World News and Trends: National malaise grips France

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National malaise grips France

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It was the sort of news one is used to seeing in print about North America and Britain but rarely mentioned about France. It said in an on-the-spot report: "France has a sickness that pervades its politics and corrupts the bourgeoisie. Decadence now rules in a morally rudderless society."

The reporter, Matthew Campbell, observes: "Les Chandelles is the most exclusive boite échangiste, or wife-swapping club, in Paris. Such places have never been so well frequented. Talk around polite dinner tables about which are the best échangiste clubs to frequent is one gauge of how widespread the habit of collective romping has become." There are an estimated 50 such clubs in Paris and perhaps 200 throughout the rest of the country.

Jean-François Mattei, a professor at the Institute of Political Studies in Aixen-Province, recently stated: "There's been a retreat from political life in France in favour of personal pleasure. It's a decadent society dedicated to sex and pleasure. We are swimming in hedonism: nightclubs, wife-swapping, magazines for men, magazines for women. It's the pursuit of pleasure all around."

Once pretty much the preserve of the elite, this sort of behavior has spread to all levels of French society. Novelist and university professor Michael Ermin echoes the general thought: "The country is in the grip of a hedonistic, licentious and frivolous mood. People are as confused in their intimate lives as they are in their politics." (This issue of The Good News contains a special series of articles showing the futility of adultery and promiscuity as a way of life—illicit practices that cause intensive suffering and seriously mar the marital happiness God intended for us.)

Not surprisingly, theft is on the increase as well. As one author put it, "The French crisis over law and order has already cost the prime minister [Leon Jospin] his political career."

Causes are not hard to come by. "Sociologists and criminologists attribute much of the rise of crime in cities and rural areas to youths who have dropped out of the education system and are unemployed. Unlike Britain, where the age profile is more even, France has more unemployed young." Young people with too much leisure time on their hands sometimes get into trouble with the law. The way out of many of these social problems is addressed in our free booklets The Ten Commandments and Making Life Work. (Sources: The Sunday Times, The Sunday Times Magazine [both London].)