By Alex Callinicos
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2911

Macron’s plan for fascists could fail

Big capital is exploring the possibility that the fascists are the lesser evil
Issue 2911
French president Emmanuel Macron

French president Emmanuel Macron (Picture: Flickr/ European Parliament)

French president Emmanuel Macron is a good example of how destructive the neoliberal “extreme centre” has become. He has used the seven years of his presidency to impose pro-market “reforms” from above and repress protest. He’s also toying with the idea of a very dangerous escalation of the Ukraine war by sending French troops.

Now he’s called snap parliamentary elections supposedly to see off the challenge from the fascist National Rally (RN). But he seems willing to bring the RN into government in the hope it will make such a mess that leader Marine Le Pen will lose the presidential election in 2027. According to the newspaper Le Monde, this was the bright idea of one Macron crony, ex-centre right senator Pierre Charon. He said, “We’re going to give the keys to the truck to (the RN’s) Jordan Bardella, who doesn’t have a heavy goods vehicle license. This way they’re dead in the presidential election.”

Another article in Le Monde stresses how Macron is actually concentrating his fire on the hastily assembled left wing coalition the New Popular Front (NFP). Attacking it over issues such as trans rights and migration, the paper says, “Macron is speaking the language of the far right, implicitly conce ding that his adversary is right.” He’s also suffering from delusions of grandeur. According to someone close to Macron, he believes he’s facing one of Napoleon’s greatest victories, not his final defeat. “Austerlitz is within reach, more than Waterloo. He really believes this,” they said.

But there’s a broader ruling class welcoming of Le Pen. The Financial Times reports, “France’s corporate bosses are racing to build contacts with Le Pen’s far right after recoiling from the radical tax-and-spend agenda of the rival left wing alliance. Four senior executives and bankers told the Financial Times that the left—which polls suggest is the strongest bloc vying with Le Pen—would be even worse for business than the RN’s unfunded tax cuts and anti-immigration policies.”

Just as in the 1920s and 1930s, big capital is beginning to explore the possibility that the fascists are the lesser evil. Its particular concern is with one wing of the NFP, the radical left France Unbowed (LFI), led by Jean-Luc Melenchon. The NFP is an extremely fragile alliance. Its two main poles are LFI and the Socialist Party (PS), one of the traditional mainstays of French capitalism. Francois Hollande, the deeply discredited ex-president who gave Macron his start in politics, is running as a PS parliamentary candidate.

Palestine is one main source of tension within the NFP. LFI campaigned in the European elections very strongly on the basis of solidarity with Gaza.
As a result, even though the PS vote ended up slightly ahead of LFI’s, the pollster Jerome Fourquet says, “The ‘unbowed’ left now has a virtual monopoly in the working class neighbourhoods of the large metropolises, it has become the nuclear heart of the ‘unbowed’ electorate.”  

By contrast, the PS very much shares the strongly pro-Israel and more broadly Islamophobic stance of the rest of the French establishment. Macron’s attacks on the left are designed to play on the tensions within the NFP and, if possible, split it. This would have two benefits.

First, it would isolate a party that, for all Melenchon’s limitations, has sought to give a voice to the most oppressed section of the French working class. Secondly, it would allow more candidates from Macron’s battered Together bloc to run in the second round of the elections on 7 July and win anti-fascist votes seeking to keep the RN out.

According to the liberal academic Olivier Roy, “The RN would only accentuate a trend already at work under Macron.” All the same, a RN government would represent a qualitative change.

Even if they did lose the presidential election, the fascists would have nearly three years to entrench themselves in the state apparatus and unleash a full-scale police reign of terror against migrants, Muslims, and so-called “Islamo-leftists”. They must be stopped.

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