Thursday 28 August 2014

Wither democracy?

France has seen a sudden change of government. Arnaud Montebourg, Economy minister made a speech criticising the obsession with budgetary consolidation (which is a very strong contributor to the persistent slump that the Eurozone has found itself in for 4 years), and reminded that France was a free country whose (nominally) left-wing government did not absolutely have to conform to the whims of the German right.

The answer came quickly, as president Fran├žois Hollande suddenly realised what his spinelessness in the face of German demands led to, and he sacked Montebourg. A couple of days later, we learnt that he would be replaced by Emmanuel Macron, a former Rotschild banker "credited" with Hollande's even-further-right-wing turn and with convincing him of Say's "law" (that offer creates its own demand). He wasted no time to establish his right-wing credentials, calling for pet right-wing measures (such as abolishing the 35 hours week) within a day of being in his new role.



Whether or not he was right to make his points in a public speech (and I would say he was, since saying it in cabinet meetings clearly had no impact, and since the German right had no hesitation in making demands on the internal policies of France), it is clear that what Montebourg said was correct. Moreover, it was in lign with their electoral platform. One that had had some success, too: at some point, the left wing held the upper hand at local, regional, both chambers of parliement and the presidency. Yet they were implementing a right-wing agenda, because Angela Merkel said so (admittedly, EU institutions made it more difficult than I make it sound, yet there was a clear strategy of appeasement, of not even voicing any disagreement, in the hope that the Germans would be less instransigent in return. The result has been that they have not watered down their demands despite 4 straight years of evidence that this was the wrong path for the Eurozone as a whole, and that criticism became inaudible.

And so the less is that at the moment, if you are part of a nominally left-wing government, if you say something that is both clearly true (and millions have paid a huge price for the ignorance of that truth) and consistent with your party's stated goals (although Keynesianism, a ploy to save Capitalism, is not particularly left-wing, budgetary fundamentalism is full-throttle insane extreme-right economics), then you are out. If you point out that, after having been given a massive mandate for left-wing economics, it's the right-wing kind that is being applied with disastrous consequences, then you are out.

Paul Krugman has a field day pointing out how, despite what is read everywhere, there is absolutely no reason for France to apply drastic measures. Yes, the situation is dire, but that is a Eurozone problem. France is certainly not faring worse than the Eurozone average, an achievement in itself considering the massive structural suction towards Germany (their refusal to inflate despite current inflation being below target in every Eurozone country and after it was a inflation in the periphery that saved them in the early 2000s has locked in an average transfer of 2-2.5% of the rest of the Eurozone towards Germany). But evidence will be to no avail, and Emmanel Macron now sits in Bercy.

Think about that, Democracy. A massive electoral shift towards the left brings no economic change of direction (admittedly, there have been left-wing measures elsewhere, and the political instrumentalisation of the judiciary ceased, which was welcome). If the Economy minister (constantly disavowed by both president and prime minister) points it out, he's out, and a banker replaces him.
You might be tempted to use the word Technocracy to describe that sorry state of affair, but it is even worse. Technocracy means government by the experts -you could maybe imagine a desperate executive bringing in Keynes as minister in the middle of a prolonged stump.
But Macron is anything but an expert, he's a deal maker who became very rich thanks to the right connections. He is the one to have promoted Say's law, a fallacy that has been known as such for over 200 years (including by Say himself, who never called it a law, and had only said something silly in a letter that he came to understand as silly later on) is the surest way to be laughed out of the room if you were to bring it up amongst genuine macroeconomic experts. And indeed, he was (or rather Hollande was, for repeating Macron's positions), as I mentioned here when it happened.

No, we are not getting government by the experts instead of our alleged Democracy. We are getting government by the high-priests of the Aust(e)rian cult. A country that is known as the most secular has turned itself into a weird Theocracy. That is scary.

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