The 2017 French Presidential election is no joke. It is shaping up as a highly significant encounter between two profoundly opposing conceptions of political life. On one side, governance, meaning the joint management of society by a co-opted elite, on the model of business corporations. On the other side, the traditional system called “democracy”, meaning the people’s choice of leaders by free and fair elections.
Historically, French political events tend to mark epochs and clarify dichotomies, starting with the waning distinction between “left” and “right”. This election may be such an event.
What is “governance”?
It has become increasingly clear that the trans-Atlantic power elite have long since decided that traditional representative democracy is no longer appropriate for a globalized world based on free circulation of capital. Instead, the favored model is “governance”, a word taken from the business world, which refers to successful management of large corporations, united in a single purpose and aiming at maximum efficiency. This origin is evident in aspects of political governance: an obligatory unanimity concerning “values”, enforced by corporate media; the use of specialized committees to provide suggestions concerning delicate issues, a role played by “civil society”; the use of psychology and communications to shape public opinion; isolation of trouble-makers; and co-optation of leadership.
These features increasingly describe political life in the West. In the United States, the transition from democracy to governance has been managed by the two-party system, limiting voters’ choice to two candidates, selected and vetted by principal shareholders in the national business on the basis of their commitment to pursuing the governance agenda. This was going smoothly until Hillary Clinton, the overwhelming favorite of the entire elite, was shockingly defeated by an unvetted intruder, Donald Trump. The unprecedented elite reaction shows how little the governance elite is ready to cede power to an outsider, but the situation in France is even clearer. Trump was in many respects a fluke, a lone wolf without a clearly defined popular base, who has so far not succeeded in wresting power from the “deep state”, which remains loyal to Western governance choices. The situation in the United States remains uncertain, but the upset reflected rising, although poorly defined, popular resentment against the globalizing governors, especially due to economic inequality and the decline of living standards for much of the population.
Hillary Clinton actually chose to use the word “governance” to describe her goals, in partnership with Goldman Sachs and other representatives of “civil society”. But even she was not as much a pure product of the globalization system as the French candidate Emmanuel Macron.
The first way to spot the role assigned to Macron is simply to glance at the media: the endless magazine covers, puff pieces, platitudinous interviews – and never a word of criticism (whereas his leading rivals are systematically denigrated). In January, Foreign Policy introduced its readers to Macron as “The English-Speaking, German-Loving, French Politician Europe Has Been Waiting For”.
His career trajectory makes it clear why Western mainstream media are hailing Macron as the Messiah.
Born in Amiens only 39 years ago, Emmanuel Macron has spent a lot of his life in school. Like most of France’s leaders, he was educated in some of the best, but not the best, of France’s elite schools (for connoisseurs, he failed entrance to ENS but did Sciences Po and ENA). U.S. media seem impressed by the fact that along the way he studied philosophy, which is no big deal in France.
In 2004 he passed the competitive exam to be admitted to the Inspection Générale des Finances, one of the corps of experts that have distinguished the French system since Napoleon. IGF inspectors have lifetime security and are assigned as economic advisors to government officials or private entities. In the IGF he gained the attention of the particularly well-connected senior official Jean-Pierre Jouyet, who recommended him to Jacques Attali, the most spectacular of the intellectual gurus who for the past 35 years has regaled French governments with his futuristic visions (Jerusalem as capital of a future world government, for example). In 2007, Attali co-opted Macron into his super-elite “Commission for the Liberation of Growth”, authorized to provide guidance to the Presidency. A star was born – a star of the business world.
The Attali commission prepared a list of 316 proposals explicitly designed to “install a new governance in service of growth”. In this context, “growth” naturally means growth of profits, by way of measures cutting back the cost of labor, tearing down barriers to movement of capital, deregulation. The 40 elite members planning the future of France included heads of Deutsche Bank and the Swiss firm Nestle. They also provided the young Macron with a valuable address book of useful contacts.
