sorry for my bad-baby english)
      Ciao Neo-con vai a lavorare (in miniera però).

    51. Tino Says:

      I can tell you as a fact that the US murder rate (5.5 per 100.000) is still higher than Europe, but that the US it at or even below in most other caseses. Violent crime in the US has been falling sharply since about 1980, acceleration in the 1990s. In my country, Sweden, crime has been going up like crazy.

      In murder we are still below, but wheras it was 10.5 vs 1.6 the year Ronny got elected, it is 5.5 vs 2.4 now. Per 100.000.

      This year we have as many rapes per capita as the US, more than doubling in 15 years. Property crime has always been a worse problem in Sweden.

      So it depends how you weight it. Murder US is still worse (yes I know 20 of the 50 states have lower crime rate than Sweden, but on average), but in most other crime he is right.

      Don’t exagerate the nativity thing. It does NOT hurt economic standards other than in a transition period, and thats just because if stupid pension system. Other than that yes the European model is worthless.

      In Sweden Katarina (or the exagerated media pictures) was a feast for the leftwing media. They wrote more aobut it that you did I think, the “proof” of US barbarism. The Socialdemocratic priminister talked several minuts about Katarina in his main speech in their party congress! For Europe US is the boogyman to scare people straight.

      But with France there is no such attempt to draw national conclusions, they underreport itand blaim it on the goverment.

    52. sammy Says:

      France may be economically socialist but it is culturally very right wing and by any indication far less multiculturalist than the USA. From my experiences having been there, it’s certainly more racist than the USA, particularly towards Muslims. I would rather be a Muslim in the US than in France. The USA’s foreign policy is extremely offensive to Muslim sensibilities but it treats Muslims relatively well, while French foreign policy tries not to offend Muslim sensibilities but Muslims are treated far, far worse. This is why you don’t have Muslim riots in the USA and why few American Muslims have been involved in terrorism.

    53. Newmark's Door Says:

      http://newmarksdoor.typepad.com/mainblog/2005/11/interesting_ang.html

      Interesting angle on the riots in France over at Chicago Boyz: The current intifada in France has stripped the American Left of its second Utopia in a generation.

    54. rmark Says:

      The U.S tends to have more murders, Europe tends to have as much or more of most everything else crime wise. (note – European murder statistics tend to avoid the 1914-1918 and 1937-1945 time periods, giving a lower rate than was experienced in real life).

    55. lemon2stp Says:

      French Rioters

      French Rioters