French president Macron, who was everywhere commenting les Bleus’ performance and celebrating France’s World Cup win, has suddenly become unavailable to face questions concerning the behavior of his top security aide, Alexandre Benalla. Macron has handed the problem over to some of his most faithful political friends.
It is a given fact that Macron covered up his protégé’s illegal behavior on May 1, when Benalla dressed up as a police officer and attacked isolated demonstrators. Benalla has just been fired and the government insists that no one proven guilty can be exempt from punishment. But Benalla’s sanction was pronounced two and a half months after the facts and only because Le Monde revealed the whole scandal.
Officials from the presidential Elysée Palace say they reacted with utmost diligence by inflicting a 15-day temporary layoff on Benalla. Some punishment! Cashiers working for Carrefour or Auchan supermarkets are routinely fired for the slightest mistake. As for the five Air France employees who pushed and pulled the airline’s HR director, eventually tearing his shirt, they were arrested, sacked and sentenced to suspended prison terms, like common thugs.
Every day, new bits of information trickle down, painting a startling picture of the unlimited power entrusted to a bunch of hustlers, making profitable deals based on clientelism and fraudulent concealment.
Despite his reputation as a security “mad dog”, Benalla was a member of Macron’s innermost circle of advisors. He was paid over 7,000 euros a month and enjoyed--free of charge--a luxury apartment and an official car. Thanks to the president, he was named lieutenant-colonel of France’s operational reserve forces and as such could give orders to the police or gendarmerie top brass.
It’s now clear that Macron’s promise to act with full transparency and make best practice a priority was nothing but hot air. Political power under Macron is no different from what it was under his predecessors, right down to favoritism and political scandals.
But the most disgusting aspect of Macron’s policy is the setback imposed systematically on the workers’ standard of living through a series of measures like the executive orders that have made it easier and cheaper for bosses to lay off people; the increase of CSG which dealt a blow to retirees; the cuts in housing aid; the attacks against SNCF and railroad workers; the cuts in the local governments’ budget which particularly affected an already ailing hospital sector; the decision to impose a selection on candidates to higher education; and greater control of the unemployed...
The most striking feature of Macron’s presidential style is perhaps his insistence that new jobs are being created when the truth of the matter is that we’re witnessing new massive job cuts. The Mulliez conglomerate for example has already planned the shutdown of 88 stores and the dismissal of 466 workers. The Mulliez family is at the head of a mass distribution empire (supermarket, hardware, sportswear chains, etc.) worth tens of billions of euros.
Macron is not the first president to carry out policies that are hostile to the working class.
Sarkozy, for one, was nicknamed the “president of the rich” years before Macron. Hollande, the fake enemy of financiers, catered to big capital owners. These presidents and the professional politicians gravitating around them have all been selected and trained to service the interests of the wealthy. Their priority is the smooth functioning of the capitalist system and the capital owners’ profits and competitiveness.
They use Parliament, the presidency, and government as tools for perpetuating the system and serving the interests of the wealthy. Their task is to explain that there is no money to hire more people, to increase wages, to step up retirement pensions, allowances for people with a very low income and various aids and that sacrifices must be made in public services and in hospitals.
And they dare to say this—and implement the policy—while the wealthy are enriching themselves faster than ever. Last year, Bernard Arnaud, who owns LVMH (luxury goods), saw his fortune increase by 1,300 euros every two seconds!
For him, for bosses in general and for MPs, workers are those who shovel coal into the engine, and they must be flexible and accept their fate as exploited people. This is why the policy elaborated in the government’s top circles is utterly disgusting.
We all know that favoritism and scandal within the State accompany this policy. The opposition parties get the chance to pretend righteous indignation but they have judiciary skeletons in their own cupboards. Nothing is going to change unless workers are determined to challenge the bourgeoisie’s domination and parasitism which are only going to lead to social catastrophe.