In 2008, on recommendation from Attali, Macron was taken into the Rothschild Bank at a high level. By negotiating a Nestle purchase worth nine billion dollars, Macron became a millionaire, thanks to his commission.
To what did he owe a successful rise that two centuries ago would have been a subject for a Balzac novel? He was “impressive”, recalls Attali. He got along with everyone and “didn’t antagonize anyone”.
Alain Minc, another star expert on everything, once put it this way: Macron is smart, but above all, he makes a good banker because he is “charming” – a necessary quality for “a whore’s profession” (“un métier de pute”).
Macron is famous for such words of wisdom as:
“What France needs is more young people who want to become billionaires.”
“Who cares about programs? What counts is vision.”
So Macron has launched his career on the basis of his charm and “vision” – he certainly has a clear vision of the way to the top.
Formation of the Governance Elite
This path is strewn with contacts. The governance elite operates by co-optation. They recognize each other, they “smell each other out”, they are of one mind.
Of course, these days, the active thought police are quick to condemn talk of “governance” as a form of conspiracy theory. But there is no conspiracy, because there does not need to be. People who think alike act together. Nobody has to tell them what to do.
And people who decry every hint of “conspiracy” seem to believe that people who possess immense power, especially financial power, don’t bother to use it. Instead they sit back and tell themselves, “Let the people decide.” Like George Soros, for instance.
In reality, people with power not only use it, they are convinced that they should use it, for the good of humanity, for the good of the world. They know best, so why should they leave momentous decisions up to the ignorant masses? That’s why David Rockefeller founded the Trilateral Commission forty years ago, to figure out how to deal with “too much democracy”.
These days, ideologues keep the masses amused with arguments about themselves, which identity group they belong to, which gender they might be, who is being unfair to whom, who it is they must “hate” for the crime of “hating”.
Meanwhile, the elite meet among themselves and decide what is best.
Thanks to Jouyet, in 2007 Macron was co-opted into a club called Les Gracques (after the Roman Gracchus brothers), devoted to “values” based on recognition that the Keynesian welfare State doesn’t fit globalization and European Union development.
In 2011, Macron was co-opted into the Club de la Rotonde, which undertook to advise President Hollande to hit France with a “competitiveness shock” – favoring investment by lowering public expenses and labor costs.
In 2012, Macron was welcomed into the French-American Foundation, known for selecting the “young leaders” of the future.
In 2014, Macron made it to the really big time. On May 31 and June 1 of that year he attended the annual Bilderberg meeting, held in Copenhagen. This super-secret gathering of “governance” designers was formed in 1954 by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. No journalists are allowed into the Bilderberg gathering, but leading press barons are there to agree on the consensus that must be spun to the masses.
And Policy? Program? What’s That?
With all these credentials, Macron went from being an economic advisor to François Hollande to Minister of Economy, Finance and Digital Industry, under Prime Minister Manuel Valls, where he vigorously promoted the Attali agency on pretext of promoting “growth”. Among other things, he reversed the position of his predecessor by approving the sale of the crown jewel of French industry, the Alstom energy sector responsible for France’s nuclear power industry, to General Electric.
As Minister, Macron was responsible for the most unpopular measures of the entire unpopular Hollande presidency. His so-called “Macron Law”, featuring massive deregulation, conformed to European Union directives but was unable to win a majority in parliament, and had to be adopted by resorting to Article 49.3 in the Constitution, which allows the Prime Minister to adopt a law without a vote.
His next accomplishment was more veiled. He designed the “reform” (partial dismantling) of French labor law, presented to the public as the El Khomri Law, named after the young labor minister, Moroccan-born Myriam El Khomri. Mme El Khomri had virtually nothing to do with “her” law, except to put a pretty face and an “ethnic diversity” name on wildly unpopular legislation which sent protesting workers into the streets for weeks, split the Socialist Party and obliged Prime Minister Valls to resort once again to Article 49.3 to pass it into law.
