Thursday, March 16, 2017

Hamon's Brain Trust

I keep reading about how Benoît Hamon has brought the intellectuals back into politics, but somehow it's always the same intellectuals: Dominique Méda, Julia Cagé, Thomas Piketty, etc. I know a few others whom Hamon tried to recruit but who declined. I know a larger number who are supporting Macron. Hamon is said to be innovative while Macron is dismissed as a "populist" of the center:

« Hamon est plus ancien en politique, mais il innove. Macron incarne une soi-disant modernité, mais s’appuie en réalité sur les sondages pour dire aux Français ce qu’ils veulent entendre, c’est une forme de populisme », estime ainsi Romain Slitine.
But in fact Macron also has a brain trust: Philippe Aghion, Pierre Rosanvallon, Terra Nova, l'Institut Montaigne, etc. Hamon's people are younger and lefter, drawn to the Sanders/Corbyn/Podemos model.

Une fois sorti du gouvernement, Benoît Hamon est resté connecté à cette sphère des idées, tout comme il a suivi les campagnes de Podemos en Espagne ou de Bernie Sanders aux Etats-Unis.
It's a different generation behind Hamon, still feeling its rebellious oats but not planning to stick around after the election:
« Le PS, je m’en fous, prévient d’emblée Piketty. Moi, je suis là pour parler directement avec Hamon et son équipe, pas avec les courants et les sous courants du parti ».
Many in the younger generation see Macron vs. Le Pen as Clinton vs. Trump: the centrist, they think, will always lose to the extremist demagogue. It takes something more radical on the left to fight the radical right. I nevertheless stuck with the center in the US race, even disagreeing with my own son, and lost. Nevertheless, I still think the center can hold and have my doubts, my sincere and serious doubts, about the left alternative. The examples of Corbyn and Podemos are not exactly inspiring, nor are the polls for Hamon. But I admit I may once again be overestimating the strength of the center. On the other hand, yesterday's results in the Netherlands show that it's also possible to overstate the strength of the xenophobic right.