What can Exit do? It looks as if France is going to provide an important demonstration:
France has become a defeatist nation.
A striking indicator of this attitude is the massive emigration that the country has witnessed over the last decade, with nearly 2 million French citizens choosing to leave their country and take their chances in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the United States and other locales. The last such collective exodus from France came during the French Revolution, when a large part of the aristocracy left to await (futilely) the king’s return. Today’s migration isn’t politically motivated, however; it’s economic.
This departing population consists disproportionately of young people — 70% of the migrants are under 40 — and advanced-degree holders, who do their studies in France but offer their skills elsewhere. The migrants, discouraged by the economy’s comparatively low salaries and persistently high unemployment — currently at 10.9% — have only grown in number since Socialist Francois Hollande became president.
The young and enterprising in France soon realize that elsewhere — in London, say — obstacles to success are fewer and opportunities greater. The British capital is now France’s sixth-largest city, with 200,000 to 400,000 emigres.
The exile rolls also include hundreds of thousands of French retirees, presumably well-off, who are spending at least part of their golden years in other countries. Tired of France’s high cost of living, they seek out more welcoming environments.
My beloved country, in other words, has been losing not only its dynamic and intelligent young people but also older people with some money. I’m not sure that this social model can work over the long term.
It will be extremely interesting to see.