A) freedom of speech does not exist (hate speech laws, anyone? Ask Brigitte Bardot); note also that newspapers are funded by the government, there is no truly free press in France (instead, the government "ensures diversity of the press" by ensuring that papers can't fail by subsidizing them heavily). The irony there is that it's far more expensive to buy a paper in France than in the US...
B) The government controls 53% of the economy, has enacted extremely rigid labor laws which make it nearly impossible to become an entrepreneur and make it illegal to work at more than one full-time job. (note Vicomte (and God almighty, how I hate royalists---believing in superiority based on accident of birth, although I suspect you must be a Gaullist)-- in the US, most of the people who work at more than a full-time job do it by choice, either to gain enough to achieve a certain dream, or to get a new venture off the ground).
C) Taxes are so confiscatory and regulation so onerous that none of your personal capital is truly your own. Don't believe me? Try evicting a non-paying tenant in France. You will still pay your mortgage, but the tenant doesn't have to pay you and you can't make them leave. There's always a way to be allowed to stay---get pregnant, become unemployed, you name it. Taxes are so ridiculously heavy that the black market is the thriving part of the economy in France. Polish plumbers were the latest bugaboo of the French, not because they'd displace legitimate French plumbers, but because those French plumbers would lose their lucrative under-the-table payments. Domestic workers were so notoriously paid under the table that the government had to come up with a freakishly byzantine tax incentive structure to get people to pay legally. French employees have very low salaries because they don't want to pay the taxes on salary, so they get paid "in nature" instead---with paid-for vacations, cars, etc., which the government approves of because it bases medical benefits payments on salary and would have to pay out more on higher salaries. Don't even start with the series of CDD (temp) jobs with which many French are stuck---because no one wants to hire anyone they cannot fire. The country is reaching SOL time, but refuses to acknowledge the need for reform, something the Germans have at least learned.
Per your latest comment, Fascists and Communists are merely two sides of the same coin (although the communists are still going strong in France)---giving up personal control of your life to the government is common to both, just as it is common to current French society. Given your obvious deficiency of understanding on matters economic, there are some French authors with whom you must be sadly unfamiliar, including one of the most brilliant: Frédéric Bastiat (see here). Seriously, the French model is fated to collapse, just as the Soviet Union was fated to collapse, because the economic model is simply untenable. Not surprising that the French understanding is so skewed when even the so-called "right-wing parties" in France are far to the left of the left parties in the rest of Europe. Check out the chart in the current issue of "L'Expansion" for yourself if you don't believe me.
The young are protesting because they are fearful of globalization, fearful of uncertainty and fearful of risk, period. You have obviously been too long out of France to have your finger on the pulse anymore. It is a country run as a nanny state for its infantilised citizens (see La Grande Nurserie : En finir avec l'infantilisation des français). And I say all of this as someone who is very very worried about the state of France and who has a stake in seeing it succeed.
So you believe.
But I look and see French companies functioning and succeeding in sector after sector.
I do not think France will change, much.
I do not think France will collapse.
I do think that the US is headed for a sharper and more terrible set of corrections, and that an excess of debt will fall like a souffle owing to a few key developments, such as the inexorable march away from the dollarization of energy purchases.
But we shall see.
I am well content to see the CPE effort collapse. It is the wrong way to go about doing it.
The crime of Socialism.