Here the story becomes almost comical. Macron’s slash and burn dash through the Hollande/Valls government virtually destroyed the French Socialist Party, leaving it divided and demoralized. This opened the way for Macron to emerge as the heroic champion of “the future”, “neither left nor right”, “the France of winners” in his new party, En Marche (which can mean “it’s up and running”).
At present, Macron has risen to the top of the polls, neck and neck with the front runner, Marine Le Pen, for the April 23 first round, and thus the favorite to challenge her in the decisive May 7 second round. Being “charming” assured Macron a successful career as a banker, and the sycophantic mass media are doing their best to assure him the Presidency, mainly on the basis of his youthful charm.
The Media and the People
As never before, the press and television from which most people get their news have become not only unanimous in their choice and unscrupulous in their methods, but tyrannical in their condemnation of independent news sources as “fake” and “false”. They should be called the Mind Management Media. Objectivity is a thing of the past.
There are eleven official candidates running for the office of President of the French Republic. The Mind Management Media lavish admiring attention on Macron, treat his serious rivals as delinquents, toss a few bones to sure losers and ignore the rest. Backed by the Mind Management Media, Macron is the candidate of authoritarian governance running against all the others, against French democracy itself.
This is the first of two articles on the French Presidential election.
Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mumia Abu Jamal | Photo: Campaign to Bring Mumia Home
U.S. revolutionary activist Mumia Abu Jamal will begin receiving treatment for hepatitis C next week, Philly Voice reports, citing recently-released court papers.
Jamal, who is serving a life sentence at the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Philadelphia, has been demanding treatment since 2015, when he suffered from a renal failure.
Now, he will receive antiviral medication that consists of one pill per day for 12 to 24 weeks, Philly Voice adds. The medication has an estimated 90-percent cure rate.
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, DOC, was ordered on Monday to begin providing medication after it lost its appeal to withhold treatment in the state’s Third Circuit court.
“For the last 53 days, the DOC, prison medical staff, and Legal Department have stood in contempt of court following the order to treat Mumia,” Jamal’s legal representatives wrote in a statement.
“The DOC in defiance of the Injunction filed a stay, hoping the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals would bail them out and block Mumia’s treatment.”
The ruling marks a major victory for Mumia and others in similar circumstances. Now, thousands of prisoners who suffer from hepatitis C will be able to receive treatment because the federal court order sets a precedent, Prison Radio reports.
The treatment, however, will not solve all of his medical problems. Mumia, who suffers from cirrhosis of the liver, is now at greater risk for other health complications and potential liver cancer. This is a direct consequence of being denied treatment for two years, according to his legal representatives.
“We must stay vigilant,” they wrote in a statement.
“We must insist that the treatment be given and completed in full, and we need to support the lawsuits Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes and Abu-Jamal vs. Wetzel as they continue to hold the Pennsylvania DOC accountable.”
Jamal, a former member of the Black Panther Party, was arrested and charged with killing white police Officer Daniel Faulkner in Philadelphia in December 1981. One year later, he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death.
In 2011, the United States Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in his case, and he was re-sentenced to life in prison without parole. He and many activists have maintained that he is innocent.
Our nation, the republic, democracy, our very system of government is more fragile than at any other time in American history. So fragile that everything has, or is in near-immediate danger of, collapsing, after only a two month jog from near-perfect to the edge of dystopia.
The cause of this is Vladimir Putin, who is an evil genius, spymaster, mastermind, brilliant, super criminal, chessmaster, but also a thug and dictator.
Only a few months ago, stuff like this lurked in the dank corners of the Internet, usually web sites that were designed in the 1990s, or on late night talk radio, or on six hour YouTube video rants. These were the same sources who found the Illuminati, Mossad, childhood vaccines, and chemtrails responsible for the impending end of our nation. We called this stuff conspiracy theories and if rational people mentioned them at all, it was as a punchline, with a shake of the head and a muttered “How can people believe this crap?”
Good times. But they are over.
