Opinion : To Understand France’s Crisis, You Must First Understand Its Cheese
Karl Sharro, BuzzFeed, le 20 décembre 2018
Karl Sharro is a Lebanese expert analyst on WENA (Western Europe and North American) affairs.
When you think of France, you think of fine cheeses and wines. Ironically — tragically, perhaps — it’s those cheeses and wines that explain the roots of France’s divisions. As the old French saying goes: “The people who make the cheese are not the ones who eat it.” The origins of the saying have been lost in time, but it’s thought to refer to the tension between the peasantry who produce but can’t afford their products and the bourgeoisie who produce nothing but consume the variety of French delicacies made in the countryside.
A French cheeseboard with several types of cheese is the perfect representation of the nation. Different parts that have never truly come together, as you know if you tried to mix a Camembert and a Roquefort. And at the center is Paris, the dominant baguette as it is referred to derogatorily. There are many fault lines in this nation, but none are stronger than those between the countryside and the city. At heart, this is a philosophical dispute, as all French disagreements are. It is a clash between the rustic and the Cartesian worldviews — the former has existed for centuries, the latter imposed after the 1789 revolution in the name of the Enlightenment.
As seasoned observers of the West like myself have become accustomed to in recent years, there is a tendency in Western culture to blame events on external actors and complex conspiracy theories. This strange trait can come as a shock to more rational Middle Eastern observers, but it is quite common across the WENA region, on the streets and in the media. Soon after the protests took off, some attributed them to a changing Facebook algorithm, and others argued they were caused by Russian agitation and propaganda.