Why do Social Democrats do what they do?

June 23, 2017

andrew levine on macron

andrew levine on macron. 
How much better the French have it! Useless parties expire there, and new parties gain ballot access with ease. The electoral landscape can therefore change in the blink of an eye, as it did last weekend – when Emmanuel Macron’s brand new political party, En Marche (later renamed, République En Marche), won an absolute majority in parliamentary elections.
But then, with apologies to Rousseau, we would be justified in saying that in view of the use that they made of their more democratic electoral arrangements, French voters deserve what they will get. They deserve what Macron is: an epigone of neoliberal ideology, a later-day Gallic version of Tony Blair or Bill Clinton.
True to form, Macron’s first order of business is to strike a blow against the French labor movement by dismantling one of the most advanced labor regimes anywhere in the world.
Upon assuming office, Margaret Thatcher went after the unions too; so did Ronald Reagan. She had her coal miners and he his air-traffic controllers. Back in the day, prescient observers called that “friendly fascism.” Now the mantle has been passed on to the French – in the name of anti-fascism.
But, not to worry; Macron is a (social) liberal who speaks English well and who loves Silicon Valley. That our media like this is hardly surprising; that the French people – enough of them anyway to give Macron an absolute parliamentary majority – do too is distressing to say the least.
The “old Europe,” as it was known in the Donald Rumsfeld days, at least had the decency to be snooty; the new old Europe, championed by Macron, honors trans-Atlantic silliness by imitating it.
Several decades ago, when the so-called nouveaux philosophes were doing their best to make anti-Communism trendy, one wanted to cry out: “wake up Sartre, they have gone crazy.” These days one could as well cry out: “wake up, de Gaulle…”
Notwithstanding Macron’s professed dedication to the cultural and economic Americanization of Europe, and to its vassalage to the United States, there is something very old school French about his neoliberal enthusiasm. Call it the Paris fashions school of political thought and practice.
Post-War France had been the world capital of Western Marxism for more than three decades; seemingly overnight the nouveaux philosophes and other right-leaning intellectuals turned the tables on that.
They did it on the strength of warmed over arguments that had been concocted, in more artful and rigorous versions, by anti-Communist Cold War intellectuals in the U.S. and the UK decades earlier.
Macron’s proposed “modernizations” of French economic institutions are similarly atavistic.

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