On M. 37% or King Macron’s ‘Reforms’ as reported by Charles Bremner of the London Times. Old Socialist’s schadenfreude?

The Jupiterian Revolution of M. 37% seems to stumble from crisis to crisis, all of his own making!  Most of these go un-reported in one of his staunchest propaganda ‘newspapers’ The Financial Times. Mr. Bremner’s enlightening essay offers something that the Financial Times cannot,  in the Times of November 21, 2018 titled:

Headline: King Macron faces his own French revolution

Sub-headline: France’s reforming president has alienated many of his citizens with a series of tax rises

The cornerstones of Neo-Liberalism are Austerity, spending cuts and  tax increases that has yet to realize a return to prosperity: presented as a function of the myth of The Self-Correcting Market ,as yet to manifest itself in any economy !

A month ago, hi-vis vests began appearing on the car dashboards of my neighbours in the rural outskirts of Paris. Word had gone round, in the boulangerie and on Facebook. Anger with Emmanuel Macron had crystallised into a cause. Months of rising fuel taxes had sparked a grassroots movement that took as its emblem the gilet jaune, the yellow safety vest that is compulsory in vehicles. At the weekend, they vented their wrath at everything Mr Macron stands for. Across the country, about 300,000 people blocked roads and disrupted life for fellow citizens. One protester was killed and 400 were injured in skirmishes with motorists and police.

The gilets jaunes, who still manned a few dozen barricades yesterday, are supported by more than 70 per cent of the country. They are concentrated in “la France périphérique,” the “forgotten France” of small towns and countryside where people depend on cars. They are “the yokels against the bobos”, noted Le Figaro, referring to the young urbanites who love Mr Macron. After failing to defuse the revolt with television appearances, Mr Macron has left it to Édouard Philippe, his prime minister, to deal with the latest in a long tradition of jacqueries, the rural uprisings that began in the Middle Ages. So far, his government has refused to cut diesel taxes and has instead emphasised links between the movement and Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally (formerly Front).

Whether or not it simmers on, the movement illustrates the failure so far of Mr Macron to carry with him the country that he pledged last year to transform. The articulate 40-year-old still cuts a dash abroad, eclipsing the old guard of Europe, but at home he is damaged goods. The former civil servant and banker stirs extraordinary antipathy among la France d’en bas, the lower classes who feel left out of the modern economy.

Mr Macron achieved remarkable reforms in his first year in the face of protests and strikes. He eased stifling labour regulations and phased out ancestral staff privileges at the state-owned SNCF railway, but unemployment is stuck at about 9 per cent, growth is sputtering, and his heavily-taxed people feel that little has changed.

The president looks arrogant. Fewer than 30 per cent hold a favourable opinion of him and nearly 80 per cent agree that he is “president of the rich”, the tag that has stuck since he cut wealth taxes while raising social levies that hit pensioners. The leader who unashamedly cast himself as a monarch because “the French miss their kings”, has hurt himself with caustic banter that looks like contempt for the people. He has been harmed by running a secretive presidency with a staff of sharp-suited young men while keeping MPs of his start-up party, La République en Marche, on a tight leash.


Mr. Bremner in the above paragraphs takes a refreshingly critical stance toward M.37%, yet he lapses into what to call it The Party Line? on this perpetually maladroit Énarque!

His ideas for jolting France out of its old ways were initially backed by only a quarter of the voters but after beating Ms Le Pen in the run-off he was greeted as a saviour.

With the spoiled,blank and otherwise un-countable ballots, cast in the final vote, at the 36.5 %  the above pronouncement probably applies exclusively to the Neo-Liberal Press, and an assortment of Neo-Cons like Bret Stephens in the New York Times,to sing his praises, as the bringer of the death of ‘Socialist France‘! These two paragraphs offer an evaluation of M. 37%’s political position

In office until 2022, Mr Macron has breathing space. With a strong parliamentary majority, he faces no challenge. His election all but killed the long-ruling Socialist Party and he crippled the conservative Republicans by poaching their talent and adopting their more enlightened ideas. He is determined to see through his reforms, next by overhauling the labyrinthine pensions and benefits systems. Tax cuts and growth will eventually put money in everyone’s pocket, he insists. But he must cut state spending which, at 56 per cent of national income, remains the highest in the developed world. That means a further squeeze on public services to which France is deeply attached.

The shrinking of such services is one of the main grievances of forgotten France and its gilets jaunes, who want “the rich” to pay more for schools and hospitals. That means mainly the business world that Mr Macron is attempting to help.

The temptation of schadenfreude is too easy, as the very fact of continuing unrest over M. 37 %’s ‘Reforms’ seems to metastasize. Will the dubious notion of a newly manufactured   ‘humility’ , in sum political in-authenticity,  in the face of his large electoral deficit, and his political practice of habitual maladroitness: not even considering, that from 2018 to 2020, gives ample time for the rise of many opponents, from across the political spectrum, rests on the untenable notion of a  political stasis.

Old Socialist






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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