The Financial Times editors couldn’t trust this essay proclaiming the Good News of Macron’s ‘Reform’ of the railways, along with his other Neo-Liberalizations of France, to its usual stable of apologists for the dismal, indeed demonstrable failure, of this particular form of nihilism. Here is the a telling quote from Mr. Boone’s essay:
International observers tend to see this latest confrontation — triggered by plans to change the generous working conditions enjoyed by employees of SNCF, the state train operator — as a significant test of President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to reform France. They argue that if Mr Macron’s assault on the special privileges of les cheminots (railway workers) fails, he will forfeit much of the domestic goodwill he has accumulated since his election in May 2017. And defeat at home would jeopardise his European agenda, too.
But in his next paragraph Mr. Boone admonishes his reader to:
This analysis is mistaken, however. It overestimates the importance of this particular reform package and underestimates Mr Macron’s strategic nous. He will emerge from this tug of war victorious, precisely because so much is at stake — both domestically and internationally.
‘Strategic nous’ reeks of the intellectual pretentious menace of The Oxbridger! Spoken like a true Axa Group Economic Buccaneer. Mr. Boone doesn’t quite descend to the low standards of the Ayn Rand acolytes: Producers vs. Drones, but does subscribe to the contempt for the lower orders, meaning the utterly undeserving Union Workers and their ‘special privileges’ . He puts his faith in his status as Neo-Liberal Economic Guardian, he extemporizes on Plato.: its the Oxbridger in him, again.
Mr. Boone proclaims his faith in Macron, yet nearly 37% of the voters, in the final election, rendered their ballots uncountable, and Macron’s Jupertarian Politics* allied to his plummeting poll numbers, make Mr. Boone’s unreserved faith in Macron seem to be a closely held political/economic delusion. This Politico essay by Pierre Briançon from 2017 provides a more realistic frame than Mr. Boone’s ideological adoration of Macron:
Headline: Macron’s ‘Jupiter’ model unlikely to stand test of time
Sub-headline: The new French president’s aloof leadership style has put his party on course for a big majority — but may be impossible to maintain.
PARIS — The French noticed a radical change in Emmanuel Macron when he became president a month ago and they seem to like it.
Exit the easy-going candidate of the campaign trail, enter an imperial and icy leader. The question is whether the honeymoon will last when Macron is tested by the unavoidable political and social crises that will force him down from his throne.
The transformation has been spectacular. Gone is the economy minister who never met an interviewer he didn’t like, the presidential candidate who loved a good chat, who was chummy with reporters and went out of his way to hone media-friendly soundbites.
The French head of state has retreated into the Élysée Palace, ordered his aides and ministers into media silence, and tightened presidential communication to the few calibrated messages he thinks opportune. Power, he thinks, is best exercised when wrapped in a cloud of mystery.
This is the “Jupiterian” concept his team developed in the last few months of the presidential campaign to illustrate his vision of the presidency. Jupiter, of course, is the supreme god of Roman mythology, god of the sky, thunder and lightning.
Applied to Macron’s actual presidency, this means former friends and crucial campaign aides have been shunted aside, direct access to the president is restricted to a handful of young advisers, and Macron’s mobile phone seems to have gone silent.
“The French like the Jupiter idea. But they also expect Jupiter to muddy his hands whenever needed” — Former Macron campaign aide
The president gives marching orders, ministers and bureaucrats are expected to execute. No dissent is tolerated in the ranks, nor are the cozy and self-interested off-the-record chats that long provided fodder for political commentators.
Macron doesn’t speak much, and when he does, he doesn’t say much. He has mostly been heard in almost-daily meetings with visiting foreign heads of state. They’ve come from Guatemala and Senegal, Belgium and Bulgaria, Denmark and Peru and elsewhere to meet the new boy wonder. Sober statements in the Élysée gardens are staged for the media, rarely with time for questions.
Additionally, there are links to three other essays embedded in the body of the above essay that look to be worthy of the readers attention.
Mr. Boone’s notion of ‘liberalise’ can only be taken as frontal attack on French Socialism, that is the bane of the Neo-Liberals. Wedded to the perceived notions that Union Workers enjoy ‘privileges’ that other French citizens don’t enjoy: The Politics of Resentment is Oakeshottian in its origin. And the The Common Market as imagined by Monnet, as a Cartel, that became the ersatz Federalism of the EU, was/is Neo-Liberalism before the fact!
France agreed years ago to liberalise its railway system by the end of 2020. Notwithstanding that this is an EU obligation, rail is one of the last public services which could be opened to competition without undermining the French “social model”.
Current tension also disguises the fact that the power of the unions has weakened considerably since 1995. Meanwhile, public opinion has become increasingly resentful of the privileges that some parts of the labour force — those where union membership remains high — appear to enjoy.
Mr. Boone ends his essay with this unsurprising bit of Macron kowtowing, framed as a battle against ‘the forces of conservatism’ , meaning the power of French Unionism to battle the Neo-Liberalisation of France :
Mr Macron knows that if the EU does not change now, its institutions might not survive the next recession or crisis. Europe, he said in his Sorbonne speech, “finds itself weaker, exposed to the squalls of globalisation” and vulnerable to the siren lure of nativism and populism. He also knows he will not be able to lead the necessary transformation in Europe if he does not first beat the forces of conservatism in his own country.
The stark object lessons of both America and Britain, in its generations long infatuation, indeed, its institutionalization of Free Market Dogmas , and its inherent nihilism eludes Mr. Boone’s myopic ideological gaze. The Free Market knows one imperative, profit at any cost!
*Macron is an Authoritarian Personality, but his politics have been given the Madison Avenue treatment:that is about a self-serving political re-description that is supposed to appeal to voters. The nearly 37% of voters were unconvinced!