Monday, April 24, 2017

The Agony of the French White Working Class

Notice the difference between the US and France? In the US the white working class has invaded the Republican Party and the Republicans, courtesy of Trump, have listened to its grievances.

In France the white working class is isolated in the Front National, and it is outside respectable French opinion. So after Round One of the French presidential election the "far-right" Marine Le Pen is isolated and the "moderate" Emmanuel Macron (who is a complete insider having held ministerial posts in the Hollande government) is the fusion candidate that all the other parties are endorsing for the final runoff.

Here is Macron's education:
[He] studied Philosophy at Paris Nanterre University, completed a Master's of Public Affairs at Sciences Po, and graduated from the École nationale d'administration (ENA) in 2004.
It's a shame, and it makes me realize how lucky the US is that all the folks tossed out of the Democratic Party over the years -- Southerners, Christians, pro-family, and now white working class -- were able to find a home without isolating themselves in a fringe party that could be easily marginalized by the establishment. Instead, by the magic of coalition, they have influenced the politicians in their new home to listen to their grievances.

I am trying to conceive of a catch phrase to symbolize the monstrous injustice that the left has perpetrated on the working class, first mobilizing it against the industrial revolution, the very thing that had saved the lower class from the previous centuries of starvation in the wake of the agricultural revolution; then acculturating the workers against embourgeoisement; and finally throwing them away as racist, sexist bigots. It is a Great Injustice to use people in that way, and the worst of it is that the left used the white working as cannon fodder in the left's reactionary movement against the new culture of the market economy in which prices not force is the foundation of society, a reactionary movement against science and common sense and justice that is bound to fail.

The left's culture is a culture of force, but the new post-industrial revolution market culture is a culture of cooperation. The person in the next village, or the next nation, is not your enemy, but your customer or your supplier.

The contribution of the market economy is, of course, in part in innovation, that nobodies can invent new ideas and product and sell them without getting permission from the ruling class.

But I am coming more and more to believe that the real contribution, the elephant in the room that nobody notices, is that the market helps most when things go wrong.

If you are a worker in a dying industry, or a company that can't make a profit, the market tells you in no uncertain terms to raise your game or get out of the game into another one. If you lose your job, or your company goes bankrupt, then you have to change.

But with government when things go wrong the only response is to double down on failure. Workers petition government to force employers to pay them the full amount they had in mind; industry groups lobby the government for subsidies to keep the good times going. And so it goes until the whole thing collapses.

In a company, declining profits soon force the company to abandon money-losing products and services and lay off workers. But when government revenue dries up it is almost impossible to cut spending, because people getting government benefits will riot in the streets rather than agree to a reduction in their benefits. So government has to respond to a reduction in revenue by the cunning of inflation.

Maybe my view is outside the mainstream because my family, going back to at least the late 19th century has been bourgeois and has responded to setbacks by taking its losses and moving on. One set of grandparents were in Russia during the revolution and had to get out with nothing. The other set of grandparents were in Japan in the run-up to World War II and sold their business in 1941ish, presumably at pennies on the dollar, to a Czech Jew. My parents found themselves in India at the time of independence and partition and went back to England, presumably taking quite a loss.

So when things go wrong you can sit where you are and hope that things get better; you can organize and try to force the government to bail you out, Or you can take your losses and start over.

The white working class was taught to believe that government would always be there when something went wrong, that government, in President Obama's words, would "have its back." But government doesn't care about you, it only cares about your vote, and what your vote can do for it.

So the French working class has voted for Marine Le Pen, and is going to go down to defeat in the runoff. And nobody will help the workers to build a new life. Because they are all racists and sexists and bigots.

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