I’m sure my readers would like to know what I think of the results of the French presidential election and the victory of Emmanuel Macron. As with the events surrounding President Trump, I am confused and saddened by the conflicting news stories and the versions of fact perceived variously by different ideologies and people demonstrating and causing trouble in the streets of Paris. I am far away from all that, and I value my position of quietness and safety in the countryside.
There is no use my describing either Macron or Mrs Le Pen. They and their programmes are described on the internet and in the media – for each to decide what he believes as true… I have read summaries of Macron’s programme, and if he keeps his promises (politicians rarely do), I would be able to keep a little more of the money I earn through working – since I am on quite a low income. His ideas for integrating Muslims of different tendencies in western democracy and standards of law and order might be delusional, but there seems to be a will for peace and a kind of “Islamic erastianism” on offer. From the rejection of religion by French laïcité, we will find an effort to regulate and govern the presently angry people from all political and religious spectra. On the other hand, this idea may just not work, and the slow and inevitable invasion of Europe by Wahhabist Islam may become a real threat, even in la France profonde and our villages.
I have read various analyses about how politics since the 1960’s in France has been about France’s “Vietnam” – Algeria, the unwinnable war, as is now engaged by proxy in the Middle-East. If you repress Islam in France, it will blow back and won’t go away. It needs to be addressed culturally, but how?
I have kept an eye on the Front National and Le Pen père et fille. Again, it is all about Algeria, like the British Empire losing India in 1947. The break-up of an empire is always complex. Jean-Marie Le Pen was one of those who felt betrayed by De Gaulle, and I have known some very angry “extreme right” people in France, both those who are nostalgic for the Monarchy and those who are for an imperial and authoritarian “neo-Napoleonic” regime. The Le Pen père et fille are not Nazis in the conventional understanding of Hitler’s regime, but their programme is essentially more socialist than many would imagine. Le Pen’s taxation projects are quite left-wing. She would have wanted an unilateral exit from the European Union and a reversion to the Franc. Like with Brexit, I would be reticent about such an approach rather than using levers of political power to reform and rebuild the Union in such a way as to respect the cultural heritage of these European countries. It is better to stay in and fight from within.
More than a third of French people voted blank or abstained. I did not vote because I don’t have French citizenship (I live here by virtue of being EU). I would also have voted blank so as not to vote for “cholera or the plague”.
A lot of people will be very angry about Macron and his patently economic liberalism and laissez-faire – unregulated capitalism. Workers will have fewer rights, and we can expect massive demonstrations and strikes this coming summer, particularly paralysing transport and travel during the holiday season like in 2015.
We will see how it goes over his five-year mandate. According to some of the pundits I trust the most, the populist blowback is going to become ever angrier, and in five years, someone like Le Pen would win – unless we go back to Marxist Communism and bloody revolution. That is something we can be afraid of.
I live in France. There’s nothing I can do about it apart from writing on the internet and demonstrating (which is not my style). I hate shouting, slogans, noise and violence. I prefer the philosophical approach to social doctrine and political theory. We have to live with it, see what happens at the Legislative elections, when there will be a prime minister and other cabinet ministers (to use English terminology). There will be a lot of wrangling to combat the more extreme tendencies of Macron and to placate nationalists and the angry working class alike.
Don’t be too taken in by the “alt” media, even if much of it rings truer than the mainstream media. We have to remain critical and keep an eye on the ideal of the common good, the social contract and law & order. Macron once worked in the Rothschild bank. That might mean less than what conspiracy theorists fear. The man has little experience of politics and he is the youngest ever President of France. I just hope he is humble enough to listen to advice from more experienced people, but I have my doubts.
Now, we have to live with it for the better of the worse.
Thank you! It’s good to read an unpretentious, candid reflection by a thoughtful French-speaking ‘alien’ living in France! (Our ‘quality’ Dutch evening paper (motto ‘Lux et Libertas’) has a front-page ‘analysis’ with the headline (my translation) ‘New era under “revolutionary” Macron’… but, but, all those ‘quality’ English-language media headlines I’ve been seeing for weeks calling him a ‘centrist’ – do ‘centrists’ become ‘revolutionaries’ when they win? Ach, ach…)
The essential thing is a critical mind, which most people don’t have. They follow fashions and shallow emotions. This is nothing new, German people loved Hitler in 1933 and up to the end of World War II. I’m not comparing Macron with Hitler (Godwin’s law) but considering how people can flock to a politician not because of his political programme but for his looks, charisma, slogans, etc.
I give less importance to the fact he used to work in banking, but to the fact he is welcomed by all the establishment: François Hollande, Obama, Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair and others. Therefore Macron represents the establishment and “more of the same”. There may be some minor adjustment for popularity, but this will be a capitalist administration, economic liberalism, and many rights will be taken away from workers.
For the rest, like strikes this summer, especially transport and logistics, we’ll see. Also the immigration issue…
Do you happen to have an informed impression as to the coming French elections? Does M. Macron have candidates? If so, are they all (or mostly), like him, ‘transfers’ from the Parti socialiste? If so, do they seem likely to enjoy any more support than M. Hamon did in the Presidential Election? Or does the “more of the same” establishment work together so ‘well’ across party lines in the Assemblée nationale that it is not likely to matter much who gets elected, so long as they are not Front national (or whatever it’s about to be called)?
The election (runoff) happened last Sunday and Macron won. As for the coming Léglislatifs, I’m not very well informed but that information should be possible to find in mainstream media like Le Figaro or the establishment English press. This is Macron’s political site. I suspect it will be more or less the same people as under Hollande – more of the same “champagne socialism” which means cynical capitalism, the State in partnership with the banks. The problem with the Front National is that it is also socialist in terms of economic questions and the State over the human person. We need something like American libertarianism, but it just doesn’t seem to work in Europe. The big problem now is uncontrolled immigration and Islamisation. I gather that the police and army in France are quite revolted.
Libertarianism doesn’t work in USA either. Every time it is tried, wealth concentrates in the hands of the already wealthy and quality of life deteriorates for the rest. It’s a balance that is needed, a pragmatic approach to problems with the least possible ideology involved.
I would agree, the less political we are and the more we just get on with life, the better. We do well to reflect on social doctrine and philosophy, just to be lucid about the Leviathan that governs us and lies to us.
Thank you for this well-reasoned essay. Personally, I think that Macron is only Hollande number two. He will continue the already failing policies of the present government. His downfall will be his attempt to keep open-borders and his rather foolish attempt to copy American Affirmative Action for Muslims; that and his attempt to curtail government expenses (he is after all a banker). I think that he is preparing the way for perhaps a future le Pen victory in France. This is especially true if terrorist attacks continue. Of course, the modern French must be a very special stupid to vote for further Islamic immigration after more than 230 Frenchmen and women have been killed in recent Islamic attacks.
It would have been a different story with François Fillon in the runoff. He would have been less radical than Le Pen in dealing with the EU and the Euro. He is a mainstream conservative. Had I been French, I would have probably voted for him as the least evil.