Emmanuel Macron and the Estates General

French President Emmanuel Macron will not be going to Davos to meet the billionaires that control the world. Instead Macron asked some of them to meet him in France.

French President Emmanuel Macron hosted the world’s Davos-bound business elite at the Palace of Versailles on Monday in an effort to mend France’s image, badly bruised by the yellow-vest protests.

Some 150 executives, including Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive James Dimon, and Coca-Cola Co. chief executive James Quincey, met with Mr. Macron at the sprawling palace just outside Paris.

“A lot of people thought it was not a good date to gather here,” Mr. Macron told his guests, in reference to the French King Louis XVI, who was executed by means of the guillotine on Jan. 21, exactly 226 years ago on Monday. “But when you look at French history, if at the end they finished like that, it’s because a lot of leaders decided not to reform,” he added.

There are two key takeaways from this quick quote.
1) Did you notice how many American companies (plus Mars, Procter & Gamble, Cisco) are mentioned?
2) The HUBRIS!

The French working class have been protesting the "president of the rich" for months, and he just essentially told them to Eat Cake.

gold.jpg

It's from this gilded room, with the gold desk, that he decided was the best place to address people protesting inequality?

... There had been outrage among gilets jaunes when an MP from Macron’s party, La République En Marche, was recently unable to state the minimum wage on TV or when a cabinet minister trying to show the gulf between the working poor and the political elite appeared to complain that Paris dinners cost “€200 without wine”.

The real kicker is Macron's solution to the protests - a national debate.
First of all, there is no debate because Macron is completely tone deaf to anyone outside of the wealthy elite. Macron is following a very well-traveled path.

“Too many of our citizens think they can get what they want without hard work,” Macron imperially lectured the nation last week...
Indeed, Macron’s boxcar load of belligerent responses to the disenfranchised is nothing new in France. Back in the 15th century, gangs of coquillards, the economic and social casualties of the Hundred Years War, terrified the crown. The government commonly described them as “dispossessed, deserters, destitute or those who simply refuse to work.” And, when they eventually did find work, Finance Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert advised his sovereign King Louis XIV that “the art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.”

King Louis XIV may give us important lessons, but the man of the hour is King Louis XVI. Not just because of Macron's intentional reference, but because of his unintentional reference.
You see, a French leader calling for a national debate is not something new.

Macron’s decision to call upon his citizens to prepare for a national conversation recalls Louis XVI’s decision to call upon his subjects to, well, prepare for a national conversation. In the king’s case, this led to the cahiers de doléances, or lists of grievances, which locally chosen representatives wrote up and sent to Versailles before the convening of the Estates General in 1789. Given the world-altering events that followed later that year, the seismic rumble of the cahiers de doléances is often overlooked. Yet it was an unprecedented exercise, not just in 18th century France but throughout Europe, in uncensored and unbound popular expression.

Macron has learned nothing from Louis XVI.
Louis XVI badly underestimated how unhappy the commoners were because they were completely out of touch.
Louis XVI thought that he could pacify the unrest with minor concessions.
Macron is guilty of all the same mistakes.
When all of these people get together to discuss their problems in the more than 5,000 city halls, they are likely to discover that they have much in common. Who knows what they might decide to reform. And what will they do when Macron inevitably decides not to reform?

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WoodsDweller's picture

...guillotines are reusable and carbon neutral. An environmentally friendly choice to address income inequality.

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"I cannot ignore reality, but I can embrace beauty." -- magiamma

Bisbonian's picture

@WoodsDweller

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14 users have voted.

"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

Cassiodorus's picture

@WoodsDweller Perhaps the French Army could invade Davos and erect a guillotine in the town square?

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14 users have voted.

"The degree to which liberals are coming to inhabit an alternate reality, impenetrable by facts or reason, is actually frightening." -- Steve Maher

WoodsDweller's picture

@Cassiodorus They just need a little military aid (the devices in question) and a few military advisers to train the local authorities in their use.

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10 users have voted.

"I cannot ignore reality, but I can embrace beauty." -- magiamma

@WoodsDweller lol thanks, entrepreneurs always think ahead: https://buybeetles.com/
LMAO, already there are subsidiaries for the new economy. vive la france

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No kidding, a bonus for the zombie apocalypse too. good deal

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Anja Geitz's picture

@eyo

Will work to clean skulls

Lol.

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If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Amanda Matthews's picture

@WoodsDweller
Like we do the ‘rabble’.

