1. The only thing that really matters is whether the security services will continue to follow orders, specifically, the order to shoot. So far, they do not appear anywhere near the point where they will refuse to do so.

2. Barring a change in 1. above, Macron will continue to survive politically. This is not because of any skills on his part, but because if he were gone, there is a non-zero chance that Le Pen would get elected. The overriding goal of All Right Thinking People in France is to prevent Le Pen or someone like Le Pen from getting into power. Even if, by some fluke she were to find herself in the Champs Elysee, the Better Sort Of People, the people who control the institutions, would do whatever it takes to prevent Le Pen from actually ruling.

France, like the rest of Europe, will continue to trudge to its demise, rather than question its Atlanticist orientation, or the current power structure.

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Mar 22·edited Mar 23

I agree with the broad thrust of the article, but I have to admit to smirking a bit when you brought up the lack of a strong two party system as a contributor to the problems in France. A lot of people in US, in particular, imagine that the root of all problems here is the two party system. They imagine that if there are lots of parties out there, competing for "unconventional" voters, somehow things will be better, and to them, I usually suggest that they should look at dysfunctional multiparty politics in various parts of Europe, of which France has increasingly become the foremost example. The real problem, as I see it, affecting politics in most countries, is that parties have mostly become dysfunctional: when parties/coalitions/whatever work properly, they are vehicles for brokering compromise, allowing for horse trading or whatever to take place behind the scenes so that they can vote together to make policy whether they really "agree" in their hearts or not. This doesn't say, necessarily, that the policy produced would necessarily be "good"--you still need some publicly minded leadership to direct the compromise and bargaining in some productive direction. But the bottom line is that "parties" as embodiment of "ideology" is a self-destructive trap. If you cannot easily define what a particular coalition is about, that's likely a sign of a well-run, highly effective party. In this dimension, If you believe that the most important thing for a party or a coalition is to have an "ideology" that all its members somehow believe it, that's the thinking of comfortable elitists who think themselves above practical consequences of policymaking. (I'd describe the well-known saying about parties in US by Will Rodgers as prattlings of a nitwit. When no one know what the Democrats were all about, they were doing a wondrous job as a party.)

This description, which, incidentally, describes the decline of parties in US as policymaking organization (where you could get a bunch of people who don't share same views together and have them vote for some policy as a group), applies to the party/coalition politics in France (whose, politics shares a lot of characteristics with US.) except, well, the French citizens seem more hotheaded than we are when it comes to taking to the streets.

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I really think that this applies to the majority of politicians in Europe, in the UK, Canada and the USA…..I cannot make up my mind about Australia….although the Liberals might fit the bill…..

“ He’s a representative of a new generation of politicians, with a technocratic mind-set but very little technical knowledge, for whom senior political office is just another job on their CV, bringing in money and status, and the chances of profiting from it afterwards.”

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I have always found French politics a valuable canary in the coalmine for global politics and used to listen to Les matins de France Culture on a regular basis. You provide a fantastic summary of current events here (It gives me a similar feel to Brice Couturier's perspectives which I appreciated immensely) and it's interesting to see how flip-flop ping from left to right (politiques d'essuie glace) and the centre, strategically keeping out the Front National, could lead to a potential checkmate for the more extreme party of the people. Fascinating how the left has lost the working class to the far right, and the upper middle class to the greens, and the Right parties have to move further to the right to hoover up enough support. It's similar to the UKs New Labour movement alienating it's core voters. France does not however have the inter party fissure of Brexit to contend with. Striking may well become the UK's "Sport nationale" too. Thanks again for this and A+ for your writing style. I wish black mountain analysis (who I very much enjoy and found through you) would take as much care with the written word - it would really make a difference if he asked GPT-chat to tidy things up.

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Excellent work! One of your best.

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Wow. Loved the article.

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An analysis of Macron that doesn't start and end with the Attali commission and the demands of the 4-40 misses the mark.

Macron is a puppet put into place to force an agenda through. The items of that agenda are publicly known. Him ramming every reform through, no matter the blood in the streets is him doing the bidding of his paymasters.

And to say the left did nothing with their power is dishonest, Macron reformed the loi travaille, ie loi khomry under Hollande, and of course the state managed to grab all sorts of civil rights from the citizens under the pretext of combating terrorism. But ok boomer, we can put le mariage pour tous, as victory for progress. ..

Time to listen to Soral a bit closer, lest you'll get wool pulled over your eyes when they serve up Ruffin as your future lord and saviour.

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Mar 24·edited Mar 24

One thing that nags regarding retirement age is the contrast between France and the USA. The age for full retirement in America is 67 whereas the new retirement age in France is 3 years earlier at 64. Historically, most Americans retire early at around age 62 even though the full US pension retirement age has been 65 or older (now 67). The widely held interpretation of the age 62 plateau is that this is when the human bodies of laborers just exhaust. Back problems, eyesight, hearing, and chronic arthritis, etc. become debilitating as we humans approach age 60 regardless of nationality.

Macron’s raising the full-retirement age begs two questions. First, are the French just lazier than Americans? Second, is there an economic justification for raising France’s retirement age?

I doubt that the French are lazier than Americans. Early retirement in both countries comes with a penalty – a reduced monthly pension. However, most members of the workforce normally have alternative income sources including other pensions and investments. Thus, early retirement is not an extreme hardship in France or the USA. A slightly larger drop in pension income likely does not justify all the demonstrations.

The answer to the second, economic, question is almost certainly yes. Like the rest of the EU, France’s birth rate has been dropping for years. France must increase the pace of its productivity or raise taxes. But taxes are already quite high in France, so that might be the dilemma that has triggered all the protests. In the end, it is likely that the French will have to increase immigration. As we have seen in the UK, cultural racism can cause many people to endure a drop in standard of living before they will tolerate more immigrants.

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