Sunday, February 1, 2009

Robin Hoods Or Robberers?

Times are tough. For most of us. Even in "socialist" France. A group of entrepreneurial, low-income and unemployed French people, fed up with a government that -- like in the U.S. -- is focusing on bailing out the very banks that tanked the system rather than the people who fell victim to it, have decided to take matters into their own hands.

Making creative use of a French law that allows for the testing of products before buying them, L'appel et la pioche organize mob/rave-style impromptu picnics in grocery stores, where they pick up food and fare from the shelves, use and eat them on the premises, then bugger off. They do bring their own bal musette, though.

The grocery store owners -- most of them (inter)national chains -- are peeved, of course, but can't do much about it. The whole cabal is organized by the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, an anarchist movement which claimed 5% in the latest presidential elections, and is gaining strength for lack of a better alternative to the current government. Seen from the U.S., there is something quaint, weird, but definitely liberating about the French sense of contestation.