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<nettime> the meaning of Macron (short answer: Tocqueville in France)
Alex Foti on Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:35:14 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> the meaning of Macron (short answer: Tocqueville in France)


the French have chosen a liberal to ward off the fascist threat (patriotism
vs nationalism this is how the youthful ex banker ex economic minister puts
it). it is a paradoxical outcome a year after Nuit Debout protests, which
have propelled mélenchon to a great score (and socialist hamon to a pitiful
score), but can't escape the fact that the vote rewarded the candidate who
is most in favor of labor flexibility and Loi Travail. In Bastille and
elsewhere barricades were raised by those youth who feel unrepresented by
the political process and subscribe to an insurgent view of politics
(mouvence tarnac) that cgt, trotskyists and communists behind his candidacy
will never make their own, no matter the rhetoric and great social media
campaign of the sovereignist 68er who believes in the value of work and the
value of putin and has yet to announce who to vote for at second round.

what is the meaning of macron? in a way it's a victory of non-party
politics. it's also fortuitous: in Paris somebody left in the ballot box a
fifty-euro note with the handwritten note "pour Penelope" - without the
scandal hitting Fillon (who ended up with 7 million votes as mélenchon) the
outcome of first round could have been different. No matter, Macron's
meteoric rise has few comparisons in contemporary politics: a year ago he
was barely on the political map. Yet, as now failed Renzi before him in
Italy, he has managed to embody a thirst for dynamism and renewal dressed
in patriotic awakening, thus giving a progressive and popular outlook to
liberalism and entrepreneurialism. Is he the president of the 1%? In a
sense yes, because there is nothing less populist than electing a banker
for president of the republic. But he's also the French Obama with the
looks of an actor in a Truffaut movie. More crucially, he campaigned
strongly on a pro-EU position, promising he will persuade Germany to come
to terms with its economic responsibility for Europe's crisis and accept a
new political governance of the eurozone.

Like Tocqueville in America, he's a revolutionary liberal who has become
comfortable with democracy (whose egalitarian instincts should always be
feared and neutered) and knows you should try to give to the people what
they want without endangering the property structure. Macron's program is
vague at best (so much he had to collate 400 pages of last-minute
proposals) but the main direction is clear: public investment, a leaner
government, less employment taxes, more overtime, workfare. Basically a
different version of the same. But his rupture is generational and
cultural: he said the Algerian war was tantamount to genocide - something
that attracted the sympathy of many beurs (young french of arab descent).
Just as on Europe, he could could not have been more diametrically opposed
to LePen, in her emphasis on white and christian identity and french
sovereignty.

So is European liberalism still alive while American liberalism has taken a
beating? The populist threat seems to be receding on the Continent after
the high mark reached with Brexit and Trump, not matter how much money
Putin pumps into the League and other assorted racists of Europe. It also
gives a new spell of life to European integration, especially within the
eurozone. I think we underestimated the positive feelings that Europe
evokes in millions, especially the younger and more educated sections of
the population. reds have always hated Europe, greens have always embraced
it. Maybe it's time for the populist left (Podemos' Iglesias backed
Mélenchon) to stop hating the EU and bury plans to ditch the euro rather
than reform it.

Finally, a pleading for the unity of reformist and radical left in the face
of adversaries and enemies: mel+ham's votes would have been enough to take
the left to the second round instead of macron..



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