We now live in a media world where what used to be crazy is now mainstream. Today’s example is from Salon, with a piece subtitled “The Soviet Union never attacked America as blatantly as Putin has — and we’re in danger of losing democracy.”
The article gets right to it, announcing this is
… the first time in modern history in which Russia has directly attacked the United States — on American soil no less, and precision-aimed at what matters most: the very integrity of our democratic process.”
How was this done? By hacking our election, hacking being a word that no longer means anything but something something computers I don’t really understand but it’s bad. Like when your mom calls you up and says her laptop was hacked because it lost the wifi link to the printer (just restart it, mom…)
Anyway, how was this hacking done? Social media. Russia ‘bots. Fake news. RT.com which no one watches. The upshot according to Salon ? Millions of Americans
… were manipulated into acting as unwitting foot soldiers for Vladimir Putin’s invasion… Americans were suckered by and acted in accordance with Putin’s plot… [because] Americans are deeply vulnerable to digital manipulation and weaponized social media hoaxes.
More about how stupid our nation is in the face of Putin’s brilliance? Here you go, same article:
The blind acceptance of Russian propaganda, because it happened to include “facts” that some of us were starved to read, is what turned otherwise decent though gullible Americans into Putin’s infantry, virally blitzing the Kremlin’s message through the trenches of the political internet, attacking and converting more voters with zombie lies. Trench by trench, Facebook group by Facebook group, Americans executed Putin’s attacks for him.
And then oh-my-God things really start to fall into place to somehow explain Hillary Clinton’s inexplicable loss:
The hacking of the DNC and Podesta aside, the effort to trick Americans into being recruited as Russian cyber-soldiers began by turning Democrats who supported Bernie Sanders against the predicted front-runner, Hillary Clinton. Using “bots” and human resources, Putin lobbed fake news and ridiculous conspiracy theories into social media. Voters who were predisposed to distrust Clinton willingly shared these stories, poisoning everyone who inexplicably wanted to be poisoned.
Knowing what we know now, it’s no longer a stretch to report that Trump was placed in office by Putin. But it only happened because millions of Americans unknowingly volunteered to serve as enemy combatants, undermining and betraying their own country.
So there it is, laid out in black and white: Americans were duped by Putin into destroying our own democracy by exercising our right to vote in a way Salon doesn’t like. Basically, our precious bodily fluids are at grave risk. Brilliant, evil, but brilliant.
BONUS: So in summary, some substantial number of Americans clearly and truly believe Putin engineered the results of our last election, not by manipulating actual ballot counts, but via influencing social media in a way that influenced some 50% of Americans to vote a certain way. And that the entire universe of factors that went into the election (advertising, endorsements, emails, you choose) did not have as significant an effect as Facebook and RT. And that as a result, the President of the United States is under the direct and immediate control of Putin and has and will continue to purposefully act against the interests of the U.S.
Seriously, that is some whack paranoid sh*t right there.
Russia and China have teamed up once again in the U.N. Security Council — and this time they called a rather embarrassing bluff.
On Friday, Moscow and Beijing proposed that a United Nations panel investigating chemical weapons use in Syria be extended to Iraq, a proposal that was immediately rejected by the U.K.
This came as a bit of a shock, because earlier the Security Council had expressed “unanimous concern” about Islamic State’s use of chemical weapons in Iraq.
As AFP reports:
Security Council members expressed “unanimous concern” about the latest information concerning IS’s use of chemical weapons, according to British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, who chaired the talks.
Russia and China then presented a draft resolution that “seeks to expand the work of the Joint Investigative Mechanism to Iraq,” Rycroft said, adding that Britain opposes the measure.
“The UK pointed out that there were many differences between the situation in Iraq and Syria,” he said.
Rycroft claims that the reason the U.K. opposed the measure is because the Iraqi government is “fully cooperating” with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
That’s odd logic. If the Iraqi government is fully cooperating with the U.N., then surely they would be open to investigating chemical weapon attacks by Islamic State?
