“It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity… There needs to be a firm message about the values of the republic and of secularism.” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls
Based on this statement alone, it looks like France is about to fall into a Red Queen’s Trap. In this case, an all consuming struggle between an increasingly hollow nation-state and a large and growing population of people unwilling to assimilate. For example: here’s a government list and atlas of the 751 “sensitive neighborhoods” like the one below that won’t assimilate.
If this is a trap, here’s what it is going to look like.
Since most nation-states aren’t able to offer opportunity anymore (they are hollowing out due to globalization), this assimilation will be accelerated by rules, regulations, and force. In turn, these communities will resist this and seek support from outside (IS, etc.) for resisting, which will lead to more violence. More violence will lead to more government maladaptation — largely due to the inherent weaknesses of a 21st Century hollow state — and so on until great damage is done to everyone involved.
So, the big question is: Is France in a trap or not?
Let’s dive in. Here are the interesting elements.
The attack wasn’t a generic attack on a population center. It was very specific. It was an attack on French secularism, accomplished by passing judgement on the people who promote it. For example, the jihadis asked for specific people at the magazine by name when they arrived.
It was also interesting to me that the reaction to the attack was largely one of solidarity. People around the world showed support for the victims so much so that the #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie hashtag) has become the most popular hashtag in history. Here’s a map of where it has been used (almost exclusively in the globalized “west”). Further, this solidarity movement is being used to generate massive rallies in Paris and around the world.
Based on this, there are two ways this could go.
If this solidarity is seen as merely support for an end to violence (which I believe it is), the entire thing will be largely forgotten in a week.
However, if it is seen as support for a new push to assimilate Islamic communities and promote secularist values, the Red Queen’s trap is sprung.
The statement at the top of the page by the French Prime Minister — this is a war — is an indication that France may be in a trap.
PS: The US fell into a Red Queen’s trap in 2001 that cost us thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, two lost wars, and most of our basic rights.