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What alternatives to working was proposed in Paris during May, 1968?

What alternatives to working was proposed in Paris during May, 1968?



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What ideas for alternatives to work, or a society where people work to survive, did people have during May 1968 in Paris? How could that society function and how could people feed themselves?

I've seen here http://www.bopsecrets.org/CF/graffiti.htm that during the May 1968 riots in Paris people thought there was a way to live without working. For example the previous site mentions:

Commute, work, commute, sleep…

We don't want a world where the guarantee of not dying of starvation brings the risk of dying of boredom.

People who work get bored when they don't work. People who don't work never get bored.

Never work.

Zelda, I love you! Down with work!

This site ( https://libcom.org/history/slogans-68 ) implies it was (more specifically) the perspective of The Situationists who had these ideas :

The Situationist perspective was found in:

  • Never work
  • We don't want a world where the certainty of not dying of hunger is exchanged for the risk of dying of boredom
  • Live without dead time and play without hindrance

Edit because This Site is saying it lacks details or clarity:

In other words, what ideas did the people who were against work in Paris during the May 1968 riots have for way to survive as opposed to working? What ideas did they have for how people would feed and clothe themselves and get the necessary materials to survive and live? The answer can cover any idea presented from anyone who could have supported or participated in that movement who was against work as a means of survival.


The anti-work current in libertarian socialism is based on a conception of work as human activity controlled by others. Basically, the marxist analysis of wage slavery is that the wage slave sells the right to control their labour power to a boss, and during that period is alienated from their own capacities by this social relationship. Management has the right to dictate when and how workers conduct themselves.

In contrast, libertarian socialists with an anti-work perspective like the Situationalists view socialist or communist relations between people who are now workers as being reconstructed in radical collective and individual freedom to choose how people use their lives. Namely, that the democratised process of doing things together, which you can enter or exit without the threat of someone else starving you to death, is a radically different way of being than what we know as work.

This is in contrast to the pro-work Stalinist PCF's view of social transformation, which would maintain work as we know it and the factory hierarchy, but merely change the purpose of production from the benefit of the bosses to the benefit of [what the PCF viewed as the interests of] the working class in general. We work for wages under foremen and bosses for 9 hours making volkswagons instead of limousines. In contrast, the Situationalists wanted the abolition of foreman, bosses, compulsory hours, and top down direction of production.


Columbia University protests of 1968

In 1968, a series of protests at Columbia University in New York City were one among the various student demonstrations that occurred around the globe in that year. The Columbia protests erupted over the spring of that year after students discovered links between the university and the institutional apparatus supporting the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War, as well as their concern over an allegedly segregated gymnasium to be constructed in the nearby Morningside Park. The protests resulted in the student occupation of many university buildings and the eventual violent removal of protesters by the New York City Police Department. [1]


President Johnson signs Medicare into law

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare, a health insurance program for elderly Americans, into law. At the bill-signing ceremony, which took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, former President Harry Truman was enrolled as Medicare’s first beneficiary and received the first Medicare card.

Johnson wanted to recognize Truman, who, in 1945, had become the first president to propose national health insurance, an initiative that was opposed at the time by Congress.

The Medicare program, providing hospital and medical insurance for Americans age 65 or older, was signed into law as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935. Some 19 million people enrolled in Medicare when it went into effect in 1966.

In 1972, eligibility for the program was extended to Americans under 65 with certain disabilities and people of all ages with permanent kidney disease requiring dialysis or transplant. In December 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Medicare Modernization Act, which added outpatient prescription drug benefits to Medicare.

Medicaid, a state and federally funded program that offers health coverage to certain low-income people, was also signed into law by President Johnson on July 30, 1965, as an amendment to the Social Security Act. 


In 1914, the territory of France was different from today's France in two important ways: most of Alsace and the northeastern part of Lorraine had been annexed by Germany in 1870 (following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871), and the North-African country of Algeria had been established as an integral part of France (department) in 1848. Alsace-Lorraine would be restored at the end of World War I (only to be lost again, temporarily, to the Germans a second time during World War II).

Unlike other European countries France did not experience a strong population growth in the mid and late 19th century and first half of the 20th century. This would be compounded by the massive French losses of World War I — roughly estimated at 1.4 million French dead including civilians (or nearly 10% of the active adult male population) and four times as many wounded — and World War II — estimated at 593,000 French dead (one and a half times the number of American dead), of which 470,000 were civilians. From a population of around 39 million in 1880, France still had only a population of 40 million in 1945. The post-war years would bring a massive "baby boom", and with immigration, France reached 50 million in 1968. This growth slowed down in 1974.

Since 1999, France has seen an unprecedented growth in population. In 2004, population growth was 0.68%, almost reaching North American levels (2004 was the year with the highest increase in French population since 1974). France is now well ahead of all other European countries in population growth (except for the Republic of Ireland) and in 2003, France's natural population growth (excluding immigration) was responsible for almost all the natural growth in European population (the population of the European Union increased by 216,000 inhabitants (without immigration), of which 211,000 was the increase in France's population alone, and 5,000 was the increase in all the other countries EU combined).

Today, France, with a population of 62 and a half million, or 65 million including overseas territories, is the third most populous country of Europe, behind Russia and Germany.

Immigration in the 20th century differed significantly from that of the previous century. The 1920s saw great influxes from Italy and Poland in the 1930-50s immigrants came from Spain and Portugal. Since the 1960s however, the greatest waves of immigrants have been from former French colonies: Algeria (1 million), Morocco (570,000), Tunisia (200,000), Senegal (45,000), Mali (40,000), Cambodia (45,000), Laos (30,000), Vietnam (35,000). Much of this recent immigration was initially economical, but many of these immigrants have remained in France, gained citizenship and integrated into French society. Estimates vary, but of the 60 million people living in France today, close to 4 million claim foreign origin. This massive influx has created tensions in contemporary France, especially over issues of "integration into French society" and the notion of a "French identity", and in recent years the most controversial issues have been with regards to Muslim populations (at 7%, Islam is the second largest religion in today's France see Islam in France).

Eastern-European and North-African Jewish immigration to France largely began in the mid to late 19th century. In 1872, there were an estimated 86,000 Jews living in France, and by 1945 this increased to 300,000. Many Jews integrated (or attempted to integrate) into French society, although French nationalism led to anti-Semitism in many quarters. The Vichy regime's collaboration with the Nazi Holocaust led to the extermination of 76,000 French Jews (the Vichy authorities however gave preferential treatment to "integrated" Jews who had been in France from two to five generations and who had fought in World War I or held important administrative positions in the government), and of all other Western European countries, this figure is second only to Germany but many Jews were also saved by acts of heroism and administrative refusal to participate in the deportation (three quarters of France's Jewish population was spared, a higher proportion than any other European country touched by the holocaust). Since the 1960s, France has experienced a great deal of Jewish immigration from the Mediterranean and North Africa, and the Jewish population in France is estimated at around 600,000 today.

Around the start of the 20th century, almost half of all Frenchmen depended on the land for their living, and up until World War II, France remained a largely rural country (roughly 25% of the population worked on the land in 1950), but the post-war years also saw an unprecedented move to the cities: only around 4% of the French continue to work in farms and 73% live today in large cities. By far the largest of these is Paris, at 2.1 million inhabitants (11 million in the Parisian region), followed by Lille, Lyon, Marseille (upwards of 1.2 million inhabitants each). Much of this urbanization takes place not in the traditional center of the cities, but in the suburbs (or "banlieues") that surround them (the cement and steel housing projects in these areas are called "cités"). With immigration from poorer countries, these "cités" have been the center of racial and class tensions since the 1960s.

