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France: is President Macron turning left to face the Coronavirus Crisis?

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Image result for Macron coronavirus allocution

Coronavirus is France’s ‘greatest health crisis in a century’, says Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said that the coronavirus epidemic was France’s worst health crisis in a century and announced that schools throughout the country would close from next week.
Creches, schools and also universities would close from Monday “until further notice”, Macron said in an address to the nation on the fight against the coronavirus. He also urged all people older than 70, those who suffer chronic diseases, respiratory troubles and the handicapped, “to stay at home” if possible.

But the president also said that nationwide local elections scheduled for Sunday will not be postponed.

“We are just at the beginning of this crisis,” Macron said.

“In spite of all our efforts to break it, this virus is continuing to propagate and to accelerate.”

The speech was widely welcomed and stand in contrast to the shifty response by our own PM.

Some saw something of a  new “alter-globalisation” Macron.

 Macron’s defence of the welfare state and need to protect services “outside the laws of the market” appeared to signal a leftward shift in the President’s politics.

Face au coronavirus, les habits neufs du docteur Macron

Sylvain Courage  Nouvel Obs.

Avec des accents qui ont dû réjouir l’aile gauche de la majorité et estomaquer ses opposants socialistes et « insoumis », il appelle à « interroger le modèle de développement dans lequel s’est engagé notre monde depuis des décennies et qui dévoile ses failles au grand jour ». Sus à la mondialisation ? Macron vante désormais le service public de santé, l’Etat-providence et tous ces « biens et services qui doivent être placés en dehors des lois du marché.  Déléguer notre alimentation, notre protection, notre capacité à soigner, notre cadre de vie, au fond, à d’autres est une folie », assure-t-il.”

With accents that must have cheered the left wing of the majority and come as a belly blow to his socialist and “insoumises” (La France insoumise) opponents, he  put in  “question the development model in which our world has engaged for decades and which has now clearly shown its flaws Is globalisation itself in question? Macron has now praised the public health service, the welfare state and all those “goods and services which must be placed outside the laws of the market” . “Delegating our food, our protection, our ability to care, our way of life, to others is, basically,  madness,” he said.

Another commentator  Serge Raffy argues in the same Novel Obs that Macron has turned to national sovereigntism, putting the needs of the nation first.

Coronavirus : Macron converti au souverainisme ?

Raffey argues that some of the measures, including a break from tight financial controls, may be conjunctural. Others seem as if they are part of a national moblisation, a war against the Virus, “Contre un virus malin” the malign symbol, despite itself, or a process of globalisation on its last legs.

Others were even more reserved.

In Libération Alain Auffray and Christophe Alix  take a sceptical angle on the kind of “rupture”, or break, with globalisation and liberal economics, offered by President Macron.

Allocution : Macron, atteint par le virus de l’altermondialisme ?

When the globalised economy appears on the brink and a financial crisis looms, Emmanuel Macron has been happy to use radical language . Thursday evening, at the conclusion of his address to the French people, the Head of State estimated that the epidemic revealed “in broad daylight” the flaws of the “development model” in which our world has been engaged for decades. “What this pandemic has shown is that there are goods and services that must be placed outside the laws of the market,” he said as the champion  the welfare state, beginning with  the free universal health service, “an essential asset when tragedy  strikes” .

The journalists compare this to radical statements made by former President Nicolas Sarkozy faced with the 2008 Banking Crisis. The head of state at that time talked of a “refondation du capitalisme” and a sustainable model of growth, “«croissance durable».

This rhetoric re amounted to little concrete, long-term, action once the crisis passed its peak.

Others are even less happy:

(Note the use of the hard-right term “globalist”)


You can see the Macron speech here:


This response is far from isolated.

Germany is already contemplating nationalisations in the wake of the coronavirus crisis on the economy.

European authorities are increasing efforts to try to stave off the economic effects of coronavirus.

Coronavirus: Europe ramps up support for ailing firmsThe European Union (EU) will put a package of measures in place including a €37bn euro (£33bn) investment initiative.

And German finance minister Olaf Scholz said his country could part nationalise firms to tackle the crisis.

Some of these responses seem an extension of state response in line with the analysis offered last week by Phil Hearse,

Emergency government measures to combat the virus, and the development of a vaccine, are the key priorities today. But world solutions are needed, because even if the outbreak dies down in more advanced countries, it is likely to continue to rage in countries with less developed health systems. If the small number of cases in South Africa spreads, in a country were hundreds of thousand are HIV-positive with rock bottom immune systems, the impact could be devastating. The Republic’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has already warned that there will be a national crisis. If the virus rages in poorer countries, it will rebound back into countries where the virus has died down.

In the longer-term, humanity needs to ask pointed questions about the wave of pandemics that have swept the world in the last twenty years.

The Virus – Apocalypse Now?

It would appear that, faced with the emergency, many states are responding with strong measures.

