"When France gets a cold Europe sneezes", some 19th century worthy remarked.
It is starting to look as if the French riots, coming after the French 'No' vote on the Euro-constitution, may be another case in point.
Both, it is suggested, can be seen as reactions to globalisation and there could be more to come. French 'No' voters last summer blamed the global economy for France's ten per cent unemployment and feared, implausibly, that the Euro constitution would make it worse.
Among young French people the rate of unemployment is said to be upwards of 20 per cent and concentrated among the children and grandchildren of immigrants.
Few of the young men burning cars this week are quoted explaining themselves. It is plain, though, that they don't like being unemployed and despair of ever getting a job. It can certainly be argued that they really are victims of globalisation (as well as the much vilified French labour market).
Globalisation has unquestionably made the world richer and created new export markets for the West as well as opening western markets to countries that can supply them more cheaply.
It is a process that patently creates losers as well as winners. Stephen King, HSBC's chief economist, writes of "massive waves of income redistribution, from rich labour to poor labour, from labour as a whole to capital, from workers to consumers and energy users towards energy producers". Stuart Thompson at Charles Stanley reckons the process has added
1.5 billion pairs of hands to the global workforce - a thought that explains why we no longer get wage-driven inflation.
This is not a zero sum game, but a rich stream of income is flowing from western workers to their lower paid counterparts in China, India, eastern Europe, everywhere except Africa. Capital has become global, too, invested wherever it earns the best return - much of the time where labour is cheap, plentiful and to a remarkable extent educated.
Most people do get richer in the process - many of the 1.5 billion, plus those with marketable skills almost anywhere as well as owners of capital.
Those getting poorer are individuals whose work has been exported. In France, many are descendants of economic refugees who emigrated to the high-wage world to do the very jobs now shifted to the low-wage world.
Yet they also include bluecollar workers at Ford, General Motors and the American motor components industry. Their incomes may well be halved shortly.
In Britain at this stage we have far more winners than losers. Lady Thatcher administered much of the trauma 20 years ago.
The French riots, though, could shift the political mood critically - not only in France - making protectionism seem enlightened, humane and necessary. It is a cast of mind never far below the surface in America. On this side of the water "Fortress Europe" has a strong lingering appeal - even with the Polish plumbers inside, not out.
You can no longer take the global economy and its benefits for granted.