What with all the investment in the technology, we might as well use it. On someone beside the peasants for a change.

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5 users have voted.

I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

Bollox Ref's picture

From what I've read, aside from spots in the Ile-de-France, Louis XVI's only journey within France, before 1789, was to Cherbourg in Normandy, to visit the naval base.

Macron's use of Versailles as a background is bizarre. He might not be so sanguine when a second Tennis Court Oath is sworn.

On a personal level, Louis XVI is recorded to have been quite affable. Macron has the personality of sandpaper.

(Edited)

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

Pricknick's picture

understand hard labor. Death by head removal is too easy.
To the dungeons I say.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

@dkmich @dkmich
not on taxes

France’s richest 1 per cent remain by far the biggest winners from Emmanuel Macron’s tax policies, even after the emergency measures passed in December to appease anti-government protesters.

These top-earning households will see their disposable income rise by 2.3 per cent as a result of changes taking effect in 2019, according to a new analysis published on Wednesday by the Institut des Politiques Publiques, a think-tank.

These gains are largely due to the continuing implementation of a tax reform on capital income. Changes since the start of 2018 have had a bigger effect, concentrated on the very wealthiest, with disposable income rising by 7.9 per cent for around 150,000 households and by an average of 17.5 per cent for the top 30,000.

The figures will reinforce the perception that Mr Macron’s presidency has favoured the rich, and fuel calls for him to restore or replace the wealth tax, which he scrapped shortly after taking office. Although taxation is on the agenda of a “national debate” intended to defuse tensions, Mr Macron has made it clear that reinstating the wealth tax is off limits — a bone of contention with protesters.

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dystopian's picture

This should be called the Rothschild Retreat, just have to prove you have a bil to get in. If ignorance is bliss, what is the oblivion of the rich? Nirvana?

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13 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

Centaurea's picture

@dystopian not nirvana. Nirvana implies liberation from the material world.

They're still firmly stuck in the depths of the material world. Maybe even more so than the rest of us. Hungry ghosts, they are. Nothing is ever enough for them. They're terrified of losing what they think they possess.

The value of a "billion dollars" is an illusion. They have a stranglehold on the illusion, and they will do anything to maintain it.

Perhaps they should consult Dr. Faustus about how that turns out.

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"Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep."
~Rumi

"If you want revolution, be it."
~Caitlin Johnstone

@Centaurea

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The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

Anja Geitz's picture

I actually laughed out loud when I read that. What could go wrong?

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If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Bisbonian's picture

@Anja Geitz , I like to think about what could go Right!

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

Anja Geitz's picture

@Bisbonian

How tone deaf can an Investment Banker-cum-President be? Oops, I guess I already answered my own question.

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6 users have voted.

If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Lily O Lady's picture

@Anja Geitz

Hubris.

That said the rage Louis XVI engendered took on a life of its own, swallowing him as well as some of those who rose up against him. It could be deja vu all over again unless TPTB can be restrained without the more violent consequences of the justifiably angry populace.

Robespierre began as a moderate, but was radicalized and became a victim of the movement he once headed. I was dismayed when Macron seemed to be the people’s answer to Le Pen. He appeared to be another neoliberal, and we can see that he is.

I was pulling for Melanchon, but he had about as much chance as Sanders in the US or Corbin in the UK to lead. Yet they address the issues of the 99%. As waves of unrest arise, like the Arab Spring and Occupy and now the Yellow Vests, TPTB put them down and then portray them through the press as aimless and pointless.

We need to keep the flames of these movements alive in the imaginations of the people.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

Anja Geitz's picture

@Lily O Lady

I've always been fascinated with the frequency the people of France, throughout their history, have taken to the streets in protest of their corrupt government. I can't think of a more appropriate place where the collective anger of working class people globally could manifest itself than in France.

Or as one of my History Professors liked to say about those French Revolutionaries "and once again it's off to the barricades!"

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If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

jwa13's picture

... "a few close shaves with the National Razor -"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillotine --

During the span of its usage, the French guillotine has gone by many names, some of which include these:
Le Rasoir National (The National Razor)
Le Vasistas or La Lucarne (The Fanlight)
La Veuve (The Widow)
Le Moulin à Silence (The Silence Mill)
Madame La Guillotine
La Bécane (The Machine)
Le Massicot (The Cutter)
La Cravate à Capet (Capet's Necktie, Capet being Louis XVI)
La Raccourcisseuse Patriotique (The Patriotic Shortener)
La demi-lune (The Half-Moon)
La Bascule à Charlot (Charlot's Rocking-Chair)

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When Cicero had finished speaking, the people said “How well he spoke”.
When Demosthenes had finished speaking, the people said “Let us march”.

