Iranian galley, personal development, Uber Files: our three favorites

In Leila and her brothersSaeed Roustaee portrays Iranian siblings struggling in a country in crisis, notably under the effect of international sanctions. The business of happiness, documentary by Jean-Christophe Ribot and Claire Alet, brings to light on Arte the hidden face of the flourishing personal development market. And France Télévisions is broadcasting a documentary by Edouard Perrin deciphering the Uber Files calling into question Emmanuel Macron’s support for the VTC company when he was Minister of the Economy.

A family nerve

Leila and her brothers, French title (Leila’s brothers) of Saeed Roustaee’s latest film, immediately evokes Luchino Visconti’s masterpiece, Rocco and his brothers (1960), and it seems anything but fortuitous. As with the Italian neorealist master, the Iranian director bases his story around a family in the grip of poverty and torn between tradition and urban modernity. There are also four brothers and their mother, to which is however added a sister, the heroine – in every sense of the word –, and a father, crushing in his own way.

But another time and another space, other mores: no boxing or love story, marital, at least here. The factory is present, but the film begins precisely when it suddenly stops and Alireza, one of the brothers who worked there, flees without asking for his rest to escape repression. ferocious attack on the workers. He is thus forced to return to the parental fold where the rest of the family subsists as best they can, largely thanks to Leila’s salary and domestic work.

Until the day when an opportunity not to be missed arises: the purchase of a shop in the shopping center in which she and one of her brothers are employed. The young woman then takes it into her head to convince her brothers to put together their meager savings to make this investment, which could allow these forties to finally gain independence. But, at the same time, their father Esmail has taken it into his head to become the new godfather of the family clan of which he has been the laughing stock all his life, which also implies putting his hand in his pocket.

After the remarkable Tehran law, who oscillated between thriller and social criticism, the young director Saeed Roustaee offers us this time an implacable social drama against a backdrop of economic crisis

After the remarkable Tehran law, halfway between thriller and social criticism, the young director Saeed Roustaee offers this time an implacable social drama against the backdrop of the Iranian economic crisis accentuated by the United States sanctions, coupled with a family tragedy, which is not without an echo of Tolstoy’s theater or Arnaud Desplechin’s cinema, to name but a few.

The film thus tackles, with the subtlety required by watchful censorship, a number of socio-economic themes that are not necessarily specific to Iran: company bankruptcies following the embezzlement of their leaders, workers left on the floor and beaten up by the police, effects of hyperinflation, more or less honest schemes to try to make ends meet, conjugality prevented by the lack of financial means, maintenance of women in a multidimensional inferiority, etc.

It also shows the extreme complexity of family ties that can hurt (very) badly, and at the same time constitute a crisis buffer that is all the more precious when there is no other. If this unfailing coalescence of love and cruelty is not in itself a discovery, Leila and her brothers offers a picture of rare finesse, made up of almost ethnographic scenes, such as that of a wedding with its many pretenses. To the point that we do not see the time passing, despite a duration of almost three hours. Another point in common with Visconti’s fresco.

Leila and her brothers, by Saeed Roustaee, in theaters August 24.

To the detriment of happiness

Capitalism definitely has the gift of turning everything into a commodity. And happiness itself is no exception to the rule, it has even become a first choice product. At a time when cultural practices seem to be shying away from paper for screens, personal development books are selling like hot cakes, and serve as a stepping stone to conferences and other courses organized by their authors whose entry is far from being free. Added to this are some 70,000 personal coaches, with more or less vague qualifications, and whose aggregate turnover is currently close to 3 billion dollars.

Without forgetting the turnkey tools intended for companies to improve the well-being of their employees by allowing them to better know their inner self, like the Clifton forces model, named after their author, marketed by the consulting firm. Gallup marketing studies and that the biggest companies have not hesitated to pay a high price. After all, happiness is priceless.

And we go from variations of this priced race to fulfillment and well-being. However, it would be naive to attribute this general enthusiasm in rich countries to the mere credulity of “Westerners” in search of remedies for melancholy, because the roots of this “happiness business” are much deeper. This is what the eponymous documentary directed by Jean-Christophe Ribot from an investigation by Claire Alet, former deputy editor-in-chief ofEconomic Alternatives.

These begin to present some current personal development figures, showing how they follow in the footsteps of the American Anthony Robbins, a pioneer in the field who became a multimillionaire. From the same string, namely the invocation of his own descent into hell followed by a return to light, everyone sells his own viaticum to no longer feel gloomy and see life in pink. The heirs of Emile Coué, the inventor of the method of the same name, would be entitled to demand royalties, since all their tricks are based on the famous principle of autosuggestion: in essence, “I’m fine if I want “.