The proposal was suggested during a Security Council discussion “about the battle of Mosul, where Iraqi forces are fighting Daesh group jihadists”.
Reading between the lines, it seems like there’s really only two good reasons why the U.K. would block this proposal:
1. For whatever odd reason, the U.K. does not want investigators to be snooping around the ongoing carnage in Mosul
2. “Unanimous concern” is a meaningless baloney phrase used to feign outrage about atrocities in non-western countries
We suppose a third possibility is that “someone else” has been using chemical weapons in Mosul.
At any rate, Russia and China just caught the West in a big, embarrassing and shameful lie — and anyone who’s paying attention can see the double-standards and hypocrisy.
This is just the latest diplomatic team victory for Beijing and Moscow. Expect many more.
Ties between Russia and the US are probably worse than in the Cold War, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with ABC News, adding that the blatant anti-Russia propaganda has led to Americans seeing Russian hackers “in every fridge.”
One of the major setbacks for US-Russia relations was the decision in December by the Obama administration to expel 35 Russian diplomats from the US and close two diplomatic compounds over hacking allegations.
“This is something that was never seen in the diplomatic affairs of the world for decades! Let’s imagine: the property of the Russian Federation covered with diplomatic immunity was occupied by US secret service agents. Well, is it friendly? I’m afraid not. It’s not legal in terms of international law. So of course it was very significant damage for our bilateral relations,” Peskov said.
When asked if current US-Russia relations could be described as “a new Cold War,” Peskov was not at all ambiguous.
“New Cold War? Well, maybe even worse,” the Russian President’s spokesman told ABC News. Addressing repeated claims that Moscow somehow meddled in the 2016 US election, Peskov blasted the allegations as libelous.
“This campaign was nothing but slander, all those fake news [stories] having nothing beneath and no evidence. We’ll continue to suggest to everyone saying that Russia was interfering in the domestic affairs, to read Mr. Putin’s lips.”
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked – yet again – if Moscow had meddled in the US election, to which he replied, “Read my lips – NO.”
The ABC host then gave Peskov a couple of unpleasant figures: nine percent of Americans think of Putin favorably, and nine percent believe Russia could be a US ally. The spokesman was not surprised though, and said there is a reason for these attitudes.
“The US public have been a target for severe anti-Russian propaganda, and they felt victims of that propaganda, and because of that, the American people think that yes, Russian hackers are everywhere, in every fridge, iron, and so on and so forth. But it’s not true! Those are fake news [stories] and this is slander.
“We understand that there are people who are doing their best to keep the issue on the agenda. So let them do it before the audience is bored, and before they change their subject.”
Finally, asked whether Putin preferred Donald Trump as president, Peskov said that it is simply a matter of “whose ideas are closer to you, and whose ideas are more welcomed in Russian public opinion,” but it is not a matter of “preferring someone.”
“Listen, it’s simple. We have a variety of politicians in every country, and in the US. Some of them are saying that they are in favor or re-establishing good relationship with Russia. [They say], ‘We think that we have a lot of problems, and we are sure that we won’t be able to agree upon everything, but we are sure that we have to have a dialogue.’
“There are also those who say, ‘No, Russia is our enemy. And we’re strictly against any contact with them. And we don’t give a damn about their interests, and we reject any possibility of cooperation, even when it is in our own interests, let’s say, in the field of combatting terror.’
“Which one would seem more attractive to you? For us, those who say, ‘We disagree in lots of things, but we’re going to talk to Russians.’”
If the two presidents decide to meet some time soon, it could be a chance to resume dialogue between Russia and the US, Peskov concluded.
US President Donald Trump’s decision not focus on toppling Syrian President Bashar Assad marks the end of a 16-year-long master plan to effect regime change across the Middle East, former US Army Major Todd Pierce told Sputnik.
On Friday, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said the United States should accept the political reality with respect to Assad and focus on eliminating Daesh, outlawed in Russia.
