Most of the media were quick to hail a ‘New French Revolution’ following the results of the first round of voting in France’s 2017 Presidential election. Well, at a quick glance, the claim appears to have some substance.
After all, it’s the first time since the founding of the Fifth Republic in 1958 that France’s two main parties haven’t made it through to the final round. Instead, we’ve got a run off between Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year old novice who hardly anyone had heard of a year ago, and who leads a party only formed in 2016, and Marine Le Pen.
But before we start getting all 1789, and heading off to smoke our clay pipes at the Club des Cordeliers, let’s look a little closer.
The so-called ‘outsider’ Macron is nothing of the sort. It’s a very strange ‘Revolution’ indeed if the end result is the installation in the Elysee Palace of a neoliberal pro-austerity investment banker (and Bilderberg conference attendee) heavily favored by the establishment.
The likely success of Macron in round two won’t be a revolution, but the very opposite. It’ll represent a stunning victory for the French and globalist elites who’ve maintained their grip on power in an era of massive public discontent. Quite a neat trick, don’t you think? Here’s how it was done.
When I first learned of Macron‘s success on Sunday and saw how it was being toasted by establishment figures not just in France, but across the continent, I thought of that wonderful line in the Italian historical novel Il Gattopardo (The Leopard): “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” It’s clear the powers behind the throne in French politics have been reading their Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. They knew politics in France badly needed a shake-up, and there must be ‘changes’ for them to stave off a genuine ‘off with their heads’ revolt. But the ‘changes’ were only cosmetic, promoted of course as genuine by the establishment-owned media.
Previously used vehicles to protect elite interests were clearly no longer fit for purpose.
The Socialist Party (PS) had hemorrhaged support by doing the dirty on French workers once too often. With its credibility shot to pieces under the hugely unpopular Francois Hollande, who embraced austerity having pledged to oppose it when elected, the PS had zero chance of providing the new President in 2017. The Republicans had also lost their appeal too after the dreadful Sarkozy years and corruption scandals.
So, step forward En Marche!, the shiny-new, very well-funded, ‘centrist’ vehicle through which elite interests - and the status quo - could be maintained. It seems absolutely ‘incroyable’ that a party only formed one year ago could propel someone who had never before stood for election to become President of France. Unless you understand that Macron, the man the media bill as the ‘outsider,’ is the ultimate ‘insider,’ who, like his British counterpart David Cameron, was fast-tracked to success.
He’s an ‘enarque,’ a graduate of the elite Ecole National d’Administration. He then worked as an investment banker, dealing with corporate takeovers and mergers for Rothschild’s, where it is said: “he quickly made a small fortune.”
He then became Deputy Secretary-General at the Elysee, and then was appointed Economy Minister where he aggressively promoted neoliberal reforms.
He has among his well-heeled supporters those other capital-friendly ‘centrists,’ like Tony Blair protégé David Miliband and the UK’s extremely wealthy ex-Chancellor George Osborne, both of whom tweeted their congratulations following the election result. Macron is the poster boy not only of the French elites but what Takis Fotopoulos, author of The New World Order in Action, has called the ‘transnational elites’ too.
Up against the divisive, anti-immigrant Front National as the ‘official opposition,’ who wouldn’t prefer the nice young Monsieur Macron and his nice new ‘centrist’ party, the establishment’s line of argument goes. Hopefully, people in their excitement for something ‘new’ won’t question too much what exactly is ‘centrist’ about Macron’s policies. He’s pledged to cut corporation tax to 25 percent, reform wealth tax for the benefit of the rich and relax labor laws, thereby making it easier to hire and fire. He wants to slash public spending.
Martine Aubry of the PS says Macron’s economic program: “takes up the liberal agenda of the Anglo-Saxons in the 1980s. It’s about reducing public services, reducing deficits, and for workers to work more and be paid less.”
But the ex-banker’s support for austerity - surprise, surprise - doesn’t extend to the military, as he’d pledged to increase spending on defense to two percent of GDP. You’ve got to tip your ‘chapeau’ to the establishment in acknowledgment at the giant con trick they appear to have pulled off. Like all good totalitarians they’ve not only constructed and promoted a brand new political movement to serve their interests, they’ve made sure they have the right ’opposition’ to it too, one that will be strong enough to keep genuinely anti-capitalist forces at bay but unlikely to be strong enough to win a second round in the Presidential election.
What events in France, and in The Netherlands in March, and in the US since the election of Donald Trump demonstrate is the enduring power and strength of the western elites. They’re nowhere near as easy to dislodge as you might think, certainly that is if you make the mistake of playing by the rigged rules that the establishment itself sets. Even on the very rare occasions when the voters, despite exhortations from their’ betters,’ do vote the ‘wrong’ way, the people behind the curtain will, rest assured, find some way of subverting the wishes of the citizens.
Last June, Brits voted for Brexit and thought that was it, but after deliberate government feet-dragging and legal challenges Article 50 wasn’t sent off until March. Now the PM Theresa May, who campaigned for a Remain vote, has called an early election, which is likely to result in a fudge with Brussels and a deal designed to suit the Tories‘ City backers and not the man or woman in the street.
In the US, millions voted for the ‘isolationist’ Trump and hailed his win as a ‘revolution’ believing it would mean a change in US foreign policy. But guess what? The neocon/liberal interventionist policies have continued. Remember the words of Tancredi in The Leopard, for things to stay the same, things have to change. Or at least, appear to change.
After last year’s Brexit vote and the election of Trump, obituaries of the EU, and indeed of banker-friendly globalization, were being enthusiastically written. Le Pen aka ‘Madame Frexit’ was going to sweep to power in France, Merkel would be toppled in Germany, and that would be the end of the ‘European project.’ In February, a jubilant Nigel Farage, hailing what he called ’the global revolution of 2016,’ warned the European Parliament “You’re in for a bigger shock in 2017.”
But it hasn’t happened.
Euroskeptics, if they’re honest, will admit the French election result is a significant blow to their cause. For all the hyping of ‘Mme Frexit,’ the reality is that the most pro-EU candidate, the one who wants more European integration and not less, topped the poll. The euro shot up to its highest level in five months on Monday. The French stock market hit a nine-year high, and bank shares across Europe went up.
The Eurocrats and the forces of capital they represent are delighted with the ‘outsider’ Emmanuel Macron odds-on to make it to the Elysee Palace. It’ll be business as usual, and the rich will continue to get richer, and the poor will get even poorer.
While Macron’s old ‘comrades’ at Rothschild & Co will be celebrating Sunday’s result, those who want to see an end to one of the most iniquitous eras in human history need to learn the lesson of the French election fairly quickly. The only way establishments in the West will be ousted is if those outside the gates of the Bastille are entirely realistic about the forces that they’re up against.
It’s not just hard power the elites possess. It’s their domination of the media, and the way ideas which promote their interests become hegemonic. We need to understand how gate-keeping works and how in societies that appear to be ‘free’ any ideas which do challenge the ruling oligarchy are deemed to be ‘off-limits.’
Just look now at the inside-the-fortress commentators in Britain portraying Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a mild-mannered anti-war social democrat, as some incredibly dangerous extremist who will wreck Britain if elected and endanger national security, when it’s been the elites themselves who have put the lives of ordinary Britons at risk from their endless warmongering. Even if Corbyn does, against all the odds, pull off a surprise election victory on 8th June, the assault on him will only intensify.
Acknowledging this shouldn’t turn Corbyn supporters into defeatists, but make them more prepared for the battles that inevitably lie ahead.
If voting did change anything, as the old adage goes, they’d abolish it. It’s certainly very true in the neocon/neoliberal era. Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama-Trump. Blair-Brown-Cameron-May. Sarkozy-Hollande-Macron. Tweedledum-Tweedledee. Pepsi or Coca Cola?
Instead of putting all our eggs in the basket marked ‘Representative Democracy,’ we need to accept real change will only come about if new, more direct models of democracy replace those that are all too easy for those hiding behind the curtain to manipulate and control.
At all times we must be wary of fake Leopard-esque changes, which are sold to us at the time of popular unrest by the rich as ‘revolutions.’ Sometimes, they’re not easy to spot. But here’s an excellent tip. Genuine revolutions can never be led by neoliberal pro-austerity investment bankers who attend Bilderberg conferences and whose successes are toasted by David Miliband and George Osborne.
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative.
This article originally appeared on RT.com.