Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The End of Rocardism

In my American Prospect article as well as in previous blog posts, I wrote that Hamon's victory marked the end of the Socialist Party of Épinay, the creation of François Mitterrand. I omitted to say that it also marked the end of the party of Michel Rocard, the "second left" that promised not a compromise between Communism and reformism but rather between socialism and the market. Hamon was one of Rocard's young lieutenants, as was his main rival in the primary, Manuel Valls. Valls pushed the market side of the second left to an extreme, while Hamon pushed its utopian longings past the breaking point.

As the picture below shows, Mélenchon was also part of the young Rocardian team; so was Cambadélis; so were Bartolone and Moscovici. Rocard's disciples are everywhere in today's PS, but their common origins cannot mask their present disagreements. Nothing remains of the socialism of the 80s. A new new left will have to be invented from the ground up.

Today, the PS is in total disarray. Deputies are fleeing; several have announced that they will support Macron. Cazeneuve has told Hamon that, while he is the "legitimate" candidate of the party, having won the primary, he will nevertheless have to be a "rassembleur" and assume responsibility for Hollande's "bilan." The absurdity of this demand--as though Hamon did not run explicitly against that bilan and win handily over its defender Valls--demonstrates the impossible position in which the party finds itself. And the impossibility of the party's position is all the embarrassment of its candidate, who represents a party the majority of whose officials and permanent staff do not support him. 


bert said...

If there's to be a viable new compromise between socialism and the market, surely it's now Macron's to make. Investment banker, yet also economy minister in a PS government. Self-proclaimed progressive. And of course, enarque.

But all we have is a few micro policies on labour regulation, some smalltime technocratic tweaking to the financing of pension provisions. Launch of his programme has been put off until March at the earliest, we're now told.

I was looking last week for any signals he might choose to give to supporters of beaten candidates in the PS primaries. All I found was a dispiriting op–ed, in English, in the FT.
European security challenges will be addressed through a big new push for integration in defence (a policy so central to francophone EU groupthink that it is being championed by Jean-Claude Juncker). As so often in the EU, tall talk on this subject is being boiled down to a lowest common denominator: essentially a brand new headquarters, at which French officers will necessarily be the cock on the top of the dungheap. Those with whom any wider military integration will need to be agreed remember that the only previous time a European Defence Community was seriously proposed it was sunk in the French parliament. East Europeans meanwhile, particularly in the Baltics, terrified of a weakening of NATO and Article 5, and with long and bitter memories from the 20th century, are not rushing to embrace a future based on French security guarantees. The willingness of the right half of the political spectrum to edge closer to Vladimir Putin reinforces this reluctance. The policy will do nothing to improve European security, and its popularity among the Parisian policymaking elite (of whom Macron, evidently, is one) rests in the comparative advantage it promises to give in propping up broader French prestige and influence in Brussels.

Is there anything else on offer? The picture I'm seeing, from what little's on display, is one of worrying conformism and conventional thinking. Monetary policy will be left with Frankfurt, fiscal constraints will be left with Brussels; both will be enforced by Berlin.

The last two winners of the Presidency have offered change. Sarkozy most obviously and insistently. But Hollande too, in declaring the world of finance his enemy and offering the prospect (never fulfilled) of French leadership in overturning austerity.

I'm concerned that this year voters will be obliged to choose between Marine Le Pen and a young man with no record who declares himself anti-system while offering more of the same.


Worth a read - this was provocative:


(from a source to the right of most readers on this blog, be warned!)

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the PS learned from their sabotage of Royal in 2007... I don't know who, between Macron and Hamon, has the best shot. I don't know how much one can trust polls that predicted either Sarkozy or Juppe on the right, and Hollande or Valls on the left... The fact they currently 'see'Macron neck and neck with Fillon may mean nothing, especially with fillon falling fast.

