FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

From Capital to the Capitol

Paris.

The cameras are set low. They show him slightly taller than he really is as, alone, to the accompaniment of the “Ode to Joy” he traverses the scene in front of the Louvre, completing the last steps that have led him, to quote Regis Debray, “from Capital to the Capitol”, a pun to remind us of M. Macron’s origins, the first President in the history of France to come out of a bank, and not the least important bank.

His appearance and gait are immaculate.  He speaks impeccable French. The only criticism one might make of him would be for arrogance. But is this really a fault, I wonder, or the metteur en scène has chosen to issue a wise reminder to the populace of the class that is destined, since time immemorial and forever, to govern France and the world?

It is an image of perfection. But I can detect in it not a human, spontaneous element, an expression of character, or sentiment.  Just in the panegyric finale, a slight laugh. It is the moment when the President realizes, as do we, that he is not able, along with everyone else, to sing the Marseillaise. Clearly he does not know the words to the song of the French Revolution, which became the national anthem of his country, summoning “its citizens to arms”.

In front of the Louvre Pyramid, the crowd is not as large as the televisions are struggling to imply, albeit without insisting. It is probably the smallest to have gathered in comparable situations.  And if there are many French people who are relieved at the election of Macron (as there are many who are angry and disappointed), there is also not much enthusiasm. Except among television people, who presumably see it as part of their professional duties to be ostentatious in their displays of joy at the election of the new President.

 

Here he is now, addressing the crowd and behind them the Nation that fate has now sent him to govern. His speech is about everything and nothing. Full of gracious sentiments and noble intent. It could have been delivered two hundred years ago, or perhaps two hundred years in the future.  It promises that problems are going to be addressed. It promises prosperity, reconciliation and much else that is worthy and heartening. But it says not a word on any political subject. It promises nothing specific except goodness, agreeability and happiness.

Only on one subject is something concrete said. The decision to fight the “extremisms”.  The choice of the plural, the subsumption of extreme right and left in the “opponent” category, clarifies the aspirations he identifies with and the “historic mission” he has assumed.  To put an end to “French exceptionalism”, to impose in France too the global rules and the ideology of neoliberalism, the continually evolving and progressively more radicalized economic  dogma of the Kingdom of Money. He has in any case already announced that he intends to “reform” French labour legislation, even without parliamentary approval, but using the almost monarchical powers of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic. His intention to exempt the rich and super-rich from taxation, while hounding everyone else, elicited criticism even from an otherwise neo-liberal commentator at the businessmen’s journal “Les Echos”. Occupying the Presidency was just the first step.

 

An easy, but very fragile, victory 

But the job Mr. Macron came to deliver will be hard to accomplish. For the “extremists” Mr.Macron wants to fight against have already won 55% of the votes in the first round of the presidential election. Both abstention and the number of blank and spoiled ballots reached record levels in the second round.

Only the mechanics of the French presidential system and the repulsion from Lepen have enabled Mr. Macron to become President. Not the accession of even a significant relative majority of the French to the ideas he wants to implement.

Read also:

FYROM – Dead end of liberal democracy

 

This is indicated in any case today by the French press, which underlines the dimensions, but also the fragility, of Macron’s victory.

“Well played” is the title of today’s “Liberation” referring to Macron’s success, and the financial newspaper “Les Echos”, reflecting the interests of employers, bears the title: “France dared”. The traditional newspaper of France’s right wing “Le Figaro”, more cautious, brings the new President down to earth, warning him:

“Let’s face it: the France of Macron, this positive, dynamic, reform-minded France, open to Europe as to the winds from the open sea, is a reality – and that is good. But it represents only about a quarter  of the French population. Two other quarters  (the supporters of Le Pen, Mélenchon, but also Hamon, we might add) are radically opposed to the values it embodies.”

An invitation to struggle, from the opposition

Jean-Luc Mélenchon did not devote more than two sentences to formal congratulations and greetings to the newly elected President before summoning his supporters into the run-up to the parliamentary elections next month.

The Communist “L’ Humanité”, for its part, welcomed the new President with an invitation to battle against him and his ideas, underlining that he had been elected but without people endorsing his ideas. In its editorial it emphasizes that Macron “wants to strike quickly because he is weak” and underlines the importance of next month’s parliamentary elections for impeding the course he wants to follow.

