by Ramin Mazaheri
Emmanuel Macron very quickly made it official: He will introduce a bill which will transform extraordinary state of emergency powers into regular police practice.
According to Le Monde, which saw a leaked copy of the bill: “…almost all the measures of the state of emergency will be found in common law.”
What this means is that the post-Charlie Hebdo war hysteria has not only never stopped, but will have become the new, permanent normal: Anyone can be arrested, searched and detained with just a simple accusation. Judges simply need to be “informed”; police have carte blanche.
So…when can I start referring to France as an “authoritarian state” without getting edited?
LOL, I don’t know what it would actually require to finally start calling that spade a “spade”…. I am reminded that Confucius’ “rectification of names” doctrine shows that the failure to call things by their proper names can only lead to social disorder.
I hate to say I told you so, but after less than one month in power Macron has proven to be what many feared: All the fascism of Marine Le Pen, slightly less (perhaps) of the xenophobia , 100 times the austerity. What a lousy formula that is!
And despite all the warning signs, Macron won pretty handily. And again, despite all the warning signs, Macron’s party is set to win an absolute majority in Parliament when the final round votes are tallied on June 18.
The bill transforming civil liberties in France will be immediately introduced three days later, on June 21. Macron is not wasting any time in showing his true colors, and the bill was obviously whistle-blown in order to warn voters.
I understand if the average person isn’t paying attention, but for journalists – it’s our job to do so.
Some journalists are wasting space by acting completely surprised at the legalization of what is properly termed a “police state dictatorship”, but Macron showed his authoritarian inclination by repeatedly promising to extend the state of emergency upon entering office and he said so again this week (until November 1).
Instead of focusing on the campaign – when he spoke to voters directly – many journalists are foolishly claiming to have been misled by a comment in his book that the state of emergency could not be “permanent”.
Well, of course….absolutely nobody, anywhere is saying that France needs to be living under a permanent state of emergency until the end of time.
But France is currently a country so badly burned by Hollande’s 180-degree about-face on election promises that they are perhaps hyper-sensitive to yet another faithless elected. But they are being willfully blind, again, and they would do better to examine the fact that his proposed changes to the labor code this week are even more right-wing than what he warned of while campaigning.
I remind readers that a “French Patriot Act”, which gave cops all the powers they allegedly needed to fight terrorism, was rushed through in the 2015 post-Charlie Hebdo war hysteria. France’s executive branch was already perhaps the most powerful in the West, so at the time many said it wasn’t even necessary.
But they grabbed more power, anyway, because that seems to be the only true talent of Western politicians in the 21st century.
The backroom deal that cemented Macron becomes much clearer
Macron’s campaign was not plunging but certainly fading when he made a key political deal with the leading centrist politician in France, Francois Bayrou. Bayrou finished 5th in the 2012 presidential election, to give you an idea of his significant domestic standing.
It was late February and Macron had fallen below conservative Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen in the polls. But then the centrist party leader announced he would ally with Macron, and Macron never left the top two again.
I assumed that the backroom deal was Bayrou’s support in exchange for the prime minister spot, but he surprisingly settled for Justice Minister, the nation’s top prosecutor.
Well, nobody predicted that the two would seek to drastically expand the role of the Justice Minster: The proposed bill effectively makes the nation’s top lawyer into the nation’s top judge! That’s obviously a huge, alarming conflict of interest.
The new bill will mean that the judicial branch no longer decides on anything with the word “terrorism” attached – no longer acts as a check and balance – they simply must be informed of decisions taken by the executive branch: i.e., the president, the Interior and Justice Ministers, and Officer Jean-Michel Everycop.
When police don’t need warrants for searches, raids and arrests, then judges are just rubber-stampers, except for cases like those found on reality court TV.
The leak became public literally minutes from when the “Sages”, or “Wise Ones”, of France’s Constitutional Council strongly condemned the government’s practice of banning people from attending demonstrations and abusing house arrests.
Amnesty reported last week that some 650 specific individuals were banned from attending peaceful, anti-government protests in the past 18 months. The overwhelming majority were during the anti-labor code rollback protests, with a couple dozen environmentalists banned during the UN COP 21 summit in Paris, which Trump recently rejected.
This condemnation by the Guardian Council – I’m sorry, the Wise Ones – was leavened by the fact that they waited one and half years to make a ruling on such a fundamental issue of democratic rights…in fact, there’s so much leavening the bread has lost all nutritional value: they were obviously in the pocket of the Hollande administration.
The Wise Ones did not dare touch the question of banning entire demonstrations: Amnesty said 155 demonstrations have banned, but they didn’t point out that an undoubted “chilling effect” surely led to the premature strangulation of many in the cradle. I guess let’s look for that decision in December 2019?
‘Je suis Algerien!’
Now there’s a slogan which has roughly zero chance of going viral, LOL!