The loss of regional and traditional culture (language and accent, local customs in dress and food), the poverty of many rural regions and the rise of modern urban structures (housing projects, supermarkets) have created tensions in modern France between traditionalists and progressives. Compounding the loss of regionalism is the role of the French capital and the centralized French State.

Independence movements sprang up in Brittany, Corsica and the Basque regions, while the Vichy Regime (echoing Nazi racial propaganda) actively encouraged Catholicism and local "folk" traditions, which they saw as truer foundations for the French nation.

The post-war years saw the state take control of a number of French industries. The modern political climate has however been for increasing regional power ("decentralization") and for reduced state control in private enterprise ("privatization").

It can be assumed that “The First World War initiated a period of sudden, often traumatic transformation. It accelerated changes that had slowly begun to alter French cultural, social, and economic life in the first decades of the twentieth century.” French identity and culture had been completely disheveled after World War I, and that destruction is in part caused by gender-ambiguity. French culture and identity were heavily based on societal gender roles that seemed to have been blurred after the war. Perhaps the “most famous expression of this postwar sense of cultural mortality” came from a 1919 letter by Paul Valery, which discussed that “We modern civilizations, we too now know that we are mortal like the others." [1]

After World War I, when it had lost 1.4 million of its citizens to World War I, France was facing a serious issue. With a casualty rate higher than any other country in Europe at 16.5 percent, along with 3 million wounded and 1.1 million suffering from permanent disability, France was suffering from a low birthrate. At the same time, France was painting a fearful picture of women no long wanting to have children. [2] Because of the flagging birthrate, legislators introduced and passed a bill on July 23, 1920, which penalized the use of propaganda that encouraged and supported abortion and contraceptives. Historians believe that the legislative victory can be interpreted as either a “logical gesture of the postwar conservative, nationalist Block national that came into power in the November legislative elections of 1919,” or they saw the natalist victory as “a response to an already serious demographic problem made worse by wartime casualties.” [2] Prior to World War I, until 1914, abortions were “frequent and virtually unpunished, though outlawed by Article 317 of the Penal Code.” Feminists like Madeleine Pelletier, a female physician and socialist thinker, “developed socio-economic pro-abortion arguments which were already well known to the intellectual working class. Natalists that had pushed this legislation as well as further restrictions against a women’s right not to bear children, as Pelletier observes, “was presented as a class position.” Legislation like this represented the interest of those with a high socio-economic status that “used the working class as a pool of labour to bolster the economy." [3] Throughout the first couple decades of the 20th century, there is a noticeable clash between French feminists, who more aligned with the socialist parties of France, and the natalists, who resonated more with the conservative parties of France.

World War I (1914–1918) Edit

Many French intellectuals welcomed the war to avenge the humiliation of defeat and loss of territory to Germany following the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. After Socialist leader Jean Jaurès. a pacifist, was assassinated at the start of the war, the French socialist movement abandoned its antimilitarist positions and joined the national war effort. Prime Minister Rene Viviani called for unity—for a "Union sacrée" ("Sacred Union")--Which was a wartime truce between the right and left factions that had been fighting bitterly. France had few dissenters. However, war-weariness was a major factor by 1917, even reaching the army. The soldiers were reluctant to attack Mutiny was a factor as soldiers said it was best to wait for the arrival of millions of Americans. The soldiers were protesting not just the futility of frontal assaults in the face of German machine guns but also degraded conditions at the front lines and at home, especially infrequent leaves, poor food, the use of African and Asian colonials on the home front, and concerns about the welfare of their wives and children. [4]

The economy was hurt by the German invasion of major industrial areas in the northeast. While the occupied area in 1913 contained only 14% of France's industrial workers, it produced 58% of the steel, and 40% of the coal. [5] Considerable relief came with the influx of American food, money and raw materials in 1917. [6]

Georges Clemenceau became prime minister in November 1917, a time of defeatism and acrimony. Italy was on the defensive, and Russia had surrendered. Civilians were angry as rations fell short and the threat of German air raids grew. Clemenceau realized his first priority was to restore civilian morale. He arrested Joseph Caillaux, a former French prime minister, for openly advocating peace negotiations. He won all-party support to fight to victory calling for "la guerre jusqu'au bout" (war until the end).

The war brought great losses of manpower and resources. Fought in large part on French soil, it led to approximately 1.4 million French dead including civilians (see World War I casualties), and four times as many wounded. France borrowed billions of dollars from the U.S. that it had to repay. The stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles (1919) were favourable: Alsace and Lorraine were returned to France Germany was required to take full responsibility for the war and to pay war reparations to France that covered its entire war costs, including veterans' benefits. One German industrial area, Saar Basin, a coal and steel region, was temporarily occupied by France. [7]

On The Homefront (1914-1919) Edit

A dichotomy between the two sexes, that had once already been defined, was becoming inflamed. While the majority of men were sent off into the warfront, the majority of women stayed at the homefront. Because many individuals had left to serve away from home, large gaps in the workforce had opened up. Women, being at home, had many opportunities opened up to them. With 3.7 million of the workforce absent, jobs that were defined at particularly masculine were then being practiced by women. While these women were accelerating at their new occupations, with some even quitting their old 'feminine' jobs to take on these more masculine tasks, fulfilling the occupational and family roles that men previously filled, men on the warfront were not pleased. When it comes to viewing the "material contrasts between trench and civilian life, returning soldiers saw the Homefront as a world of extravagance and luxury, whose pleasures they were largely denied." Soldiers returning home soon became lost in a perpetual and mental "no-man's-land." They had come home and witnessed women taking on their jobs, their family responsibilities, they felt stranded in that no-man’s-land. Veterans had felt forgotten. The fact that the women on the homefront had “collapsed conventional notions of sexual difference and reversed the boundaries of social marginality,” women had “become the new insiders,” while the men were left on the cascades of civilization. The way in which civilians passed time had "shocked and offended" these soldiers. The contrast between homefront and warfront life was vast, and women were blamed for the abhorrent ignorance of the traumatic experiences veterans went through on the battlefield Mary Louise Taylor, however, would like to argue that "women's lack of knowledge concerning the war can be ascribed to government censorship rather than to a "demoralization" of the homefront." She writes that the censorship of books and media were extensive and that all of the horrible parts of war, including military defeats and the horrors of the trenches. [8]

Between the wars (1919–1939) Edit

In the congress of Tours in 1920, the socialist party (SFIO) was split in two and the majority broke away and formed the French Communist Party (Section française de l'internationale communiste). The remaining minority, led by Léon Blum, "kept the old house" and stayed in the SFIO. In 1924 and again in 1932, the Socialists joined with the Radical-Socialist Party in the "Coalitions of the Left" (Cartels des Gauches), but refused actually to join the non-Socialist governments led by the Radicals Édouard Herriot and Édouard Daladier. Daladier resigned under pressure of the far-right leagues after the 6 February 1934 crisis, and conservative Gaston Doumergue was appointed president of the Council. The left-wing had feared a right-wing coup d'état as those that had taken place with the 1922 March on Rome and events in Germany. Therefore, under the Comintern's influence, the Communists changed their line and adopted an "antifascist union" line, which led to the Popular Front (1936–38), which won the 1936 elections and brought Blum to power as France's first socialist prime minister. The Popular Front was composed of radicals and socialists, while the communists supported it without participating in it (in much the same way that socialists had supported radicals' governments before World War I without participating in them). Within a year, however, Léon Blum's government collapsed over economic policy, opposition from the bourgeoisie (the famous "200 hundreds families") and also over the issue of the Spanish Civil War (Blum decided that supporting the Spanish Republicans might hasten a more general European war this decision led to huge defections among the French left-wing, while Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini unashamedly armed and supported Francisco Franco's troops).

