2016 was the year of the revolt. The Dutch referendum, the British referendum, the American elections and the Italian referendum all ended up in humiliating defeats for the political, corporate and financial elites; only Austria decided to keep faith with their projects, but even there the demonstration of malcontents was significant. 2017 requires a change of strategy.
Mainstream political parties are in disarray everywhere, facing either the rise of anti-establishment parties in the political arena or that of anti-establishment candidates within their own ranks. With the forthcoming French elections, the Socialist party collapsing after François Hollande’s disastrous tenure and the primary establishment choices Sarkozy and Juppè eliminated, a change of strategy was needed to stop the wave of the much dreaded democratic participation of the masses (dubbed as populism), unwilling to submit any longer to the interests of the elite: enter Emmanuel Macron.
This former minister of the economy during the already mentioned Hollande presidency, he quit in time to avoid being associated with the failures of his former boss. His political campaign is what you could expect from a major PR firm: first of all, distance yourself from the crumbling political lines. Macron himself declares to be “not left, neither right”.1)Can Emmanuel Macron win the French election?, theguardian.com 3.02.2017.
This shouldn’t fool anyone: the positions of the mainstream parties on core issues ranging from the euro currency, to liberal interventionist foreign policy, immigration, austerity are basically the same, which is why electors are now looking elsewhere for solutions; left and right have lost most of their meaning as traditional parties have long been bought by what Marxists would call “the capital”: institutional investors, big banks and large financial firms in general, and that’s where Macron (a former Rothschild investment banker, one of the most exclusive clubs of the West) comes from; despite presenting himself as an outsider, Macron is an insider of the financial elite that has bought its way into politics and led the West to its disastrous current state.
His proposed policies, as we will see later, derive largely from the same books of neoliberal economics whose precepts have already been implemented, while ignoring if not plain refusing to address those neoliberal pillars that people resent the most: the common currency, trade treaties and immigration.
Macron has been hailed as a French Clinton2)Emmanuel Macron finds new space in the centre of French politics, economist.com 26.01.2017.or Blair,3)France Presidential Election: Who Is ‘French Tony Blair’ Emmanuel Macron?, europe.newsweek.com 08.11.2016. two leaders whose legacy is now under scrutiny as it includes many of the problems that caused the shrinking of their respective countries’ middle class. Young age, fabricated image of an outsider, catchy slogan (En Marche!) and widespread favorable reviews4)Emmanuel Macron: France’s political prince eyeing the Elysée, theguardian.com 10.04.2016; It is Emmanuel Macron, not Marine Le Pen, who will come to be known as France’s answer to Donald Trump, independent.co.uk 24.01.2017; Emmanuel Macron’s rise electrifies French election race, ft.com.by mainstream media are the same elements that 8 years ago paved the way for Barack Obama’s presidency, yet after two terms, the “Change” that his equally catchy slogan promised never materialized for the lower classes that, fed-up with the false promises, turned the tables and elected Donald Trump. The PR recipe nonetheless is clear: if mainstream parties are no longer of use to the oligarchy to rule the masses but have become a burden, then they will be used as scapegoats, while a new candidate straight from the ranks of the elites will be presented as the messiah of change against their former tools.
Who’s behind Emmanuel Macron?
Macron backers predictably hail primarily from the French big business: Henry Hermand (real estate), Claude Bébéar (AXA insurance colossus), Xavier Niel (Iliad, telecom), Marc Simoncini (meeting website Meetic), Christian Dagnat (BNP Paribas bank) and finally Jacques Attali,5)Qui soutient Emmanuel Macron ?, franceinter.fr 16.11.2016.a politically active financier whose platform resembles that of another politically active financier on the other side of the Atlantic, George Soros, whose Attali is a fan of.6) George Soros une personne formidable pour Attali, youtube.com 16.07.2015 .
A major connection to the financial world and mainstream media is represented by Bernard Mourad, former Morgan Stanley and the media giant Altice of Patrick Drahi.7) lemonde.fr 04-10-2016.
