Throughout much of last week, hundreds of thousands of students in France were angrily protesting.
They have been joined by the major French labor unions, which are threatening a general strike.
And what is this all about?
It is all about a new law in France that allows a company to fire a person under the age of 26, without cause, within two years of being hired.
Wow. Imagine that. You might get fired from your first job.
As it happens, the whole point of the law was to encourage companies to hire young people. The unemployment rate among young people in France is 23 percent. And in many suburbs, it is double that. Meanwhile, French companies are understandably loath to hire 22-year-olds when they cannot fire them except "for cause," which under union rules means something like committing mass murder in the workplace.
What these massive demonstrations reveal is the narcissism, laziness and irresponsibility inculcated by socialist societies.
Enough generations of socialist policies have now passed for us to judge their effects. They are bleak. Socialism undermines the character of a nation and of its citizens. In simpler words, socialism makes people worse.
These young people in France really believe that they should be able to be hired at their tender ages and that a company must not be allowed to fire them from their first day at work (except "for cause," which, as we are learning in America, is increasingly difficult to establish). In America, most of us would call the French young people's attitudes "spoiled."
Socialism teaches its citizens to expect everything, even if they contribute nothing.
Socialism teaches its citizens that they have a plethora of rights and few corresponding obligations — except to be taxed.
And that is why the citizens of less socialist — and more religious — America give more charity per capita and per income than do citizens of socialist countries. That is why Americans volunteer time for the needy so much more than citizens of socialist countries do. That is why citizens of conservative states in America give more charity than citizens of liberal states do. The more Left one identifies oneself on the political spectrum, the more that person is likely to believe that the state, not fellow citizens, should take care of the poor and the needy.
Under socialism, one is not only liberated from having to take care of oneself; one is also liberated from having to take care of others. The state will take care of me and of everybody else.
The same holds true for foreign affairs. Why did the conservative government of Spain support the American war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq and send troops there, while the Spanish socialists withdrew Spanish troops as soon as they were voted into office? Because the idea of risking one's life to bring freedom to others — or to risk one's life for another nation for just about any reason — is alien to the socialist mindset.
Similarly, in the great litmus test of moral acuity — the Middle East — socialist countries and parties virtually all line up behind the Palestinians. They do so either out of moral confusion or out of cowardice — it takes a lot more courage to support Israel than to support the Palestinians and the whole Muslim world.
The socialist idea sounded altruistic to those who began it, and it sounds altruistic to the naive who believe in it today. In practice, however, it creates self-centered individuals and a narcissistic society. So while it may have begun as a way to help others, it has come to mean a way of evading responsibility for oneself and for others.
That is why France is so frightened of the utterly rational idea that a young person should have a two-year trial period at work before being granted a lifetime job. Such an innovation in France would mean that young people would have to work hard and earn the right to lifetime employment. But if socialism means anything, it means that one shouldn't have to earn anything. One merely has to breathe.
As much as America has been adversely affected by socialist thought, it is still inconceivable that in America hundreds of thousands of students would shut down their schools in order to gain the right not to be fired by the first company that hires them. But every time America's socialists, the Democrats, prevail in an election, we move in that direction. No matter how pure their motives, the Left makes America and its citizens less noble people, just like the spoiled French students.