Welcome as this may be, with strong reservations about the details, it is not the same thing as a turn to the left.


Written by Andrew Coates

March 14, 2020 at 12:52 pm

Affaire Milla: 16 Year Old Gay Lycéenne Faces Death Threats for Criticising Islam, Minister of Justice says, “Insulting Religion” is an “Attack on Freedom of Conscience”.

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Misogynist and Homophobic Hatred in Response to Mila’s Criticism of Islam.

L’affaire Mila expliquée.

Le Monde, and


It could have been just another live video posted by a teenage girl on Instagram on a Saturday. It has become what is now called the “Mila affair”. This homosexual high school girl with purple hair was insulted and threatened with death for having made insulting remarks towards Islam on January the 18th.

The case took on a new dimension when the Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet, was invited to speak on the subject on Europe 1 on Wednesday January 29. She was accused of wanting to put into  question the right to blaspheme (which is not not a crime in France), declaring that insulting a religion “obviously constitutes an attack on freedom of conscience” .


Mila is 16 years old, she lives in the Lyon region, and is passionate about singing. It is on Instagram that she shares her opinions, speaks about her life, posts videos of her, chats with her followers, and talks openly openly about her homosexuality.

In a video she expressed this view,

“  I hate religion, (…) the Quran there is only hatred in there, Islam is shit. (…) I said what I thought about it, you are not going to make me regret it. There are still people who will get excited, I clearly don’t give a damn, I say what I want, what I think. Your religion is shit, your God, I put a finger in her arsehole, thank you, goodbye.

This was the reaction,

“I received 200 messages of pure hatred per minute”, fake accounts are created in her name, she explains to Bellica (an ‘identitarian’ rightist site) , which has posted screenshots of the ultra violent messages that she received .

Personal information concerning her, such as her address or the name of her school, was disclosed.

She says,

Unlike them, I did not insult anyone, nor threatened, nor called for violence against anyone. What I did was blasphemy, general criticism of religions, and nothing else . “


“I can no longer set foot in my lycée and I can’t even change my  lycée because it’s the whole of France that wants my hide” .

This was another response,

On Thursday January 23, the general delegate of the French Council for Muslim Worship (CFCM), Abdallah Zekri, estimated in the programme Les Vraies Voix on Sud Radio  : “whoever sows the wind harvests the storm”. “She sought this, she is responsible,” he said again, while saying “against” the death threats she received.

Mila has problems at helycée where some of the students are thought to have been at the origins of the violent threats.

Her case is being dealt with by the educational authorities.

A procedure to prosecute MIla for inciting race hate has been dropped, while another investigation into the origins of the death threats has been launched.

In France after the assertion of the Minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet the “affaire Mila” has taken a political dimension.

If she soon backtracked, saying the death threats are no acceptable, questions remain as to why she ever came out with this defence of hatred.

The Minister of Justice returns to her remarks concerning the Mila affair

France 24.

“We have the right to criticise a religion, it’s very clear. There is no question of coming back to this,” added Nicole Belloubet to Radio Classic’s microphone on Thursday.

It evokes a “formulation error”. Nicole Belloubet, the Minister of Justice, made a point, Thursday, January 30, the day after her remarks strongly criticized on the Mila affair. The Keeper of the Seals condemned the cyber harassment and death threats against the 16-year-old girl on Europe 1, adding that “insult to religion is an attack on freedom of conscience”.

“I didn’t have to say that, for sure”, said Nicole Belloubet, at the radio of Radio Classique. “We have the right to criticise a religion, it’s very clear. There is no question of coming back to this”, she added.

he minister had already started, on Wednesday afternoon, a mea culpa, believing that his “expression may have been awkward”“Insults and discrimination on the grounds of religious affiliation are offences. That is what I meant”, she said, denouncing a controversy “ridiculous”. And to add: “I have absolutely no justification for the offense of blasphemy.”

A stock response on the British left these last years has been to dismiss people like Mila.

Saying that Islam is shite obviously does not hold up to the high standards of those, like Terry Eagleton, who think that religious truths are a separate kind of verity that unbelievers cannot understand.

Others, who promote a communitarian view of truth, think that nobody should be rude about a community of belief.

Even the ‘free speech’ warriors of Spiked and people like Douglas Murray consider that saying nasty things about ‘gammons’ should be halted.

Charlie Hebdo came to the defence of Mila, unbowed, recalling their own bloodied martyrs.

Yesterday they published this:

Editorial by Riss: Teenagers to the stake!

Have you heard of the boot torture? It involved encasing each of the suspect’s legs between two wooden planks, tying all four tightly together and then driving wooden wedges between the two central planks, thus crushing the limbs if the suspect refused to admit the crime of which he was accused. The Chevalier de La Barre was one of the most famous victims of this torture. In 1766, aged 20, he was condemned to have his legs crushed, initially with two wedges and then with four, before having his tongue ripped out, being decapitated and being thrown into the flames. His crime: blasphemy. He was accused of having failed to doff his hat to a passing religious procession in the saintly town of Abbeville and, what is more, of mutilating a crucifix. His decapitated body was burned with a copy of Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary nailed to the torso.

