An Alternative Open Letter to Western Politicians

August 15, 2022

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by Asia Teacher

Dear western politicians!

Leaving aside the usual sycophantic nonsense, which applauds your continuing efforts to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East with missile attacks, trying to change the earth’s climate using beliefs, promising an unknown source of ‘green’ energy whilst promoting vaccines to save us from certain death from a dose of flu, here’s an alternative open letter.

As a UK citizen now retired, having recently returned to the UK after over a decade of living and working in Asia and the Far East I’m stunned by the stupification around me. Have I inadvertently fallen down an alternative universe Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole, or is there a hidden factory somewhere mass-producing stupid politicians?

As yet another British Prime Minister resigns following the resignations of two others before him producing a failing economy, soaring inflation, sky-high taxes, an energy crisis and a falling pound … The indoctrinated cheer on men with beards wearing dresses and it’s left to a dwindling minority to explain why carrots don’t grow on trees in a socially engineered ideological dystopia! The consequences of which you blame on the Russians, or the Chinese depending on who the US has currently fallen out with.

As you sit in your elitist tax payer funded ivory towers, let’s briefly detail the chaos and mayhem you’ve produced.

Did you think the outside world believed you were trying to bring freedom and democracy to the Middle East and not trying to control the world’s major oil producers who just all happened to have abandoned the petrodollar? How many millions lost their lives in that failed adventure?

How many of you swooned over a 16-year-old autistic Swedish school drop out with Asperger’s syndrome, OCD and selective mutism whose mother said she had “special eyes” that could see carbon rising from a dying planet? As a self-inflicted energy crisis looms and both Britain and Germany re-open coal-fired power stations, are you still cheering for mentally ill Greta and her windmills?

How can you keep a straight face whilst telling millions that if they didn’t have the Covid vaccine they’d be passing on the flu they didn’t have onto others? How much of the vaccine scam profit disappeared into the pockets of pharmaceuticals, lobbyists and your own pockets? The whole country could hear the cash tills ringing as shares in the pharmaceuticals producing vaccines went through the roof amid crony contracts awarded to favoured companies. Are you listening former British Health Secretary Matt Hancock who resigned after being caught with his nose in the trough.

Predictably, as the manufactured hysteria wore off and attention spans waned, the advice from the British National Health Service was to open our windows and let the virus out. Apparently, it had been hiding in our homes the whole time? Moreover, the experiment of a “new normal” locked down muzzled population also failed, together with the attempt to introduce Covid passports as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Britain and throughout Europe in mass demonstrations to protest against the implementation of virtual house arrest and freedom of movement. After this, what comes next, a climate change lock down?

Moving on, Russia, who just by coincidence is another major energy producer surrounded by NATO missile bases and sanctioned hoping its economy collapses and produces another “regime change.” Why does that produce a feeling of déjà vu? How long did you believe a nuclear power would tolerate an aggressive US led NATO advancing towards its border? The last time western armies gathered on Russian borders was in 1941 and that didn’t end well.

Oh the irony, as you cheer for the same Nazis your grandfathers fought against and vilify the Russians who are now having to fight them again. How many of you condemned the previous eight years of ethnic Russian murders in the Crimea and Donbass by Nazi militias who you helped arm and train, but turned a blind eye to the consequences. No crocodile tears and outraged comments from you when Russian civilians were being killed. Make no mistake, in another era the majority of you would be sitting in the same Nuremberg dock as the previous psychopaths!

For the last quarter century you are without doubt the most useless, corrupt and destructive political class in British history. In one generation you have dumbed down the British population to an idiocracy in your ‘Woke’ eagerness to remove the cultural traditions and values of centuries. As suicide statistics soar, mental health issues reach an all-time high and drugs become a lifestyle choice for many to block out the horror of reality, it’s not a diverse and equality multicultural utopia you’ve produced, it’s a nightmare!

And you, the US demagogues and liberal fascist European Commissioners; in two decades your ideologically warped quest for power has not only failed to make the world a safer place, you have brought us to the verge of a nuclear conflict. Between you, you’ve managed to wreck our economies, brought terrorism to our streets and created the worst energy crisis since the 1970s – whilst becoming fabulously wealthy yourselves. Yes, we have noticed. The sooner you’re removed from power, the sooner both we the western populations and the outside world can have a rest from your incompetence and murderous activities!

Meanwhile, as I write from England, outside my window another car with exhaust baffles removed and the window wound down emitting ear-splitting decibels of rap ‘music’ drives past, whilst on the pavement a silent E-scooter carrying a bald middle-aged man with expressionless eyes in short trousers and tattooed legs races by.

Asia Teacher is a UK citizen, retired teacher of English plus Social and Political Science.

Yellow Vest Win: Proving that Western Liberal Democracy is the same old autocracy

June 27, 2022

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri

If we say that the Yellow Vests are not socialist revolutionaries even latently, then what are they protesting about?

To put it the most simply: they are protesting the end of European Social Democracy, with the limited protections it provided.

(This is the seventeenth chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best ValuesPlease click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

The Yellow Vests intuited that the pan-European project has ended the era of European Social Democracy (1945-75) and replaced it with elite-driven, free market, winner-take-all Liberalism.

Seeing that their list of 43 demands doesn’t include the word “Europe” once, however, the Yellow Vests don’t really grasp that the European Union represents the organisational assassin of European Social Democracy. The European Union and Eurozone’s response to the Great Recession made it entirely clear: these are institutions which are perfectly hostile to Social Democracy’s minor redistributions and protections which fundamentally embolden the average worker and citizen.

Social Democracy was not born after World War II, just as “neoliberalism” was first on display back in 1871, with what was imposed after the destruction of the Paris Commune. Marx chronicled the birth of European Social Democracy, in 1848, when the Mountain Party (which initially claimed the mantle of neo-Jacobinism) sided with the small-traders in the June Days massacre instead of with the urban proletariat and rural peasantry, as the Jacobins had done in 1789. They went from supporting Socialist Democracy to calling themselves Democratic Socialists (Démocrate-socialistes) and this – and not the downward slope from Napoleon Bonaparte to Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte – should be considered the truest essence of Marx’s famous line of history repeating itself as farce.

“The revolutionary point was thereby broken off from the social demands of the proletariat and a (social) democrat turn given to them….”

That was the birth of Social Democracy: an ideology where the social demands of the recently-feudal masses (decent pay, health care, education, pensions, etc.) get only partially addressed while the political demands of an aristocracy opposing an absolute monarch (free speech, property rights, trial by jury, etc.) are fully met. Liberalism has always sought to limit progressive changes to the political question of how to move on from feudalism, and to stop progressive changes to the social question of how to move on from feudalism. The reformist ideology of Social Democracy has operated within Western Liberal Democracy for nearly 175 years and only partially prevailed for 30 of them.

The sooner the Yellow Vests realise that Social Democracy will never be a harmonious solution to the elitism dominant in Liberalism, the better, as Marx did:

“The peculiar character of Social Democracy is epitomised in the fact that democratic-republican institutions are demanded as the means, not to remove the two extremes – capital and wage-slavery – but in order to weaken the antagonism and transform them into a harmonious whole.”

Putting capital primarily in the hands of the recently-feudal masses so they can provide the broad economic stability and success which would end wage- and debt-slavery has never been a goal of Social Democracy, from the Mountain Party to Leon Blum to Francois Mitterrand to Francois Hollande to the “Democratic Socialists of America” led by Bernie Sanders in the 21st century United States.

Yellow Vest: “We are not beggars! What is 100 euros only given one time? State taxes compose 60% of the price of gasoline, so calling it 100 euros is totally false – the people truly only receive 40 euros. This is election nonsense, but Macron won’t win votes with these crumbs.”

Marx continued in his examination of France and gave us the key to the capitalist culture of both Liberal and Social Democracies: “This substance is the transformation of society along (Social) democratic lines, but a transformation within the boundaries of the small-trader’s class.” One extraneous sentence later: “It believes rather that the special conditions for its own emancipation are the general conditions under which alone modern society can be saved and the class struggle be avoided.”

Trotsky and the Yellow Vests saw that, due to the rise of financial capitalism, a leftist alliance must include the small businessman, but they reject the goal of Social Democracy to elevate their virtues and needs over those of the average worker and citizen.

Thus even when Social Democracy prevails in Liberalist capitalist cultures the virtues of the usually bourgeois-aspiring, individualistic, managerial small-trader class become the highest virtues to be promoted. Everyone must be a self-interested, competitive entrepreneur who aspires to be a boss and a “job creator”. This veneration of the small trader is the most obvious in American culture, and it is American culture which has been imposed on France via the pan-European project: at the alleged “end of history”, with the fall of the USSR, the United States shepherded the pan-European project, which is rightly said to be even more Liberalist (i.e. Bankocratic) than anything which could be created in the United States.

What we see in the modern era, and as this book proves, is that Liberalism, Social Democracy and Fascism have all joined together and “become bourgeois”. This amalgam of 18th century Liberalism, 19th century Social Democracy and 20th century fascism is ultimately not different from the aristocracy of the 17th century and earlier, which which ruled the 99% in an entirely autocratic manner. The extremely modest expansion of wealth and political power from a blood/marriage line to a line of the super-wealthy 1% still results in the exclusion of the recently-feudal masses from policy making, and this is what the Yellow Vests emphatically reminded. Their primary demand was not Socialist revolution but merely to get more public opinion into public policymaking.

The bourgeois bloc continually dangles Social Democracy as a reformist possibility, and thus they secure the loyalty of both the big and the small bosses and owners. However, when the moment of implementation comes, amid the next guaranteed bust in Liberalist capitalism, the response is the anti-Socialist virulence of Liberalism via the ruthless elite domination of a Fascism which has made peace with big capital.

Yellow Vest: “Macron’s repeatedly evaded the main problems. His solutions are not concrete, and it is certain that in a few months we will just be in the same situation. This is why we will keep protesting, for certain.”

Baudelaire wrote, “The most beautiful trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist,” and this is what modern Western Liberal Democracy has done with the elitism, arrogance and autocracy which is the basis of absolute monarchy. Macron’s “Jupiterian” remove has pulled the sheet off of Western Liberal Democracy, again, and reminded that the idea of an autocratic ruler remains the preference of a Western elite which has always been totally opposed to Socialist-inspired measures.

The republican lie of Liberalism

When Western leaders communicate among themselves and with their foreign counterparts they use the language of Liberalism; when they implement policy they use the ruthlessness of Fascism; but when they communicate with the masses they know that republican language is paramount.When Western leaders communicate among themselves and with their foreign counterparts they use the language of Liberalism; when they implement policy they use the ruthlessness of Fascism; but when they communicate with the masses they know that republican language is paramount.

This is especially true in France and the United States, where royalism has been fully discredited from holding public power. Thus, there is a constant emphasis by contemporary French leaders and their mainstream media on maintaining “republican” values.

However, the republicanism of both is an antiquated one as it is based on Liberal and not Socialist Democracy. A perfect example of the inadequacy of their elite-led republicanism is found in the Orwellian name of the group which wages the actual physical repression of the Yellow Vests: the detested CRS riot police (Compagnies républicaines de sécurité – Republican Security Companies.) A woman wearing a full-body bathing suit – a “burkini” (combination of “burqa” and “bikini”) is breathlessly presented as a bigger threat to French republicanism than the repression of the Yellow Vests. Most obviously, there is the mainstream conservative party’s name change shepherded by Nicolas Sarkozy in 2015 – from L’Union pour un mouvement populaire (UMP) to les Républicains: the party had so many corruption scandals that a rebranding was deemed unavoidable.

Such is the false republicanism in Liberal Democracies.

The lip service towards republicanism allows the perpetuation of the outdated notion in France that the world still views them as the brightest beacon of progressive politics. They are different than almost all of Northern Europe, where royals still – bewilderingly – remain on thrones which hide mountains of the public’s rightful riches and influence. Indeed, an Iranian can find in France a refuge from the common Western toleration and whitewashing of monarchism.

The elite in the United States uses “freedom”, while monarchies like the UK use “human rights” in the same way – to insist that freedom and human rights for their modern aristocracies still represents the pinnacle of progressivism.

The legacy of 1789 exists in France today only in this constant demand to uphold “republicanism”, even if it is not at all the spirit of 1789 and only mouths its forms. The Yellow Vest repression will remind all of history that the freedoms offered by the republicanism of Western Liberal Democracy with French characteristics are a fantasy – there is only the autocracy of the bourgeois bloc.

France’s 21st century belief that “the republic” must jingoistically unite the French is ultimately a means used to falsely claim the legacy of 1789 while also ensuring that talk for progressive politics ends with this very initial answer to the “political question”, and with no answer to the “social question”, as well.

This also explains why there is so much forced discussion in France about what a huge threat Islam poses to this immoral republicanism: Islam correctly insists on God and morality being the highest allegiance, and certainly not laws forced through by a Fascist-allying, imperialist bourgeois bloc.

Nothing is more Liberalist than the European Union, and thus the ‘Social Fascist’ repression of anti-austerity movements and the Yellow Vests

We have already linked the European Union with the birth of neoliberalism and neo-imperialism, we have established how Fascism was subsumed and its tactics adopted, and we have shown how the goal of the third restoration of Western Liberalism is to roll back the modest gains of Social Democracy.

All that’s needed is to show how Western Liberal Democracy wields the power of the state as autocratically as royal families and their coteries used to – for this we simply have to look to the Yellow Vests.

Western Liberal Democracy and pre-1789 autocracy – there is no real difference.

Whether the form is a parliamentary republic based on Liberalism, or an executive-led republic based on Liberalism, or a constitutional monarchy based on Liberalism – the autocracy has been the same. Only the truly elite have the money to buy Liberalist rights and influence in public policy.

Yellow Vest: “As usual, no prison for the rich – everything goes fine for them, always. They never know hunger or poverty, but put everything on the average person’s back. Benalla should have been treated like anyone else – justice should be equal for everyone.”

Just as the trends of 250 years of Iranian or Chinese history can be summarised so too can the trend of the past 250 years of French and Western history, and this book has aimed to do that. Above all the trend of moving away from an autocratic monarch and towards an empowered people’s republic is discerned. The problem has been Western Liberal Democracy’s conception of a republic: what they have always had is an oligarchic republic, inspired by the English, which aims for perpetual repression of the recently-feudal (to Asian conceptions of time!) Western masses.

The early years of all revolutionary republics are always fraught with missteps and mistakes, but made with the sincere goal of broad societal progress. In 1789 the move away from absolute monarchy was met with great difficulty and international opposition. In 1848 the move away from a limited monarchy was met with great difficulty, also caused by great inexperience. In 1871 the move towards a social republic was met with great difficulty and international opposition, also caused by great inexperience. But inexperience is not the primary difficulty of the people today – they know how to rule, but they still face great international opposition. As Marx wrote:

“The cry of ‘social republic’ with which the February Revolution (of 1848) was ushered in by the Paris proletariat, did but express a vague aspiration after a republic that was not only to supersede the monarchical form of class rule but class rule itself. The Commune (i.e. the first appearance of Socialist Democracy) was the positive form of that republic.”

However, the social republic was annihilated by neoliberalism and would not appear until 1917 in the eastern frontier of Europe – Russia.

The Yellow Vests reminded those in the 21st century who believe that the “end of history” had occurred in 1991 that the people’s desires for a social republic are no longer vague. However the Yellow Vests have had the misfortune of living in the world’s only region – the West – where socialist-inspired revolutionary cultures have never won implantation.

To their great credit, the Yellow Vests created a revolutionary condition for all of France. When it was thwarted by Liberal Democratic politicians, media and unions the Yellow Vests continued to march to keep promoting what may truly turn into a revolutionary culture at the next major uprising over Liberalism’s endemic failures. The Yellow Vests have created a vast and reliable network – there’s no doubt they will spring into action at the next opportunity.

The next political progression for the Yellow Vests is the realisation that the pan-European project only dangled the illusion of mere Social Democracy, but that its “neoliberal” basis is actually Fascist and autocratic to its very core.

The analysis of that splendidly successful revolutionary Bolshevik, Trotsky, must be remembered today if the Yellow Vests are to break with the perpetual illusion of mere Social Democracy:

The program of the Communist International has the following to say on this subject: Side by side with the Social Democracy, which assists the bourgeoisie to stifle the proletariat and to lull its vigilance, Fascism appears.’ The Communist International failed to understand that it is not the mission of Fascism to function side by side with the Social Democracy, but to destroy all the existing workers’ organizations, including the reformist. The task of Fascism, in the words of the program, is to ‘annihilate the Communist strata of the proletariat, and their leading cadres.’ Fascism, then, does not at all threaten the Social Democracy and the reformist trade unions; on the contrary, the Social Democracy itself plays a “Fascist” role to an ever increasing degree. Fascism achieves nothing more than the consummation of the labours of reformism, by functioning ‘side by side with the Social Democracy’.” (Emphasis his)

The Communist Bolsheviks rejected mere Social Democracy and instead used Socialist Democracy as their guiding structure ideology, as do Socialist-inspired countries today, who then adapt its primary economic and political imperatives to local cultures and mores. They saw that Social Democracy and Fascism work together to destroy not just Socialist Democracy-inspired groups, unions, parties, countries, etc, but also groups, unions, parties and countries which attempt Social Democratic reforms of Liberalism. As time goes on the Yellow Vests will realise, thanks to their own repression, that Liberal Democracy and Social Democracy offer them no solution except the destruction of the Yellow Vests.

One sentence later – in which Trotsky expressed his usual disapproval with the Moscow-based Comintern – Trotsky continued:

We have here before us all the basic elements of the theory of social fascism. The leaders of the Communist International failed to understand that capitalism in decay is no longer able to come to terms with the most moderate and most servile Social Democracy, either as a party in power, or as a party in opposition. It is the mission of Fascism to take its place not ‘side by side with the Social Democracy’, but on its bones. Precisely from this there flows the possibility, the need and the urgency for the united front.” (Emphasis his)

(Recall that a united front (joining together in society’s leftist struggles), is not the same as a popular front (an electoral alliance).)

Call it what you want: Social Fascism, Liberalism, autocracy, Fascism, constitutional monarchy, rule by the 1% – it is all the same oligarchic autocracy for the recently-feudal masses. I call it Western Liberal Democracy to properly place it in a geographic and historical context.

As soon as the Yellow Vests stop trying to win back the Social Democratic measures which Nicolas Sarkozy, Francois Hollande and Macron rolled back, the sooner they will realise that Socialist-inspired countries have shown a better way, method and goal. Without a major reformulation of the pan-European project – which seems impossible to get off the ground in a Liberalist-dominated media – the pan-European project’s initial lure of even greater Social Democratic gains should be seen only as a chimera.

The Yellow Vests know enough to reject existing establishment institutions, as well as pathetic PFAXIst (Popular Fronts Against Xenophobia but for Imperialism) electoral strategies – they must realise the monarchist-elitist-reformist-fascist alliance which is Western Liberal Democracy must be rejected in favor of Socialist Democracy.

That, of course, will lead to even more repression.

But their bravery will earn them more and more comrades; their correctness will only increase as the repression accumulates; the guaranteed cycles of failure in capitalism and the clockwork greed of high finance all make the move away from autocratic Liberalism certain.

The combination of royalism, Liberalism and Fascism is doomed, but people must be liberated from the long-outdated and pernicious influence of Liberalism before the next political advancement can take place. Thus the Yellow Vests, and thus this book, which is another humble tally of Liberalism’s failures.

Yellow Vest: “The people I speak with express absolutely no desire to stop the movement and remain very positive. The Yellow Vests are, above all, the French people, and the French people recognize this and this is why the movement will have a second wind.”

So admirably, The Yellow Vests have cleared the path for France: the despairing working poor, middle and lower classes have a fighting force which can never, ever be called Fascistic. France is back to being the West’s leaders of progressive politics.

Marx’s most important passage on France – guiding France from 1789 to 2022 and beyond

Here we have the most important passage in Marx’s writings on France – from his writings on the Paris Commune – because it historically summarises a century of turbulent political and socio-economic changes and pinpoints the establishment of modern Western Liberal Democracy.

The passage covers the vital and obscured history of France for a century after 1789. The short parentheticals are mine and designed to add clarity to Marx’s meaning:

“If the parliamentary republic, as M. Theirs said, ‘divided them least’ (the different factions of the French ruling class in 1850), it opened an abyss between that class and the whole body of society outside their spare ranks. The restraints by which their own divisions had under former regimes still checked the state power were removed by their unionand in view of the threatening upheaval of the proletariat they now used that state power mercilessly and ostentatiously as the national (and imperialist) war engine of capital against labor.

In their uninterrupted crusade against the producing masses they were, however, bound not only to invest the executive with continually increased powers of repressionbut at the same time divest their own parliamentary stronghold – the National Assembly – one by one, of all its own means of defence against the Executive. The Executive, in the person of (President) Louis(-Napoleon) Bonaparte, turned them out. The national offspring of the ‘Party of Order’ (the dominant political party of the 2nd) Republic was the Second Empire (of Emperor Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte).

The (Second) empire, with the coup d’etat for its birth certificate, universal suffrage for its salvation and the sword for its sceptre, professed to rest upon the peasantry – the large mass of producers not directly involved in the struggle of capital and labor. It professed to save the working class by breaking down parliamentarianism and, with it, the undisguised subserviency of government to the propertied classes. It professed to save the propertied classes by upholding their economic supremacy over the working class; and, finally, it professed to unite all classes by reviving for all the chimera of national glory.

In reality it was the only form of government possible, at a time when the bourgeoisie had already lost, and the working class had not yet acquired, the faculty of ruling the nation. (As they would acquire, starting with the Paris Commune and then later the USSR, China, Iran, etc.) It (the 2nd French Empire) was acclaimed throughout the world as the saviour of society. Under its sway bourgeois society, freed from political cares, attained a development unexpected even by itself. Its industry and commerce expanded to colossal dimensions; financial swindling celebrated cosmopolitan orgies (Marx uses this last word literally, per scandals of the time); the misery of the masses was set off by a shameless display of gorgeous, meretricious and debased luxury. The state power, apparently soaring high above society, was at the same time itself the very scandal of that society and the very hotbed of all its corruptions. Its own rottenness, and the rottenness of the society it had saved (i.e. the bourgeois elite of the 2nd Republic), were laid bare by the bayonet of Prussia, herself eagerly bent upon transferring the supreme seat of that regime from Paris to Berlin.”

The globalist descendants of the victors of 1871 would eventually comprise on Brussels instead of Berlin. Belgium – the country fabricated so that France and Germany would have a place to fight their wars, it is often joked – became “the seat of that regime”.

Yellow Vest: “We are not proud, at least not yet, because we have many more victories to accomplish. We insist on having referendums initiated by citizens, in order to democratically give a voice to all of France and to the Yellow Vests. We will keep marching to ensure that our common future is serene and peaceful.”

If we make only minor substitutions in Marx’s passage to include contemporary developments, does this not make an up-to-date history of France and Europe covering over two centuries?

If the pan-European project “divided them least” (the different factions of national ruling classes in Europe) least, it opened an abyss between that class and the whole body of society outside their spare ranks. The restraints by which their own divisions had under former regimes still checked the state power were removed by their union; and in view of the threatening upheaval of the Yellow Vests they now used that state power mercilessly and ostentatiously as the international war engine of capital against labor.

In their uninterrupted crusade against the producing masses they (the pan-European project) were, however, bound not only to invest the national executive branches with continually increased powers of repression, but at the same time divest their own national parliamentary branches, one by one, of all its own means of defence against the Executive. The Executive, in the person of a modern Louis Bonaparte (or something new and revolutionary, perhaps similar to the Supreme Leader branch of government in Iran)could not be allowed to have turned them – Brussels – out. The national offspring of the pan-European project was the neoliberal Empire of the European Union.

The empire, with the fall of the USSR for its birth certificate, denying the national referendums which rejected the European Union and which were based on universal suffrage for its salvation and the sword for its sceptre, professed to rest upon the neo-peasantry – the large mass of producers not directly involved in the struggle of capital and labor and who desired to avoid more intra-European wars, free movement around Europe and the strengthening of a Social Democratic safety net. It also professed to save the working class by breaking down national parliamentarianism and, with it, the undisguised subserviency of government to the propertied classes. It professed to save the propertied classes by upholding their economic supremacy over the working class; and, finally, it professed to unite all classes by reviving for all the chimera of supranational glory via colluding with the United States to enforce Liberalist values worldwide.

In reality it was the only form of government possible, at a time when the bourgeoisie had fully acquired the faculty of ruling the nation, something they had no experience with in 1848. It (the pan-European project) was acclaimed throughout the West as the saviour of European society. Under its sway bourgeois society, freed from political cares, such as the profit drags and democratic nuisances created by the era of Social Democracy, attained a development unexpected even by itself. Its industry and commerce expanded to colossal dimensions; financial swindling celebrated cosmopolitan orgies; the misery of the masses was set off by a shameless display of gorgeous, meretricious and debased luxury. The state power, apparently soaring high above society, was at the same time itself the very scandal of that society and the very hotbed of all its corruptions. Its own rottenness, and the rottenness of the society it had saved – the royals threatened by 1789, the bourgeois threatened by 1848, the colluding Social Democrats threatened by 1917 and the Fascists threatened by 1945 – were laid bare by the bayonet of the Yellow Vests, herself eagerly bent upon transferring the supreme national seat of that regime from Brussels back to Paris.”

France is not Cuba, Iran, China or even Southern Lebanon – it will likely take a civil war for the Yellow Vests to ever use bayonets to finally win political and economic redistribution. However, the Yellow Vests emphatically prove the willingness of Western Liberal Democracy to use violence just as brutally as the autocracies of 1788.

The Yellow Vests also remind that Western Liberal Democracy does not even allow the rights which Liberalism claims to protect – how long can that persist in a country which regularly demands the right to publicly exercise such rights, and whose pens have been freed by the digital era?

If the French elite is not going to permit even the basic rights of Liberalism, then France needs a defensive force which can protect the Liberalist rights of protesters. That is the subject of the next chapter.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values.

Publication date: July 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

French vote shows the undemocratic rot of the pan-European project 2/2

June 26, 2022

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. His new book is ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is also the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

by Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with PressTV

Part 1 discussed how a “hung parliament” isn’t going to happen in France. President Emmanuel Macron won enough seats and can find plenty of allies among the mainstream conservatives, as well as the Socialist Party and Green Party. Thus, on all issues involving far-right economics, neoliberalism and the pan-European project Macron will proceed without parliamentary difficulty.

Part 1 ended with my pointing out how Macron’s coalition-building is actually unimportant.

Because the Mainstream Media is fine with his ends, they rarely discuss how Macron often used the 49-3 executive decree in his first term even when he had an absolute majority. Macron bypassed parliament just to avoid public discussion in Parliament on his hugely unpopular austerity “reforms” – i.e. right-wing rollbacks.

And then the guy would actually sign these bills – which were also entirely written by his own coterie – live on television, rubbing it in everyone’s faces! The French, of course, can’t stand this obviously autocratic – and certainly not democratic – behavior. The elite-driven “bourgeois bloc”, however, adored it.

So who cares about the French legislature? Certainly Macron has not.

Francois Hollande used the 49-3 executive decree multiple times as well, so this is clearly a long-running issue of executive branch power grabs.

The MSM doesn’t want to focus on these facts because they so obviously reveal the incredibly low quality of French democracy and of the pan-European project.

Therefore, even if Macron can’t create a majority to pass neoliberal legislation why would he allow parliament to restrain hims now? In the coming years we should expect his rationalisations along the lines of, “We must avoid dysfunction and stagnation, therefore I decree…”.

All the above explains why the democratic absolute majority winner of the legislative vote was “none of the above” – abstention won 54%. The French know that modern autocracy – rule by the 49-3 executive decree and the overruling of national sovereignty by Brussels – rules, thus rendering Europe’s national parliaments a waste of time, breath and attention. Remember Syriza of Greece, or the “bomb” Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, promised Ireland? Many European citizens have not.

Elections at just 46% turnout are a hair’s breadth away from not having democratic credibility, but that must be added with the constant use of the 49-3 executive decree and the certainty of a Brussels’ veto for any legislation they don’t like. It combines to modern autocracy – rule by an oligarchical elite.

When is the broad prosperity and stability which Western Liberal Democracy promises ever going to arrive? When is the broad prosperity and stability of the pan-European project ever going to arrive? Certainly the latter’s short tenure has been marked by nothing but economic disaster and democratic repression.

Because Western Liberal Democracy took the defeated fascists of World War II under their wing they also subsumed many of their ideas. One of them is identity politics: the average Frenchman is now being told to focus on the paltry 15% score of the National Front and not the larger issues presented in the paragraph above. It’s nonsense, and to do that would be to play into the hands of the bourgeois bloc.

All of these realities should be clear to people who cover French politics.

Macron has to actually pay attention to parliament now and work a little harder to win over some votes (but only if he actually feels like it) – I guess that’s democracy, but it’s not much. The MSM and bourgeois bloc elite is worried that “reforms” – i.e. rollbacks to the Social Democratic advances implemented from 1945-75 – won’t get through, but after 13 years here, and over 1,500 2-3 minute television reports for PressTV, which includes over 3,000 soundbites from French people, and hundreds of written columns, I’m worried about the democratic will of the French people.

But it’s been foolish to look for the democratic will in Western Liberal Democratic parliaments and in French parliament ever since 1848, when they did away with unelected monarchy.

France’s parliament is going to get louder, but that’s about it. It’ll be more like the United States in that there will be a lot of grandstanding and big talk, and then the same right-wing conclusions will arrive exactly as predicted. If it somehow doesn’t – Macron will use the executive decree. If Macron somehow doesn’t use the executive decree – Brussels will step in to forbid, sanction or legislate around the democratic will of any member nation.

As time goes on this reality will become clear and clearer. Some in the NUPES alliance and some in the National Front will actually say such things in Parliament. Macron promised to govern in a way to decrease “extremism” – i.e. those who point out the failures of Liberalism – but he clearly achieved the exact opposite.

Macronism is my generation’s type of conservatism, but that doesn’t mean it was ever built to last. The former Rothschild banker was a candidate who was fabricated at the last moment of 2016 by the intensely monied powers who have always governed in Western Liberal Democracy. He’s not as all-powerful as he was in his first term, but how could he be, given his discrediting behavior, his lack of merit and the arrogant elite he chooses to guide him? How could Western Liberal Democracy not keep proving to the masses their lack of concern for the problems of the working poor and middle classes?

However, since 2009 France does not control its currency, prices, budget, laws, rails, skies and obviously much, much else. A major failure of the Yellow Vests was to focus their attention entirely on Macron and on parliament and not on the pan-European project. The Western media tells them deceptive lies, but this column has laid out solid conclusions drawn from close observation. The Yellow Vests have protested every Saturday since October 2021 – you likely haven’t heard about that because the MSM refuses to tell the truth about that, too. When the next inevitable bust period occurs in Liberalism, they are ready to be there.

Will France descend into chaos shortly, as many predict? My God – how can it get more chaotic than every single Saturday from November 2018 through June 2019? All that’s left is for the forces of order to open fire on protesters – massacres!

That would change things – at least I hope it would. The West, ever-grandstanding about their moral superiority, certainly ignored the occasionally-lethal brutality towards the Yellow Vests.

The French elections have ended – major changes were not made. Since the Great Recession, and subsequent undemocratic installation of the pan-European project, the world’s third-largest but weakest and least-sovereign economy has only gotten weaker. After damage so great we don’t even know how bad it is, the coronavirus fog has lifted – remember that it was instituted just weeks after the failure of France’s longest labor movement ever, the general strike of 2019-20. France and the EU are marching to war over the unrest in Ukraine, and also sacrificing their economies for that cause.

Such is France today.

No Bonapartism – either Napoleonic or Louis-Napoleonic – is coming to save them from the autocratic bourgeois bloc. They have no revolutionary “Supreme Leader branch” of government, either – they don’t even want to understand what that term means. The French don’t believe in the goodwill of the leadership of the United States, but they follow them anyway. China, which since 2008 has soared in direct inverse proportion to the demise of Europe, is following an independent path, just as Iran has done since 1979. Now Russia appears to be doing the same after three decades of Liberalism.

The world needn’t worry about the results of French parliament, but they should worry for the French.


Part 1 of 2

French vote shows the undemocratic rot of the pan-European project 1/2

June 25, 2022

by Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with PressTV

France’s election season finally got interesting, but only marginally.

Even though his brutal repression of the Yellow Vests should disqualify him from being a public servant ever again, Emmanuel Macron was re-elected president, incredibly. However, he has finally been reprimanded at the voting booth – his parliamentary coalition just lost its absolute majority.

The Yellow Vests can claim wresting yet another concession. Unfortunately – like most of their concessions – it’s rather minor.

The Mainstream Media is in a tizzy over an allegedly “hung parliament”, but don’t they always do that when the working-poor class rebels against Western Liberalist diktats?

The man initially hailed as the “new leader of the free world” by Politico (how badly does that hold up four years later?), and who then obviously became a “liberal strongman”, now has to actually acknowledge the National Assembly’s existence after ruling by executive order for five years.

This is such a bad thing? The entire start of modern global politics, in 1789, was the move away from absolute monarchy via the demand for a parliament – a representative body which can, finally, exert some influence over the policy-making of the executive branch.

To the Western elite: yes, this is a very bad thing.

They don’t want absolute autocracy anymore, but they certainly don’t want the poor, working-poor and middle classes exerting any influence over policy-making. They are continually appalled at how the French masses – from the Yellow Vests, to the 2005 “No” vote on the European Constitution, to the election of anti-austerity candidates like Francois Hollande and Francois Mitterrand – keep rejecting the “bourgeois bloc’s” insistence that neoliberalism is the greatest thing since pockets.

The dominant analysis in France now is that it is divided into three blocs: the far-right of Le Pen, a left wing (represented by the NUPES “popular front”, which just over-promised and under-delivered) and a “center” of Macronistas. This is wrong. The best description of French divisions is between a bourgeois bloc (the 25% which supports Macron) and everyone else (the 75% which supported the Yellow Vests/the 70% which didn’t want Macron to have another absolute majority in parliament).

The bourgeois bloc is obviously full of pro-elite, pro-privilege, right-wing ideas – neo-imperialism, free market economics, perpetual austerity, a poor social safety net, regressive taxes on the average person but tax evasion for the rich and corporations, the idea that citizens should vote once every 4 or 5 years for elite politicians and then stop being involved in politics – but what it is actually presented as is “radical centrism”. Much like the idea of the “bourgeois bloc”, such terms are gaining popularity in recent years.

“Radical centrism” is the idea that mainstream Western thought is the only “right” way to view reality. The ideology of Liberalism is “centrist”, or so they allege, but they definitely make this claim with a virulence that is truly radical.

This started post-1991 with TINA – There Is No Alternative. The great unsaid to that popular phrase is that There Is No Alternative to Neoliberalism and Neo-imperialism. Radical centrism has become – to them – “the truth”. Criticise their policies – such as the false benevolence, and certainly the false success, of the pan-European project – and you are classified as “disinformation”. Affirm these policies and you’re a blue-checked “expert” and “independent”.

It’s all nonsense of course, but ever since 1789 created a bourgeois bloc they have always been out of touch with the average person’s experiences and beliefs.

This brings us back to the legislative vote: the Western MSM, owned by the bourgeois bloc in a West which eschews state media, is now worried that without an absolute majority Macron won’t be able to force through his “radical centrist” policies as easily as he did for the past five years.

The Western MSM is, of course, totally unconcerned about the fact that Macron forced through his policies only on top of the broken bones, lost eyes and blood of the Yellow Vests. They only worry about protesters in right-wing places like Hong Kong, or Ukraine, or the MKO, etc.

The intellectual state of France has now been established – are the MSM’s worries justified? Does the vote signify a huge change?

No, but not for the reasons expected by people who don’t closely follow French politics.

Firstly, ignore the usual French drama: Of course newspapers want to sell papers by inflaming the results. The far-right’s Marine Le Pen wants to act like 15% is a parliamentary majority, leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon wants to believe that 25% of seats earns him the prime minister post, and the mainstream conservative Republicans are talking about “still being an opposition party” but these are all lies, exaggerations and self-delusions.

The biggest delusion outside of France since 2017 is that Macron was ever a “centrist”. His subsequent legalisation of Islamophobia and the state of emergency, his far-right economic policies and his authoritarian style all disproved that indisputably.

Macron was always a mainstream conservative, just with a new logo and of his generation. Somehow this eluded many commentators, and I attribute this – among the misled older commentators – to a generation gap.

Macron’s generation was raised to be entirely pro-Europhile, and also to reject xenophobia. Some in the mainstream conservative party are pro-globalisation and some aren’t so much, and some in the mainstream conservative party are Islamophobic and some aren’t so much, but those in les Républicains haven’t joined the National Front (now the National Rally) for a reason, and that reason is: these are not their main issues.

So we should add together the seats of Macron’s coalition and those of the mainstream conservatives – and we get an absolute majority of 53%. Thus, on all issues involving far-right economics, neoliberalism and the pan-European project Macron will proceed without parliamentary difficulty.

People are acting like Les Républicains haven’t been going along with pan-European project diktats since Nicolas Sarkozy? It’s crazy. He’s the one who engineered the passage of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, which was rejected in that 2005 vote mentioned above, and which put the installation of the European Union in the hands of national parliaments (run by the bourgeois bloc) and not in the hands of voters.

Macron’s coalition won enough seats to avoid a crisis. He’ll be able to win over just 2/3rds of Republicans (or 44 seats) for a majority on anything of economic and political importance to conservatives (and to pan-Euroepans).

However, one must realise that Macron will also win over many in the Socialist Party and the Green Party, as well! They are plenty of them who are totally on board with neoliberalism and the pan-European project. The NUPES left-green alliance is already fracturing.

Allow me a short victory lap: in already-published chapters of my new book (France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values – out July 1) I predicted the formation of AND the failure of the NUPES “popular front”. I understand Western fake-leftism – what can I say? This electoral alliance was always just that – to win votes – and it’s already breaking apart. Many in NUPES only put away their Europhilia to keep their seat, after all.

This certainly cannot be argued with, as well: There simply has not been a huge influx of parliamentarians who are anti-EU, anti-Liberalist, anti-austerity and anti-bourgeois bloc, and certainly not any majority. It will be business as usual in Western Liberal Democracy.

However, all of these facts are entirely moot!

You haven’t wasted your time, however, but you do need to please read Part 2 of this column, out soon.


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. His new book is ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is also the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Mixed Bag June 22

June 22, 2022

Please visit Andrei’s website: https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/
and support him here: https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=60459185

President Putin: St Petersburg International Economic Forum Plenary session

June 18, 2022

Ed Note:  This transcript is not fully complete but we post it because of the renewed DDoS attacks on Russian infrastructure.  When it is complete, we will do an update.   (Mr Putin was on top form with an excellent, even exhaustive and detailed economic tour de force for Russia, and then of course for the sane world, or our Zone B).

Pepe Escobar created a very high-level summary:

THE NEW ERA

Top Ten Breakdown – as announced by Putin

  • The era of the unipolar world is over.
  • The rupture with the West is irreversible and definitive. No pressure from the West will change it.
  • Russia has renewed its sovereignty. Reinforcement of political and economic sovereignty is an absolute priority.
  • The current crisis shows the EU is not ready to play the role of an independent, sovereign actor. It’s just an ensemble of American vassals deprived of any politico-military sovereignty.
  • Sovereignty cannot be partial. Either you’re a sovereign or a colony.
  • Hunger in the poorest nations will be on the conscience of the West and Euro-democracy.
  • Russia will supply grains to Africa and the Middle East.
  • Russia will invest in internal economic development and reorientation of trade towards nations independent of the US.
  • The future world order, currently in progress, will be formed by strong sovereign states.
  • The ship has sailed. There’s no turning back.

A further summary from RT rounds it out:  https://www.rt.com/russia/557346-putin-spief-speech-takeaways/


http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/68669

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also took part in the session. President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi addressed the session via videoconference.

The theme this year is New Opportunities in a New World.

* * *

Plenary session moderator Margarita Simonyan: Good afternoon, or almost evening.

As you may know, we had a minor technical issue. Thankfully, it has been dealt with quickly. We are grateful to those who resolved this.

We are also grateful to the audience.

We are grateful to our leader, President Vladimir Putin, for traditionally fitting this forum into his schedule so that he can tell us about economic prospects and other plans.

We are grateful to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev for attending our forum. We know that it is not an easy thing to do. Thank you for supporting our forum and our country. We really appreciate this.

We will have a lot of questions today. You may not like some of them, and I may not be happy to ask some of them. We would be much happier to speak only about good things, but this is impossible today.

Mr President, I would like to ask you to take the stand and to tell us what lies in store for us all. Thank you.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. President Tokayev, friends and colleagues,

I welcome all participants and guests of the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

It is taking place at a difficult time for the international community when the economy, markets and the very principles of the global economic system have taken a blow. Many trade, industrial and logistics chains, which were dislocated by the pandemic, have been subjected to new tests. Moreover, such fundamental business notions as business reputation, the inviolability of property and trust in global currencies have been seriously damaged. Regrettably, they have been undermined by our Western partners, who have done this deliberately, for the sake of their ambitions and in order to preserve obsolete geopolitical illusions.

Today, our – when I say “our,” I mean the Russian leadership – our own view of the global economic situation. I would like to speak in greater depth about the actions Russia is taking in these conditions and how it plans to develop in these dynamically changing circumstances.

When I spoke at the Davos Forum a year and a half ago, I also stressed that … the era of a unipolar world order has come to an end. I want to start with this, as there is no way around it. This era has ended despite all the attempts to maintain and preserve it at all costs. Change is a natural process of history, as it is difficult to reconcile the diversity of civilisations and the richness of cultures on the planet with political, economic or other stereotypes – these do not work here, they are imposed by one centre in a rough and no-compromise manner.

The flaw is in the concept itself, as the concept says there is one, albeit strong, power with a limited circle of close allies, or, as they say, countries with granted access, and all business practices and international relations, when it is convenient, are interpreted solely in the interests of this power. They essentially work in one direction in a zero-sum game. A world built on a doctrine of this kind is definitely unstable.

After declaring victory in the Cold War, the United States proclaimed itself to be God’s messenger on Earth, …without any obligations and only interests which were declared sacred. They seem to ignore the fact that in the past decades, new powerful and increasingly assertive centres have been formed. Each of them develops its own political system and public institutions according to its own model of economic growth and, naturally, has the right to protect them and to secure national sovereignty.

These are objective processes and genuinely revolutionary tectonic shifts in geopolitics, the global economy and technology, in the entire system of international relations, where the role of dynamic and potentially strong countries and regions is substantially growing. It is no longer possible to ignore their interests.

To reiterate, these changes are fundamental, groundbreaking and rigorous. It would be a mistake to assume that at a time of turbulent change, one can simply sit it out or wait it out until everything gets back on track and becomes what it was before. It will not.

However, the ruling elite of some Western states seem to be harbouring this kind of illusions. They refuse to notice obvious things, stubbornly clinging to the shadows of the past. For example, they seem to believe that the dominance of the West in global politics and the economy is an unchanging, eternal value. Nothing lasts forever.

Our colleagues are not just denying reality. More than that; they are trying to reverse the course of history. They seem to think in terms of the past century. They are still influenced by their own misconceptions about countries outside the so-called “golden billion”: they consider everything a backwater, or their backyard. They still treat them like colonies, and the people living there, like second-class people, because they consider themselves exceptional. If they are exceptional, that means everyone else is second rate.

Thereby, the irrepressible urge to punish, to economically crush anyone who does not fit with the mainstream, does not want to blindly obey. Moreover, they crudely and shamelessly impose their ethics, their views on culture and ideas about history, sometimes questioning the sovereignty and integrity of states, and threatening their very existence. Suffice it to recall what happened in Yugoslavia, Syria, Libya and Iraq.

If some “rebel” state cannot be suppressed or pacified, they try to isolate that state, or “cancel” it, to use their modern term. Everything goes, even sports, the Olympics, bans on culture and art masterpieces just because their creators come from the “wrong” country.

This is the nature of the current round of Russophobia in the West, and the insane sanctions against Russia. They are crazy and, I would say, thoughtless.They are unprecedented in the number of them or the pace the West churns them out at.

The idea was clear as day – they expected to suddenly and violently crush the Russian economy, to hit Russia’s industry, finance, and people’s living standards by destroying business chains, forcibly recalling Western companies from the Russian market, and freezing Russian assets.

This did not work. Obviously, it did not work out; it did not happen. Russian entrepreneurs and authorities have acted in a collected and professional manner, and Russians have shown solidarity and responsibility.

Step by step, we will normalise the economic situation. We have stabilised the financial markets, the banking system and the trade network. Now we are busy saturating the economy with liquidity and working capital to maintain the stable operation of enterprises and companies, employment and jobs.

The dire forecasts for the prospects of the Russian economy, which were made in early spring, have not materialised. It is clear why this propaganda campaign was fuelled and all the predictions of the dollar at 200 rubles and the collapse of our economy were made. This was and remains an instrument in an information struggle and a factor of psychological influence on Russian society and domestic business circles.

Incidentally, some of our analysts gave in to this external pressure and based their forecasts on the inevitable collapse of the Russian economy and a critical weakening of the national currency – the ruble.

Real life has belied these predictions. However, I would like to emphasise that to continue being successful, we must be explicitly honest and realistic in assessing the situation, be independent in reaching conclusions, and of course, have a can-do spirit, which is very important. We are strong people and can deal with any challenge. Like our predecessors, we can resolve any task. The entire thousand-year history of our country bears this out.

Within just three months of the massive package of sanctions, we have suppressed inflation rate spikes. As you know, after peaking at 17.8 percent, inflation now stands at 16.7 percent and continues dropping. This economic dynamic is being stabilised, and state finances are now sustainable. I will compare this to other regions further on. Yes, even this figure is too much for us – 16.7 percent is high inflation. We must and will work on this and, I am sure, we will achieve a positive result.

After the first five months of this year, the federal budget has a surplus of 1.5 trillion rubles and the consolidated budget – a surplus of 3.3 trillion rubles. In May alone, the federal budget surplus reached almost half a trillion rubles, surpassing the figure for May 2021 more than four times over.

Today, our job us to create conditions for building up production and increasing supply in the domestic market, as well as restoring demand and bank financing in the economy commensurately with the growth in supply.

I mentioned that we have taken measures to reestablish the floating assets of companies. In most sectors, businesses have received the right to suspend insurance premiums for the second quarter of the year. Industrial companies have even more opportunities – they will be able to delay them through the third quarter as well. In effect, this is like getting an interest-free loan from the state.

In the future, companies will not have to pay delayed insurance premiums in a single payment. They will be able to pay them in equal installments over 12 months, starting in June next year.

Next. As of May the subsidised mortgage rate has been reduced. It is now 9 percent, while the programme has been extended till the end of the year. As I have mentioned, the programme is aimed at helping Russians improve their housing situation, while supporting the home building industry and related industries that employ millions of people.

Following a spike this spring, interest rates have been gradually coming down, as the Central Bank lowers the key rate. I believe that that this allows the subsidised mortgage rate to be further cut to 7 percent.

What is important here? The programme will last until the end of the year without change. It means that our fellow Russians seeking to improve their living conditions should take advantage of the subsidy before the end of the year.

The lending cap will not change either, at 12 million roubles for Moscow and St Petersburg and 6 million for the rest of Russia.

I should add that we must make long-term loans for businesses more accessible. The focus must shift from budget subsidies for businesses to bank lending as a means to spur business activity.

We need to support this. We will allocate 120 billion rubles from the National Wealth Fund to build up the capacity of the VEB Project Financing Factory. This will provide for additional lending to much-needed initiatives and projects worth around half a trillion roubles.

Colleagues,

Once again, the economic blitzkrieg against Russia was doomed to fail from the beginning. Sanctions as a weapon have proved in recent years to be a double-edged sword damaging their advocates and architects just a much, if not more.

I am not talking about the repercussions we see clearly today. We know that European leaders informally, so to say, furtively, discuss the very concerning possibility of sanctions being levelled not at Russia, but at any undesirable nation, and ultimately anyone including the EU and European companies.

So far this is not the case, but European politicians have already dealt their economies a serious blow all by themselves. We see social and economic problems worsening in Europe, and in the US as well, food, electricity and fuel prices rising, with quality of life in Europe falling and companies losing their market edge.

According to experts, the EU’s direct, calculable losses from the sanctions fever could exceed $400 billion this year. This is the price of the decisions that are far removed from reality and contradict common sense.

These outlays fall directly on the shoulders of people and companies in the EU. The inflation rate in some Eurozone countries has exceeded 20 percent. I mentioned inflation in Russia, but the Eurozone countries are not conducting special military operations, yet the inflation rate in some of them has reached 20 percent. Inflation in the United States is also unacceptable, the highest in the past 40 years.