It is interesting to note that while part of the Hollande government as minister of the economy Macron insulted the French working class as “illiterate”8)French leader calls factory workers ‘illiterate’, thelocal.fr 17.09.2014.and mocked the unemployed, 9)The best way to afford a suit is to get a job, france24.com 31.05.2016.solidifying his status as a candidate of the elite and their contempt for the Western lower classes.
A Machiavellian Program?
Macron’s early approach to politics was during his academic career, including Italian philosopher Machiavelli in his master’s thesis, which he deemed useful for his later political run.10)Emmanuel Macron, Face of France’s New Socialism, nytimes.com 6.10.2014.
His platform, despite the PR stunt promising change, does not touch any pillar of the status quo: euro currency, international trade treaties, NATO, open borders immigration policy are no part of the discussion. The only relevant proposal to change the structure of the common currency area is the creation of “Eurozone budget” but the idea is not popular in Germany.11)French Hopeful Macron: Euro Zone Needs Own Budget, global.handelsblatt.com 10.01.2017.
The biggest boon for the unemployed to encourage them to take part time jobs is a 100 euro premium added to the minimum legal salary. Similarly, part time, low paid jobs were the core of Obama’s way to absorb unemployment, but it failed to placate the malcontents.
A gift to the rich comes in the form of eliminating taxes on shares of companies as well as maintaining the free tax regime on the first house and ownership of works of art. As none of them requires any particular effort to see their value increase, it’s a way to let the rich get richer by sitting around and doing nothing.
Taxation on income will be reduced by eliminating the obligatory contributions to health insurance and unemployment by employers. The 35 working hours a week will be changed allowing the young to work more and seniors to work less, while retirement age could reach 67.12)Présidentielle 2017 : le programme d’Emmanuel Macron, directmatin.fr 14.02.2017.
Finally, after last year’s protests by the police against the workload and the impossibility to defend themselves against the attacks in the primarily immigrant ghettos of the banlieu,13)French police stage fifth night of protest, Hollande pledges meeting, reuters.com 21.10.2016.Macron would add 10.000 policemen,14)Présidentielle 2017 : le programme d’Emmanuel Macron, directmatin.fr 14.02.2017.though the second reason of concern remains unaddressed.
While some of the measures proposed could be important tweaks for a functioning economy, others are straight from the neoliberal textbook that failed elsewhere and none of them seems to be a game changer to reverse the decline of France. A Macron government would also likely be squeezed between the Eurozone, which in its current configuration favors primarily Germany, and Trump’s protectionism and currency war against the euro itself, resulting in further damage to the French economy and sufferings for the French.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Can Emmanuel Macron win the French election?, theguardian.com 3.02.2017.|
|2.||↑||Emmanuel Macron finds new space in the centre of French politics, economist.com 26.01.2017.|
|3.||↑||France Presidential Election: Who Is ‘French Tony Blair’ Emmanuel Macron?, europe.newsweek.com 08.11.2016.|
|4.||↑||Emmanuel Macron: France’s political prince eyeing the Elysée, theguardian.com 10.04.2016; It is Emmanuel Macron, not Marine Le Pen, who will come to be known as France’s answer to Donald Trump, independent.co.uk 24.01.2017; Emmanuel Macron’s rise electrifies French election race, ft.com.|
|5.||↑||Qui soutient Emmanuel Macron ?, franceinter.fr 16.11.2016.|
|6.||↑||George Soros une personne formidable pour Attali, youtube.com 16.07.2015 .|
|8.||↑||French leader calls factory workers ‘illiterate’, thelocal.fr 17.09.2014.|
|9.||↑||The best way to afford a suit is to get a job, france24.com 31.05.2016.|
|10.||↑||Emmanuel Macron, Face of France’s New Socialism, nytimes.com 6.10.2014.|
|11.||↑||French Hopeful Macron: Euro Zone Needs Own Budget, global.handelsblatt.com 10.01.2017.|
|12, 14.||↑||Présidentielle 2017 : le programme d’Emmanuel Macron, directmatin.fr 14.02.2017.|
|13.||↑||French police stage fifth night of protest, Hollande pledges meeting, reuters.com 21.10.2016.|