Today, blasphemy is no longer punished by decapitation: it is not even against the law. Nevertheless, in 2020 there are still people clamouring for death in its name. The Chevalier de La Barre was only 20 when he was tortured. He read licentious and impious books that did not respect religion. He had the insolence of his age – an age that fears nothing – and desired only to live in freedom.

At the ripe old age of 16, the age of revolt, Mila could have been his younger sister. Last week, online, she dared to express her anger against the injustice and aberration of faith, particularly that of Islam, in terms that the Chevalier de La Barre probably wouldn’t have disavowed. Mila won’t be subjected to the boot torture, only to insults on the social networks and death threats on the Internet. Routine treatment nowadays for those who refuse to submit to religious authority.

Her anger against the arbitrariness of religion is all the more moving because it recalls that of another young girl of her generation, the now famous Greta Thunberg. They both seem to be rebelling against the same injustice: adults’ cowardliness. Adults have done nothing to stop the planet disintegrating before our eyes. Nor have they done anything to fight religious intolerance, which is becoming more invasive every day, like an oil slick that we can no longer hold back. At 16, it’s impossible not to be worried by the thought that this is the world where you have to try and live: a planet asphyxiated by exhaust gases and the toxic preaching continually emitted by the diesel engines of Islamism and fanaticism. And you can’t count on adults to protest against the pollution filling our lungs and smothering our freedom of speech.

After first being insulted by the most stupid, Mila was threatened by the most fanatical and finally abandoned by the most cowardly. Her anger and sincerity should have elicited as much support as Greta Thunberg’s. But people have turned their backs on her out of fear and intellectual laziness, because her cause is less photogenic than koalas squealing when their little backsides are toasted by the flames of an apocalyptic fire. Above all, Mila is more dangerous. Here, we’re not talking about saving life on Earth, but saving our very skins. We refuse to admit that our society is capable of torturing the innocent with the same icy certainty as our ancestors at the Chevalier de La Barre’s time. We’re so full of our own modernity that we nonchalantly brush off the impassioned indictments of a Voltaire against the inquisitors, because they make us confront our cowardice. The boots in which we crushed blasphemers’ leg bones belong to the past. We no longer need them.

Smartphones, backed up by a few Kalashnikovs and well-sharpened kitchen knives, have taken their place when it comes to intimidating the insolent who refuse to bow before the faith of the fanatics and the resigned.

Charlie Hebdo n°1436




Written by Andrew Coates

January 30, 2020 at 12:04 pm

“Vendredi Noir” in France, New Day of Protests as Macron’s Formally Unveils Pension “Reform”plans.

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Torch-lit protest on the Eve of ‘Vendredi Noir’.

On the 52nd day of moblisation against Macron’s Pension reforms unions and protesters have united for a Black Friday (Vendredi Noir) of strikes and marches.

France 24 reports.

French hardline unions have called for a day of industrial action and mass demonstrations Friday as President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to reform the country’s unwieldly pension system is presented to his cabinet.

After a brief respite from a seven-week strike that extended over the Christmas period, French unions called for major shutdowns and demonstrations to show their “determination” to halt Macron’s pension reform plan.

The call came as French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presents the new plan instituting a “universal system” of point-based pensions to the cabinet Friday, before it is sent to the National Assembly, France’s lower house, where debates will begin February 17.

Demonstrators held torch-lit protests in Paris Thursday evening ahead of a “Black Friday” of strikes and shutdowns.

France’s hardline CGT union’s leader, Philippe Martinez, warned that opposition to the pension reform “has not weakened” in an interview with the Public Sénat TV station, with polls showing that 61 percent of French people are calling for the reform to be withdrawn.

 Suivez la journée de mobilisation contre la réforme des retraites avec «Libération»

There are no Buses, Trains and RER (Paris Region rapid network).

While most of the French unions have opposed Macron’s reforms the ‘reformist’ federation, the CFDT, has been willing to negotiate with the government.

This has led strikers from the trains, SNCF, and the Metro, RATP, invaded their offices. to protest last Friday  by occupying its HQ.

Réforme des retraites : le siège de la CFDT envahi par des grévistes

Envahissement de la CFDT par des grévistes : “vous ne négociez pas en notre nom”

Le Monde noted on Tuesday that the French Left , while backing the protests and strikes, has been unable to agree on a united response.

Réforme des retraites : les partis de gauche sont unanimes, mais ne proposent pas de solutions communes.

Opponents of the movement suggest that this may be a last gesture of defiance while others see the strikes continuing.

It looks highly unlikely that the movement has ended.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 24, 2020 at 12:49 pm