Of course, inflation in Russia is also in the double digits so far. However, we have adjusted social benefits and pensions to inflation, and increased the minimum and subsistence wages, thereby protecting the most vulnerable groups of the population. At the same time, high interest rates have helped people keep their savings in the Russian banking system.

Businesspeople know, of course, that a high key rate clearly slows economic development. But it is a boon for the people in most cases. They have reinvested a substantial amount of money in banks due to higher interest rates.

This is our main difference from the EU countries, where rising inflation is directly reducing the real incomes of the people and eating up their savings, and the current manifestations of the crisis are affecting, above all, low-income groups.

The growing outlays of European companies and the loss of the Russian market will have lasting negative effects. The obvious result of this will be the loss of global competitiveness and a system-wide decline in the European economies’ pace of growth for years to come.

Taken together, this will aggravate the deep-seated problems of European societies. Yes, we have many problems as well, yet I have to speak about Europe now because they are pointing the finger at us although they have enough of their own problems. I mentioned this at Davos. A direct result of the European politicians’ actions and events this year will be the further growth of inequality in these countries, which will, in turn, split their societies still more, and the point at issue is not only the well-being but also the value orientation of various groups in these societies.

Indeed, these differences are being suppressed and swept under the rug. Frankly, the democratic procedures and elections in Europe and the forces that come to power look like a front, because almost identical political parties come and go, while deep down things remain the same. The real interests of people and national businesses are being pushed further and further to the periphery.

Such a disconnect from reality and the demands of society will inevitably lead to a surge in populism and extremist and radical movements, major socioeconomic changes, degradation and a change of elites in the short term. As you can see, traditional parties lose all the time. New entities are coming to the surface, but they have little chance for survival if they are not much different from the existing ones.

The attempts to keep up appearances and the talk about allegedly acceptable costs in the name of pseudo-unity cannot hide the main thing: the European Union has lost its political sovereignty, and its bureaucratic elites are dancing to someone else’s tune, doing everything they are told from on high and hurting their own people, economies, and businesses.

There are other critically important matters here. The worsening of the global economic situation is not a recent development. I will now go over things that I believe are extremely important. What is happening now does not stem from what happened during recent months, of course not. Moreover, it is not the result of the special military operation carried out by Russia in Donbass. Saying so is an unconcealed, deliberate distortion of the facts.

Surging inflation in product and commodity markets had become a fact of life long before the events of this year. The world has been driven into this situation, little by little, by many years of irresponsible macroeconomic policies pursued by the G7 countries, including uncontrolled emission and accumulation of unsecured debt. These processes intensified with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, when supply and demand for goods and services drastically fell on a global scale.

This begs the question: what does our military operation in Donbass have to do with this? Nothing whatsoever.

Because they could not or would not devise any other recipes, the governments of the leading Western economies simply accelerated their money-printing machines. Such a simple way to make up for unprecedented budget deficits.

I have already cited this figure: over the past two years, the money supply in the United States has grown by more than 38 percent. Previously, a similar rise took decades, but now it grew by 38 percent or 5.9 trillion dollars in two years. By comparison, only a few countries have a bigger gross domestic product.

The EU’s money supply has also increased dramatically over this period. It grew by about 20 percent, or 2.5 trillion euros.

Lately, I have been hearing more and more about the so-called – please excuse me, I really would not like to do this here, even mention my own name in this regard, but I cannot help it – we all hear about the so-called ‘Putin inflation’ in the West. When I see this, I wonder who they expect would buy this nonsense – people who cannot read or write, maybe. Anyone literate enough to read would understand what is actually happening.

Russia, our actions to liberate Donbass have absolutely nothing to do with this. The rising prices, accelerating inflation, shortages of food and fuel, petrol, and problems in the energy sector are the result of system-wide errors the current US administration and European bureaucracy have made in their economic policies. That is where the reasons are, and only there.

I will mention our operation, too: yes, it could have contributed to the trend, but the root cause is precisely this – their erroneous economic policies. In fact, the operation we launched in Donbass is a lifeline they are grabbing at to be able to blame their own miscalculations on others, in this case, on Russia. But everyone who has at least completed primary school would understand the true reasons for today’s situation.

So, they printed more money, and then what? Where did all that money go? It was obviously used to pay for goods and services outside Western countries – this is where the newly-printed money flowed. They literally began to clean out, to wipe out global markets. Naturally, no one thought about the interests of other states, including the poorest ones. They were left with scraps, as they say, and even that at exorbitant prices.

While at the end of 2019, imports of goods to the United States amounted to about 250 billion dollars a month, by now, it has grown to 350 billion. It is noteworthy that the growth was 40 percent – exactly in proportion to the unsecured money supply printed in recent years. They printed and distributed money, and used it to wipe out goods from third countries’ markets.

This is what I would like to add. For a long time, the United States was a big food supplier in the world market. It was proud, and with good reason, of its achievements, its agriculture and farming traditions. By the way, this is an example for many of us, too. But today, America’s role has changed drastically. It has turned from a net exporter of food into a net importer. Loosely speaking, it is printing money and pulling commodity flows its way, buying food products all over the world.

The European Union is building up imports even faster. Obviously, such a sharp increase in demand that is not covered by the supply of goods has triggered a wave of shortages and global inflation. This is where this global inflation originates. In the past couple of years, practically everything – raw materials, consumer goods and particularly food products – has become more expensive all over the world.

Yes, of course, these countries, including the United States continue importing goods, but the balance between exports and imports has been reversed. I believe imports exceed exports by some 17 billion. This is the whole problem.

According to the UN, in February 2022, the food price index was 50 percent higher than in May 2020, while the composite raw materials index has doubled over this period.

Under the cloud of inflation, many developing nations are asking a good question: why exchange goods for dollars and euros that are losing value right before our eyes? The conclusion suggests itself: the economy of mythical entities is inevitably being replaced by the economy of real values and assets.

According to the IMF, global currency reserves are at $7.1 trillion and 2.5 trillion euros now. These reserves are devalued at an annual rate of about 8 percent. Moreover, they can be confiscated or stolen any time if the United States dislikes something in the policy of the states involved. I think this has become a very real threat for many countries that keep their gold and foreign exchange reserves in these currencies.

According to analyst estimates, and this is an objective analysis, a conversion of global reserves will begin just because there is no room for them with such shortages. They will be converted from weakening currencies into real resources like food, energy commodities and other raw materials. Other countries will be doing this, of course. Obviously, this process will further fuel global dollar inflation.

As for Europe, their failed energy policy, blindly staking everything on renewables and spot supplies of natural gas, which have caused energy price increases since the third quarter of last year – again, long before the operation in Donbass – have also exacerbated price hikes. We have absolutely nothing to do with this. It was due to their own actions that prices have gone through the roof, and now they are once again looking for somebody to blame.

Not only did the West’s miscalculations affect the net cost of goods and services but they also resulted in decreased fertiliser production, mainly nitrogen fertilisers made from natural gas. Overall, global fertiliser prices have jumped by over 70 percent from mid-2021 through February 2022.

Unfortunately, there are currently no conditions that can overcome these pricing trends. On the contrary, aggravated by obstacles to the operation of Russian and Belarusian fertiliser producers and disrupted supply logistics, this situation is approaching a deadlock.

It is not difficult to foresee coming developments. A shortage of fertiliser means a lower harvest and a higher risk of an undersupplied global food market. Prices will go even higher, which could lead to hunger in the poorest countries. And it will be fully on the conscience of the US administration and the European bureaucracy.

I want to emphasise once again: this problem did not arise today or in the past three or four months. And certainly, it is not Russia’s fault as some demagogues try to declare, shifting the responsibility for the current state of affairs in the world economy to our country.

Maybe it would even be nice to hear that we are so powerful and omnipotent that we can blow up inflation in the West, in the United States and Europe, or that we can do things to throw everything into disorder. Maybe it would be nice to feel this power, if only there were truth in it. This situation has been brewing for years, spurred by the short-sighted actions of those who are used to solving their problems at somebody else’s expense and who have relied and still rely on the mechanism of financial emission to outbid and draw trade flows, thus escalating deficits and provoking humanitarian disasters in certain regions of the world. I will add that this is essentially the same predatory colonial policy as in the past, but of course in a new iteration, a more subtle and sophisticated edition. You might not even recognise it at first.

The current priority of the international community is to increase food deliveries to the global market, notably, to satisfy the requirements of the countries that need food most of all.

While ensuring its domestic food security and supplying the domestic market, Russia is also able to scale up its food and fertiliser exports. For example, our grain exports in the next season can be increased to 50 million tonnes.

As a priority, we will supply the countries that need food most of all, where the number of starving people could increase, first of all, African countries and the Middle East.

At the same time, there will be problems there, and not through our fault either. Yes, on paper Russian grain, food and fertilisers… Incidentally, the Americans have adopted sanctions on our fertilisers, and the Europeans followed suit. Later, the Americans lifted them because they saw what this could lead to.

But the Europeans have not backed off. Their bureaucracy is as slow as a flour mill in the 18th century. In other words, everyone knows that they have done a stupid thing, but they find it difficult to retrace their steps for bureaucratic reasons.

As I have said, Russia is ready to contribute to balancing global markets of agricultural products, and we see that our UN colleagues, who are aware of the scale of the global food problem, are ready for dialogue. We could talk about creating normal logistical, financial and transport conditions for increasing Russian food and fertiliser exports.

As for Ukrainian food supplies to global markets – I have to mention this because of numerous speculations – we are not hindering them. They can do it. We did not mine the Black Sea ports of Ukraine. They can clear the mines and resume food exports. We will ensure the safe navigation of civilian vessels. No problem.

But what are we talking about? According to the US Department of Agriculture, the matter concerns 6 million tonnes of wheat (we estimate it at 5 million tonnes) and 7 million tonnes of maize. This is it, altogether. Since global production of wheat stands at 800 million tonnes, 5 million tonnes make little difference for the global market, as you can see.

Anyway, Ukrainian grain can be exported, and not only via Black Sea ports. Another route is via Belarus, which is, incidentally, the cheapest way. Or via Poland or Romania, whichever you prefer. In fact, there are five or six export routes.

The problem is not with us, the problem is with the adequacy of the people in control in Kiev. They can decide what to do, and, at least in this particular case, they should not take their lead from their foreign bosses, their masters across the ocean.

But there is also the risk that grain will be used as payment for arms deliveries. This would be regrettable.

Friends,

Once again, the world is going through an era of drastic change. International institutions are breaking down and faltering. Security guarantees are being devalued. The West has made a point of refusing to honour its earlier commitments. It has simply been impossible to reach any new agreements with them.

Given these circumstances and against the backdrop of mounting risks and threats, Russia was forced to go ahead with the special military operation. It was a difficult but necessary decision, and we were forced to make it.

This was the decision of a sovereign country, which has еру unconditional right to uphold its security, which is based on the UN Charter. This decision was aimed at protecting our people and the residents of the people’s republics of Donbass who for eight long years were subjected to genocide by the Kiev regime and the neo-Nazis who enjoyed the full protection of the West.

The West not only sought to implement an “anti-Russia” scenario, but also engaged in the active military development of Ukrainian territory, flooding Ukraine with weapons and military advisers. And it continues to do so now. Frankly, no one is paying any attention to the economy or well-being of the people living there, they just do not care about it at all, but they have never spared money to create a NATO foothold in the east that is directed against Russia and to cultivate aggression, hatred and Russophobia.

Today, our soldiers and officers, as well as the Donbass militia, are fighting to protect their people. They are fighting for Russia’s future as a large, free and secure multiethnic country that makes its own decisions, determines its own future, relies on its history, culture and traditions, and rejects any and all outside attempts to impose pseudo-values steeped in dehumanisation and moral degradation.

No doubt, our special military operation goals will be fulfilled. The key to this is the courage and heroism of our soldiers, consolidated Russian society, whose support gives strength and confidence to the Russian Army and Navy and a deep understanding of the truth and historical justice of our cause which is to build and strengthen Russia as a strong sovereign power.

My point is that sovereignty cannot be segmented or fragmented in the 21st century. The components of sovereignty are equally important, and they reinvigorate and complement each other.

So, what matters to us is not only the defence of our political sovereignty and national identity, but also strengthening everything that determines our country’s economic, financial, professional and technological independence.

The very structure of Western sanctions rested on the false premise that economically Russia is not sovereign and is critically vulnerable. They got so carried away spreading the myth of Russia’s backwardness and its weak positions in the global economy and trade that apparently, they started believing it themselves.

While planning their economic blitzkrieg, they did not notice, simply ignored the real facts of how much our country had changed in the past few years.

These changes are the result of our planned efforts to create a sustainable macroeconomic structure, ensure food security, implement import substitution programmes and create our own payment system, to name a few.

Of course, sanction restrictions created many challenges for the country. Some companies continue having problems with spare parts. Our companies have lost access to many technological solutions. Logistics are in disarray.

But, on the other hand, all this opens up new opportunities for us – we often talk about this but it really is so. All this is an impetus to build an economy with full rather than partial technological, production, human and scientific potential and sovereignty.

Naturally, it is impossible to resolve such a comprehensive challenge instantly. It is necessary to continue working systematically with an eye to the future. This is exactly what Russia is doing by implementing its long-term plans for the development of branches of the economy and strengthening the social sphere. The current trials are merely resulting in adjustments and modifications of the plans without changing their strategic orientation.

Today, I would like to talk about the key principles on which our country, our economy will develop.

The first principle is openness. Genuinely sovereign states are always interested in equal partnership and in contributing to global development. On the contrary, weak and dependent countries are usually looking for enemies, fuelling xenophobia or losing the last remnants of their identity and independence, blindly following in the wake of their suzerain.

Russia will never follow the road of self-isolation and autarky although our so-called Western friends are literally dreaming about this. Moreover, we are expanding cooperation with all those who are interested in it, who want to work with us, and will continue to do so. … They make up the overwhelming majority of people on Earth.

I will not list all these countries now. It is common knowledge.

I will say nothing new when I remind you that everyone who wants to continue working or is working with Russia is subjected to blatant pressure from the United States and Europe; it goes as far as direct threats. However, this kind of blackmail means little when it comes to countries headed by true leaders who know the difference between their own national interests, the interests of their people – and someone else’s.

Russia will build up economic cooperation with these states and promote joint projects. At the same time, we will certainly continue to cooperate with Western companies that have remained in the Russian market despite the unprecedented arm-twisting – such companies exist, too.

We believe the development of a convenient and independent payment infrastructure in national currencies is a solid and predictable basis for deepening international cooperation. To help companies from other countries develop logistical and cooperation ties, we are working to improve transport corridors, increase the capacity of railways, transshipment capacity at ports in the Arctic, and in the eastern, southern and other parts of the country, including in the Azov-Black Sea and Caspian basins – they will become the most important section of the North-South Corridor, which will provide stable connectivity with the Middle East and Southern Asia. We expect freight traffic along this route to begin growing steadily in the near future.

But foreign trade is not our only priority. Russia intends to increase scientific, technological, cultural, humanitarian and sports cooperation based on equality and mutual respect between partners. At the same time, our country will strive for responsible leadership in all these areas.

The second principle of our long-term development is a reliance on entrepreneurial freedom. Every private initiative aimed at benefiting Russia should receive maximum support and space for implementation.

The pandemic and the more recent events have confirmed how important flexibility and freedom are in the economy. Russian private businesses – in tough conditions, amid attempts to restrain our development by any means – have proved they can compete in global markets. Private businesses should also be credited for Russia’s adaptation to rapidly changing external conditions. Russia needs to ensure the dynamic development of the economy – naturally, relying on private business.

We will continue to reduce administrative hurdles. For example, in 2016–2018, we imposed a moratorium on routine audits of small businesses. Subsequently, it was extended through 2022. In 2020, this moratorium was extended to cover mid-sized companies. Also, the number of unscheduled audits decreased approximately fourfold.

We did not stop at that, and last March, we cancelled routine audits for all entrepreneurs, regardless of the size of their businesses, provided their activities do not put people or the environment at high risk. As a result, the number of routine audits has declined sixfold compared to last year.

Why am I giving so many details? The point is that after the moratorium on audits was imposed, the number of violations by entrepreneurs – this was the result – has not increased, but rather it has gone down. This testifies to the maturity and responsibility of Russian businesses. Of course, they should be offered motivation rather than being forced to observe regulations and requirements.

So, there is every reason to take another radical step forward, that is, to abandon, for good and on a permanent basis, the majority of audits for all Russian businesses, except on risky or potentially dangerous activities. Everyone has long since understood that there was no need to check on everyone without exception. A risk-oriented approach should be at work. I ask the Government to develop the specific parameters of such a reform in the next few months.

There is another very sensitive topic for business, which has also become important today for our national security and economic resilience. To reduce and bring to a minimum all sorts of abuse and loopholes to exert pressure on entrepreneurs, we are consistently removing loose regulations from criminal law that are applied to economic crimes.

Last March, a law was signed, under which tax-related criminal cases against entrepreneurs shall only be brought before a court by the tax service – there is no other way. Soon a draft law will be passed on reducing the statute of limitations for tax-related crimes and on rejecting lawsuits to initiate criminal proceedings after tax arrears have been paid off.

Working comprehensively, although prudently, we need to decriminalise a wide range of economic offenses, for instance, those that punish businesses without a licence or accreditation. This is a controversial practice today because our Western partners illegitimately refuse to provide such licenses.

Our own agencies must not single-handedly make our businesses criminally liable for actually doing nothing wrong. The problem is this, and small businesses understand it very well – if a licence has expired, and Western partners refuse to extend it, what are businesses to do, wrap up operations? By no means, let them work. State oversight should continue, but there should be no undue interference in business.

It also makes sense to think about raising the threshold of criminal liability for unpaid customs duties and other such taxes. Additionally, we have not for a long time reconsidered the parameters of the terms ‘large’ and ‘very large’ economic loss for the purposes of economic offences despite inflation accruing 50 percent since 2016. The law now fails to reflect the current realities and needs to be corrected.

We need to reconsider the conditions for detaining entrepreneurs and for extending preliminary investigations. It is no secret that these practices have long been used inappropriately.

Businesses have been forced to cease operations or go bankrupt even before the investigation is over. The reputation of the owners and of the brand name suffers as a result, not to mention the direct financial loss, loss of market share and jobs.

I want to ask law enforcement to put an end to these practices. I also ask the Government and the Supreme Court to draft appropriate legislation before October 1 of this year.

In addition, at the Security Council, a special instruction was given to look into criminal cases being opened without later proceeding to court. The number of such cases has grown in recent years. We know the reasons. A case is often opened without sufficient grounds or to put pressure on individuals. We will discuss this in autumn to take legislative action and change the way our law enforcement agencies work.

It goes without saying that regional governments play a major role in creating a modern business environment. As is customary during the St Petersburg Forum, I highlight the regions that have made significant progress in the National Investment Climate Rankings compiled by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives.

There have been changes in the top three. Moscow and Tatarstan have remained at the top and were joined by the Moscow Region which, in a span of one year, went from eighth place to the top three. The leaders of the rankings also include the Tula, Nizhny Novgorod, Tyumen, Novgorod, and Sakhalin regions, St Petersburg and Bashkortostan.

Separately, I would like to highlight the regions that have made the greatest strides such as the Kurgan Region, which moved up 36 spots; the Perm Territory and the Altai Territory, up 26 spots; Ingushetia, up 24 spots; and the Ivanovo Region which moved up 17 spots.

I want to thank and congratulate our colleagues in the regions for their good work.

The federal government and regional and municipal governments should focus on supporting individual business initiatives in small towns and remote rural communities. We are aware of such stories of success. That includes developing popular software and marketing locally produced organic food and environmentally friendly products nationwide using domestic websites.

It is important to create new opportunities, to introduce modern retail formats, including e-commerce platforms, as I mentioned above, and to cut the logistics, transportation and other costs, including by using upgraded Russian Post offices.

It is also important to help small business employees, self-employed individuals and start-up entrepreneurs acquire additional skills and competencies. Please include corresponding measures tailored specifically to small towns and rural and remote areas as a separate line in the national project for promoting small and medium-sized businesses.

Today I would like to address our officials, owners of large companies, our business leaders and executives.

Colleagues, friends,

Real, stable success and a sense of dignity and self-respect only come when you link your future and the future of your children with your Fatherland. We have maintained ties with many people for a long time, and I am aware of the sentiments of many of the heads and owners of our companies. You have told me many times that business is much more than just making a profit, and I fully agree. It is about changing life around you, contributing to the development of your home cities, regions and the country as a whole, which is extremely important for self-fulfilment. There is nothing like serving the people and society. This is the meaning of your life and work.

Recent events have reaffirmed what I have always said: it is much better at home. Those who refused to hear that clear message have lost hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in the West, in what looked like a safe haven for their assets.

I would like to once again say the following to our colleagues, those who are both in this audience and those who are not here: please, do not fall into the same trap again. Our country has huge potential, and there are more than enough tasks that need your contribution. Invest here, in the creation of new enterprises and jobs, in the development of the tourism infrastructure, support schools, universities, healthcare and the social sphere, culture and sport. I know that many of you are doing this. I know this, but I wanted to say it again.

This is how the Bakhrushin, Morozov, Shchukin, Ryabushinsky, Akchurin, Galeyev, Apanayev, Matsiyev, Mamontov, Tretyakov, Arsanov, Dadashev and Gadzhiyev families understood their noble mission. Many Russian, Tatar, Buryat, Chechen, Daghestani, Yakutian, Ossetian, Jewish, Armenian and other merchant and entrepreneurial families did not deprive their heirs of their due share, and at the same time they etched their names in the history of our country.

Incidentally, I would like to note once again that it remains to be seen what is more important for potential heirs: money and property or their forefathers’ good name and service to the country. The latter is something that cannot be squandered or, pardon my language, wasted on drink.

A good name is something that will always belong to your descendants, to future generations. It will always be part of their lives, going from one generation to another, helping them and making them stronger than the money or property they might inherit can make them.

Colleagues,

A responsible and well-balanced macroeconomic policy is the third guiding principle of our long-term development. In fact, this policy has largely enabled us to withstand the unprecedented pressure brought on by sanctions. Let me reiterate that this is an essential policy in the long term, not just for responding to the current challenges. We will not follow in the footsteps of our Western colleagues by replicating their bitter experience setting off an inflation spiral and disrupting their finances.

Our goal is to ensure robust economic growth for years to come, reducing the inflation burden on our people and businesses and achieving the mid- and long-term target inflation rate of four percent. Inflation was one of the first things I mentioned during my remarks, so let me tell you this: we remain committed to this target of a four-percent inflation rate.

I have already instructed the Government to draft proposals regarding the new budget guidelines. They must ensure that our budget policy is predictable and enables us to make the best use of the external economic conditions. Why do we need all this? To put economic growth on a more stable footing, while also delivering on our infrastructure and technological objectives, which provide a foundation for improving the wellbeing of our people.

True, some international reserve currencies have set themselves on a suicidal path lately, which is an obvious fact. In any case, they clearly have suicidal intentions. Of course, using them to ‘sterilise’ our money supply does not make any sense. Still, the principle of planning one’s spending based on how much you earn remains relevant. This is how it works, and we understand this.

Social justice is the fourth principle underpinning our development. There must be a powerful social dimension when it comes to promoting economic growth and business initiatives. This development model must reduce inequality instead of deepening it, unlike what is happening in other countries. To be honest, we have not been at the forefront when it comes to delivering on these objectives. We have yet to resolve many issues and problems in this regard.

Reducing poverty and inequality is all about creating demand for Russian-made products across the country, bridging the gap between regions in terms of their capabilities, and creating new jobs where they are needed the most. These are the core economic development drivers.

Let me emphasise that generating positive momentum in terms of household income growth and poverty reduction are the main performance indicators for government agencies and the state in general. We need to achieve tangible results in this sphere already this year, despite all the objective challenges we face. I have already assigned this task to the Government.

Again, we provide targeted support to the most vulnerable groups – pensioners, families with children, and people in difficult life situations.

Pensions are indexed annually at a rate higher than inflation. This year, they have been raised twice, including by another 10 percent on June 1.

The minimum wage was also increased by 10 percent at the same time, and so was the subsistence minimum – a reference figure used to calculate many social benefits and payments – accordingly, these benefits should also grow, increasing the incomes of about 15 million people.

In recent years, we have built a holistic system to support low-income families with children. Women are entitled to state support from the early stages of pregnancy and until the child reaches the age of 17.

People’s living standards and prosperity are the most important demographic factors; the current situation is quite challenging due to several negative demographic waves that have recently overlapped. In April, less than a hundred thousand children were born in Russia, almost 13 percent less than in April 2020.

I ask the Government to continue to keep the development of additional support measures for families with children under review. They must be far-reaching and commensurate with the magnitude of the extraordinary demographic challenge we are facing.

Russia’s future is ensured by families with two, three and more children. Therefore, we need to do more than provide direct financial support – we need to target and direct the healthcare system, education, and all areas that determine the quality of people’s lives towards the needs of families with children.

This problem is addressed, among other approaches, by the national social initiatives, which regional teams and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives are implementing together. This autumn, we will assess the results of their work, review and rank the Russian regions by quality of life in order to apply the best experiences and practices as widely as possible throughout the country.

Prioritising the development of infrastructure is the fifth principle underlying Russia’s economic policy.

We have scaled up direct budget spending on expanding transport corridors. An ambitious plan for building and repairing the federal and regional motorway core network will be launched next year. At least 85 percent of the roads are to be brought up to code within the next five years.

Infrastructure budget lending is a new tool that is being widely used. The loans are issued for 15 years at a 3 percent APR. As I mentioned before, they are much more popular than we originally thought. The regions have multiple well-thought-out and promising projects that should be launched at the earliest convenience. We will look into how we can use this support measure. We debated this issue last night. What I am saying is that it is a reliable tool.

Upgrading housing and utilities services is a separate matter with a backlog of issues. The industry is chronically underinvested to the tune of 4.5 trillion rubles. Over 40 percent of networks need to be replaced, which accounts for their low efficiency and big losses. About 3 percent of the networks become unusable every year, but no more than 2 percent get replaced, which makes the problem even worse every single year.

I propose consolidating resources and launching a comprehensive programme for upgrading housing and utilities, and synchronizing it with other infrastructure development and housing overhaul plans. The goal is to turn the situation around and to gradually reduce the number of dated networks, just like we are doing by relocating people from structurally unsafe buildings or fixing roads. We will discuss in detail housing and utilities and the construction complex with the governors at a State Council Presidium meeting next week.

On a separate note, I propose increasing resources to fund projects to create a comfortable urban environment in small towns and historical settlements. This programme is working well for us. I propose allocating another 10 billion rubles annually for these purposes in 2023–2024.

We will allocate additional funds for renovating urban areas in the Far Eastern Federal District. I want the Government to allocate dedicated funds to this end as part of the programmes for infrastructure budget lending and housing and utilities upgrading, as well as other development programmes.

Promoting comprehensive improvements and development for rural areas is a top priority for us. People who live there are feeding the country. We now see that they are also feeding a major part of the world, so they must live in comfort and dignity. In this connection, I am asking the Government to allocate additional funding for the corresponding programme. Export duties on agricultural produce can serve as a source of funding here. This is a permanent source of revenue. Of course, there can be fluctuations, but at least this ensures a constant flow of revenue.

On a separate note, I suggest that we expand the programmes for upgrading and modernising rural cultural centres, as well as regional theatres and museums by allocating six billion rubles for each of these projects in 2023 and 2024.

What I have just said about cultural institutions is something that people are really looking forward to, something they really care about. Let me give you a recent example: during the presentation of the Hero of Labour medals, one of the winners, Vladimir Mikhailov from Yakutia, asked me directly for help with building a cultural centre in his native village. This was during the part of the ceremony where we meet behind closed doors. We will definitely do this. The fact that people are raising this issue at all levels shows that they are really eager to see these projects implemented.

At this point, I would like to make a sidenote on a topic that is especially relevant now, since we are in early summer, when Russians usually take their summer vacations.

Every year, more and more tourists want to visit the most beautiful corners of our country: national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves. According to available estimates, this year this tourist flow is expected to exceed 12 million people. It is essential that all government bodies, businesses and tourists are well aware of what they can and cannot do in these territories, where they can build tourism infrastructure, and where such activity is strictly prohibited because it endangers unique and fragile ecosystems.

The draft law governing tourism in special protected territories and regulating this activity in a civilised manner is already in the State Duma.

In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that we must figure out in advance all the relevant estimates and ensure that the decisions are well-balanced. We need to be serious about this.

I would like to place special emphasis on the need to preserve Lake Baikal. In particular, there is a comprehensive development project for the city of Baikalsk, which must become a model of sustainable, eco-sensitive municipal governance.

This is not just about getting rid of the accumulated negative environmental impacts from the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, but about setting a higher standard of living for the city and transforming it into a signature destination for environmental tourism in Russia. We need to rely on the most cutting-edge technologies and clean energy when carrying out this project.

Overall, we will be developing clean technology to achieve the goals we set in the environmental modernisation of production facilities, and to reduce hazardous emissions, especially in large industrial centres. We will also continue working on closed-loop economy projects, green projects and climate preservation. I spoke about these issues in detail at this forum last year.

Consequently, the sixth cross-cutting development principle that consolidates our work is, in my opinion, achieving genuine technological sovereignty, creating an integral system of economic development that does not depend on foreign institutions when it comes to critically important components. We need to develop all areas of life on a qualitatively new technological level without being simply users of other countries’ solutions. We must have technological keys to developing next-generation goods and services.

In the past years, we have focused a lot of attention on import substitution, succeeding in a range of industries, including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, defence production and several others.

But I should stress that there is a lot of discussion in our society about import substitution. And it is not a cure-all nor a comprehensive solution. If we only imitate others when trying to replace foreign goods with copies, even if very high-quality ones, we may end up constantly playing catch-up while we should be one step ahead and create our own competitive technologies, goods and services that can become new global standards.

If you remember, Sergei Korolyov did not just copy or locally upgrade captured rocket technology. He focused on the future and proposed a unique plan to develop the R-7 rocket. He paved the path to space for humankind and in fact set a standard for the entire world, for decades ahead.

Proactively – this is how founders of many Soviet research programmes worked at the time. And today, building on that groundwork, our designers continue to make progress and show their worth. It is thanks to them that Russia has supersonic weapons that do not exist in any other country. Rosatom remains the leader in nuclear technology, developing our fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers. Many Russian AI and Big Data solutions are the best in the world.

To reiterate, technological development is a cross-cutting area that will define the current decade and the entire 21st century. We will review in depth our approaches to building a groundbreaking technology-based economy – a techno economy – at the upcoming Strategic Development Council meeting. There is so much we can discuss. Most importantly, many managerial decisions must be made in the sphere of engineering education and transferring research to the real economy, and the provision of financial resources for fast-growing high-tech companies. We will also discuss the development of cross-cutting technologies and progress of digital transformation projects in individual industries.

To be clear, of course it is impossible to make every product out there, and there is no need for that. However, we need to possess critical technologies in order to be able to move swiftly should we need to start our own production of any product. This is what we did when we quickly started making coronavirus vaccines, and most recently launched the production of many other products and services.

For example, after dishonest KamAZ partners left the Russian market, their place was taken by domestic companies, which are supplying parts for traditional models and even advanced mainline, transport and heavy-duty vehicles.

The Mir card payment system has successfully replaced Visa and MasterCard on the domestic market. It is expanding its geography and gradually gaining international recognition.

The St Petersburg Tractor Plant is another case in point. Its former foreign partner stopped selling engines and providing warranty maintenance. Engine builders from Yaroslavl and Tutayev came to the rescue and started supplying their engines. As a result, the output of agricultural equipment at the St Petersburg Tractor Plant hit a record high in March-April. It did not decrease, but hit an all-time high.

I am sure there will be more positive practices and success stories.

To reiterate, Russia possesses the professional, scientific and technological potential to develop products that enjoy high demand, including household appliances and construction equipment, as well as industrial and service equipment.

Today’s task is to scale up the capacities and promptly get the necessary lines up and running. One of the key issues is comfortable work conditions for the businesses as well as the availability of prepared production sites.

I ask the Government to submit key parameters of the new operating guidelines for industrial clusters by the autumn. What is critical here?

First – financing. The projects launched in these clusters must have a long-term credit resource for up to ten years at an annual interest rate below seven percent in rubles. We have discussed all these issues with our economic agencies as well. Everyone agreed, so we will proceed.

Second – taxation. The clusters must have a low level of relatively permanent taxes including insurance contributions.

Third – supporting production at the early, kick-off stage, forming a package of orders including subsidising the purchases of ready products by such enterprises. This is not an easy issue but I think subsidies may be required. They are needed to ensure the market. We just have to work it out.

Fourth – simplified administration including minimal or no inspections as well as convenient customs monitoring that is not burdensome.

Fifth, and probably the most important – we need to set up mechanisms of guaranteed long-term demand for the new innovative products that are about to enter the market. I remind the Government that such preferential terms and respective industrial clusters must be launched as early as January 1, 2023.

On a related note, I want to say that both new and already operating points of industrial growth must attract small businesses and engage them in their orbit. It is crucial for entrepreneurs, for small entities to see the horizon and grasp their prospects.

Therefore, I ask the Government together with the SME Corporation [Federal Corporation for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises] and our biggest companies to launch an instrument for long-term contracts between companies with state participation and SMEs. This will ensure demand for the products of such enterprises for years ahead whereas suppliers can confidently undertake commitments to launch a new manufacturing facility or expand an existing one to meet that order.

Let me add that we have substantially shortened the timeframe for building industrial sites and eliminated all the unnecessary burdensome procedures. Still, there is much more we can do here. We have things to work on, and places to go from here. For example, building an industrial facility from the ground up takes anywhere from eighteen months to three years, while the persistently high interest rates make it harder to buy suitable land plots.

Given this, I suggest launching industrial mortgages as a new tool for empowering Russian businesses to quickly start making all the products we need. What I mean are preferential long-term loans at a five-percent interest rate. Companies planning to buy new manufacturing space will be entitled to these loans. I am asking the Government to work out all the details with the Russian banking sector so that the industrial mortgage programme becomes fully operational soon.

Friends,

Changes in the global economy, finances and international relations are unfolding at an ever-growing pace and scale. There is an increasingly pronounced trend in favour of a multipolar growth model in lieu of globalisation. Of course, building and shaping a new world order is no easy task. We will have to confront many challenges, risks, and factors that we can hardly predict or anticipate today.

Still, it is obvious that it is up to the strong sovereign states, those that do not follow a trajectory imposed by others, to set the rules governing the new world order. Only powerful and sovereign states can have their say in this emerging world order. Otherwise, they are doomed to become or remain colonies devoid of any rights.

We need to move forward and change in keeping with the times, while demonstrating our national will and resolve. Russia enters this nascent era as a powerful sovereign nation. We will definitely use the new immense opportunities that are opening up for us in this day and age in order to become even stronger.

Thank you for your attention.

Margarita Simonyan: Thank you, Mr President.

I would very much like to say that after such exhaustive remarks and such an exhaustive analysis, we have nothing left to talk about, because you have answered all the questions. Still, some questions remain, and we will certainly ask them.

And now I would like to ask President Tokayev to come over here and share with us his perspective on the processes taking place in his country, in our country, and in relations between our countries and in the world.

Thank you.

President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: President Putin,

forum participants,

I congratulate everyone on a significant event – the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum. I thank President Putin for the invitation and for the warm and cordial welcome in the cultural capital of Russia.

Over the past quarter of a century, the St Petersburg Forum has deservedly gained respect as a prestigious expert platform and occupies a worthy place among other world discussion platforms.

Today, we are meeting in rather extraordinary circumstances – I am referring to the elevated political and economic turbulence. The global upheavals caused by the pandemic and the rising geopolitical tensions have led to a new reality. Globalisation has given way to an era of regionalisation, with all its inherent advantages and disadvantages. Be that as it may, the process of reformatting traditional economic models and trade routes is accelerating.

The world is changing rapidly – unfortunately, in most cases it is not for the better. Inflation in many countries is breaking ten-year records, global economic growth is slowing down, and competition for investment and resources is intensifying.

There are constraining factors for economic growth such as climate change, growing migration flows, and faster technological change. We certainly pay attention to these processes.

Speaking about the new reality, it is important to bear in mind the rapidly changing structure of the international order – even the seemingly stable East-West, North-South vectors of interaction are shifting. It is important for the countries in our region not only to find the right answers to all these challenges, but also to try to make the most of them. Therefore, we have to consistently reach our full potential for cooperation within the Eurasian Economic Union. The project to link Eurasian integration with China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is relevant here.

As you know, Kazakhstan is now implementing large-scale political and economic reforms. Their goal is to reset public administration and build a fair, new Kazakhstan. We are working to ensure that there is a correlation between economic growth and rising living standards for our people. We want to achieve sustainable development of trade and economic ties, open new production lines, support the growth of human capital, and make investments.

As part of our large-scale effort to modernise the country, we are drafting new rules of the game in the economy without glaring monopolies and rampant corruption. Our priority is to support businesses and improve the business climate with a view to providing the utmost protection for the rights of investors, and promoting stability and predictability. We will continue meeting all of our commitments to our traditional partners. Kazakhstan will continue building an inclusive, fair society without social inequality.

I believe that to ensure sustainable development of all countries of the region, it is necessary to determine new horizons of cooperation and create new growth points in our economies. Along with this, we must always remember the very important task of ensuring international and regional security.

In this context, I would like to draw your attention to the following points.

The first task, as I have already mentioned, is to strengthen the capacity of the Eurasian Economic Union. This task remains relevant for us. The aggregate size of the economies of its members exceeds $2 trillion. This is an enormous market with free movement of goods, capital, services and workforce. At any rate, this is what it should be.

Despite the pandemic and geopolitical upheavals, cooperation in the EAEU continues to grow stronger. Last year, its trade reached a record $73 billion, which is a third higher than last year.

Russia has been and remains Kazakhstan’s key economic partner in the EAEU. Last year, our trade went up by almost a third to exceed $24 billion. These are record figures for us. The dynamics remains positive this year as well. Our trade increased by over 12 percent in the first quarter of 2022.

I believe that, considering the new reality, it would be appropriate and useful to develop an innovative trade strategy within the Eurasian Economic Union. Instead of imposing counter-sanctions, which, frankly, are unlikely to be productive, a more proactive and flexible trade policy should be pursued covering the Asian and the Middle Eastern markets. Kazakhstan could be instrumental in its role of a buffer market.

Overall, the ultimate success of Eurasian integration largely, if not massively, depends on our effective common trade strategy. Kazakhstan and Russia can break new ground in industrial cooperation.

We have a special plan, a programme for industrial cooperation in the new circumstances. Investors from Russia will be provided with industrial sites complete with infrastructure, and a favourable investment climate will be created for them. As a matter of fact, this is already being done.

The full unlocking of our countries’ agricultural potential is particularly important in these circumstances. According to the FAO [the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations], Russia and Kazakhstan are global leaders in terms of available agricultural land. This fact is of particular importance in light of declining global food security. According to the UN, the number of malnourished people will go from 270 million to 323 million this year.

Providing people with high-quality and safe food remains a priority and a factor in maintaining internal stability.

To create a reliable food system, it is important to implement innovative solutions and advanced technologies, as well as to cut food losses.

Approaches to ensuring food security should be developed at the national level and within regional associations, including the EAEU with account taken of the interests of all state participants. Achieving declared goals in this extremely important area is unlikely without coordinated work.

In other words, fighting skyrocketing inflation and food shortages is our common challenge, which will remain a priority in the foreseeable future, because it directly concerns the well-being of our people. Our countries’ potential makes it possible to consistently and fully supply our markets with the necessary foods, as the President of Russia convincingly demonstrated today.

Secondly, I believe that it is essential that we continue expanding trade and economic cooperation with third countries. Kazakhstan is proactively involved in integration processes, and has always stood for mutually beneficial cooperation with other international organisations.

As far as I know, there has been much interest on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia’s initiative to build a Greater Eurasian Partnership. This concept consists of offering regional organisations a platform for creating a common space of equal cooperation. It is for this reason that Kazakhstan continues to have a positive outlook on the effort to build the Greater Eurasian Partnership.

This year, Kazakhstan chairs the Commonwealth of Independent States. Over the years, this structure has built up a positive track record despite all the geopolitical challenges, which proves that multilateral dialogue tools are effective.

I believe that the CIS is perfectly suited for serving as a foundation for this megaproject. I am referring to Greater Eurasia, or the Greater Eurasian Partnership. It can encompass the SCO, ASEAN, and the Eurasian Economic Union as its integral elements.

Over the next decade, China, India, as well as countries in the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, which have traditionally been friendly to us, can become major investors in the economies of our region.

China has already emerged as Kazakhstan’s main economic and foreign trade partner. This country invested in our economy more than $22 billion over the past 15 years. For this reason, strengthening our multilateral cooperation with China is a very important goal for our country.

Of course, the economy matters today just as much as political considerations. I believe that we have to promote business-to-business ties and build new transport and logistics corridors. Today, we treat these matters as our top priorities when meeting with people from Russia and other interested nations.

There is a lot of potential for combining our efforts to develop a pool of breakthrough innovation and technology projects, as well as uninterrupted transportation and logistics chains. At the end of the day, this will create new economic growth opportunities for our countries.

Thirdly, Kazakhstan maintains its unwavering commitment to international efforts to combat climate change. We will be consistent in our efforts to promote green investment and carry out corresponding projects. Environmental problems are global in nature, affecting almost all countries without exception, including Kazakhstan.

Last year, our farmers had serious problems due to a draught that was triggered by low rainfall and low water level in rivers. The cross-border Ural River is in critical condition. We call it Zhayyq on our territory.

I believe we should tackle such problems together when faced with such long-term challenges to the sustainable development of our states. I think we should give serious thought to the prospects of introducing the principles of closed-loop or circular economy. We are working to reduce the GDP’s energy-output ratio, expand the renewable energy sector and reduce transit losses in this area.

The similarity of our economies, industrial infrastructure ties between our two countries and geography as such are prompting us to pool efforts in this strategically important area as well. I hope that together we will manage to draft effective approaches and specific measures for tangible progress in this field.

Fourthly. High quality human resources and constructive inter-cultural dialogue are a reliable source of economic growth. As part of the UN-proclaimed International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures, we will continue our policy of preserving the cultural diversity of our country and promoting international dialogue between civilisations.

In September our capital will host yet another congress of world and traditional religions. We welcome the participation of religious figures from Russia in this forum. Practically all of them confirmed their participation.

Kazakhstan is actively reformatting the system of its higher education with the participation of leading foreign universities, including Russian ones. The deepening of international academic ties has special significance for promoting the traditions of bilateral cooperation.

I am convinced that the successful implementation of a number of joint educational and cultural initiatives will allow us to make a tangible contribution to the steady economic advance of our country.

Participants of the forum,

Kazakhstan proceeds from its firm conviction that Eurasia is our common home and that all countries on our continent should closely cooperate in the community. We are confident that the building of a peaceful, stable and economically strong Eurasia will become a major factor of sustainable development and inclusive growth on a global scale.

I am convinced that this prestigious discussion venue that unites top class experts has great potential in searching for constructive ideas aimed at normalising the international situation and recovering the positive dynamics of the world economy.

Thank you for your attention.

Margarita Simonyan: Thank you very much, President Tokayev.

Eurasia is indeed our common home. We all want this home to be safe and prosperous through God’s help and our mutual efforts.

And now we will turn to Africa. We have a video address from President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Can we have it on the screens, please? Thank you.

President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi: In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful,

President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin,

Ladies and gentlemen,

At the outset, allow me to extend to His Excellency, President Vladimir Putin, my sincere congratulations on the silver jubilee of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. Since 1997, when it has been held for the first time, the forum has become a leading platform for the business community and a remarkable economic event that seeks to discuss the key economic issues facing emerging markets and the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Arab Republic of Egypt, as a guest country, will be part of this year’s session of the forum, which marks the 25th anniversary of its launch, thus confirming the distinguished level that Egyptian-Russian economic relations have reached over the recent years.

This year’s forum is being held amid unprecedented political and economic challenges of a strategic nature. We hope that the outcomes of the forum will contribute to finding effective solutions to these challenges in a way that mitigates the impact of the global economic crisis and its negative repercussions on many countries in the world, especially the economies of emerging countries, takes the concerns and interests of all parties into account, and achieves the security and tranquility of peoples.

This would be achieved through long-term political understandings that open the way for the growth of the global economy, especially in the wake of the severe coronavirus pandemic, which has cost our societies many victims and considerable money and resources, thus making us keen to avoid any slowdown in the global economy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me use this opportunity to reiterate that the Arab Republic of Egypt values its firm, historic friendship relations with the Russian Federation, and values the tangible progress the two countries’ relations have been witnessing over the past years in a multitude of vital sectors, for the two countries’ economies and the prosperity of the two peoples.

The Arab Republic of Egypt and the Russian Federation have been engaged over the past years in the implementation of mega and ambitious projects that serve our countries and respond to the aspirations of our peoples to realise more economic progress.

The most prominent of these are: the project for the establishment of the Dabaa nuclear power plant, which comes within the context of the Egyptian State’s strategy to expand national projects for the use of new and renewable sources of energy.

Another project is the establishment of the Russian Industrial Zone in the Economic Zone of the Suez Canal, which is meant to become an important platform for industry in Africa.

This is in addition to cooperation between the two countries to upgrade the Egyptian railway network and other joint ventures that realise the benefit of the two peoples.

Ladies and gentlemen,

You must be aware that the exceptional events that have been taking place in the Arab Republic of Egypt over the past decade had their immense impact on the overall economic situation in the country. The Egyptian people stood up to surmount this crisis by supporting a clear vision, based on investing in the Egyptian citizen and developing his capabilities.

Therefore, Egypt Vision 2030 was launched to reflect the state’s long-term strategic plan to achieve the principles and goals of sustainable development, with its economic, social and environmental dimensions.

Based on this vision, the Government of Egypt has modernised its legislative structure to enable Egypt to attract more foreign investment. This qualified Egypt to become the top destination for attracting foreign investments in Africa and one of the few countries in the world capable of achieving a growth rate of up to 3.3 percent in 2021, despite the negative challenges posed by the spread of COVID-19 and their impact on the global economy. We expect the Egyptian economy to grow by 5.5% during the current fiscal year. The country’s non-petroleum exports also increased during 2021 to reach $32 billion.

Egypt has also succeeded, within the framework of its strategy to increase its capabilities, to implement mega agricultural projects that are aimed at increasing agricultural land by almost 2 million feddans.

This is in addition to the mega projects Egypt is implementing in the fields of transport, by expanding thousands of kilometers of roads and upgrading Egypt’s transport system by introducing new projects. Those include the high-speed rail that will constitute a means to link the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, thus boosting and facilitating international trade.

Adding to this are the mega industrial projects and the numerous projects in the field of clean energy production, which have been established in Egypt at a rapid pace over the past period.

Despite the previously-mentioned national efforts, Egypt’s actions and efforts to achieve progress were hit recently by economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The world was partially recovering from its effects and repercussions, when it was hit again by a great economic crisis that cast a shadow over growth rates and negatively affected states’ budgets, reflecting on the rise of fuel prices and the decline in the value of the national currencies in the face of hard currencies. This is in addition to the disruption in supply chains, the emergence of the food crisis, as well as the irregular movement of civil aviation. This sector is connected with vital fields of the Egyptian economy, primarily tourism and insurance.

Addressing this crisis, which has an international character, requires international efforts and collaboration among all parties in order to get matters back to their normal state, particularly the movement of maritime traffic and the regularity of supply chains, particularly foodstuff, such as grain and vegetable oil.

This also requires working toward restoring calm and stability at the international level, in order to mitigate the impact of this economic crisis on the peoples, who seek peace and development.

I also call on all companies participating in this forum and others to take advantage of this huge opportunity that is provided by investing in Egypt in all fields.

I would not miss, before concluding my speech, thanking the people of Saint Petersburg, this brave city throughout history, which at the same time represents an icon for culture and openness on the outside world.

Finally, I would like, once again, to thank His Excellency, President Vladimir Putin, for his kind invitation for Egypt to participate in this forum as a guest of this round, wishing the forum and the participants all success and blessings and wishing our friendly countries more constructive cooperation, prosperity and progress. We pray God Almighty to spread peace and stability across the world and to spare our peoples the scourge of war and its economic and social impact by giving priority to the language of dialogue, understanding and co-existence.

Thank you.

Margarita Simonyan: We are grateful to the President of Egypt. I think that the people of the host city should be especially pleased to hear his warm words about St Petersburg.

We have just a little time left before the discussion begins. They say anticipation increases desire.