The French far-right expanded greatly and theories of race and anti-semitism proliferated in many quarters. Numerous far-right and anti-parliamentarian leagues, similar to the fascist leagues, sprang up, including colonel de la Rocque's Croix-de-Feu 1927-1936 which, like its larger rival the monarchist Action Française (founded in 1898, condemned by Pope Pius XI in 1926, Action Française supported a restoration of the monarchy and of Roman Catholicism as the state religion) advocated national integralism (the belief that society is an organic unity) and organized popular demonstrations in reaction to the Stavisky Affair 1934, hoping to overthrow the government (see 6 February 1934 crisis).

In the 1920s, France established an elaborate system of border defenses (the Maginot Line) and alliances (see Little Entente) to offset resurgent German strength. In the 1930s, the massive losses of the war led many in France to choose the popular appeasement policy that supposedly prevented war with Germany over Czechoslovakia, whose alliance with France proved worthless at the Munich Agreement of 1938.

Great Depression Edit

The crisis hit France's economy in 1931, a bit later than other countries. [9] [10] While during the 1920s it grew at the very strong rate of 4.43% per year, in the 1930s it fell to an average of only 0.63%. Despite the enormous disruption to the economy caused by the Great War, by 1924 industrial and agricultural production had been restored to prewar levels, with rapid and widespread growth from 1924 to 1931. [11]

France tried vigorously but without much success to obtain the reparations Germany had been forced to promise at the Treaty of Versailles. This led France to invade and occupy the Ruhr industrial district of Germany. That failed. Finally, all the major nations agreed to accept the American proposals, known as the Dawes Plan of 1924 and the Young Plan of 1929, to stabilize reparation payments. Germany was virtually bankrupt by 1931, and all payments were suspended.

After 1931 rising unemployment and political unrest led to the February 6, 1934 riots. The left banded together and formed the Popular Front, led by SFIO socialist leader Léon Blum, which won the elections in 1936. Ultra-nationalist groups also saw increased popularity, although democracy prevailed until 1940. Economic conditions did not significantly improve, even as the Popular Front reduced the workweek to 30 hours. Fearful of a civil war in France, as was happening in Spain, France led the major nations to call an arms blockade designed to prevent arms shipments to either side during the Spanish Civil War. This effort nonetheless failed to stop arms shipments from Germany, Italy and the Soviet Union. [12]

World War II (1939–1945) Edit

In September 1939 Hitler invaded Poland, and France and Great Britain declared war. Both armies were mobilized to the Western Front, but for the next eight months neither side made a move: this came to be called the "phony war". The German Blitzkrieg began in May 1940, and in six weeks of savage fighting the French lost 130,000 men. The Allied armies crumbled, but the British managed to rescue their own soldiers and about 100,000 French soldiers in the Dunkirk evacuation. [13]

France was defeated and had to sign an armistice with Nazi Germany on June 22, 1940. French soldiers became prisoners of war in Germany, were assigned to munitions factories as forced labor, and served as hostages. Nazi Germany occupied three fifths of France's territory (the Atlantic seaboard and most of France north of the Loire), leaving the rest to the new Vichy collaboration government established on July 10, 1940 under Henri Philippe Pétain. Its senior leaders acquiesced in the plunder of French resources, as well as the sending of French forced labor to Nazi Germany in doing so, they claimed they hoped to preserve at least some small amount of French sovereignty. After an initial period of double-dealing and passive collaboration with the Nazis, the Vichy regime passed to active participation (largely the work of prime minister Pierre Laval). The Nazi German occupation proved costly Nazi Germany appropriated a full one-half of France's public sector revenue. From 1942 to 1944 many French citizens were deported to death camps and Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Poland. [14]

On the other hand, those who refused defeat and collaboration with Nazi Germany, such as Charles de Gaulle, organized the Free French Forces in the UK and coordinated resistance movements in occupied and Vichy France. By August 1944, 260,000 French regulars and 300,000 FFI were fighting in France.

After four years of occupation and strife, Allied forces, including Free France, liberated France in 1944. Paris was liberated on August 25, 1944. On September 10, 1944 Charles de Gaulle installed his provisional government in Paris. This time he remained in Paris until the end of the war, refusing to abandon even when Paris was temporarily threatened by German troops during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. But France could now again participate as a nation in the war. In 1945, the French army numbered 1,300,000 men, 412,000 of whom were fighting in Germany and 40,000 in Italy.

History 1945-1999 Edit

France emerged from World War II to face a series of new problems. After a short period of provisional government initially led by General Charles de Gaulle, a new constitution (October 13, 1946) established the Fourth Republic under a parliamentary form of government, controlled by a series of coalitions. The mixed nature of the coalitions and a consequent lack of agreement on measures for dealing with colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria caused successive cabinet crises and changes of government. The war in Indochina ended with French defeat and withdrawal in 1954. Algeria was no mere colony. With over a million European residents in Algeria (the pieds-noir), France refused to grant it independence,lp until a bloody colonial war (the Algerian War of Independence) had turned into a French political and civil crisis Algeria was given its independence in 1962, unleashing a massive wave of immigration from the former colony back to France. [15]

The threat of a coup d'état in May 1958 by French army units and French settlers opposed to concessions in the face of Arab nationalist insurrection led to the fall of the French government and a presidential invitation to de Gaulle to form an emergency government to forestall the threat of civil war. Swiftly replacing the existing constitution with one strengthening the powers of the presidency, he became the elected president in December of that year, inaugurating France's Fifth Republic.

In July 1961 when Tunisia imposed a blockade on the French naval base at Bizerte, hoping to force its evacuation the crisis culminated in a three-day battle between French and Tunisian forces that left some 630 Tunisians and 24 French dead]], and eventually led to France ceding the city and naval base to Tunisia in 1963.

In 1965, in an occasion marking the first time in the 20th century that the people of France went to the polls to elect a president by direct ballot, de Gaulle won re-election with a 55% share of the vote, defeating François Mitterrand. Meanwhile, the Algerian War went on raging, with de Gaulle progressively adopting a stance favouring Algeria's independence. This was interpreted by his supporters in 1958 as a form of treason, and part of them, who organized themselves in the OAS terrorist group, rebelled against him during the Algiers putsch of 1961. But De Gaulle managed to put an end to the war by negotiating the Evian Agreements of March 1962 with the FLN.

In the end of the 1960s, however, French society grew tired of the heavy-handed, patriarchal Gaullist approach, and of the incompatibilities between modern life and old traditions and institutions. This led to the students' revolts of events of May 1968, with a variety of demands including educational, labor and governmental reforms, sexual and artistic freedom, and the end of the Vietnam War. The student protest movement quickly joined with labor and mass strikes erupted. At one point, de Gaulle went to see troops in Baden-Baden, possibly to secure the help of the army in case it were needed to maintain public order. But after a month-long general strike, most of French people aspired to order, and the June 1968 legislative elections saw a majority of Gaullists in parliament. Still, May 1968 was a turning point in French social relations, with the Grenelle Agreements, in the direction of more personal freedoms and less social control, be it in work relations, education or in private life.

In April 1969, de Gaulle resigned following the defeat in a national referendum of government proposals for decentralization, through the creation of 21 regions with limited political powers. He was succeeded by the Gaullist Georges Pompidou (1969–74), who died during his term. Pompidou's succession pitted the Gaullists against the more classical conservatives who eventually won, headed by the Independent Republican Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (1974–81).

