by Ramin Mazaheri
That headline is not even a bold statement because Macron has promised austerity and…when has austerity ever worked? It is really that simple.
There has been nearly four decades of trickle-down economics and anti-socialist policies, but there has been no promised increase in the standard of living. It has only dropped since the gains of the 1970s, the era of maximum worker power in the West.
I say the West because Iran, to give a personal example, did not have maximum worker power in the 1970s, so let’s not paint everyone all with the same brush – that’s inaccurate and only aids rampant depression in the West.
The alternative headline was: “Macron and new party to do what has never been done”.
The case for Macron’s economic proposals are so flimsy, so based on faith instead of facts, that even the IMF has finally admitted their own decades of truly deadly wrongdoing by pushing austerity. With just another 40 years of failure we can hope they will also come around on “free” trade, unregulated foreign investment and the false correlation between privatization and efficiency.
But the EU and Eurozone will not give up the capitalist ghost: the ECB (now holding renminbi for the first time) is continuing with monthly banker bailouts in the scores of billions, they are continuing to “lend” Greece money in order to send it straight back to interest repayment, and Macron’s own new centrist alliance now has a roughly 62% majority in Parliament to continue with trickle-down economics.
This president is being portrayed as having some sort of massive mandate in the press of the French elite and the foreign press, but that is false and everyone here knows the emperor has no clothes:
Abstention absolutely soared by some 20% since 2012 to reach a stunning 58% overall. This is already well-short of the necessary basis of any democracy which deserves to even be classified as “functioning”: a majority. (Of course, France has been in a state of emergency since November 2015, so it is not a democracy. It is a police state dictatorship.)
But Macron’s failure to win a democratic majority is even worse: His centrist alliance won 32% of the total 2nd round vote, and that translates into just 15% of the total electorate.
Wow, win over just 15% of the electorate in the legislative elections, after just 24% of the presidential elections, and the covers read, “Jupiter in Elysée Palace”. That’s one way of looking at it…which is a way Americans politely say, “That’s incredibly stupid.”
What’s more, history shows that Macron’s legislative victory was already guaranteed: Since 2007, when France fully went off the 7-year presidential term system and aligned their legislative and presidential elections, all 3 successive presidents have been handed Parliamentary majorities; Macron’s score in 2017 is nearly identical in terms of seats.
This is basically organized collusion between two of the three branches, and how can that be good? They are supposed to be balancing each other, I thought? I don’t know how many more election cycles it takes to make this a fact to people? Is it 40 years – do all reactionaries think in 40-year cycles? Is this the light at the end of the tunnel, LOL? I look forward to my joyous 79th birthday, Inshallah.
The thing is, Hollande even admitted after his 2012 election victory that this aligned election system was not good for democracy – of course, he did nothing about it. There seems to be zero chance that Macron will change it, as he appears far less the benevolent dictator than “Flanby” Hollande appeared in 2012.
So Macron’s victory is as “sweeping” as Sarkozy’s and Hollande’s…and they both totally failed. Just like Macron will.
Back to the future of failure
The line in France and Europe has been two-fold: “Reforms” (i.e. right-wing economics) are needed. Once that is done, then it becomes: “Time is needed to create success”.
Here in France, the most glaring problem with this is: How will record high unemployment be essentially halved to “normal” by allowing bosses a freer hand to whip, I mean fire, workers? A boss cannot whip physically, so the modern whip is psychological: the threat of being fired (with no social safety set to cushion the fall, capitalists hope).
But here in France the idea or “sacred cow” is a crazy one: one should not live in fear of destitution, and therefore workers have had more rights than in their US and UK counterparts.
One of Macron’s most hated but least-discussed measures will kill the peasants’ idiotic sacred cow – with all of its dung used to provide warmth and to build huts; with all of its milk for long-term productivity; with its ability to allow more land to be cultivated for public benefit, etc. It is this: If you turn down a job twice at the unemployment office, the unemployment office crosses you off their list.
It is no matter if you do not want this job; if you are qualified for the job but it is not in your desired field; if this job does not suit your family’s needs; if this job requires a lengthy commute of 30 kilometers even though you can’t afford a car much less highly-taxed gas.
And this is what the 2nd or 3rd “most advanced” socio-cultural country in the world says “modernity” is. And they must be right? Right?
The African-Americans may have actually devised a pithy phrase for this model long ago: “Massa sez work.”
It’s hard to see how this is a model worthy of emulation, much less exportation.
The reality is that the French model of “mixed socialism” is being done away with: the US/UK model is being exported, forcibly, into France.
France calls this the “Anglo-Saxon” model, and how the English press detests that term, LOL! It even gets quotation marks, just as they do for any official statement by Iran, like “Iran ‘says’ that…(insert anything here, even “the sun came up this morning”).
Of course, they should realize that calling it “Anglo-Saxon” is at least not calling the “Protestant” model, which is a fair statement, and I think any honest, Chosen Calvinist will agree to that. Half-Catholic Germany is only semi-entrenched in the Anglo-Saxon model, after all.
Theology aside: The average French citizen knows the death of their sacred cow will not bring them any juicy cuts of beef or fine leather goods, because they are not any dumber than I am.
So why did they vote for Macron?
The only thing I can say in a positive way is: They have decimated the Socialists for their anti-austerity betrayal, but I am chagrined to report they may have 50 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly, the main house of Parliament; the mainstream conservatives have their fewest seats in postwar history. This is good and justice, both political and moral.