We will now listen to an address by President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.

President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping (retranslated): President Putin, ladies and gentlemen, friends,

I am delighted to have this opportunity to address the plenary session of the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum, which I attended in person three years ago.

In February this year, President Putin visited China and attended the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. We had a detailed exchange of views, following which we reached a vital agreement on expanding our comprehensive practical cooperation and implementing the concept of global governance based on joint consultations, joint participation and joint use.

Cooperation between China and Russia is currently ascending in all spheres. Our bilateral trade reached $65.8 billion over the first five months of this year. We can expect to attain new records by year-end. This is evidence of the high resilience and ingenious potential of Chinese-Russian cooperation.

The world is entering a new period of turbulence and transformation amid the ongoing radical changes and the coronavirus pandemic. There is an obvious trend of anti-globalism, a growing divide between the South and the North, and a weakening of cooperation drivers in the area of development, which could plunge the erratically reviving global economy into a deep recession and create unprecedented challenges to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

According to ancient Chinese words of wisdom, a clever man sees a seed of crisis in every opportunity and an opportunity in every crisis. Danger and opportunity always go together. By overcoming danger, you get opportunity. Strength lies in confidence. The more there are difficulties, the more important it is to remain confident.

During last year’s session of the UN General Assembly, I proposed a Global Development Initiative, which was positively received and supported by a number of international organisations, including the UN, and about a hundred countries.

Today, at a time when the international community is ever more interested in achieving more equitable, sustainable and secure development, we should seize opportunities, meet challenges head-on, and work on the implementation of the Global Development Initiative to build a shared future of peace and prosperity.

First, we need to create conditions for development. It is important that we follow true multilateralism, respect and support all countries’ pursuit of development paths suited to their national conditions, build an open world economy, and increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries in global economic governance with a view to making global development more balanced, coordinated and inclusive.

Second, we need to strengthen development partnerships. It is important that we enhance North-South and South-South cooperation, pool cooperation resources, platforms and networks of development partnerships, and scale up development assistance in order to forge greater synergy for development and close the development gap.

Third, we need to advance economic globalization. It is important that we enhance the coordination of development policies and international rules and standards, reject attempts at separation, supply disruption, unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure, remove trade barriers, keep global industrial and supply chains stable, tackle the worsening food and energy crises, and revive the world economy.

Fourth, we need to pursue innovation-driven development. It is important that we unlock the potential of innovation-driven growth, improve the rules and institutional environment for innovation, break down barriers to the flow of innovation factors, deepen exchanges and cooperation on innovation, facilitate deeper integration of science and technology into the economy, and make sure the fruits of innovation are shared by all.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends,

The fundamentals of the Chinese economy are its strong resilience, enormous potential and long-term sustainability, which remain unchanged. We have full confidence in China’s economic development. China will continue to promote high-quality development, promote openness with firm resolve, and pursue high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

China stands ready to work with Russia and all other countries to explore development prospects, share growth opportunities, and make new contributions to deepening global development cooperation and building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Thank you.

Margarita Simonyan: Thank you, Mr President.

Coming to learn Chinese wisdom and some of Chinese sagacity is always a good thing, especially now that Chinese wisdom might come in useful for the entire world.

Mr President, I would like to show you something that I have brought with me especially. It is juice, and it used to be so nicely coloured. It does not matter what sort of juice it is; you cannot even see the brand here, although it is a popular one. And now – do you see? A small picture and the rest is white. Why is that? And this is happening on a massive scale.

Because we ran out of paint. The producer of paint for such packaging has left Russia, and the producer of the packaging also announced that they are leaving. I bought this two weeks ago, and soon this will disappear. As a result, we will have to pour it into bottles or three-litre glass jars, like it was in my childhood, unless we discover that we do not produce bottles either.

There are conflicting opinions on this. You have touched upon this issue today. Some of the participants – a considerable part, maybe even the majority – came here by Sapsan trains. Some say “We will swap Sapsans for Chinese trains, they are even better,” since Siemens has gone. Others say “We will learn to make them ourselves.” Let me remind you that we launched our own high-speed trains in 1984, I think they were called ER200. I was four years old, did not go to school yet, but we already had high-speed trains – but we do not have them any longer. It is sad, isn’t it?

And there are also people who say that no, we cannot replace all that, we can use Sapsan trains for another couple of years and then we will just give up high-speed railways, which means we will step back from what we got used to. And it is like this with everything: telephones, computers, everything we got used to. This is a very sad, I would even say heartbreaking plan.

Maybe there is a different plan?

Vladimir Putin: Whenever any decisions are taken, the key issues must be to singled out. What is key for us? Being independent, sovereign and ensuring future-oriented development both now and for the future generations? Or having packaging today?

Unless we have sovereignty, we will soon have to buy everything and will only produce oil, gas, hemp fibre, saddles and sell rough logs abroad.

It is inevitable. I have already said so in my speech: only sovereign countries can expect to have a sovereign future. That does not mean, however, that we need to plunge back into a situation of 30, 40 or 50 years ago.

Regarding packaging. I do not think it is such a complicated thing that either our partners from other countries can replace, who will be pleased to occupy this market sooner or later, or we will be able to make ourselves.

Margarita Simonyan: You do not see it, but President Tokayev is nodding his head: they will probably be able to replace it.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: Absolutely, this is not a problem.

Vladimir Putin: Of course, we will able to replace it.

The question is about a totally different matter. We keep talking about import substitution. In my speech here I also said – and I will just add a couple of words so as not to take too much time while answering only one question.

The issue is not about import substitution, the issue is to establish our own capabilities based on progress in education, science and new promising schools of engineering. We will always be given packaging materials and other simple things, event telephones and smartphones. What we have never been given and never will be is critically important technologies. We have never been given them before even though we had problem-free relations with our Western partners in the previous decades. This is the problem.

And when we begin to stand up for our rights, we are immediately slapped with some sanctions and restrictions; this is what the problem is all about. Therefore, we must commit ourselves to that and have the capacity to reproduce critically important technologies on the basis of what I mentioned. And with that base we will always be able to manufacture the goods you mentioned: packaging materials, telephones and smartphones. If we realise that and keep focusing on solving fundamental issues, we will resolve everything else without a problem.

Let me reiterate: others are already coming to that place – those who produce the packaging materials, those who produce the paints. We are also starting to produce paints and other consumer goods as well as goods employed in industry in a broader sense. We can make anything – I have absolutely no doubt about that.

Obviously, some things will be lost, other things will be made on a new basis, much more advanced – the way it happened earlier. Therefore, when we talk about import substitution, we will substitute something while other things will have to be done on a totally new promising basis of our own making.

Margarita Simonyan: Thank you. President Tokayev, would you like to add anything?

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: I think everything is clear here, and judging by President Putin’s extremely interesting speech, we can understand that he is thinking in the categories of historical perspective, so to say.

Margarita Simonyan: As always.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev: And juice packaging has no place here.

Indeed, it is a small problem, nature abhors a vacuum: others will come who will be producing juice packaging that is just as good, and local producers will appear.

The issue is about something else. In particular, I said in my speech about the importance of Eurasian cooperation, about the importance of uniting efforts to resolve unexpected problems. I think we will arrive at the result we are seeking on this road.

To be continued.

The World Doesn’t Work That Way Anymore

June 6, 2022

Alastair Crooke

The fixation with Ukraine essentially is but a gloss pasted over the realities of a global order in decomposition.

The First World War signalled the end to a mercantilist order that had evolved under the aegis of European powers. One hundred years later, a very different economic order was in place (neoliberal cosmopolitanism). Believed by its architects to be universal and everlasting, globalisation transfixed the world for an extended moment, but then started the subsidence from its zenith – precisely at the moment the West was giving vent to its triumphalism at the fall of the Berlin Wall. NATO – as the order’s regulatory system – addressed its attendant ‘identity crisis’ by pushing for eastward expansion toward Russia’s western borders, disregarding the guarantees it had given, and Moscow’s virulent objections.

This radical alienation of Russia triggered its pivot to China. Europe and the U.S. however, declined to consider issues of due ‘balance’ within global structures, and simply glossed over the realities of a world order in momentous metamorphosis: with the steady decline of the U.S. already apparent; with a European faux ‘unity’ that masked its own inherent imbalances; and in the context of a hyper-financialised economic structure which lethally sucked out the juice from the real economy.

The present war in Ukraine therefore simply is an adjunct – the accelerant to this existing process of ‘liberal order’ decomposition. It is not its centre. Fundamentally geo-strategic in their origin, the explosive dynamics to today’s disintegration can be seen as blowback from the mismatch from diverse peoples’ looking now to solutions tailored to suit their non-western civilisations, and from the western insistence on its ‘one size fits all’ Order. Ukraine thus is a symptom, but is not per se, the deeper disorder itself.

Tom Luongo has remarked – in connection with the ‘messy’, confusing events of today – that that which he fears most, is so many people analysing the intersection of geopolitics, markets and ideology, and doing so with such striking complacency. “There is a stunning amount of normalcy bias in the punditocracy, too much ‘cooler heads will prevail’ and not enough ‘everyone’s got a plan until they’re punched in the mouth’”.

What Luongo’s retort doesn’t fully explain is the shrillness, the outrage, with which any doubting of the accredited ‘punditocracy’ of the moment is met. Plainly, there is a deeper fear stalking the lower depths of western psyche that is not being made fully explicit.

Wolfgang Münchau, formerly at the Financial Times, now authoring EuroIntelligence, describes how such a canonised Zeitgeist implicitly has imprisoned Europe in a cage of adverse dynamics which threaten its economy, its autonomy, its globalism and its being.

Münchau relates how both the pandemic and Ukraine had taught him that it was one thing to proclaim an interconnected globalism ‘as cliché’, but “It is quite another to observe what actually happens on the ground when those connections get torn apart … Western sanctions were based on a formally correct, but misleading premise – one that I believed myself – at least up to a point: That Russia is more dependent on us than we are on Russia … Russia however is a provider of primary and secondary commodities, on which the world has become dependent. But when the largest exporter of those commodities disappears, the rest of the world experiences physical shortages and rising prices”. He continues:

“Did we think this through? Did the foreign ministries that drew up the sanctions discuss at any point what we would do if Russia were to blockade the Black Sea and not allow Ukrainian wheat to leave the ports?… Or, did we think we can adequately address a global starvation crisis by pointing the finger at Putin”?

“The lockdown taught us a lot about our vulnerability to supply chain shocks. It has reminded Europeans that there have only two routes to ship goods en masse to Asia and back: either by container, or by rail through Russia. We had no plan for a pandemic, no plan for a war, and no plan for when both are happening at the same time. The containers are stuck in Shanghai. The railways closed because of the war …

“I am not sure the west is ready to confront the consequences of its actions: persistent inflation, reduced industrial output, lower growth, and higher unemployment. To me, economic sanctions look like the last hurrah of a dysfunctional concept known as The West. The Ukraine war is a catalyst of massive de-globalisation”.

Münchau’s response is that unless we cut a deal with Putin, with the removal of sanctions as a component, he sees “a danger of the world becoming subject to two trading blocs: the west and the rest. Supply chains will be reorganised to stay within them. Russia’s energy, wheat, metals, and rare earths will still be consumed, but not here – We [just] keep with the Big Macs”.

So again, ‘one’ searches for an answer: Why are the Euro-élites so shrill, so passionate in their support for Ukraine? And risk heart-attack from the sheer vehemence of their hatred for Putin? After all, most Europeans and Americans until this year knew next-to-nought about Ukraine.

We know the answer: the deeper fear is that all the landmarks to liberal life – for reasons they do not understand – are about to be forever swept away. And that Putin is doing it. How will ‘we’ navigate life, bereft of landmarks? What will become of us? We thought the liberal way-of-being was ineluctable. Another value-system? Impossible!

So, for Europeans, the endgame in Ukraine crucially must reaffirm European self-identity (even at the cost of its citizens’ economic well-being). Such wars historically, mostly have ended with a dirty diplomatic settlement. That ‘end’ probably would be enough for the EU leadership to spin a ‘win’.

And there was a big EU diplomatic drive to persuade Putin to do a deal, only last week.

But (paraphrasing and elaborating Münchau), it is one thing to proclaim the desirability of a negotiated ceasefire ‘as cliché’. “It is quite another to observe what actually happens on the ground when blood is being spilled to put facts on the ground …”.

Western diplomatic initiatives are premised on Russia needing a ‘way out’, more than does Europe need one. But is that true?

Paraphrasing Münchau again: “Did we think this through? Did the foreign ministries that drew up the plans to train and arm a Ukrainian insurgency in Donbas in the hope of weakening Russia – discuss at any point what effect their war and their expressed contempt for Russia might have on Russian public opinion? Or what ‘we’ would do if Russia simply opted instead to put facts on the ground until it finished its project … Or did we even address the possibility of Kiev losing, and what that would mean for a Europe loaded to the gills with sanctions that then would never end?”.

The hope for a negotiated settlement has given way to a more sombre mood in Europe. Putin was uncompromising in the talks with European leaders. The realisation is dawning in Paris and Berlin that a fudged settlement is not something that benefits Putin, nor is one that he can afford. The Russian public mood will not easily accept that its soldiers’ blood was spent in some vain exercise, ending in a ‘dirty’ compromise – only to have the West resuscitate a new Ukraine insurgency against the Donbas again, in a year or two.

The EU leaders must be sensing their predicament: They may have ‘missed the boat’ for getting a political ‘fix’. But they have not ‘missed the boat’ in respect to inflation, economic contraction, and of social crisis at home. These ships are heading in their direction, at full steam. Did the EU foreign ministries reflect on this eventuality, or were they carried along by euphoria and the credentialed narrative issuing out from the Baltics and Poland of ‘Bad Man Putin’?

Here is the point: The fixation with Ukraine essentially is but a gloss pasted over the realities of a global order in decomposition. The latter is the source of the wider disorder. Ukraine is but one small piece on the chess board, and its outcome will not fundamentally change that ‘reality’. Even a ‘win’ in Ukraine would not grant ‘immortality’ to the neoliberal rules-based order.

The noxious fumes emanating from the global financial system are wholly unconnected to Ukraine – but are that much more significant for they go to the heart of the ‘disorder’ within the western ‘liberal order’. Perhaps it is this primordial unspoken fear that accounts for the shrillness and rancour directed at any deviation from sanctioned Ukraine messaging?

And Luongo’s normalcy bias in discourse is never more in evidence (Ukraine aside), than when addressing the strange self-selectivity of Anglo-American thinking about their neoliberal economic order.

The Anglo-American system of politics and economics, James Fallows a former White House speechwriter has noted, like any system, rests on certain principles and beliefs. “But rather than acting as if these are the best principles, or the ones their societies prefer, Britons and Americans often act as if these were the only possible principles: And that no one, except in error, could choose any others. Political economics becomes an essentially religious question, subject to the standard drawback of any religion—the failure to understand why people outside the faith might act as they do”.

“To make this more specific: Today’s Anglo-American world view rests on the shoulders of three men. One is Isaac Newton, the father of modern science. One is Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the father of liberal political theory. (If we want to keep this purely Anglo-American, John Locke can serve in his place.) And one is Adam Smith, the father of laissez-faire economics.

“From these founding titans come the principles by which advanced society, in the Anglo-American view, is supposed to work … And it is supposed to recognize that the most prosperous future for the greatest number of people comes from the free workings of the market.

“In the non-Anglophone world, Adam Smith is merely one of several theorists who had important ideas about organizing economies. The Enlightenment philosophers however were not the only ones to think about how the world should be organized. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Germans were also active—to say nothing of the theorists at work in Tokugawa Japan, late imperial China, czarist Russia, and elsewhere.

“The Germans deserve emphasis—more than the Japanese, the Chinese, the Russians, and so on because many of their philosophies endure. These did not take root in England or America, but they were carefully studied, adapted, and applied in parts of Europe and Asia, notably Japan. In place of Rousseau and Locke the Germans offered Hegel. In place of Adam Smith… they had Friedrich List.”

The Anglo-American approach is founded on the hypothesis of the sheer unpredictability and unplannability of economics. Technologies change; tastes change; political and human circumstances change. And because life is so fluid, this means that any attempts at central planning are virtually doomed to fail. The best way to “plan” therefore, is to leave the adaptation to the people who have their own money at stake. If each individual does what is best for him or her, the result will be – serendipitously – what is best for the nation as a whole.

Although List did not use this term, the German school was sceptical about serendipity, and more concerned with ‘market failures’. These are the cases in which normal market forces produce a clearly undesirable result. List argued that societies did not automatically move from farming to small crafts to major industries just because millions of small merchants were making decisions for themselves. If every person put his money where the return was greatest, the money might not automatically go where it would do the nation the most good.

For it to do so required a plan, a push, an exercise of central power. List drew heavily on the history of his times—in which the British government deliberately encouraged British manufacturing and the fledgling American government deliberately discouraged foreign competitors.

The Anglo-American approach assumes that the ultimate measure of a society is its level of consumption. In the long run, List argued, a society’s well-being and its overall wealth are determined not by what the society can buy, but by what it can make (i.e. value coming from the real, self-sufficient economy). The German school argued that emphasizing consumption would eventually be self-defeating. It would bias the system away from wealth creation, and ultimately make it impossible to consume as much, or to employ so many.

List was prescient. He was right. This is the flaw now so clearly exposed in the Anglo model. One aggravated by subsequent massive financialisation that has led to a structure dominated by an ephemeral, derivative super-sphere that drained the West of its wealth-creating real economy, couriering its remains and its supply-lines ‘offshore’. Self-reliance has eroded, and the shrinking base of wealth creation supports an ever-smaller proportion of the population in adequately paid employment.

It is no longer ‘fit for purpose’ and is in crisis. That is widely understood at the upper reaches of the system. To acknowledge this however, would seem to go against the past two centuries of economics, narrated as one long progression toward Anglo-Saxon rationality and good sense. It lies at the root of the Anglo ‘story’.

Yet, financial crisis might upend that story entirely.

How so? Well, the liberal order rests on three pillars – on three interlocking, co-constituting pillars: Newton’s ‘laws’ were projected to lend the Anglo economic model its (dubious) claim to being founded in hard empirical laws – as if it were physics. Rousseau, Locke, and their followers elevated individualism as a political principle, and from Smith came the logic-core to the Anglo-American system: If each individual does what is best for him or her, the result will be what is best for the nation as a whole.

The most important thing about these pillars is their moral equivalence, as well as their interlocking connection. Knock out one pillar as invalid, and the whole edifice known as ‘European values’ comes adrift. Only through being locked together does it possess coherency.

And the unspoken fear amongst these western élites is that during this extended period of Anglo supremacy… there has always been an alternative school of thought to theirs. List was not concerned with the morality of consumption. Instead, he was interested in both strategic and material well-being. In strategic terms, nations ended up being dependent or sovereign according to their ability to make things for themselves.

And last week Putin told Scholtz and Macron that the crises (including food shortages) that they faced, stemmed from their own erroneous economic structures and policies. Putin might have quoted List’s amorphism:

The tree which bears the fruit is of greater value than the fruit itself… The prosperity of a nation is not… greater in the proportion in which it has amassed more wealth (i.e., values of exchange), but in the proportion in which it has more developed its powers of production.

Messrs Scholtz and Macron probably did not like the message one bit. They can see the pivot being yanked out from western neoliberal hegemony.

Imam Khamenei: Imam Khomeini Helps Young Generation Find Its Way

June 4, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

Leader of the Islamic Revolution His Eminence Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei delivered a speech on the occasion of 33rd demise anniversary of founder of the Islamic Revolution Imam Khomeini [RA].

Every year, a commemoration ceremony is held in Imam Khomeini’s Mausoleum in southern Tehran province with the participation of Imam Khamenei, senior state and military officials as well as thousands of people from different walks of life.

This year’s ceremony is held at the Mausoleum after a two-year break due to the restrictions caused by coronavirus.

At the beginning of his speech, Imam Khamenei greeted all brothers and sisters taking part in the commemoration held in Tehran and some 900 other Iranian cities.

“Imam Khomeini is the soul of the Islamic Republic,” Imam Khamenei stressed, noting that the young generation has to know Imam Khomeini well as he can show them the best way how to rule the country in the future.

“Imam Khomeini led the greatest revolution in the history of revolutions,” Imam Khamenei said.

His Eminence also touched upon the most famous revolutions in the world such as the French and Russian revolutions and noted that after those two big revolutions, the most brutal tyrannical regimes ruled France and USSR which killed too many of their people.

However, Imam Khamenei said, Imam Khomeini led a revolution that turned the tyrannical regime of Shah to an Islamic Republic which is based on people’s votes.

The Leader went on to point out that Imam Khomeini introduced spirituality and morality to governance and said that the Imam separated the Islamic Republic from the capitalist-based liberal democracy and dictatorial-centered communism, and proposed a new model with the Islamic Republic.

Imam Khamenei said in the Islamic Republic that Imam Khomeini founded, both religion and people’s votes, both economic justice and people’s free economic activities are taken into account.

“We will strengthen the country’s knowledge and economy, as well as the defense and security of the country. Both national unity and integration must be observed, while the diversity of different views and tendencies are respected,” His Eminence underlined.

“We neither oppress nor we accept oppression,” Imam Khamenei underscored.

As Imam Khamenei emphasized that Imam Khomeini derived his thoughts from the Islamic teachings and proposed a modern and noble model of the Islamic Republic, he told people and officials that whenever they rely on their will they are going to achieve victory, and whenever they become lazy then they will fail.

“Imam Khomeini combined interest and knowledge together; he was knowledgeable and a brave man, and he was honest with his God and the people alike,” Imam Khamenei said.

Imam Khomeini used to pay attention to time, was confident in Allah and a believer in the divine promise; the infrastructure in all of the late Imam’s activities was worshipping Allah, and the aim behind worshipping Allah is spreading righteousness and justice, Imam Khamenei noted, underlining that Imam Khomeini was observing such characteristics.

“Imam Khomeini’s movement was significant on the level of being frank, outspoken, and permanently addressing the people; one of the Imam’s prominent features was trusting the people since day one,” His Eminence stressed.

Imam Khomeini led the people to the fields, took them out of despair, and in certain phases taught the people what the arenas of struggle are, Sayyed Ali Khamenei added.

He also hailed the people who didn’t abandon the Islamic Revolution, which was achieved in the Islamic Republic, in which they supported it in a general referendum.

The late Imam Khomeini -Founder of the Islamic Republic and Father of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran- passed away 33 years ago at the age of 86.

Imam Khomeini, who steered the popular uprising in Iran culminating in the fall of former regime of Shah, passed away on June 3, 1989.

He is known as one of the most influential leaders who inspired many other revolutions all across the world.

According to state-run IRNA News Agency, the occasion is marked on the 14th day of Khordad, the third month of the Iranian calendar year, and was set to be commemorated in 900 Iranian cities.

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Growing up Yellow Vest: Seeing French elites, not French people, conquered by neoliberalism

May 08, 2022

Source

By Ramin Mazaheri

World War II saw massive political gains by the lower classes and average person, but only via their own mass-murder. Many socio-economic demands which go back to 1789 and which animated the Revolutions of 1848 were put in place, finally.

(This is the ninth chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

The three biggest changes were that socialism was now firmly implanted on the global scene, women got the right to vote in France in 1944 and that the Western Liberal Democratic elite were discredited worse than ever.

That forced Western elite, who were now allying with fascists to forestall further socialist and anti-imperialist victories, to make political and economic concessions which they had resisted for a century. These subsequent 30 years – from 1945 to 1975 – are known as the “30 Glorious Years” in French history. During this period a broad economic stability was founded upon the stability, productivity, joy and long-sightedness which can only be provided by worker rights and influence, and by socialist-inspired levers and organisations.

The brief era of “Social Democracy” was officially terminated by the introduction of the euro (1999) and then the European Union (2009). EU citizenship was introduced in 1992 but its official installation was not until 2009, with the elite-only ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, which amended the constitutional basis of the EU, the Maastricht Treaty (1992) and the Treaty of Rome (1957). The Yellow Vests would be the flaming leftist economic and political reaction to this political-economic regression away from Social Democracy. The introduction of this version the pan-European project was a major regression in the threat of modern political history: to reduce the autocratic rights of elite and to increase the empowerment of the average person.

Sadly, it was only 30 years – one generation – before the autocratic and oligarchical elite began to retake power. When they do this effort is called “neoliberalism”, even though the first “neoliberalism” was with the start of 3rd Republic (1871-1940), which restored the immediately discredited and popularly rejected Liberalism of the 2nd Republic (1848-52). The goal of today’s “3rd-liberalism” is to end the Social Democracy era and to redistribute its gains back to the Liberalist 1%.

This book ignores the upheaval of 1968 in France – when a General Strike attracted 8 million workers in a country of 50 million people – for this reason: This is a book is about political changes, and the rebellion of 1968 only produced cultural changes. It was indeed a cultural revolution, but because it was not state-sponsored, as in China, where cultural changes were embraced by leaders like Mao Zedong, the Western Liberal Democratic elite successfully broke any chance of fully democratising from Social Democracy to Socialist Democracy. There’s no denying that this era’s cultural revolution (note the lower case) won advances in everyday culture but that is not the same as formal political-economic changes.

The political failures/cultural gains of this era would eventually reveal the continued rightward shift within the elite of the French left, and this can be illustrated by the path of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the most prominent of the student leaders in 1968. In his memoirs he wrote that he was not seeking Marxist-inspired equality but simply more control over his personal life. These freedom of expression types of changes can perhaps be encapsulated in the freedom of students to now question their teachers in class. Cohn-Bendit would quit the Trotskyists, switched to the Green Party, became a devoted Europhile, reject the Yellow Vests and is now a close advisor to Emmanuel Macron – it’s an incredibly representative political trajectory of this era. Ecology is a subject completely neutered of class politics (even though the idea of a capitalist/competitive solution to ecological issues, and not socialist/cooperative solution, is an obvious absurdity) and thus is the political outlet most encouraged by contemporary Western Liberal Democratic elite.

However, we should note that for many decades already French socialism was primarily intellectual, and dominated by right-wing socialists: “Before the war of 1914-1918 only 20% of socialist deputies were workers while they had been 80% of the German socialist party (SPD), and they represented the totality of the English Labor party. The socialism of Jaures and Blum is, when it comes to leaders, a socialism of intellectuals and liberal professions,” wrote Romaric Godin in La guerre sociale en France (The Social War in France – 2019). Jean Jaures and Leon Blum were the right-leaning socialist leaders of their respective generations. Jaures is notable in that both Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy both claimed to be continuing his legacy. Also notable is that whether worker or intellectual – 20th century West European socialists failed.

Between the USSR’s fall (1991) and China’s rise (starting in 2008) the French left’s economic ideology was in disunity and disarray at best and total betrayal at worst. Many also went whole-hog over to neo-imperialist culture, espousing right-wing “universal values” and embracing neo-colonial wars in the former Yugoslavia and the Muslim world.

The change began in 1974 with the death in office of President George Pompidou, Charles de Gaulle’s successor in the 5th Republic (1958-today), just a month before the presidential vote.

Neoliberalism starts to win over elites from Paris to Moscow, but the French keep protesting

Pompidou’s death effectively ended Gaullism, which had helped win World War II, presided over the “30 Glorious Years” and insisted on French sovereignty. The closet election in French history saw the victory of the aristocrat Valerie Giscard d’Estaing, a politician who was thus extremely familiar but also a new breed: Giscard d’Estaing was liberal on social issues, rejected Gaullist Euroscepticism and was extremely close with high finance – he served as Minister of Finance twice. We see how the “Bankocracy” has gone from not existing in 1789 France to running the executive branch. He marks the start of the third restoration of extremist Liberalist thought.

Liberals had been waiting decades to restore firm control, and they salivated at the prospect of dividing up the spoils created by the 30 Glorious Years. Using the excuse of inflation cased by a rise in oil prices in 1973, free competition was reimposed after decades of abandonment, austerity was imposed for the first time, salaries were frozen, compulsory salary taxes soared ten points to nearly 30% and the despised CDD work contract was created. (The despised contrat à durée déterminée is a temporary employment contract which renders life in France extremely difficult and unstable. It’s usual length is one month and then it is renewed endlessly, without ever becoming a long-term contract. As the French do not have hourly wages, the CDD can perhaps be thought of as “part-time work”.) Seigniorial dues and tithes were not restored.

It would not be until 2016 that a team of economists at the International Monetary Fund would release a paper which admits that austerity doesn’t work. The economic massacring of the lower and middle class which is austerity would be the reason for the upcoming years recession, although the mainstream history is that it was entirely due to the rise in oil prices.

France was not alone in its first steps towards the restoration of Liberalism. The United States responded to energy inflation with the “Volcker Shock” in March 1980: a huge rise in interest rates which gutted the average person’s primary asset class – the housing market. The UK and Germany turned to wage suppression. It’s vital to note that the same elite capture was also occurring in the USSR. By Christmas 1991 it would be imploded from the top: their elite infamously ignored a high-turnout referendum in March in which 80% of the nation voted to preserve the USSR.

Unsurprisingly, the French voter rebelled: Giscard d’Estaing was voted out in 1981. A socialist-communist backing of Francois Mitterrand’s economic platform – the most socialist economic plan ever promoted in the non-Eastern Bloc Europe – was a repeat of 1936. However, by 1983 he infamously made his U-turn back to austerity (more on this shortly) – French elites had fully accepted the terms of Liberalism.

Yellow Vest: “I worked from the age of 14 until the age of 60, and in my entire life I accepted only 1 month of unemployment insurance. And yet, in the last 4 years I have seen my pension lowered from 1,150 euros to 1,050 euros. My rent is 800 euros a month, so I cannot afford to live, and I will never accept this injustice.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

By 1986 French neoliberalism was in full swing: the abolishment of price controls, the end of controls on exchange rates and the deregulation of financial markets in order to do what modern Western financial markets do – divert the wealth produced by people who actually work into the bank accounts of the 1%. Mass de-nationalisations began: General Electric Company, Suez, Paribas and Société Générale (banks), Saint-Gobain and Matra (industrial giants).

The average Frenchman would not accept the death of Social Democracy as complacently as in the rest of the West, and that fact is certainly in keeping with the line of West European history since 1789 – the Yellow Vests only confirm this line further. The French responded to the restoration of Liberalism over socialist-inspired ideas with massive, broadly-encompassing and successful social movements: protests against proposed university reforms in 1986 and rail reforms in 1987. The “Touche pas à mon pote” (Don’t touch my buddy) movement marked the introduction of French Muslims into French political movements.

Godin, who is also the economics reporter for France’s top media, Mediapart, wrote: “The error of (then prime minister) Jacques Chirac in 1986 was to think that he could force through a new culture which could sweep away the past, as Margaret Thatcher did across the Channel. However, the French showed their capacity to resist the complete destruction of their social model.”

In France from 1986 until 1995 efforts at restoring liberalism were stopped by massive social movements: against worse work contracts in 1994, retirement and social security cutbacks in 1995. The 1995 General Strike was the largest since 1968, and the political introduction for a new generation. Starting in 1992, the excuse of the need to “qualify” for the euro currency – and thus right-wing rollbacks were needed – was unconvincing to the average Frenchman as well.

From 1995-2007 the attempts at major neoliberal reforms were less ambitious and, crucially, began to offer some monetary redistribution efforts as compensation for right-wing deforms. This is partially explained by the inflation which immediately followed the introduction of the euro in 1999. The reforms of 1994 would fail again in 2006 when they were attempted to be rammed through, due to more protests.

But by 2002 the leftist voter had partially revolted against the traitorous French left – the National Front made it to the 2nd round at the expense of the ever-more un-socialist Socialist Party. The far-right party – totally neoliberal in economics – was led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, a former intelligence officer in Algeria. Like with Cavaignac in 1848, once again Algerian colonisation has provided the entry point for the most extreme-right and anti-socialist elements in French domestic politics.

The National Front’s advancement to the runoff was precisely due to the left’s now two decade-long embrace of neoliberalism despite the rejection of neoliberalism by its constituents. The French mainstream media like to blame Mitterrand’s party-gerrymandering, but that’s a distant secondary reality from the fact that voters opposed this third return of liberalism. However, unlike in 1852 there was no Bonapartism to send Liberalists packing, and unlike in 1945 liberalists had not yet had a long-running economic crisis deep enough and/or war to fully discredit them.

The 2005 French European Constitution referendum was essentially a referendum on neoliberalism, and it lost by a 55-45% margin. The majority of the French Socialist Party would vote yes, and that effort would be led by future president Francois Hollande. Three days later the Netherlands would also vote no, by a 62-38% margin. Aghast, Western Liberal Democrats decided that this would essentially be the end of putting the concept of the European Union to popular votes.

Yellow Vest: “The government doesn’t listen to us at all. The economic situation keeps getting worse, the prices are rising, and the government’s response is to attack the Yellow Vests to keep us from telling the truth.”

In May of 2007 neoliberalism made a huge inroad in France with the election of Nicolas “l’Américain” Sarkozy, the son of a Hungarian nobleman. Sarkozy was the first French politician since World War II to break totally with even lip service to being an anti-monarchist in style and ideology. Giscard d’Estaing at least made regular and often poorly-received efforts to shed his aristocratic pretensions and appear close with the average person. The pernicious influence of monarchy was still grasped in France then, but the new millennium has seen Western culture re-cultivate the idea that greed is good and that the aristocracy are our betters.

Sarkozy would make France the first major European power to approve the new Lisbon Treaty, which put the installation of the European Union into the hands of the elite: the Maastricht Treaty was reformed to allow the installation of the EU via the approval of national parliaments and not popular referendums. French Socialist MPs overwhelmingly voted in favor of this coup in plain sight.

The method (oligarchical approval) and context (an economic collapse unseen since 1929) of the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty cannot be stressed enough, as it unmistakably reveals that in the history of Western Liberal Democracy the installation of EU was the latest in a never-ending line of autocratic decisions by their oligarchical elites. Again, by understanding modern political history (which began in 1789) as a move away from autocracy and towards democracy we see how the EU is a regression and not a progression.

Only Ireland was able to achieve a popular referendum on the Lisbon Treaty: when the first vote produced a rejection a re-vote was forced the following year, when it passed. Every other member approved the installation by a vote in their national parliaments, as well as six royal assents.

This is a precise repeat of when the parliamentarians of the French 2nd Republic, the continent’s first Western Liberal Democracy, committed coups against the people via voting to submit the 1848 Constitution to the majority approval of parliament, and then to gut the primary advance of the 1848 Revolution, universal male suffrage. The populist reaction then was the democratic approval of the re-installation of Bonapartism in 1852, with Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, who restored universal suffrage and ended the disastrous first foray of Western Liberal Democracy.

The vast majority of nations would ratify the Lisbon Treaty between February and July of 2008, a disastrous year. The collapse of Lehman Brothers investment firm that September is the official start of the Great Recession, but the US Federal Reserve held its first emergency weekend meeting in 30 years back in March, to negotiate the shocking collapse of the Bear Stearns investment group. Thus, it’s not as if European elite weren’t aware of major issues brewing. Four countries, including Germany, would not fully ratify the treaty until after the fall of Lehman Brothers. We can certainly call it an amazing coincidence: how the elite Liberalist politicians successfully forced through the European Union mere weeks before economic collapse struck?

The Treaty would be fully ratified in November 2009 amid mass bankruptcy, home foreclosures, unemployment and that slogan which is the essence of British conservatism: “Keep calm and carry on”. The pan-European project was now complete and – as we’ll see – largely unchangeable. The European Union thus joined only Saudi Arabia, Israel, San Marino and the UK Commonwealth as having citizenry but no constitution.

The European Union thus was born amid the Great Recession – it has never been willing or able to end it.

The next chapter will deal with three related events – the Great Recession, the European Sovereign Debt Crisis and the Age of Austerity – which left the French populace too skeptical, resentful and experienced to allow the extremist Liberalist policies and autocratic personality of Emmanuel Macron to go uncommented upon, as he apparently had assumed.

This chapter has thus far shown how the French people, but not the elites, successfully fought the 3rd restoration of liberalism which so many other countries embraced even before the implosion of the Soviet Union. We should now turn to these new Liberalist structures.

I should note that in this era of Socialist Democratic collapse the last great progressive revolution of our contemporary times – the Iranian Islamic Revolution – victoriously emerged from the ashes of the Western-imposed Iran-Iraq War in 1988. They found very few sympathisers to the socialist-inspired country it had just forged, and then 9/11 would create not just skepticism but violent animosity towards seemingly all things Islamic.

The European Union – capitalist cartel or France’s idea of a progressive & united continent?

Yes, it’s pathetically easy to dismiss any discussion of the European Union as being merely an extension of aristocratic autocracy: since 1992 there have been eight national referendums which rejected key aspects of the European Union only to be either ignored or subverted by oligarchical elites. Nonetheless, if we insist (rightly) that another version of the pan-European project is possible then we need to see how France has repeatedly proposed an alternative vision of a united Europe, and one which wouldn’t have been embraced by the liberalists of 1848 or 1871.

Just as Lenin saw that the principal feature of modern capitalism is monopoly, so the EU began in 1951 as an undemocratic cartel to fix prices for coal and steel. The European Coal and Steel Community also included a multinational bureaucracy which was empowered to ignore national parliaments and laws.

Was the EU always intended to be just a capitalist cartel? It’s possible, but we cannot completely ignore France’s historical trend since 1789, which is to be more often than not at the progressive forefront of the West.

In the WWII postwar reckoning France was excluded: de Gaulle was famously not invited to the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Thus, France immediately saw that the US and UK liberalists were only dealing with the head of Western leftism since 1917, the USSR. After the Labor Party defeated Winston Churchill in July 1945, just two months after the defeat of the Germans, the rabidly anti-socialist US called off the in-progress plan to de-industrialise Germany and instead tapped West Germany for their imperial collaborators in Europe. That is why Germany is the industrial powerhouse of Europe today even though they provoked and lost WWII: Western Liberal Democracy’s alliance with postwar fascists couldn’t be more clear. This was a crucial historical decision which laid the foundation for German domination of the Eurozone and EU today. Many would add that it is a US domination of the Eurozone and EU, and via their longtime dependant in Germany.

By the 1960s French elites were well aware that they could not compete industrially with America’s creation of a German Frankenstein, so in their conception of a pan-European project they wanted to join with – not conquer – Germany. In some ways this is a continuation of the Franco-German elite alliance in 1871, but there is a very different factor this time: the imperialist United States.

Historically, no country’s elite has pushed harder for European unification than France, and that’s because the European Union was seen by many French elite as something which could serve as a Franco-German bulwark against imperial domination – that of the United States. The idea of total French enmity with Germany since 1871 is a short-term view – the two neighbors share a tremendous number of cultural similarities, values, multiple regions and several millions of Franco-German citizens in Alsace, Lorraine and in Alpine regions. France uniquely combines both the cultures of Latin/Mediterranean Europe and Northern Europe, after all. Some further add that France is a Latin country but run by a Northern elite. European unification was seen by many in Paris as an effort to preserve the sovereignty of both nations and to create a counterbalance to the obviously domineering US. In this way we can say that the European Union was the latest in two centuries of effort by France to unite Europe in a more progressive way – the problem is the awful, undemocratic structures which this version of a pan-European project would ultimately adopt.

The foundational Élysée Treaty of friendship between France and Germany, signed in 1963, was a clear attempt to separate West Germany from the Anglosphere. The US was livid at France’s attempt at undermining the US-imposed postwar order: “I can hardly overestimate the shock produced in Washington by this action or the speculation that followed, particularly in the intelligence community,” said top US diplomat and banker George Ball.

The French understood that the 1944 Bretton Woods monetary system (when accounts began being regularly settled not in gold but in dollars) was not meant as a balanced system of international trade and financial flows but as an instrument of US domination via the dollar. Europe’s participation meant it supported American living standards and subsidised American companies. That the US could print unlimited dollars for unlimited imports was famously deemed an “exorbitant privilege” by France, but postwar France could do nothing about it until 1965.

The US deficit exploded in the mid-1960s, mostly due to their imperialist wars in East Asia. France and de Gaulle openly demanded a reform of the Bretton Woods system, a return to the gold standard and began repatriating French gold from New York City banks. “Perhaps never before had a chief of state launched such an open assault on the monetary power of a friendly nation,” wrote Time magazine in February 1965. In 1967 France was the first to withdraw from the West’s London Gold Pool, hastily constructed in 1961 to defend Bretton Woods. Unlike the UK and Germany, France was not always so subservient to the United States.

The truth which financial media never wants to tell is that France had a genuine commitment to a pan-Europeanism guided by a mixed socialist/pro-growth/not-rabidly-capitalist economic plan. This mirrors France’s own postwar “Mixed Economy” model, in which the state gives short- and long-term targets for industry to meet, and aids them to achieve it. There’s planning and state ownership – not at the level of a communist state but enough to enrage liberalists. There is also a commitment to a social safety net because endless austerity is simply not sustainable if French elite wish to avoid further revolutions. France’s Mixed Economy is also not at the level of Japan, where the state’s role was much larger (until the Plaza Accord of 1985, signed by Japan, the US, France, West Germany and the UK), and where economic success was spectacularly greater.

France’s contemporary effort to fight far-right economics and austerity did not begin with Francois Hollande’s 2012 election campaign campaign but began three decades earlier. So why did Mitterrand’s anti-3rd liberalist “Common Project” culminate in a U-turn in in 1983? Of course, just like in 1936, 1871 or 1848 the primary reason is that Western Liberal Democracy is an oligarchy which refuses to listen to the majority will of the people (as in a normal democracy). But in 1983 the power of a completely united globalist rich class – one undivided by royalist squabbles or support for the national sovereignty proposed in fascism – could be wielded as one. This same tool – the “Bankocracy” of international high finance – would also be used to provoke the 2012 European Sovereign Debt Crisis.

Despite a huge democratic mandate to end Giscard d’Estaing’s austerity and restore growth polices, France was immediately foiled by high finance and currency speculators. Capital flight from France to Germany immediately took place and long-term borrowing rates (10-year bond) went from 9.6% in March 1979 all the way to 17.3% in May 1981, when Mitterrand was elected. Government bonds, as Marx foresaw, are the indispensable lifeblood of the biggest economic actor in any capitalist country: the government. After devaluing the franc three times Mitterrand was forced into submission. He made his U-turn and by March 1986 10-year bonds were at 9.3%.

Yellow Vest: “The British have shown us that it is possible to obtain a referendum on leaving the European Union. However, the French media refuses to ever discuss the issue at all, but many in France will not stop demanding a Frexit.”

What happened was that Germany and the Bundesbank, knowing that Western high-finance was philosophically in their corner and willing to destroy France’s democratic will with every dollar they could borrow, joined with global high finance and professional currency speculators to strangle France into backtracking on socialist-inspired policies. If high finance cared at all for democracy they would have supported France’s anti-austerity plan. However such an idea is as absurd today as it was to socialists, fascists and even the apolitical in the 1930s, and also to those opposing the nouveau riche backers of the House of Orleans in 1830’s July Revolution.

France could not boldly defy high finance and keep devaluing their currency until growth took hold for another crucial reason: they would have had to abandon the 1979-inaugurated European Monetary System (EMS), the financial predecessor of the euro. This was an adjustable exchange rate agreement which linked 10 Western European currencies to prevent large fluctuations. It was France’s brainchild for their long-term goal: wooing Germany away from the US and towards a genuinely European integration. Preferring to stay in the EMS meant violating the people’s democratic will demanding an anti-austerity agenda – this process would obviously be repeated ad nauseam.

By 1993 the European Union would begin, which replaced the European Economic Community, which in 1957 had replaced the original European Coal and Steel Community. The euro currency would arrive six years later – the new structures would fully end the Social Democracy era.

In 2012 Hollande was the hope of an entire “Latin Bloc” against Germanic austerity, once again, but he would do the exact same U-turn. However, he showed far less resolve than Mitterrand and faced far less pressure: 10-year bonds stood at 2.75% when Hollande was elected and and they fell immediately – high finance seemed to know the longtime Europhile Hollande’s anti-austerity promises were election nonsense. French 10-year bonds stood at 0.81% when he left office, in total disgrace and with the Socialist Party perhaps permanently smashed.

More important than the EU – the Eurogroup

Part of the problem of talking about the “pan-European project” is that you have multiple bodies which overlap. You also have some nations which are part of one, but not another. Or which pay into one body, but abstain from another.

The Eurozone is more important than the European Union because it controls the money in the world’s second largest macro-economic bloc behind the US (in 2008). By comparison, the EU is mainly a regulatory body, and their modest annual budget – about the size of Denmark’s – reflects that.

All serious studies of the eurozone – from Nobel Prize-winning economists, such as Joseph Stiglitz, to those with insider knowledge of how it operates, such as former Greek Finance Minster Yanis Varoufakis – stress that there is nothing in its structure which allows for the possibility for change. That’s a pretty vital and damning conclusion to be consistently reached, especially when post-1991 Europe loves to stand on its hind legs and lecture the rest of the world about democracy. Objective studies reach another regular conclusion, and it’s one which is shared by the lower- and middle-class: the euro has totally failed in its promise to bring about prosperity and economic security.

The Eurozone was a clear replication of the German Zollverein, led by Prussia during the 19th century, which was the world’s first example of independent states creating a full economic union without also creating a political union. Germanifying an area of German-speaking peoples and cultures is one thing, but trying to replicate that for all of Europe has only led to dramatic inequalities.

The Eurozone thus embodies the victory of Germanic economic ideology in tandem with the victory of English oligarchic parliamentarianism in political ideology – this is perhaps the simplest essence of Western Liberal Democracy: England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688 combined with the Germanic commitment to the economic autocracy of the elite. The French are often called the intellectuals of Europe, but it’s far more accurate to call them the ignored intellectuals of Europe: the history of Europe since 1789 is the defeat of French intellectual egalitarianism and the victory of the aristocratic thought of Anglo-Germanic intellectuals.

To examine the Eurozone you have to bring up something which mainstream media is instructed to ignore – the Eurogroup.

The Eurogroup rules the Eurozone and its 19 member states, and it also governs the “bailouts” to member nations like Greece. The Eurogroup is, at face value, an informal monthly meeting of the finance ministers of the euro member countries.

However, it is no exaggeration to say that the Eurogroup is the banker cabal hidden in plain sight. It is truly the expression of the autocratic and oligarchical forces which go back to 1788. Gone are the Bourbons and Orleanists, though of course they remain on the boards of banks and hedge funds.

In his 2017 book And The Weak Suffer What They Must? Varoufakis provided a wealth of insider knowledge on how the Eurogroup operates.

“Moreover, the Eurogroup, where all the important economic decisions are taken, is a body that does not even exist in European law, that operates on the basis that the ‘strong do as they please while the weak suffer what they must’, that keeps no minutes of its proceedings, and whose only rule is that its deliberations are confidential – that is, not to be shared with Europe’s citizenry. It is a set-up designed to preclude any sovereignty traceable back to the people of Europe.”

What can we say of Western Liberal Democracy when their most advanced economic achievement is governed by an entity with no rules, no records, no democratic process and no democratic accountability? It is truly a return to 1788 – the time when the average person had no say in politics or economics. Every French person should be able to recognise in 21st century Western Liberal Democracy the autocratic domination which even the many European kings of today recognise is no longer unacceptable.

Thanks to the whistle-blowing of Varoufakis we also know that there is also essentially no discussion at Eurogroup meetings: The Troika (the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission) initiates, dominates and outlines the terms and then the finance minister-members vote. The overwhelming majority of participants in this group which governs eurozone economic policy (and thus social policy) are bankers, former bankers or intimately tied to high finance.

When bankers run economic policy, one shouldn’t be surprised if the resulting social policy is for the benefit of bankers and their biggest aristocratic clients. Yes, the EU is obviously a Bankocracy, but Bankocracy is simply the modern form of rule by an oligarchy of the rich and powerful. It is as if the new banker class in 1830’s France didn’t just put the House of Orleans on the throne and boot out the House of Bourbon, but as if the new banker class assassinated all Houses, restored serfdom and declared that they had a divine right to rule. Their obvious goal is the rollback of mere Social Democracy, and to reattempt a destruction of any Socialist Democracies.

The Eurogroup is not an EU institution and cannot declare any legally-binding decisions. It can never be blamed for a bad decision, nor held accountable, because it is not answerable to any parliament or body politic whatsoever. Many are increasingly asking in France and Europe: What’s the point of voting for any national or EU politician if they have little to no chance of influencing policy? Many don’t even realise that the highest level of policymaking is actually the Eurogroup.

Yellow Vest: “In France’s 5th Republic when someone is elected president they can do whatever they want for five years because we truly have no way to influence them. This is why the Yellow Vests are insisting that Macron accept regular citizen referendums on his policies, because he is destroying French society.”