But it’s basically true, because the last time there was a state of emergency in France it was to prevent Algerian independence. We have all been Algerians since November 2015, and now Macron wants us all to be Algerians permanently (hey, better than being Libyans – then we’d get bombed by NATO!).
Maybe this is where the European project becomes useful: If passed, the bill will surely go before the European Court of Human Rights.
A fundamental question which never gets posed by the mainstream media is: Why do politicians keep doing this? As I dared to write hours after an ISIL terror attack in Iran (and my faith has been justified), Iranian politicians did not manipulate terrorism to attempt an anti-democratic executive branch power grab.
The answers to such a question cannot be good, but it seems France’s politicians want more power, more money, more fame, more everything else that…does not benefit the entire commonweal: more equality, more social justice, more happiness, more peace, etc.
But the precipitous fall of Hollande’s prime minister and primary enforcer, Manuel Valls, should be a cautionary tale that such power grabs backfire with voters. Heck, the entire French Socialist Party may not even win enough seats to form a parliamentary group, which calls into question their very existence. Voters are not as dumb as they think!
And because they are no good answers to such questions, you don’t rise very high on the journalism ladder by posing such questions.
I remind readers that Macron has said that he will not remain in politics after his presidency – he’ll go back to private service and make enough money to buy an NBA franchise, like Obama plans to. For a public servant that is a rather mercenary plan. Half of Macron’s nearly 400 party candidates are totally new to politics, so it’s appears certain they will be easily malleable to Macron’s will; it seems less certain that they are committed to the public good instead of reaping the benefits of quickly-acquired power.
Are we judging Macron too soon?
I keep asking Macron voters, but not in a needling way, if they are happy with their vote – I’m still waiting for an enthusiastic “yes”.
I don’t want to come off as too negative too early in Macron’s presidency: I think many have done that with Trump. It seems clear that Trump had no idea how much Deep State blowback there would be to what he proposed to implement, and we shouldn’t be surprised that he was totally unprepared for that. However, he could find his feet and start punching back – it ain’t over, and it’s more accurate to say it’s only just begun.
Macron, however, was the number 2 man in Elysée Palace (France’s White House) and worked closely with Hollande. Macron was a top cabinet minister. He clearly knows the political ropes and what he is doing. Trump probably just watched “House of Cards” as preparation (plenty of Russophobia there).
Ultimately what Macron is doing is implementing the will of the bosses – that’s the simplest way to put it. Macron can’t imagine going against them, and he sees himself as one of them. Macron, the former Rothschild banker, is also one of high finance and the bond-buyers, and they are obviously delighted at his ascension.
We journalists like to have our fun, and we’re actually not that creative, so we like to come up with funny names for the physical and mental midgets we have to follow daily. I dubbed France’s boy wonder “Emmanuel Macr-Obama” because both politicians were just a shiny repackaging of the same capitalist/imperialist brand.
But maybe Macron and Marine Le Pen were one-and-the-same all along?
But maybe Macron is even worse: Who can say that Le Pen would be taking this route, which is clearly authoritarian?
Of course, if Le Pen had done something like this I think French Twitter might have exploded in outrage.
It’s certainly hard to not predict that by pushing Macron France’s mainstream media will lose major credibility with every Macron step to the right.
When allegedly left-wing Libération writes of the proposed bill: “…the sentiment of being duped is starting to be seen among social networks, traditional citizen rights’ watchdogs, NGOs, lawyers’ unions and political progressives,” one wants to say, “Go take a long walk off a short pier, Libé….” After all, they broke the law on impartiality the day before the presidential vote with a cover that read, “Do what you want but vote Macron”.
What’s certain is that the mainstream media is never going to really condemn Macron…or Clinton, Obama, Cameron, etc. That means it’s really down to the average citizen. Many predict this 2nd labor code rollback will inspire Hollande-era levels of strikes and protests – will this normalization of the emergency state add to that?
But all of those groups listed by Libération should have known better; should have warned the public of who is the real Macron; are culpable in scaring the electorate into voting for him.
Of course, being no fool, I vote communist, but when we are told that Le Pen was the fascist and then we see that Macron is immediately preparing to institutionalize of fascism – well, you get that wrong and anyone with ethics must admit responsibility. And then they should change their point of view.
I feel I would have been writing the same things had Bernie Sanders won in the United States….
There is no Third Way, there is no reconciliation with capitalism, there is no end to xenophobia without socialist unity, there is no way a Rothschild banker could have been what you foolishly pretended he was.
And yet, as I write this, tomorrow is the first round in France’s Parliamentary elections: Voters are set to give Macron an absolute majority in Parliament and, combined with the conservative Républicain Party, to elect 90% pro-austerity politicians. C’est dingue…it’s crazy!
I didn’t have to be this way, but this is what compromise with capitalism looks like – the result is always anti-democratic.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.