As for the two lefts... I think 2007 is a turning point and the end is 2017 - Hollande just accelerated the process. It's not so much Hollande was a realistic politician against Utopians, nor reformists vs.protocommunists, but rather, that he went against fundamental values of his party or tried to have them support stuff the party had protested under sarkozy, and failed to offer a cohesive vision for where he was taking the left.

Tim said...

I never new Moscovici was a disciple of Rocard's. I view Moscovici in his performance as Finance Minister as the absolutely bottom of the barrel of the PS. I used to call him Finance Man Moscovici and I wasn't trying to be flattering.

bert said...

Art, I posted a longish comment yesterday. Blogger put it in moderation, perhaps on grounds of length. If you can find it down the back of the sofa, terrific. If it's vanished, it's not the end of the world. Basically it picked up your interesting observations about Rocard. I worried that Macron appears to be choosing vagueness as his means to broad support, and risks becoming the candidate of the status quo. At the moment I find myself uncomfortably nodding along with some of his more dismissive critics.

Unknown said...

I think it's published now.

bert said...

There it is, thanks.
Apologies if it's overlong. Generally, with comments, briefer is better I think.

All the best, as ever.

Alexandra Marshall said...

bert i agree. this pushing the hard policy work off til march can be explained by macron's bottom-up policymaking push. he has neighborhood clusters doing rap sessions to create their program and push it up the funnel to the top. it's probably sexy for a country where politicians are even more unaccountable to voters than in my native country (US). good marketing.

that said, it's weak and amateurish to keep pushing back the deadline. and starting to smell funny. one thing i've always admired/been intimidated by in french people is the emphasis their schooling puts on preparedness. if his delays look suspicious even to me, a fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants american, i can only imagine how they're going down among french voters.

Alexandra Marshall said...

also if hamon is as smart as i think he is, he will tell camba et al to fuck right off and do his own thing.

Alexandra Marshall said...

holy shit, speaking of asking for extensions. give me 15 days?? give me a break.


adios, farid, we hardly knew ye.

Cincinna said...

@Alexandra, This was up until very recently, a polite, respectful site. So what's up with the filthy language? Highly inappropriate, IMO, on a forum dealing with serious political and social issues, which until now, has been on a fairly high level of polite discourse among people who could disagree without being disagreeable, without using coarse vulgarity to no purpose.
One should never 'cuss in a language that is not ones own. You will always wind up sounding like an a-hole.

Alexandra Marshall said...

cincinna, apologies for my salty language, this campain is bringing out the sports fan in me. but you might want to practice what you preach. those little dashes don't fool anyone.

bert said...

I can remember at least once swearing on here. Funnily enough when yer man Trump was elected. But I agree there's something unusual here. Compare it to the comments sections on major new sites, all of which are awful, without exception. Reflects well on Art maybe.

Unknown said...

It remains a polite and respectful site. I don't think an occasional "holy shit" should drive away readers for whom the paragon of political virtue, the savior of children from the Human Bomb, is also the man who uttered "Casse-toi, pauvr'con" and referred to François Bayrou as "le bègue." So let's let a hundred flowers bloom and let people express themselves as they see fit. In the Age of Trump I expect we will all be occasionally driven to the use of expletives.

Alexandra Marshall said...

I appreciate your defense of my occasional sailor mouth, Art, especially as none of my gros mots were directed at any of my fellow commentors. These are exciting and excitable times. Cincinna, by the way, which language other than my own was I cussing in? I am a native English speaker and actually earn my living as a writer. I learned how to swear in English around third grade and have been gaining practice steadily ever since.

bernard said...

I want to contribute positively to the politeness discussion above by undertaking two pledges for it is high time to restore R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for luminaries in the comments section of this blog:
1. I will only ever refer to F. Fillon as Honest Fillon. I know that some will think this is almost cost-less, in the manner of a sell option with a three months expiry date. Still. I pledge.
2. I will only ever refer to N. Sarkozy (Nikovo Bourbaki anyone?) as Clean Sarkozy. This may be a cost-less pledge some would argue as it could be the case that I never have to refer to Him again. Still. I pledge.