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France, Politics

Sarkozy 2.0? 

By Jacques Sapir

Nicolas Sarkozy has just announced his “return to politics” as if he had actually quit. This is not surprising or unusual. We know the man to be a “political animal.” One suspects he is devoured by ambition, unable to accommodate the distance, sometimes, however, necessary between immediate action and salutary reflection. Yet he has had the opportunity to think deeply about the reasons for the failure of his presidency from 2007 to 2012, after all, General de Gaulle waited nearly twelve years before returning to power, after believing he’d made a precocious exit from politics.

Other times, other manners. What is shocking, however, is that Sarkozy’s return is occurring within a vacuum, without any retrospective analysis of past action. One feels the man propelled by this sole purpose: action. But to do what, and serving whom? There are in this “return”, as heavy trailed and predictable as it is, a hubris of action that can only make us fearful.

Here’s what the former President wrote on his Facebook account: “I have taken the necessary step back to analyze my term in office, learn from it, return to what was our common history, measure the vanity of certain feelings, casting aside the spirit of revenge or confrontation. I have been able to talk with the French, without the weight of power that distorts human relationships. They have told me of their hopes, misunderstandings and sometimes disappointments.”

But he has taken no steps back. The analysis of his previous mandate took place in a shuttered room, if it ever took place. So where has Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to discuss his policies, whether it’s economic policy, with his correct response to the 2008 crisis and then, from 2010, the disastrous one or his international policy, marked by the intervention in Libya, the consequences of which become day by day ever more dramatic. Remember, without the intervention in Libya, there would have been no massive destabilisation in the countries of the South Sahel region, in Mali and Nigeria. That the President has dialogued with the French, nothing could be more normal. But he should stop trying to have us believe that the shaking of a few hands and some words exchanged with members of the public here and there are the same as a sociological study.

The real France, Monsieur Sarkozy, is still foreign to you, as it is unfortunately to the majority of our leaders. Have you even done the equivalent of the Tour de France, attempted by the centrist MP Jean Lassalle, to go to meet people? We have not seen single picture of Nicolas Sarkozy, hitting the streets, coat over his shoulders, to try to conduct his own survey of the situation in France. Yet from a former President, this would have made sense. There is a phrase from Mao Zedong, who is worthy of these words, and which was used in abundance around 1968: “no investigation, no right to speak.” This “right to speak”, you claim, Monsieur Sarkozy, to have in the name of the desperation of much of the French? But you are also responsible for this this despair. Your “right to speak” mean high risk of talking without saying anything.

Because, and this the fraud, the former President claims to speak for “the temptation to no longer believe in anything, or in anybody, as if everything had the same value, or rather as if nothing was worth anything. This lack of hope so specific to France today requires us to profoundly reinvent ourselves.” It is clear that the French are confused. But they have good reason to be.

Your policies contributed as much as those of your pathetic successor. Not only significant errors of analysis of the situation, both economically and politically, have been committed, but the implementation of your policy, this mixture of brutality and cunning, sprinkled with nepotism produced this situation you claim to deplore. This does not prevent you from wanting to remedy them, but then one expects self-criticism of your mistakes. We expect you to explain why austerity is not working and is unable to reduce deficits. We expect you to explain why killing a dictator without worrying about who will replace him can produce chaos worse than the situation before. Your explanation is expected on your relationships, both political and personal, with money. Without these explanations, the French will not listen to you; they have better things to do.

You say you are concerned by the French President. Rhetoric abounds in your message: “I love France too much; I’m too passionate about the public debate and the future of my countrymen to see them condemned to choose between the desperate spectacle of today and the prospect of hopeless isolation.” But, Mr. Former President, this is normal. Stop presenting an extraordinary testimony which can only be the regular reflection of a politician who, like you, has held the highest offices. To say, as you do, “One does not do anything great without the unity of the nation. One does nothing great without hope, without perspective” is just banal if you do not specify immediately around what you want to unify of the nation, rebuild hope and offer a future.

For all that, unity, hope, future, is built around a project. To unify the nation, one must first fight for it to regain its sovereignty, not against others but also for others. Is that what you did when, in 2005, you connived with François Hollande in the holdup which deprived the French of their vote in the referendum on the Constitutional Treaty? Is that the gist of your policy when you said that you would hold no more referendums on Europe? I’m afraid you love France for what it can give you, not what you may, if need be, bring it.

Finally, your methods are disturbing. You say, “I’m running for president of my political family. I propose to turn it inside out in order to create, within three months, the conditions for a vast new coming together that will address all the French, without partisanship, beyond traditional cleavages that now no longer correspond to any reality. This huge rallying will develop a new project, a new mode of operating adapted to the age in which we live and a new club, the ambition of a revival so necessary to our political life. ”

You create the instrument before the project, the cart before the horse. If we needed a single sign that you were only pushed by your ambition, it is in this hubrys, in action and deed. Any other politician in good faith would first define his project, if only in outline, in order to define the instrument which it would seem most appropriate for its purposes. This passage betrays you and exposes you to our eyes as you are, not as you would be.

France does not need a troublemaker, a perpetual restless soul who, like a bumblebee in a jar, smashes against the walls of reality. Yet there is much to do. Find our monetary sovereignty in a cooperative framework with our neighbours, establish international trade rules that are fair and not just the freedom of the fox in the henhouse, rein in finance, and the move towards effective and productive activities, the tasks abound. But it is not you who will carry out this project.

In these circumstances, Mr. Former President, your return can only create disorder without providing a solution. The French do not need you, and they showed that in May 2012. It will be the same in the future if you do not change.

Russeurope blog

Translation by Revolting Europe

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

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