“The US policy going back to 2001 according to WikiLeaks has been the neoconservative fascist modeled plan of people like Richard Perle and Michael Ledeen to create the greatest chaos and catastrophe with the greatest human cost possible in Syria,” Pierce said on Friday.
The consistent US strategy to systematically destroy established governments across the entire Middle East region goes back to after the September 11, 2001, or 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in the United States, Pierce pointed out
Former NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark “revealed that immediately after 9/11, the Bush administration began to implement that plan with seven Mideast countries targeted for destruction, with Syria in line right behind Iraq,” Pierce said.
“That US policy was so successful in that diabolical purpose that we depopulated much of Syria with the people often having nowhere to go but to Europe, with that massive population shift to Europe in turn having consequences for European politics, as we have seen,” he stated.
Pierce said President Donald Trump should be applauded if he remained consistent in abandoning the strategy of systematically destabilizing and toppling Arab governments.
“If it is true that this fanatical militaristic scheme of the US government to target Assad for regime change is now to be considered in light of political reality, meaning to cease and desist [from] the war against Syria, the whole world should breathe a sigh of relief,” he said.
However, international opinion should also launch a campaign to bring the true architects of this program to trial at the International Court of Justice at The Hague in The Netherlands, Pierce insisted.
“They should also demand that the planners of this U.S. policy of human destruction be charged and tried as war criminals, as [former Serbian President] Slobodan Milosevic was,” he said.
Trump campaigned in the 2016 US presidential election on a policy of ending efforts to topple governments across the Middle East in the name of promoting agendas of democracy and human rights.
The ongoing Ken Livingstone (“Get Corbyn!”) saga grows yet more preposterous. After outrage that the former London mayor had said Hitler was a Zionist (when he clearly hadn’t, as I pointed out at the time here and here), Labour suspended Livingstone amid accusations that he had made anti-semitic, offensive and false historical claims.
Now as Livingstone fights to avoid expulsion before a closed hearing of the party’s national constitutional committee, it emerges that Labour’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, has written to Livingstone saying that the hearing is not interested in the historical accuracy of his statements or whether what he said was anti-semitic. Rather, it is about whether his conduct has been “grossly detrimental” to the party.
In other words, this is a kangaroo court. Because, of course, Livingstone’s comments have been detrimental to the party. Not least, they have angered the UK’s powerful Israel lobby. That is the same lobby – directed by the Israeli embassy and working through groups like the Jewish Labour Movement – that was recently exposed by an undercover Al Jazeera investigation as plotting to bring down a British government minister. Crossing people like that is undoubtedly detrimental to the party, because they are prepared to destroy Labour before they allow it, or its leader, to campaign on behalf of Palestinian rights.
That is why, as long as Livingstone or Corbyn are around, the JLM and its allies in the liberal media, like the Guardian’s Owen Jones and Jonathan Freedland, will keep helping to confect an “anti-semitism crisis” in Labour, acerbating the very problems they blame Corbyn for creating.
In this context, one can understand why McNicol is denying Livingstone the chance to air the historical facts in an open hearing. Because the better the case Livingstone makes for collaboration between the Nazis and Zionists, the more detriment the JLM and others will do to the Labour party. Certainly, JLM leader Jeremy Newmark, who testified against Livingstone on Thursday, will benefit from the lack of public scrutiny of his statements.
McNicol’s logic here is entirely circular, of course. As long as Labour indulges the JLM leadership, and continues to draw a veil over Israeli oppression of Palestinians, the party will have a quiet life. If Labour tries to do the right thing – promoting justice for the Palestinians, upholding international law and soothing a long-festering wound of British malfeasance in the Middle East – it will face a perfect storm from the JLM.
Remember as you watch this farce play out that Owen Jones is due to give a memorial lecture this Sunday (April 2) to the JLM, whose leaders barely bother to conceal the fact that they are more loyal to the Israeli government than the democratically elected leader of their own party. If Jones cared about Labour as much as he claims, he shouldn’t touch the JLM with a barge-pole. Instead it has him in a bear hug.