(Of course, what will occur when citizen referendums oppose the decisions of the Eurogroup? The European Union will step in and either totally ignore the referendum, call it illegal or regulate them away.)

It is self-evident that that when politics does not rule – where there is no law or regulation – the rich are the rulers. It is also self-evident that in a climate of total deregulation the richest nations and persons will benefit the most, thus inequality will increase. It is also self-evident that when billionaires and hedge funds own the bulk of a deregulated and denationalised media there will be very little discussion of the Eurogroup in the mainstream media. This is what has happened throughout the history of the Eurogroup, which operated without formal recognition until the Lisbon Treaty.

Unsurprisingly, the US pioneered the concept of mass deregulation in the early 1980s, which they foisted on Europe as much as possible when their academics, think tanks and intellectuals helped oversee the writing of the new structures of the pan-European projects. It is thus no exaggeration to say that – coming after the so-called “end of history” and Liberalism’s alleged total victory following the fall of the USSR – the Eurogroup has achieved the American dream of total deregulation even more than in America.

For the Eurogroup to become remotely democratic and not autocratic/oligarchic a Eurozone constitution would have to be created, an executive would seem useful, a legislative branch would be indispensable and approval power over national budgets would seem necessary. Only the last is already in existence, but why would they add any Liberal or Socialist Democracy to this Bankocracy? Answer: they never will create this in any sort of equitable format.

Such facts make it clear why the Eurogroup cannot be considered compatible with democracy, and thus cannot be supported. One might support creating a new Eurozone or changes to the Eurozone structure, but supporting the current Eurozone is simply indefensible. The European corollary to the post-1991 dictum of TINA (There Is No Alternative (to imperialism and liberalism)) is that there is no alternative permitted to this version of a pan-European project.

Because change is impossible the elites’ goal is thus forced ignorance and silence, and when that fails, deflection: “To believe that Europe’s problem was debt. Not the architectural design of the Eurozone. Not its unenforceable rules. But debt. Debt was never Europe’s problem. It was a symptom of an awful institutional design,” wrote Varoufakis.

From 1999 until 2007 it’s said that the Eurozone had a short period of success in redistributing wealth. This is based on the fact that rich Eurozone countries decided to loan to their Eurozone brethren in poorer countries. As is always the case in capitalist countries, and as was seen in previous recessions, and as is evidenced in the history of countless Western Third World client states – once economic troubles hit these loans were called in and could no longer be repaid, creating even more crisis.

Liberalism fully restored for the third time – exact same result: immediate failure

The 2009 European Sovereign Debt Crisis will go down in history as the time when the EU both started working and then immediately started dying. The response to the crisis by Brussels and the newly rammed-through governmental structures made clear that the economic solidarity which would be required of richer nations to make “more Europe” work simply does not exist.

The parallel of its literally-immediate democratic discrediting with France’s 2nd Republic should be striking to all readers of this book, and should remind that Western Liberal Democracy has only produced failure. This is especially true when the outlet of imperialist war is not an option for this structure – France’s 3rd Republic (when Liberalism was re-imposed) took advantage of this option to the maximum, as the 3rd Republic’s imperial empire was one of history’s most expansive.

As the European Sovereign Debt Crisis turned into the Age of Austerity Europe’s richer nations got what they wanted from weaker Eurozone countries – ports, airports, water departments, laws favouring their own industries against local industries, etc. They did this all while claiming that Western Liberal Democracy was so much more just than any ideological competitors!

Pro-capitalist American media may be persuaded by the German accusation of profligate smaller countries, but most of Europe saw the democratic will of nation after nation get strangled until their national politicians surrendered. Around the continent (and the UK) many realised that the EU and Eurozone was sucking the lifeblood of White locals the way White colonialists used to suck the lifeblood of Brown locals. Some understood that the forcing of the governments of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and other weak countries to assume the private debts of French and German banks was simply a repeat of what happened all over the 3rd World since the late 19th century – neo-imperialism was not just for Brown puppets anymore, but White puppets too.

2009 thus became the historical bookend to 1871’s siege of Paris, when the elite of France and Germany colluded to destroy the first flowering of Social Democracy and Socialist Democracy in the Paris Commune. French and German banks were the most leveraged in Greece; are the two biggest funders of the European Central Bank; were the most insistent that promises of borrowers to their bankers are sacrosanct while the promises of national politicians to their voters are not. The victory of the neoliberal and neo-imperial EU empire was thus fully imposed, and – amid the heat – Bismarck and Thiers looked up and smiled.

None of this was missed by the as yet unformed Yellow Vests.

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Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value!

Publication date: July 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

On Trotsky in ‘Leon Trotsky on France’ in order to reclaim Trotsky from Trotskyists

May 02, 2022

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri

Turning to Trotsky to help analyse the Yellow Vests is indispensable not because I am a Trotskyist but because Trotsky is the foremost socialist architect, describer and critic of the actual waging of political revolution.

(This is the seventh chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

In October 1917 Trotsky was elected chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, the revolutionary centre of Russia. He directed the organisation of the October Revolution’s uprising against the Provisional Government, which had followed after the monarchy’s toppling in the February Revolution. Trotsky knew what he was talking about, and perhaps more than anyone of his era he could accurately say what a revolutionary group needs to do to actually seize power.

The problem with Trotsky is not Trotskyism. He rejected making his name synonymous with the actual waging of progressive revolution, almost bewilderingly lamenting: “To reaction and its agents ‘Trotskyism’ is the international menace of the socialist revolution.”

The two are not and must not be synonymous. Trotsky would surely berate his 21st century adherents for the primary complaint leftists make against his followers: To modern Trotskyists it’s not “revolution” unless it’s “Trotskyism” and only “Trotskyism”.

The problem with Trotsky is not Trotskyism, it’s Trotskyists.

If Trotskyism used to be synonymous with revolution but it no longer is – which is certainly the case – then who should be blamed more than the followers who take his name? French presidential elections inevitably feature multiple Trotskyist candidates – they even cannot get along with each other, much less other leftists.

Trotsky is different from his modern followers in that he saw conditions in the 1930s as ripe for revolution – even overripe – and he was shocked that others couldn’t see that what he helped effectuate in Russia was actually possible elsewhere, and right then. From November 2018 until June 2019 the Yellow Vests undoubtedly agreed that conditions were – at a minimum – ripe for a major break with the mainstream practices of Western Liberal Democracy, and they were also shocked that French leftists couldn’t see that.

Yellow Vest: “We have to bring France to its knees, because that is all that our governments understand. We will block the entire economy for as long as it takes. The fight against capitalism is heating up around the world, so the Yellow Vests are not the only ones demanding huge changes.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

A big reason for their absence from the most revolutionary situation in France since 1968 is that today’s Trotskyists are so discredited that they wouldn’t have been welcomed by the Yellow Vests.

Today’s Trotskyists seemingly live in a state where it is perpetually September 1917 – they cannot possibly support the few global nations who have selfishly “jumped the gun” and taken power in their own country without the Trotskyists, and allegedly at the expense of the global revolution. If Trotskyists could realise that monarchy still plays a huge role in the world they would realise that living in a state where it is perpetually January 1917 would be far, far more useful in actually pushing socialism (and not just Trotskyism) forward.

What I will call Trotsky’s definition of a revolutionary country is concise and clear, and any country fulfilling these requirements obviously deserves the fullest support:

“Meanwhile the hypothetical government (Trotsky is referring to a Western Liberal Democratic government which actually stood up to fascism) would give nothing either to the workers or to the petty-bourgeois masses because it would be unable to attack the foundations of private property; and without expropriation of the banks, the great commercial enterprises, the key branches of industry and transport, without a foreign trade monopoly, and without a series of other profound measures, there is no possible way of coming of the aid of the peasant, the artisan, the petty merchant.”

Above is the most basic condition for socialist-inspired revolution on behalf of the people, and yet Trotskyists all over France and the West perpetually condemn any country which has made this critical first step on the road to citizen empowerment. Please note that Iran has not given up the Iranian people’s control over all the “profound measures” listed above. Please also note that today’s French Trotskyist groups usually incorrectly lump small merchants in with CEOs, instead of with the proletariat and farmers, while the Yellow Vests do not make that mistake.

Perhaps the most common word with Trotsky is “expropriation”. Without the expropriation of the private property of the 1% then there is no movement which can make any type of socialism – or the barest amount of Socialist Democracy – possible.

This definition is so useful because it illustrates how the establishment of banking power fits into the economic history of Europe since 1492. With the start of Western Liberal Democracy in 1848 and the establishment of France’s 2nd Republic all wealth joined together to “become bourgeois”: royal landed wealth, commercial & New World colonisation wealth, and industrial & Old World colonisation wealth (such as from Algeria beginning in 1830) had united their political forces in oligarchy. Their economic forces became united in the power of the modern bank. By the 1930s “the banks” of oligarchical Western Liberal Democracy had become first on the list of Trotsky’s opponents of progressive politics, and both the socialists and the fascists came to power by promising to gut their power. Fascists then joined with Western Liberal Democrats after World War II, with many of their key ideas becoming subsumed in Western Liberal Democracy just as the ideas of royalism have been subsumed in Western Liberal Democracy. One of the fascists’ ideas would be encapsulated in the structures of today’s pan-European project, as the coming chapters will illustrate: fascism’s alliance of autocratic political power with corporate/banking power.

Non-socialist readers may be alarmed by Trotsky’s phrase “attack the foundations of private property”, as though they alone had a trade monopoly, a key branch of any industry or a great commercial enterprise. Such persons simply like to fancy themselves budding bourgeois, and thus don’t want a ceiling to limit their all-but-certain rise, as bourgeois culture inculcates them to want to do. Giving the masses control of these key mega-economic entities – and not control over your home and the objects inside, nor your small business – is what modern socialism is, and it’s also what it takes to win stability, control and peace for the masses.

Today’s Trotskyists are not on the front lines, and they don’t support any serious fronts anywhere

Trotsky today would surely demand a redefinition of what “Trotskyism” is because for modern Trotskyists it apparently doesn’t include demanding control of the means of major production or armed anything. Trotskyism in the 21st century has become subsumed by Western Liberal Democracy because they now limit themselves to working within it, not against it.

More than any other aspect of his personal thought these remarks he made in 1935 when talking of France encapsulate what Trotsky was fundamentally all about:

This is why the most immediate of all demands must be for the expropriation of the capitalists and the nationalization (socialization) of the means of production. But is not this demand unrealizable under the rule of the bourgeoisie? Quite so! That is why we must seize power.” (emphasis his)

Any discussion cannot gloss over that point or this one below, which today’s Trotskyists certainly ignore, seeing as how they reject any country which has actually enacted socialist-inspired revolution and nationalisations, such as China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, etc.:

“How can one come to soviet (workers’ committees) power without an armed insurrection? How can one come to an insurrection without arming the workers? How can one defend oneself against fascism without arms? How can we achieve armament, even partial, without propaganda for this slogan?”

Trotskyist propaganda today is totally devoid of such propaganda, and this is even though Trotsky’s writing is full of denigration for peaceniks who refuse to fight for their rights. Such militarism is, of course, very different from a militarism which clamours for invasion:

The more successful the anti-militarist agitation becomes, the more rapid will be the growth of the fascist danger. Such is the actual and not fanciful dialectic of the struggle.” (emphasis his)

By the 1960s the Western left had adopted anti-militarism as an almost iron law. Such history-ignoring nonsense translated into political nonsense which ultimately amounted to: reformism of the status quo at a snail’s pace and with the ephemeral quality of a flower’s existence. Western “Flower Power” didn’t change the social pyramid, and Trotsky would not have been surprised at the political impotence of switching away from anti-militarist agitation while trying to win socialist-inspired changes.

A fundamental question which must be posed is: Why did Trotskyists never come out in favor of arming the Yellow Vests for their own self-defense? Every one knows they were getting attacked every Saturday by police. If today’s Trotskyists are merely content to be tiny, ineffectual parties within Western Liberal Democracies, can’t they at least promote a defensive militarism to defend the mere rights of Liberalism, such as freedom of assembly? Surely this would be the bare minimum Trotsky would have promoted as regards to the Yellow Vests.

This is a question which requires far more reflection because it strikes at the hypocritical heart of Western Liberal Democracy, which is truly more accurately called “Western Liberal Autocracy”. The Yellow Vests show how the West refuses to accept even the barest Liberal Democratic rights of 1789, and in addition to rejecting all the egalitarian measure promoted by Socialist Democracy. It will be discussed in the chapter What the Yellow Vests can be: a force which can protect Liberalism’s rights, at least.

A perfect time for France’s Trotskyists to provide defensive assistance was during the Yellow Vests attempted establishment of a permanent camp near the Eiffel Tower in March 2019. Of course, they also needed defensive help every Saturday for months, as well.

The primary propaganda organ of Trotskyism – the World Socialist Web Site – never made such calls to action even though they are based in the United States and thus out of the reach of French intimidation and repression! The WSWS did correctly stress the need of the Yellow Vests to remain apart from the totally-discredited political establishment, such as parties and unions, (though this point was already non-negotiable to the Yellow Vests) but only to finally insist that they needed to be led by the political perspective of a Trotskyist vanguard provided by the International Committee of the Fourth International. Reject everyone else but me – it’s typical modern Trotskyism.

Trotsky would have disavowed his namesakes for failing to seize the once-in-century moment provided by the Yellow Vests, and this is proven by his own writings.

For example, in 1936 Trotsky appeared to be apoplectic with France’s leftists: 1.5 million out of 10 million French people voted communist and – to a guy who made a revolution with much less – that should have been enough to make a revolution in France.

“When one and a half million voters cast their ballots for the Communists, the majority of them mean to say thereby: ‘We want you to do the same thing in France that the Russian Bolsheviks did in their country in October 1917.’”

In the West the Yellow Vests are the first popular political force operating on essentially socialist-inspired ideas since 1936. They are the first political force willing to operate under repressive and hotly-debated conditions since 1936. They are the first French progressive political force to have even more popular support than the combined leftists did in 1936: polls showed the Yellow Vests as having 75% approval rating and always – even after so much propaganda and repression – as having a majority approval rating in a country where such popularity is considered unachievable.

In 1936 Trotsky dismissed the vote results for not only the Radicals (it’s a misleading name – they were “Reformists” of Western Liberal Democracy) but the further left Socialists as well: he didn’t care about their score because they were not a working class party in composition or policy like the Communists were. The Yellow Vests are working class in composition and policy, but where were/are the Trotskyists? The Yellow Vests’ fault was not being openly Trotskyist, obviously.

Trotsky would diagnose the problem today as one of poor leadership, which was his most common refrain. However, the worst leadership among Western leftists is among the Trotskyists because they clearly do not even champion the essentials of Trotskyist thought.

Yellow Vest: “So many of these types have been bought off by Macron and are happy to stay in his pocket. Pensioners, the jobless and public workers have been marching for seven months and our so-called intellectuals spit on us! We are getting beaten and gassed, and they criticise us!”

In 2022 I believe Trotsky would have backed countries like Iran because of to whom he pointed his vast criticism when discussing France: the proponents of Western Liberal Democratic measures, and those who seek appeasement via measures which fall short of expropriation. From the multiple French Trotskyist parties to the US-based WSWS they spent more time boosting their own parties than the Yellow Vests, which is to say that they are totally committed to working within the framework of Western Liberal Democracy.

Western Trotskyists are not revolutionary – they are waiting for that laughable “hypothetical government” which Trotsky himself noted would fail even if ever installed, and he was proven right by the failure of France’s 1936 Popular Front, as the previous chapter discussed. Marxist-inspired analysis of history make it clear that the Western Liberal Democratic framework will never create permanent programs which guarantee a permanent redistribution of political power and wealth which aims at boosting the lower and middle classes – not in wartime, pandemic-time or any other hypothetical time.

The absurd contradictions and hypocrisies of the modern Trotskyist movement pale so enormously when held up with the actual achievements of Stalinist-inspired (i.e. USSR-inspired) movements which Trotsky famously rejected.

We should not blame heroic and committed Leon!

We should wrest him away from today’s declared Trotskyists, as they refuse to actually put into practice his ideas while claiming his mantle, and we should redefine Trotskyism to describe more accurately what his necessary contributions were to leftism.

Trotskyism: A line of socialist thought which emphasised the need of a politically-advanced vanguard party to encourage taking power, while always remaining in dialogue with the masses, by force from Western Liberal Democracy in order to expropriate their political power and economic wealth for the benefit of the masses.

The above definition retains Trotsky’s beloved notion of a vanguard party, but it can clearly include Cuba, China, Iran, Hezbollah and others – this is how Trotsky can be wrested from Trotskyists. Trotsky didn’t want his name becoming synonymous with socialist revolution, but he sure wouldn’t want it affiliated with today’s totally unTrotskyist Trotskyists!

As with Napoleon Bonaparte, the well-being and understanding which socialist analysis has to offer insists on the political rehabilitation of a person whose adherents have distorted and disgraced him. The revolution does not have to eat its young, as counter-revolutionaries insist. By first fully dispatching the oldest enemy of Socialist Democracy – the autocratic oligarchy embodied by monarchy, whose ideals have been subsumed by Western Liberal Democracy – we will first clear the way to end arrogant imperialism and elitism, and indispensable first step towards demanding socialism at home.

But we should wrest Trotsky not just from the adulation which he himself opposed but also from Trotsky himself. Consider the perspective of W.E.B. Dubois, certainly the greatest African-American political writer of his era and maybe ever:

“He (Stalin) early saw through the flamboyance and exhibitionism of Trotsky, who fooled the world, and especially America. The whole ill-bred and insulting attitude of Liberals in the U.S. today began with our naive acceptance of Trotsky’s magnificent lying propaganda, which he carried around the world. Against it, Stalin stood like a rock and moved neither right nor left, as he continued to advance toward a real socialism instead of the sham Trotsky offered.”

Trotsky believed that Stalin had no sincere care for the working class, only for the “bureaucracy” – that’s false. The Trotskyist blame towards Stalinism for abandoning the Western workers/leftism totally ignores his and the USSR’s decades of leftist agitation, as the previous chapter detailed. The blame goes towards the forces of just-ended autocracy and the oligarchy of Western Liberal Democracy, not fellow communists and socialists.

In his consternation that others were not as ardently revolutionary Trotsky rejected the comparatively minor intra-socialist compromises which allowed for a continuing “advance towards a real socialism”, even if only in one country at a time. Trotsky’s war on the USSR – on “Stalinism” – is often viewed as a betrayal of the socialist movement, and today’s Trotskyists make this same mistake as regards to China, Iran, Venezuela and – if they progressed further – probably the Yellow Vests, too.

What socialism cannot lose from Trotsky is the idea that armed revolution is the only path to an actual revolution in the aristocratic elite’s property holdings – what it can lose is “flamboyance”, “exhibitionism”, acting as though one is “ill-bred” and being “insulting”. Trotskyism seduced the individualist West in large part because both over-rely on the individual singularity of a vanguard party. There is an anti-democracy inherent in Trotsky’s most constant complaint – the poor leadership of the leftist movement – as though if only Trotsky were still in charge, then all of Europe would be socialist today. The disregard of Trotsky’s primary ideas has led to a situation where the far-left on the Western political spectrum has comported itself with the faux-noble airs of the far-right, i.e. aristocrats, which Trotsky himself was accused of.

I have presented a balanced view of Leon Trotsky here because a history of leftist movements is not possible without Trotsky, but a leftist history where Marx, Engels and Trotsky are the only leftists is an ineffectual and distorting absurdity. A history where Napoleon Bonaparte is not a leftist, where the 1848 Revolutions were not the Counter-Revolutions of 1848, where the rise of fascism is both socialism’s fault and yet has nothing to do with socialism, where the Yellow Vests are not French leftism reborn, etc., are ineffectual and distorting absurdities.

Both those extreme views are dangerous because the parallels between France today and the 1930s is of vital importance, and thus recalling Trotsky’s assessments of France provides us with the wealth of parallels which are necessary to make in order to show how the problems of Western Liberal Democracy today are unchanged since 90 years ago, just as re-reading Marx reminds us the problems are unchanged since 170 years ago.

Trotsky’s failure to see Western Liberal Democracy as unable to subsume the ideals of fascism

Trotsky has so much right – above all, his refusal to concede anything to Western Liberal Democracy – but let’s focus on the few things he got quite wrong.

Trotsky’s writings unmistakably reveal that he really thought Western Liberal Democracy/parliamentarianism/free marketism was truly dead. To Trotsky the only fight remaining was against fascism. It’s a mistake many leftists have made since 1850 – incorrectly assuming that Western Liberal Democracy is dead.

Apparently Trotsky thought fascism really was a “third way” – it was neither autocratic Western Liberal Democracy nor Socialist Democracy – but in the 1930s no non-Westerner would agree that jingoism, racism, authoritarianism and the myriad petty dictatorships of their leader class is something which only came to the fore in the West during their fascist era of the 1930s? Of course, they had been experiencing it in their own colonised countries! To non-Westerners the oligarchy of monarchism, Western Liberal Democracy and fascism is distinguished only in style and not function.

The lack of emphasis on the socio-cultural effects of industrial-era imperialism caused Trotsky to underestimate the jingoism, racism, social and economic regimentation, oppression of dissent and “dictatorship of the leader class” (i.e. the five features of the commonly-accepted definition of fascism) in Western Liberal Democracy, and to falsely assume these were only attributes of fascism.

Another problem may have been that socialists in the 1930s were aghast that fascists were using Marxist tools to accurately critique Western Liberal Democracy – this unneeded concern was discussed in the previous chapter. Today we see that socialists should have been lumping fascism and Western liberal democracy in the same boat, and some did. Stalin correctly said that fascism and Social Democracy (i.e. reformists of Western Liberal Democracy) were twins, and we are now correct to say that fascism, Social Democracy and Western Liberal Democracy are triplets.

It’s no facile exaggeration – all three of these political schools of thought clearly united themselves after World War II against Socialist Democracy. The squabble between fascism and Western Liberal Democracy was even more short lived than the squabble between the houses of Bourbon and Orleans! All the rich factions of 1848 France famously “became bourgeois”, per Marx, to unite in the new “Party of Order”, just as fascism and liberalism unites in contemporary Western Liberal Democracy.

Western Liberal Democracy survives because of its ability to unite in adapting its right-wing solutions – its brutal version of class warfare – and in contrast with the left’s inability to unite while operating out Western Liberal Democrats. They are much more effective at class warfare in large part because they have so many fewer people to organise/collude.

What Western Liberal Democracy took from fascism is that economic planning must be limited to the military, its obsession with security and its emphasis on xenophobia in order to distract from open discussion of its obvious pro-aristocratic class warfare. The two ideologies already agreed on anti-socialism, competition (one largely fixed at the beginning) and elitism, which are also three long-time beliefs of autocracy and oligarchy. The only real squabble was between choosing a cosmopolitan globalist elite, dominated by new money, or a sovereign national elite, dominated by old money.

Proof that Trotsky didn’t understand the existing similarities between Western Liberal Democracy and fascism is encapsulated in his complaint about Stalinist/Comintern communism in 1936. I think every reader will be shocked at either his naiveté or his impossible demands upon the USSR: “If the Soviet trade unions had given a timely example by boycotting Italy (for invading Ethiopia), the movement would, like a prairie fire, have inevitably embraced all of Europe and the whole world, and at once become menacing to the imperialists of all countries.”

The entire world was going to get set alight over Ethiopia, really?

Again, we cannot blame Leon: he is truly personally alight over the invasion of Ethiopia. But Trotsky is a progressive humanitarian and politically-active person – nobody else really cared about Ethiopia. Today neither Palestine, nor chemical weapons used against Iranians in the 1980s, nor the starvation of Yemen, nor any other blatant Western imperialist violence is setting the world alight. As the incredibly hypocritical double-standards regrading the 2022 refugees from Ukraine proves – the West only cares about White people, and even then only when either useful or of the proper class.

From 1789 to 2022 non-Europeans see the same racism, deadly abuse of power and privilege, haughty disregard and disinterest, and closed opportunities in both Western Liberal Democracy and fascism. Trotsky goes on to complain, as usual, that this is a proof of failure in revolutionary leadership – but the leaders are not the problem but the people: the good people of the West have been governed by Western Liberal Democracy for too long, and thus by it’s false, elitist, over-competitive and bigoted precepts.

Trotsky also failed to foresee the monarchical-like expansion of the 21st century Western executive branch (initially justified, as in 1830, by a need to dominate Muslims), which makes it even more similar to authoritarian fascism.

It was perhaps myopia – being too deeply within Western culture and too unexposed to the non-Western viewpoints of the colonised. A Third Worlder didn’t feel any real change in policy before, during or after the Western fascist era – the violence is less brutal in its cultural presentation, but the violence is still brutal. A Syrian heard about the victory over fascism in Europe on May 8,1945, but he certainly more deeply felt the shells which Charles de Gaulle dropped on him on May 29, in order to forestall any independence (freedom) movements. The French waged the Sétif and Guelma massacres in Algeria on V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day – May 8, 1945), and aided by the American army. How is this morally superior to Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia?

“Is it not too late? No, everything shows that it is not too late. In France there is no powerful fascist party. Indeed, in France there will not be an organisation as large as Hitler’s party even before the conquest of power: it is against the traditions and customs of the country.” That was not a Western Liberal Democrat talking about the West’s superior values – that was Trotsky in 1935, and he would quite soon be wrong about half the country, i.e. Vichy France.

Trotsky was especially wrong in the first part – how can a country occupying Algeria (making it “France”) not have a powerful fascist party? Is it not “fascism” because it’s happening to non-Europeans? He was also wrong in the second part: there is no fascist party in France, the UK and the US because their Western Liberal Democracies were already quite fascistic. The idea that their traditions are anti-fascist is nonsense to those they were currently colonising.

That quote is not Trotsky being racist, because of course he was not, but merely of Trotsky both succumbing to European ethnocentrism and to not realising that France’s traditions and customs were also filled with elitist, racist autocracy. The French Revolution was overthrown by European monarchs, Leon!

Trotsky was quite disproven, and almost a century later our goal is to explain why: He did not realise that France’s impressive but relatively minor experiences with social revolution have been drastically outweighed by the fascism inherent in the “traditions and customs” of monarchy and, after 1848, Western Liberal Democracy.

As coming chapters will demonstrate, the rights and redistributions won by the Western masses in the postwar period (1945-1975) have been under constant attack in the third restoration of Liberalism (1975-today) and thus serve as an exceptional era in the anti-worker history of Western liberal Democracy.

The idea that there has been neither revolution nor fascism is the trick of Western Liberal Democracy, which openly allied with fascism’s supporters against socialism immediately upon the cessation of WWII hostilities in order to fight Socialist Democracy around the world. It was absurd – Jim Crow-era United States assumed leadership of the “free world” while also being an Apartheid state – but imperialist Western Liberal Democracy controls the means, therefore they have the tools to employ and pay for the massive propaganda to uphold this idea.

How can Trotsky’s great leaders lead a leaderless movement?

What’s certain is that Trotsky would be somewhat at a loss with what to do with the leaderless Yellow Vests because he did not live in a leaderless time.

The Yellow Vests insist that they could not have sprouted successfully if they had acclaimed a leader precisely because all of France’s leadership (Trotskyists included) are so discredited. However, this did not preclude France’s Trotskyist parties nor the Trotskyist partisans in their several other prominent leftist parties from humbly, patiently and methodically forming a bond with the Yellow Vests. The problem is entirely in the domineering attitude of today’s Trotskyists.

Trotsky would have likely said this, and I am forced to agree: The Yellow Vests are a “pre-revolutionary movement” which will be routed.

They were definitely routed every Saturday, and they were a revolutionary movement in ideal, but they have not yet progressed to the actual waging of revolution, nor have they fully grasped that only a revolution away from Western Liberal Democracy can ever allow them to achieve their core demands.

The Yellow Vests are thus a harbinger of coming revolution, we can safely predict.

What the Yellow Vests are doing is creating political enlightenment at every rural roundabout, urban march and Facebook page, and Western Trotskyists must either get on board or declare that they are not in favor of Socialist Democracy but Western Liberal Democracy. If they continue to work more with Western Liberal Democracy than with the Yellow Vests then they are not Trotskyist, who wrote, and the emphasis is his: There can be no greater crime than coalition with the bourgeoisie in a period of socialist revolution,” and this is what they done so far during the Yellow Vest era.

Because they live in a leaderless times the Yellow Vests are the ones introducing clarity into the political consciousness of the struggling masses – I believe Trotsky would have called them the vanguard party of France today, and not France’s Communist or Trotskyist parties.

If the Vesters lack one thing it’s in fully knowing that, “Without a complete overturn in property relations – without concentration of the waning system, the basic branches of industry, and foreign trade in the hands of the state – there is no salvation for the petty bourgeoisie of the city and country.” There is no salvation because, again, the era of 1945-75 appears as a short anomaly compared the modern eras of 1848-1944 and 1976-2022 – the short era of Social Democracy in Europe was easily overturned.

The USSR, China and Iran overturned property relations, but this overturning is actually not among the Vesters’ demands, which were first made public in December 2018. Of course, many Yellow Vests knew that nationalisation is the only way, even if only instinctually.

Yellow Vest: “How Macron has handled these privatisations reveals exactly what we have been denouncing since the start. How can Macron sell off our national inheritance without even consulting the opinion of the people? This is exactly why we are demanding regular citizen referendums. Why are we selling something like the airport of Paris now, when it will certainly be worth much more in the years to come, and especially if we invest some money into it? Despite what the government is saying, we are losing money with this sale, and with other privatisations.”

In their bones and in their deeds the heroic Yellow Vests are revolutionary – it’s the fault of other Western leftists to not have joined them, and to have feared joining them starting after the incredible police brutality and intimidation on May Day 2019.

The Yellow Vests suffer from a similar defect as Trotsky did: without a disciplined bureaucracy there is no way to institute the practical demands of the revolutionary masses. Trotskyism refused to support just such a bureaucracy in the USSR, and for that people like DuBois admired Stalin, the USSR and “real socialism instead of the sham Trotsky offered” – the “sham” being revolution without a bureaucracy to install or preserve it.

Trotsky and his scourge of bureaucratism is similar to the Yellow Vests insistence on being a leaderless movement which also makes a boogeyman of establishing a formal bureaucracy. The fault in both is that they think everyone is as politically advanced and committed as they are when they are not – they are vanguards.

Make no mistake, the Yellow Vest movement was ultimately not checked by poor leadership or a disdain for disciplined bureaucracy but by total war against it. Had this war been waged by a President Marine Le Pen it would have been called “fascist”, but because it was waged by a President Emmanuel Macron it was whitewashed. This absurdity can be easily recognised by seeing that Western Liberal Democracy is fascism, has allied with fascists for nearly a century, has subsumed key tenets of fascism into contemporary liberal democracy – is fascism.

Trotsky really thought “imperialist democracy” and “parliamentary democracy” was totally discredited and smashed for good in 1939 – it was not.

It is ultimately most accurate to say that Trotsky correctly saw, but did not correctly describe, that Western Liberal Democracy and fascism were interchangeable and needed to be discredited and smashed for good – why don’t you see this?

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value!

Publication date: July 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s

April 23, 2022

Source

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

by Ramin Mazaheri

Starting in 1917 the same reactionary European nations which attacked in the 7 European Wars Against the French Revolution now transferred this same refusal to make peace with the Soviet Union. The problem has always been an idea – anti-autocracy, the idea from which Socialist Democracy flows (and the Yellow Vests) – not a particular nation.

(This is the seventh chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

There is a clear moment when France definitively handed over its longtime leadership of European progressive politics. It is not 1914, when, unlike the Soviet Bolsheviks, French socialists went along with World War I: it is the creation of the Popular Front (Front Populaire) following the death of 15 people in a right-wing riot in 1934. The idea that committed socialists must be united with everyone from fake-leftists to right-wingers in order to fight fascism proved to be a total catastrophe.

Yet this idea remains the policy of Western leftism today, and it is still producing catastrophes.

The European lesson of the 1930s is that the working and middle class handed power to the socialists and communists – who immediately gave power back to the bourgeois!

Ever since the Brexit vote against the neoliberal and neo-imperial European Union Western democracies are perpetually stuck in 1936: constantly warning of “fascism” and constantly producing failures as bad as the original Popular Front in France.

However, because there is a total misunderstanding of what “fascism” is it is critical for us to end the Western propaganda on the rise of Germanic National Socialism in order to properly understand European history then and now. It is “Germanic” and not just “German” because their adherents were from Austria, Hungary, Prussia and other longtime German language/culture areas.

Germanic National Socialism had something vital in common with socialism: a clear rejection of Western Liberal Democracy, which was first installed in France’s 2nd Republic of 1848. Without elucidating the common thread of post 1789 political history — that Western Liberal Democracy is an oligarchy which has been barely modified from autocracy – European history makes no sense in 1936 or after. We may as well say Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t a leftist revolutionary!

We move from the Paris Commune to 1936 because what occurred in 1936 was extremely similar: In February 1936 the electoral victory of a Popular Front coalition in Spain led to a legal take-over by socialists and anti-monarchists, only to see an international coalition of reactionaries arise to prop up the dictator General Francisco Franco and to foment civil and international war.

The Popular Front in France actually created the disastrous policy of “nonintervention” – the French left created it order to not intervene in the neighbouring Spanish Civil War. Nearly all of Europe signed up to diplomatically isolate and economically blockade the Spanish Republic. Indeed, Western Liberal Democracy wants to talk honestly about the Spanish Civil War as much as they want to they want to talk honestly the Paris Commune, 1848 or the 7 European Wars Against the French Revolution.

In May 1936 what would become the final elections of the French 3rd Republic were held. Amid the Great Depression the centre-left and left finally won control of the government, with 60% of the vote, and via campaigns expressly against the unprecedented power of the historically-new banking oligarchy. In July the Spanish Civil War began, and despite massive French support for the Republican leftists France’s allegedly left-wing government colluded with the British on the policy of non-intervention. Viewed from the new center of progressive politics – Moscow – the Popular Front’s non-intervention confirmed to the USSR that Western Europe was never going to have a socialist revolution; that such an idea had been a fool’s errand for over three decades; that Western Europe was going to side with fascism and go over to it, as Vichy France soon would. The USSR and Mexico would be the only nations to provide armed support to the Spanish Republic.

The Popular Front and Leon Blum, the first Socialist to be Prime Minister in France, would do a U-turn on the promised domestic reforms he was elected to implement. This is exactly what the Socialists François Mitterrand and François Hollande would do in 1983 and 2012, respectively. 1936 marks the point when Western leftists indisputably proved that they have abandoned Socialist Democracy in favor of Western Liberal Democracy – a fundamentally right-wing ideology rooted in monarchism, autocracy and oligarchy – and are thus right-wingers on the global political spectrum.

In April 1938 France’s Popular Front collapsed after failure in almost every sense. Its colossal disappointment after such huge progressive excitement caused massive disillusionment and directly led to the establishment of fascism in France two years later. The Popular Front provided the death knell for Western Liberal Democracy. Rather it should have, but by 1946 fascists, royalists and Western Liberal Democrats would – to steal a phrase from Marx regarding a similar melding for all classes of wealth in the 19th century – “become bourgeois”, i.e. all meld into one in order to stop Socialist Democracy.

This is where the West remains today.

They are totally against Socialist Democracy at home and abroad, and claiming Popular Fronts are needed to elect fake-leftist candidates who inevitably prove to be tools of long-running oligarchies.

In September 1938, now led by the Reformists (this is the most accurate term for the very misleadingly named “Radical Party” of France), the Munich Pact saw France stab the USSR in the back on the Franco-USSR pact of 1935, which stipulated joint military action against German belligerence. The Munich Betrayal, as it’s also known, saw France and the United Kingdom collude with fascist Germany and Italy to hand a huge chunk of Czechoslovakia to Hitler. Instead of combatting Germany’s war on Czechoslovakia the Popular Front preferred “appeasement” with fascism.

The collusion would continue: France and the UK recognised Franco in February 1939, even though he held just two-thirds of the country and not Madrid. (The army Franco originally led to start the war was the Spanish Army of Africa, based in Morocco. Much like France with Algeria in 1848, we see the pernicious domestic political effects of Europe’s Old World imperialism once again.)

Because we have located the start of neoliberalism and European neo-imperialism with the Paris Commune we see how these collusions make sense: these are Western Liberal Democratic countries, thus run by an oligarchical elite, thus opposed to any socialist-inspired country. They will always wage war against socialistic ideas which oppose oligarchical Western liberalism which, thanks to the domination of the banker class by the start of the 20th century, is more “globalist” than inter-marrying monarchs ever were. Popular Fronts are inevitably proven to be useless – they are mere safety valves for genuine leftism.

By June 1939 national polls showed that 84% of Britain favored an Anglo-French-Soviet military alliance – Britain’s Western Liberal Democratic politicians had no choice but to give the appearance of an effort. After six weeks of negotiations it became clear to Moscow that Britain’s appallingly minor representations were not interested in any sort of alliance with Socialist Democracy.

Only two days after they left a German delegation arrived in Moscow and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (a non-aggression pact and not any sort of alliance) was concluded precisely because the USSR saw that Western Liberal Democracies would never allow peaceful relations with socialist-inspired systems. Just as the revolutionary Napoleon Bonaparte wasted time in a burnt-down Moscow trying to make peace with an autocrat who never wanted it, so the USSR wasted time trying to make peace with autocrats and oligarchs.

Yellow Vest: “What I want for Christmas is for the Yellow Vests to join France’s social movements to stop Macron’s neoliberalism. But it would be even better if the whole world would become Yellow Vests to stop the ravages of high finance and globalisation.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

Western leftists (mostly Trotskyists) howled that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was a betrayal of leftist ideals. That’s a stunningly opportunistic and hollow claim, considering just how much France’s Popular Front and Western Liberal Democracies failed to defend Spain, and also how Western nations refused make peace with Moscow. Moscow had waited for 19 years for any other European country to turn socialist, but European progressive political thought was spent in Western Europe after 150 years.

Thus the USSR had given up, as it was clearly the eve of war. The Stalinists would certainly be proven right that fascism would sweep Germany, Austria, Spain and France – history clearly exonerates them, and indicts Western Liberal Democracy.

The USSR made a non-aggression pact with Germanic socialism because at the time so many assumed that fascism was going to fully replace totally discredited Western Liberal Democracies. That may seem hard to believe today, but the idea that Western Liberal Democracy was totally dead was a fundamental assumption of leftists, such as Trotsky.

It’s vital to understand this proper timeline of European history leading up to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact because it is entirely in keeping with the overarching theme of European history since 1789: collusion by oligarchical elites to rule in autocratic fashion, and in order to suppress Socialist Democratic ideas.

Of course Western Liberal Democracy has always tried to obscure this history, and they still do: a resolution adopted by the European Union in 2019 stated that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact “paved the way for the outbreak of World War II”, in a shameful rewriting of history. I don’t expect the EU to pass resolutions for the 7 European Wars Against the French Revolution, the failed Revolutions of 1848 or the Paris Commune anytime soon….

The West’s elite is fighting for Western Liberal Democracy, and thus they do not permit honest discussion and honest critiques of Western Liberal DemocracyThis explains why there is no admission regarding the historical reality that Nazism and 1930s European fascism won power precisely because so many people grasped that Western Liberal Democracy was nothing but awful oligarchy.

Denying this historical reality is why Western politics has stopped making sense to the average Westerner: They simply cannot understand what fascism was, what it is, or how it arose – it arose via fascism’s successful, popular condemnation of Western Liberal Democracy.

The problem is that socialists don’t stress this point enough, in their nonsensical fear of being seen as colluding with fascism.

Knowing what ‘fascism’ truly is, and why socialists shouldn’t disavow it completely

Just as monarchy and feudalism was totally discredited to the average European by 1848, so Western Liberal Democracy and “debt feudalism/Bankocracy” was totally discredited by 1939.

This successful condemnation is why it’s simply inaccurate and absurd to say things like the “Nazis had no socialism”. To do so is tremendously counterproductive and simply false. Mussolini was the editor of Avanti!, the official voice of the Italian Socialist Party, and was once a leading Italian socialist. Socialists do not want to admit these things, but the failure caused by not explaining fascism’s relationship with socialism is that we cannot understand Western political history if we relinquish the incredibly necessary democratic criticism of Western Liberal Democracy and “Capitalism With Western Characteristics” as evidenced by fascism’s rise.

Hitler, reader of Marx, summed it up the initial similarities himself in 1922: Without his alleged “essential principle” – race – Nazism “would really do nothing more than compete with Marxism on its own ground”.

However, instead of dispossessing a noble class via class politics he dispossessed races to creat a new noble class… and that is not really socialism, nor anything advocated in Marxism.

Why should socialists fear admitting the Marxism in Germanic socialism? If they do it’s probably because they seek the approval of Western Liberal Democrats. It’s clear that by including race – this is… not truly Marxism or socialism, but something different.

Or when Hitler rejected the class struggle, vital to socialism, by saying: “There are no such things as classes: They cannot be. Class means caste and caste means race.” Well, Nazism may include some Marxist analyses of political and economic historical development but this is… not really socialism, but something different.

Making an alliance with corporate powers, instead of appropriating from the greedy expropriators… this is not really socialism, either.

Choosing central guidance instead of central majority ownership… this is not really socialism.

Hitler was also the least internationalist politician you can think of – he totally rejected the internationalism of the class struggle and replaced it with a “community of the volk”. He only wanted to protect Teutonic citizens in his all-Germanic nation.

We can go on and on pointing out these differences.

But the rejection of Western Liberal Democracy – due to its decades of failures by an oligarchical, corrupt, plutocratic leadership barely different from 18th century monarchy – that actually is the same as socialism. The rejection of Western Liberal Democratic economics – due to the decades of failures by free market capitalism (i.e. the economic component of liberalism) – that is the same as socialism.

The Western Liberal Democrats of today simply do not want to talk about their often democratic rejection by people who feel its failures intimately.

Yellow Vest: “Our media have lost all credibility. Everything that you see on the mainstream media, and all of their reporters are under the boot of the government. For them the Yellow Vests don’t even exist anymore, on both the private and public stations.

So what was German National Socialism and Italian Fascism? It is socialism minus the hopeful egalitarianism and the internationalism, and replaced with pessimistic Darwinian elitism and racism. It’s a right-wing socialism whose only virtue is that it openly opposes the rich-are-smarter-and-should-rule ideology of Western Liberal Democracy, which opposed most of the French Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte, won the counter-revolutions of 1848, laid the foundations of the neo-imperial European Union in 1871, colluded to create World War I in order to forestall socialist revolution and which was ruining society in the 1930s just as it does today.

But proponents of elites who rule through a Bankocracy don’t want people to understand that fascism and Germanic National Socialism came to power by opposing the domination of international high finance and liberalism (whether “neo-”, “ultra-” or sans-préfixe it’s all the same: free markets, unregulated capitalism, rights only for those who can afford it), which forever is ultimately cover for an autocratic oligarchy.

So it can’t be stressed enough: Socialism has nothing to fear from free, honest, patient examination of the Nazis’ relationship with socialism. What needs to be rectified is the total disavowal of fascism which excludes its criticisms of Western Liberal Democracy.

However, Western Liberal Democracy has much to fear regarding true discussions of their relationship with the Nazis. They, over and over, allied with fascism against socialism in the 1930s; they colluded with the surviving Nazis and fascists after 1945; they encouraged 3rd-generation Nazis in places like Ukraine in the 21st century. Thus since the 1930s fascism and Western Liberal Democracy has been cooperating for more often than they have been fighting.

Where does fascism fit in the course of European economic development since 1492?

The fascists ultimately came to power by claiming they were different in their economic aims than Western Liberal Democrats.

By the turn of the 20th century industrialisation was no longer a novelty but the defining economic force. Landed wealth, Old World colonisation wealth, sea-trading wealth and mid-late 19th century industrial-financial wealth had been melded together into a banker-dominated financial system in which – of course – old money was predominant. The new banking system they created controlled the means of production and usuriously owned the land on which serfs recently lived. This is a clear timeline of economic history – it is not hard to understand, nor is it eternal.

Fascists promised to expropriate the wealth now held in the stewardship of banks and to do it via a new class – that of the magistrate; of individualist political power.

The word “fascism” stems from “fasces”, which is a bundle of sticks wrapped together topped by an ax. It’s originally an Etruscan symbol which symbolised the power of – not the people wrapped together – the magistrate. What was the magistrate in Rome? He was a high-ranking officer with both executive and judicial powers. Whatever the wealth or justice which Roman magistrates allowed to “trickle-down” was entirely up to them. It was an elitist, 1%-centered system and fascism’s advance was (allegedly) making the 1% class open to competition (which they said begins in one’s DNA) and cutting out the longtime aristocracy and new bankers. We see this is exactly like in Western Liberal Democracy today, and we now see why these two forces have allied together. The seal of the United States Senate, an aristocratic house of lords, features two crossed fasces.

Beyond autocratic powers for a non-monarchical elite, Western Liberal Democracy also mostly agreed with the key plank of the fascist’s economic program. “Central planning” does exist in modern Western countries – it is based around the military. For example, in the United States their economy is guided by the Pentagon, the world’s largest employer. The Pentagon hands out the fruits of their taxpayer-funded research to private companies; enriches their native bourgeoisie with hugely corrupt contracts; provides jobs for the masses terribly ineffectively; but it very effectively enriches their 1%.

Fascism was never for the people but dedicated to the power of those in power; for the status quo; for submission to essentially autocratic magistrates and politicians; against the redistribution of wealth and political power. It is only socialism which reduces the power of the magistrate, who makes him accountable and who improves the person of the magistrate by making sure he is not solely drawn from the elite, grasping class.

Fascism is different from the globalist class of Western Liberal Democracy by insisting on nationalist competition and national sovereignty. The arrival of the European Union, the euro and the Eurogroup, which will supersede national laws without any concern for ideals of democracy, will render these desires essentially irrelevant. The main sin of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, or of Marine Le Pen, is that these two fascist politicians both seek to restore some aspects of national sovereignty.

Trotsky wrote: “Fascism, as we know, is born between the union of the despair of the middle-classes and the terrorist policy of big capital.” Yet the West never takes a class view and elevates big capital to the status of demigods – this is why to them fascism must always be solely race-related and never economic-related. It’s simply a half-truth, and not understanding and combating this dooms Western politics – and their own history – to total misunderstanding.

The 1% and their lackeys immediately called the Yellow Vests fascists because it was a union of the lower and middle classes – like in the Paris Commune it also included a union of the lower class and the proletariat with the petty bourgeois small shopkeeper.

Yellow Vest: “For 10 years we have only created instability. 75% of France has serious economic difficulties. We have closed hospitals, nurseries, schools – everything is being closed, and this can’t go on!”

Due to there insistence on elitism, fascism could have only ever allied with Liberal Democracy – the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact is as far as it ever could have gone. However, if they had somehow allied with the USSR against Liberal Democracy what would they have permanently smashed? Answer: the Bankocracy which rules today.

It’s vital to recognise that, because the current usage of “fascist” completely lacks this historical-economic component.

The fascism of the 2020s is even more right-wing than the fascism of the 1930s

Due to the refusal to honestly talk about fascism – on both the Western left and the Western right – Western politics today are simply a catastrophe of nonsense and misinformation.

Their lack of knowledge allows them to obscure the fact that modern Western “fascists” are even more right-wing than Hitler, who was quite reliant on the Marxist explanation of 19th century history and economics. However, the modern right wing has expunged Marxism, and thus they cannot be actual fascists. Racism and fascism cannot be mere synonyms for each other – unless the goal is to neuter them of all meaning.

Being more right-wing than Hitler… that seems like something which should be understood, no? However, Western Liberal Democracy doesn’t want anything but propaganda regarding other systems and regarding its own failures and treasons.

The best term for today’s alleged “fascists” would be “Nalis” – Nationalist Liberalists: they have all the jingoism, militarism, authoritarianism and imperialism of 1930s fascists but combine it with right-wing Liberalist political structures, economic inequality and historical analyses.

It’s a simple and accurate political description, but only socialist-inspired countries which have fully rejected Western Liberal Democracy would ever apply the term “Nali”: Just as uninformed socialists don’t want to admit any ideological similarities with Nazism, so uninformed Western Liberal Democrats don’t want to admit that they are actually fighting internecine wars with their “National Liberalist” brethren. The use of “Nazi” or “fascist” is a way to distance themselves from each other despite the obvious similarities between each other.

And what do Western Liberal Democrats care if calling far-right Ukrainians “Nazis” in 2022 unfairly tarnishes socialism and spreads misinformation – both wings of Liberalists (one nationalist, the other globalist) are united in their anti-socialism.

Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen are two example of open Nalis, but so are two enemies – Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky. The Russian military operation in Ukraine has been a catastrophe of misinformation on both sides regarding who is a “fascist” and who is a “liberal”, and precisely because neither can admit that fascism and liberalism coincide and almost always ally, historically. Thus this battle between two Nali states is either a historical anomaly or, as I predict, Russia’s invasion will mark a step away from their Nalism since 1991 and back towards Socialist Democracy. If Russia continues to insist that “Russophobia” totally equates with “Nazism”, then this will herald their failure to return the fold of progressive politics.

In France, by 2017 the Great Financial Crisis – just the latest periodic failure of liberalism – had inflamed the masses too much for every single politician to ignore: Marine Le Pen thus dropped the Reaganism of her father and made it to the second round of the presidential election. She defended economic ideas which were both similar to the French left and to the Germanic National Socialists of the 1930s. In the 2022 campaign Le Pen reverted back to far-right economics, dropping all her promises for things like a “Frexit” vote within six months of election and for repudiating banker debt, yet the mainstream media called her “fascist” throughout the entire time.

The modern French and Western model was essentially created from 1928-1945, and what it took from fascism and Germanic National Socialism is that economic planning must be limited to the military, and that xenophobia, identity politics and security are spectacles just big enough to dominate the headlines, and thus to ignore liberalism’s failures. To put it in 2022 presidential candidate Eric Zemmour’s terms: France’s economic problem is Muslim welfare, not banker welfare. It’s a pathetic intellectual analysis. When the unrest in Ukraine began France immediately realised that and Zemmour’s popularity quickly halved.

Yellow Vest: “If you look around here you see people of all colours and religions. For me it goes beyond questions of origin – it’s really a question of social justice, regardless of someone’s ethnicity or religion.”

During the 2022 campaign the convicted racist Zemmour said he was, “here to save the French people and France…not here to save the world.” It’s a telling, semi-messianic remark because it is truly straight out of Adolf Hitler’s platform in the 1930s.

But such a comparison was never made by the mainstream media, and it could never be made. Many have heard of Godwin’s Law, or the rule of Nazi analogies: an Internet adage asserting that as an online discussion grows longer (regardless of topic or scope), the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches. However, an important corollary is that whenever someone compares someone or something to Nazism – that person has lost the argument and/or the argument is summarily over.

Essentially, the world is to accept that all discussions of Western politics cannot discuss the anti-Western Liberalism ideology which was Germanic Nazism.

Thus it was impossible for them to accurately describe a 2022 French election where the four top candidates were all on the far-right – either economically, politically, culturally or all three. In the two-week interim between their two rounds of voting any criticism of Emmanuel Macron’s record was immediately shouted down in the mainstream media as “support for fascism” – voters wondered which candidate they were referring to. The failure to delineate fascism from Western Liberal Democracy means that we also cannot understand where they have reconciled a century later, just as how liberalism and monarchy eventually reconciled.

The Western right is stuck in falsely believing that the right of 2020 is the same as in the 1930s, despite all the anti-racist gains made since then; the Western left is stuck in falsely believing that their “Popular Front” tactic is actual leftism, despite being neutered of Marxism and socialism. This is why Western versions of history and their political discourse today simply make no sense. It only makes sense if we remember that obscuring political truths is a hallmark of Western Liberal Democratic history, and thus their versions are not truthful nor complete at all.

Not wanting to accurately define fascism or liberalism, but certain in their rejection of Socialist Democracy, after the first round vote in 2022 all the losing candidates (except Zemmour) immediately called for a Popular Front against Le Pen, just as they did in 2017. What’s vital and new is that the Yellow Vests empathically refused this form of class-collaborationism. The People’s Front tactic must be seen for what it is: not an effort to fight fascism but as a way to cement fake-leftism.

Trotsky wrote: “The racists pillage the Marxist program, successfully transforming certain of its sections into an instrument of social demagogy. The ‘Communists’ (?) as a matter of fact refuse their own program, substituting for it the rotten refuse of reformism. Can one conceive of a more fraudulent bankruptcy?”

Trotsky wrote that in 1935 but anyone can see that this is where the West is stuck, still:

Racists reject certain sections of Western Liberal Democrat economics in order to preserve White citizens from the united Bankocrats, while left-wingers hysterically prop up right-leaning moderates who only seek to refine Liberalism into an ever-more unequal system. Can you conceive of a more fraudulent ideological bankruptcy than modern Western politics?

If “Nali” ever did catch on one thing is certain: it would be a huge improvement.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value!

Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

The Paris Commune: The birth of international neoliberalism and EU neo-imperialism

April 17, 2022

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri

(This is the sixth chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

One hundred and fifty years later it’s clear that the Paris Commune of 1871 was four things, and only one – the last on this list – is widely understood in 2022.

  1. A reverse of the American Civil War: In France it was the slaveowners and slave traders who – as opposed to initiating it – forbid and fought down a rebellious secession. I think Marx would have been more effective in his description if he had compared France with the situation in the US, as it’s an interesting reverse parallel.
  2. For rightists: It’s interesting that they never look at how their victory over the Paris Commune furthered the right’s ideology and goals. It’s almost as if the champions of liberalism don’t want to admit that armed treason with Bismarck was the reason for their victory in France?

Too bad for them – there’s no doubt that’s what it was. 1871 marks the restoration of liberalism after the voter-approved coup of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in 1852. But the Third Republic created in 1871 is no longer a “French” government based on liberalism – as in 1848-52 – but a new type of liberalism based on collusion among the international elite: thus, it is truly “neoliberalism”. If we’re going to call anything “neoliberalism” – even though it’s all fundamentally just the same old “liberalism” – this is the most accurate place in history to add that prefix. Most add it over a century later, incorrectly.

  1. If the Commune represents such a major advance in global leftism because it’s the first sustained example of the dictatorship of the proletariat – for two months -, then the armed victory of an international elite class over such a major advance must herald something equally significant, no? It does: The Commune represents the very neo-imperialist dictates, with their first troops, of what would eventually be instituted as the European Union.

The definition of neo-imperialism is not simply the replacement of direct rule by Western colonisers with Westerners’ indirect rule via local Brown puppets – neo-imperialism also includes Westerners waging imperialist war on their own Western people for the benefit of an international 1%. The first modern example of this intra-European class warfare (not merely feudal class warfare) started with the Commune. The European Union is the bureaucratic expression of these forces which defeated The Commune.

  1. Lastly, there is total understanding that, for leftists, all we need is Frederich Engels’ famous concluding remarks on the 20th anniversary of the Commune: “Well and good, gentlemen, do you want to know what this dictatorship looks like? Look at the Paris Commune. That was the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.” This is the most widely understood understood of the four assertions.

The Commune is a big deal, but we need to make it a big deal for the victors, because they – rightly – are ashamed of it.

The objective history: The Commune was defeated by the armed collusion of the French 1% with the German 1%

Marx’s writings on the Paris Commune came in truly real-time. It’s incredible journalism that he got it so right but also so quickly, but what’s more shocking is what actually transpired:

The Paris Commune came after the capture of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. The average person was fine with this ignominious end to the Bonapartist imperial era – the modern executive branch had been discredited. In 1852 France had democratically sanctioned the self-coup of the executive branch against the usurping, unrepresentative and already disgraced legislative branch of Western Liberal Democracy, and by 1870 France was ready to let go of the world’s most progressive monarchy. They wanted something new – Socialist Democracy – but the Western Liberal Democratic elite was happy to push aside Bonaparte and re-usurp power, exactly as they did from 1849-51, when the National Assembly subverted the 1848 constitution to the majority will of parliament and gutted universal male suffrage. To achieve this re-conquering of the French people it took German troops to put them back into power; it took months starvation, censorship and totalitarian controls around Paris; it took the total rejection of any democratic will… but this is “neoliberalism” – should we be surprised?

A hastily-assembled French government of the rich colluding with Bismarck’s occupying Germans to bombard and siege Paris, what?

“The conspiracy of the ruling class to break down the revolution by a civil war carried on under the patronage of the foreign invader… culminated in the carnage of Paris.”

That’s from Marx, but it’s not a “a history” – it’s “the history”.

How can this be anything other than treason? How can this be anything other than forcing political regression onto France? How can the success of such a faction be anything other than ultimately anti-France? How can this be anything but a “not national war” as it has nothing to do with “national peoples” but everything to do with elites/emperors/bankers/slaveowners/industrial barons?

These unanswered questions from supporters of the West add up to a major theme of Western history: the covering up of the early crimes of Western Liberal Democracy, which hypocritically loves to endlessly focus on the early errors of a far more moral and democratic movement – socialism.

It’s truly accurate to call these post-1871 war French legislators the “anti-Resistance” of French history, because instead of fighting with autocratic Teutons they colluded with occupying Prussia to subvert the democratic will of Paris and, above all, to ring-fence them from the rest of the nation to keep Paris’ victory of Socialist Democracy from spreading.

Yellow Vest: “We didn’t score very well in last month’s European elections, but remember that we had only a few months to get everything organised, unlike all the other parties. What the Yellow Vests have hammered into people’s heads is the reality that, our purchasing power is never going to rise, our debt to high finance can only keep rising, and that tax evasion will only continue to rise unless voters fight for our cause.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

You likely have no idea whose these legislators are, and nor does the average Frenchman. The treasons of Western Liberal Democracy are as hushed up as they are rewarded – the head collaborator, Adolphe Thiers, became the first president of France’s Third Republic.

A major difference between the French Revolution of 1789 and the Commune is the lack of violence in Paris – until, that is, the forces of liberal democracy showed up and slaughtered as many in Paris (30,000) as had died in the entire nation during “the Terror” (1793-4). Of course, all one hears about is the Terror of 1793-4 and never this far worse Terror – it’s far worse because the victims included far more women, children, poor and innocent, who were all executed without trial, as opposed to the many unrepentant elite of 1793-4. “The Terror” in the Western world is that rich people got tried and sentenced to death – poor people executed without a trial is no problem for Western Liberal Democrats, of course. This faux-reality is because the winners write the history books, but there’s no doubt that as socialism prevails over Western Liberal Democracy the true terror will be rightly named more and more.

Not a ‘slaveowners rebellion’ but a true reversal of the US Civil War

Marx, in his writings on the Paris Commune, repeatedly dubs it a “slaveowners rebellion”, but it’s actually the inverse – Paris rebelled, not the ruling slaveowners, and after months of siege Parisians called to secede and to establish a new republic.

France had banned slavery, again, in 1848, but the Western Liberal Democrats conniving with Bismarck to establish their mutual control over the masses of Paris contained many former slave-traders; contained families whose wealth was based on centuries of slave trading; contained members whose financial dealings with countries who had not yet banned slavery, thus Marx is entirely justified to call them “slaveowners”.

There is also major significance that the opposition to the Paris Commune was first landed at an assembly in Bordeaux: it’s a port city built on the slave trade. The elite of Bordeaux, which is located within the department of Gironde, were consistently among the most reactionary, pro-slavery, anti-democracy elite in France (even more than almost English-sighting Brittany, the only region which sent troops to conquer The Commune).

Thus “slaveholders” did not secede against France, like in the US in 1861, but instead colluded with foreign occupiers and the slaughterers of French soldiers in order to contain a rebellious attempt at a new governmental structure. The Civil War in France, the name of Marx’s famed pamphlet on the Commune, was caused by the restoration of popularly-rejected Western Liberal Democracy, and only via a treasonous siege did it remain a “Paris Commune” and not a “Second French Revolution”.

Having established what transpired and the unpopular role and ideology of the slave-traders/Western Liberal Democrats who prevailed, we can move on to what these colluding traitors of the nation’s largest city established.

The restoration of liberalism = neoliberalism = anti-democracy, censorship & oligarchy

Even if the people of France were done with monarchy and empire, aristocracy and autocracy, false meritocracy and unrepresentative faux-technocracy, the liberalists, constitutional monarchists and autocrats alike were not.

The elections for the first legislature of the new Third Republic were with Prussians in half the country – should we be surprised that neoliberalism’s birth came under totally undemocratic voting conditions? Two-thirds of its members were either Orleanists or Bourbonists – yes, royalism and autocracy has prevailed in an alleged “Third Republic” built on mass murder in the capital.

Yellow Vests: “There has been so much police brutality today and in recent months. It’s clear that the 5th Republic is dead, and that we must change not only the Macron regime, but our entire system. The French people are being ruled by thieves.”

It cannot be stressed enough how the Paris Commune relates to the overall historical trend of fighting monarchy and autocratic mindsets: 100 years after the French Revolution the Third Republic was a “republic” mainly run by royalists! This is no longer a “French” government based on liberalism – as in 1849-52 – but a new type of liberalism based on collusion among the international elite: it’s neoliberalism.

As the years passed in the Third Republic these royalists would have to renounce their royalism – seeing that it was totally rejected by the French people – and thus they would switch their allegiance to the new neoliberalism. The result was clear to much of the new “Third World”: With the fig leaf of republican and democratic institutions France’s overseas empire would now become the world’s second-largest. The idea that Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte or his uncle represented an “empire” more venal than that of the Third Republic is a totally unsupportable fiction.

Marx notes how the Commune differed from the 1%-er desires of Western Liberal Democrats: in The Commune the worker and lower classes were joined by the petty bourgeois, just like with the Yellow Vests. What united them was the debt-producing and rent-seeking of liberalists.

“And yet, this was the first revolution in which the working class was openly acknowledged as the only class capable of social initiative, even by the great bulk of the Paris middle class – shopkeepers, tradesmen, merchants – the wealthy capitalist alone excepted. The Commune had saved them by a sagacious settlement of that ever recurring cause of dispute among the middle class themselves – the debtor and creditor accounts (via the postponing of debts for 2-3 years). The same portion of the middle class, after they had assisted in putting down the working men’s insurrection of June 1848 had been at once unceremoniously sacrificed to the creditors by the then Constituent Assembly. But this was not their only motive for now rallying around the working class. They felt there was but one alternative – the Commune, or the empire – under whatever name it might reappear. The (2nd) empire (of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte), had ruined them economically by the havoc it made of public wealth, by the wholesale financial swindling it fostered, by the props it lent to the artificially accelerated centralisation of capital, and the concomitant expropriation of their own ranks.”

To champion Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte over the first class of Western Liberal Democratic politicians is one thing, but we should see here why our modern leftist support must be limited for Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte: He failed to stop, as President or as elected Emperor, the modern home-based debt-slavery which remains rampant in the West today:

“In the eyes of the French peasant the very existence of a great landed proprietor is itself an encroachment on his conquests of 1789. The bourgeois, in 1848, had burdened his plot of land with the additional tax of 45 cents, in the franc; but then he did so in the name of the revolution; while now he had foment a civil war against revolution; to shift on to the peasant’s shoulders the chief load of the 5 billion of indemnity to be paid to the Prussian. The Commune, on the other hand, in one of its first proclamations, declared that the true originators of the war would be made to pay its cost.”

So we see the roots of neoliberalism both politically and economically: multinational autocrats and elite bourgeois against all workers and the modern, essentially precarious middle class (petty bourgeois).

(In a parenthetical from the larger point of the shift from serfdom to debt-serfdom in France: Here we see the cause of the reparations which France demanded after World War I. These reparations are always historically portrayed as unjustified and as a major cause of Germany’s hyper-inflation and the rise of the Nazis. Again, we see how the refusal of Western Liberal Democracy to honestly examine its formative years from 1848-1914 has led to total historical ignorance. Germanic people will also point out that this debt load reflected the same debt load Napoleon put onto Germany, but the differences are enormous: France fought defensive war after defensive war from Prussian-Austrian-Hungarian aggression, and France was also received as liberators from feudalism – 1871 is not liberation at all!)

1871 is popularly portrayed as a localised and extremely radicalised movement (even immoral: from Wikipedia, and without explanation or justification – “The principles underpinning the Commune were viewed as morally degenerate….” ) and not “The French Civil War of 1871” only because of censorship tactics used against it.

The Rurals (i.e. the Bordeaux Assembly) – this was, in fact, their chief apprehension – knew that three months’ free communication of Communal Paris with the provinces would bring about a general rising of the peasants, and hence their anxiety to establish a police blockade around Paris, so as to stop the spread of the rinderpest.”

In the 21st century we see how Western Liberal Democracy, after realising what devolving the “power of writing” via digital social media can do, has responded with vast censorship against their “rinderpest” classes of today. Of course, Western Liberal Democracy has brutally repressed socialist thought for nearly two centuries.

While the Versailles government (the Bordeaux Assembly would relocate to Versailles, the seat of autocracy, in March 1871), as soon as it had recovered some spirit and strength, used the most violent means against the Commune; while it put down the free expression of opinion all over France, even to the forbidding of meetings of delegates from the large towns; while it subjected Versailles and the rest of France to an espionage far surpassing that of the Second Empire; while it burned, by its gendarme inquisitors, all papers printed at Paris, and sifted all correspondence from and to Paris; while in the National Assembly the most timid attempts to put in a word for Paris were howled down in a manner unknown even to the Chambre introuvable of 1816 (The ultra-royalist and uber-reactionary Chamber of Deputies of the Bourbon Restoration); with the savage warfare of Versailles outside, and its attempts and corruption and conspiracy inside Paris – would the Commune not have shamefully betrayed its trust by affecting to keep all the decencies and appearances of liberalism as in a time of profound peace?”

It’s the same problem as in 1849: Western Liberal Democracy does not even protect the democratic freedoms described in liberalist thought. There is never a free marketplace of ideas if the ideas discuss eliminating the oligarchic parliamentary style of government which dominates the West. Similarly, Iran, Cuba, China and other socialist-style democracies censor calls to counter their popular revolutions, but there are two key differences: Western Liberal Democracy hypocritically claims to be more tolerant when they are not, and Western Liberal Democracy’s popular support is a false construction.

Because of the cutting off of communications – as well as because of the massive bloodletting when the siege was broken – the French Civil War remained a limited affair: it was the working people of Paris, and the politically progressive there, against the nation-wide banker-lawyer-landlord-aristocrat elite who were colluding with occupying Germans. It could have been the third progressive national revolution in 82 years, but it was massacred before it reached that level.

Yellow Vest: “They are using even harsher tear gas on us, and people are dropping to the ground left and right. Our demand is for a more equal and more democratic society, and this does not merit such inadmissible violence. The government must listen to the people of France.”

It remains clearly a class war, and an international one, and that’s why the Commune is so vital. Whereas a century earlier it was royals colluding against their own people the Commune saw foreign-backed liberal politicians doing that.

It’s truly the birth of the principles of the European Union.

The Commune as the birth of EU neo-imperialism

Returning to the theme of European political history I set out in my Introduction chapter, 1871 represents a vital step beyond Europe’s original imperialism, which started with the Columbian era of Old versus New World, and then also a step beyond France’s occupation of Algeria in 1830: The refusal of a huge proportion of France to refuse support for armed war on Paris forced Bismarck to release hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war, who were used to reconquer Paris.

“This army, however, would have been ridiculously ineffective without the instalments of imperialist war prisoners, which Bismarck granted in numbers just sufficient to keep the civil war going, and keep the Versailles government in abject dependence on Prussia.”

These represent the first-ever shock troops of European neo-imperialism. If Western Liberal Democracy was truly honest about its elitist individualism these men would be lionised as the first neo-imperial EU foot soldiers. Should we see a “Frexit” similar troops might be mustered if financial war fails to force them back into the EU neoliberal empire.

The Third Republic was formed amid German occupation, in the hastiest of a wartime vote, in order to approve a peace plan with Germany, but also – critically – to put the most unfit, unpatriotic, pro-neoliberal 1% people into power. It’s a hallmark criticism of Western Liberal Democracy that their politicians are incredibly distrusted and the puppets of big money – the same goes for the first representatives of neoliberals, per Marx.

“The population could not but feel that the terms of the armistice rendered the continuation of the war impossible, and that for sanctioning the peace imposed by Bismarck the worst men in France were the best. …. There is but this difference: that the Romans had no mitrailleuses (volley machine guns) for the despatch, in the lump (sum), of the proscribed, and that they had not ‘the law in their hands’ nor on their lips the cry of ‘civilisation’.”

We see here that the faux-moralism of Western Liberal Democracy truly began in 1871 as well.

“That, after the most tremendous war of modern times, the conquered and conquering hosts should fraternise for the common massacre of the proletariat – this unparalleled event does indicate, not, as Bismarck thinks, the final repression of a new society up heaving, but the crumbling into dust of bourgeois society.”

What Marx misses is that – by his own analysis – the petty bourgeois/small traders/true middle class was also massacred i 1871. The Yellow Vests alliance with this class – as opposed to the general leftist contempt for even the most near-bankrupt shop-keeper – is thus a significant broadening of leftism and also a return to what actually worked.

Yellow Vest: “The G7 is spending 30 million euros over one weekend to give rich ministers champagne, caviar and lobsters, while people in France don’t have money for food or electricity. They talk about saving the environment, but only after flying here in their private, first-class planes. France’s billionaires see their fortunes rise every year, whereas the minimum salary France is forced to stretch more and more. We need a real redistribution of wealth.”

The socialist Paris Commune lost. What up-heaved was not socialist society but a new form of liberalism – one where Western elitist-imperialists turned on Westerners themselves in massacres formerly reserved for Brown peoples. It also marks the start of where liberalism began its war to eradicate socialist societies, a war of eradication which was as brutal and as highly-censored as the monarchical war against liberalism was before the two began colluding in 1871.

Paris Commune: The start of what 1917, 1949, 1959 and 1979 carried

To summarise simply:

It was essentially a working class government, the product of the struggle of the producing against the appropriating class, the political form at last under which to work out the emancipation of labor. … The Commune was therefore to serve as a lever for uprooting the economical foundation upon which rests the existence of classes, and therefore of class rule.” (emphasis mine)

And if we aren’t working for a classless society, then why are you reading this? Go out and rob, cheat and steal to join the upper class, and then join in their suppression the working, middle, pensioner, student, youth, female, minority, etc. classes.

There’s a lot of nonsense emanating from France on the Commune – four months of siege will do that to you, perhaps – and it’s on the side of the anarchists.

The Commune is considered by anarchists to be their heyday – a day when the stages of socialism and communism were leapfrogged (who needs development?) – and the immediate repression didn’t give a chance to push aside these deluded bores. The only thing duller than, the founder of collective anarchism, Mikhail Bakunin’s self-referential writings on the Commune are his metaphysical thoughts. The certainties of the Commune’s anarchists are as full of false “universal values” as much as any Western Liberal Democrat. Marx and Trotsky detested their generations’s anarchists as much as the Yellow Vests refused to hand any sort of political leadership to Black Bloc or Antifa.

Western Liberal Democrats love to focus on the most individualistic, fantastic and nonsensical ideas espoused during The Commune – again, four months of siege will produce some of that – because it avoids any talk of the actual politics which was discussed, and allows for caricatures such as “morally degenerate”. They want to make The Commune like May 1968, but the former was not just a movement for individual rights but about the political right to form a new type of government. As time goes on the unity of the Yellow Vests and their political goals became more apparent – not 68ard individualism but 1789 class and cultural warfare. The Yellow Vest are a class warfare group.

Yellow Vest: “There has been enormous repression never seen before in France. Even in 1968 it was not as bad as this. But this has been the policy chosen by the president in order to break the movement. We will keep improvising new solutions to win our demands.”

But the biggest problem leftists must unlearn from the Commune’s legacy is that it was totally Parisian. It’s led to a veneration of urbanites as outdated as the veneration of factory proletariat – rural people, cubicle dwellers, pensioners and other groups must be in the vanguard, too.

Here’s an interesting thought: if we are to accept that – at 1871’s time of rural domination – that the urban areas were the political vanguard, then perhaps we should consider that today, when most societies are urbanised, that rural areas are now the political vanguard? With the Yellow Vests this generalisation appears to hold generally true.

What’s interesting is that the Paris Commune proved Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, correct regarding the way Western Liberal Democracy, in its ultimate goal of federalism (seen in the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and many Western monarchies are allegedly “unitary”), centers everything around the capital and thus ultimately creates fragmentation and disunity. Federalism is opposed in socialist democracy because Western Liberal Democratic federalism serves to weaken society by weakening the power of government and thus increasing the power of the rich individual – it allows for capitalists to “divide and conquer”.

Burke foresaw this: “You cannot but perceive in this scheme that it has a direct and immediate tendency to sever France into a variety of republics, and to render them totally independent of each other without any constitutional means of coherence, connection or subordination, except what may be derived from the acquiescence in the determinations of the general congress of the ambassadors from each independent republic.”

More importantly, Burke would’t have been surprised one bit by the elite’s response in 1871 to the democratic rejection of Western Liberal Democracy:

“Neither they have left any principle by which any of their municipalities can be bound to obedience, or even conscientiously obliged not to separate from the whole to become independent, or to connect itself with some other state. … To this the answer is: We will send troops. The last reason of kings is always the first with your Assembly.”

Indeed: become Western Liberal Democratic or die, be sanctioned, etc.

Burke sees a more modern Western problem – capital domination – but agrees that Western Liberal Democrats must control the capital above all.

“All you have got for the present is a paper circulation and a stock-jobbing constitution; and, as to the future, do you seriously think that the territory of France, upon the republican system of eighty-three independent municipalities (to say nothing of the parts that compose them), can ever be governed as one body or can ever be set in motion by the impulse of one mind? When the National Assembly has completed its work, it will have accomplished its ruin. These commonwealths will not long bear a state of subjection to the republic of Paris.”

Because the “republic of Paris” in 1871 was socialist the rest of France had nothing to fear from the capital – quite the reverse in modern Western Liberal Democracy. The smothering of local cultures via an ethnocentric capital is something expressly opposed in Socialist Democracy.

In order to forestall incorrect anarchists about Marx, we should note his recognition of the need for centralisation. “The centralisation of government, required by modern society, rises only upon the ruins of the military and bureaucratic governmental machinery that was forged in contrast to feudalism.” (emphasis mine)

Above all the Commune represents what neoliberalism requires: armed rule is what keeps Western Liberal Democracy going.

We would do well to remember that Engels believed the biggest mistake of The Commune was to not attack the real heart of Western Liberal Democracy: its Bankocracy.

“The hardest thing to understand is certainly the holy awe with which they remained standing respectfully outside the gates of the Bank of France. This was also a serious political mistake. The bank in the hands of the Commune – this would have been worth more than 10,000 hostages. It would have meant the pressure of the whole of the French bourgeoisie on the Versailles government in favor of peace with the Commune.”

At Tahrir Square in Egypt I saw that the first place protesters went to was the television media centre: The main problem is not persuasion, but financial – the people will always admit that Western Liberal Democracy has failed. They should have taken over the banks, just as the Western invaders of Libya knew – they looted the authoritarian form of Islamic Socialism of so much gold that it’s been called the “biggest heist in the world”.

The Commune ends nearly 100 years of French leadership of progressive politics, as Russia and Eastern Europe would take the reins in the next generation.

What started with the Paris Commune would be bookended in 1936 with the Spanish Civil War. Spain was a non-wartime, legal and national Paris Commune, but neoliberal and neo-imperial Western Liberal Democracy chose war just like in 1871.

Understanding the 1930s, an era as shrouded in Western propaganda as 1789-1917, is the only way to understand post-Great Recession politics. This is truly, Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s.

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Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value!

Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Louis-Napoleon: The revolutionary difference between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy

April 11, 2022

Source

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

by Ramin Mazaheri

(This is the fifth chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

For Marx all of society was divided into classes – classes which played political roles. What’s unfortunate is that he fundamentally believed that the average rural person – 85% of mid-19th century France – was incapable of playing a political role. It’s a major blind spot which seems to defy common sense, but it was actually a common mistake back then.

It’s a common mistake even now: Rejecting the part played by the rural voters continues to be a 175-year problem for Western leftists.

Yes, in 1848 Marx was a working socialist who was going to fight, write and lobby for socialism – and denigrate all the other parties vying for influence in the new 2nd Republic (1848-52) – but in 2022 we can see that his disregard for the rural masses was also a major factor in his rejection (and rather slandering) of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, who was elected France’s first president in 1848.

In the previous chapter I noted how two crucial facts are always left out of any discussion of the 2nd Republic and Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup against the legislative branch (and subsequent establishment of the 2nd Empire: 1852-70):

1) the legislative branch voted to subordinate the 1848 constitution to the majority will of parliament – thus they made a coup against the people’s constitution, and 2) the legislative branch gutted 1848’s progressive advance of instituting universal male suffrage, thus they made a coup against the people and millions of new voters. Thus, it is the oligarchical parliament which made the first coup – the Bonapartist coup was a reaction to these outrages. Critically, it was approved in a referendum so large it was then the world’s largest referendum.

The simplest definition of “Bonapartism” is accepted as, “A political movement associated with authoritarian rule, usually by a military leader, supported by a popular mandate.” Of course I am not arguing for Bonapartism being progressive in the 21st century, but from 1799-1870 the Bonapartes were the only elected chief executives in Europe, and that certainly was progressive! The failure is in obscuring the Bonapartes’ historical context and judging solely by 21st century standards – which is ludicrous and dooms us to never understanding history and repeating the same mistakes.

Without embracing the will of a mainly rural French electorate intent on keeping the spirits of 1848 and 1789 not just alive but actually partially implemented via their election of the Bonapartes, we are stuck with siding with awful absolute monarchs or awful Liberal Democrats. It’s unfortunate that France has never selected Socialist Democracy, but that doesn’t mean Bonapartism wasn’t an advance over the other two.

By denigrating both Bonapartes leftists agree with conservatives that not only was 1848 a failure everywhere including the one place it reportedly succeeded – France – but that the French Revolution was a failure as well. This forces us to lose the thread of political history: moving away from unelected, theocratic autocracy and towards greater self-empowerment and democracy.

So, Marx got Louis-Bonaparte all wrong. He’s not as thrilling as his uncle, but he should no longer be portrayed as the “farce” in Marx’s famous history repeated as farce idea from his essay The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

What’s farcical is that people keep championing ruinous, repugnant Western Liberal Democracy even though it was voted out after just three years in France.

From Burke to Marx to ‘deplorable’ Brexiteers & Yellow Vests – both left and right have been biased against rural people

Marx’s Brumaire, a title which referred back to the similarly bloodless and similarly voter-ratified coup of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799, clearly tried to obscure crucial truths: He waited until the absolute end of his famous essay to explain that Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s elevation to emperor was democratically approved and justifiably rests on his insistence on 1848’s unprecedented implementation of universal male suffrage.

(Louis-Napoleon) Bonaparte represents an economic class, and that most numerous in the commonweal of France – the Allotment Farmer. As the Bourbons (ousted 1815) are the dynasty of large landed property, as the Orleans are the dynasty of money, so are the Bonapartes the dynasty of the farmer, i.e. of the French masses. Not the Bonaparte who threw himself at the feet of the bourgeois parliament (as Marx notes Louis-Napoleon did repeatedly from his election in 1848), but the Bonaparte who swept away (made a coup against) the bourgeois parliament is the elect of this farmer class. For three years the cities had succeeded in falsifying the meaning of the election of December 10 (1848, Louis-Napoleon’s election as president), and in cheating the former out of the restoration of the Empire. The election of December 10, 1848, is not carried out until the ‘coup d’etat’ of December 2, 1851.”

Marx asserts what the Yellow Vests assert and what this book asserts: the parliaments of Western Liberal Democracy refuse to implement the will of the average voter, and we have known this since at least 1848.

Marx’s vital analysis of democratic denial by parliament only comes after scores of pages of denigrating Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte as personally unfit for office. However, 175 years later, we can see it clearly right there: Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte partially confirmed the people’s victory of 1848 just as Napoleon Bonapartism partially confirmed the people’s victory of 1789 – both upheld the democratic will and opposed oligarchs.

The “allotment farmer” is the rural proletariat, whether they own their own small holdings or are sharecroppers. 1789 broke up the large estates of the church and created these small holdings, which was really the main economic blow to end French feudalism. It is facile to falsely slander the land redistribution post-1789 as something which only profited the richer peasants and professionals, because as the Revolution went on poor peasants were undoubtedly buying land. By the turn of the century 70% of land buyers were peasants and only 30% were noblemen, dealers, merchants and lawyers. Even if poor peasants could never afford their own land the French Revolution’s ending of tithe, seigniorial dues and primogeniture represented an enormous leftist leap for the lives of all peasants. One shouldn’t have to be a Maoist to grasp that finally giving peasants property and economic freedoms at the expense of the elite and an elite-infested clergy was a spectacular advance in its day. To not see all this as historical progress – even if not ideal – from feudalism is to lose the thread completely. In order to maintain it French farmers used arms, then the guillotine, then votes. The fear of a return to feudalism – especially in the context of a total failure of the 1848 Revolutions everywhere else across Europe – was a real, regular fear for the French peasant in the 2nd Republic.

Marx continues, and it’s clear that he sees the formally feudal masses as being incapable of embracing socialism; of a need for an urban vanguard party; that he could be describing the Yellow Vests 170 years later:

“The allotment farmers are an immense mass, whose individual members live in identical conditions, without, however, entering into manifold relations of one another. Their method of production isolates them from one another, instead of drawing them into mutual intercourse. In so far as millions of families live under economic conditions that separate their mode of life, their interests and their culture from those of the other classes, and that place them in an attitude hostile toward the latter, they constitute a class; in so far as there exists only a local connection among these farmers, a connection which the individuality and exclusiveness of their interests prevent from generating among them any unity of interest, national connections and political organisation, they do not constitute a class.”

If rural farmers – in the breadbasket of Western Europe and in Europe’s then-richest and most politically advanced country – cannot constitute a political class (even with a vote for the males, even!) then Marx necessarily sees French politics as limited to urbanites and non-farmers. It’s an incredibly English-influenced view of politics: suffrage would be excluded for Britain’s agricultural workers until as late as 1884, until the Representation of the People Act. We see that the rural-urban divide in the Anglophone world, and their view that ruralites are second-class citizens who should be excluded from politics, is not since Brexit or the Yellow Vests but extends deep into the roots of even Socialist Democracy.

Yellow Vest: “What we have in common is that we share a feeling of injustice, about climate, about fiscal, about work. They are making laws about retirement, unemployed people, everything – so there is a lot of different people here today, but what we all have in common is a feeling of injustice.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

Marx continues: “Consequently, they are unable to assert their class interests in their own name, be it by a parliament or by convention. They cannot represent one another, they must be represented. Their representative must at the same time appear as their master, as an authority over them, as an unlimited governmental power, that protects them from above, bestows rain and sunshine upon them. Accordingly, the political influence of the allotment farmer finds its ultimate expression in an Executive power that subjugates the commonweal to its own autocratic will.”

Because around 85% of France is incapable of political action (even with a vote for males!) for Marx, and only appreciates absolute autocrats (Then why did they fight for the French Revolution! Then why have Chinese farmers embraced a vast Party?!), then the only alternative is for political life be limited to a vanguard party drawn from urban classes. This urban snobbery is still rampant today across both sides of the spectrum, but the left rarely examines this “acceptable” prejudice they often display.

However, we need to stress that Marx was not at all alone. Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism, shared the same incorrectly dim view of rural political capabilities as Marx. Interestingly, Burke also wrote in his Reflections on the Revolution in France that this new Western Liberal Democracy would perpetually depend on those classes which oppress the rural masses. He notes that it would be dominated by what I have often written about: not a vanguard class inspired by Socialist Democracy but Bankocracy.

“The whole of the power obtained by this (France’s 1789) revolution will settle in the towns among the burghers and the monied director who lead them. The landed gentleman, the yeoman, and the peasant have, none of them, habits or inclinations or experience which can lead them to any share in this sole source of power and influence now left in France. The very nature of a country life, the very nature of landed property, in all the occupations, and all the pleasures they afford, render combination and arrangement (the sole way of procuring and exerting influence) in a manner impossible amongst country people. Combine them by all the art you can, and all the industry, they are always dissolving into individuality. Anything in the nature of incorporation is almost impracticable amongst them. Hope, fear, alarm, jealousy, the ephemerous tale that does its business and dies in a day – all these things which are the reins and spurs by which leaders check or urge the minds of followers are not easily employed, or hardly at all, amongst scattered people. They assemble, they are, they act with the utmost difficulty and at the greatest charge. Their efforts, if they can be commenced, cannot be sustained. They cannot proceed systematically.

It is obvious that in the towns all things which conspire against the country gentleman come in favor of the money managers and director. In towns combination is natural. The habits of burghers, their occupations, their diversion, their business, their idleness continually brings them into mutual contact. Their figures and their vices are sociable; they are always in garrison; and they come embodied and half disciplined into the hands of those who mean to form them for civil or military action.

All these considerations leave no doubt on my mind that, if this monster of a constitution can continue, France will be wholly governed by the agitators in corporations, by societies in the towns, formed of directors of assignats, and trustees for the sale of church lands, attorneys, agents, money jobbers, speculators and adventurers, composing an ignoble oligarchy founded on the destruction of the the crown, the nobility and the people. Here are all the deceitful dreams and lies of the equality and rights of men.”

They are always in garrison… a sycophant, yes, but Burke was also a great writer. He also foresaw that Western Liberal Democracy was going to culminate in an “ignoble oligarchy” formed of “agitators in corporations”, land speculators, “attorneys, agents, money jobbers, speculators and adventurers”. Who today would not admit that this is what it is?

What Burke failed to foresee is that Marx, Lenin, Russia, China, Cuba, Iran and others would create new systems which would wrest control from both monarchs and this group – which rules along with monarchs in Western Liberal Democracies – and give it to the masses.

So Marx was not alone in thinking that the rural masses are difficult to wrangle into politics, but the weekly roundabout protest and the Facebook page – where freedom of assembly and speech/writing are enjoyed (or at least they were at one point in the internet’s history) – has definitely ended the isolation of the rural class. This class, which was created by 1789 let’s recall, had to wait a very long time to challenge the capital’s death-grip on governance. What is the capital’s 21st century response? To both accuse this rural class of racism while at the same time promoting mainstream politicians who have explicitly pushed imperialist racism.

In 1852 socialism was not sufficiently developed. Ruralites understandably turned to Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte after just 3 years of trying out bourgeois Western Liberal Democracy – the alternative was a return to feudalism, autocracy and the total death of 1789.

“The rooted thought of the Nephew becomes a reality because it coincided with the rooted thought of the most numerous class among the French.”

Marx was right to champion socialism, but 175 years later we can champion Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte for his popular democratic legitimacy, something which Marx knew, but refused to grudgingly champion:

If the bourgeois have no values at all, then not only does liberalism have no values but neither does the first years after 1789

Also coming at the end of his analysis, Marx has rather tossed in this defense of half the country.

“But this should be well understood: The Bonaparte dynasty does not represent the revolutionary, it represents the conservative farmer; it does not represent the farmer who presses beyond his own economic conditions, his little allotment of land, it represents him rather who would confirm these conditions; it does not represent the rural population, that, thanks to its own inherent energy, wishes, jointly with the cities to overthrow the old older. It represents, on the contrary, the rural population that, hide-bound in the old order, seeks to see itself, together with its allotments, saved and favoured by the ghost of the Empire.”

Yet Marx is wrong all over the place, in this effort to portray Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte as the candidate of only the far-right farmer. Marx is wrong about who was a “conservative”: Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was elected at a time when royalism was dominant across Europe and still a major part of France’s own political spectrum. To imagine that in 1848 all of France’s farmers had been converted to republicanism/anti-monarchism is certainly false – there were still plenty of royalist farmers, and they are the true conservatives. Furthermore, Marx is implying that farmers who want to preserve the gains of 1789 (which is hardly an “old order”) but are skeptical of 1848 are hidebound reactionaries even though this farmer and his family are the only ones to have thrown off the chains of autocratic feudalism in all of Europe. It’s tortuous logic, indeed.

What Marx failed to admit here is that the desire to hold on to a little allotment, at a time when Anglo-Germanic-Russian autocracy offered only continued feudalism, contains plenty of socialist revolutionary sentiment. It’s surprising that Marx fails to admit this, because in the Communist Manifesto Marx is clearly not against the property of the allotment farmer: “The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. … Communism deprives no man of the power to appropriate the products of society; all that it does is to deprive him of the power to subjugate the labour of others by means of such appropriations.”

Yet it’s clear: upholding 1789 was still a revolutionary act in 1848 Europe. I believe Marx was playing politics – he could not make a tactical support of Louis-Napoleon because he wanted the socialists to win.

Yellow Vest: “The Yellow Vests won’t stop until we get citizen-initiated referendums. We need some real democracy in our system, but the Yellow Vests can’t do it alone. I’m glad more help from other sectors is on the way next week.”

As in the previous chapter, Marx proves that Liberal Democracy does not even offer or defend the bourgeois rights of mere liberalism, but Marx goes too far in saying that the bourgeois have no virtues at all when compared to monarchists.

Marx differentiated between royal & bourgeois money and classes, but not between the differences between royal & bourgeois virtues

Marx views the rule of the bourgeois in the 2nd Republic as absolutely terrible, but it’s not really clear if he views them to be as absolutely terrible as monarchy: he truly hates them both. He also truly hates Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte. Marx is only on the side of socialism, which is fine, but he underestimates the non-royalists in how they reject the social order of the royalists, and this is a fundamental trend of history:

“All classes and parties joined hands in the (1848 uprising) June Days in a ‘Party of Order’ against the class of the proletariat, which was designated the ‘Party of Anarchy’, of Socialism, of Communism. They claimed to have ‘saved’ society against the ‘enemies of society’. They gave out the slogans of the old social order – ‘Property, family, religion, order’ – as the passwords for their army, and cried out to the counter-revolutionary crusaders: ‘In this sign thou wilt conquer!’”

I think we all get where Marx is coming from. He is also describing what the last chapter focused on: The February Revolution of 1848 was sold out over and over, culminating in the exclusion from power of all classes but the royalists, bourgeois wealth and the upper professionals.

But if we take a longer view of history we see that those were actually new slogans, as they come from a new liberalist republican mindset – those slogans are not the slogans of monarchy at all!

Autocratic monarchy doesn’t respect “property”: they confiscate and bestow at will. They don’t respect “family”: they enslaved your family, forced you to work in their self-glorifying projects and some had the right to rape your wife on your wedding night. They don’t respect righteous “religion” and good works: they conflate religion with praise of their person and total obedience to them, not God. They don’t respect “order”: the “order” in the mind of one king or queen, i.e. their despotism, is “disorder” to everyone else, as they live in fear of that one mind in charge.

Marx does not see that these 2nd Republic slogans have an actual force among liberalist republicans which was new in human history, even if their definition was misused by the royalists. Marx is making politics and thus was, fairly, more concerned with socialism winning power than delineating a progression of history.

In 2022 no socialist-inspired country is against “property”: it does certainly expropriates from the appropriator those goods which the public needs (i.e. electricity, transport, schools, hospitals, etc.). Socialism does not break up the “family”: it undoubtedly promotes the family with tax breaks for children, state-run nurseries, maternal and paternal leave, etc. Socialism is not against “religion”: the USSR proved that this was an immoral failure, and thus religion coexists in places like Cuba, Vietnam, Iran, etc. Socialism is not against “order”: it enforces an order based around equality, whereas the order of Western Liberal Democracy is based around the violence needed to prop up an oligarchy.

So the problem with the “Property, family, religion, order” upheld by Western Liberal Democracy is that these four things are of the conception held by a 1% who either champions or is still a part of the monarchical legacy, and not for and of the masses. Losing property to the 1%’s usury, losing family to the 1%’s hospital bills, losing religion to the 1%’s worship of individualistic sensation, losing order to the 1%’s idea of “slightly less despotism is offered by rule by our class” – this is not socialism, but it clearly is Western Liberal Democracy.

What the Party of Order did was subvert these ideals which liberalism and socialism, both born in 1789, agree are necessary. What they disagree is in the conception of them.

Where they agree is in a negative view of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte.

It’s notable that he is so contemptible to Marx yet his Louis-Napoleon’s enemies (François Guizot) said of his coup: “This is the complete and definitive triumph of socialism.” A reassessment of Marx’s animus is clearly needed to clearly understand “the nephew”.

Marx disliked Louis-Napoleon the way a working socialist politician today dislikes Donald Trump

Marx spends an inordinate amount of Brumaire both suppressing the role of the rural masses and elevating the importance of the urban areas, as I have noted. He also repeatedly condemns Louis-Napoleon as the president of the “slum-proletariat”, or what he calls the “La Boheme” social classes: people without merit and without any desire to acquire work skills, combined with pseudo-artistic types, outright criminals and addicts.

And yet Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte seemed to be a man after Marx’s own leftist-writer heart? Sadly, he had the fortune/misfortune of being a Bonaparte. Louis-Napoleon was the son of whom the Dutch called “Louis the Good” – Napoleon’s brother Louis, who headed French Revolutionary Netherlands.

Louis-Napoleon clearly saw his political ideology as perpetuating the middle-of-the-road revolutionary path of Napoleon Bonaparte, which is based around ideas that government exists to serve the masses, stability while implementing progressive political changes, and a healthy and not jingoistic patriotism. A fuller, uncredited definition is: A popular national leader confirmed by popular election, above party politics, promoting equality, progress, and social change, with a belief in religion as an adjunct to the State, a belief that the central authority can transform society, a belief in the “nation” and its glory and a fundamental belief in national unity. I note that Iran’s revolutionary concept of what I term a “supreme leader branch” shares a lot of these characteristics.

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s path was quite similar to his uncle’s, and with similar conflicts – he started as a revolutionary republican, fighting Teutonic autocracy in Italy. But his personal attempts at revolution – himself at the head of a Bonapartist revolt – landed him in prison. It’s there that he starts to be much like a Marx – a widely-read socio-economic historian of a leftist variety. An major part of his 1848 electoral popularity is based on his works like The Extinction of Pauperism, which reveal his concern with the general good of the average French person – this puts him in stark contrast with the royalists and elite seated in the 2nd Republic’s first National Assembly in 1849. His philosophy is ultimately not socialism but Bonapartism, with himself obviously at the head – and for this Marx cannot ally with him.

However, equating Bonapartism with absolute monarchism or unelected authoritarianism is as foolish as it was in the era of Napoleon Bonparte. It also cannot be equated with Western Liberal Democracy.

I would like to ask Marx: How bad can Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte be when on October 10, 1851, he announces plans to restore universal suffrage and on October 16 his executive cabinet resigns over it? Marx commented:

Marx quotes Louis Napoleon, who concludes with a perfect analysis of the 1849-51 rule of Western Liberal Democracy, but still with no credit from Marx. I think it’s precisely because he, like so many Western leftists and unlike so many modern Muslim leftists, totally forgets the influence of monarchism:

“With such unhoped for successes, I am justified to repeat how great the French republic would be if she were only allowed to pursue her real interests and reform her institutions, instead of being constantly disturbed in this by demagogues, on one side, and on the other, by monarchic hallucinations. The monarchic hallucinations hamper all progress and all serious departments of industry. Instead of progress we have struggle only. Men, formerly the most zealous supporters of royal authority and prerogative become the partisans of a convention that has no purpose other than to weaken an authority that is born of universal suffrage. We see men who have suffered most from the (1848) revolution and complained bitterest of it proving a new one for the sole purpose of putting fetters on the will of the nation.” (emphasis mine)

Modern Iranians certainly know what it means to be disturbed by “monarchic hallucinations”. Marx failed to appreciate Louis-Napoleon’s railing against the royalist threat even though that is exactly what the average voter in France (a farmer) wanted to hear, because a return to feudalism was horrible to them and quite a real danger. Nor did he appreciate the average voter’s the brand-new goal: ending the self-interested oligarchy which is Western Liberal Democracy.

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte is an advance in global political history because he is against the total domination of the bourgeois, here in the form of a parliamentary republic, which ended universal suffrage and which dominated in many ways more thoroughly than in absolute autocracy as Marx himself said.

Like his uncle, Louis Napoleon is far from a perfect political hero, but he is no Western Liberal Democrat, nor is he an absolute monarch, nor does he disbelieve in the ideals of 1789 – for that they elected them emperor.

What’s needed in 2022 is not a new emperor, but the reforms which make representative democracy truly representative across the West, and an ousting of all royal/aristocratic/technocratic “hallucinations” of their supposed superiority over people like the Yellow Vests.

Yellow Vests: “Yes, there are many Yellow Vests who are poor and unemployed, but there are countless Yellow Vests who have stable jobs. We are all together regardless of our ethnic or religious background, because the Yellow Vests are the true representative of a united France.”

Appreciating Bonapartism over Western Liberal Democracy isn’t being blind to its failures

Marx’s recap of the historic vote approving Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s self-coup here, which admits that his primary electoral support was the democratic mass:

“Suffice it here to say that it was a reaction of the farmers’ class, who had been expected to pay the costs of the February (1848) revolution against the other classes of the nation: it was a reaction of the country against the city. It met with great favor among the soldiers, to whom the republicans of the ‘National’ (a bourgeois republican newspaper – started by Adolphe Thiers) had brought neither fame nor funds; among the great bourgeoisie who hailed Bonaparte as a bridge to the monarchy; and among the proletarians and small traders, who hailed him as a scourge to Cavaignac. I shall later have occasion to enter closer into the relation of the farmers to the French revolution.”

