Kim Wilsher in Paris …. in The Guardian, 25 August 2022, with this title “Macron warns of ‘end of abundance’ as France faces difficult winter,” … and with this qualifying sub-note: “sombre first cabinet speech after summer break criticised as snub to poor who have already made sacrifices”
Emmanuel Macron has warned the French they are facing sacrifices and what he called the ““end of abundance”, at his government’s first cabinet meeting after the summer holidays. The president, speaking before ministers at the Élysée, said the country was at a “tipping point” and faced a difficult winter and a new era of instability caused by climate change and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Emmanuel Macron, second from left, chairs his first cabinet meeting after the summer break. Photograph: Mohammed Badra/EPA
His cautionary and sombre speech, which was immediately criticised by opponents as ill-judged and a snub to the country’s out-of-work and poor who had already made sacrifices, came after a summer of extreme temperatures, widespread wildfires, drought and storms.
Macron said France and the French felt they were living through a series of crises, “each worse than the last”.
“What we are currently living through is a kind of major tipping point or a great upheaval … we are living the end of what could have seemed an era of abundance … the end of the abundance of products of technologies that seemed always available … the end of the abundance of land and materials including water,” he said.
He thanked “our firemen, elected representatives and farmers who faced the fires and drought”.
Macron added that France, Europe and the world had perhaps been too “insouciant” about threats to democracy and human rights and the “rise of illiberal regimes and strengthening of authoritarian regimes”.
“This overview that I’m giving, the end of abundance, the end of insouciance, the end of assumptions – it’s ultimately a tipping point that we are going through that can lead our citizens to feel a lot of anxiety. Faced with this, we have a duty, duties, the first of which is to speak frankly and clearly without doom-mongering,” he said.
‘When we talk about the end of abundance, I think of the millions of unemployed, the millions of those in a precarious situation,’ said the head of the CGT union, Philippe Martinez, pictured here in June 2022. Photograph: Luc Nobout/Zuma Press/Rex/Shutterstock
Philippe Martinez, the secretary general of the powerful CGT union, said Macron’s comments were “misplaced” and that many in France had never known abundance. “When we talk about the end of abundance, I think of the millions of unemployed, the millions of those in a precarious situation. For many French people, times are already hard, sacrifices have already been made,” Martinez said.
The president’s warnings came as it was revealed that the dividends paid out by major French companies reached a record €44bn in the second quarter of 2022, as a result of what were described as exceptional profits in 2021. The economic newspaper Les Echos said the dividend payout was almost 33% up on the previous year and was the result of a post-Covid economic catchup.
Macron, who was re-elected for a second five-year term in April but lost his parliamentary majority in the subsequent general election, and his government are facing a rocky rentrée, the traditional September return to work and school after the long summer break in France.
After months of successive election campaigns, his newly appointed government had little time to establish itself before the holidays, putting this year’s return to parliamentary business under particular scrutiny.
The president, who leaves for a three-day visit to Algeria on Thursday, has told ministers that measures to tackle the climate emergency and its consequences as well as those focusing on renewable energies must be a priority this autumn, and he has urged a “general mobilisation” to address it.
When we talk about the end of abundance, I think of the millions of unemployed, the millions of those in a precarious situation,’ said the head of the CGT union, Philippe Martinez, pictured here in June 2022.Photograph: Luc Nobout/Zuma Press/Rex/Shutterstock
The prime minister, Élisabeth Borne, is expected to give details on new measures at the annual conference held by Medef, the French employers’ federation, next Monday.
Earlier this month, while attending a commemoration ceremony for Operation Dragoon, the allied invasion of Provence in 1944, Macron said this autumn and winter would be a difficult one for the country, with a risk of energy shortages and high prices as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine, and this was “the price to pay for freedom”.
Critics have accused the president of giving no clear goal for his second and final mandate. His government will need to make alliances to ensure its 2023 budget passes through a divided parliament, another rentrée priority. The government also faces a battle to pass election manifesto measures including changes to the unemployment benefit system and pensions that will put it on a direct collision course with the left and unions, who are vehemently opposed to the proposals.
