Monday, August 31, 2015

Le B-A-BA de la gauche

The Socialist Party attended summer school over the weekend. What did it learn? That "Emmanuel Macron is not on the right" while Manuel Valls, who used to define the right wing of the PS, is somewhere to his left. Meanwhile, on the left of the left, Pierre Laurent and Jean-Luc Mélenchon have fallen out, with Mélenchon's ego apparently boosted by his having precipitated a split in EELV between those who want to form an alliance with him and les démissionaires de Rugy and Placé, who want nothing to do with him.

In short, we are about to experience a typical rentrée, with the left characteristically squabbling, editorialists characteristically trying to make some sense out of the bedlam, and polls predicting yet another victory for the FN in the upcoming regionals.

The unfortunate fact is that none of this frantic positioning will make any difference. The politicians are obsessed with certain shibboleths, which they hope will define them sufficiently to carve out a segment of the electorate. Does one dare tamper with the 35-hr week or not? Is the labor code too complicated for an era that demands agility in order to remain competitive, or does it embody the acquis of decades of social struggle and thus define what it means to be on the left? Must capitalism be destroyed if the planet is to be saved? Etc. etc.

The dogs bark, the caravans pass. In truth, the only actual reforms on the table and with the slightest chance of passing will have little effect on the economy between now and the next presidential election. Valls worked himself into a literal lather, moistening his shirt, in order to say that, with a little luck, there will be some mild changes to labor laws, some minor tax reductions (after the sharp tax increases that marked the first half of the quinquennat), and probably some spending cuts to pay for them (in order to keep Brussels satisfied), thus negating any stimulative effect. Mélenchon and Duflot will court the dwindling pool of the angrily dissatisfied with a revivified ecolo-gauchiste rhetoric, while the really dissatisfied will continue to decamp to the FN. And meanwhile Juppé and Sarkozy continue to duke it out on the right, running about neck and neck.

In short, all's quiet on the western front. The next war will start in September. Tomorrow, in other words.