ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les savants fous du libéralisme

Translated Tuesday 25 May 2010, by Isabelle Metral and reviewed by Derek Hanson

For how long will Nicolas Sarkozy be able to play with our institutions, when his charge as President is to be answerable for them, to be their warrantor? How long can he treat the Constitution, which is our Republic’s fundamental law, as if it were no more than a set of house rules that each president is free to tamper with as suits him best?

The State founded upon Law would be severely diminished if every new person who makes it to the Elysée can think, without fear of sparking a universal rebellion of conscience, of making such a gross attack on the people’s sovereignty – for instance by forbidding the people , through an article added to the Constitution, to decide freely in matters of social and economic policy.

The constitutional reform that the Head of State is cherishing would limit the remit of governments by obliging them to cut public deficits, namely, for a large part, to cut social spending, the hallmark of a society committed to progress. Bit by bit, by leaning on a submissive majority and the naivety or false reckonings of part of the opposition, Nicolas Sarkozy already forced through a constitutional reform last year that further increased the president’s prerogatives. He is now set to take a new step. Now that we have a presidential system, the right wants to engrave neo-liberalism in the marble of the constitution. Our social model and democracy would not outlive these maniacal plans: they would come apart at the seams.

After the centralized presidential system, this is what the Right wants to inscribe in the marble of the Law: Economic Liberalism

The piling of announcements on top of announcements in the space of a few days signals a strategy the efficiency of which it would be dangerous indeed to underestimate. Those in power, the big bosses, the main European leaders, not forgetting the ECB [1] president, have committed themselves to a large-scale offensive to turn European countries into areas as attractive as possible to financial markets and speculation pundits. All must be subordinated to that imperative. Local councils’ services to the populations must be cut, pensions held down, and even spending on health and health insurance are considered as a luxury, a luxury which the labouring classes are suspected of shamefully abusing.

Such an offensive does really look like a conspiracy against all the peoples of Europe. The systemic crisis is taken advantage of by the very persons who brought it about in order to impose the same social blood-letting everywhere, and as fast as possible. The treatment imposed on the Greek people to make them pay for the policies carried out by their leaders is also aimed at creating a mood of resignation in the social movement.

Nothing would be more dangerous for wage-earners than to accept this deadly logic – the danger would be to say: “If the retiring age for Greeks is put up to the age of 67, the least I can do is accept to give up the 60 retiring age limit” That kind of soft compassion and embarrassment must give way to an assertive mode of solidarity, a sense of our all belonging, from Athens to Paris, from Lisbon to Bucarest, to the working world at large of the European Union.

Can the European Left pick up the challenge? Incarnate hope and guarantee an alternative, stand with those that struggle and build the future?

In this respect, the battle over pensions will be decisive. In this struggle against the clock between capital and labour, each stage counts. The next one will take place on May 27th. [2]

[1] European Central Bank

[2] When demonstrations in defence of pensions are due to take place all over the country