How the police and military will react to orders if the demonstrations become more widespread? Are the law enforcement and military RW like here?

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@Snode
They refused to fire at the workers at the Winter Palace.
During the fall of East Germany, they refused to fire at those tearing down the wall.

The military refusing orders to fire on the people is the first stage of the dissolution of that state.

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@The Voice In the Wilderness

succeeded. They had been treated pooorly during world War I. So, when they returned, they joined the peasants, as they had not done previously. The left has issues with police brutality, which is the reason that many rank and file members of the "thin blue line" are Republican. The myths about the left spitting on members of the military returning from Vietnam, perpetuated by Obama as he granted posthumous medals to individuals who fought in Vietnam, and the general stance of the left on military spending don't help the left with the military, either. As an opponent of both police brutality and war, I don't know what to do about either of those things.

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@HenryAWallace
It happened to my brother-in-law. I believe him. I think that's why he is a Republican now. The son of a Chicago Public School janitor, never had much money, non-racist. What do the (R)'s offer him? But he remembers that the Left spit on him after he survived a terrible ordeal. Good work, Hippies.

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dance you monster's picture

@Snode

Even neighborhood to neighborhood.

In France, the military tends to be pretty RW. Civilian law enforcement is a mixed bag. The reporting from the scene also gets confusing. We've seen riot police pepper-spraying the protesters with considerable gusto and some protester casualties from the launched tear-gas grenades, but we've also seen some squads of police and firemen stand down and let the protests go on. It's still early, and warmer weather will likely bring higher numbers into the streets. We'll have to wait to see what happens then.

Macron doesn't look to me to be addressing the protesters at all. He's worried about his standing among the elites, and only worried about that. Hence, the shifting promises and retractions to the gilets jaunes, and the lavish welcome to the masters of the universe.

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@dance you monster
Another political or economic crisis will bring them back into the streets.
Macron and the elites think that they can just wait them out.

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13 users have voted.

@dance you monster I remember the coordinated forces activated and waiting in the wings to be set against OWS. I was wondering if this type of response had been something the western country leaders have decided, together, what the response should be.

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@dance you monster
If you are familiar with Hillary's remark about having a public position and private position, it makes me wonder if macron is privately assuring his billionaire friends that he will have to publicly make some pretend concessions but that he won't follow through with them.

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15 users have voted.

ID Pol debates/divisions and combine their power, the TPTB are in real trouble.
Obama managed to stomp out OWS, but when the Trump supporters realize they've been conned, we should be ready for another go-round that unites us.
It's not about left v. right. It is up v. down--and we have the numbers.
Hedges (and Big Al?)thinks we'll settle this in the street and he may be right. They have the guns up to the point that the police refuse to shoot women and children in the street.
Meanwhile, I will continue to hope Tulsi and her friends can lead us to a more peaceful resolution. I was in Chicago and have no desire to repeat the experience.

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chuck utzman

TULSI 2020

snoopydawg's picture

@chuckutzman

I saw a few comments on ToP about how Kampala is going to be the best candidate because she pulls ID politics together with her economic agenda. Wish I'd flagged this comment so I could repeat it verbatim because it was such a jaw dropper. Wtf I said? Bizarro world there.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Amanda Matthews's picture

@snoopydawg
After I go over there.

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

Macron, like Blair and other European altneoliberalcons learned from the Clintons and Al From. And, yeah, I am about to post the quote from Al From's wikipedia article that I post whenever I have an excuse to post it:

In 1998, with First Lady Hillary Clinton, From began a dialogue with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other world leaders, and the DLC brand – known as The Third Way – became a model for resurgent liberal governments around the globe.[18]

In April 1999, he hosted a Third Way forum in Washington with President Clinton, Prime Minister Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Prime Ministers Wim Kok of the Netherlands and Massimo D'Alema of Italy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_From

However, there is one thing that I believe heads of state may have learned from both King Louis and Tsar Nicholas: Be very sure your palace guard military is unshakeably pro-government patriotic.

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@HenryAWallace
1792 the Second Revolution

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@gjohnsit

But, most of the palace guard had abandoned Louis.

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Amanda Matthews's picture

@HenryAWallace

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa