In today’s edition of La Dépeche, the President of France is quoted as saying, “If you take part in demonstrations where there is violence, then you are complicit in the guilt of the violent”.
I put that up there in jet black bold type, because I’d like everyone who arrives here today to study it, deconstruct it, think a little more about the content….and then go away and hide under the duvet.
What Macron is saying there is precisely the same muddled thinking as that which produced a major uproar five years ago in Britain about the law of guilt by association. At that time, I campaigned here on behalf of the mother of a kid with severe primary sense deficiency who had been present when a bunch of kids taunted a old man with a serious heart condition. They didn’t know about the victim’s heart condition, and her son played no part at all in the taunts.
The old guy had a heart attack, and later died. Later, a judge – a man schooled in the law and an expert, mind – sent the boy to prison just for being there.
This is precisely what Emmanuel Macron is now suggesting as the correct course of action against the Gilets Jaunes in France. Macron did not make reference to police brutality (and the UN condemnation of it) that led to fourteen demonstrators being hospitalised after last weekend’s manifestations…..the sixth weekend in a row in which broad support for resistance to the President’s neoliberal takeover brought several French cities to a standstill.
And predictably, the citadin bo-bo haut bourgeoisie is applauding wildly. The British chic-Left is on board with that, because it knows one fiftieth of knob-all about how the GJs came about: it has fallen for the risible smears about Front National association. This shouldn’t surprise anyone: self-styled Leftist Paul Mason sent congratulations to Macron upon his election. Two years on, it still bothers me that Mason passes himself off as an expert.
I was in my local bar here today having a half of Meteor beer, and read out the Macron quote to several artisans I’ve come to know quite well over the last two years. They variously smiled, groaned and laughed out loud.
Elsewhere in the French press today, there have been headlines proclaiming “Climate Change: it is the end of Seasons” and “Summer in February warns world of climate disaster”.
I am on the record over the last fifteen years as saying that – while I accept climate change is happening – nobody has yet produced conclusive evidence on either the cause(s) of it, or indeed the best way to combat it.
However, one excellent way to help the process would be for everyone to ignore tabloid headlines based on three weeks of data, and zero climatology science.
We’re seeing high temperatures here in South West France and the UK because of one simple event – an anticyclone over Scandinavia dragging warm African air unusually far north. I know for certain that this is true because, after occasional night rainfall, my car is covered in Saharan sand. Bear in mind, over in Ajaccio, Italy and Greece, temperatures are pretty normal, because they’re outside the drag zone.
This is not climate change, it is anomaly. Fifteen years ago, my then wife and I came down here for Christmas. On Boxing Day, we were walking about in teeshirts and shorts.
But you can be sure that this bizarre February will go down in the Global Warming annals as solid proof of inexorably rising temperatures.
Why is any of this important? Because we live in an epoch where – no matter how many dots are missing on the pre-school colouring in page – the intelligentsia will make the leap and then proclaim it as hard evidence that their belief system has been vindicated.
But what fascinates me is that the sharp-end artisans and real-life struggling families in the West have the measure of political leaders and their media poodles. They take it all with a giant pillar of salt.
This may not apply as a general rule to Brexit, neoliberal economics, neocon foreign policy, Marxism, Venezuela, Climate change, Korean summit talks or the Skripal poisonings (because these are genuinely complex issues often of little interest to the ordinary citizen).
But what I find striking is the difference between those who see themselves as intellectually superior, and those who actually stop the roofs from leaking or the kerbsides from collapsing: the latter group do not parrot with anything like the wide-eyed enthusiasm of the chique thinkers. They have less respect for bollocks. This is entirely healthy, but on the other hand terribly worrying that the élites don’t grasp just how wise the common man can be. Their sole reaction is to condemn it as “populism”.
The most populist aspect of analysis at the moment is “You voted Brexit, you murdered Jo Cox”. It does not come from the lumpen proletariat.