Paul Magnette, the former prime minister of Wallonia, has published an interesting analysis
of Macron's Sorbonne declaration on Europe. For Magnette, Macron's European vision is all about establishing borders, both internal and external. Internally, there is to be a two-speed Europe. Macron, as Magnette sees it, has not only embraced the German antipathy to a "transfer union," he has also come up with a method for enforcing the insider/outsider division: insiders must harmonize their tax regimes, outsiders will be punished by a loss of access to structural funds. The two-speed Europe will also be furthered by new restrictions on posted workers and heightened sanctions against illiberal, anti-democratic regimes.
Externally, Europe will reinforce its borders not only by increased spending on border security but also by imposing duties on polluting regimes, namely, China and the US. By contrast, Europe will "cooperate" more closely with developing countries in Africa, both to reduce the number of potential immigrants and to develop an external market, which Magnette sees as a latter-day reproduction of the Gaullist vision of a "Françafrique."
This is not the vision of Europe that Magnette would prefer, but he seems nevertheless to credit Macron with a fine sense of realism: This is a Europe that can be achieved in the current configuration of the Franco-German couple.
By now everyone throughout France and Navarre knows that Emmanuel Macron accused some obstreperous workers of seeking to "foutre le bordel
" instead of looking for work. Hence Jupiter, who wants to be compared de Gaulle, has been increasingly compared to Sarkozy. The lofty words of the Sorbonne speech on Europe, meant to inspire a generation, have been replaced by the overheard ejaculation at GS&M and compared to the "casse-toi pauvr' con" of two presidencies past.
Cruel fate. The French feign to have forgotten the de Gaulle who said
"La réforme oui, la chie-en-lit non." A certain military bluntness was part of the general's character. Macron seems to want to appropriate this side of de Gaulle as well, the de Gaulle whose often gruff table talk was faithfully reproduced by Alain Peyrefitte. Macron's provocations are too frequent to be accidental. The man himself is too disciplined to let slip words like illettrés
and foutre le bordel
. He is a man of many voices, one when he is flattering Paul Ricoeur, another when he wants to ingratiate himself with CEOs (and project firmness to the nation beyond--he could hardly have failed to notice the boom mike hovering above his head when he made his "off-the-record" remark).
The many Macrons have yet to coalesce into a single clear image, which may never arrive. The scattered oppositions are trying to hang various images of their own around his neck. For France Insoumise he is "the president of the rich." Meanwhile, as Thomas Legrand perceptively noted
this morning, the Republicans are trying to paint him as un déraciné
, harking back to the language of Maurice Barrès. They have formed a new mission, "La France des Territoires," as the spearhead of their quest to reclaim the voters lost to the Front National. They see their new majority in rural and small-town France, which they contrast to the "rootless cosmopolitan" France that, in their telling, elected Macron. Echoes of the 1930s overlay the Barrèsian imagery.
Meanwhile, François Baroin has made himself the apostle of the communes of France, combining the identitarian thrust of La France des Territoires with the resentment many local officials feel because of Macron's drastic cuts in the budget for local and regional assistance. He appeared on RTL
this morning singing this tune while Legrand was reading his editorial on France Inter. For him, Macron is the ultra-Jacobin "recentralizer," against whom he is raising the banner of Girondin resistance. The eternal recurrence of certain narrative clichés promises a revival of la société bloquée.
Thus the "social fractures" between urban and rural France, between globalized and protectionist France, between thriving and suffering France, so evident in the voting returns, have begun to find expression in the rhetoric of resistance to Macronism, as everyone tries to foutre le bordel un peu partout.
As if he had read my previous post on his unbalanced presidency, President Macron went yesterday to Amiens to underscore his commitment to workers. Or perhaps it was Thomas Legrand's radio editorial, which made the same point I did. Or Marcel Gauchet
« C’est la limite actuelle du macronisme : il parle à la France qui va bien, mais il n’a pas grand-chose à dire à l’autre », met en garde le philosophe et historien Marcel Gauchet dans le numéro de septembre-octobre de la revue Le Débat.
Or maybe it was just the promise he made in the heat of the campaign to return to Amiens, the site of his dramatic confrontation with Whirlpool workers whipped into a frenzy by the prior visit of Marine Le Pen.
In any case, here was a golden opportunity to keep faith with the spirit of en même temps
. Firms will get tax breaks, but at the same time they will create more jobs. In Amiens the theory has supposesdly been put to the test: the Whirlpool plant has found a buyer, who has agreed to save some jobs, and Amazon, though being dunned by the EU for taxes, has agreed to open a new installation. Was this a response to Macron's policies or to the high unemployment rate in Amiens, which ensures a decent supply of workers ready to work for whatever wage Amazon is willing to pay? Who can say? The economists have yet to do their regressions. In the meantime, Macron can take credit. His friendly reception suggests that he may not have alienated the entire working class, as Jean-Luc Mélenchon claims. His approval rating has bounced back a bit off its low. But most of all, the new president has shown an ability to learn from his mistakes and correct his course. This was a successful coup de comm'
, as they say, but it may also be something more: an indication that the president really is willing to meet the opposition half-way.