Social movements continued after May 1968. They included the occupation of the Lip factory in 1973, which led to an experience in workers' self-management, supported by the CFDT, the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) and all of the far-left movements. LIP workers participated in the Larzac demonstrations against the extension of a military camp (in which José Bové was present). Maoism and autonomism became quite popular in far-left movements, opposing both the Socialist Party and the Communist Party.

While France continues to revere its rich history and independence, French leaders increasingly tie the future of France to the continued development of the European Union (EU).

The 1972 Common Program between the Socialist Party (PS), the Communist Party (PCF) and the Left Radical Party (PRG) prepared the victory of the Left at the 1981 presidential election, during which for the first time in the Fifth Republic a left-wing candidate won. François Mitterrand, re-elected in 1988, followed a left-wing inspired social and economic program, formulated in the 110 Propositions for France electoral program. However, reforms came to a stop in 1983. Mitterrand's two terms were marked by two cohabitations, the first one in 1986–88 with Jacques Chirac as Prime minister.

Mitterrand stressed the importance of European integration and advocated the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty on European economic and political union, which France's electorate narrowly approved in September 1992.

The conservative President Jacques Chirac assumed office May 17, 1995, after a campaign focused on the need to combat France's stubbornly high unemployment rate. The center of domestic attention soon shifted, however, to the economic reform and belt-tightening measures required for France to meet the criteria for Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) laid out by the Maastricht Treaty. In late 1995, France experienced its greatest labor unrest in at least a decade, as employees protested government cutbacks.

In evaluating Chirac's presidency in 2015, the British magazine The Economist stated:

In his term, unemployment averaged 10 percent, debt mounted, the French said no to Europe, and the suburban banlieues rioted. It was on his watch that France's competitive position sharply declined. His popularity sank to 16 percent. [But today] Jacques Chirac has emerged as an improbable icon of retro taste and a figure of public affection. [16]

History 2000 to present Edit

Macron Presidency Edit

Macron formally became president on 14 May 2017. [17] In the 2017 legislative election, Macron's party La République en marche and its Democratic Movement allies secured a comfortable majority, winning 350 seats out of 577. [18] After The Republicans emerged as the winners of the Senate elections, government spokesman Christophe Castaner stated the elections were a "failure" for his party. [19]

In his first few months as president, Macron pressed for enactment of package of reforms on public ethics, labor laws, taxes, and law enforcement agency powers.

Corruption Edit

In response to Penelopegate, the National Assembly passed a part of Macron's proposed law to stop mass corruption in French politics by July 2017, banning elected representatives from hiring family members. [20] Meanwhile, the second part of the law scrapping a constituency fund was scheduled for voting after Senate objections. [21]

Macron's plan to give his wife an official role within government came under fire with criticisms ranging from it being undemocratic to what critics perceive as a contradiction to his fight against nepotism. [22] Following an online petition of nearly 290,000 signatures on change.org Macron abandoned the plan. [23] On 9 August, the National Assembly adopted the bill on public ethics, a key theme of Macron's campaign, after debates on the scrapping the constituency funds. [24]

Labour policy and unions Edit

Macron aims to shift union–management relations away from the adversarial lines of the current French system and toward a more flexible, consensus-driven system modelled after Germany and Scandinavia. [25] [26] He has also pledged to act against companies employing cheaper labour from eastern Europe and in return affecting jobs of French workers, what he has termed as "social dumping". Under the EU rules, eastern European workers can be employed for a limited time at the salary level in eastern European countries which has led to dispute between the EU states. [27]

The French government announced the proposed changes to France's labour rules ("Code du Travail"), being among the first steps taken by Macron and his government to galvanise the French economy. [28] Macron's reform efforts have encountered resistance from some French trade unions. [29] The largest trade union, the CFDT, has taken a conciliatory approach to Macron's push and has engaged in negotiations with the president, while the more militant CGT is more hostile to reforms. [25] [26] Macron's labour minister, Muriel Pénicaud, is overseeing the effort. [30]

The National Assembly including the Senate approved the proposal, allowing the government to loosen the labour laws after negotiations with unions and employers' groups. [31] The reforms, which were discussed with unions, limit payouts for dismissals deemed unfair and give companies greater freedom to hire and fire employees as well as to define acceptable working conditions. The president signed five decrees reforming the labour rules on 22 September. [32] Government figures released in October 2017 revealed that during the legislative push to reform the labour code, the unemployment rate had dropped 1.8%, the biggest since 2001. [33]

The population held steady from 40.7 million in 1911, to 41.5 million in 1936. The sense that the population was too small, especially in regard to the rapid growth of more powerful Germany, was a common theme in the early twentieth century. [34] Natalist policies were proposed in the 1930s, and implemented in the 1940s. [35] [36]

France experienced a baby boom after 1945 it reversed a long-term record of low birth rates. [37] In addition, there was a steady immigration, especially from former French colonies in North Africa. The population grew from 41 million in 1946, to 50 million in 1966, and 60 million by 1990. The farm population decline sharply, from 35% of the workforce in 1945 to under 5% by 2000. By 2004, France had the second highest birthrate in Europe, behind only Ireland. [38] [39]

Economic growth rates in France, 1900-1999
Decade average annual growth rate
1900s 2.27%
1910s 1.89%
1920s 4.43%
1930s 0.63%
1945-49 2.16%
1950s 3.85%
1960s 4.98%
1970s 3.10%
1980s 2.02%
1990s 1.30%
Source: Jean-Pierre Dormois, The French Economy in the Twentieth Century (2004) p 31

The overall growth rate of the French economy shows a very strong performance in the 1920s and again in the 1960s, with poor performances in the 1910s, 1930s, and 1990s. [40] By the end of the 19th century, France had joined the industrial era. But it had joined late, and comparatively it had lost in the competition with its war-footing neighbor Germany, and with its trade-based chief rival across the Channel, Great Britain. France had great industry and infrastructure and factories, by 1900 but compared to Germany and Britain was "behind", so that people spoke of and French politicians complained of "the French backwardness (le retard français)".

In 1870 the first signs of French industrial and general economic decline started to appear, compared to their new neighbor in Bismarck's newly united Germany, appeared during the Franco-Prussian War. The total defeat of France was less a demonstration of French weakness than it was of German militarism and industrial strength this was in contrast to France's occupation of Germany during the Napoleonic wars. A huge sum had to be paid to Germany to end the war which provided the latter with even more capital.

By 1914, however, German armament and general industrialization had out-distanced not only France but all of its neighbors. Just before 1914, France was producing about one-sixth as much Coal as Germany, made less than a third as much Pig iron and a quarter as much Steel. [41] In a scenario recounted best in Barbara Tuchman's book The Guns of August, [42] France together with Germany's other competitors had entered a "war-footing" rearmament race which, once again, temporarily stimulated spending while reducing saving and investment.

The First World War—the "Great War"—however produced an economic outcome disastrous for all parties, not just for the German losers. As predicted by Keynes in his bitter post-Versailles Conference book, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, [43] the heavy war reparations imposed upon Germany not only were insufficient to fuel French economic recovery, they greatly damaged a Germany which might have become France's leading trade and industrial development partner, thereby seriously damaging France as well.

And their very heavy loss of life, in the "Great War", robbed France of a generation of its youth, and of some of the youthful imagination necessary for facing Germany again, only 25 years later, in the Second World War, when a by-then aged French general staff was ill-prepared and entirely-defensive up against an even more militant German economy and army. Damaged by the Great Depression, the older leaders left in France were reluctant to assume a "war-footing" economy yet again, and France was overrun and occupied by Nazi Germany, and its wartime economy turned entirely to supporting Germany and the German war effort.

