On Gideon Rachman’s hopes for Macron, a comment by Committed Observer

Mr. Rachman’s political desperation is showing to an arresting degree. With his rhetorical frame being  John Maynard Keynes’ open letter to Franklin Roosevelt, after FDR won the 1933 election:

“You have made yourself the Trustee for those in every country who seek to mend the evils of our condition by reasoned experiment within the framework of the existing social system. If you fail, rational change will be gravely prejudiced throughout the world, leaving orthodoxy and revolution to fight it out.”

Macron is not FDR, nor is Rachman a Keynes. Rachman  puts his argument into the form of the Keynes open letter, as being a consideration Macron might exercise. Macron is the Neo-Liberal Lite Golden Boy. Although I’m sure that the Speed & Shock of Fillon resonated with Financial Times Free Marketeers. Fillon would have been their candidate of choice, even as he got almost 20% of the vote in the runoff, despite the pending trial.

Consider that according to Reuters the abstention rate in the French election was to be between 25-27% :

The final abstention level in the second round of the French presidential election is likely to stand at between 25-27 percent, according to four polls published on Sunday.

A survey from Ifop-Fiducial put the abstention rate at 25 percent. Polls from Ipsos Sopra Steria and Elabe estimated the abstention rate at 26 percent while another poll from Harris Interactive estimated that rate at 27 percent.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Michel Rose)


And, according to Newsweek:

Abstention could be high, and close to 60 percent of those who plan to vote for Macron say they will do so to stop Le Pen from being elected to lead the euro zone’s second-largest economy rather than because they fully agree with the former banker-turned-politician.


Close to 60% of those voters ‘ who plan to vote for Macron say they will do so to stop Le Pen from being elected…’. The idea that Macron can be important to ‘the whole world’ is mooted by the fact of that 60% of voters cast ballots against Le Pen, rather than in favor of Macron. This puts the Macron Victory in a much clearer light. 

Also read this FiveThirtyEight essay by Harry Enten titled ‘Macron Won, But The French Polls Were Way Off’ :

This observation about the ‘shy voter’ adds some necessary insights:

None of this is to say that there aren’t “shy voters” in the electorate. It’s just that we may be thinking about them in the wrong way. Instead of undercounting conservative support because people are afraid to give a socially undesirable response, the polls may simply be missing unenthusiastic supporters — people who aren’t excited about their candidate enough to answer a poll but still vote. In fact, when the idea of a “shy” voter was originally formed in 1992, it had nothing to do with right-wing populists. Instead, pollsters were underestimating the strength of the mainstream and relatively milquetoast Conservative Party in the U.K.

“Milquetoast,” in fact, has been used to describe Macron. In the 2017 French election, his voters were more likely to say that they were voting against Le Pen than for Macron. A Suffolk University poll also indicates that voters who liked neither candidate went overwhelmingly for Macron. In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well, Trump won because people who were unenthusiastic about both candidates (i.e., had an unfavorable view of both) went in large numbers for Trump. Maybe we should talk less about “shy” voters and more about “apathetic” voters or “reluctant” voters.


What would a Rachman political essay offer but more of the same Anti-Populist Hysterics? The ‘as if’ here is that the Neo-Liberal Dispensation didn’t crash in 2008. And that the watershed of that crash aren’t the dread Populists of the continuing political nightmares of Mr. Rachman:

For while Mr Macron can savour a crushing victory over Ms Le Pen, he also knows that 35 per cent of French voters have just voted for a far-right candidate. The cumulative vote for extremists of the far left and the far right in the first round of the presidential election was closer to 50 per cent. That means that almost half of French voters want to smash “the system”. It is Mr Macron’s job to show that the system can work better. If he fails, then, as Keynes put it in the 1930s, “rational change will be gravely prejudiced throughout the world”. The chances of failure are quite high. Mr Macron has simultaneously to reinvigorate the French economy and the “European project”. Both are notoriously difficult to reform and face deep structural challenges that might defeat even the most imaginative and dynamic politician.

Its easy to lose patience with Mr. Rachman’s verbose agonizing about the problems that the Party-less Macron faces in the short and the long term. Not the least of which is the myth of the financial probity of Germany, as personified by Merkel. Please read Ms. Tett’s A Debt to History? in this newspaper, for the facts about the four time defaulter in the 20th Century Germany:


And not to forget the status of the EU as, in fact , a cartel with the trappings of democracy, that has become the sole province of Merkel and her scagnozzo politica.

Committed 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.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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