How’s Diversity Working In France?

Blog: The Fifth Republic, evidently, is not run by the French for the French. This is not unique as far as postwar European governments are concerned, but it is particularly ironic given the history of France and the decolonization of her overseas holdings. It is pretty offensive that Algeria gained independence as a nation-state as France became a multi-ethnic state. For what purpose was releasing Algeria from the republic justified if importing Algerians became state policy?

That the Fifth Republic believes in multiculturalism for France but nationhood for the Third World is wholly incompatible with its own history and policies towards other countries (my Anglo sensibilities demand consistency and fairness). If nationalism is irrelevant to the functioning and flourishing of a country’s population, why on earth did France release the Islamic population of Algeria from her control in 1962—thus creating the nation-state of Algeria—and welcome millions of European pied-noirs and North Africa sephardim into Metropolitan France from Algeria? Was it because France was aware that ethnic French people and jews could not live under a postcolonial Islamic state safely? Wouldn’t Diversity™ have been a great, if not the greatest strength Algeria had? There must have been a vestigial nationalism felt by the French towards their emigres as one folk who should live together. Even importing North African jews could be rationalized in the wake of WWII. But why then over the following decades did France welcome millions of Muslims into its territory from Africa and the Middle East as laborers, including their former wartime enemies, Algerians? I thought Algerians and French people were incompatible under the same political union!

If France was going to adopt multiculturalism and import millions of Algerian Muslims and give them citizenship, it would have been more efficient to simply keep Algeria as an integral part of France. Was nationhood appropriate for Algeria because the ethnic conflict between French settlers and North African Muslims couldn’t be resolved without the French evacuating Algeria? So when there is ethnic conflict between French natives and Afro-Islamic colonists in France, as there has been with varying degrees of intensity for decades, is the solution not nationalism for France and not the Muslim evacuation of Europe? Can France withdraw from Paris like it did from Algiers if identity-based violence gets out of hand there?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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