The great hardships of wartime, and of the immediate post-war period, were succeeded by a period of steady economic development, in France, now often fondly recalled there as The Thirty Glorious Years (Les Trente Glorieuses). Alternating policies of "interventionist" and "free market" ideas enabled the French to build a society in which both industrial and technological advances could be made but also worker security and privileges established and protected. By the end of the 20th century, France once again was among the leading economic powers of the world, although by the year 2000 there already was some fraying around the edges: people in France and elsewhere were asking whether France alone, without becoming even more an integral part of a pan-European economy, would have sufficient market presence to maintain its position, and that worker security and those privileges, in an increasingly "Globalized" and "transnational" economic world.

Twentieth century French literature was profoundly shaped by the historical events of the century and was also shaped by—and a contributor to—the century's political, philosophical, moral, and artistic crises. [44]

Inspired by the theatrical experiments in the early half of the century and by the horrors of the war, the so-called avant-garde Parisian theater, "New Theater" or "Theatre of the Absurd" around the writers Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov, Fernando Arrabal refused simple explanations and abandoned traditional characters, plots and staging. Other experiments in theatre involved decentralisation, regional theater, "popular theater" (designed to bring working classes to the theater), and theater heavily influenced by Bertolt Brecht (largely unknown in France before 1954), and the productions of Arthur Adamov and Roger Planchon. The Avignon festival [45] was started in 1947 by Jean Vilar who was also important in the creation of the T.N.P. or "Théâtre National Populaire." [46] [47]

The French novel from the 1950s on went through a similar experimentation in the group of writers published by "Les Éditions de Minuit", a French publisher this "Nouveau roman" ("new novel"), associated with Alain Robbe-Grillet, Marguerite Duras, Robert Pinget, Michel Butor, Samuel Beckett, Nathalie Sarraute, Claude Simon, also abandoned traditional plot, voice, characters and psychology. To a certain degree, these developments closely paralleled changes in cinema in the same period (the Nouvelle Vague). [48]

Twentieth century French literature did not undergo an isolated development and reveals the influence of writers and genres from around the world. In turn, French literature has also had a radical impact on world literature. Because of the creative spirit of the French literary and artistic movements at the beginning of the century, France gained the reputation as being the necessary destination for writers and artists. Important foreign writers who have lived and worked in France (especially Paris) in the twentieth century include: Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, William S. Burroughs, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Julio Cortázar, Vladimir Nabokov, Eugène Ionesco. Some of the most important works of the century were written by foreign authors in French (Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett).

France has been more permissive in terms of censorship, and many important foreign language novels were originally published in France while being banned in America: Joyce's Ulysses (published by Sylvia Beach in Paris, 1922), Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and William S. Burroughs's Naked Lunch (both published by Olympia Press), and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer (published by Obelisk Press).

Following on the radical developments of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism at the end of the nineteenth century, the first half of the twentieth century in France saw the even more revolutionary experiments of cubism, dada and surrealism, artistic movements that would have a major impact on western, and eventually world, art. After World War II, while French artists explored such tendencies as tachism, fluxus and new realism, France's preeminence in the visual arts was eclipsed by developments elsewhere (the United States in particular).


IS HOMEOPATHY EFFECTIVE?

If you rely on the personal experience of patients, there are a large number of people who will claim, usually with great certainty, that they had been cured or at least helped by homeopathy when orthodox medicine had failed. One can see why. The system is easy to understand and seems safe. The long consultation is, per se, therapeutic, although it is seldom realized that a succession of shorter consultations with an orthodox and sympathetic general practitioner can soon add up to an hour, with the added advantage that the series of consultations allows observation of the development or disappearance of a disease over time. This is especially important since many of the diseases treated by homeopaths are either transient and disappear spontaneously, or they are cyclical, consisting of a series of attacks followed by spontaneous remissions. If a visit to a homeopath happens to be followed by a remission or the total disappearance of a disease, homeopathic medicine gets the credit.

If there was ever a medical system which cried out for a careful scientific trial it is homeopathy. One of the early trials, carried out in 1835, is astonishing because it was very close to a double-blind, randomized controlled trial, undertaken with great care long before the mid-twentieth century when most of us believed that such randomized trials were first devised and carried out. It showed, incidentally, that homeopathy was ineffective. 13 This was followed by such a long series of clinical trials and systematic reviews, stretching up to the present time, that to review all of them would take up more space than the whole of this paper but a useful account of clinical trials of homeopathy in the nineteenth century was published very recently. 14

Some homeopathic practitioners argue that carrying out randomized controlled trials is an appropriate activity for orthodox medicine but inappropriate for homeopathy, where effectiveness should only be judged by patient satisfaction. Where clinical trials and systematic reviews have been carried out, however, the results remain uncertain. A few seemed to show that homeopathy was effective, but only slightly a majority showed that homeopathy had no therapeutic effect. Unfortunately many of the trials included in systematic reviews were less than perfect in design, application or sample size.

A recent authoritative paper concluded that ‘the evidence of the effectiveness of homeopathy for specific clinical conditions is scant, is of uneven quality, and is generally of poorer quality than research done in allopathic (mainstream) medicine.’ Nevertheless ‘when only high quality studies have been selected. a surprising number show positive results’ although 𠆎ven the best systematic reviews cannot disentangle components of bias in small trials.’ These authors conclude that ‘more and better research is needed, unobstructed by belief or disbelief in the system.’ 9

When one recalls the underlying beliefs of the homeopathic system, such as the process of extreme dilution with the transformation of a drug into a �materialized spiritual force’, a totally neutral and ‘unobstructed’ attitude may be impossible. We can, however, be reasonably certain that in the context of the total provision of medical care, homeopathy has played and still plays a large part, judged by the number of patients who believe, rightly or wrongly, that homeopathy has helped them.

The late Sir Douglas Black should have the last word. In a very balanced article on complementary medicine, he wrote:

𠆊lthough mainstream medical intervention is critical in only a minority of episodes of illness, in those particular episodes it is critical indeed and I would plead that at least in acute illness, and possibly in any illness, 𠇌omplementary” medicine should also be subsequent to an assessment of the clinical situation by competent “orthodox” means.’ 7


Marx's French sons-in-law

Despite Marx's personal dislike of Frenchmen, all three of his daughters fell in love with French men: Jenny Marx married Charles Longuet, Laura Marx married Paul Lafargue and at age 16, Eleanor fell in love with Henri Lissagaray but was forbidden by Marx to marry him, later marrying the Englishman Edward Aveling !

See the Paul Lafargue Archive .

The First International in France

When the First International was founded in 1864, its contacts in France were Proudhonists, who wanted to confine the International to study groups reading the works of Proudhon. Later the French section expanded and was a participant in the Commune.

See First International History Archive .

After the fall of the Paris Commune, France became the centre of opposition to Marx within the International from Anarchists.

See The Conflict with Bakunin .


François Viète

François Viète's father was Étienne Viète, a lawyer in Fontenay-le-Comte in western France about 50 km east of the coastal town of La Rochelle. François' mother was Marguerite Dupont. He attended school in Fontenay-le-Comte and then moved to Poitiers, about 80 km east of Fontenay-le-Comte, where he was educated at the University of Poitiers. Given the occupation of his father, it is not surprising that Viète studied law at university. After graduating with a law degree in 1560 , Viète entered the legal profession but he only continued on this path for four years before deciding to change his career.

In 1564 Viète took a position in the service of Antoinette d'Aubeterre. He was employed to supervise the education of Antoinette's daughter Catherine, who would later become Catherine of Parthenay ( Parthenay is about half-way between Fontenay-le-Comte and Poitiers ) . Catherine's father died in 1566 and Antoinette d'Aubeterre moved with her daughter to La Rochelle. Viète moved to La Rochelle with his employer and her daughter.

This was a period of great political and religious unrest in France. Charles IX had become king of France in 1560 and shortly after, in 1562 , the French Wars of Religion began. It is a gross over-simplification to say that these wars were between Protestants and Roman Catholics but fighting between the various factions would continue on and off until almost the end of the century. In 1570 Viète left La Rochelle and moved to Paris. Although he was never employed as a professional scientist or mathematician, Viète was already working on topics in mathematics and astronomy and his first published mathematical work appeared in Paris in 1571 . While Viète was in Paris, Charles IX authorised the massacre of the Huguenots, who were an increasingly powerful group of French Protestants, on 23 August 1572 . This must have been an extremely difficult time for Viète for, although not active in the Protestant cause, he was a Huguenot himself. Charles did not live very long after this event, the massacre apparently haunting him for the rest of his life. However, on 24 October 1573 Charles appointed Viète to the government of Brittany which was based at Rennes.

Viète moved to Rennes to take up his position of counsellor there. He remained at Rennes until March 1580 when he returned to Paris. Charles IX had died on 30 May 1574 and, on Charles' death Henry III became king. Henry made concessions to the Protestant Huguenots in 1576 and the Roman Catholics formed the Holy League to look after their own interests by military actions. In this tense atmosphere Viète was appointed by Henry III as royal privy counsellor on 25 March 1580 , and he was attached to the parliament in Paris.

In 1584 the Holy League was strengthened when Henry III's brother died and the Protestant Henry of Navarre became heir to the throne. Fearing that the Protestants might gain control in France, the Holy League fought more vigorously for the Roman Catholic cause. The royal court contained factions with different political aims and in 1584 Viète's position as a known Huguenot became untenable and he was banished by his political enemies from the court. Leaving Paris, Viète went to Beauvoir-sur-Mer, on the coast about 130 km northwest of his home town of Fontenay-le-Comte. During the five years that he spent at Beauvoir-sur-Mer, Viète was able to devote himself entirely to his mathematical studies. In many ways Viète's enemies did mathematics a favour, for it was during this period without formal duties that Viète's most important mathematics was done.

In 1587 Henry of Navarre defeated the army of Henry III. A rising of the people of Paris, a Holy League stronghold, on 12 May 1588 , caused the king to flee to Chartres. At this stage Henry III sent for Viète and, in April 1589 , brought him back into his parliament which was now set up at Tours. Henry III was reconciled with Henry of Navarre ( since it suited them to combine forces ) and together they tried to retake Paris in 1589 . Henry III was, however, assassinated by a Jacobin friar on 1 August of that year.

Philip II of Spain, a champion of the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation, supported the Holy League by sending money and troops to France. After the murder of Henry III, Philip claimed the throne of France for his daughter, Isabella Clara Eugenia. A letter to Philip dated 28 October 1589 written in code fell into the hands of Henry of Navarre who was to become the next king, Henry IV.

Following the assassination of Henry III, Viète worked for Henry IV. He was now in a sounder position, as a Protestant supporter of a Protestant King. Viète was certainly well known for his mathematical abilities by this time and, as one of the Henry IV's most loyal supporters, it was natural for Henry to turn to Viète to decode messages being sent to his enemy Philip II of Spain. It took Viète some time to crack the complicated code. At first he was only able to decode parts of the message and forwarded parts to Henry IV, but eventually Viète sent him the fully decoded message on 15 March 1590 . However [ 2 ] :-

Although Viète was never a professional mathematician, he did lecture on mathematics. For instance in 1592 he lectured at Tours and discussed recent claims that the circle could be squared, an angle trisected, and the cube doubled using only ruler and compass. He showed in these lectures that the "proofs" which had been published earlier in the year were fallacious.

In 1592 Henry IV did not control Paris, and he was still opposed by the Holy League in France who were supported by Spain. Henry converted back to Roman Catholicism in July 1593 , perhaps for political rather than religious reasons. Viète followed the example of his king and also converted to Roman Catholicism. Henry's conversion was certainly effective, for resistance against him lessened and he took Paris on 22 March 1594 . Henry declared war on Philip II of Spain in January 1595 and continued to wipe out resistance by the League and its Spanish allies.

During the period referred to in the previous paragraph, Viète had again come to the King's rescue by solving a mathematical problem. In 1593 Roomen had proposed a problem which involved solving an equation of degree 45 . The ambassador from the Netherlands made comments to Henry IV on the poor quality of French mathematicians saying that no Frenchman could solve Roomen's problem. Henry put the problem to Viète who solved it by realising that there was an underlying trigonometric relation. As a result of this a friendship grew up between Viète and Roomen. Viète proposed the problem of drawing a circle to touch 3 given circles to Roomen ( the Apollonian Problem ) and Roomen solved it using hyperbolas, publishing the result in 1596 . Viète himself, published his answer to Roomen's problem in 1595 , stating in the introduction [ 1 ] :-

Viète continued to serve Henry IV in Paris until 1597 when he went back to his home town of Fontenay-le-Comte. Two years later he was back in Paris, again in the service of Henry IV, but he was dismissed by Henry on 14 December 1602 . He died almost exactly one year later.

Some of Viète's first work was directed towards the production of a major work on mathematical astronomy Ad harmonicon coeleste. It was a work which was never published but four manuscripts, one of them an autograph, have survived and were rediscovered by Libri. The contents of these manuscripts are described in [ 22 ] where it is stated that Viète was interested purely in the geometry of the planetary theories of both Ptolemy and Copernicus, and did not consider the question of whether the theories represented the actual physical reality. Perhaps rather surprisingly Viète came to the conclusion that Copernicus's theory was not valid geometrically.

Although the Ad harmonicon coeleste was never published, Viète did begin publishing the Canon Mathematicus in 1571 which was intended as a mathematical introduction to the astronomy treatise. The Canon Mathematicus covers trigonometry it contains trigonometric tables, it also gives the mathematics behind the construction of the tables, and it details how to solve both plane and spherical triangles. It is interesting that in the second part of the Canon Mathematicus Viète [ 1 ] :-

Viète introduced the first systematic algebraic notation in his book In artem analyticam isagoge published at Tours in 1591 . The title of the work may seem puzzling, for it means "Introduction to the analytic art" which hardly makes it sound like an algebra book. However, Viète did not find Arabic mathematics to his liking and based his work on the Italian mathematicians such as Cardan, and the work of ancient Greek mathematicians. One would have to say, however, that had Viète had a better understanding of Arabic mathematics he might have discovered that many of the ideas he produced were already known to earlier Arabic mathematicians.

In his treatise In artem analyticam isagoge Viète demonstrated the value of symbols introducing letters to represent unknowns. He suggested using letters as symbols for quantities, both known and unknown. He used vowels for the unknowns and consonants for known quantities. The convention where letters near the beginning of the alphabet represent known quantities while letters near the end represent unknown quantities was introduced later by Descartes in La Gèometrie. This convention is used today, often without people realising that a convention is being used at all. ( If I asked for a solution to a x = b ax = b a x = b nobody asks: "For which quantity do I solve the equation ?" )

Viète made many improvements in the theory of equations. However, if we are to be strictly accurate we should say that he did not solve equations as such but rather he solved problems of proportionals which he states quite explicitly is the same thing as solving equations. However, he was restricted by a condition of homogeneity of dimension. The problem is that if we ask for a solution of x 3 + x = 1 x^ <3>+ x = 1 x 3 + x = 1 then we ask for the solution to a problem which does not make sense geometrically. For x 3 x^ <3>x 3 is a cube while x x x is a line and clearly it makes no sense to add a three dimensional object to a one dimensional object. Viète therefore looked for solutions of equations such as A 3 + B 2 A = B 2 Z A^ <3>+ B^<2>A = B^<2>Z A 3 + B 2 A = B 2 Z where, using his convention, A A A was unknown and B B B and Z Z Z were knowns. The dimensions here are "correct" each term being of dimension 3 . Viète wrote in the In artem analyticam isagoge ( see [ 7 ] or [ 3 ] ) :-

He presented methods for solving equations of second, third and fourth degree. He knew the connection between the positive roots of equations and the coefficients of the different powers of the unknown quantity. Perhaps it is worth noting that the word "coefficient" is actually due to Viète. When Viète applied numerical methods to solve equations as he did in De numerosa potestatum he gave methods which were similar to those given by earlier Arabic mathematicians. For example his methods are compared with those of Sharaf al-Din al-Tusi in the paper [ 11 ] and [ 19 ] . In the first the author argues that although the methods appear to be similar at first sight, there are many important differences. He deduces that the work of Viète is not based on that of Sharaf al-Din al-Tusi. In [ 19 ] , however, Rashed argues that the methods of Sharaf al-Din al-Tusi and of Viète are very close indeed.

Viète also wrote books on trigonometry and geometry such as Supplementum geometriae (1593) . He gave geometrical solutions to doubling a cube and trisecting an angle in this book.

In 1593 Viète published a second book, which in many ways was motivated by his lecture course at Tours in the previous year ( which we mentioned above ) , examining various problems such as doubling the cube, trisecting an angle and the construction the tangent at any point on an Archimedian spiral. Also, in this book, he calculated π to 10 places using a polygon of 6 × 2 16 = 393216 6 imes 2^ <16>= 393216 6 × 2 1 6 = 3 9 3 2 1 6 sides. He also represented π as an infinite product which, as far as is known, is the earliest infinite representation of π.

Finally we should mention that Viète is often called "the father of algebra". As the author of [ 9 ] argues this, on the one hand, is unfair on the many fine algebraists who preceded Viète. On the other hand it is unfair to Viète since his contributions were of much wider mathematical importance.

It would also be interesting to know how much Viète's ideas were influenced by those of Harriot. In [ 3 ] a quotation from a book about Harriot written in 1900 by H Stevens is given:-


National Self-Determination ↑

The hope that national self-determination would create a secure and contented Eastern Europe in place of the former multinational empires was soon dashed. The French predicted that German revisionism would begin here and the region’s instability and bitterness helped to poison post-war international relations. All the new states were dissatisfied with their frontiers, whilst the ethnic kaleidoscope resulting from centuries of wars, migrations and inter-marriage meant that none was a truly national entity, each containing minorities that were resented and feared. The peacemakers did establish a system of protection for these minorities, partly to encourage their assimilation and partly to avoid their supplying neighbouring kin-states with an excuse to disrupt the new order. But then they washed their hands, passing responsibility to the League. Hitler’s exploitation of the Sudetenland Germans in his 1938 dismantling of Czechoslovakia represented the nightmare they sought to avoid, whilst Balfour’s sardonic comment summarises the insoluble nature of the problems: "General Edward A. Plunkett’s (1870-1926) solution of our eastern European difficulties is that we should put the whole area in charge of a genius. We have no genius’s [sic] available." [50]

Self-determination had implications far beyond Europe. "What effect," asked Lansing, "will it have on the Irish, the Indians, the Egyptians and the nationalists among the Boers? Will it not breed discontent, disorder and rebellion?" [51] He was correct, not least because the Europeans had dealt their own image of moral superiority a terrible blow in four years of brutal warfare. A sustained post-war insurgency campaign by the Irish Republican Army against British Crown forces led in 1920 to the partition of Ireland into the Irish Free State in the south whilst in the north six of the nine counties of historic Ulster remained part of the United Kingdom. The Indian National Congress, originally established to promote dialogue with Britain, was already pressing for home rule before the war, radicalised by Curzon’s attempt to partition Bengal. Now led by Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948), frustrated in its efforts to gain recognition in Paris and dismayed by the Rowlatt Bills and the Armritsar massacre, it initiated the first of a series of non-cooperation campaigns to encourage Britain to quit India. In Egypt three years of widespread anti-British violence began in March 1919, before Britain imposed partial independence in 1922, under which it retained control of defence and the Suez Canal. France, with a quarter of its inter-war army based in North Africa, struggled until 1926 to suppress the Rif revolt in Morocco, led by Abd el-Krim (1882-1963), whose guerrilla tactics influenced Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969), Mao Zedong (1893-1976) and Che Guevera (1928-1967). Meanwhile in Indochina, Ho Chi Minh, who had unsuccessfully tried to submit the Vietnamese national case to the Paris conference, exploited the growing resentment against French colonial rule in the 1930s. As Lansing had predicted, self-determination was a phrase "simply loaded with dynamite" and, once detonated, the explosion was impossible to contain. [52]


Tangible and Intangible Economics

As I suggested earlier, the main reason for AW programs is to reduce current costs and avoid future ones. For established organizations that are pressed for cash, the savings from relinquishing space and making better use of what remains can dwarf the necessary investment in equipment and training. For young organizations, an AW program can give managers a viable alternative to expensive, long-term lease commitments.

But for the typical enterprise, the economics of the alternative workplace are more complex, and the decision to adopt an AW program rests as much—or more—on intangibles as it does on simple financials. Jerome T. Roath, IBM’s manager of infrastructure expense, says, “The obvious savings from real-estate cost reduction may hide qualitative improvements in employee satisfaction and customer service that are less measurable but no less important and in the end might justify an [AW] program.”

On the flip side, AmEx’s Goeltz comments on how a business might think about satellite locations: “Instead of 2,000 people concentrated in one place, one could consider 100 sites of 20 people each around the country. That might cut real estate costs tremendously. But there would be other critical issues to address. For example, would the company provide cafeteria and health club facilities or instead provide allowances to help people pay for their own? And how does one coordinate HR activities across a dispersed group?”

Managers should look at the economics of a potential AW program from three perspectives—the company’s, the employee’s, and the customer’s—and weigh the tangible and intangible costs against the respective benefits. Tangible setup costs for the company include hardware, software, training, and any equipment or furniture the company provides ongoing costs include allowances, phone charges, and technical support. In home offices, employees provide their own space and some, if not all, of the furnishings and equipment. Intangible costs for the company and its employees include the time spent learning new work habits and ways of communicating with colleagues and customers.

Aside from real estate savings, the organization benefits from increased employee productivity, recruiting, and retention—usually because AW employees have both more professional and more personal time. In one AT&T unit, for example, the average AW participant gained almost five weeks per year by eliminating a 50-minute daily commute. Employees in home offices and other remote locations also can be more efficient during the workday because they have fewer distractions and less down-time. As AT&T’s James notes, “When I have 30 minutes between meetings, I can load in my disk and be productive on the spot.” Customer satisfaction also improves: as customers become comfortable communicating with the organization electronically, they can reach employees more quickly and receive more direct, personal attention.

Intangible benefits include closer teamwork and greater flexibility. The simple act of removing the walls that separate people in traditional private offices often fosters teamwork. Stephen M. Brazzell, AT&T’s vice president for global real estate, says, “Connectivity between individuals and groups comes in many forms, both physical and electronic. Those in shared offices tell us, ‘The new arrangement works. It really helps us communicate quickly and effectively because we’re all together.’ There is a definite improvement in communication, and communication means productivity.” What’s more, meetings in the alternative workplace take less time because participants manage their time better they meet not just to discuss issues but to resolve them.

The act of removing the walls that separate people in traditional offices can foster teamwork.

The U.S. Army’s Reimer highlights the importance of intangible benefits in his widely dispersed organization: “The biggest benefit I have found is that leaders who are ‘far from the flagpole’ in places like Bosnia and Korea have direct access to me and to my latest thoughts on many issues. In turn, I receive feedback from the field army as quickly as I would from my staff at the Pentagon. This empowers our leadership team, and it allows the army to speak and act with one voice on rapidly changing situations.”

A crucial intangible benefit of an AW program is the value that employees place on increased personal time and control. Although they tend to work longer hours and may even have difficulty leaving their home offices, AW employees find the promise of flexibility attractive, so they are easier to recruit and retain. As Reimer says, “We are now training soldiers when and where it is needed. This not only reduces costs and improves readiness, but it also reduces the time soldiers spend away from home and family—an ever-increasing burden with our intensive training and operational requirements. This helps us retain quality soldiers and their families.”

The chart “AT&T’s Creative Workplace Plan” illustrates one company’s assessment of its tangible economics. Over the next five years, AT&T’s initiative is expected to generate annual savings of nearly $ 50 million as people become accustomed to and take full advantage of the new style of working. This will be a substantial contribution to AT&T’s overall aim of reducing annual occupancy costs by $ 200 million. The plan begins by defining the ratio of occupants to work space for each type of office, the square feet and cost per person, and the expected savings and payback. Shared-office and virtual-office workers use one-third to one-tenth as much corporate space as they do in traditional offices. Over time, these changes could yield annual savings of $ 5,000 to $ 10,000 per person. For a group of 100 employees occupying space that costs $ 24 per square foot, the savings range from $ 200,000 to $ 600,000, and pay-back ranges from one to three years. AT&T’s James, who authored the plan, estimates that some 34,000 employees—one-fourth of the total—could be accommodated in AW settings by 2003.

AT&T’s Creative Workplace Plan

AT&T’s five-year plan reflects the significant impact of creative workplace initiatives on reducing total occupancy costs. The financial benefits result from five interrelated factors to be implemented over time: shifting from traditional to shared and virtual offices, adopting more efficient individual workspace designs, improving office utilization, reducing total company space, and adjusting the number of occupants using company space. The plan’s current benchmarks and overall projections are summarized below.

IBM’s experience in the alternative workplace provides another good example of well-balanced cost-benefit ratios. IBM began piloting various AW options in 1989 to reduce real-estate-related costs and to explore the use of technology to support sales. But by 1993, the company’s profitability and competitiveness had declined to the point that more fundamental changes in corporate strategy were called for. In that context, the early pilot projects were transformed into a mainstream initiative in the North America sales and service organization—an initiative designed to improve customer responsiveness, reduce costs, and increase productivity.

Lee A. Dayton, IBM’s vice president for corporate development and real estate, recalls, “Two principles were—and are—at the heart of the initiative. First, we want to reduce our employees’ travel time. When they are traveling from one customer to another, or from the IBM office to the customer, they’re not productive. Second, if employees are at home or at a customer’s office, we want to eliminate the need to travel to an IBM office. And if they’re not going to work in an IBM office, we want to eliminate the dedicated space with all of its overhead and services.”

Currently, IBM’s entire U.S. sales force can operate independent of a traditional workplace. More than 12,500 employees have given up their dedicated work spaces, and another 13,000 are capable of mobile operation. IBM also has implemented mobility initiatives, involving some 15,000 employees in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Thus, approximately 17 % of IBM’s total worldwide workforce is sufficiently equipped and trained to work in AW formats, and one-third of all the company’s departments have at least some mobile employees.

The results? In 1992, worldwide occupancy and voice-IT expenses (that is, phone-based communication charges) totaled $ 5.7 billion. By 1997, the total had dropped 42 % to $ 3.3 billion. During that period, real estate savings totaled $ 1 billion from mobility initiatives alone. Even more telling, worldwide costs per person declined 38 % from $ 15,900 to $ 9,800 and the combined ratio of occupancy and voice-IT expenses to revenues dropped from 8.8 % to 4.2 % —a 52 % improvement. (See the chart “The Economics of Mobility at IBM North America” for a breakdown of these measures.)

The Economics of Mobility at IBM North America

IBM’s entire U.S. sales force can operate independent of a traditional office. More than 12,500 employees have given up their dedicated work spaces, and another 13,000 are capable of mobile operation. Managers monitor the performance of the company’s Mobility Initiative in several ways, including those illustrated at right.

The top chart shows the total occupancy and voice-IT costs for IBM North America. The middle chart, which breaks down those costs by employee, helps managers assess whether the Mobility Initiative is using space, information, and communications efficiently. The bottom chart, which shows total occupancy and voice-IT costs as a percentage of IBM North America’s revenue, helps managers assess the productivity and efficiency of the Mobility Initiative.

As Roath comments, IBM must keep close watch over voice-IT charges. They are still small compared with occupancy costs and other IT expenses, but they could explode as more people go mobile. Still, Dayton says, “The costs you incur with mobility—IT technology, communications, wireless costs—are all going down, while the relative costs of real estate continue to rise.”

Dayton also notes that the key to success is evaluating and managing the initiative with the ultimate business goal in mind: “We cost-justified our program based on reductions in spending, primarily from real estate. From the start, we allowed business managers to make the trade-off between real estate savings and investments in technology. And we insisted on saving more than we spent. Every laptop and cellular phone we bought for the initiative was cost-justified. We also introduced an annual worldwide scorecard that tallied cost and square feet per person. The scorecard applied to manufacturing and development departments as well as to sales and distribution. We published the results internally, and, of course, nobody wanted to be last.”

Looking ahead, John Newton, IBM’s manager of IT plans and measurements, believes that the company’s extraordinary cost savings will plateau: “The main short-term problem in mobility economics is that as more people go mobile, we still need a support structure for them. We are reaching a point of diminishing returns, because we can’t keep pulling people out of offices forever. There will be productivity benefits but not occupancy cost savings.”

Indeed, any organization adopting an AW initiative can be expected to reach a new plateau—with lower fixed costs, higher productivity, and greater employee and customer satisfaction than it previously experienced. But by redeploying some of the savings into better equipment, technical support, even the company picnic, the organization that benefits from AW initiatives can realize further dividends in employee commitment and loyalty.


1. 1936 Summer Olympics

Perhaps the most controversial Olympic Games associated with World Wars, the 1936 Summer Olympics, was riddled with boycotts by nations, racial discrimination and unhealthy politics. The Olympic was held in Berlin, Germany, and coincided with Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Critics claimed that Hitler used the Olympic stage to propagate his own political ideologies. Hitler was also heavily criticized for his racist attitude towards the Jewish participants in the games. Recognizing the exploitation of the Olympic Games for political purposes by Hitler, a number of organizations and leading politicians called for the boycott of the games.

The Spanish government was the first to take step in this direction and announce the arrangement of a parallel event, the People’s Olympiad. However, the Spanish Civil War, led to the suspension of this event. The American leaders also heavily debated their prospects in boycotting the games altogether. There were fears that Hitler would apply his ideology of racial supremacy at the Olympics and evidence of the exclusion of a majority of the Jewish athletes from the German team hinted at this fact. Ireland was the only nation to boycott the 1936 Olympics as a sign of protest against the alleged racism practiced at the games. There were also controversial wins during this game, one of which forced the Olympic delegations of Peru and Colombia to leave Germany as a sign of protest.


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