I began this chapter where Marx concluded – the relation of the farmers to French politics.

At the end of the previous chapter I stressed the importance of Western Liberal Democracy’s first imperialist strongman, Louis-Eugène Cavaignac. He went from being the governor of Algeria to leading the repression of urbanites (“proletarians”) in the June Days of 1848, and thus was despised. The army’s rank and file was full of lower-class men who lacked better job offers precisely because the elites who would staff the 2nd Republic’s unicameral parliament abolished the National Workshops, a fundamental demand of the the revolution, which is what then set off the June Days uprising. So of course they approved of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte and opposed the warmongering Cavaignac, probably just as the rank-and-file Western soldier probably opposed Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali, Indochine, Korea, the Falklands, etc. and etc.).

What Marx wants to stress, necessarily, is that Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was allied with both the rural masses as well as the new rich bourgeois. It’s the same failing of “the uncle”: neither were sincere Jacobins, i.e. socialists; it’s the same virtue – opposing the royalists.

“I have already indicated that, since the entry of Fould (a banker representing the stock exchange) in the Ministry that portion of the commercial bourgeoisie that had enjoyed the lion’s share in Louis Philippe’s reign, to wit, the aristocracy of finance, had become Bonapartist. Fould not only represented Bonaparte’s interests at the Bourse, he represented also the interests of the Bourse with Bonaparte.”

Marx also relates that this new “aristocracy of finance” had also grown to include government bonds – i.e the taxes and money of the people – which remain the lynchpin of the Western economic capitalist system today. The French stock exchange wasn’t until Napoleon Bonaparte – it was a new and slowly growing leviathan, and by 1848 it was able to leave the Bourbons and Orleanists behind.

Marx is relating how by 1851 the financial-industrial-imperialist wealth which had backed the House of Orleans coup in the 1830 Revolution (commonly referred to as the July Revolution) had continued to grow in power to the point where many broke free from the Orleanists to back Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte. These two groups worked together, with the rural masses, to push out the Bourbons and the Orleanist monarchical autocrats out of power once and for all.

(I did not cover it in this book, but the July Revolution is often called the Trois Glorieuses in French (“Three Glorious [Days]”). Both terms are less descriptive and more purposely opaque than a contemporary term: the Second French Revolution, as it inspired revolutions in Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and led to the independence of Belgium. The political advance of the July Revolution was slight: replacing the ultra-royalist Charter of 1814, which provided a short bill of rights within a strong monarchy, similar to the UK, with the Charter of 1830, which barely expanded suffrage and loosened press controls. Popular dissatisfaction with the July Monarchy was constant, producing a week of revolution in 1832 (the June Rebellion of 1832/Paris Uprising of 1832), which was the subject of Hugo’s Les Miserables, and then the Revolution of 1848.)

Vitally, Marx believes the experience of the 2nd Republic proved to one and all that Western Liberal Democracy was a total failure, and thus they, too, approved of the self-coup! This is an entirely rational conclusion drawn from his experiences of the time, and in concordance with class warfare – the new royalists + bourgeoisie simply wanted to get back to business, and Western Liberal Democracy was not yet skilled enough to efficiently aid the oligarchy:

“It (the leaders of the “bourgeois republic”) declared unmistakably that it longed to be rid of its own political rule, in order to escape the troubles and dangers of ruling.”

So Marx reported that Western Liberal Democracy went down without a fight.

Marx quotes The Economist from Feb 1851 on Louis-Napoleon’s coup: “Now we have it stated from numerous quarters that France wishes above all things for repose. The president declares it in his message to the Legislative (National) Assembly; it is echoed from the tribune; it is asserted in the journals; it is announced from the pulpit; it is demonstrated by the sensitiveness of the public funds at the least prospect of disturbance, and their firmness the instant it is made manifest that the Executive is far superior in wisdom and power to the factious ex-officials of all former governments.” (emphasis mine)

France was becoming a modern Bankocracy, but royalist hallucinations were slowing this down.

From The Economist in November 1851: “The President is now recognised as the guardian of order on every Stock Exchange of Europe.”

Like in 1799 a Bonaparte was going to win democratic approval by finding a propertied ally against the royalists. In 1799 it was those whose profited from the sale of the assignats – in 1851 it was those who profited from industrial-financial-imperialist wealth. In both cases the peasants and proletariat supported the Bonapartists, even if Marx claims that only the slum-proletariat (and thus not the honest workers and artisans) supported “the nephew”.

Thus the essence of Louis-Napoleon is similar to his uncle’s: A France advancing politically too far ahead of the rest of Europe in 1848 and garnering total enmity, thus acquiescing to only a moderate revolution by 1852. The compromise gives the average Frenchmen unparalleled rights but with a price of not neutering a new, usurious aristocracy.

Thus we now have the essence of Louis-Napoleon: one half is the righteous rejector of Western Liberal Democracy (a parliamentary bourgeois republic) and unelected monarchy in favor of universal suffrage, but the other half is a refusal to tax the wealthy, prohibit the usurious methods of the new financial class against the recently-propertied allotment farmers, resume the National Workshops (which would have reduced the power of the industrial class), or confiscate the wealth of the landed royalists – all the things which 1917, 1949, 1959 and 1979 would do.

Because Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte did not stop the financial oligarchy this happened, Marx wrote in 1871:

“The Second Empire had more than doubled the national debt, and plunged all the large towns into heavy municipal debts. The war had fearfully swelled the liabilities, and mercilessly ravaged the resources of the nation. To complete the ruin, the Prussian Shylock was there with his bond for the keep of half a million of his solders on French soil, his indemnity for 5 billions, and interest at 5 percent on the unpaid instalments thereof. Who was to pay the bill? It was only by the violent overthrow of the (Paris Commune) republic that the appropriators of wealth could hope to shift on to the shoulders of its producers the cost of a war which they, the appropriators, had themselves originated. Thus, the immense ruin of France spurred on these patriotic representatives of land and capital, under the very eyes and patronage of the invader, to graft upon the foreign war a civil war – a slaveholders’ rebellion.”

That is a stunning historical passage which sums up much in 1871, and is addressed in the next chapter on the Paris Commune.

It’s about knowing the real enemies – it is not the Bonapartes

This chapter requires so much Marx because the birth of Western Liberal Democracy was such a rapid failure that it appears complicated. With Marx’s tremendous journalism its lifecycle was made clear.

Facing a reign of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte and the rural will, the socialist Marx writes:

“All the same, the revolution is thoroughgoing. It still is on its passage through purgatory. It does its work methodically. Down to December 2, 1851, it (the revolution) had fulfilled one-half of its programme, it now fulfils the other half. It first ripens the power of the Legislature into fullest maturity in order to be able to overthrow it. Now that it has accomplished that the revolution proceeds to ripen the power of the Executive into equal maturity; it reduces this power to its purest expression; isolates it; places it before itself as the sole subject for reproof in order to concentrate against it all the revolutionary forces of destruction.”

Marx understood what many have covered up: Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte expressed and achieved the total failure of the legislative branch in Western Liberal Democracy – your faith in Congress or the National Assembly or the Parliament of the United Kingdom is a total waste.

We see the reason that Western Liberal Democracy does not wish to remember the 2nd Republic – it was a total failure which saw parliament commit coups agains the constitution and the voters. It took an elected emperor to preserve the progressive idea of expanding democracy. Western Liberal Democracy hasn’t politically allied with the average person from its very beginning.

That passage also reveals Marx’s slandering of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte – he is “the sole subject for reproof” left. For Marx elite English parliamentarianism and been totally discredited – all that was left to do was to discredit the monarchical executive.

Yellow Vests: “People are angry because Macron has only represented just the interests of the rich class, billionaires and the bankers. Last year alone 500,000 more people fell under the poverty line in France, which is a direct result of Macron’s policies.”

Marx, as we will see with Trotsky, believed passionately that monarchy and Liberal Democracy had discredited itself – they were both right, but not enough agree with them. Who knows how many Emmanuel Macrons it will take?

It would take nearly 20 years, not just 3, for Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte to discredit himself and to be replaced by the Socialist Democracy of the Paris Commune.

Louis-Napoleon Bonparte’s real virtue is that he was fighting with the people against the dominant part of the oligarchy – the Bourbons and Orleanists, with all their accumulated wealth and influence. Of course Macron, the “president of the rich”, only fights against the people – he is totally bourgeois, and thus likes any and all rich people.

Macron is thus not like Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, and surely he never aimed to be such a populist. Macron more resembles the key figure from 1871, Adolphe Thiers, who also colluded with foreign powers to weaken France. But that is for the next chapter.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value!

Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

The ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’ stillborn child: Western Liberal Democracy

April 07, 2022

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri

(This is the fourth chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

The primary cause of the Revolutions of 1848 was the fact that it took 50 years for the sociopolitical ideas of the French Revolution to spread in a Europe dominated by autocratic monarchs. That’s how radical 1789 was, and how slow political history moves.

The secondary cause was the economic changes caused by the refusal to end feudal mindsets anywhere in Europe but in France, and amid the start of industrialisation. 1789 had changed all Europeans, but all monarchs – including the two dynasties in post-Napoleonic France – refused to govern according to the entirely new needs and demands of their citizens. It’s expressed in the primary slogan of 1848, “Bread and work, or lead!”

The primary result of the 1848 Revolutions was total failure everywhere but France. 1848 provided new upheavals to replace Europe’s memories of the Seven European Wars Against the French Revolution (1792-1815), and what replaced them was even worse absolute monarchies. Political gatherings and demonstrations were outlawed, censorship was not just rampant but total – in short, all European political life was back to where it was in 1847: underground, publicly nonexistent and ruthlessly repressed. There was no revolution – an accurate reading of European history would call this period the “Counter-Revolutions of 1848”.

So why isn’t it called that? For the same reason behind this long historical preface before an analysis of the achievements of the Yellow Vests: Western mainstream history and education is a catastrophe of elite bias and propaganda.

The secondary result of the Revolutions of 1848 was the very first establishment, and immediate popular rejection, of what we can finally start calling Western Liberal Democracy. It would last just three years before a coup against it was popularly approved 11 to 1 in what was then the largest democratic vote ever in history. It took just three years for Western Liberal Democracy to prove to voters its total, eternal inability to care for the masses and not for an elitist oligarchy.

This chapter will make that conclusion perfectly clear not only because we have 175 years of hindsight, but because we have the world-shattering journalism and analysis of one Karl H. Marx. His on-the-ground analysis of the actions of 1848 would shape politics for over a century, and inspire both true socialists and socialists-turned-fascists into breaking with Western Liberal Democracy.

Napoleon always draws the crowds – his nephew? Few even know he had one who was important. In between Napoleon’s demise and World War One there is an abyss of historical understanding in the West. In fact, they are instructed to not think of this era as significant at all – this chapter hopes to explain why.

Marx on France: The only country that mattered in 1848… and 1849

Simply look at the results:

Italy carried the torch of 1789 the most. After initially giving false hope, the Pope openly said that the Papacy could not be the leader of a unified Italian state. His refusal to mix religion and politics, even in a country which was so overwhelmingly of the same religion, was a major error. After 1848 the Papacy became totally anti-liberal, anti-national and supportive of absolutist regimes.

Hungary gave up after their ethnic-based revolt failed to take root – unsurprisingly – with the rest of the extremely multiethnic Hapsburg empire. Indeed, many seem to think that Germanic racial elitism was founded by Adolf Hitler?

Revolutionary France had ended the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, but the autocratic Hapsburgs held on after 1848 – the counter-revolutionary victory was primarily theirs… it’s a common theme.

Tsarist Russia was not affected by 1848. They would, in large part to keep Prussia weak, prop up their Austrian autocratic brethren.

Just like in the aftermath of Russia’s 1917 success, and the 1930s, and the Great Recession, Germany totally disappointed. The Germans were especially brutal in repressing their revolutions, and it would require World War One to finally end German despotism, at least in the monarchical form.

Yellow Vest: “We were so numerous in the beginning, but when people began to see how violent and ferocious the government repressed the Yellow Vests, then many got too scared to protest. The government did everything they could to make us disappear, just so they can govern us according to their selfish whims.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

The broad outline of what happened across Europe in the year of 1848 is simply this: The nouveau riche, professional, and managerial classes were always quite content with mere liberal reformism, which was opposed by the monarchists. Those three groups initially allied with the artisans and students to push back against Anglo-Germanic-Russian enforced absolutism and repression. When this “bourgeois” triumvirate got the mild reformism they wanted (i.e. rights for themselves) these “liberal reformists” would no longer support the artisans and students – of course they never wanted to ally for long with the peasants and proletariat. They instead supported repression of the artisans, students and lower classes, and thus we have the Counter-Revolutions of 1848. These liberal reformers never wanted a revolution, but merely a bill of rights for rich people against autocratic monarchy. As all mere reformists do, they refused to incarcerate, confiscate or execute the counter-revolutionaries, and thus the counter-revolution won, as it always will when facing half-hearted reformism. 1848 stands as proof that the alleged heroes of liberalist reformism are actually right-wingers opposed to actual democracy.

The tertiary result of 1848 was the growth of nationalism, but rarely pointed out in the Anglo-Saxon world is that this nationalism was required to expel Anglo-Germanic theocratic autocrats. We certainly can’t blame the French revolutionaries who departed decades ago, but after planting the seed of anti-feudalism, anti-monarchism and patriotic pride. The rebellions across Europe were against the poor governance of the aristocratic oligarchies who had colluded to wipe out 1789. Some leftists see this rise of nationalism as a bad thing, but they have totally lost the thread.

1848 addressed the “political question”, of how governance should be arranged, and everywhere but France failed to install something which anyone could call “progressive”. Furthermore, France’s revolutionary victory also allowed for the first political discussions of the “social question” – how shall we transfer socially from feudal monarchy: liberal capitalism or socialism? – to be addressed and fought out in their new political structure. At least it was assumed at the start of 1848 that this would be a fair fight!

It took France 33 years (the length of a human generation), from the fall of Napoleon until 1848, for the French to get rid of an unelected executive – once again they were alone in this achievement. Universal (male) suffrage was also spectacularly achieved for the first time, as was the founding of a “right to work”. While all other Europeans gave up achieving any move away from pathetic monarchy France founded the 2nd Republic.

French history from the fall of Napoleon, and thus the end of the French Revolution, until 1848 can be quickly summarised: In 1815 Napoleon was imprisoned on St. Helena, and the Bourbons returned after having fled, again. The Bourbons only ruled until 1830, when Louis Philippe I of the House of Orleans was installed during that year’s “July Revolution”. For France 1848 was the result of 18 years of awful neglect from the Orleanists, who cared only about bleeding the country dry at the behest of the burgeoning financial elite, as it was this “bourgeois” who helped push the House of Orleans into power. 1848 deposed the House of Orleans, and France looked forward this new system we term “Western Liberal Democracy” – they would be disappointed.

In a country with universal male suffrage you would think the new parliament would endeavour to represent the interests of the masses, no? If so, you misunderstand who Western Liberal Democracy aims to serve. Marx summarised the Second Republic thusly, and according to his ideas of political progression: “Under the bourgeois monarchy of Louis Philippe only the bourgeois republic could follow; that is to say, a limited portion of the bourgeoisie, having (from 1830-48) ruled under the name of the king, now the whole bourgeoisie was to rule under the name of the people.

Western Liberal Democracy inevitably turns out that way, but the revolutionaries of 1848 had certainly expected some power and wealth to be devolved to them. In a truly post-feudal France former serfs now had higher opinions of their value to society, their right to earn bread to eat, wanted the necessary stability provided by central planning, social welfare, etc. However, while the souls of the French serfs had grown, the power of the new financial-oriented class had grown at a usurious rate! This is thanks to the start of industrialisation, but also to the usurious abuses of the serfs-turned-sharecroppers. I say “start of industrialisation” because at the time of Napoleon the average workshop had just four workers and the only large businesses were arms manufacturers – not so 30 years later.

As the short-lived 2nd Republic progressed it became clear that this new form of governance was only there to benefit the old landed royalists, the post-1492 corporate trading enterprises and these new “bourgeois” industrialists and rentiers. The 2nd Republic is the start of when powers began to slowly stop being royal and start being monetary powers – when power became corporatised. This is what makes 1848 France so vital to understanding the 21st century.

Yellow Vests: “Our system has become totally rotten. They make the laws to suit their own needs, or the needs of corporations, and they have done nothing to resolve the huge problems of the average person. This is why the Yellow Vests will keep marching in the streets.”

It took the French three years to learn this, then to clear a path for 1848’s popularly-elected president to bloodlessly abolish the always-oligarchical parliament of Western Liberal Democracy. That president was Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose father was Louis “the Good” Bonaparte, who was appointed King of Holland in 1806 in a failed bid to make the Batavian Republic less subject to monarchical attacks.

The above analysis which condemns Western Liberal Democracy is why this chapter is needed: The mainstream historical analysis of 1848-52 France places way too much emphasis on economic changes – i.e. the industrial revolution – and the alleged dictatorship of a guy who was elected because stupid French hillbillies thought an elderly Napoleon had broken free from St. Helena. This faulty analysis exists because it allows for the sidestepping of what actually happened politically: the mismanagement of France’s first Western Liberal Democrats, their obvious bias against the bottom 90%, and the eventual rejection of this form of governance which only entrenched inequality and created regular crises.

On the social level what they were pushing for in 1848, but what the 2nd Republic failed to legislate, is what postwar Europe looks like! The revolutionaries of 1848 were proven right, and that can’t be disproven.

1848-1948 was an awful century for the European masses, but also the masses everywhere else – European imperialism created the tragedies, famines and inequalities which literally moulded a new “Third World”: prior to 1848 a peasant in Europe was in the same socioeconomic condition as a peasant in India, China, Latin America, etc.

Yellow Vest: “The movement will hold firm in the future. It will not disappear because their demands are so very solid and true. There are real reasons for a revolution in France, and we will always continue to play our part.”

Learning how the 1848 Revolution got off-track in the country where it had its greatest success is a major key to understanding governments of today, because it is this form of government which has ultimately prevailed despite instant and lasting popular disapproval!

Thus, the ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’, indeed.

Marx’s genius: tying together 1848 and 1789, which is the only way to understand 1848

There are three critical contributions Marx made to the understanding of France’s 1848-52 period. They are so critical because they illustrate how Western Liberal Democracy starts with fake-leftism and ends in oligarchy over and over and over. It should be considered quite important that the complaints of the 2nd Republic are the exact same as the ones heard today!

Firstly, Marx condensed the economic evolution of France in a time when society and economics were changing rapidly even without the complications of a successful 1848 revolution. He laid out how class economic interests twisted the 2nd Republic into something which nobody who was actually at the barricades would have fought for.

Shortly after the February Revolution of 1848 forced the abdication of the House of Orleans the “June Days” uprising scared the royalists and bourgeois republicans (i.e. anti-monarchists) to unite into the “Party of Order”. The Bourbons – who represented the power of landed property, the oldest basis of money – finally ended their royal squabbles with the Orleanists – who were installed to defend the increased power of nouveau riche industrial/financial property. This new unity is what Marx meant by writing, “…landed property has become completely bourgeois through the development of modern society.” Gone were disputes of old or nouveau – it was just riche versus poor. Thus, 1848 in France is the birth of modern class warfare – and the rich started it!

Secondly, Marx condensed what actually took place in the hectic few years after the 1848 Revolution, which culminated in the popular vote which sanctioned the coup of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte against the unicameral National Assembly. Marx’s charted the lifecycle of this new political structure, and how it discredited itself via the same oligarchical flaws which are eternally apparent in this system.

Thirdly, Marx showed how the new professional politicians, doctors, small-town lawyers, bank managers and other professional-types, who are the cadres in this new Western Liberal Democracy, joined with the richer categories of wealth (royalist, usurious, landed wealth and financial, means-of-production wealth) to engage in a style of governance which put all their own interests first and demonised the interests of anyone else as “socialism!”. Yes, as epitomised in the awful politics of the United States 175 years later, Marx was flabbergasted to see even calls for the most basic reforms and moves to reduce inequality tarred as “evil socialism” at the very first implementation of Western Liberal Democracy. Marx goes even further to permanently indict Liberal Democracy as being far inferior to Social Democracy. This is an old debate, and it should have been decided in the latter’s favor by 1852 France.

By succinctly condensing – in just the one paragraph below – Marx’s summary of the events from 1848 to the voter-backed coup of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in 1852, all three historical contributions will be made clear.

An uprising truly led by the people (i.e. a popular revolution) in February 1848 forced out King Louis Philippe of the Orleanists, but the modern leftist demands of the people would be betrayed by June. The people’s hopes for a “Democratic and Social Republic” were sold out by the Social Democrats, mostly the small traders who were content with cementing the unprecedented achievement of universal male suffrage. However, the Social Democrats were soon sold out by the bourgeois republicans – those richer cadres of Western Liberal Democracy – who don’t really want universal suffrage but merely liberal rights for the upper class only. However, the republican bourgeois are sold out by the “Party of Order” coalition in parliament, half of which still wants a royalist restoration and the other half of which wants a republic but cares not much for liberal rights, and especially universal suffrage. This faction prevails and eventually guts universal suffrage, and votes the subordination of the constitution to the majority decisions of the parliament – i.e. a true legislative coup against the people. Good news! After three years of inefficiency, grandstanding and state-sponsored looting of the country’s natural, social and labor resources the “Party of Order” is sold out by the Bonapartist party – the National Assembly is dissolved, and what is restored is a Bonapartist idea of a popularly-elected emperor who puts the will and good of the nation first.

This is why Marx famously wrote his opening lines in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (18th Brumaire is the French revolutionary calendar date for the coup of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1799of history repeating itself as farce: instead of the revolution trending upwards in the first several years with leftist successes, as in 1789-94, a similar time period in 1848 sees sees failure. “Accordingly, the revolution moves on a downward line. It finds itself in this retreating motion before the last February-barricade is kicked away.… ”

Having condensed Marx’s timeline of 1848, his comparison with the timeline of 1789 will be especially illuminating of both 1789 and 1848. This book does not dissect the pre-Napoleonic events of 1789-94, in large part because they have been perfectly analysed by Marx in one paragraph. I include in parenthetical my explanations of key 1789 terms/parties which may not be fully known by the average reader (Marx is in bold)

In the first French revolution, upon the reign of the Constitutionalists (i.e., the start of the French Revolution via forcing the king to accept a constitution and to renounce total autocracy. Napoleon Bonaparte’s commitment to constitutionalism is precisely what made him a true political revolutionary of his day.) is succeeded by the Girondins (Truly the early martyrs of today’s Western Liberal Democrats. Most were from the department of Gironde, home of France’s slave-trade capital – Bordeaux -, and were committed to the free market, decentralisation and imperialist war. It’s decapitating them which Westerners call the “Reign of Terror”, precisely because neo-Girondins are what still rule in the West in the modern era. Napoleon Bonaparte clearly supported the Jacobins’ right to govern, fought against these rebels for years, was friends with Augustin Robespierre, etc.) and upon the reign of the Girondins follows that of the Jacobins. Each of these parties rests upon its more advanced element. … Just the reverse in 1848.”

It’s clear why outside of France the “Revolutions of 1848” are such a failure, but why is the French Revolution of 1848 such a failure for Marx? It’s because he was so very anti-Bonapartist. Marx was living in Paris during this era, after all, so we can understand his bias – we, however, do not. In 2022 it seems like a major mistake which loses the thread of political history: moving away from autocracy. I’ll deeply criticise his overly-strong condemnation of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in the next chapter, but what’s needed first is his analysis of France from 1848-52 – it’s critical because it is so reminiscent of Western politics today!

Both revolutionary eras fought against the very same political principle: autocracy, anti-democracy and the rule of an aristocratic elite. The Yellow Vest fight in the exact same way, even if the autocracy is only slightly less barbaric, although you should tell that to one of the many mutilated Yellow Vests.

What happened to France’s progressive revolution of 1848, then? Western Liberal Democracy happened!

The short answer is that Marx places the blame for the failure of 1848 on the half-revolutionary actions of France’s left wing in 1848, as well as the role played by Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte.

In the above section I related in one paragraph Marx’s summary of the events from 1848 to the popular coup of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte. A bit more information is needed on the major political events in between that start and finish.

The February Revolution of 1848 re-ended monarchy, but April’s voting results saw the new constituent (temporary) Assembly filled with royalists, elite and professionals who did not incarnate the socialistic demands which had propelled the popular revolution: the opposition to free markets and the demand for government works to create jobs. National Workshops had been immediately created in 1848 in order to fulfil the “right to work” and thus introduce governmental central planning into the economy.

So one should imagine the hundreds of thousands of workers now trying to ply a trade in Paris while, concurrently, the new temporary parliament to draw up a new constitution is full of capitalistic Western Liberal Democrats. Naturally, the people saw they were getting left behind. On May 15 a leftist demonstration entered and dissolved this temporary National Assembly. The National Guard – which had always played the decisive role in French revolutionary affairs – sided against the protesters. The ardent republicans and protest leaders were arrested; a banker would be installed as the new Paris Chief of Police; a lawyer would now head the restored Assembly.

In June the conservative National Assembly announced that the National Workshops would be closed, and the newly-unemployed workers could either join the army or go back home to the provinces – this sparked the June Days uprising. We see here how Western Liberal Democracy is never – not from it’s very earliest days – going to allow anything but an “invisible hand” to guide the economy, and also that imperialist war (which is not at all revolutionary war) is its primary answer to the economic question. Over 10,000 people were massacred, or 60% as many as were guillotined during the “Reign of Terror” (but without any trial). It also marks the last time French Catholic clergy tried to play a role in elections: The Archbishop of Paris literally entered into the Paris street fray as a mediator – he was shot, almost certainly by the conservative forces. The popular revolution was thus ended: death, prison and exile to Algeria for the leftists.

Yet the trader-class Social Democrats did not condemn the repression – they threw their weight behind November’s Constitution of 1848, which granted universal male suffrage. Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was elected in December, and like his uncle he took a middle-of-the-road pro-revolutionary approach: he was neither like the leftist socialist candidates, nor the anti-socialist/pro-republican army chief who led the June Days repression, nor a liberalist lawyer. Marx was unwilling to reconcile with Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, who was also a leftist writer – his most famous book was the pro-working class The Extinction of Pauperism, which undoubtedly helps explain his massive victory.

After Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was elected 1850-onwards was an ineffective and nation-destroying combat between the executive and the legislative branch:

The legislative branch – as it will always do for the next 175 years – lost all popular support by rejecting to represent the populace and not just the upper class. The popular, bloodless coup of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte would be deemed “fascism installed by country rednecks”, and Marx’s own analysis is very similar to that, sadly.

The executive branch – as it will always do for the next 175 years – would jealously fight to acquire as much autocratic, dictatorial powers as it could, and employ jingoistic, imperialist wars to win popular opinion while mostly advancing the needs of the elite.

It took only three years to realise such a system was unworkable, and yet is this not still the alleged apex of governmental structure and efficiency for Western Liberal Democrats of today?

Yellow Vest: “After three years nothing has changed, except for the fact that things have gotten even worse for the average French person. Life has gotten so much more expensive, but Macron doesn’t care. Macron doesn’t see the demands of the Yellow Vests, or even the French people, as worthy of his attention.”

Weak leftism against a strong executive – France has the same problem today

In May 1849 the first National Assembly of the 2nd Republic was officially seated. This Assembly would eventually go on to approve total non-support for any other popular revolution sweeping Europe; to ban the reborn Sans-Culottes and other political parties; similar to Macron today, they would end the longtime practice of the National Assembly hearing petitions from grassroots special interest groups.

Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte would immediately use foreign war to establish to the “Party of Order”, which had 64% of seats, that he, too, was a mighty man of (executive) “Order”. Even before the new parliament sat he violated the new constitution’s prohibition of military interference in the freedom of other nations by bombarding Rome to prop up an exiled Pope. This was at the expense of the nascent but doomed Roman Republic, which did not have popular support – it would have been nice if the Marxists had won, but it just wasn’t possible until 1917. This does not make either Bonaparte the equivalent of an absolute monarch, one must point out. France had arrived expected to be received as liberators, and also sought to prevent an invasion by Austria.

The opposition Mountain Party, with 26% of seats, who were republicans and neo-Jacobins, boldly voted to impeach Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, who had been elected by a whopping 75% landslide. Propping up the Pope was popular among the average person, and now France’s “left party” (though actually petit-bourgeois small traders and minor professionals) were taking on an extremely popular president?

What cannot be disputed is how ineffectually the Mountain Party fought their fight. Marx’s superb analysis will remind people of the halfhearted, non-revolutionary struggle of fake-leftist parties across Western Liberal Democracy. We should remember that Marx was living in Paris at this time. He surely must have hoped that the Mountain were genuine leftists – after all, “fake-leftism” in a Western Liberal Democratic context had not yet ever been seen!

Following the Mountain’s impeachment vote the unarmed protests of June 1849 were held. The National Guard was there – in uniform, but unarmed. This pacifistic decision was fatal: they had no way to defend themselves from the subsequent army attack. The demonstration ended in total failure – it was the last “Revolutionary Day” of the 2nd Republic – and there were no casualties. Marx writes: “The chief error of the ‘Mountain’ was its certainty of being victorious.” (emphasis his). I don’t think France has had an official “Revolutionary Day” since, and probably because most French don’t know this history either?

Marx saw that the real leftism had been chopped out of the Mountain by the June Days of 1848 and replaced with smug, ultimately conservative, sense of false certainty. He saw these fake-leftists were doomed precisely because they accepted Western Liberal Democratic terms:

“If the Mountain wished to win in parliament, it should not appeal to arms; if it called to arms in parliament, it should conduct itself in a parliamentary way in the street; if the friendly demonstration was meant seriously, it was silly not to foresee that it would meet with a warlike reception; if it was intended for actual war, it was rather original to lay aside the weapons with which war had to be conducted. But the revolutionary threats of the middle class and of their democratic representatives are mere attempts to frighten an adversary….”

This certainly describes France’s union-led demonstrations and the “walks in a park” which are other European Social Democrat-led demonstrations. This same entrapping logic is what the Yellow Vests are told to submit to and what they still so bravely faced down Saturday after Saturday.

Yellow Vests: “France is waking up. The government continues to accuse all of us of being Black Bloc or thugs to make the country turn against us. But we are all united to prevent the destruction of France, and this unity will continue to increase.”

The “superstitious spell” the National Guard had on the French imagination – i.e. its ability to sway the army to back the people and the elite – was crucially broken here. They would be suppressed under Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte and then banned at the start of the Third Republic in 1871, when Western Liberal Democrats would wrest back control from the Louis-Napoleon and the Bonapartists, who also existed in the interim between the two Bonpartes.

A clear difference between imperialist Liberal Democracy and anti-imperialist Social Democracy: the former clearly uses foreign war to gut the possibility of a marital spirit which would protect the rights of the people domestically. It also uses perpetual imperialist war to insist that such domestic rights are not convenient, and that such discussions certainly cannot involve anything but words.

The subsequent crackdown caused the remaining true leftist politicians, including many in the Mountain Party, and journalists to be arrested or go into exile – Marx went to London. With the real left gone the new Mountain Party was no opposition. The National Assembly embarked on a series of right-wing measures which turned everyone against them.

On June 13, 1848 they voted the subordination of the constitution to the majority decisions of the parliament – it was a coup against the constitutional rights of the people.

So, indeed, did the republic understand it, to-wit, that the bourgeois ruled here in parliamentary form, without, as in the monarchy, finding a check in the veto of the Executive power, or the liability of parliament to dissolution. It was a ‘parliamentary republic’, as Thiers styled it.”

Thus we see the true emergence of the unstated dream of Western Liberal Democracy: a country ruled by a parliament of the rich; an expansion of absolute monarchy to a tiny coterie of aristocratic elite.

The last straw would come on May 31, 1850, when the assembly would vote to drastically undermine universal suffrage by millions of voters. Marx wrote, “The law of May 31, 1850, was the ‘coup d’etat’ of the bourgeoisie.” Against the voters, he means.

Thus the first coup in the 2nd Republic was actually made by the parliamentarians and not Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte! Bonaparte would restore universal suffrage, to his great credit.

Those two crucial facts are always left out of any discussion of the 2nd Republic and Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s “self-coup” (a coup where a legally-elected executive dissolves the legislative branch). In 2022 they should drastically change our assessment of him, and break from Marx’s negative, rather biased view.

That requires the next chapter – Louis-Napoleon: Confirmation of the revolutionary difference between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy.

From the beginning Western Liberal Democracy showed what it wanted: A country ruled by a parliament of and for the rich

Marx writes in summation of the political discussion permitted in the first Western Liberal Democracy:

“Whether the question was the right of petition or the duty on wine, the liberty of the press or free trade, clubs or municipal laws, protection of individual freedom or the regulation of national economy, the slogan returns ever again, the theme is monotonously the same, the verdict is ever ready and unchanged: Socialism! Even bourgeois liberalism is pronounced socialistic; socialistic, alike, is pronounced popular education; and likewise, socialistic national financial reform. It was socialistic to build a railroad where already a canal was; and it was socialistic to defend oneself with a stick when attacked with a sword.

This was not a mere form of speech, a fashion nor yet party tactics. The bourgeois receives correctly that all the weapons which it forged against feudalism thorn their edges against itself; that all the means of education which it brought forth rebel against its own civilisation; that all the gods which it made have fallen away from it. It understands that all its so-called citizens’ rights and progressive organs assail and menace its class rule, both in its social foundation and its political superstructure – consequently have become ‘socialistic’. It justly scents in this menace and assault the secret of Socialism, whose meaning and tendency it estimates more correctly than the spurious so-called Socialism is capable of estimating itself and which, consequently, is unable to understand how it is that the bourgeoisie obdurately shuts up its ears to it, alike whether it sentimentally whines about the sufferings of humanity; or announces in Christian style the millennium and universal brotherhood; or twaddles humanistically about the soul, culture and freedom; or doctrinally matches out a system of harmony and well-being for all classes. What, however, the bourgeoisie does not understand is the consequence that its own parliamentary regime, its own political reign, is also of necessity bound to fall under the general ban of ‘socialistic’. (Emphasis mine)

If you still believe in Liberal Democracy, may I suggest you read that again.

Not only does Marx show that Western Liberal Democracy refuses to protect the rights which Western Liberal Democracy claims to have created and to believe in, but that Western Liberal Democracy is a phoney “third way”: there is either socialism or autocracy/oligarchy/fascism.

“Accordingly, by now persecuting as Socialist what formerly it had celebrated as Liberal the bourgeoisie admits that its own interest orders it to raise itself above the danger of self government….” Western Liberal Democracy is not a resolution to class warfare, like Socialist Democracy claims to be, but the permanent institution of class warfare with the express goal of government by an elite.

“The parliamentary regime leaves everything to the decision of majorities – how can the large majorities beyond the parliament be expected not to wish to decide?” The parliamentarianism of Western Liberal Democracy is false and unrepresentative, culminating in rule by parties which are controlled by the elite. This is unlike the parliaments in Socialist Democracy, where cobblers become parliamentarians, as in Cuba’s 2018 legislative vote.

No wonder Western schools don’t want to discuss this era!

By examining the era of 1848-52 we see that Western Liberal Democracy totally discredited itself out of the gate, and that we have the same problems as we did 175 years ago: it is autocracy improved into aristocratic rule, but never popular rule. Western Liberal Democracy is so undemocratic that it is not even worthy of the moniker “Western Liberal Democracy”!

Thus the Revolution of 1848 in France was a success – ouster of an unelected king, universal male suffrage, installation of a new political system. It culminated in the 1852 referendum on Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte’s “self-coup” against parliament, and the replacement of the 2nd Republic with the 2nd Empire, to be headed by the new “Napoleon III”. It was approved by 97% of voters with 80% turnout. Over 8 million Frenchmen wanted to vote, and they only could in 19th century France by agreeing that the Bonapartist vision of the French Revolution was the only way to maintain the gains of the French Revolution amid a continent of absolute monarchy and failed revolutionaries AND by rejecting the Western Liberal Democracy of the 2nd Republic.

1848 succeed in France precisely because voters rejected Western Liberal Democracy entirely. Four years to figure it out is not so bad at all?

Thus the period between the 2nd and 3rd Republics is falsely slandered as being equivalent to all the other monarchies of the time. We have been through this before: we are talking about an elected Bonaparte, who naturally was detested by his autocratic contemporaries everywhere else in the region. History is repeated as farce in the modern leftist rejection of both Bonapartes, not in the difference between 1789 and 1848.

Without embracing the will of the inherently progressive French electorate – inherent because there was no other mass electorate at this time – and their eventual selection of the Bonapartes, we are stuck with siding with awful absolute monarchs or awful Liberal Democrats.

Absolute monarchy reigned long after 1848. The slighted Western Liberal Democrat, with all their arrogance, remained non-plussed, as Marx noted: “At all events the (social) democrat comes out of the disgraceful defeat as immaculate as he innocently went into it….” In 1871 the collusion of these two forces with Germany against both Social Democracy and Bonapartism/French Revolutionism led to the traitorous sieging of Paris (the Paris Commune) and then the restoration of Western Liberal Democracy, sadly.

However, in 2022 we must reject Marx’s condemnation and consider the Revolutions of 1848 a success in France. The preservation of universal male suffrage was a spectacular advance from the rest of Europe. This advance alone allows us to clearly see that the ideals of 1789 and the movement away from autocracy still progressed.

But 1848 was an advance for an even greater reason: it allowed the first implementation of modern Western Liberal Democracy… and its endemic flaws were immediately revealed. It became clear that Socialist Democracy was the only true solution – thus the Paris Commune – if one wants broad prosperity, stability and equality for the average person. Those who don’t realise that are stuck in a useless doom loop of 1849-52.

The rise of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte is not as thrilling as that of his uncle’s – the former merely came to power via the vote. He is a modern politician, with plenty of flaws, but the French at the time knew he was a progressive option compared to absolute monarchy or Western Liberal Democracy.

The Algeria section

Before we get into Marx’s failure to appreciate the achievements of France’s 1848 Revolution and the rule of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in opposition to Western Liberal Democracy, we must briefly analyse Marx’s failure to take account of the role the conquest of Algeria played on the French mainland’s politics in 1848.

Marx’s focus was more on banking and industrial systems, instead of imperialism. It’s a significant omission: the treasures, resources and stolen wages of imperialism are enormous – we are talking of the gains of impoverishing an entire country. But where Marx really failed was in not noting the enormous political-cultural impact of being a coloniser.

What the events of 1848 proved, and which Marx failed to note, was how Western Liberal Democracy works hand in hand with militaristic imperialism to repress their nation’s own masses. This is an incredibly important analysis to take from 1848 because the French army went from being a Revolutionary Army in 1789 to an imperialist army in 1830.

The colonisation of Algeria was of an entirely different order than the colonisation of the New World, and we must delineate this difference: the colonisation of a Mediterranean space which saw Marseilles and Algiers socially interact for over two millennia is not at all the same thing as a (ignorant) Western perception of heathen savages who need to be converted. Yes, France had other imperialist domains but we cannot underestimate the power of French Algeria in French history from 1830 until today.

Algeria was invaded in 1830 to distract from and eventually legitimise the take-over by the House of Orleans, which ended the Bourbon Restoration since 1815 – this invasion happened at precisely the same time as the fall of Algiers. The finances and internal prestige of Louis Philippe I was enormously supplemented domestically by the occupation of Algeria. This new “imperialist class” was too ignored by Marx in the French events of 1848.

A proof of the political-cultural impact of this new “imperialist class” is found in the person of Louis-Eugène Cavaignac, who went directly from being governor of Algeria to quelling the June 1848 uprising. He was as vital a player in 1848 and beyond as anyone save Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, to whom he finished second in the 1848 presidential election. As Marx noted: “Cavaignac, the General of the bourgeois republican party, who commanded at the battle of June, stepped into the place of the Executive Committee with a sort of dictatorial power.” The election of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte in December would end this dictatorship, but not before the imperialist Cavaignac ruled over the drafting of the November constitution which gave the elite class ruling power over France. This is not a small thing!

The person of Cavaignac thus represents the new capitalist-imperialist rot which would turn against its own people, like a CRS riot cop who aimed his rubber bullet gun at the faces of Yellow Vests. Marx fails to emphasise that it is the imperialism against Muslim Algeria which provided this muscle to topple 1848. Or that the beloved National Guard was sapped by this imperialist deployment. Or that French culture had certainly become hardened by a war which was not waged at all for progressive revolution.

Romaric Godin, economics reporter at top French media Mediapart, in his book La guerre social en France (The Social War in France) recognised Cavaignac’s import (even if Godin does not recognise the importance of imperialism) as both a new type of politician and its clear parallel with Emmanuel Macron. Godin wrote: “Democratic authoritarianism is that of Cavaignac in 1848 and Adolphe Thiers (the future president of the 3rd Republic who colluded with Bismarck to siege Paris) of 1871: that which uses the entire legislative capacity to repress opposition. This sort of abuse is sanctioned by the law and thus is perfectly legal.”

Western Liberal Democracy actually begins with Cavaignac, who suppressed those calling for Socialist Democracy, the National Workshops and a role for the peasants and the proletariat in politics in June 1848. We can draw a straight line from him to Macron’s crushing of the Yellow Vests, and both men are garlanded by Western Liberal “Democracy”.

Indeed, more and more seem willing to call 21st century France “democratic authoritarianism”. Muslim Algerians knew it back in 1830, and by 1848 everyone knew that authoritarianism is what Western Liberal Democracy has always truly been.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value!

Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Modern political history makes no sense if Napoleon is not a leftist revolutionary

April 02, 2022

Source

By Ramin Mazaheri

“The peasant was a Bonapartist because the Great Revolution, with all its benefits to him, was, in his eyes, personified in Napoleon.” – Karl Marx

(This is the third chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

To be against Napoleon Bonaparte in the 19th century was to totally reject grassroots, democratic French opinion, and thus to be against the French Revolution itself. It was to cede the view of Napoleon Bonaparte to his enemies: the English snob, an in-bred Austrian king, a colluding and traitorous Italian noble, a Hungarian aristocrat, etc.

Modern Western political history simply makes no sense – it loses the thread of expanding power away from the absolute ruler – if we do not take the view that Napoleon Bonaparte was a leftist, as his citizen contemporaries did. Making Napoleon a demon of bloodlust and ambition, just another fascistic military man, a secret reactionary, etc. – all is designed to obscure the importance of 1789 and to reverse it.

The willing desire to lose the thread of progressive history was especially evident in the awful reporting surrounding the 200th anniversary of his death, in 2021. The coverage in France was surprising sparse and can be summed up with three words: “tyrant” and “controversial legacy”. A fake-leftist, and thus totally deluded, view was routinely proffered, typified by state media France24’s article: “Napoleon: Military genius or sexist, slaving autocrat?”

The official anti-Napoleon smokescreen was personified by President Emmanuel Macron’s speech on the bicentenary, which ended with: “I have no intention to say if Napoleon realised or instead betrayed revolutionary values. I will of course steer clear of such territory.” Of course he will steer clear – Western Liberal Democrats always do, because they are the ones who work to ensure that the revolutionary values of 1789 are never realised.

Here is your simplest retort to those who accuse “tyrant”: Napoleon was voted First Consul for life and then emperor by millions of people, and the “voted” part is what made it these appointments spectacular political advances for its era. The other monarchs of this era were merely more unelected dictators. Secondly, his constitutions were also ratified by many millions – another spectacular leftist advance. These things simply cannot be dismissed because it would be more than a century before they would be emulated in most of Europe. The number of referendums on monarchy in global history only total a few dozen, and nearly all were after 1950.

Simply ask if the king of Saudi Arabia, Morocco or the behind-the-scenes monarchs of Europe would ever put themselves to a public vote? When it comes to the schism between the Muslim and Western worlds perhaps the single largest problem is that the latter totally forgets the violent threat, the crude insult, the perpetual crime which is hereditary monarchy. Because the West forgets this they also fatally misunderstand their own European history since 1789, and they fail to see Napoleon Bonaparte as a leftist hero.

Making Napoleon Bonaparte worse than his absolute monarch peers is a preposterous revision of history and totally excludes the political view of the European peasant and working class. Ask a subject who never voted for his monarch: There is no “controversial legacy”.

Yellow Vest: “We are here to protest against the abusive government and this kingship-presidency of Emmanuel Macron. The Yellow Vests are here to promote a true vision of democracy and to redistribute our nation’s wealth. Every election there is more and more abstention because people don’t believe in mainstream politics anymore.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

What an objective view reveals is this: Revolutionary France saw not just one but seven “Coalition Wars” to restore monarchy, privilege, feudalism, torture, inequality, racism and the oppression of an aristocratic elite. From 1792-1815 Europe’s elite refused to make peace with the socio-political advances of the French Revolution, which the French people democratically chose again and again and again. England was the only nation which participated in every war, and it repeatedly paid off other nations to join them.

The simplest retort to those who call the French Revolution “imperialist” is this: The French Revolutionary Empire at its greatest height – in 1808 – was the result of defensive wars which it won. All the Empire’s territory was gained as punishment for aggressive wars against France or lost by rebelling populaces choosing to side with France, with the sole exception of Portugal. All seven Coalition Wars were attacks on France, all to prevent democracy from spreading across autocratic Europe.

The “Napoleonic Wars” have absolutely no reason to be set off from the more accurate “European Wars Against the French Revolution” unless that reason is obfuscation. This 23-year period must be looked at as a whole, because it wouldn’t have mattered if it was Napoleon in charge or not as long as the ideals of the French Revolution were being employed – the Revolution would have always been aggressed. Like Iran, Cuba and the USSR know, 23 years of military invention by royalists or Western Liberal Democrats to stifle progressive, anti-elite political systems is simply de rigeur.

This chapter is not a whitewashing of Napoleon Bonaparte, but a refusal to say that his entire revolutionary career from 1789 to 1815 should be judged on the basis of the last few years. Napoleon’s primary leftist and anti-revolutionary failure was his development of dynastic intentions. However, we are not taking about this turn to personal gain until 1810, when he married Marie-Louise, a princess of the Austrian Hapsburgs, the corrupt and wasteful absolute monarch ruler of most of the continent. In Napoleon: The Myth of the Savior, Jean Tulard, perhaps the pre-eminent French historian of this era (and not a pro-Napoleon one in my estimation) wrote, “On St. Helena, Napoleon, ‘brutally awakened from his dream of monarchic legitimacy’ confided that he should have married a French woman and, above all, not a princess. He saw clearly, but too late.” Napoleon’s error was in forgetting that he already enjoyed more leftist legitimacy than any monarch ever – he was the first to be voted in. The counter-revolutionary monarchs of everywhere else would never accept that because the French Revolution was – above all – against unsanctioned autocracy. Similarly, putting his brothers in charge of countries which willingly joined France was another leftist error in line with dynastic intentions, but this wasn’t really unpopular until the imposition of Joseph Bonaparte as King of Spain, who replaced the feudal Bourbons, in 1808. Napoleon himself said that one of his greatest mistakes was reintroducing the ranks of the nobility, also in 1808. The three criticisms here are all related – the restoration of elite privilege and hereditary oligarchy – but we would be inaccurate and unfair to not emphasise that this trend occurred two decades into Napoleon’s spectacularly successful revolutionary career!

Was Napoleon’s vision of the French Revolution that of the left of the Revolution, epitomised by Robespierre and the Jacobins? No, but calling a lifelong revolutionary soldier like Napoleon Bonaparte a “non-revolutionary” because he was not completely on the left side of the revolutionary spectrum is to absurdly say there is no “revolutionary political spectrum”. It is to say that the “revolutionary political spectrum” is the same as the non-revolutionary, typical “political spectrum”, in a total falsehood. It is to undemocratically excise the revolutionary viewpoints of his millions of comrades, and also of the democratic majority of his time. What is certain is that it is to reveal essentially no first-hand experience with any real revolution at all, as such a view of revolution is a fool’s fairy tale of pure idealism.

By distorting Napoleon – by saying that Elvis was always “fat Elvis” and never the king of rock and roll who shook the world – today’s 1% can keep 1789 totally dead. Napoleon is the key to keeping 1789 alive and continuing to implement its most progressive, leftist ideals.

It is simply astounding that the left doesn’t find so much to embrace in Napoleon Bonaparte. As much as I would like to write 10,000 words about Napoleon’s career in order to give a modern leftist appraisal, I simply do not want to alienate readers (and translators, LOL). I promise that I could. What I list before the conclusion section is only the absolutely critical facts of his political career which demonstrate his leftism.

The 1790s: Napoleon’s leftism was vetted over and over by the revolution

Prior to the Revolution Napoleon was born a minor noble in Corsica, putting him in the top 2% of France. However, being a minor noble in poor Corsica was to have title and little property – it’s not Burgundy. When half of France’s nobles exiled themselves over the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen Napoleon was already in the 1%. Napoleon Bonaparte – like Mao, Castro and others – was another leftist hero who defied the dominant view of his elite class.

Napoleon grew up in the aftermath of the repression of Corsica’s independence movement. The incredibly progressive Corsican Republic (1755-69) included a liberal constitution, the first implementation of female suffrage and was the first-ever practical application of the modern political ideas of people like Voltaire and Rousseau. France took control of the island, and they were a big improvement from the previous landlord, Genoa. When the French Revolution began Napoleon saw it as capable of bringing even more progress to Corsica. Thus Napoleon was one of the very first of many “foreigners” (he was born shortly after France took control of the island, and thus was truly French) to seek domination not by France but by the ideals of the French Revolution.

As the 1790s went by Napoleon was obviously vetted over and over by the Revolution. In 1793, Napoleon was friendly with none other than Augustin Robespierre, Maximilien “The Irreproachable” Robespierre’s brother, who surely would have sniffed out someone not committed to the ideals of 1789. When the brothers were executed in 1794, marking the end of the leftist Jacobin era and the start of the Directorate era (1794-99), the Directorate tried to get him to quit by downgrading him to the infantry.

Lucky for them Napoleon refused to leave: in Paris on October 5, 1795, he would save the Revolution from a major royalist revolt using what was the undoubted foundation of his military genius – his knowledge of new artillery technology.

He became a national hero, and thus the Directorate spied on him to check for dangerous traits. Their spying general wrote back to the Directorate: “It is a mistake to think he is a party man. He belongs neither to the royalists, who slander him, nor to the anarchists, whom he dislikes. He has only one guide – the Constitution.” Facts: Robespierre was anything but an anarchist, and being a constitutionalist in Europe in 1796 made one a revolutionary. Failure to accept this will create misperceptions which will extend to misunderstandings of our present day.

Confidence renewed, the Directorate gave Napoleon command of the Army of the Alps. He started by immediately court-martialling two of his soldiers for shouting “long live the king”.

Of course the Italians and others embraced the revolution being offered by France’s peasant army! In liberated lands we find the same actions of the French Revolutionaries: feudal dues and tithes abolished, Jews not forced to wear the star of David and Muslims no longer second-class citizens, the first uncensored newspapers allowed to open, slavery abolished, the first constitutions legalised. Keep all that in mind the next time you read of how Napoleon “enslaved Europe” – such total reversals of reality are only used for the truly great leftist leaders. It was so popular ex-Papal states petitioned to join the new Cisalpine Republic. “In annexed countries teaching was allowed to keep its own identity; French did not become an obligatory second language, there was no attempt to destroy the soul of conquered provinces,” writes Tulard. The French Revolution, itself intensely patriotic, fostered patriotism elsewhere – this would be called “nationalism” and is part of the reason the French were eventually forced out in annexed countries, ironically.

The great man-ism inherent in Western Liberal Democracy wants to talk about Napoleon’s military genius in things such as issuing bold flanking orders. It’s foolish: We can credit Napoleon’s military genius for doing something without precedent – storming a bridge under heavy fire – or we can credit the revolutionary inspiration of the actual troops that did the storming. Napoleon’s ability to inspire (well-known, and real) is still not at all the same as the zeal inspired by revolutionary principles.

Napoleon biographer Vincent Cronin writes in Napoleon Bonaparte: An Intimate Biography“In analysing why Napoleon won battles in Italy, one is also analysing why he always – or nearly always – emerged successful from a battlefield. The first quality was discipline. Napoleon, with his legal forbears, was a great person for law and order. He insisted that officers issue a receipt for everything requisitioned, be it a box of candles or a sack of flour. … In letter after angry letter he condemned sharp practice by army suppliers…. Napoleon was merciless towards these men and when one of them made him a gift of fine saddle horses, hoping that would close his eyes to embezzlement, Napoleon snapped: ‘Have him arrested. Imprison him for six months. He owes us 500,000 ecus in taxes.’” Here we see the moral legitimacy which won him followers in the army, and that is better than issuing bold flanking orders.

Egypt: After examining and giving up the idea of invading England, invasion of Egypt was

the best way of striking always counter-revolutionary England, and not mere adventurism. Napoleon read the Koran on the way to Egypt and declared it “sublime”. He was inspired enough to say in his first declaration, “Cadis, sheiks, imams – tell the people that we too are true Muslims.” The French Revolution was universal in scope, like Islam, and Napoleon did not believe in the Trinitarianism of Roman Catholicism, like Islam. The muftis found Napoleon sincere as a person but not actually willing to become a Muslim – they proclaimed Napoleon’s God messenger and a friend of the Prophet. With humanitarian ideals and actions, and replete with the famed scientific corps, it is thus totally different from France’s imperialist invasion of Algeria in 1830.

In August 1799 he got his first news from Europe (due to the British blockade) that the 2nd European War Against the French Revolution had begun and that France was collapsing: Russian-Anglo forces in the Netherlands (which had joined the Revolution willingly), Austro-Russian forces in Switzerland (joined willingly as well) and Italy (joined willingly as well), Turco-Russian force in Corfu, Greece. Napoleon waded into that for personal glory, some say – to save the Revolution, say the less cynical.

As First Consul: Good leaders get elected and then re-elected – this truly all started with Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon made a political alliance with none other than Abbot Emmanuel Sieyès, the same “abbé Sieyès” whose 1789 manifesto What is the Third Estate became the manifesto of the French Revolution and the literal groundwork for the entry of the lower class into politics. (The pamphlet begins, famously: “What is the Third Estate? Everything. What has it been hitherto in the political order? Nothing. What does it desire to be? Something.”) Still not leftist enough for some, though…?

The undoubtedly revolutionary principle of constitutionalism upon which Napoleon rested is reflected in the poster put up after his participation in the coup of 1799 (Coup of 18 Brumaire) and the start of the Consulate era (1799-1804): “THEY HAVE ACTED IN SUCH A WAY that there is no longer a Constitution.

Was constitutionalism the only demand of the French Revolution from 1789-1799? No, it was simultaneously revolutionary and “middle-of-the-road”. Napoleon never did side with the royalists – that would have been undeniable betrayal of the Revolution – nor with the Jacobins, nor with their executors the less-leftist Thermidorians who ran the 5-man Directorate (one of whom was currently asking for 12 million francs to restore the Bourbons). Instead, Napoleon placed himself above party politics and alongside the concept of constitutionalism which, along with his repeated military defences of France and the Revolution, won him popular acclaim. Of course Napoleon embraced many other primary political ideals of the Revolution: an end to feudalism, an end to absolute monarchy, the division of common land, civil equality, the suppression of tithes and seigniorial rights, and nationalisation of the property of the Roman Catholic Church. What’s vital to recognise is that the social aspects of the revolution – free education, health care, food – weren’t even much discussed until 1796, via leftist hero Gracchus Babeuf, the continuer of the Robespierreian left. Faulting Napoleon for not holding out for free education for the masses is to critically forget that these social questions were in the infancy of political expression, and certainly were limited to the progressive vanguard of an already unprecedentedly progressive revolution.

In 1800 his coup and his constitution were both overwhelmingly approved by millions in a vote – a vote totally unprecedented in scope, reach and political progress. People who wish to ignore these votes are simply baffling, and biased. The coup was bloodless, as well. Napoleon – the alleged new dictator – is credited with giving the new constitution the idea of universal male suffrage and not just for property owners.

France won the Second European War Against the French Revolution – a bit of peace, finally. Napoleon the general became Napoleon the elected public servant. His administrative energy was as amazing as his martial energy: “The ox has been harnessed – now it must plow,” he said.

Napoleon took great interest in consolidating the best of Roman, custom/precedent and Revolutionary laws into the new Code Civil: equality before the law, end to feudal rights and duties, right to choose one’s work, inviolability of property, right to divorce and freedom of conscience. All were unprecedented leftist advances. The Code Civil is not at all the “Napoleonic Code” but more accurately the “French Revolutionary Code”. It was “an instrument of war against feudalism,” to quote Tulard, and its influence is inestimable and global.

Napoleon curbed widespread brigandage and pacified rebellions which had lasted years. He brought peace to France after a decade of civil war, and yet he did not give the army a privileged position. He even forbade them from getting involved in civil matters, something he considered “madness”.

He declared an amnesty for those living abroad, which anyone personally familiar with revolution knows has an inestimable positive effect, but also some negative ones.

Napoleon ended yet another war in 1801, when French churches finally reopened after the signing of the Concordat. The agreement okayed French nationalisation of Church lands (the sales of which did the most to effectuate the economic revolution downwards), maintained religious freedom, did not declare Roman Catholicism the official religion of the state, allowed the French state to pay clerical salaries (giving them a decent standard of living), had the clergy swear an oath of allegiance to the state, and banned nearly all the monasteries (viewed as parasitical and useless in France, whereas the useful teaching nun orders would soon be doubled). Of course, this recently-installed Pope would ultimately side with the monarchists against the Revolution, but there’s no doubt that Napoleon secured the Revolution’s aim in neutering the Church’s power in France, a major goal.

On only two occasions did he involve himself in local governance of the prefects: one of them was to stop a prefect from forcing vaccinations. Draw your own inference regarding the coronavirus epidemic of 2020-22.

The currency never had to be devalued, the cost of living became stable, he spent more on education than anything else, built three great roads, canals and ports each, attained full employment, stable prices, positive trade balance, increasing population, and presided over a 180-degree shift in public spirit after a decade of civil violence.

So of course he was popular – he was making the principles of the French Revolution law, which broke with the absolute monarchy which reigned essentially everywhere else.

Elected emperor: Democracy combines old forms with new ideas – conservatives are overdramatic

By 1802 Napoleon had committed the crime of making the Revolution workable, peaceful and – worst of all – attractive. A Third Coalition was declared; at home royalists keep trying to assassinate him.

Thus the need to establish monarchical power in France for the sake of permanent peace was put forward. The word ‘form’ was essential. The spirit of the Revolution would be respected but the outwards appearances of executive power would need changing; it required a a title which would fit in with those of other European countries,” writes Tulard.

In 1802 he was was voted Consul-for-life by 3.5 million people (against 0.008 million opposed), a staggeringly progressive occurrence for the time – ignoring this is to lose the entire thread and principles of the French Revolution! However, it’s easy to lose this thread when one ignores the constant attacks on your country’s revolution, which is not allowed to evolve in peace.

It was in fact precipitated by the renewal of conflict with England (in 1803). … Rather, there was a tendency to increase his power in order to ensure the defence of the land. A dictatorship of public safety was needed. How could it be entrusted to anyone other than Bonaparte? At this moment the Royalists inopportunely chose to renew their plotting…. The revolutionaries saw in the consolidation of the First Consul’s power… the only bulwark against attempts to restore the monarchy.”

It is with this lifetime appointment in 1802 that many Republicans were dismayed and many leftists say the Revolution ended. If one wants to call it “despotism”, it’s false: it’s “elected despotism”. It’s a paradox, it’s revolutionary, it’s provoked by foreign aggression, it’s better than anyone else’s around, it’s an emperor and empire but it’s still leftist! “It seemed, above all, to be the surest means of maintaining a stable government putting an end to intrigue and plotting. This in no way represented the acceptance of a Bourbon-style dynasty. The Empire was first and foremost a dictatorship of public safety, designed to preserve the achievements of the Revolution.” Again, that’s from an author who is not strongly pro-Napoleon – he is, however, a Frenchman who understands his country’s history.

Napoleon has still not betrayed the revolution at this point in any serious way! In a move which was preceded by much discussion, he took the crown of Emperor from the Pope’s hands in a public coronation (another first) not because of the bosh about how it was his own arrogant and usurping personal power which won the crown, but because it was the people which had crowned him, and no one else. This is all a huge difference from the divine, theocratic right of kings, which Prussia, Russia, Austria and countless other local kings would insist on in total autocratic form until 1914.

If the French Revolutionary Emperorship was a typical emperorship – and thus no ideological threat – why did it not cause the European Wars Against the French Revolution to stop? The answer is obvious to those who are objective.

In 1806 the Fourth Coalition saw Prussia and Russia attack – France wins again and Prussia is compelled to finally renounce serfdom.

In 1808, popular revolt against the Spanish king in the “Tumult of Aranjuez”, which is still celebrated today, ended the Bourbon dynasty. The overthrow of the Bourbons, and the sheltering of the new ideals of the French Revolution, allowed Latin America to win their independence.

The French Revolution has spread to the New World. It had already spread to the oldest of the Old World: Mohammad Ali founded modern Egypt in 1805 after France had defeated the Mamluks.

The French Revolution starts to topple – revolutionary zeal starts to wane following decades of foreign attacks

This is where things start to turn badly: 1808 Spain is not yet at the point of 1789 France. Proof? After 1815 Spain is the only place where feudalism would actually be restored. The guerrilla war saps France, which is supported by Spain’s progressives, abolished the Inquisition and ended feudal rights – hardly a terrible legacy.

The war in Spain coincides with when Napoleon starts to let the emperorship go to his head and thinks more of preserving his dynasty than of the Revolution – he is always thinking of France, however. His Continental Blockade against England would have bankrupted them… if France didn’t also have to fight in Spain and Russia, too. The French Revolution is always attacked from all autocratic sides – this must be remembered because it so greatly shapes their possible choices. After a few years the Continental Blockade turns into pro-French economic imperialism, in a non-leftist mistake. Spain, the Blockade, dynasty – these are the three key mistakes Napoleon made. However, he does not deserve a permanent “Ogre” caricature for these three because two of them are fights against autocracy.

The Fifth Coalition of 1809 saw the awful Hapsburgs’ last stand, the arrival of huge modern wars of attrition, conscripted armies, and the growth of nationalist movements which Revolutionary France had expressly fostered.

Tsar Alexander refuses to allow Napoleon to marry into the royal family, so he marries into the Hapsburgs instead. The marriage did not cement an alliance for peace – which was entirely the aim – because Austrian royalty, like the simply awful Metternich, were not only Teutonic racists but completely aware that France represented revolutionary change which was incompatible with autocracy. It was Metternich (who takes the mantle from France’s Talleyrand as the most dreadful and shameless politician of his generation) who is credited with the propaganda theme of “Napoleon as mere personal ambition”.

France invades Russia because Moscow refused to end their threats to the revolution – first Russia, then England, then peace, finally, was the plan.

Why didn’t the French Revolution free the serfs? Certainly leftists today would have acclaimed Napoleon more. He said: “They wanted me to free the serfs. I refused. They would have massacred everyone; it would have been frightful. I warred against Tsar Alexander according to the ruleswho would have thought they’d ever burn Moscow?” Such objections miss the entire point of the French invasion of Russia – to force the Tsar to accept peace towards the French Revolution, and there would have been no peace if the serfs had been freed. France was already trying to administer the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and other places – how could they administer huge Russia as well?

Indeed, who could have guessed that the Tsar would defeat his own peoples in order to defeat Napoleon, i.e. the scorched earth tactic, which Clausewitz proved “were only applied accidentally by headquarters,” per Tulard. Say slaver monarchs defeated Napoleon – it makes fools of Russian serfs to say that their sacrifices were correct instead of manipulated; they would get their revenge against such misguided, brutal managers a century later.

Napoleon was keeping 250,000 seasoned troops in Spain at this time, let’s recall. He said his two main mistakes were not wintering in Vitebsk, Belarus, and and instead going to Poland. He ignores the original option – staying in Moscow – which had plenty of noble-abandoned supplies to live off of. The second was in trying to get peace from the Russian monarchists, who never wanted peace, like all monarchists. “I thought that I should be able to make peace, and that the Russians were anxious for it. I was deceived and I deceived myself.” The Tsars liked their autocracy, old Nap!

After the disastrous retreat the monarchs of Europe jumped on Revolutionary France in 1813 with the immediate Sixth Coalition, the first knockdown blow to the French Revolution after 20 years of trying. Not far from Paris Napoleon resolved to die in battle – to pass the throne on to his son – and though he went where fire was thickest and his uniform was tattered by shot he was not killed.

The fall of Paris was shocking: Paris, which hadn’t seen a foreign invader since Joan of Arc 400 years earlier, spectacularly fell without even a full day of fighting because the re-propertied nobles had spread defeatism, paid for subversion and colluded to reverse the French Revolution, which of course they still hated. The elitist concept of royalism would still play a major role in French politics for another 65 years, keep in mind.

After decades of fighting not only were his marshals old and worn out, but so was the original revolutionary generation. What Napoleon needed was a Cultural Revolution to refresh the ideals of the French Revolution, but of course such a thing had not been invented yet. Such a leftist idea would have led to more civil war in France, which was only able to end its civil war with the moderate Napoleon adopting many of the forms of monarchism, after all.

Banished to Elba, he famously returned. When France saw that the Bourbons wanted to push the clock back to 1788 this did have the immediate effect of a Cultural Revolution, restoring the vitality of the ideals of the French Revolution. Napoleon landed and dared people to fire on him all alone, ever the anti-civil war patriot. He was literally pushed all the way to Paris by the peasants and urban proletariat – the army would only rally to him later. He entered like a hero and totally avoided bloodshed – all it took was the sight of him in his overcoat and bicorne hat. It’s really rather stunning, and something only a leftist – a man of the people – could have ever done.

The Bourbons fled, of course. The “Additional Act” was added on to the Constitution, which added checks to the power of Napoleon, granted total freedom of expression, an enlarged electoral college (Napoleon again oversees a broadening of democracy), the right to elect mayors in towns less than 5,000 inhabitants, trial by jury and was approved by 1.6 million voters. It wouldn’t be until 1867 that Britain’s electorate would reach that size.

The vote enraged royalist autocrats continent-wide, and they resolved to immediately overturn the progressive democratic will of France, again. Metternich spread the fiction of Napoleon as ambition personified and rejecting peace.

Above all, what France needed was a period of peace to consolidate these changes – Napoleon’s aura was not the same, liberal ideas were taking further root and France had been awakened to the fact that their revolution was powerful but not invincible. They almost had it: Wellington declared Waterloo “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life”, but instead of wiping out Wellington the next day Napoleon spent the morning visiting the wounded – Napoleon the quick had become a sentimental old soldier. The Coalition refused to make peace – of course. Instead of dissolving the National Assembly, as a dictator would, he trusted it and asked for full powers: they told Napoleon to abdicate or be deposed.

Now the French Revolution was truly over. It would be 33 years until there would be another vote.

The defeat of Napoleon – tyrant, slaver, sexist – heralds not a left-wing renaissance, but a right-wing one, really?

Just as Napoleon and the French had warned for decades, the clock was wound back across Europe: Poland was re-wiped off the map by Russia and Prussia, Hapsburgs in north Italy, Bourbons in Naples and Spain, Pope Pius VII restored the Inquisition and the Jewish ghettoes, England responded to calls for parliamentary reform with the massacre at Peterloo – vicious counter-revolution everywhere. The censorship imposed by Metternich is total, with spies everywhere – Europe is a true police state for the benefits of monarchs and aristocrats… again. The French Revolution was truly over because a monarchical oligarchy conspired to stop it.

In 1821, living in cruel imprisonment imposed by Britain on the island of St. Helena, Napoleon died of stomach cancer, like his father, at the age of 51. His last words: “France – army – head of the army – Josephine”.

They act as if Napoleon waged wars on the peoples of Europe, instead of on the autocrats of Europe?

They act as if he won his royalty by birth, marriage or violence, instead of by vote?

They act as if his administration was marked by corruption instead of revolutionary ideas, progress and domestic unity?

Bah… the haters of Napoleon – what can be done? He deserves the longest chapter in this book, because to smear Napoleon Bonaparte is to smear the French Revolution. The two are not synonymous, as Napoleon once claimed – but now, I think, you know what he meant.

In 1823 his memoirs, The Memorial of Saint Helena, would become the 19th century’s best-selling book, moulding the worldview of several generations.

It is truly amazing how relatively few things there are in France named after Napoleon. However, his stunning tomb at Invalides is – thankfully – not a military shrine but a monument to his 10 greatest achievements as a domestic revolutionary politician. It’s truly amazing: comparing the negative view which so many have Napoleon, and the 10 progressive political advances etched in marble at Invalides.

The common leftist criticism that Napoleon Bonaparte used foreign war to liquidate the revolution, domestic conflict and class conflict completely ignores the fact that the Seven European Wars Against the French Revolution were defensive and not initiated by France.

The criticism which equates Bonaparte with Bourbon – calling them two absolutist systems, with the former merely being more allied with the nouveau riche bourgeois class – completely ignores the historic votes, constitutions, and the quality of governance. It also totally ignores the peasant gains stemming from the French Revolution’s ending of feudalism.

The claim that the French Revolution was “imperialist” totally ignores the fact that the French Revolution wasn’t even “French”: Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium – these are just the countries where the people were able to join the Revolution, and certainly many more wanted to.

All great revolutions are always externalised – ideas do not know national boundaries. The 1979 Iranian Revolution, for example, both spread and was a part of an idea that spread: in 1978 the Saur Revolution in Afghanistan established the socialist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan; in 1979 the Grand Mosque of Mecca was under siege for two months to oppose the House of Saud monarchy; in 1982 Saddam Hussein committed the massacre of the Islamic Dawa Party, the crime for which he would be ultimately sentenced to death. Where does Iran 1979 fit in this, who can say with total precision? France, Haiti, the Cisalpine Republic, the Batavian Republic (Netherlands 1795-1806) even the USA and League of Iroquois – where does 1789 France fit, precisely? What makes France and Iran different is that their revolutions succeeded and lasted, and thus they must be celebrated and learned from.

In a quote of Trotsky’s which sounded the death knell of capitalism entirely too early, Napoleon Bonaparte represented “the bourgeoisie’s impetuous youth”. We must, therefore, look at the “impetuous youth” of Bonaparte’s bourgeois victory as a victory for the people precisely because it was the only victory which could be permanently extracted in that awful autocratic era – the liberal rights which 1789 fought for were advancements; bourgeois rights were advancements; peasants, not nobles, getting land should not be derided as a “bourgeois revolution” but were advancements. It is the West’s total blind spot regarding the social evil of monarchy – which is the only accurate standard of comparison Napoleon and the French Revolution can be compared to: their peers – which blinds them to the obvious historical truth.

We can expect the right to paint Napoleon poorly, but what the left seems to ignore is that what every historian eventually admits is that the peasants and the working class – the mass of the people – wanted, trusted, elected and re-elected Napoleon Bonaparte as the French Revolution’s chief. This makes Napoleon Bonaparte just like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Khomeini, etc.

Now we grasp the Western Liberal Democratic campaign against Napoleon’s legacy: he was a true, beloved leftist.

Napoleon truly must be reclassed with those figures along the left. We cannot allow reactionaries to say that Napoleon, the dominant personage of that 26-year era – somehow did not embody it, but rather embodied its negation. What an absurdity!

Perhaps the whole point of this chapter – to fellow leftists – is to prove: We can admire Robespierre, Danton, Marat and Babeuf while also admiring Napoleon. Napoleon certainly must be reclaimed from today’s aristocratic bourgeoisie – this chapter should make it clear why they would never even want a leftist like him.

Gaining the trust of the democratic mass explains – more than any other factor – how Napoleon was able to lead France to stability in 1799 and beyond. Western Liberal Democrats haven’t been able to do either – gain the trust of the masses or provide stability for them – from its very conception. As de Tocqueville observed:

On coming to power Bonaparte imposed an additional 25 centimes of tax and nothing is said. The people do not turn against him; on the whole what he did was popular. The Provisional Government was to take the same measures in 1848 and was to be cursed immediately. The former was making a much-desired revolution, the second was making an unwanted one.”

What was unwanted across Europe in 1848 was the success of the counter-revolutions, which successfully refused to implement the ideals of 1789. In France, however, what was quickly unwanted was the first implementation of Western Liberal Democracy.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value! Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

  • New book announcement – ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s best values’ – March 15, 2022
  • Introduction: A Yellow Vests’ history must rewrite both recent & past French history – March 20, 2022
  • The UK’s endless reaction: 1789 & feudalism’s end creates modern conservatism – March 25, 2022
  • Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’ – March 29, 2022
  • Modern political history makes no sense if Napoleon is not a leftist revolutionary
  • The Revolutions of 1848: Because Liberalism can’t say the ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’
  • Louis-Napoleon: The revolutionary differences between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy
  • The Paris Commune: The true birth of neoliberalism and EU neo-imperialism
  • Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s
  • On ‘Leon Trotsky on France’ in order to reclaim Trotsky from Trotskyists
  • The Yellow Vests’ childhood: Seeing French elites, only, swayed by neoliberalism
  • No one here is actually in charge: How the EU empire forced the Yellow Vests
  • The radicalisation by Europe’s ongoing Lost Decade: the Great Recession changes France
  • To Yellow Vests he’s the radical: Macron and ‘Neither Right nor Left but the Bourgeois Bloc’
  • Yellow Vests: At worst, the most important French movement for a century
  • Who are they, really? Ask a reporter whose seen a million Yellow Vest faces
  • Yellow Vest Win: Ending the West’s slandering of all popular movements as far-right xenophobes
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western anarcho-syndicalism & unions as leftism’s hereditary kings
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western parliamentarianism as the most progressive government
  • Yellow Vest Win: Reminding us of the link between fascist violence & Western democracy
  • What the Yellow Vests can be: a group which can protect liberalism’s rights, at least
  • The 2022 vote: The approach needed for ‘Before’- what came ‘After’ polls closed

France apathetic about politics? Has corona gutted voter energy, or Macron?

March 31, 2022

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. His new book is ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is also the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Source

by Ramin Mazaheri and cross-posted with PressTV

One of the joys of France is the openness with which people talk politics here.

In the English-speaking world simple political disagreement leads immediately to judgmental condemnation of one another. Look at the centuries of sensationalism and warmongering from London’s Fleet Street – there’s a big market for intolerance. In the US it’s considered best to not talk about politics, or religion, at all.

But the French do talk politics, and all the time, and well. They prefer abstractions and exceptions to declarations and moral lines, but at least they discuss politics without rancour.

As France goes, so goes the European Union. Since the Great Recession many have suggested that an economic solution to the eurozone’s problems is that Germany should leave, taking their economic neo-imperialism and a strong Deutschmark with them. Nobody says the same for France – their role is indispensable to the European project.

Think back to how vital the past two French elections were, and how they had provided a true bellwether of the continent’s political situation:

In 2017 Marine Le Pen was offering a Frexit vote within six months of victory, repudiation of banker debt and seriously discussed leaving the euro. These are all serious ideas, especially when compared with the three main topics of the 2022 election: xenophobia, Islamophobia and Ukraine. The two mainstream parties were ousted for the first time since Charles de Gaulle – major upheaval.

In 2012 Francois Hollande declared “finance is my enemy” and was going to lead a Latin bloc against Germany and cut austerity off before it could do serious damage. Optimism was high that what many in France insisted was true: that someone as pro-money and monarchical as Nicolas “bling bling” Sarkozy was an aberration. The failure to produce the major upheaval for which Hollande truly had a mandate led to his 4% approval rating, his inability to even run for re-election and the destruction of the Socialist Party.

Less than two weeks until the first round I strain to find election topics of interest to write about. There is a lassitude regarding political matters which is totally out of keeping with French culture, and this does not augur well for Europe.

France will likely have abstention rates not seen since 2002, but France is so politically active that still means an estimated 71%. That would be a big drop from the 79% turnout of 2017. These are scores most Western countries would die for, so there’s no chance that low turnout in 2022 is going to seriously discredit French democracy. What discredited French democracy was the brutal, state-sponsored repression of the Yellow Vests, of course.

So abstention rates don’t tell the whole story in 2022. People tell me – and it’s my job to ask – that they will vote merely out of a sense of civic duty, and without the typical Gallic passion.

2022 is a hollow election in France: The issues which are allowed to be debated are hollow, the candidates are straw men who lack domestic credibility and the vacant look in people’s eyes when talking about the election implies that France is just hollowed out.

Why? This will be the first major Western election since the end of the coronavirus era, and I can only hypothesise that there must be a connection.

Today there simply is no spirit of résistance, which the French can seemingly fabricate out of thin air (this is mostly admirable, though occasionally overly-provocative). It was only two weeks ago that France ended its coronavirus restrictions, after all, and what French people want now is relief and simple pleasures. Embracing politics is to embrace dispute, hard-won compromises and a pleasure which is mental and not immediately tangible – it is to embrace résistance.

Is it possible that the coronavirus lockdowns have simply made people more resigned to their political fate? If so, one should bet on incumbents.

Who could have thought that the French wouldn’t care about the election of such a controversial president? The price of gas (€2 per litre) is now a whopping 25% higher than in November 2018, when that issue sparked the Yellow Vests – it’s illogical that there aren’t even bigger demands for government action now? This is the type of disinterest amid disorder which one only reads about after years of war or revolution – eventually a populace simply can’t generate enthusiasm for political endeavours.

Europe has only one hope that this is a case of French exceptionalism: Is it possible that Macron’s Yellow Vest weekend beatdowns have simply defeated France? Macron’s campaign platform was encapsulated in a book he titled Revolution. It was not ironic – Macron truly is a neoliberal revolutionary willing to wage war on his own people just to institute far-right neoliberalism which even the International Monetary Fund admitted has failed, in a 2016 report. People here view Macron’s re-election as a foregone conclusion – he simply cannot be opposed.

I think we can’t underestimate the way Western mainstream media has turned into total sycophants of the elite. With startling swiftness the new mediums of the 21st century have gone from liberating the average person with a new “freedom to write” to banning dissent, and coronavirus speeded this process along.

The French people do not care about the issues which the mainstream media pushed in this election campaign – they handed control of the agenda to far-right troglodyte Eric Zemmour – but what can people do except tune out and not care? A handful of billionaires control the media here, and US-based social media decide what can and can’t be discussed – Metternich, Austria’s prince of censorship in Europe’s post-French Revolution era, would be jealous.

In 2022 the media here is similarly refusing to allow discussion of Macron’s record: economic failure, the worst political repression in a century and an administration which halfway into his 5-year term set the record for cabinet ministers forced out for corruption. This is a politician who polls told us was elected primarily for two reasons: to prevent the authoritarian far-right from wielding police power, and to sweep out the two corrupt mainstream parties. One can only say that there has been total failure on these two points – the problem is finding media allowed to say it!

The war in Ukraine has provided the coup de grâce to discussion of serious domestic issues in this election, sadly.

There’s too many Muslims in France to not perceive surprise regarding the biased treatment in favor of Ukraine, which translates into more indifference and contempt for what’s in the news. While media in the United States insist that all of Europe is cowering in fear from Russian nuclear bombs that idea only produces laughter in Paris – it is absurd, of course. How Ukraine got to be a primary issue in the French election – few care to answer. I can’t help but note that public opinion is allowed to play no role in foreign policy decisions in Western Liberal Democracy, so whatever Paris decides to do regarding Ukraine will be decided among the court of the elite, as it was in the time of kings. Of course, Western Liberal Democracy is fine with autocracy and monarchy.

If France sees a repeat of 2002 it will be the left which surprises this time, but even that provokes looks of disillusion. The talk of a social explosion is widespread here, but it does not appear likely to happen within the next four weeks.


Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’

March 29, 2022

Source

By Ramin Mazaher

(This is the second chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

Modern conservatism was hugely inspired by Edmund Burke’s constant assertion that one is not permitted to remake society into something new because to wipe out the historical context which shaped that society would be immoral. It’s the crux of his anti-revolution thesis.

This is the precise logic of modern reformism – i.e., slow reform and improvement of English-style parliamentarianism, which is the political backbone of Western Liberal Democracy.

But it’s a cardinal error of the ardent and overdramatic conservative – to give entirely too sweeping a brush to any revolution. Nobody could totally wipe away a nation’s historical and cultural context – what’s done is done and won’t be forgotten, but it can be looked at differently. The past often should be left behind in order to implement a new, more humane legal foundation, which is always the basic goal of any revolution – anything else is a mere “coup”, after all.

Modern conservatives and Burke, the acknowledged philosophical founder of Western conservatism, ultimately want to continue to be the elite arbiters of what legal, economic and cultural changes get made, whereas Socialist Democracies insist that the mass of the people – the Third Estate, the proletariat & peasantry, the 99%, etc. – should be the arbiters.

Burke had the opportunities and status he did because he was an aristocrat (the House of Burke was a centuries-old noble dynasty), an imperialist (of Ireland – Burke was born there) and, ironically, because of revolution. The previous chapter summarised Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, and it is equally a defense of England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688 – both of its methods and its results – as it is an assault on the new ideas of 1789 France. It’s truly a book which covers two revolutions, and it distinctly marks the political-cultural schism between both Anglophone and Francophone cultures and between revolutionary and conservative cultures.

The methods: A royal coup in England which installed a foreign royal (William of Orange, from the Netherlands). What the English like to focus on is not this anti-patriotic, “monarchy-as-the-original-globalist-1%ers” class aspect, but the fact that it was done without bloodshed, and that it ended a four decade era of civil war and political changes.

The results: The coup was effectuated by the Whigs, the new social class which had been created off the new profits from Western Hemisphere imperialism and its explosion in commercial trading. I mentioned this in the Introduction: 1492 created a slow but certain economic revolution by making war/imperialism and trade newly hyper-profitable for Europe. By 1688 the Whigs were able to use these profits to force in a foreign king, pass the English Bill of Rights and establish the prominence of parliament for the first time in English history.

Burke was a Whig and, sycophantic Whig that he was, wrote that all revolutions to the post-Glorious Revolution status quo should be denounced as awful – this explains how Reflections marks the birth of Western anti-revolutionism. Burke is writing about France but also saying, expressly, that the 1688 intra-elite coup which encoded rights to the noble class is the only revolution which should ever be glorified, and long live the reign of the Whigs.

Thus it’s total self-interest; it’s total class war long before Marx; it’s an alliance of the allegedly-noble rich, whether landed, royal and theocratic rich or nouveau imperialist-trader rich; and it’s totally reactionary (which is defined as: opposing progressive political or social reforms). It is this eventual unification of all types of wealth – land-based, commercial/imperial, then 19th century financial/industrial – and then their united struggle against the 99% which is what made the Marxist analysis of 19th century European history so provokingly revolutionary. Marx drained the nobility of their Burkean pretensions to a deserved grandeur by pointing out: all you care about is money.

The Glorious Revolution has gone global, partially, like every successful revolution inevitably does – it has become inseparable from Western Liberal Democracy.

While I do apologise for the way this book on the Yellow Vests ballooned, LOL, I am just trying to get back to the root of the matter. Ultimately, the Yellow Vests are rebelling against the latest failure of Western Liberal Democracy. 1688 is the feudal-era basis of this ideology, which hasn’t been “modern” since 1789.

Yellow Vest “It’s clear that the government is selling us a democracy which is actually a total illusion. When we see how much violence there has been to the peaceful Yellow Vests, it’s clear that French democracy is a dream and not reality.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

Why England’s and America’s revolutions are not the start of modern politics

Crucially, because the 1688 revolution is based not on the empowerment of the average person and democracy but is instead based on protecting elite privilege, it cannot be considered as the revolution which births modern politics.

It’s far more accurate to say that 1688 was the last organised resistance by European elite aimed at containing modern politics. 1688 erected the most vigorous bulwark against modern politics, sadly. The religious emphasis of the English Civil Wars also make the 1688 Revolution far less suitable than 1789 to mark the start of the modern political era, which is defined by class politics – religious wars belong to the earlier era. Nor should the culmination of the colonisation of Ireland during this era permit 1688 to serve as the start of the neo-imperial project of the European Union (that date is 1871, as I explain later) – for one thing, England is not even in the EU. The proof is also right there in the pudding: from 1688 until today the British Isles are the seat or co-seat of seemingly every effort worldwide to fight against the ideals of 1789 and socialist democracy.

But history is a slow process, and we should acknowledge the merits in the Glorious Revolution lest we lose the key thread of political history – the move of away from autocracy. Is that not what the average person has been fighting for since 1789? A major effort of this book is to show how monarchical concepts – such as autocracy and rule by a small elite – didn’t stop with 1979 Iran but still drastically shape Western Liberal Democracy today.

1688 was important, and not just for its shortcomings:

Firstly, it produced the Bill of Rights of 1688, which should be considered far more important than the Magna Carta of 1215, though the latter is better remembered. The Magna Carta is only a big deal within England – it wasn’t even the biggest expansion away from absolute monarchy in its own era. In 13th century Hungary their aristocracy was far more inclusive and egalitarian: 5% of the country was nobility and the “Golden Bull” decree of 1222 made them all equal, even giving them the right to vote in the most weighty matters of state. (Indeed, the parallels and legacies between this longstanding Hungarian elite class and the modern “Austrian School” of political economics are too numerous to list here.)

Secondly, 1688 effectively ended the world’s worst – and most historically prevalent – type of theocracy: the divine right of kings. The Puritan Revolution and Oliver Cromwell had done its work and could not be reversed: “Christ, not man, is King” is the epitaph on his tomb. I think a better epithet would be “God, not man, is King”, but I’m Muslim. I certainly appreciate Cromwell’s point. The awful lovers of monarchy, such as Burke, who opposed Cromwell and his Protectorate republic (1653-59) exhumed his corpse in 1660, the year monarchy was restored – they stuck Cromwell’s skull on a pike and placed it on the roof of Westminster Hall for 30 years.

Thirdly and lastly, the Bill of Right can be best described as a “Rights of Man and of the Citizen… but only Aristocrats are Men or Citizens”. It took 100 years for the idea to take root that all humans – and not just nobles – have rights. I noted in the Introduction that this egalitarian concept did not derive from England but from the indigenous in the New World. Regardless of provenance, spread it did, and the aristocrat Burke opposed 1789’s attempts to spread it just as much as kings, prior to 1688, opposed the idea that nobles have rights.

But the Glorious Revolution was indeed a true advance, and it’s with some justification that England thought itself the most progressive nation in Europe. However, 1789 changed this self-perception, and the allegedly post-feudal United Kingdom was now behind the times. It remains there, sadly.

England’s Bill of Rights has 13 key articles, and it is nearly identical to the 10 articles of the United States Bill of Rights. Indeed, it is a part of US domestic propaganda to portray the US Bill of Rights as some sort of spectacular advance when it was clearly modelled on something a century old. The American Bill of Rights was written in 1789, the same year as the French Revolution’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Absolutely crucially, the 27 articles of France’s declaration goes so very, very much further than the American declaration.

It’s entirely accurate to say that the Americans did not join with the French conception of human rights but with England’s: The Glorious and American Revolutions did not remake their social orders but merely established a limited view of human rights. This explains why modern Western Liberal Democracy easily embraces both the constitutional monarchies of Europe (Spain, Sweden, etc.) as well as the constitutional republics of the US (and France, Italy, etc.). The UK is one of the handful of countries which still doesn’t have a constitution, along with Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The US merely codified an oligarchy – American oligarchs were now in charge on the Eastern seaboard, not English oligarchs – and this allows us to explain why modern politics doesn’t begin with the American Revolution of 1776 either.

For the common man the Glorious English and American Revolutions are truly “internal coups” more than “revolutions”. In neither was there an attempt to fundamentally reshape society – an autocracy expanded slightly to oligarchy is hardly a revolution. 1688 and 1776 are important, no doubt, but it is a complete misunderstanding of modern politics to believe that they are as important as 1789.

It’s incredibly telling that Burke barely commented on the revolutionary experience of the United States – it’s not that he didn’t know what to make of it, which is one reading of his reticence, it’s that he both found it entirely good sense but also threatening to the English empire to which he was such a toady.

Yellow Vest: “Macron is a puppet. He has a program which aims to ruin the French people in order to benefit a few billionaires. Look at how he refuses to allow a referendum on the proposed privatisations of the airports of Paris. He wants everyone to shut their face and accept whatever he wants, but that’s not the way France should be.”

But, history is a slow process, and we should acknowledge the merits in the American Revolution lest we lose the thread.

The American Revolution was an undeniable advance as well because it represented the start of the end of 284 years of European domination of the Western Hemisphere – now the locals (some locals) had some rights and sovereignty. Of course, the aboriginals were not included in the new system of rights in the United States – more proof of how elitist, and not progressive, Western Liberal Democracy has been from its very foundations.

Yes, the French Revolution was overturned, and The Declarations of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen wouldn’t be firmly embedded in a French constitution until 1945, but that’s only due to the anti-1789 machinations of its enemies. The French Revolution, while overturned in 1815 via a restored monarchy, was a true advance in Europe’s very low level of political consciousness and away from monarchical despotism.

The Russian Revolution would be an even greater advance because it finally extended human rights to all – even the poorest landless peasant – inaugurating an entirely new era of political history. All revolutions after 1917 (China, Cuba, Iran, etc.) are socialist-inspired and their main obstacle is the same as France’s was from 1792-1815: all these other nations, led by the United Kingdom, which seek to pull them back to the old era of political history, one of rights limited to monarchs, sheiks and the affluent. This is the clear, simple pattern of Western politics and global history.

This analysis can only be considered invalid or temporary if one believes that Western Liberal Democracy is truly the apex of political thought. The longstanding demand of many French leftists, and not just the Yellow Vests, to found a new republic undermines that claim, as does the incredible repression of the Yellow Vests.

Burke himself was emphatic: 1688 was actually NOT a revolution

It’s not just me who argued that 1688 wasn’t a major revolution – it’s a key thesis of Burke’s book!

The glory of England’s Glorious Revolution is that change had come without civil war, without any absence of government and without any rule by revolutionaries – thus we see how today’s conservatism has absolutely carried this Whiggish banner which demands that change only come through peaceful reformism.

However, the great unsaid of English parliamentarianism and then Western Liberal Democracy is that this peaceful reformism must be entirely guided by the ruling oligarchical elite. Class analysis, and an objective accounting of modern history, tells us that this oligarchy will always fear losing their power and privileges to the people – thus, Western Liberal Democracy is aristocratic to its marrow.

Part of the conservative retort to revolution has always included that even a temporary absence of government is a fearful Rousseauian “state of nature”, which can only result in either an alleged anarchy of socialism or a civil war that features pure hysteria and zero ideology. Order must be kept… because the oligarchy must not lose power, of course. “Keep calm and carry on” – the English phrase which swept the Anglophone world during the economic collapse of 2008 – perfectly incarnates this view of a slave which loves the order provided by his master.

The analysis that England’s 1688 Revolution is the true foundation of modern democracy is something which Anglophones will persist in, mainly because they have not actually read Burke.

Specifically what shocked Burke in Reflections was the presumption: “that we have acquired a right:

  1. to choose our own governors
  2. to cashier them for misconduct
  3. to frame a government for ourselves”

Burke does not only reject these basic democratic rights for the French in 1789 but he asserts that the Glorious Revolution did not employ these rights either!

Therefore don’t believe my opinion that 1789 is the true start of modern politics – Burke himself says that 1789 cannot claim to be following any democratic precedent allegedly set by 1688. Burke himself says that the Anglophone system rejects anything but an unaccountable autocracy.

1789 was thus rejected by English conservatism, just as they obviously also reject 1917, 1949, 1959, 1979, etc. We all expect English and modern conservatives to reject everything from 1917 on, but what’s rarely admitted is how modern conservatives fully reject 1789. This rejection persists in the 21st century even though by the 1970s the ideals of 1789 had become commonplace across the West.

Burke continues after his 3-part list:

“This new and hitherto unheard-of bill of rights, though made in the name of the whole people, belongs to those gentlemen and their faction only. The body of the people of England have no share in it. They utter disclaim it. They will resist the practical assertion of it with their lives and fortunes. They are bound to do so by the laws of their country made at the time (1688) of that very Revolution which is appealed to in favor of the fictitious rights claimed by the Society which abuses its name.”

Both “their faction” and “Society” refers to the Revolution Society of England, a group which supported the French revolution. Burke correctly notes that none of these three principles are found in the Bill of Rights, which is the practical and legal embodiment of the principles of the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

French revolutionaries, Napoleon Bonaparte included, had initially been inspired by England as a model. They soon realised that they were seriously mistaken. This is expressed by Burke in the above phrase, “of that very Revolution which is appealed to in favor”. Burke repeats this French disenchantment with English oligarchy in greater, necessary detail:

Your leaders in France began by affecting to admire, almost to adore, the British constitution; but as they advanced they came to look upon it with a sovereign contempt. The friends of your National Assembly amongst us have full as mean an opinion of what was formerly thought the glory of their country. The Revolution Society has discovered that the English nation is not free. They are convinced that the inequality in our representation is a ‘defect in our constitution so gross and palpable as to make it excellent chiefly in form and theory’.”

Yes, France’s revolutionaries took a closer look and realised that they were totally mistaken about England’s relationship with democracy. Perhaps someone misinformed them that Cromwellism had prevailed?

The conservatives who knowingly or unknowingly cling to 1688 or 1776 are either rewriting or misunderstanding history, but Burke was well aware that the admiration of the British model quickly changed to contempt in France – all it took was a proper understanding of the limited rights England offers the common man. France’s riposte was the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a spectacular leap ahead of Britain and the US.

Indisputable: 1789 launches modern politics – the fight against monarchs and Macronian autocrats is the fight of today’s politics

Burke’s account of the Glorious Revolution in Reflections would eventually dominate English thought on two subjects. He became the explainer of two revolutions – one “preserving” and one “destroying”. His flaw is being totally wrong on which one should receive which treatment.

Yellow Vest: “There is no way the Yellow Vests will stop until the government responds to our needs and our democratic demands. As long as the government doesn’t change, neither will our insistence on real changes.”

The modern Western conservatism which thwarts all progressive revolutions is not interesting, but the enormous flaws, egotisms and the lust to implant illogic in human affairs which abound in Burke’s philosophy must be exposed for its fallacies.

And yet, the coming chapters will see me further quoting Burke for his accurate predictions for and criticisms of what will become known as Western Liberal Democracy, which becomes rooted in the disastrous 2nd Republic of 1848-52 France.

Above all, Burke is vital to remind us of what exactly modern conservatism has to “conserve”: an anti-patriotic, 1%er, class warfare view of human society. The only name for this used to be “monarchy”, the first system which put class loyalty above national loyalty:

But a more decisive proof cannot be given of the full conviction of the British nation that the principles of the (Glorious) Revolution did not authorise them to elect kings at their pleasure, and without any attention to the ancient fundamental principles of our governed, than their continuing to adopt a plan of hereditary Protestant succession in the old line, with all the dangers and all the inconveniences of its being a foreign line full before their eyes and operating with the utmost force upon their minds.

Burke admits that the principle of hereditary possession, of religious segregation and of democratic repression override any patriotic concern.

Burke also admits that the invasion of a foreign Dutch army was just solely because it ended the threat of Cromwellian republicanism possibly flowering into the ideals of 1789, thus threatening the Whig oligarchy.

The Revolution of 1688 was obtained by a just war, in the only case in which any war, and much more a civil war, can be just. Justa bella quibus necessaria(Livy: Wars are just when they are necessary.) The question of dethroning or, if these gentlemen like the phrase better, ‘cashiering kings’, will always be, as it has always been, an extraordinary question of state, and wholly out of the law – a question (like all other questions of state) of dispositions and of means and of probable consequences rather than of positive rights.

The bold and underline emphasis of mine is added because it is my treat for enduring the galling, elitist, sycophantic, abstruse, conservative claptrap which is Burke, but also because this quite fair restitching makes it clear:

Modern conservatism means that no one has the right to depose a king or president – no matter how repressive or poorly they govern – because it’s not about rights but of consequences, the consequences being the end of the oligarchy’s dominance. Political leadership is a “question of state” – i.e. a question for the elite to handle among themselves.

Modern conservatives collude, for the absurd reasons enumerated by Burke’s book and summarised in the previous chapter, to uphold this undeserved dominance. Modern conservatism has not changed from Burke – they continue to use his same faulty, elitist rationales.

The status quo cannot be dethroned! The French Revolution disagreed, and Napoleon Bonaparte – the focus of our next chapter – would not be enthroned but voted into the throne, something Burke surely would have fainted at.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value! Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

  • New book announcement – ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s best values’ – March 15, 2022
  • Introduction: A Yellow Vests’ history must rewrite both recent & past French history – March 20, 2022
  • The UK’s endless reaction: 1789 & feudalism’s end creates modern conservatism – March 25, 2022
  • Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’
  • Modern political history makes no sense if Napoleon is not a leftist revolutionary
  • The Revolutions of 1848: Because Liberalism can’t say the ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’
  • Louis-Napoleon: The revolutionary differences between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy
  • The Paris Commune: The true birth of neoliberalism and EU neo-imperialism
  • Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s
  • On ‘Leon Trotsky on France’ in order to reclaim Trotsky from Trotskyists
  • The Yellow Vests’ childhood: Seeing French elites, only, swayed by neoliberalism
  • No one here is actually in charge: How the EU empire forced the Yellow Vests
  • The radicalisation by Europe’s ongoing Lost Decade: the Great Recession changes France
  • To Yellow Vests he’s the radical: Macron and ‘Neither Right nor Left but the Bourgeois Bloc’
  • Yellow Vests: At worst, the most important French movement for a century
  • Who are they, really? Ask a reporter whose seen a million Yellow Vest faces
  • Yellow Vest Win: Ending the West’s slandering of all popular movements as far-right xenophobes
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western anarcho-syndicalism & unions as leftism’s hereditary kings
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western parliamentarianism as the most progressive government
  • Yellow Vest Win: Reminding us of the link between fascist violence & Western democracy
  • What the Yellow Vests can be: a group which can protect liberalism’s rights, at least
  • The 2022 vote: The approach needed for ‘Before’- what came ‘After’ polls closed

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

The UK’s endless reaction: 1789 & feudalism’s end creates modern conservatism

March 25, 2022

Source

By Ramin Mazaher

(This is the first chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)

It would be boring to defend the French Revolution by showing the moral and intellectual worth of its left spectrum – of Danton and Robespierre, Marat and Babeuf. What’s far more interesting is to examine the right’s assessment and criticisms of 1789. If we do so we will be exceptionally rewarded – after all, we unearth the very foundation of Western conservatism.

Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France is the Bible of modern conservatism, with Burke regarded as that ideology’s indisputable philosophical founder. It is no exaggeration to call him the “Marx of conservatism”. For those who don’t believe that – simply read this first section.

It’s not only Burke’s political philosophy which has become dominant in the West, but his economic philosophy prevails today as well. Read Adam Smith’s evaluation of Burke: “…the only man I ever knew who thinks on economic subjects exactly as I do, without any previous communications having passed between us.”

Additionally, just as conservatives today despise the “fake money” of Bitcoin – which is creating a new class (both a class of monied persons and a class of investment type) – so Burke railed against the French Revolution’s creation of paper “fake money”. The assignats were paper bonds created by the projected bonanza which would be reaped from the sales of the newly confiscated estates of the Roman Catholic Church in France. Burke’s condemnation of this – and his promotion of wealth only based in land, gold and commerce – has become adored by stingy conservatives who distrust going off the gold standard in 1971, Quantitative Easting, Modern Monetary Policy and cryptocurrency. Burke was a member of the Whig Party, which established the Bank of England – the first central bank – giving him even more economic relevance to our era of banker domination.

As Burke fears a newly monied class will reduce the power of the established upper class, Reflections is full of apparently tolerant concerns (Burke was a Protestant) for the future of the Roman Catholic Church. Burke’s concerns are nothing but false piety masking his class interests, but Reflections is considered by today’s conservatives to be a righteous and modern call to defend your true church. Burke defends Christian monarchy as being free from despotism, it being Christian, after all. As for the aristocracy beneath the holy autocrat, Burke simultaneously insists that aristocrats in Christendom have always practiced the true faith… but they have been converted to atheism en masse in France over the last century. This mix of multicultural tolerance (as long as that culture is Christian) and loyalty to an unchanging establishment religion (no matter how infested with nobility and disregard for the poor) is quite similar to the religious stance of modern Western conservatives.

Burke also rails against calls for subverting the aristocratic world – a world full of hard-won merit, he insists – by a new media-political-intellectual class which has become divorced from the longtime forces of traditional wealth and the church. In the 21st century technocrats and meritocracy’s allegedly-deserving victors denounce a new intelligentsia: that of the masses, which is found on Facebook, social media, blogs, etc., which dare to contradict the mainstream media of sacred Western Liberal Democracy, which is – in fact – actually being run ever so well by the establishment’s elite.

Burke writes little about 1789’s abolition of seigneurial rights, mainly because it’s such an indefensible position – in typical English fashion it was certainly bad “manners” to talk of such things openly. Or rather, it had just become bad manners. Burke insisted that a truly noble nobility justifiably rules and oppresses because of the English triumph of social “manners” over ancient, individualistic and barbarous Greek “virtue”. This idea translated into the alliance between culture and aristocracy which so dramatically moulded the art of the subsequent Victorian Era. Again, Burke’s importance resonates with Marxian reach. The Western condemnation of “deplorable” Yellow Vests, Trumpers and Brexiteers for their lack of respect and awe is above all a continuation of Victorian repugnance for the “ill-mannered” and certainly ill-bred masses.

But wait, there’s more!

It’s said that much of Burke’s modern appeal is that he allegedly discovered the roots of modern totalitarianism: He was first intellectual to be spooked by the “spectre of 1789”, which is synonymous with the spectre of socialism, which modern conservatives falsely conflate with totalitarianism. What’s obvious to all is that the accusations against socialism as “totalitarian” from a class of hyper-privileged persons who fear losing their privileges – even if these privileges are abused and then revoked by popular, democratic revolution – are intellectually invalid barring extraordinary proofs of intellectual objectivity. Burke fails that test all over. Therefore the true base of Burke’s appeal here to modern conservatism is so hard to categorise that we can only call it psychological. It is easy to define, however: A desire to privilege illogic and inefficiency – the role of an “invisible hand” – in both economic and social affairs, something rejected by socialism’s central planning and demands for equality. Logic, science and mathematical reasoning must always appear terribly totalitarian to those, like Burke, who invariably resort to using an “invisible hand” in their equations which explain and order societal affairs. Burke does not use an “invisible hand” that is truly Godly, because it is not all-embracing and all-levelling, but instead the unplanned order found in hereditary right, unregulated markets, slavishly following an unchangeable tradition/past, and the unplanned order of the unpredictable eccentricities produced by a totally unchecked individuality/autocracy/libertarianism. Modern conservatives agree: an “invisible hand” ultimately rules, somehow, and all humans can do is work around it. Planning against the “invisible hand” is personally anathema to modern conservatives, especially rich ones.

Therefore, in economics, religion, intellectualism, culture and psychology you should see why I am starting off this book with Burke – he combines to become the absolute cornerstone of Western conservatism. Reflections on the Revolution in France distills what reasoning is used, and which is used still, to oppose every modern, progressive revolution.

Burke is the man who stood up to the Yellow Vests of 1789 and shouted them down as people who were trashing and upending the economy, who were godless demons that respected nothing, who were too stupid to be listened to much less govern, who were unmannered berserkers, who failed to comprehend that incomprehensibility in human affairs must be endured, and who must stop their critiques of monarchism on pain of being sent to the Bastille, which must be retaken.

Marx had Burke’s number: In a single word – “sycophant”.

Yellow Vest: “Our recent governments serve only the rich class, instead of serving the people – that’s the problem. France has enough money and produces many goods, but these are not distributed fairly. At the same time, our government is taking away the social rights we fought decades to win.”

(Note: this book intersperses over 100 quotations taken from actual, marching Yellow Vests which were originally published in news reports on PressTV.)

Burke hated 1789, but few realise he wrote just as poorly of nascent Western Liberal Democracy

However, it would be unfair and incorrect to say that conservatism in Western Liberal Democracy can be reduced to encouragements to become a slavish sycophant to the status quo because “conservatism” has universal values like family cohesion, respect for religion, thrift, hard work and modest pride in a modest amount of property. Such traditional concepts are easily also found in Confucianism, Hinduism, the Islamic World and even nomadic life. Therefore, to pin all the West’s faults on “conservatism” is illogical, foolish and doomed to failure.

Of course, many Western fake-leftists do exactly that – in the US, for example, the constant claim is that the Republican Party is the sole party responsible for all the evils at home and abroad. This totally ignores the failures of the Democratic Party and of Western Liberal Democracy itself. It’s easier to blame conservatism than to refine and enlighten one’s own leftism.

But read Burke’s masterwork and it’s truly impossible not to be struck by what a tremendous toady this Irishman was to English royalty! If the noble class were one-tenth as noble, blameless and competent as he repeatedly claims then nobody would have ever had the slightest notion to overthrow them. If the revolutionary class in France – which is to say, millions of people – were as vile, clueless and without merit as he claimed then they could not even have had the intelligence to tie their shoes much less envision an unprecedentedly democratic and egalitarian type of society.

Examples of his toadying are legion – his fairy-tale account of meeting Marie Antoinette produced eye-rolling even in Burke’s own day – so I will not waste time listing giving examples. Simply open Reflections on the Revolution in France to any page, stick your finger on a sentence and it will likely be describing the noble class as nothing but people who make Marcus Aurelius look unwise, every small-town cleric as improvers upon the philosophy of Jesus son of Mary, and the king as being an entity of – per the writing of one similar Hindu toady (whose name I forget) – such cosmic goodness that lighting bolts of pure enlightenment shoot out of his big toenail.

Burke’s book has become a manifesto because Western conservatives want to be affirmed in the idea that slow reformism of the status quo is the only sociopolitical solution, universally. “Keep calm and carry on”, universally, as opposed to discussing and implementing revolutionary changes which aim to improve equality immediately. He’s wrong: oligarchy disguised as ineffectual parliamentarianism (with a monarch or a prime minister or a president) is a less democratic and egalitarian system than those proposed by Socialist Democracy, and this was precisely the cry and proposed solution from the French Revolution up to the Yellow Vests.

But few read Burke for this: His book is also the ultimate takedown of modern Western Liberal Democracy at its very conception.

Therefore, we can read him and – undiscussed by modern conservatives – find some very just and salient criticisms of Western Liberal Democracy precisely when the child has first been placed in the cradle. This is the opposites of what modern conservatives usually mine Reflections on the Revolution in France for – to find criticisms of Socialist Democracy, which was also born in 1789.

What’s vital to realise is that Burke’s critique of Socialist (and Liberal) Democracy was not written after “the Terror” or after the rise of Napoleon or – shockingly – even after capital punishment was pronounced for Louis XVI. It was written at the very start of the revolution, in 1790: Burke is writing merely after the fall of the Bastille and the declaration of the end of feudalism! The king lives, but the god has been defiled by the hands of commoners, and Burke pauses in his sucking-up to write a very long letter, in a very protracted style, to a fellow aristocrat in France.

This change in the nature of medieval society is enough to shock Burke the Whig, who is a proto-Western Liberal Democrat because of his acceptance of monarchical oligarchy. He’s an aristocrat shocked at losing his privileges over the life and property of his workers. He can’t imagine that society doesn’t openly declare that his DNA is a cut above the “swinish multitude”. Burke’s shock helps explain why, as I will discuss in the next chapter, the 1688 Glorious Revolution – the birth of English parliamentarianism – is not the birth of modern democracy. It was merely the first limitation on European absolute autocracy, which is not modern.

This shock at the very start of the French Revolution form the completely counter-revolutionary basis of his passionate reflections, which are sent in letter form to a fellow aristocrat in France. The letter becomes history’s best example of intellectual opposition to the French Revolution from the point of view of both monarchy and modern Anglophone conservatism, and thus early Western Liberal Democracy. By examining the text which first criticised the actions of the obvious forebears of the Yellow Vests, we can see how the criticism of the Yellow Vests’ demands is not recent, but goes back over 230 years.

Yellow Vest: “For us it was not the ‘Great Debate’ but the ‘Great Smokescreen’. This is why many Yellow Vests quickly refused to participate. We know that nothing concrete will come from those one-way debates. It will ultimately make people even more disappointed in the government, and turn to the Yellow Vests with even more support.”

The notion of ending aristocratic rule: As shocking to the elite of yesterday as it is for today’s Western elite

The opposition to monarchy/autocracy and a demand for an equitable redistribution of wealth and political power – this is the battle of modern politics. Whether or not the autocrat is Emmanuel Macron, ruling by executive order and smashing the Yellow Vest demonstrations, or Louis XVI makes no difference in 2022: both their means and their ends are the same – political autocracy. From the time of Reflections publication to the Yellow Vests the demands have always been the same: More grassroots rights to political power and wealth for the masses than Western Liberal Democracy is willing to offer its citizens.

The great, galvanising crime for Burke was threefold, and I think only the last would be seriously debatable today, and even then only by a few: making the king finally answerable to a single parliament (no House of Lords) composed mainly of non-nobility, the abolition of feudal titles and rights and France’s nationalising of the Roman Catholic church.

Beginning with the last: It should be reminded that what we can call the “nationalisation” of the Roman Catholic church and the dissolution of the Roman Catholic monasteries occurred in England – via the creation of the Church of England – under Henry VIII, more than 250 years earlier than in France. The Whig Burke decried this for France even though the Whig Party’s early members came to economic prominence in a large part from royal land grants of former Roman Catholic Church lands in England! This book will not debate the merits of Europe’s Protestant Revolution – I will simply take that revolution as a grassroots, honest desire for greater emancipation from the Vatican in many ways, economics included. Therefore, England had already profited from their spiritual independence for centuries, yet France should be faulted for doing the same so very much later? Cui bono – not monied Whigs invested in France, but a French nouveau riche and the French peasant, and thus Burke’s opposition.

What 1789 demanded was not a complete separation between republic and church, but a pledge of allegiance of the Roman Catholic Church to the new republic in order to create a better, more progressive and more locally-devoted clergy. Fifty-five percent of French clergy would accept to take this new Constitutional Oath, which (again, I am not entering into religious discussions here) can be fairly viewed as a modern and progressive demand to serve your local laypeople well and firstly. Contrarily, the Church of England in 1789 was precisely the same as their aristocratic parliament: a hierarchy headed by sycophants, largely limited to fellow nobles, who were engaged in maintaining the deeply embedded socioeconomic class disparities created by English feudalism. Napoleon’s Concordat of 1801 will make peace with the Vatican regarding these changes, and also cement a new and more progressive clergy for France. A complete separation between church and state would not occur until the passage of the “1905 French Law on the Separation of the Churches and State”. This pledge from a clergy towards a national democratic revolution was frightening to Burke because it exposed the alleged progressivism of England – which in 1788 had a claim to be perhaps the most progressive country in Europe – for what the nation remains today: an unmodern oligarchy with a rich, landowning church that refuses to engage in a serious questions of redistribution of wealth or political power.

Nationalising the church, attacking the social and economic privilege of the nobility via ending feudalism and constraining the king’s power with a parliament which doesn’t aim to collude in preserving an aristocratic oligarchy – these three crimes alone joined together to galvanise Burke into warning how the French Revolution heralded the slow death of the autocratic order of the oligarchy.

So the French Revolution has just begun and barely a drop of royal blood has been shed but Burke simply can’t believe his eyes – he thought that the era of aristocratic autocracy, supported by a clergy which looked the other way and an intelligentsia restricted to sanctioning the first two estates (as Burke did) would go on for ever.

Yellow Vest: ”France has turned into a system of oligarchy which is run by high finance, and we cannot take it anymore. This is why the Yellow Vests are demanding citizen referendums, especially regarding France’s banks and our economic policy. That’s the only way we can create jobs, schools, hospitals and peace in our country.”

The Western Liberal Democrats who oppose the Yellow Vests are precisely the same: they are modern day aristocrats who support the autocracy of the French executive, the elite-only justice of the judicial branch, care not that the legislative branch is just for show, who are unhindered by any appeals from a politically-active clergy, and who either decide to join or bow down to the dictates of the 21st media mainstream media intelligentsia.

Why do you think like this, Burke?!

This is why reading Reflections is so important – to find the initial but enduring justifications for autocracy, faux-meritocracy, technocracy of the inept, spiritual guidance from the unrighteous righteous and minds bent on subservience, i.e. a modern Western conservative whose conservatism exceeds just limits.

Natural law: We can do nothing about that which justifies every inequality

Burke’s ultimate rejoinder to attack the ideals of 1789 is that – and here we see the same justifications of Western Liberal Democratic leaders from the slave-trading time, to the start of imperialism in the Western hemisphere, to the eugenics movement, to today’s false “the rich deserve to stay rich because of ‘meritocracy’”: caste is “natural”.

Indeed, it’s that simple to Burke.

Don’t kill the messenger – I can’t be faulted for relating the faults of modern conservatism: logic, nor a study of history which aims to be as scientific as the subject will allow, nor humanity’s finest emotions and desires are a basis for society, but only an invisible hand of “natural” laws which dictate that a high and a low must be created and perpetually preserved.

This “natural” law is the basis of “conservatism” from England, to the caste of India, to the very rigid hierarchical view of Confucius, to the frightened and xenophobic worldview of tribes and nomads, etc. It’s a “bad” conservatism, as it refuses to be compatible with equality and modern, not medieval, justice.

Over and over in Reflections Burke justifies the privileges of the aristocracy based on some sort of “natural” superiority and the “natural” need for a subservient class in society in order to prevent proto-socialist “anarchy”, which a modern reader sees Burke confusing with the barest “equality”.

Absolutely crucially, he backs their theocratic right to rule – divinity is God-given via birth and bloodline. Burke believes that the highness is real and natural of “His and Her Royal Highness”. It’s so astoundingly forgotten that until the bloodletting of World War I nearly all of Europe was not just feudal police states but also theocracies: kings were kings by “divine right” and were often the heads of churches. England still is this way!

This is something which appears staggeringly obvious to Muslim readers of modern European history, but this incredibly awful theocratic rule in Europe seems to be totally unrecognised in Western descriptions of their political history and situation? It is totally unrecognised how this legacy affects Europeans of today? Europeans act as if they are as many millennia removed from caveman-ism as they are from being ardent supporters of the most irreligious type of theocracy?

Burke is not from the final era of total scoffers at the French Revolution’s Rights of Man and of the Citizen, but the very first. Again, it is glossed over in the West how even Liberal Democratic rights are so very new in Europe – the upcoming chapters will remind how the entire 19th century was a victory of Anglo-Germanic monarchical repression 1789. The wilful historical blindness of the Western mainstream – in order to promote ideas of Western exceptionalism and superiority – has lead to total ignorance regarding how monarchy is the cardinal sin of domestic culture.

Beyond this “natural law”, it’s clear that to Burke and conservatives that money matters, and it matters so much because the presence of money, to conservatives, bestows merit; papers over hypocrisies; make criticism easy to luxuriously ignore. Beyond the ending of harvest taxes, church tithes and other redistributions of wealth from the bottom upwards, the confiscations of the church estates in France began the rise of a revolutionary new “paper” assignat money, and as Burke scholar J.G.A. Peacock wrote: “This is the key to all his analyses of the Revolution, and is bound to remind us of earlier Tories who, in the reign of Queen Anne (reign: 1665-1714) had attacked the Whig ‘monied interest’ and declared that ‘the Church was in danger’.” I see his point, but beyond just the arrival of a paper money which went beyond the crux of the English economy at this time – an unparalleled extension of credit (also the crux of the United States in our time), the key to Burke’s analyses of the Revolution is more accurately: that of a typical modern conservative to any socialist redistribution of wealth or political influence.

Yellow Vest: “We will be marching every Saturday to demand our human rights and our human dignity. We are here because there is no economic justice in France. France is an oligarchy composed of political elite, union leaders and high finance. They suck the life and riches out of the real producers of our nation’s wealth – the workers.”

The Whigs were modern conservatives in their view that all money – whether landed, trade gained from imperialism or industrial wealth – were in harmony, unity and striving towards progress. As Marx would put it decades later – all wealth to the rich eventually “becomes bourgeois”. Burke opposed the paper assignat – his class would soon relent and profit from this type of financial instrument. Modern conservatism will, eventually, accept Bitcoin wealth because they eventually sanction any and all wealth. This is why Burke is a proto-Western Liberal Democrat despite his opposition to the end of absolute monarchy. Both Burke and the modern conservative believe the class war is wrong – the only just war is to fight your way up in class.

Conclusion: A Whiggish clerisy to sanction monied nobility until Judgment Day, which doesn’t exist

Many Whigs of the 21st century are attached to their own religion, but there, too, has been a reconciliation; an accommodation just as significant as between monarch and president/prime minister in Western Liberal Democracy – that of secularism, the new Western state religion, which is also a new religion founded on the state itself. In France it is called laïcité, and it has been employed as a major cultural distraction since the start of the Great Recession. The spate of terror attacks – in which France’s foreign policy in Syria, Mali, Afghanistan and elsewhere was seemingly always cited – gave laïcité even more media space.

In modern conservatism secularism is the iron law. Secularism necessarily promotes the production of a spiritually-indifferent, neutered, class-unconscious clerisy; secularism doesn’t make every citizen this way, but it necessarily produces a class dedicated to preserving secularism. This new clerisy can be attached to an established religion, or public agnosticism, or outright atheism, or even a bizarre new polytheism – as long as said new cleric does not promote mixing religion and politics/economics.

Yellow Vest: “The fire at Notre Dame touched everybody, but there is a big controversy over how we could raise a billion euros for a church so quickly, and why we can’t raise such an amount for poor people. There is a lot of anger, and a fire at Notre Dame is not going to change this mental reality.”

Western society considers itself to be the apex of progress because it has deposed the clergy but not nobility. The basis of this society is shaky: while it declares humans radically equal irrespective of religion it also declares humans radically unequal as regards to class.

Modern conservatism is Whiggish in that it conflates not just love of the nobility, or the neo-nobility, with patriotism, but religion with mere property: property is sacred, even though it is merely property, and to attack property is heresy in Western Liberal Democracy. (Except, of course, when that property is of those who choose a path different from Western Liberal Democracy, like Iranians, Cubans, Russians, etc. To such persons and nations religious feeling is not extended.)

Burkean conservatism is not modern but ancient. As applicable to modern society as Marx is Burke is as inapplicable, despite Burke’s present-day proponents. He is not modern because he writes not to defend the average person’s home, goods and religion but only those of a hereditary aristocracy, which any modern person must disavow. I am speaking of the vital difference between the right to personal conservatism and a political, social and economic conservatism which combats society’s efforts to introduce modern, humane equality.

Therefore it is vital that the modern leftist wrests justified conservatism from the elitists like Burke in favor of a conservatism which also supports revolutionary political ideals – and egalitarianism has always been revolutionary in Europe.

Conservative types of values are what help anchor society, and that includes revolutionary societies – the difference is in the political-economic bedrock on which your society is founded.

The next chapter, Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’, examines Burke’s primary thesis: That one is not permitted to remake society into something new because to wipe out the historical context which shaped that society would be immoral. It’s a nice, stable, conservative point of view – but only if you are currently on the top of the pyramid!


Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value! Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

  • New book announcement – ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s best values’ – March 15, 2022
  • Introduction: A Yellow Vests’ history must rewrite both recent & past French history – May 20, 2022
  • The UK’s endless reaction: 1789 & feudalism’s end creates modern conservatism
  • Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’
  • Modern political history makes no sense if Napoleon is not a leftist revolutionary
  • The Revolutions of 1848: Because Liberalism can’t say the ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’
  • Louis-Napoleon: The revolutionary differences between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy
  • The Paris Commune: The true birth of neoliberalism and EU neo-imperialism
  • Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s
  • On ‘Leon Trotsky on France’ in order to reclaim Trotsky from Trotskyists
  • The Yellow Vests’ childhood: Seeing French elites, only, swayed by neoliberalism
  • No one here is actually in charge: How the EU empire forced the Yellow Vests
  • The radicalisation by Europe’s ongoing Lost Decade: the Great Recession changes France
  • To Yellow Vests he’s the radical: Macron and ‘Neither Right nor Left but the Bourgeois Bloc’
  • Yellow Vests: At worst, the most important French movement for a century
  • Who are they, really? Ask a reporter whose seen a million Yellow Vest faces
  • Yellow Vest Win: Ending the West’s slandering of all popular movements as far-right xenophobes
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western anarcho-syndicalism & unions as leftism’s hereditary kings
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western parliamentarianism as the most progressive government
  • Yellow Vest Win: Reminding us of the link between fascist violence & Western democracy
  • What the Yellow Vests can be: a group which can protect liberalism’s rights, at least
  • The 2022 vote: The approach needed for ‘Before’- what came ‘After’ polls closed

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

Fixing Russia’s ‘denazification’ PR disaster: not ‘neo-Nazi’, but ‘3rd-gen Nazis’

March 21, 2022

Source

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His new book is called ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values’. He is the author of Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism as well as I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

By Ramin Mazaheri

As I wrote in my previous article on this issue – the total Western failure of Russia’s “denazification” justification for its armed operation in Ukraine – Russia will lose the battle for Western hearts and minds if it fails to introduce new discussions and prolonged, patient debates about what “Nazi” means in 2022.

Some point out that Russia doesn’t have to convince anyone of anything. Sure, that’s sovereignty… but this only holds true inside of Russia.

What about in Ukraine – they don’t need to understand that they have a problem? Ukraine only needs to obey Russian force of arms and not Russian force of logic?

What about India, China, Cuba, Iran and half of Africa? All those countries which abstained in the United Nations vote on Russia’s operation: they, too, only need to obey Russian force of arms? That definitely won’t work, sorry.

What about the history books? Posterity, also, is no matter? One is either with Russia or against Russia, and thus a Nazi sympathiser who cannot be rehabilitated. Taking an intellectual page from George W. Bush would be a major downgrade in Russian diplomatic skills.

For these obvious reasons – and others in the previous article – the biggest failure of the Russian campaign is ignored at one’s own peril.

I wrote about “Nalis” – Nationalist Liberalists – in 2014, and I still like it. It combines the racism of nationalism with all the hidden oligarchy & baked-in inequality of Western Liberalism. It’s the most accurate description I have seen of the far-right paramilitaries in Ukraine, whose socialism I have not yet been presented any evidence of.

“Socialism” – there’s a term few care about explaining, either. Tarnish it anyhow you like, eh?

Socialism is not the problem in the Russia-Ukraine conflict – the problem is “Liberalism”.

As difficult as it is to get Westerners, and some Russians, to talk accurately about “Nazi” getting people to talk accurately about “Liberalism” is almost as difficult. It’s less emotional, but it requires more intellect because it requires more history: Liberalism (begun 1789) is 140 years older than Nazism, after all.

Because many right-wingers may assume “Nali” is a compliment, let’s just focus on moving past “Nazi”.

I asked in the previous article for ideas other than “denazification” and the best I found was from seemingly a Muslim poster – perhaps she understands the belligerent aspects of the Western mentality better than many Russians assume they do? She suggested “Elimination of European Terrorism’ or even ‘De-Terrorization” – either would have given Westerners pause, at least unlike “denazification”, which they received incredulously: “terrorism” has been their own justification for 20+ years. However, “terrorism” is violence committed for a political end – it doesn’t actually say anything about the actual politics at play. I like her former suggestion, and it would certainly be understood by a billion Muslims and other intelligent people, but I wonder how many Russians consider themselves “European” – many at the Kremlin probably won’t want to use it. China could use this term in the future, but I just don’t think “terrorism” is an honest word, but a fear-mongering one.

In this effort to increase understanding and diplomacy, and to get beyond the inaccurate, hyperbolic and counter-effective use of “Nazi” as regards Ukraine, may I suggest:

3rd-gen Nazis.

In a complete sentence: “It’s a denazification campaign to stop 3rd-generation Nazis, in order to prevent a 4th Reich anywhere.”

A propaganda campaign based around that sentence applied patiently and consistently, has all the elements to explain why Russia got involved in the “2014 Ukrainian Civil War” far, far better “denazification” has.

“Nazism”, “Liberalism” and now “propaganda” – which is not a disinformation campaign but a campaign in order to promote or publicize a particular political cause… I’m using so many unclear political terms!

(And yet everybody grasped “PR campaign”, eh? Fewer pica points than “propaganda” for the headline, too, but these are journalistic concerns.)

‘3rd-gen Nazis’ gives us a new plateau with which to view the ideology of Nazism

One should be able to tell from my suggested sentence: It implicitly moves us past “neo-Nazis”. We need to. We need to introduce some 21st-century relevance and intelligence regarding “Nazis”, finally!

Saying that Nazism hasn’t changed over the generations is like saying socialism, liberalism, Christianity or any other ideology hasn’t changed. It’s always “the same old Nazism”? No update necessary? Not even when generations of Nazis have come and gone, with varying levels of nefarious success?

The 1st generation of Nazis: The era of Hitler and his survivors. Those of this generation in West Germany who weren’t killed became protected by the West and partially took power, both formally and informally. Is that too controversial? To Anglophones, only. Everyone else rolls their eyes at fictions like “the Anglos beat the Nazis” and “the Anglos would never, ever work with the Nazis postwar”. This is the elderly generation.

The 2nd generation of Nazis: The European generation which includes the postwar baby boom up to around 1975. European social history, I have learned after 13 years on the ground here, is best divided into the who came of age pre- and post-Berlin Wall toppling. This 2nd generation is the middle-aged generation. It’s archetype is not the Nazi soldier but the typical “neo-nazi” – the late 1970s-influenced punk skinhead.

The 3rd generation of Nazis: We have moved past “neo-Nazi”, because “neo-Nazis” have changed; because we must mark this change; because there will be a fourth generation of Nazis if they are not openly opposed – in all ways, including in thought – better than they have recently been opposed. This generation is the generation who came of age post-Berlin wall – the youngest generation staffing the Azov Battalion.

The implication of “3rd-gen Nazi” should be clear: to remind that “Nazi” is a legacy which has been passed down from generation to generation, that this political ideology still exists in 2022, that this has translated into 14,000 deaths since 2014 in Eastern Ukraine alone so far, and that it has been given unprecedented Western protection. There was no American money, arms and CIA training for the Nazis like there was for the Azov Battalion – the West did not use arms to push Hitler to power in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. If they had been it might have succeeded, like how Western arms and money helped the Maidan Uprising succeed in 2014.

Things change – we must mark these changes with new ideas. Political education campaigns cannot remain stuck in 1940 or else they are certain to fail to reach the youth classes, at the very least.

Who resists such changes to terminology and changes in conceptual thinking the most? Hint – Mao knew this: The elderly class. The foolish among them do not seek to update their view of the world, unlike the younger classes who simply have no choice but to try and make sense of things today. This is why Western elders probably at least paused with “denazification”, but the phrase clearly didn’t work for many young people.

Too grumpy to deal with this? Interrupting the flag-waving? Well, I have some sad news to relate: racism is not going away as easily as we had all hoped after 1945. Therefore, we must talk about the differences in racism between generations – the racism around African slavery is not the same as the racism of 2022, and it is only the people who don’t read columns like this who think it’s truly all that simple.

Allow me to introduce a fourth political term which has no accurate conception in modern Western politics: The West and Russia both need a Cultural Revolution in how “Nazi” is discussed. Because Nazism is a serious threat – because some do really want a Fourth Reich in the West – and because Russia needs something better than merely this “denazification” campaign. They already had one of those, anyway – it occurred after World War II. It would be more accurate to have called this failed intellectual campaign “re-denazification” – that would have done better, truly! Westerners would have had to at least pause and say – “Oh yeah, I guess racism didn’t actually go away after 1945? Re-denazify – I kind of get it. Now can I super-size my fries?”

In my new book on the Yellow Vests, in a chapter called “Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s” I discuss these very issues because historical misunderstanding is so very pervasive that I was forced to address it in a book about the 21st century Yellow Vests.. Briefly: My bringing up the failure of “denazification” has been deemed, quite unfairly, as a way for me to sell books. Books which I am giving away for free… by discussing an issue (Nalis) I have written about since 2014… during a period in which the book release was entirely planned to coincide with France’s current presidential election and not a conflict in Ukraine for which I had no foreknowledge…. This is the same knee-jerk logic which refuses to even consider the scope of the “denazification” propaganda campaign failure and merely shouts “tanks to ramming speed!”

In many ways, it’s good that Russia brought these historical misunderstandings back to the forefront: Truly, it’s been impossible to talk about modern Western history due to the taboos and absurdities and falsehoods surrounding “Nazi”! I just hope they aren’t making it worse….

Socialist Democracy doesn’t fear honest discussions about German National Socialism – Western Liberal Democracy does

There needs to be new discussions – whether you join them or not – on terms like “Nazi”, “liberalism” and the way European fascism came to power via an open rejection and denigration of Western Liberal Democracy.

Western Liberal Democracy split from absolute monarchy in 1789, immediately failed when first applied in France in 1848, was re-installed in France at the point of a gun in 1871 by Bismarck and the colluding French 1%, which subsequently produced what I call the “Great War to Forestall Socialism” in 1914 and which then produced the economic failure that everyone calls the “Great Depression”.

Thus the rise of Nazism is unexplainable – unexplainable like “denazification”! – without admitting fascism’s successful, popular condemnation of Western Liberal Democracy. WLD-ers in the West and even Putin himself will never admit this because it would be to cede ground to an actual political rival: Socialist Democracy.

(Contrarily, the Azov Battalion came to power via Western billions, shooting both sides at Maidan Square and without any motivating political ideas other than anti-Russianism. Lumping these groups together without differentiation – facile, absurd, what a mistake and what an assist to awful Western Liberal Democracy!)

This successful condemnation is why it’s simply inaccurate and absurd to say things like the “Nazis had no socialism”. To do so is tremendously counterproductive and actually hurts Socialism more than merely explaining Nazism’s relationship with socialism – we cannot understand Western political history if we relinquish the incredibly necessary criticism of Western Liberal Democracy and Capitalism With Western Characteristics as logically implied by fascism’s rise.

Hitler, reader of Marx, summed it up himself in 1922: Without the “essential principle” – race – Nazism “would really do nothing more than compete with Marxism on its own ground”.

Why should socialists fear admitting this? If they do it’s probably because they seek the approval of Western Liberal Democrats – talk about a waste of time….

Because by including race – this is… not really socialism, but something different.

Or when Hitler rejected the class struggle, vital to socialism, by saying: “There are no such things as classes: They cannot be. Class means caste and caste means race.” Well, Nazism may include some Marxist analyses but this is… not really socialism, but something different.

Making an alliance with corporate powers, instead of appropriating from the greedy expropriators… this is not really socialism, either.

But the rejection of Western Liberal Democracy – due to its decades of failures by an oligarchical leadership barely different from monarchy – that is the same as socialism. But the rejection of Western Liberal Democratic economics – due to the decades of failures by free market capitalism (i.e. the economic component of liberalism) – that is the same as socialism.

So it can’t be stressed enough: Socialism has nothing to fear from free, honest, patient examination of the Nazis relationship with socialism.

However, Western Liberal Democracy has much to fear regarding true discussions of their relationship with the Nazis. They, over and over, allied with fascism again socialism in the 1930s; they colluded with the Nazis after 1945; they encouraged 3rd-gen Nazis in places like Ukraine in the 21st century. See the progression and need for new terms like “3rd-gen Nazis”.

Socialists WANT to discuss Nazism – it’s Western Liberal Democrats who have to obscure, falsify and lie, just like they are doing in the causes of the Ukraine conflict.

Nobody appeased Hitler more than Western Liberal Democrats, and they leaped to their feet when he said things like: “I shall take Socialism away from the Socialists.” Truly, Hitler has been allowed to do that even up until 2022, but only by Western Liberal Democrats from Washington to Moscow. And these same “democrats” kept listening when Hitler continued: “Socialism is an ancient Aryan, Germanic institution.”

So it should be clear: I’m not worried about discussing to the nth degree the true amount of “socialism” in Germanic National Socialism.

What Western socialists must stress is not how we need to “re-denazify”, but how things have changed:

Nazism used to be as opposed to socialism as it was to Western Liberalism. In a reversal of this – and despite other similarities between Nazis and the Azov Battalion – Nazism TODAY is as opposed to socialism as it is ALLIED with Western Liberalism.

This is not complicated, but there has been a change. There’s vital historical realities from the 1930s to discuss and demystify. The USSR and socialism stands on the right side against 1st-gen Nazism – don’t cede the ground to Western Liberal Democrats and play their game. Make them play your game, which is honesty, accuracy, progression and not regression.

I hope this article was as helpful and provoking of necessary discussion as the first article.

I think that once people get over the shock that “denazification” hasn’t worked, then they will realise that what I wrote there and here was true:

Double-down on “denazify” if you want but you will still have to patiently, methodically explain what you mean because many have not understood this unexpected and antiquated term from 80 years ago.

So the problem continues: Historical distortion, obfuscation and wilful denial of what “Nazism” was, is, and might still curdle into being. And “Liberalism” – well that’s even worse! Don’t get me started on “neoliberalism”. And what’s all this nonsense about “Cultural Revolutions” being bad? And you know “propaganda “isn’t just used in ad campaigns – it has a serious political basis!

And once we solve these, then we can use “Nalis”.

New book – ‘France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s best values’

March 15, 2022

Source

Ramin Mazaheri

As the journalist – in English or French – who has covered more Yellow Vest demonstrations than any other, I thought it was my responsibility to give them something I can’t find anywhere: an objective, accurate and complete history. I am publishing here, in a chapter-by-chapter serialised format, my new book – France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values.

Soon after starting this project I quickly realised: France doesn’t need an accurate rendering of the massive repression of progressive politics which began on November 17, 2018 – they need an accurate rendering of the massive repression of progressive politics which began in 1789. If they lied and misrepresented the Yellow Vests in 2018, wouldn’t they have also done the same in 1936, 1871, 1848, 1789 and in between?

Russia’s Vladimir Putin has just called the West an “empire of lies” – this book is an effort to dismantle those lies as regards to France from 1789 through the Yellow Vests. My previous books have dispelled the lies about modern China and modern Iran – after 13 years in France, I think I can do the same for the good people of France. Check out the chapter list below – this is new and interesting stuff that will reshape your perceptions of the entire West. Send Putin a copy.

Look below to pre-order a copy in e-book and paperback form. The book will be available in French as well. The publication date is June 1.

I’m publishing here for free because – of course – relating the true ideas and experiences of the Yellow Vests is what is most important. But leftist journalism doesn’t pay at all, and we have bills, too. If you like it, please support it with a purchase if you have the ability. It’s cheaper during this pre-order period. Something to keep in mind: Most public libraries want donations but their absolute priority is new books – wouldn’t this book be a great donation or gift? You know it’s an empire of lies regarding French history since 1789, but do others?

This is going to be the most comprehensive book on the Yellow Vests you can find, and from the journalist who knows them best; who got gassed and harassed right alongside them; who wore out shoes on their weekly, 15km+ races across Paris chased by riot police. This will also be the book with the most space devoted to the actual words of the Yellow Vests, as I’ll soon explain.

France has a historic vote coming up next month, and I thought this book would talk much about that vote but then I realised: How much more vital and interesting is a Yellow Vest-fuelled rethinking of two centuries of French and global politics than one election featuring not one but four far-right candidates? Even the French have been tuning out this election in record numbers. I will have to write some columns on the election, but the 2022 vote deserves only the final coda in this book. Please enjoy this series as you also follow France’s upcoming election, and I promise you will have a totally different view of France when it is all finished.

Right in 1789, right in 2019 – why don’t Western historians admit France keeps being right?

When it comes to reading Western commentary on French political history from 1789 into the 21st century what always baffles me is: they are so terribly critical of France and its revolutionaries, even though by the 1970s much of what they fought for would be absolutely insisted upon by the average European. I think the Yellow Vests will continue this trend of being ahead of the curve.

The book is divided into two broad sections: the first is French history from 1789-2018, and the second is an analysis of who, how, why and what the Yellow Vests are for.

What’s certain is that it’s a necessary book: The English-language books on the Yellow Vests (less than a handful) are analyses from overseas and not worth mentioning. The leading French-language books on the Yellow Vests were seemingly all published by spring 2019: they give the whys but not the actual history of the Yellow Vest movement, which this book will; they were published too soon to grasp the depth of their victories, as this book does; they include a fraction of actual Yellow Vest words, crucially.

This book is not detached analysis: I have interviewed hundreds of Yellow Vests in my work for Iran’s PressTV and their quotations will be interspersed throughout every chapter – you’ll see how long-running the fight for progressive politics truly is.

I can promise you that the first part of this book is not some boring leftist genuflecting at the 1794 glories of Robespierre, Danton and Marat – they are not analysed at all. Simply scroll down to the bottom and look at the chapter list – I think you’ll see chapters with analyses that have hardly ever, or never, been broached. “The Paris Commune as the birth of the ‘neoliberal empire’ of the European Union, really? Napoleon was actually a true leftist, is that right? Reclaiming Trotsky’s analysis of turbulent 1930s France from the Trotskyists – well, they are usually wrong these days. I guess the English really do declare war on everyone else’s revolution….” Etc.

As an immigrant journalist to France I have been forced to try and make sense of French history from 1789 until today. In the same way that historians like to sum up centuries of history from the Achaemenid or Safavid eras in Iran – it can be done, after all – I’m looking for patterns and threads, and I think the Yellow Vest phenomenon has either capped or sparked an absolutely major part of French history.

I have covered France for 13 years, but it’s a special 13 years: This is the era when the recently born “neoliberal empire” – the European Union – made its Age of Austerity power plays to become entrenched and obeyed. These are not spur of the moment creations – the European Union, and also the eurozone, are institutions which are centuries in the making. They might last centuries, but only upon the broken bones of the truly once-in-a-century, undemocratic repression of the Yellow Vests.

The Yellow Vests provide us with a new mountain ledge in history – thanks to them the patterns and threads from 1936, 1871, 1848 and 1789 become much clearer. Thanks to the Yellow Vests we can better grasp what today’s establishment institutions truly want; we have been reminded of the episodes of bloody repression from times incorrectly thought to be bygone. Thus, by incorporating the Yellow Vest experience we can give a more “scientific” historical analysis of French history and – because of France’s unusually prominent role in modern political thought – even global political history.

The second most important thread which emerges from 1789 to the Yellow Vests is this: The failure of Western Liberal Democracy as a system which can produce broad security for the average person and not just the elite. The Yellow Vests remind that, still, Western Liberal Democracy can only be imposed by force and without democracy – it is not chosen by popular mandate in a democratic “marketplace of ideas”.

In the 21st century I think it may take someone who is personally familiar with the evils of monarchy and shah-dom to realise that the French had it right long ago: Monarchy, and its ideological partners and inbred ideas, are not from some bygone era but are still in force today. Macron means autocracy. That is a fair and common judgment of his five-year tenure. Autocracy is still a problem, the Yellow Vests gorily remind us.

The Iranian Revolution, which in 2022 is still the great revolution of the contemporary era and which was waged against the “king of kings”, also reminds us that the shortest summation of the progressive goal of human political efforts is this: To move away from autocracy.

Autocracy – opposition to popular democracy of any sort – is the spring from which all political evil flows, and we saw it in the Yellow Vests, and in the method of governance from Brussels and Paris which provoked the Yellow Vests.

For the Englishmen who insist wizened Queen Elizabeth II could never hurt a fly, unfairly collude with a bank/landlord or covertly join in suppressing opposition to her royal brethren in Morocco, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere – they must also necessarily fail to see that the oligarchy produced by Western Liberal Democracy represents only the barest broadening of the spoils of autocracy. The Yellow Vest grasp this: the “rubber bullet liberalism” of Macron needs no prefix – liberalism has always been violence in support of government policies by and for a tiny elite instead of by and for the people.

This book combines understanding of politics today with an understanding of the autocrats who insist on the politics of yesterday

You know about the Yellow Vests, and thus you know what repression Western Liberal Democracy will wage to preserve itself, and you likely know what a “neoliberal empire” is. But, and forgive me if I am presumptuous, do you know how Western Liberal Democracy truly got here?

It’s not easy, because they don’t give an accurate accounting of their own history any more than they do for the Yellow Vests.

I am always amazed at how much the history of the 19th century in the US, France and UK is so very ignored by those countries when this era saw the very formation of the Western Liberal Democracies which their leaders champion so violently today? The reason for this is because this era is full of elitist nonsense, unpatriotic treasons, violence and ever-repeated repressions of the average person. Continuing ignorance about this has only produced an “empire of lies”. Abroad, these countries literally created the disparities which we now refer to as the “Third World”, but domestically they were just as awful to their very own people. This is, “… because class warfare” but also, and Karl Marx himself doesn’t stress this enough, “… because monarchy”, which is autocracy by and for elites; which is perfectly acceptable to Western Liberal “Democracy”.

Many peers of mine (and analysts who are far more learned and vital than myself) often talk about a “neo-feudal” model because, I believe, of the widespread misunderstanding of the actual history of Western Liberal Democracy, which began in 1789 and this fight against monarchy. But the failure to see Western Liberal Democracy also as international 1%er collusion against the masses implies the failure to see Western Liberal Democracy as autocratic, too.

Make that mistake and you misunderstand the political foundations of the modern world since 1789, and thus the class struggle, modern imperialism and today’s Bankocracy – which is to say the entire factual foundation for the sensible and successful choice of Socialist Democracy.

Make that mistake and you’ll ask: Why are the French told to have a conflicted and even negative view of Napoleon Bonaparte, even though he was the most influential figure of the 19th century? How can Adolphe Thiers treasonously and openly collude with Bismarck and still be a president and a Western Liberal Democratic hero? Why do 21st century Westerners call people “neo-nazis” even when such people have zero socialism in their platforms and seemingly no familiarity with the Marxist view of 19th century history? Why are they the “Revolutions of 1848” when they only succeeded in one place (France)? If the French Revolution is done and dusted then why is modern Western conservatism based around the ideas of Irish-Anglo Edmund Burke and his knee-jerk Reflections on Revolution in France from 1790? The first part of this book about the Yellow Vests answers these vitally important questions.

Burke, Karl Marx – the leading historian of the 19th century -, and Leon Trotsky – the leading historian of first decades of the 20th century: this book relies on them heavily to help us understand the 2020s. Why am I employing philosophical leaders from the far-right to the far-left? Because this is an interesting book you should buy and read, of course! Because the Yellow Vests are historic! Because, mostly, all three were aware that Western Liberal Democracy was a sham democracy and doomed to failure for everyone but a most unmeritorious elite. They thought these things for different reasons but, just like the Yellow Vests, they are all the most trenchant critics of Western Liberal Democracy.If the repression of the Yellow Vests doesn’t merit a new and serious criticism of Western Liberal Democratic history… then I guess one is avoiding such objective and honest talk until the aftermath of World War III?

So while I may be painted as a naive leftist, an Islamic Socialist, a communist, an apologist, a reactionary, a fake-journalist – I have heard all these things, LOL – we still need a cogent critique of modern French history which seeks to explain the lies on which an “empire of lies” shakily rests.

This book rests upon the voices of the Yellow Vests: I am simply the facilitator – the one who was on the daily hard-news job when it became clear what “neoliberalism” and “neo-imperialism” means for 21st century France, Europe and beyond.

I hope you enjoy the book and that you comment freely. It sure would be nice if you could buy a copy, but – please – only if your finances allow it.

<—>

Upcoming chapter list of the brand-new content in France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. The book will also include previous writings from 2018 through the 2022 election in order to provide the most complete historical record of the Yellow Vests anywhere. What value! Publication date: June 1, 2022.

Pre-orders of the paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the Kindle version may be made here.

Pre-orders of the French paperback version will be available immediately.

Pre-orders of the French Kindle version may be made here.

Chapter List of the new content

  • Introduction: A Yellow Vests’ history must rewrite both recent & past French history
  • Burke’s endless reaction: 1789 & feudalism’s end creates modern conservatism
  • Glorious Revolution of 1688: England declares ‘death to all other revolutions’
  • Modern political history makes no sense if Napoleon is not a leftist revolutionary
  • The Revolutions of 1848: Because Liberalism can’t say the ‘Counter-Revolutions of 1848’
  • Louis-Napoleon: The revolutionary differences between Bonapartism & Western Liberal Democracy
  • The Paris Commune: The true birth of neoliberalism and EU neo-imperialism
  • Where the West is stuck: The fascism of the 1930s and the ‘fascism’ of the 2020s
  • On ‘Leon Trotsky on France’ in order to reclaim Trotsky from Trotskyists
  • The Yellow Vests’ childhood: Seeing French elites, only, swayed by neoliberalism
  • No one here is actually in charge: How the EU empire forced the Yellow Vests
  • The radicalisation by Europe’s ongoing Lost Decade: the Great Recession changes France
  • To Yellow Vests he’s the radical: Macron and ‘Neither Right nor Left but the Bourgeois Bloc’
  • Yellow Vests: At worst, the most important French movement for a century
  • Who are they, really? Ask a reporter whose seen a million Yellow Vest faces
  • Yellow Vest Win: Ending the West’s slandering of all popular movements as far-right xenophobes
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western anarcho-syndicalism & unions as leftism’s hereditary kings
  • Yellow Vest Win: The end of Western parliamentarianism as the most progressive government
  • Yellow Vest Win: Reminding us of the link between fascist violence & Western democracy
  • What the Yellow Vests can be: a group which can protect liberalism’s rights, at least
  • The 2022 vote: The approach needed for ‘Before’- what came ‘After’ polls closed

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.

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