The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Tag: Macron

Macron & Many European Leaders Call For WWIII?

So, French leader Macron thinks Europe should send troops to Ukraine to fight Russia. (This is colloquially known as “declaring war on Russia.”)

rench President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that sending Western troops to Ukraine should not be ruled out, as European leaders concluded a summit on supporting Kyiv.

“There is no consensus today to send ground troops officially but … nothing is ruled out,” Macron said at a press conference in Paris, where the meeting had just wrapped up. “We will do whatever it takes to ensure that Russia cannot win this war.”

“The defeat of Russia is indispensable to the security and stability of Europe,” the French president added.

The subject was first raised publicly by Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who said a “restricted document” ahead of the summit had implied “that a number of NATO and EU member states were considering sending troops to Ukraine on a bilateral basis.”

Macron also announced that leaders agreed to set up a ninth capability coalition on deep strikes that will focus on medium- and long-range missiles. Other coalitions include artillery, air defense and de-mining.

This is, in effect, an acknowledgment that Europe knows Ukraine is losing.

So, there are two main possibilities here. First, it’s a negotiating ploy, to get a better deal for Ukraine. Second, they’re serious.

Let’s point out a couple things: Russia is outproducing the entire West in artillery shells and ammunition and Western armories are bare: they’ll run out in two weeks to a month of real war, at most. Second, China is not going to let Russia really lose a war, because they know who’s next and Europe has mostly been very willing to follow the US in anti-Chinese actions.

Iran, obviously, will support Russia as well. They know they’re on the list.

It’s actually not clear that the West would win this war: Russia is out-producing the West in terms of war materials, China is the undisputed largest industrial power in the world and it’s not clear that if other powers step in, China and maybe Iran won’t step in on Russia’s side. They really, really don’t want to: but the defeat of Russia, as already noted, is an existential threat to them.

Next, if either side starts losing, there will be a strong temptation to reach for the nukes.

On a smaller note, if Europe supplies long range missiles and those missiles hit something that matters (say the Kremlin, or the Bolshoi) things could get ugly fast. Seeking to expand the war further into Russia is certainly “legal” but it’s not wise. It won’t change the outcome of the war, it will merely make the war more likely to expand, which is why the German Scholz is correct to oppose it.

All my life, the charge against people outside elite circles has been that we are “un-serious”.

This is extremely un-serious behaviour.

I will note, further, that the reason Europe and the US can’t compete with China and Russia is that they simply refuse to reduce economic rents, lower living costs and make their rich less rich in order to reduce operating costs and oligopolies and monopolies sufficiently to ramp up production, both of war materials and, well, everything else.

They want to live like Kings, our elites, having the South send them materials and the Chinese and other nations send them manufactured goods, while using their populations for rent extraction so they can become richer and richer.

They have confused money with power. Money is only power when it can buy power. And increasingly, in the West, it can only buy power domestically, not internationally.

This is a grave mistake, and the graveyard of Empires.

Fools. And worse than fools.

You get what you support. If you like my writing, please SUBSCRIBE OR DONATE

The French Yellow Jacket Protests

So, there are major protests across France, protesting Macron’s policies. Macron has raised fuel taxes and removed worker protections, among other things. He is a neoliberal’s neoliberal, who believes in free labor markets (a.k.a. markets where workers can be easily fired, made to work overtime, and so on.)

His popularity rating is 20 percent, there is no chance that he will be re-elected, and he is unlikely to give in to any protests–both because he is a true believer and because his future is assured if he pushes through as much destruction of France’s social state as possible. He will be rewarded by the rich.

Some of the protests have been somewhat violent (I am not all that impressed by property violence as “terrible”), and, of course, the French police have brutally beaten many protestors. It always amuses me to watch the so-called brave surrounding a man to kick him while he’s down. Any man who participates in such a beating outs himself as a coward, the same as any man who tortures someone who cannot resist.

While it seems unlikely, it wouldn’t bother me if the current French state was overthrown.

More likely, what will matter is whether La Pen or Melenchon (who is a real left-winger) wins the next election. Hopefully the French are not so stupid as to vote for another pretty neoliberal.

Little that has been done by Macron, or other neoliberal twats, cannot be undone if a government is elected with a mandate to do so.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

France’s Macron Wants a Technocratic Presidential State

Rizal Park Tricolor

So, Macron has a huge majority, won on an historically low turnout. He has spent the summer fighting France’s Labor unions, his first priority being to overhaul France’s labor laws. For example, right now, workers can’t be made to answer emails outside of work hours. Macron will end that.

Of course, the changes are far more wide-ranging than that. The long argument has been that France’s economy isn’t all that it could be because it is not flexible: It’s hard to fire people, and you can’t make them do anything you want them to when you manage them. Arguably, you can make them do very little.

Macron, who ran the vastly unpopular economic policy of the last government (something people seem to have forgotten) is a dedicated technocrat.

In his recent speech, Macron said he wanted to shrink the legislature by one third, from over 900. And he thinks that the legislature should legislate less, and just judge what the executive does. This amounts, of course, to passing only bills suggested by him. Additionally, and of course, his party controls both houses of parliament right now, but this goes beyond normal French politics, where bills are not just suggested by the President and Prime Minister.

(The President appoints the Prime Minister, and the PM is then generally seen as following the President in most things.)

So this isn’t a small thing, it’s Macron saying he wants the power of a Westminister-style Prime Minister with a solid majority. Generally and theoretically, in this type of country, parliament can not simply do what the President orders. But in these days of tight party discipline, a PM with a majority is, in practice, close to being an elected dictator.

