France’s Gilets Jaunes protestors have jumped on the Trump train with a manifesto that could almost have been written by the Donald himself.
The good news is that it contains an awful lot of sense – including demands for lower taxes, reduced migration and Frexit (French exit) from the European Union.
The bad news is that it hasn’t a prayer of coming to fruition because its demands are unrealistic, contradictory and will certainly be stymied by the sclerotic, anti-democratic, rampantly statist French political system – and also by the French people themselves.
Though the original, ostensible purpose of the Gilets Jaunes demonstrations was to protest against President Macron’s carbon tax policies, what’s clear from this manifesto is that their demands are now much broader.
The demands are summarised in English here:
- A constitutional cap on taxes – at 25%
- Increase of 40% in the basic pension and social welfare
- Increase hiring in public sector to re-establish public services
- Massive construction projects to house 5 million homeless, and severe penalties for mayors/prefectures that leave people on the streets
- Break up the ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks, re-separate regular banking from investment banking
- Cancel debts accrued through usurious rates of interest
- Constitutional amendments to protect the people’s interests, including binding referenda
- The barring of lobby groups and vested interests from political decision-making
- Frexit: Leave the EU to regain our economic, monetary and political sovereignty (In other words, respect the 2005 referendum result, when France voted against the EU Constitution Treaty, which was then renamed the Lisbon Treaty, and the French people ignored)
- Clampdown on tax evasion by the ultra-rich
- The immediate cessation of privatization, and the re-nationalization of public goods like motorways, airports, rail, etc
- Remove all ideology from the ministry of education, ending all destructive education techniques
- Quadruple the budget for law and order and put time-limits on judicial procedures. Make access to the justice system available for all
- Break up media monopolies and end their interference in politics. Make media accessible to citizens and guarantee a plurality of opinions. End editorial propaganda
- Guarantee citizens’ liberty by including in the constitution a complete prohibition on state interference in their decisions concerning education, health and family matters
- No more ‘planned obsolescence’ – Mandate guarantee from producers that their products will last 10 years, and that spare parts will be available during that period
- Ban plastic bottles and other polluting packaging
- Weaken the influence of big pharma on health in general and hospitals in particular
- Ban on GMO crops, carcinogenic pesticides, endocrine disruptors and monocrops
- Reindustrialize France (thereby reducing imports and thus pollution)
End France’s participation in foreign wars of aggression, and exit from NATO
Cease pillaging and interfering – politically and militarily – in ‘Francafrique’, which keeps Africa poor. Immediately repatriate all French soldiers. Establish relations with African states on an equal peer-to-peer basis
Prevent migratory flows that cannot be accommodated or integrated, given the profound civilizational crisis we are experiencing
Scrupulously respect international law and the treaties we have signed
Rather like the coalition government in Italy between the Five Star Movement and the League, the manifesto represents a mix of left-wing and right-wing ideas.
On the one hand it demands lower taxes; on the other higher government spending. These are not necessarily contradictory – as the Laffer Curve tells us, a lower tax rate can lead to higher overall revenues for the government to spend. But they are a very big ask in a country which, since the 1970s, has been stuck with a socialistic, corporatist, statist economic model in which a massive welfare state is precariously propped up by high taxation, huge public debt and special government favours for giant corporate interests. A country, also, where any form of drastic political change is greeted with the kind of protests we have been witnessing all over France in the last few weeks.
In order for such policies to be successfully implemented, it would a) require a leader of President Trump’s charisma, determination and business nous and b) the French to stop behaving like French people and to realise that their economy is never going to be rescued from oblivion so long as they carry on down the route of over-mighty trade unions resisting any change, unaffordable welfare, and massive constraints on private enterprise through labour laws and high taxes.
Achieving a) is highly unlikely. About the closest they’ve got Marine Le Pen, who is far too much a believer in big government to effect a Trump-style economic revolution.
Achieving b) is impossible.
These Gilets Jaunes protests are going to run and run because about the only uniting factor they have in common is a burning hatred of the status quo. Too many of the protestors want too many different things – and far too quickly. There is simply no way, even if he had the inclination, that President Macron could come even close to meeting their demands. And even if he did meet their demands, it’s still quite likely that half the protestors would go unsatisfied: after all, we have no idea how representative of the Gilets Jaunes this manifesto really is.
As Trump himself has provocatively hinted, with the right leadership France could Make France Great Again.
The Paris Agreement isn’t working out so well for Paris. Protests and riots all over France. People do not want to pay large sums of money, much to third world countries (that are questionably run), in order to maybe protect the environment. Chanting “We Want Trump!” Love France.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2018