Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Montebourg and Filippetti: What Passes for a Left Critique in France

Quel beau couple! Arnaud Montebourg and Aurélie Filippetti, anciens ministres et amoureux actuels, ended their year by tweeting nearly identical jabs at Hollande, who in their view lacks the courage displayed by Matteo Renzi in Italy. What courage? Renzi nationalized the Ilva steel mill. In the view of Montebourg and Filipetti, he thereby "saved" 5,000 Italian jobs. On another view, however, he saddled the Italian state with an obsolete plant that makes losses of €80 million a month--nearly a billion euros a year--and is such a polluter that it causes 10-15% excess deaths in the neighboring towns. For Montebourg and Filippetti, this solution--subsidizing 5,000 jobs at a cost of €200,000 per job per year (!!) while polluting the environment in a Europe already saddled with steel production overcapacity--is the progressive answer to Italy's problems, one that France ought to emulate. And as in the case of Florange in France, Arcelor-Mittal is hovering overhead, ready to swoop in to pick up whatever bargain it can persuade desperate politicians to offer. The politicians aren't yet desperate enough, however, to offer the steel magnate a sufficient enticement to part with any actual cash, so thus far the burden is entirely on the taxpayers.

This is what passes for opposition from the left. They do make a glam' couple, though.


FrédéricLN said...

Yes, the many components of "la gauche de la gauche" got since 2012 (and before) much attention and interest from the media and the intellectual milieu at large. And they had nothing to say. The good point is that now, most of them (NPA, Mélenchon…) admit there is something wrong.

The same, by the way, for the Roman Catholic church: I read a Facebook post by an "opinion leader" in this community; pushing FB-friends to worry and wonder about the lack of interest among "classes populaires" for the Roman Catholic church and its agenda. At "elections municipales", people from "La Manif pour Tous" weighted more or less 1%.

Many parties, opinion movements, currents, emerged in the 2000's: Attac (dec '98), NPA (2009), MUP/MdP (2009), EELV (2009/2010), MoDem (2007), DLR (2008); plus groupings like UMP (2002) or UDI (2012). It looks like the only one having kept momentum, and much of it, is FN.

brent said...

Without offering any apologies whatsoever for the opportunisms of Montebourg and Filippetti, one might look harder for justifications for Renzi's actions here. Renzi, after all is no leftist ideologue but a rather deft player in the arena of economic 'reform.' ILVA's depredations are longstanding, all too typical of capitalist production, and fully documented (by the genuinely Left regional government of Nichi Vendola). Is Renzi wrong to think public management is the quickest route to a clean-up? The impressive loss figures you cite may be indicative of the fact that the plant has been largely shut down for more than two years--but whether it can be returned to useful production is a separate question. Given Italy's employment woes, saving 5000 jobs isn't the most foolish policy goal.

But any quest for an authentic left opposition might look more closely, not at the ILVA debacle, but at the rest of Vendola's achievements these past 8 years. He prepares to leave office after creating regional environmental planning processes, leveraging EU funds to do so, protecting public sector water rights and fostering environmentally sound development that have kept Puglia's economy in much better shape than most of Italy's. His red/green politics may be the most successful application so far of the sort of sustainable model Duflot, Mélenchon, and others of the French Left are trying to develop. That politics--rather than the clueless and obsolete pseudo-leftist cant of Montebourg--is where progressives should be directing their attention.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of “glam couples,” rock star economist Thomas Picketty and Aurélie Filippetti used to live together. Apparently he beat her and she had to call the police. (See references below)

Anonymous said...

Clearly the next Hollande/Royal couple. :)
Hopefully he won't treat her as shamefully as Hollande treated Royal (including during her presidential bid.)