Friday, November 17, 2017

Ni droite, ni gauche, ni Plenel, ni Charlie: Macron and "le terreau de la terreur"

On Nov. 9 Emmanuel Macron spoke about France's neglected banlieues. It was a good speech, in which Macron repeated the argument that had earned him the enmity of Manuel Valls when Valls was prime minister, namely, that the Republic had failed some of its citizens by relegating them to ghettos, allowing their housing and schools to disintegrate, and permitting discrimination against them in the workplace.

But this admirable willingness to stare directly at one of the open sores on the body politic came in the midst of one of the sadder spectacles of recent years, the absolutely vicious polemic between Charlie Hebdo on one side and Mediapart on the other. I will not rehearse the history; Le Monde does a good job here for anyone not au courant, even as it calls, no doubt futilely, for a truce.

Now it remains for Macron to transform his words into flesh and launch an urban politics worthy of the name. When it comes to repairing social ills, the government cannot do everything, as Lionel Jospin once said in another context, but that is no excuse for doing nothing. This will be one test of Macron's readiness to be something more than a supply-side reformer. This is where he can earn his social liberal spurs. I wish him success. French stability will depend on it.