And both of them thread the aphorisms like others the pearls, such as “learn to love yourself”, “happiness is within you” or, more enigmatic, “more equals more”

And both of them thread the aphorisms like others the pearls, such as “learn to love yourself”, “happiness is within you” or, more enigmatic, “more equals more”. So far we say that after all, it can not hurt, if not the wallet of the followers of these gurus of a new kind. But as the documentary also shows, far from being a simple fashion effect, this quest for individual happiness is in reality a real injunction, which is itself based on a certain vision of the world which is none other than the liberal individualism that founded the “American dream”.

It is the famous meritocracy that has gradually taken over the rest of the world and which is based on the principle, guaranteed by the US Constitution, that everyone has the right to pursue their own happiness. But in return, everyone is considered responsible for their fate, and so much the worse for the “losers” of the general competition. However, would it not be precisely this cult of performance that would engender this fatigue of being oneself, as the sociologist Alain Ehrenberg has rightly shown? A malaise that personal development proposes to deal with, and incidentally to improve the productivity of employees – there are no small profits.

In addition to this valuable perspective, the documentary broadcast by Arte has the merit of giving voice not only to critics of this positive psychology and its many variations, sociologists and philosophers, but also to its defenders, in particular those who have worked to provide it with scientific backing, such as the psychologist Martin Seligman, the psychiatrist Christophe André or the economist Richard Layard. If the film seems in the end to lean more in favor of the former, considering that the factors of ill-being are also, and perhaps above all, to be sought in economic structures, it nevertheless has the advantage of opening up the discussion and to allow everyone, if we dare say, to find happiness there.

The business of happiness, by Jean-Christophe Ribot, available on until February 25, 2023.

The Uber Agent

It is a symbol that we would have done without. Like other firms, the Californian Uber has seen its name pass into everyday language to designate the generalized return of tasking overseen by algorithms. However, it would be misleading to blame only the force of attraction of technological innovations, because without political green lights, the latter could not have been deployed. This is what the famous “Uber Files” recently recalled., this mass of digitized confidential documents recovered last spring by the ICIJ: the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

These highlight in particular the well-crafted strategy of the American group to deploy its activity in France. Several levers have thus been activated: political lobbying, communication and above all the transgression of laws. A veritable set of laws which found a precious ally, widely commented on by the press at the time of these revelations, in the person of the current head of state.

Then Minister of the Economy in the Valls government, Emmanuel Macron was all the more willing to play the matchmaker for Uber as he was intimately convinced of the need to deregulate the French economy and society at all costs. Between September 2014 and February 2016, he spoke more than thirty times with representatives of the VTC firm and met four times with its CEO, Travis Kalanick, three of which without these interviews appearing on his official agenda. In particular, he used his influence with his administration to ensure that the inspectors of the DGCCRF (the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention) did not show themselves “not too conservative”in other words that they be lenient towards VTC drivers using the Uber application.

Above all, he used his influence with the Minister of the Interior at the time, Bernard Cazeneuve, so that the latter agreed to lighten the conditions for the allocation of licenses in exchange for the removal of the completely illegal application Uber Pop. , which allowed everyone to improvise a taxi. Of course, Emmanuel Macron himself did nothing illegal. But this discreet and strong support is in itself revealing. Helping a company that defies the law, even if it means provoking violent reactions from taxi drivers whitewashed by unfair competition, turns out to be problematic.

Edouard Perrin involves several actors of the period, including former heads of “public relations” – euphemism to designate lobbying – of Uber in France, but also the former socialist deputy Thomas Thévenoud, rapporteur of the eponymous law framing the statute VTC drivers – who became famous, not without irony given the case, for his “administrative phobia” which forced him to resign!

Rich in testimonials, the documentary delivers in about twenty minutes not only a useful summary of this already almost forgotten “case”, but also beyond an edifying demonstration of which certain companies literally dictate their rules by freeing themselves from those which exist.

We thus discover how the leaders of Uber had set up a system nicknamed ” kill switch » allowing access to the servers to be cut off in the event of a police raid, and even published a manual for their employees summarizing the behavior to adopt in the event of morning raids.

These revelations leave a taste that is all the more bitter as these architects of deregulation manage to impose themselves, particularly in France thanks to the benevolence of the government towards them. Despite some legal setbacks in some countries that have begun to regulate their practices, more than 16 million people around the world use Uber’s service every day, in complete ignorance.

Uber Filesby Edouard Perrin, available on

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Iranian galley, personal development, Uber Files: our three favorites

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