France's Clockwork Orange

A French writer's powerful exposé of Islamic “ultra-violence” – and its abettors.

If the impressive success of Laurent Obertone’s new book La France Orange Méchanique (France Clockwork Orange) proves anything, it’s that there are a great many French citizens who don’t share their national media’s apparent indifference to the Islamization of France. To be sure, the author’s focus (the name Obertone, by the way, is a pseudonym) isn’t on Islam per se, but on the “veritable cultural revolution” that France has undergone as a result of mass immigration from corners of the globe whose social norms are profoundly alien to those of la belle République.

By “cultural revolution,” Obertone means, in a word, crime. In France, the years around 1900 are legendary for the lawlessness that erupted on the streets of Paris thanks to a gang called the Apaches; yet in the Apaches’ heyday, Obertone shows, crime was only about 4% of what it is today. Indeed, the Apaches represented a minor blip in an otherwise steady drop in crime rates from the end of the Middle Ages to the second half of the twentieth century. From 1830 all the way up to the outbreak of World War II, French crime rates were a tiny fraction of what they are now; from 1980 to 2000, the rate of violent crime multiplied by a factor of five.

Yet the crime rates are just part of the story. What France is undergoing today, Obertone argues, isn’t just crime but “a new type of ultra-violent crime.” It’s not “’classical’ violence”; it’s a “violence of conquest.” Yet the police response is woefully inadequate; the courts no longer believe in punishment; prisons have become a joke. And the national media all but ignore the whole situation. If you want to know the facts, don’t bother looking in Le Monde or on TV; it’s the local papers, with their steady drumbeat of matter-of-fact reports on atrocities that never make the national headlines, that tell the real story. Obertone devotes page after page to chilling lists of barbaric offenses he read about in regional dailies you never heard of.

To be sure, while France’s national media virtually never acknowledge the reality of the ultra-violent new order, they do occasionally report on individual criminal acts. When they do, however, they’re quick to insist that the incident in question is “an isolated case” and to warn against making “generalizations.” They also routinely draw on a glossary of euphemisms intended to nullify the horror: neighborhoods so treacherous that even the cops hesitate to enter them are called “sensitive,” “difficult,” or “underprivileged.” And they typically describe locals as being “in shock,” as if nothing of this sort has ever happened before: “To believe the journalists, everyone is always in shock.”

Just as English-language journalists habitually describe transgressors as “youths,” their French counterparts go heavy on the word jeunes. Obertone is appropriately sarcastic about the “semantic regression” that allows the French media to refer, for example, to a certain group of malefactors as “garçons d’une vingtaine d’années” – boys of around twenty years old. (On the other hand, as he’s quick to add, one of the remarkable aspects of today’s France is that those who commit ultra-violent offenses sometimes are just boys – kids no older than eight or ten.) And he observes, perceptively, that French journalists have developed a way of writing about this or that ferocious act of mass brutality as if it were, say, an earthquake or tsunami – and thus as unpreventable as any other natural disaster.

But Obertone’s real subject isn’t all this ultra-violence itself. It’s what he calls “the ideological refusal” of France’s progressive elites to understand it and deal with it responsibly. For those elites, he charges, each episode of ultra-violence is a “cry of injustice” by “the excluded,” by the “victims of inequality.” Meanwhile, the elites, all too often, view the victims of violence, and the police who try to help them, as being “worse than lepers.” What’s going on here? Obertone’s answer – and this is his key point – is that ever since World War II, France’s elites, apparently driven by a “never again!” reaction to the nightmare of war, have forsworn the use of violence – not recognizing, as Obertone puts it, that while it’s good “to temper one’s aggressiveness,” it’s dangerous “to remove it or to reserve it to parasites.” Aggression among members of a species, he argues, is a fundamental party of evolution: natural selection favors the strong who are willing to show and use their strength. If a civilization wishes to endure, its law-enforcement officers must be aggressive enough to overcome the aggressiveness of malefactors within.

But today’s French elites have rejected this truth, replacing physical competition with moral competition. Instead of responding to the ultra-violent tendencies of the “under-socialized” by using whatever power is required to preserve or restore order, these “over-socialized” elites utterly eschew shows of force. They believe not in natural selection but in “social selection” – meaning that they’ve constructed a society that rewards progressive-minded souls like themselves who are willing not just to tolerate the imported perpetrators of bestial and destructive conduct but to lavish them with praise. In the view of the elites, such infinite tolerance is the very definition of virtue, and it is this virtue that, they believe, constitutes their own strength. This virtue requires that they be pure pacifists; that they refuse to react physically to violence (to the point of even refraining from defending themselves from physical assault); that they refuse to criticize or judge (for to criticize or judge is to be a fascist) or even to admit to feeling unsafe on the streets (for to worry aloud about immigrant crime is to be guilty of “exaggerating, of being selfish, simplistic, of playing the game of the extreme right”).

What France’s elites have done, in short, is to supplant reality itself with a moral code that considers infinite tolerance of “the other” the highest of virtues. But “the other,” note well, is very specifically defined. Since immigrants from East Asia actually integrate very well into French society and commit few crimes, they don’t count as “the other.” Those who do are, by definition, those who, far from fitting in, or even trying to, flatly refuse to adapt – those who are, essentially, at war with French society. At the heart of this mentality, of course, is a profound self-contradiction. Describing elite progressivism as “a religion, an oppression of thought that sustains itself through guilt and self-hatred,” Obertone diagnoses it as “the result of a powerful internal conflict: the over-socialized are torn between their feeling of superiority (they know best and want the entire world to think the way they do) and their advertised submission to the other, as required by their morality.” The ultimate problem with all this, of course, is that while “evolution favors the survival of the best adapted,” the “morality” of the progressive elites works for the extinction of the best adapted. The elites have crafted the doom of their own civilization.

How have the French national media reacted to Obertone’s book? Exactly the way you’d expect. Obertone has been called a racist; critics have merrily mocked his ardent rhetoric about the need to preserve civilization; and the professional manipulators of statistics have actually had the audacity to claim that his portrait of a France plagued by ever-increasing immigrant violence is a lie and that crime has actually been on the decline. More than one high-profile media figure has dismissed Obertone as a tool of the dreaded “security lobby.” The security lobby! Pause for a moment to ponder that term – yet one more proof that France’s elite does despise the very idea of law and order.

Needless to say, hardly any corner of Western Europe is immune to Muslim mayhem, and France’s largely impotent reaction to it is far from unique. But just as the lame reaction of Scandinavian authorities to this growing crisis can be explained in large part by the Jante Law and a deep-seated Lutheran missionary mentality, and the British response can be accounted for, in no small measure, by lingering guilt over the imperial past, there’s something distinctively Gallic about the French elite’s combination of effete pacifism and sentimentalization of immigrant violence. This is a country, after all, whose modern history is rife with riot and revolution. In many educated French minds, social disorder is inextricably linked with social virtue. One aspect of the elites’ internal conflict is that even as they believe in their own incomparable goodness, they also regard themselves as the unjustly privileged heirs of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, and identify the savage foreign gangs in their streets with the poor, oppressed stormers of the Bastille. As Obertone makes so vividly clear, this cognitive dissonance, in all its moral bankruptcy and social irresponsibility, is nothing more or less than a formula for national self-destruction. How tragic it is that the people in France who most urgently need to attend to the message of this gutsy, forthright book are also those most likely to either ignore it or to shower it with condescending ridicule.

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