At The Financial Times: Manuel Valls disappoints ! A comment by Political Observer

Headline: Manuel Valls shifts to left as France’s Socialist frontrunner

Sub-headline: Favourite to be party’s presidential candidate unveils policy plans

January 2,2017

Mr Valls promised on Tuesday not to reform France’s 35-hour working week or its labour laws and to reject the politics of austerity. “Today the question is not the deficit, it is growth and employment,” he said.

It is hard to keep up with the ever changing French Political situation, and the utterly changeable Mr. Valls and his evolution? pragmatism? opportunism?

With his (Valls ed.) departure, however, the Socialist party now has a real opportunity to debate its differences and decide its identity. It is important that it should do so — rather than seeking to maintain a superficial consensus — in order to provide a real counterbalance to an increasingly assertive French right.

And he has plenty of enemies in his party, after questioning core policies such as the 35-hour week.

In this  December 6,2016 editorial The Financial Times gives its recommendation to Valls in light of Hollande: ‘He had also signally failed to restore dynamism to the economy and raise living standards in the deprived, deindustrialising regions where blue-collar voters are increasingly attentive to the Eurosceptic, protectionist rhetoric of Marine Le Pen.’ 

Headline:France’s Socialist party has a chance to rebuild

Sub-headline: The successor to Hollande must resolve the longstanding divisions

Manuel Valls’ entry into the race is a welcome development. The outgoing prime minister’s zeal for market-oriented reform and tough law and order stance are in tune with a rightward shift in the French electorate. Yet Mr Valls may struggle to overcome his association with Mr Hollande’s failed term. And he has plenty of enemies in his party, after questioning core policies such as the 35-hour week. Arnaud Montebourg, one of the rebels who left the government in 2014, is a more obvious representative of the party’s leftwing. He could also be a more natural choice for working-class voters tempted to defect to Ms Le Pen.

Now read this excerpt of  Wolfgang Streeck’s essay titled ‘How Will Capitalism End’ at The New Left Review of May-June 2014:

Thirdly, the commodification of human labour may have reached a critical point. Deregulation of labour markets under international competition has undone whatever prospects there might once have been for a general limitation of working hours. [25] It has also made employment more precarious for a growing share of the population. [26] With the rising labour-market participation of women, due in part to the disappearance of the ‘family wage’, hours per month sold by families to employers have increased while wages have lagged behind productivity, most dramatically in the capitalist heartland, the us (see Figure 7). At the same time, deregulation and the destruction of trade unions notwithstanding, labour markets typically fail to clear, and residual unemployment on the order of 7 to 8 per cent has become the new normal, even in a country like Sweden. Sweatshops have expanded in many industries including services, but mostly on the global periphery, beyond the reach of the authorities and what remains of trade unions in the capitalist centre, and out of view of consumers. As sweated labour competes with workers in countries with historically strong labour protections, working conditions for the former deteriorate while unemployment becomes endemic for the latter. Meanwhile, complaints multiply about the penetration of work into family life, alongside pressures from labour markets to join an unending race to upgrade one’s ‘human capital’. Moreover, global mobility enables employers to replace unwilling local workers with willing immigrant ones. It also compensates for sub-replacement fertility, itself due in part to a changed balance between unpaid and paid work and between non-market and market consumption. The result is a secular weakening of social counter-movements, caused by a loss of class and social solidarity and accompanied by crippling political conflicts over ethnic diversity, even in traditionally liberal countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden or Norway.

[25] Consider the attack on the last remnants of the 35-hour week in France, under the auspices of a Socialist president and his party.

In sum the Financial Times and Valls once agreed about the 35 -hour week, as a first step toward the Neo-Liberalization of Socialist France, except that Hollande led the way! And then Valls capitulated to the faction led by ‘ Arnaud Montebourg, the firebrand former industry minister’, the leader of the ‘extremists’ in his Party! The pretense of this editorial, an advocacy of the  ‘reform’ of the Socialist Party in France. In sum, how can the Financial Times support Valls, given his capitulation?  But what of the Speed and Shock of the Marinetti/Thatcherism of François Fillon? Except that he is a friend of Putin.What are the editors to do?

Political Observer


About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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