Among the amorphous mass of inconsequential programs Netflix has spewed forth in the last year, there are some of varying degrees of artistic merit.
Inhuman Resources (Dérapages) features a small titan of French cinema, one Eric Cantona. A former professional international athlete, a soccer player of excellent pedigree, Cantona seems to have found a new professional niche in acting and directing movies.
In this latest Netflix production, he plays the role of a semi-employed 57-year old Parisian trying to support his family, on the low wages paid by the only type of job one can get so close to their twilight years. The Plot thickens very fast when he finds a good job opportunity as an HR Director for a big corporation. He seizes this with both hands with the desperation of the working poor.
Under assault from creditors, unpaid bills, a rotting apartment he is still paying for 30 years later, his character Alain Delambre decides to go all in. He cheats his well-off daughter into lending him 30,000 Euros, allegedly to bribe his way into the job advertised by this massive aeronautical defense company, Exxia.
Delambre is supported by his wife and his IT wizard friend. A desperate Delambre starts researching his potential employer, asking his IT friend to find out all the ins and outs of the job competition. He also reaches out to a former cop, who asks him for the 30,000 Euros in return for a physical and mental regimen that will prepare Delambre for the final job exam: a mock-up simulation of a high-stakes hostage situation involving Exxia’s top-ranking officers.
The hostage taking situation is the brain child of Alex Dorfmann, the company’s amoral CEO, who wants to find out who he can count on during a major wave of layoffs he is planning for one of company’s plants.
Delambre finds out from a moral Exxia HR officer that he never had a chance to get the job. He finds out that he was always the “trump card – the joker, and not the ace” as he was led to believe by the hiring consultant brought in by Alex Dorfmann. Enraged but still determined to get his money’s worth, with nothing to lose, Delambre enlists his IT friend in a scheme involving turning the tables on this callous company.
The die is set. Exxia is ready to use his HR skills during the simulation, only to kick him to the curb the following day. So Delambre changes the game plan altogether. He goes in holding the ace this time.
He owns the situation and amid the mock-up hostage taking, Delambre produces a loaded gun with which he takes over the hostages, the fake hostage takers, and the CEO of Exxia. The situation is resolved quickly and almost peacefully, with only one of the fake hostage-takers being shot in the leg by Delambre, when he tries to jump him. The SWAT raids the building, subdues Delambre without a fight, and the hostages are freed.
Delambre ends up in jail, waiting for his trial to begin. While incarcerated, Exxia CEO realizes that during the hostage crisis, Delambre had managed to penetrate and hack into the corporation’s electronic system, stealing 22 million Euros from Exxia’s illegal bribe fund. A race ensues whereby Exxia and Delambre face off in a competition to shut him up before he can reveal the company’s illegal dealings to the public.
As this war is waged, Delambre asks his daughter, who is a lawyer, to take his case and defend him in court. His daughter, afraid to take on the responsibility that could see her father in prison for 10 to 30 years, or life at his age, is adamant in her refusal to accept such a heavy burden. A desperate and irate father threatens that he will defend himself rather than accept any other legal counsel.
Delambre even goes on to cite a legal precedent from 1957 that he is ready to use if it came to that, namely the legitimate self-defense against a society that is in a state of war against the working poor.
And this is where I must agree with him.
Ladies and gents, let me be clear and please do not get me wrong here, I am not nor will I ever be a socialist, a left-winger, a liberal, or have anything to do with a political ideology that is predicated on robbing Peter to give to Paul.
Be that as it may, society is in a state of war against the working poor. The State, which is the Guardian of Society according to the Social Contract, rewards the rich, while overtaxing the middle class into the poor house. When a person reaches old age, the State doesn’t hold its end of the bargain, knowing all too well, that a depleted person has neither the resources nor the physical inclination to fight it. That is how people get ‘ponzied’ out of their social insurance money, out of their pensions, ending up having to go back to work in old age.
The State does close to nothing to preserve the rights of Labour in the face of Capital. Unions are a joke everywhere in the world. They basically work for the Capital, and not for the Workers. While that happens, the State is perfectly happy to pay EI or unemployment, or the dole for one, two or three years, after which that person is out of the system, and no longer even a statistic. So, that’s how uncounted millions fall through the cracks of a miserable Society that turns a blind eye, a deaf ear, and does everything to avoid responsibility for its Failure.
Falling through the cracks doesn’t cover the injustice done to hundreds of millions of unemployed, semi-employed, working poor, who are forced to make ends meet, to eke out a miserable living under the uncaring, unforgiving eye of the State and the unsympathetic one of the Corporations.
So, if you were to ask me, if a person reduced to such a conditions has the right to take the fight to the enemy (i.e., State and Corporations), I would say yes, they should and they must. If one’s survival is in the balance, and given how the State is in breach of the Social Contract, one can always use the Legitimate Self-Defense Argument to justify one’s actions.
Nobody owes the State or the Corporations any duty of fealty, loyalty, or self-sacrifice. The Social Contract was the only thing holding Society together. When the State broke its terms, Man reasserted any and all means of survival.
In 1894, an espionage affair captured the attention and emotion of France and indeed the world. I speak, of course, of the Dreyfus Affair. Captain Alfred Dreyfus was a French officer of Jewish extraction, who was wrongly accused by the French High Command of espionage for Germany, then its mortal enemy. Unjustly sentenced on a false evidence planted and knowingly supported by his superiors, who knew that Major Esterhazy was the real spy, Dreyfus was expelled from the Army and sent to the Devil’s Island for the rest of his life.
In 1906, after three subsequent trials, two of which he lost, Dreyfus was finally exonerated, reinstated, and rehabilitated.
The chief architect of his survival and reinstatement was that giant of French literature and journalistic integrity, Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola. In 1898, Zola wrote a letter to the French President Fauré, accusing the French Military Establishment of collusion in the legal travesty that condemned an innocent man to life imprisonment, Captain Dreyfus, while allowing the culprit to go Scot-free, Major Esterhazy.
While Zola was killed by a roofer, who hated Zola’s politics and stance on the Dreyfus case, and who blocked his chimney on purpose so that he suffocate (which Zola did in 1902), his January 1898 Letter was instrumental in mobilizing the Moral Forces in Dreyfus’ defence.
The reason I mentioned Zola here is two-fold. Number one, I find his literature compelling. Whoever did not read his seminal Germinal, ought to do that this instant. Number two, and this is it, I find Zola’s quest for justice the only real driver of politics that should count in this world.
The world has always been unfair and unjust. Now, as then, it is up to us to change its ways.
Justice, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is what makes the world go round. Not power, not money, but justice. Everything is predicated around it. Social Contract, check. Power politics are also played around Justice. Diplomacy, all about Justice. Right and Wrong, Justice again. Gender equality, Justice. Fair and unfair, Justice. Self-defense, Justice. Justice is the one single underlying principle that permeates all things.
Justice is the only thing that counts when it comes to Politics. So, when a time comes when a Society abandons Justice for the sake of Profit, Power, Control, and Domination, that Society enters a State of War with Justice.
Justice is Mankind’s Supreme Argument in its fight to ensure not just Its Survival but its Progress.
People have the Right to Defend themselves against other People seeking to do them harm.
People also have the Right and Duty to Defend Themselves against the State and Corporations seeking to control, profit, dominate, steal, and abuse their Rights.
I believe Chekhov said it best that “Brevity is very close to Genius.”
I will be brief, so I shall quote Public Enemy’s Harder Than You Think song lyrics:
(If) You don’t stand for something, you fall for anything!