Bernard Sananès, of the opinion pollsters Elabe, said Macron was preparing the French for bad times. “It’s a kind of political anticipation. If things really become difficult, the president needs to have called it beforehand to avoid giving the impression that events have taken him and his government by surprise,” Sananès told AFP.
The leader of the French Communist party, Fabien Roussel, a presidential candidate earlier this year, expressed astonishment at Macron’s speech. “Unbelievable! It’s as if the French have had no worries and been over-indulging themselves. We have 10 million poor in France because of President Macron’s carelessness and the predatory behaviour of the rich,” Roussel tweeted.
SERIAL COMMENTS from “Charlie K”, 25 August 2022
A = Is this the beginning of the end of capitalism as Macron warns the age of abundance is over? He describes France as being on the edge of a major tipping point and predicts there will be significant upheavals.
The sad reality is that this could have been avoided but Western leaders made their choices, and now the consequences of those choices have to be met. Even six months ago, Macron and other leaders in Europe understood the consequences of their decisions over Russia, but they pressed ahead telling their people the suffering it would cause on them was worth it. Let’s see if the French and European people accept that argument as they begin to pay the price for the decisions of their leaders.
Unfortunately, it is too late to turn things around while European leaders have become trapped in their own ideologies and lack the political will to save their own economies. It is not China and Russia destroying capitalism, but the US, UK and the Europeans themselves ….
B = Boris Johnson’s argument that the British people have to sacrifice themselves for the sake of freedom in Ukraine is a load of baloney. The conflict in Ukraine is not about freedom. The conflict was triggered by NATO expansionism.
Ukraine is hardly a beacon of freedom and democracy. The Ukrainian government has banned all opposition parties and cracked down hard on dissent and alternative voices, and produced a “kill list” of some 80 people around the world who have expressed views the Ukrainian government don’t like. Henry Kissinger is one of the names on the Ukrainian kill list. His crime was to suggest Ukraine return to diplomacy over war to resolve the conflict – one of the few sane Americans to be doing so. Johnston and all other American politicians (except Trump and Kissinger) are telling Ukraine to continue the war and to never find a peaceful resolution through diplomacy. Another name on the kill list is Dugin whose daughter was “liquidated” in a terrorist attack in Moscow last Sunday.
It is annoying to see Western leaders resorting to dishonest rhetoric that the war in Ukraine is a fight for “freedom” and “democracy” when that is plainly untrue.
It’s important to note that the Ukrainian agency responsible for preparing the “kill list” is funded entirely by the US Government. That US citizens, including Kissinger, are on this list should outrage every American who believes in the Constitution.
C = Based on multiple open sources, it appears the Russians are building up three massive offensive groupings of forces in Ukraine – one in the north, one in the centre and one in the south. They are also preparing massive air power with about 400 to 500 combat aircraft.
After the Donetsk People’s Republic is liberated, which should be complete by early September, and after Russia has destroyed Ukraine’s last defensive position in Avdiivka, Russia will probably unleash these three offensive forces with massive airpower which will accelerate Russia’s movement on the battlefield, culminating in the defeat of Ukraine, and bringing about the end of the war on Russia’s terms. That is why the US Embassy has instructed all Americans to leave Ukraine immediately and the US Embassy is making plans to evacuate.
There is nothing the Americans can do about it. It’s game over… should events play out as described above, it would be a massive defeat for NATO, the US and UK. The big question is: what lasting impact will a Russia victory over Ukraine have on European security and NATO’s reason to exist? Russia will be in a position to demand a new security arrangement for Europe. NATO expansionism has been a disaster. This expansionism was never about freedom and democracy, but a project asserting US hegemonic power.
The US is arguably not a democracy. Yes, the US have elections, but the people of America do not choose who the candidates will be. Those are chosen by corporate and other power interests which means the election process is loaded from the start. People can only vote for candidates selected by hidden power interests.