There can be no doubt that a large segment of the people of France are now lying in wait for the new President, with a rendezvous at the parliamentary elections and after that on the street. Their feelings are well articulated by a personage of the arts (and supporter of Mélenchon) the film director François Ruffin, who created a sensation with his  “Open Letter to a Future President who is already Hated”, published a few days ago in “Le Monde” and warning:

“On the morning of the 1st May I was in the marketplace in the Saint Maurice district of Amiens, in the evening in the  marketplace of Longeau… I talked to hundreds of people. You could literally feel it in the air: they hate you. I was really shocked. I did not expect it. I was amazed: they hate you. It was the same the previous day at the Moto Cross in Flixecourt. They were saying it to each other in their conversations: they hate you… They hate you – the people without rights, the people who have been forgotten, the people who are unprotected – the people you mention in your speeches, imitating a little bit Jean-Luc  Mélenchon…They hate you because they see in you, and rightly so, the arrogant elite. They hate you, they hate you, they hate you. I hammer it at you because along with your court, your entourage, the bourgeoisie you have around you, you have gone socially deaf. You don’t hear the snarling. The incident at the Whirlpool parking lot was just a foretaste. You are on the edge of a precipice, a class abyss”

It is past midnight when I go back to my hotel ruminating on what the next six months are going to be like in France. Groups of very young people are outside, drinking beer and discussing on the steps of the Place de la Republique, under its statue. I overhear a young boy say to his companions: “Only with Revolution can you do things!”

This country will never change!

Translated from Greek by Wayne Hall

 

Dimitris Konstantakopoulos is a journalist and writer, former Secretary of the Independent Citizens Movement, former member SYRIZA’s Central Committee, current editorial board member of the international magazine Utopia Review, ex-chief of the Greek Press Agency office in Moscow, formerly served as Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou’s adviser in East-West relations and arms control.

July 14, 2020
Anthony DiMaggio
Canceling the Cancel Culture: Enriching Discourse or Dumbing it Down?
Patrick Cockburn
Boris Johnson Should not be Making New Global Enemies When His Country is in a Shambles
Frank Joyce
Lift From the Bottom? Yes.
Richard C. Gross
The Crackdown on Foreign Students
Steven Salaita
Should We Cancel “Cancel Culture”?
Paul Street
Sorry, the Chicago Blackhawks Need to Change Their Name and Logo
Jonathan Cook
‘Cancel Culture’ Letter is About Stifling Free Speech, Not Protecting It
John Feffer
The Global Rushmore of Autocrats
C. Douglas Lummis
Pillar of Sand in Okinawa
B. Nimri Aziz
Soft Power: Americans in Its Grip at Home Must Face the Mischief It Wields by BNimri Aziz July 11/2020
Cesar Chelala
What was lost when Ringling Bros. Left the Circus
Dan Bacher
California Regulators Approve 12 New Permits for Chevron to Frack in Kern County
George Wuerthner
Shrinking Wilderness in the Gallatin Range
Lawrence Davidson
Woodrow Wilson’s Racism: the Basis For His Support of Zionism
Binoy Kampmark
Mosques, Museums and Politics: the Fate of Hagia Sophia
Dean Baker
Propaganda on Government Action and Inequality from David Leonhardt
July 13, 2020
Gerald Sussman
The Russiagate Spectacle: Season 2?
Ishmael Reed
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Perry Mason Moment
Jack Rasmus
Why the 3rd Quarter US Economic ‘Rebound’ Will Falter
W. T. Whitney
Oil Comes First in Peru, Not Coronavirus Danger, Not Indigenous Rights
Ralph Nader
The Enduring Case for Demanding Trump’s Resignation
Raghav Kaushik – Arun Gupta
On Coronavirus and the Anti-Police-Brutality Uprising
Deborah James
Digital Trade Rules: a Disastrous New Constitution for the Global Economy Written by and for Big Tech
Howard Lisnoff
Remembering the Nuclear Freeze Movement and Its Futility
Sam Pizzigati
Will the Biden-Sanders Economic Task Force Rattle the Rich?
Allen Baker
Trump’s Stance on Foreign College Students Digs US Economic Hole Even Deeper
Binoy Kampmark
The Coronavirus Seal: Victoria’s Borders Close
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Power, Knowledge and Virtue
Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail