For those who don’t know, Paul Ricoeur is a French philosopher. Macron, the French president, says that it was Ricoeur who made him want to enter politics. Myth or reality? What is certain is that Macron was close to him when he wrote his last book “Memory, History and Oblivion”. I’m not going to say more than that because I don’t know him very well and when you know that I got 06/20 in philosophy at the baccalaureate, you won’t want to see me debating on the subject… This photo was taken during the last strike against the pension reform. That’s what’s interesting about such events. People use a lot of imagination for the occasion. I stopped and googled Macron and Ricoeur to get the message…
I ran into many photographers that day. It’s easy to spot those who work for newspapers. They are armed with several cameras, big super bright lenses. They are often stationed high and in front of the demonstrators to take pictures of them. There were also photographers who documented for the trade unions. I don’t count those who immortalise this popular movement of the people with their smartphones. I was in the street on Tuesday, because like many French people, I find this reform unfair. This government has not stopped giving gifts to the richest and then telling us that we will have to work more to finance our pension system. Since the Covid crisis and the war in Ukraine, the rich have become even richer. Apparently it’s not a crisis for everyone … It would be enough to tax the rich a bit more to solve the problem. Or else increase salaries so that there are more contributions to fill the coffers, but the employers are opposed to this. We are now being asked to work more when we know full well that after 50 you are considered a liability and nobody will want to employ you. Anyway, I’m not going to make a speech about this reform because it’s all about Street Photography here !
Last Tuesday, I went to demonstrate against the reform and of course I went to document this demonstration. I had never seen so many people in the streets of Saint-Denis, proof if any that citizens have mobilised to show their discontent. Pensioners, students, children with their parents, mums with pushchairs. In short, a very heterogeneous mix. The demonstrators were grouped by trade unions and therefore by order of “importance” ! The CFDT led the way, followed by the CGTR and the UNSA. Other less represented unions followed. There were entertainers in front of each group who harangued the militants to be as noisy as possible. I stayed a lot next to the “reds”, the CGTR, because they skilfully used smoke bombs to give the demonstration a sense of scale. There was a bit of “chaos in the street” where they passed. Of course it was staged. With the smoke and the microphones, I sometimes felt like I was at a concert! The demonstration took place in very good conditions without any excesses. The police were very discreet, just blocking the roads that interfered with the procession. There must have been some cops in civil clothes among the demonstrators, but frankly, the atmosphere was good.
The streets were really crowded and it was really exciting to be in the middle of all these people. It reminded me of Rome, Paris and even Marseille. Those cities where frankly it is very easy to do street photography. Some people will disagree with me and say that just because the streets are full of people doesn’t mean it’s easy to do street photography. Well … I’ll just answer that it’s not easy to do Street with almost empty streets … Here in Reunion Island, I do with what I have. I’m quite surprised to see that at the end of the year, I manage to have about ten photos of which I’m proud on Saint-Denis. On Tuesday, with its crowded streets, I just had to be attentive to see opportunities and I didn’t limit myself to photos of the demonstration, but I was also interested in the people who gravitated around the procession. I was able to do some layering and close-up. In short, I had a great time. I really took these photos in the heart of the demonstration. There were hardly any photographers in the middle of the march. What interests the newspapers are photos showing the size of the demonstration. I found it more interesting to be close to the people. Next Tuesday, there is a new call to take to the streets. I will be there!
I put below, other photos taken during this day. They were all taken with the Ricoh GRD IV.
From a political perspective I wonder if France can actually afford to leave the retirement age so low. Everywhere in Europe it’s 66 or 67. France risks becoming one of the high debt states to pay the pension bill and that dooms the whole EU fiscal experiment. Germany won’t recognise France as an equal if it’s a financial liability. I doubt Macron or any future President has any alternative than to raise the retirement age. Anyway, this is the view from a citizen of a country that’s completely in the crap! We could raise the U.K. retirement age to 75 and we still couldn’t afford to pay the pensions!
Your photography is of course sublime. If I was an editor I’d be more interested in these photos than from the fancy lenses perched high above the action. Take note photo editors from “Le Monde” and “Le Figaro”…Jeff Chane-Mouye is your man, give him an assignment!
The age of the retirement is low, but that’s just a number. People disagree with this reform because it’s not a fair one. We need money to pay the retired people and the government says that the only way is to work more. The efforts should be made only by the workers. In the meantime a lot of gifts have been made to the richest people in this country. The end of the solidariry tax on wealth is one of them. There is a lot of money in the hands of very little people. You can raise the age of retirement at the age of 70. The richer will be able to retire earlier without any problems, but the less fortunate ones will have to work until 70.
It’s a choice of society and I don’t want this kind for my kids. More than 70% of french people disagree with this reform. We’re not all lazy guys who don’t want to work. Well there mght be some folks …
One of the solutions would be to raise the salaries and raise more the women’s one to catch up with the men ! Higher salaries mean higher social cotisations, so more money. What do you think people will do with more money ? They will spend all the money in holidays, restaurants, activities… the money will circulate and it’s win/win
Anyways, what i don’t understand is why the efforts should be made by the workers only …
I’ll be in the streets tomorrow to document this social event 😉
As they say “It’s an age old story” or in the case “an old age story”! The same problems for every country Jeff. Rich get richer, the poor become poorer. It’s the pitfall of living in a capitalist society. I’m all for more holidays and restaurants though!
Less people in the streets yesterday, but it was cool. Well kind of saying. It was damn hour under the blazing sun ???
I read this morning some PM named Borne trying to get backing of one govt group has given them a modified version so that this reform can pass with their support. Hopefully it all works out for the people and you can settle back into your life. Think you should also try MAGNUM photo group and the wire systems. They nuts if they don’t look at you! Matt Black is MAGNUM photog uses that little SONY WANT TO SAY BEGINS with RX.
Ah ah. Magnum is just an ice cream to me! ???
Tomorrow I’ll be again on the streets with the protestors. The thing is not to push the age of retirement from 62 to 64. But it’s more complicated than that. It’s a choice of society. Basically I think that richers should participate more to the society. There are solutions to finance the pensions but the only one the gouvernement want to adopt is to ask to the people to work more. The richers will find a solution not to work more, but the less fortunate won’t have the choice.
The other group I think u should look into is NOOR they are NIKON sponsored but wow do they do a lot, I bought one of their books by a founder of the group KADIR VAN LOUTHIZEN a dutch photog on After The Deluge rising oceans, really great stuff and how they help photogs improve, just FYI
I went to see the NOOR group website. Impressive work and writing as well. I feel at my place. We’re not in the same league…