It’s disgusting on this election night to listen to Socialist Party members talk about fighting neoliberalism and getting back to their progressive roots. Their presidential candidate didn’t survive the first round and the party secretary the second round. A “fired list” of Socialists is impressive, and schadenfreude may compel me to make that a whole article in the future. Some right-wing socialists survived, mostly those even more right-wing than the “camembert Socialists”: they made deals with Macron that he wouldn’t present an opposing candidate, and these horrid fake-leftists will remain in the Parliamentary spotlight.
But France has swept many of the liars, back-stabbers and incompetents. We all know they won’t stay unemployed long enough to run out of benefits…must be nice to have such security.
Will the French Street explode in violence?
France is never portrayed as a country which has serious, violent and authoritarian unrest, but that is certainly the case in 2017 because there has been 2 years of mass arrests of anti-government protesters (more than 2,000) and there is no sign of letting up.
I cannot report that anyone is seriously reporting that Macron is going to end this multi-year trend. Macron, like all modern Western politicians, is adding to, not dismantling, the vast right-wing powers first initiated by Dubya Bush to “fight terrorism”. His plan is to normalize the state of emergency police practices with a formal bill this Wednesday.
And even pro-austerity people (falsely) claim their “reforms need time to take effect”; clearly, unrest won’t stop in the interim because there will be no alleviation of ongoing suffering.
I can report that many believe that social unrest will get worse. It’s a fair prediction: Why should we not presume that more years of repression will not lead to intensification?
But no worries: there is no “French Street”. That’s only for gutter people like Arabs, right?
But French rues will certainly see major unrest in response to Macron and the parliamentarians they just voted in.
Should this voting contradiction be attributed to those ‘confounding French’?
Such stereotypes are obviously absurd, but they do make for interesting heds and subheds. But in the English-language press – so infected with the virus that is English tabloid journalism – this interpretation will be seriously debated.
A more intelligent analysis is: The French couldn’t vote in new ideas, so they settled for voting in new faces.
But this is another problem with the French model: The new faces should also have had different ideas in 2017.
Even though the brand-new party Unsubmissive France (real left, not far-left or hard-left) and their Communist allies won 14% of the popular vote, they are looking at only around 30 seats – just 5.1% of the 577 total seats. That is clearly a problem, and this is another reason why abstention is trending sharply upward this century.
Add in the National Front’s 13% of the popular vote and only around 7 seats (1.3% of the total seats) and this problem becomes exponentially compounded like vile banker interest.
So the French did vote in a serious minority – 27% for these two groups – but French capitalist democracy (bourgeois and not worker, unmodern, anti-socialist) only allotted them 6% worth of representation at the highest legislative level. That…must be aggravating.
But this is normal in the European Social Democratic model – simply ask the Greeks, the Portuguese, the Finnish, the Italians, and others and, until March 2019, the British. After that, the UK is on their own and can only speak from reminiscence.
There will be 2 new key faces: Marine Le Pen finally won a seat on her 3rd try. As her appallingly bad debate against Macron proved, she is now free to clown around in front of the really expensive cameras on a regular basis, which was likely her only goal all this time.
Jean-Luc Melenchon, the head of Unsubmissive France, won on his first try. He’s a good orator, and the left’s only real hope, whatever flaws he is always pasted with, so this is good. The most heavily-immigrant and Muslim area –Seine-Saint-Denis adjacent to Paris – also elected a UF delegate despite the highest abstention of the 102 departments.
Who will lose: Macron the golden child of capitalist fantasies, or the people?
I get paid to crystal ball – actually, this is free – so what I’ll say is:
5:1 odds that France protests and right-wing reforms are still forced through. I.e. the status quo since the Great Recession began.
20:1 odds that France protests on the level of 1995, when a three-week general strike actually forced the withdrawal of right-wing “deforms” (only 3 weeks!). Not many horses win at 20:1, but it’s not impossible. Frankly, I’ve seen a lot of talk and no action in my 8 years in France. Yeah more social action than the US, but c’mon…that’s like being the tallest building in Topeka, Kansas.
30:1 odds that Macron and EU leaders agree on moderate but truly democratic reforms in the next 5 years. Whatever they do will be branded “democratic”, but the “2-speed solution” is already in place, so that’s not really reform, just a changed tactic under the status quo.
1,000:1 odds that Macron and EU leaders agree on reforms which are democratic enough to stop continued unrest and the slide in the standard of living. I would offer 1,000,000:1 odds, but I can’t pay that off.
The needed reforms are not Macron’s – they are anti-capitalist and pro-socialist. The right wing has failed, in France and across the West. The left has lost in the West, but succeeded in places like China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and very few others.
These are quite simple facts, and 40 years is no longer a small sample size.
No comfort can be given, due to France’s new reality
There is no opposition party.
The mainstream conservatives are technically it, and they are more pro-austerity and pro-security than Macron’s centrist alliance. They won’t stop the death of the French model.
These two groups account for about 480 of 577 seats – a stunning 83% of Parliament (with only 54% of the total vote).
Macron – as his neo-fascist bill this week proves – is both far-right on security and economics. It’s crucial to accept that the far-right wave in Europe is actually continuing – do not overrate Marine Le Pen’s loss, as the 1% wants you to do.
When it comes to real power in France there is no opposition in 2017. There is no left. There is no far-left. There is no far-right. There are only voices without power.
Sounds about right….
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.