Such strong executives have their advantages, no doubt, but Macron does want a change that gives him more power, and he’s willing to go to a plebiscite to get it.

Then he will use it to remove French workers’ rights and reduce their wages and benefits. Because that is what he wants; it is the core neoliberal project, in which Macron is a true believer.

Macron is “young” but he’s not that young; he’s of the generation in which if you wanted to be taken seriously, and have any power, you had to sign on to neoliberal verities.

The French are going to get what they voted for, good and hard.

But little to none of what Macron does cannot be undone, and his making the executive more powerful may turn out to be a mistake in five or ten years, when someone like LaPen or Melenchon becomes president and wields those powers for which Macron fought.

Simply put, neoliberal policies never actually work. They can produce brief sugar highs of frothy economies, and France may get some of that, as money boils away from the middle and up to the top and housing bubbles and others stupidity are engaged. But this is late neoliberalism, the French middle class and poor are already suffering, and I don’t think enough bribes will be given to them to keep them onboard. They gave Macron a huge majority, yes, but on low turnout. This is neoliberalism’s last big chance in France.

When it fails, and it will, the French will turn either to the right or to the left. Within a decade, most likely.

And the boy prince, riding so high now, will be left spluttering like Tony Blair, wondering why all his wonderful plans didn’t work out, and assuming that those who reject his brilliance are buffoons.

So it shall be.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

Sterile Elites and the French Election

France has an electoral run-off system. The top two candidates in the general poll go on to a face-to-face election. This year, that is Macron and Le Pen. Melenchon, the left-wing candidate came up just short.

What is happening was inevitable, and predicted. Europe had been sclerotic before 2008, but enough people were doing well. After 2008, Europe, more than perhaps any other areas in the world, doubled down on austerity and neoliberal policies like “labor flexibility” (code for “fire for any reason, reduced (ideally no) protection from bosses.)

And so we now have the neo-fascist (in a much more real way) vs. the neoliberal who ran Hollande’s vastly unpopular economic policy.

The French establishment has reacted predictably.

Elites simply can’t pivot. They don’t know how to do anything but keep doubling down on neoliberal austerity. It is their entire playbook, and this default strategy may wind up costing them everything.

Polls currently have Macron winning, and Le Pen has been softening her rhetoric on leaving the EU, though it’s primarily, “We can wait a bit and have a referendum.”

I consider that a mistake, not because of electoral considerations this time, but because of the electoral considerations next time. As sometime-poster Mandos has pointed out, the EU has set up both membership in the EU and the Euro so that leaving them frontloads the pain onto whoever leaves. If you’re leaving, you need to get it over with right at the start of your term so you have time to recover from the pain.

(Leaving the Euro is clearly correct on policy terms, though whether Le Pen and her team have the chops to manage it properly is another matter.)

The other consideration is that if Le Pen doesn’t win this time (and the polls are unreliable, given past performance around similar candidates and issues), she’ll be on the final ballot in the next round, because the policies Macron will pursue will make the French worse off–just as they did when he ran them from Hollande. They aren’t going to miraculously work now that Le Pen is even more of a threat, or because Mercury goes retrograde or something.

But then there’s a very real chance Melenchon will be on the last round ballot next time, too, and he’s been pulling no punches. He refused to endorse Macron (he did not play Bernie Sanders Nice) and unlike Sanders followers, who overwhelmingly voted for Clinton, about two-thirds of Melenchon supporters refuse to vote Macron.

A Melenchon deputy explained:

We don’t want to help Marine Le Pen, but we don’t want to endorse Mr. Macron,” he said.

“He’s the candidate of free trade,” Mr. Coquerel said. “He’s going to assist in the Uberization of society. Everything we are going to fight against in the coming months. There’s no possible rapprochement.”

This is correct behaviour, as far as I am concerned. Melenchon is not a colleague, he did not run under the same party, and he disagrees with almost all of Macron’s economic policies.

If Macron can’t win against Le Pen without the left’s support, he doesn’t deserve to win, because he isn’t a left-winger on non-social issues. And while social issues are important, so is whether or not you have a good job. Freedom in poverty, as those of us who have been poor know, isn’t really freedom.

Besides, Melenchon is in the same position as Le Pen. He’ll almost certainly be in the next “last round” if Macron wins, because, again, Macron is going to hurt a lot of French. It is inevitable, he cannot avoid doing so because he genuinely believes in neo-liberal austerity as the road forward.

There are a large contingent of people who are “just hanging on.” The status quo sort of works for them, but they can see the abyss, and they don’t want change, yet, even though they aren’t happy.

They will only want change if the game of economic Russian roulette that is austerity happens to take them out, and dump them into a slum. Their numbers decline every election, as some eat that austerity bullet and others die (since they tend to be older) and a very few can no longer stomach buying their present with their children’s future. (This is rare, most don’t care, and I base that on the cold hard numbers. If they cared, things would have changed long ago. Their children are expendable to them.)

So we play the game out. Time’s wheel must grind on, bodies caught in the gears, till the last neoliberal has failed, and we get either the populist right or the populist left.

Those are your choices: populist right, populist left, or continued decline into what will become an increasingly obvious dystopian surveillance state; something out of an 80s cyberpunk novel, but without the actual cool tech (as yet).

But there is no other choice that moves away from current trends except populist right or left. Those are the choices. Choose.

Update (how LePen will win, if she does):

A false story of “I will help fix your awful life” wins against a true story of “I’m going to hurt you, but the other person is lying about helping you and will hurt you even worse.”

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén