French Popular Uprising: Revolution or Frozen Conflict?

This conflict is essentially over policies that put the avaricious demands of financial markets ahead of the needs of the people, writes Diana Johnstone. 

Striking ballet dancers perform at the entrance to the Opera Garnier in Paris, Dec. 24, 2019. (YouTube screenshot)

By Diana Johnstone
in Paris
Special to Consortium News 

The people are angry with their government.  Where? Just about everywhere. So what makes ongoing strikes in France so special?  Nothing, perhaps, except a certain expectation based on history that French uprisings can produce important changes – or if not, can at least help clarify the issues in contemporary social conflicts.

The current ongoing social unrest in France appears to pit a majority of working people against President Emmanuel Macron.  But since Macron is merely a technocratic tool of global financial governance, the conflict is essentially an uprising against policies that put the avaricious demands of financial markets ahead of the needs of the people.  This basic conflict is at the root of the weekly demonstrations of Yellow Vest protesters who have been demonstrating every Saturday for well over a year, despite brutal police repression.  Now trade unionists, public sector workers and Yellow Vests demonstrate together, as partial work stoppages continue to perturb public transportation.

In the latest developments, teachers in Paris schools are joining the revolt. Even the prestigious prep school, the Lycée Louis le Grand, went on strike.  This is significant because even a government that shows no qualms in smashing the heads of working class malcontents can hesitate before bashing the brains of the future elite.

Pension System 

However general the discontent, the direct cause for what has become the longest period of unrest in memory is a single issue: the government’s determination to overhaul the national social security pension system. This is just one aspect of Macron’s anti-social program, but no other aspect touches just about everybody’s lives as much as this one.

French retirement is financed in the same way as U.S. Social Security. Employees and employers pay a proportion of wages into a fund that pays current pensions, in the expectation that tomorrow’s workers will pay for the pensions of those working today.

The existing system is complex, with particular regimes for 42 different professions, but it works well enough. As things are, despite the growing gap between the ultra-rich and those of modest means, there is less dire poverty among the elderly in France than, for example, in Germany.

The Macron plan to unify and simplify the system by a universal point system claims to improve “equality,” but it is a downward, not an upward leveling. The general thrust of the reform is clearly to make people work longer for smaller pensions. Bit by bit, the input and output of the social security system are being squeezed. This would further reduce the percentage of GDP going into wages and pensions.

The calculated result: as people fear the prospect of a penniless old age, they will feel obliged to put their savings into private pension schemes.

International Solidarity

Yellow Vest protest in Brussels, December 2018. (Pelle De Brabander, Flickr, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

In a rare display of old-fashioned working-class international solidarity, Belgian trade unions have spoken out in strong support of French unions’ opposition to Macron’s reforms, even offering to contribute to a strike fund for French workers.  Support by workers of one country for the struggle of workers in another country is what international solidarity used to mean.  It is largely forgotten by the contemporary left, which tends to see it in terms of opening national borders.  This perfectly reflects the aspirations of global capitalism.

The international solidarity of financial capital is structural.

Macron is an investment banker, whose campaign was financed and promoted by investment bankers, including foreign investors.  These are the people who helped inspire his policies, which are all designed to strengthen the power of international finance and weaken the role of the State.

Their goal is to induce the State to surrender decision-making to the impersonal power of “the markets,” whose mechanical criterion is profit rather than subjective political considerations of social welfare.  This has been the trend throughout the West since the 1980s and is simply intensifying under the rule of Macron. 

President Emmanuel Macron celebrating France’s victory over Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow. (Kremlin)

The European Union has become the principal watch dog of this transformation.  Totally under the influence of unelected experts, every two years the EU Commission lays out “Broad Economic Policy Guidelines” – in French GOPÉ (Grandes Orientations des Politiques Économiques), to be followed by member states. The May 2018 GOPÉ for France “recommended” (this is an order!) a set of “reforms,” including “uniformization” of retirement schemes, ostensibly to improve “transparency,” “equity,” labor mobility and – last but definitely not least – “better control of public expenditures.”.  In short, government budget cuts.

The Macron economic reform policy was essentially defined in Brussels.

But Wall Street is interested too.  The team of experts assigned by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to devise the administration’s economic reforms includes Jean-François Cirelli, head of the French branch of Black Rock, the seven trillion-dollar New York-based investment manager. About two thirds of Black Rock’s capital comes from pension funds all over the world.

Larry Fink, the American CEO of this monstrous heap of money, was a welcome visitor at the Elysée Palace in June 2017, shortly after Macron’s election. Two weeks later, economics minister Bruno Le Maire was in New York consulting with Larry Fink. Then, in October 2017, Fink led a Wall Street delegation to Paris for a confidential meeting (leaked to Le Canard Enchaîné) with Macron and five top cabinet ministers to discuss how to make France especially attractive to foreign investment.

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Larry Fink has an obvious interest in Macron’s reforms. By gradually impoverishing social security, the new system is designed to spur a boom in private pension schemes, a field dominated by Black Rock.  These schemes lack the guarantee of government social security. Private pensions depend on stock market performance, and if there is a crash, there goes your retirement. Meanwhile, the money managers play with your savings, taking their cut whatever happens. 

There is nothing conspiratorial about this.  It is simply international finance at work. Macron and his cabinet ministers are eager to have Black Rock invest in France.  For them, this is the way the world works. 

Larry Fink, third from right, receiving a Woodrow Wilson Award in April 2010. (Wilson Center, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The most cynical pretext for Macron’s pension reform is that combining all the various professional regimes into a universal point system favors “equality” – even as it increases the growing gap between salaried people and the super-rich, who don’t need pensions.

But professions are different. At Christmas, striking ballet dancers illustrated this fact by performing a portion of Swan Lake on the cold stones of the entrance to the Opera Garnier in Paris. They were calling public attention to the fact that they cannot be expected to keep working into their sixties, nor can other professions requiring extreme physical effort.

The variations in the current French pension system perform a social function.  Some professions, such as teaching and nursing, are essential to society, but wages tend to be lower than in the private sector.  These professions are able to renew themselves by ensuring job stability and the promise of comfortable retirement.  Take away their “privileges” and recruiting competent teachers and nurses will be even harder than it is already.  At present, medical personnel are threatening to resign en masse, because conditions in hospitals are becoming unbearable as a result of drastic cuts in budgets and personnel.

Is There an Alternative?

The real issue is a choice of systems: to be precise, economic globalization versus national sovereignty.

For historic reasons, most French people do not share the ardent faith of British and Americans in the benevolence of the invisible hand of the market.  There is a national leaning toward a mixed economy, where the State plays a strong determining role.  The French do not easily believe that privatization is better, least of all when they can see it doing worse.

Macron is an ardent devotee of the invisible hand. He seems to expect that by draining French savings into an international investment giant such as Black Rock, Black Rock will reciprocate by pumping investment into French technological and industrial progress.

Nothing could be less certain.  In the West these days, there is lots of low interest credit, lots of debt, but investment is rarely creative.  Money is used largely to buy what is already there – existing companies, mergers, stock trading (massive in the U.S.) and, for individuals, housing. Most foreign investment in France buys up things like vineyards or goes into safe infrastructure such as ports, airports and autoroutes.  When General Electric bought out Alstom, it soon broke its promise to preserve jobs and began cutting back. It also is depriving France of control of an essential aspect of its national independence, its nuclear energy. 

In short, foreign investment may weaken the nation in terms in crucial ways. In a mixed economy, profit-making assets such as autoroutes can increase the government’s capacity to make up for periodic deficits in social security, among other things. With privatization, foreign shareholders must get their returns.

The United States, for all its ideological devotion to the invisible hand, actually has a strongly State-supported military industrial sector, dependent on Congressional appropriations, Pentagon contracts, favorable legislation and pressure on “allies” to buy U.S.-made weaponry.  This is indeed a form of planned economy, one that fails utterly to meet social needs.

Demonstration in Montpellier, France, Dec. 8, 2018. (Valerian Guillot/Flickr)

The rules of the European Union prohibit a Member State such as France from developing its own civil-oriented industrial policy, since everything must be open to unhindered international competition.  Utilities, services and infrastructure must all be open to foreign owners.  Foreign investors may feel no inhibition about taking their profits while allowing these public services to deteriorate.

The ongoing disruption of daily life seems to be forcing Macron’s government to make minor concessions. But nothing can change the basic aims of this presidency.

At the same time, the arrogance and brutal repression of the Macron regime increase demands for radical political change.  The Yellow Vest movement has largely adopted the demand developed by Etienne Chouard for a new Constitution empowering citizen-initiated referendums — in short, a peaceful democratic revolution.

But how to get there? Overthrowing a monarch is one thing, but overthrowing the power of international finance is another, especially in a nation bound by EU and NATO treaties. Personal animosity toward Macron tends to shelter the European Union from sharp criticism of its major responsibility.

A peaceful electoral revolution calls for popular leaders with a clear program. François Asselineau continues to spread his radical critique of the EU among the intelligentsia without his party, the Union Populaire Républicaine, gaining any significant electoral strength.  Leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has the oratorical punch to lead a revolution, but his popularity seems to have suffered from attacks even harsher than those unleashed against Jeremy Corbyn in Britain or Bernie Sanders in the U.S. With Mélenchon weakened and no other strong personalities in sight, Marine Le Pen has established herself as Macron’s main challenger in the 2022 presidential election, which risks presenting voters with the same choice they had in 2017. 

Asselineau’s analysis, Yellow Vest strategic mass, Mélenchon’s oratory, Chouard’s institutional reforms – these are elements that could theoretically combine (with others yet unknown) to produce a peaceful revolution. But combining political elements is hard chemistry, especially in individualistic France.  Without some big surprises, France appears headed not for revolution but for a long frozen combat. 

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions.” Her lates book is “Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton.” The memoirs of Diana Johnstone’s father Paul H. Johnstone, From MAD to Madness,” was published by Clarity Press, with her commentary. She can be reached at [email protected] .

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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36 comments for “French Popular Uprising: Revolution or Frozen Conflict?

  1. January 22, 2020 at 12:41

    “But since Macron is merely a technocratic tool of global financial governance, the conflict is essentially an uprising against policies that put the avaricious demands of financial markets ahead of the needs of the people.” Right, financial markets are controlled by the private banks who control the origination of money as debt for personal gain, which is usury. Usury, Dante’ said, was “…an extraordinarily efficient form of violence by which one does the most damage with the least effort.” If you control the money you can control the political system, public policy and pretty much everything else. Clearly it is that privately controlled monetary system that needs to be replaced so that government, not financiers, can direct the priorities of the nation toward taking care of people and their planet.

  2. Youri Smouter
    January 20, 2020 at 19:20

    good article Diane!

  3. Georges
    January 19, 2020 at 19:02

    Go Brexit ???????
    Allez le Frexit ??

  4. Thelonious Monk
    January 19, 2020 at 06:32

    Very lucid analysis of the situation and very clear explanation of what is at stake there, both from a socio-economic point of view and from a political one. This is brilliant.

  5. January 19, 2020 at 04:23

    Hoping these conflicts will be resolved soon..

  6. DP
    January 19, 2020 at 03:50

    Diana, as a democracy aiming to provide liberty and solidarity to its people, France has a history to be proud of. However, I disagree that its current problems can be reduced to the ones you described in the post. Your description of a “monarch on top of a brutal repressive regime” should be reserved for the proper individuals. Or do we really want to draw a parallel between France and China or Russia?

    As an economist, I offer an alternate assessment. France’s economic potential, including the one to reduce poverty, has long been held back by excessive state intervention, excessive regulation, and by being an overly generous state employer France has excessive government spending to GDP: the highest in the EU (57% in 2017, which is 8% higher than Sweden, and way ahead of most others).

    I agree France has problems today with purchasing power, and many of the things you describe. But in some cases, we have to focus on how to make the pie bigger, rather than bickering over who gets the remaining crumbles.

    • Diana Johnstone
      January 21, 2020 at 05:47

      You put quotation remarks around a phrase which is not in my article and in general you seem to be arguing with someone else. So I won’t try to reply other than to say that a mixed economy is the way to “make the pie bigger” and EU rules make this virtually impossible. The EU and the euro have produced very low growth as well as social regression.

  7. January 19, 2020 at 02:07

    “This is indeed a form of planned economy, one that fails utterly to meet social needs.”
    Diana Johnstone once again cuts to the chase. The financial industry does not seek to enslave us; it aims to destroy us!

  8. Hide Behind
    January 19, 2020 at 01:39

    I would. think that for as long as these protest have been ongoing, the French government has little to worry about as to a Revolution, and by the lack of progress by protesters at the present rate most of protestors will retire on revised or not revised pensions.
    They, protestors, seem to have a convenient work schedule, weekend days off, pack some vino, bread and cheese, and bottled water to clear eyes of tear gas, and head out for a Saturday and Sunday stroll about town.
    Police get to act like policemen, vandals get to vandalize, and government employees do whatever they do on weekends, and everyone goes home early on Sunday to get ready for work on Monday.
    The worse part of getting tear gassed is you have to realy insure the clothing your wearing gets thoroughly washed.
    As a Viet Conflict vet antiwar protestor the first sweet smelling whiffs of tear gas got the adrenaline pumping and the rest was fun and games time.
    My single buds found it an easy way to meet college girls, although I often thought some of them looked a little young to be in college
    We wore head bends not to put flowers in but to cover our mouths and nose to breathe better and if warm keep the tear gas sweat from hair out of our eyes.
    While we protested the red neck flag wavers, hard hats and the Great Generation WWII and Korea vets were calling for cops to beat and shoot us, throw all of us hippy and commies in jail, and their wives got PO’d if we got in way of their shopping trips.
    The war ended and all of our leaders got jobs in government and became college profs and media stars, in other words they became the same kind of a-holes we once protested against
    As an American observer from 6,000 miles away it seems that French protestor are far smarter than we were back then, as they do not need or follow some organizational a-holes and their leaders are ideals not some wanna be politico in the future.
    A violent revolution is an easy trip, while non violent protest that has lasted over a year, now that is one group of hard a– stick too it guts and perseverence.
    Wish them well but being an American I would advise they do not look for any help or empathy for cause from USA.
    Different in many ways are todays generation from that of my youth, for back then the red neck prowar had not as deep a mean cruel streak as they do today, and Christian Zionist are so blood thirsty and yes have same mean cruel streak, way ulike most who called themselve Christian in past days, and sacrifice for higher moral character towards higher ideals was the most common uniting feature.
    It was easy to fight against a truly visible and hate filled enemy; a lot easier than todays gutless, me too selfie , comformist and complacent mindsets.
    I wish the protesters the best as they have not just own government body against them they have all the Euro bloc governments and financials fighting them as well.

  9. zhenry
    January 19, 2020 at 00:24

    …….’Macron’s government has made minor concessions.
    But nothing can change the basic aims of international finance and this Macron presidency..
    ‘A peaceful electoral revolution calls for:
    *Asselineau’s analysis
    *Yellow Vest strategic mass
    *Mélenchon’s oratory and
    *Chouard’s institutional reforms –
    A hard chemistry to achieve in individualistic France.
    France appears headed
    “not for revolution but for a long frozen combat.”

    Diana Johnstone’s analysis is clear, focused and uplifting, but despite a resolution to the problem, the reader is left with a feeling of deflation and despair.
    Not unusual, in my opinion, for this journalist, she manages to squash her analysis with a few ‘hard hopeless’ words and phrases; of course Macron is a sociopath typical of the powerful and rich international finance world; very difficult to change, but please Ms Johnstone lets celebrate the example of protest and change the French are achieving, and of course emphasise the persistance of protest that must happen around the world (not perpetual war but ‘perpetual protest’) if the 99% are not to be reduced to feudalism – check out economist Michael Hudson.

    • January 22, 2020 at 15:07

      “Money as debt is the control instrument of the oligarchy. Micheal Hudson presents himself as a fighter against the oligarchy and yet provides a fierce and pointless defense of their power mechanism. I see MMT as controlled opposition, which appeals by taking elements of money reform, but only in a way that it serves the oligarchy. Real money reform, as I see it, is about removing the main instrument of oligarchic power. We don’t need to promote a bloody revolution, to dismember the oligarchy. We must introduce a just money system, under which democracy can prevail.”

  10. elmerfudzie
    January 18, 2020 at 21:10

    I extend my thanks to Diana Johnstone for bringing the temperature of my blood up to near boiling point. Those inspiring phrases such as “thanks to economic globalization versus national sovereignty” and The United States…ideological devotion to the invisible hand” did the trick and brought all those old memories back.

    American’s must pay open and overdue tribute to General Lafayette (Major General of the US Continental Army and Lieutenant General of France ). His spirit is hobbling up the steps of our Capitol Building now, and should he whisper, we need your help to storm the Bastille again, how can Americans dare say, no!

    How should citizens everywhere react to the ever increasing harm done to French protesters by the gendarmes? May I remind CONSORTIUMNEWS readers that the value of the striker far outweighs any emphasis or justifications that elevate property right(s) above people, rioting or not. A hundred years ago our forefathers would have responded by sending arms and gunpowder. Today we need a new version of boycott and divestment, a scheme that, if organized and enacted, threatens French Imported goods, that is, if Macron decides to pour gasoline onto the fire by ordering more police billy-clubs and gas canisters.

    During the last seventy years, French culture and politic have been less than desirable. Flirtations with antisemitism, embracing the Muslim religion over it’s Christian roots, compromises with Nazi Germany however none of these things could ever diminish that seamless link between our democracies, peoples and linguistic similarities.

    We must never permit the British (government AKA city of London bankers) to stand between us and French as was done at Battle of Dien Bien Phu. This error shall never be repeated again! So my fellow Americans… as JFK so famously quipped, it’s time to ponder and turn to your own family history, were your grandparents Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World?) perhaps your relations were card carrying members of the AFL-CIO? yes? so it begs the question, how has it come to pass that the globalist, chauvinistic, transnational corporations, borrowed from organized labor the concepts of strength through numbers and mutual cooperation that extend well beyond sovereign borders? Behold! the wretched the non-unionized, malleable, indentured servants of today, so called blue collar working class. It has lost it’s Wobblies past, lost what our forefathers and mothers clung to for power and influence, namely the picket line, right to assemble, right to speak, right to organize, the right to conspire and above all the right to fight!

    Vive la France!

  11. Jeff Harrison
    January 18, 2020 at 17:11

    Interesting assessment. At that rate of speed, the EU will become inoperative at some point thanks to the individual elements (nations) being unable to control their destiny.

  12. nondimenticare
    January 18, 2020 at 16:55

    So good to see Diana Johnstone here! Always incisive, always well written.

  13. DH Fabian
    January 18, 2020 at 14:51

    Actually, the Yellow Vest movement has, from the start, been inclusive of those left jobless. This concept just doesn’t fit into contemporary US ideology. Understanding capitalism in the post-Reagan/Thatcher era requires the acknowledgement of the consequences — years of quietly-growing poverty, with Western nations tap-dancing on the edge of economic collapse.

  14. rosemerry
    January 18, 2020 at 14:30

    Thanks Diana. I live in France (in the quiet countryside) and to my shame I have not followed all the details of what is going on and the main causes and likely results. I voted for Mélenchon and certainly saw what happened to him and his Party (the only ones against NATO!!) . I remember years ago when there were suggestions the earlier retirements provided in the law for workers like railway and other dangerous, split-hours jobs were considered ‘unfair’ by the Sarkozy government, but this is much worse and wide-ranging.

  15. Paul Spencer
    January 18, 2020 at 12:49

    Another insightful Johnstone (besides Caitlin)… Consortiumnews once again leads the pack in the analysis field. The growth and maturation of the resistance in France is inspiring.

  16. January 18, 2020 at 12:39

    Excellent article by a interesting writer. New to my reading. Thank you Diana.

  17. David Hungerford
    January 18, 2020 at 11:30

    Diana Johnstone looks deeply under the surface. I have a caveat, however: finance can cooperate internationally but at base it can never unite across national bounds.

    Financial entities are inseparable from their national markets. New value, i.e., new capital, springs from the hand of living labor at the point of production, and nowhere else (Marx). The uneveness of capitalist development therefore precludes financial unification.

    Look at the difficulties of the Eurozone, Germany’s unrestricted export zone. It has destroyed Greece, Italy is tottering, so are others.

    The euro is mightier than the panzer!

    • Adwoa Oni
      January 18, 2020 at 17:47

      I agree, in other words capitalist competition and rivalry will always impose a break on cooperation among capitalist countries. After all, two World Wars were fought over inter-imperialist rivalry.

    • zhenry
      January 19, 2020 at 00:36

      Agree with you DH, the Euro countries can have their trade agreements ( minus corporate imperatives) but must maintain their financial soverignty.

    • Josep
      January 19, 2020 at 19:58

      I’ve seen people say that Greece’s economic woes were self-inflicted by the (allegedly) corrupt Greek government. To the best of your knowledge, to which degree is this true?
      I’m not denying that the austerity measures foisted upon Greece have played a role in its economic woes. I’m just asking about the veracity of an alternate explanation.


  18. BASLE
    January 18, 2020 at 11:17

    Excellent. Thank you.

  19. George Vukmanovich
    January 18, 2020 at 11:11

    Very good piece on the events that are now shaking not only France, but also nations around the globe, including the US of A. ( The ‘A’ stands for ‘Amnesia.’ LOL!) . Anyway, your column reminded me of a quote by the late Robert L. Heilbroner in his book The Worldly Philosophers, initially published in 1953. In the book’s introduction Heilbroner wrote that “A man who thinks that economics is only a matter for professors, forgets that this is the science that has sent men to the barricades.” IMO truer words have never been written.

  20. Raymond Comeau
    January 18, 2020 at 10:34

    This is an excellent article. It describes France’s attack upon hard-working people and the poor, while the rich upper crust in France wants more and more and more. I have decided to purchase Diana Johnstone’s latest book (Queen of Chaos) to learn more about International Finance demands more and more from working people by supporting useful tools like Macron and Hilary Clinton!

    • Diana Johnstone
      January 21, 2020 at 06:00

      I am glad you care to read Queen of Chaos, but please note that my latest book is Circle in the Darkness: Memoirs of a World Watcher (Clarity Press, 2020).

  21. Skip Scott
    January 18, 2020 at 10:15

    This article fits hand-in-glove with the previous one regarding Russia and MAD. This is the life-or-death struggle. Putin dared to defy the international globalized vampires and put the standard of living and life expectancy of the Russian people ahead of Empire’s interest in pilfering Russian assets. By daring to refuse vassal status, he has made Russia the target of the US based MIC, whose sole mission is to enforce the will of Empire. Macron is a servant of evil, and the French people are smart enough to “get it”.

    Tulsi’s message of “service before self” and “people before profits” is one that needs to be heard loud and clear in the USA. World-wide, it is all the same struggle.

  22. Eddie S
    January 18, 2020 at 09:47

    Great article, pointing out among other things the major downsides to the EU and similar trade organizations. Countries sell their soul when they grant primacy to ‘the markets’ as the US has long done. I wish more people would stop and reflect on the fact that managers/staff* in corporations are ALL working 40-50 hrs per week with the primary goal of separating their customers from as much of their money as they can by supplying a good and/or service, but they are NOT spending ANY time worrying about the health & welfare of even these customers (altruistic-sounding corporate ‘mission/purpose statements’ notwithstanding) beyond any government regulations and potential lawsuit liability. In fact, public corporations in the US are legally bound to ONLY focus on maximizing profits and NOT on governmental policies unrelated to that goal — the CEO & directors can be sued by shareholders if they don’t. Libertarians and such can argue (incorrectly, in my view) that this is desirable and should trump all other considerations , but no-one can realistically argue that it’s not true. To turn our governments over to this ethos is to effectively trivialize virtually everything EXCEPT stock market returns.

    *(of which I’m one)

  23. Bob Van Noy
    January 18, 2020 at 09:17

    Many thanks Diana Johnstone and Consortiumnews for this article. Yes, this is the discussion that we must have right now. I’m going to link to OffGuardian below because they too are having a similar discussion and I came away from that to this forum thinking that it is much more complex than I might ave thought. The commentary at OG is as well thought out as it is here and one might read a more British conversation to compare it with.

    Personally I agree that we must have a very broad and civil interchange about this subject much along the lines of a Truth And Reconciliation Discussion…?


  24. Steve
    January 18, 2020 at 07:54

    “Personal animosity toward Macron tends to shelter the European Union from sharp criticism of its major responsibility.”


    The only way to change it is to regain French sovereignty through a FrExit. As long as the supranational EU has it’s tentacles in the French policy-making, fundamental changes at the national level are impossible. The only way for nations to regain the sovereignty to change their laws/policies to suit the particular needs/desires of the population is to lop off those tentacles. Unelected supranational bureaucracies are anathema to democracy. The people have no voice in the EU. Only the ‘experts’ do. That is by design.

    • Seamus Padraig
      January 22, 2020 at 12:08

      So true! I wonder why more people in France don’t understand that simple fact?

  25. AnneR
    January 18, 2020 at 07:29

    The willingness of the French working population – and I do not mean the pen pushers, the bureaucrats, the well-remunerated – to make manifest, via strikes, demonstrations, protests, their frustrations with, anger at their government and its policies, my late husband and I always found admirable. And this determination of the French working classes to ensure some sort of decent life for themselves and their children is amazing given how brutally violent the French riot police have been – the injuries have been horrific and numerous. (Of course, these manifestations have barely, if at all, made it to NPR or the BBC World Service, while the petty-minded, very violent young adult “protests” in Hong Kong (and the likely US-UK-I sponsored protests in Iran, Iraq and so on) have been receiving admiring, continuous coverage. I wonder why? (Sarc.)

    As for the British working classes – at one time they used to be rather more willing to go on long strikes, protests, demos. The Snatcher went out of her way to destroy the unions (and succeeded), to privatize everything in public hands (the public ownership of the NHS has been deliberately whittled away at ever since her entrance into #10) and to install the pathways to austerity – on the lower “orders” of course (with concomitant increases in poverty and homelessness among the working classes and mind-boggling growth in the wealth of those in the top percentiles).

    So it is untrue to state, as Johnstone does here, that the British in toto are gung-ho for the corporate-capitalist-imperialist order established so successfully by the Snatcher and Reagan (TINA). But those who remember how things were before 1980 are for the most part retired or dead; and those who grew up knowing nowt else but TINA have no experience of another way of an economy, of a government being run – however imperfect it was before 1980 (and it was – still not truly democratic, still with an aristocracy, still hankering after being, behaving as if it were *the* imperial power), since that dreadful opening it has grown worse. Workers keep their heads down for fear of losing whatever their “job” provides by way of wages.

  26. Donald Duck
    January 18, 2020 at 05:13

    ”The real issue is a choice of systems: to be precise, economic globalization versus national sovereignty.”

    In one sentence the whole issue is laid bare.

  27. michael severson
    January 17, 2020 at 23:07

    Cogent analysis, especially the third-to-the-last paragraph: regicide within a country to end a corrupt and/or hopelessly incapable ‘government’ is very different than changing or ending a kleptocracy of international governance through wealth as it exists today. Its example in this case, is one of the most kleptocratic of nations: France.

    Please note, also, that Macron was a Rothschild banker. He is from that kleptocratic governance. He is there because he was put in place by that international, financial–and focused as in that country–control.

    Which brings the last paragraph to such perception. A revolution is unlikely, and likely is “…a long frozen combat.”

    There are two ways a long combat plays out. Not an entropy, which means disorder and decline, but a surrender, a submission. But consider the continued confrontation and resolve.

    The other way is defeat. Look at any example of the defeated for the twentieth century: Palestine, which means more than just the Arab, it also means the Christians of Palestine; Germany’s attempt to throw off its crippling debts after WW1 and then almost total destruction and then occupation; Spain and the elements therein which lost; the tyranny subjected upon Russian Christians or others by the Bolsheviks. Other examples illustrate the catastrophe of the losers.

    That is why, with all the power of its wealth and influence, the outcome probably favors Macron and the forces behind him, directing him, advising him. The French don’t put a patsy in power, as Trump very likely is, but how the French came to have Macron is much like how the Americans came to have Trump: they were deceived.

  28. ML
    January 17, 2020 at 21:18

    I love this writer. Thank you for posting it, CN.

  29. DW Bartoo
    January 17, 2020 at 20:27

    A superb analysis.

    Required reading for any who would understand the rapacious international finance system and why the people of all nations must fully grasp what the majority are up against.

    Any assumption, belief, or mythology that the financial elite may be reasoned with, that the many can vote their way to revolutionary change is patently absurd.

    The elite will NOT relinquish their plans for Full Spectrum Dominance, which is not merely the aim of the U$ Military, of NATO, of war-mongers and war profiteers globally, but also the intent of the financial class, globally.

    Since the MSM media, worldwide, is owned and controlled by the elites who also control national governments AND the EU, the people must determine what future best serves their needs, best preserves a sustainable and humane future and develop the courage to insist, in global solidarity, even as they seek the national sovereignty to dismantle international finance systems that have a stranglehold on everyone, even those not yet aware, especially in the U$, that their own precarity is planned, intended, and well on the way.

    My appreciation to the author and to CN for permitting an insight into what is happening, right now, in France, even as it has already happened in other nations, Greece comes readily to mind, that U$ians might, just might, come to see the need of a deeper alliance with others around the world, who and which, are threatened by an implacable minority who really do not care, in the least, about the many or the planet.

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