PARIS (LifeSiteNews) — In a well-noted speech marking the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Mediterranean coastal village of Bormes-les-Mimosa on August 17, 1944, the recently reelected French president Emmanuel Macron warned the French people that hard times are ahead.
Macron asked his fellow citizens to prepare to “accept to pay the price of liberty” just after mentioning the “archipelago of friendship that today is helping Ukraine to resist against its aggressor.”
In similar remarks made to his government earlier this week, Macron announced the “end of abundance” and spoke about the “grand tipping point” that is nigh – one assumes he was talking about the world, or at least Europe.
During his August 17 speech, having dwelt at length on the heroism and sacrifice of those who liberated France at the end of the Second World War – D-Day in Normandy and, weeks later, the landing of the Allied forces in Provence – Macron adopted emphatic, war-like tones that had many wondering whether he intends to engage France directly in the six-month-old war in Ukraine.
He stated: “I am thinking of our people, who will need fortitude to face the times ahead, to resist the uncertainties, and perhaps easy ways out and adversity, and to accept, together, to pay the price of our freedoms and our values; to accept that France, as a Nation and as a Republic, is never a given, never a right, but a legacy to be passed on and a battle to be fought.”
In July the French president had called on consumers to be more “sober” in their use of energy as prices soar (gas is now four times the price of the equivalent of a barrel of petrol while electricity prices are going through the roof); ordinary French people found it hard to see the point when Macron was photographed that same week enjoying a ride on an energy-intensive jet-ski while on holidays in Provence.
Cost-of-living crisis in France
Since then, things have got worse. As food and commodities prices continue to rise, hitting hard on the monthly budgets of the middle and working classes, Macron has intensified his doom-saying.
At the first Ministers’ council of the “rentrée” – the time at the end of summer when people trickle back from their holidays and prepare for the new school year beginning in September – Macron went out of his way to have his opening speech filmed by the media. (These meetings are usually private and press coverage is limited to official statements afterwards). He told his government that it would need to stand united and to take the “necessary measures.”
“Basically, we are experiencing the end of abundance, the end of costless liquidities – we will need to draw the economic consequences of this – the end of products and technologies that seemed to be perpetually available, the break-up of value chains. The scarcity of this or that material or technology is reappearing, like that of water. We will have to take the necessary measures,” he said.
Macron listed the “crises” France is facing, “each worse than the last:” the rise of “illiberal governments,” “the climate crisis and its consequences,” “cyber risk” and war “at our doorstep.” “It is also the end, for whoever still had it, of a form of insouciance,” he continued. “The war started again in Europe six months ago to the day.”
The president added: “In the face of this great tipping point, our fellow citizens may react with great anxiety. (…) Faced with such challenges, we do not have the right to wait, to manage things on a day-to-day basis, or even to manage at all. We need an ambitious design for the future of our country, to preserve what must be preserved, and to protect those who will need it.”
The first reaction of many was anger. “Abundance” is not what a majority of the French are experiencing right now, and the President’s latest bout of fearmongering, suggesting that the population will lack money, goods and even essentials such as energy and water – after a particularly dry summer, was ill-timed at the least. On Wednesday, economic indicators showed that the dividends paid out by major French companies reached a record 44 billion euros (roughly the same amount in dollars) in the second quarter of 2022, as a result of “exceptional” profits in the previous year. The large French energy company Total, for its part, is making unprecedented profit following the spike in energy prices.
The French State controls the spending of nearly half the nation’s income
But the question remains: what exactly did Macron mean by his alarmist statements? While he could be preparing France for outright war with Russia, there are other, perhaps more probable, hypotheses.
The first is that Macron, who was reelected to his office when he faced nationalist Marine Le Pen in May but tasted defeat in the legislative elections, when the candidates of his “En Marche” or “Renaissance” movement failed to obtain a straight majority, is preparing the country for the inevitable social unrest that will arise as the cost-of-living soars. He will then at least be able to say he had foresight. He will do so despite the fact that, during the recent political campaigns, when the Russian invasion of Ukraine had already been underway for several months and it was obvious energy and commodities would become increasingly difficult to obtain in Europe, Macron and his parliamentary candidates practically promised an economic boom and assured France that the neediest would get help from the State.
This is an interesting point in the context. Government funding is already in place for “energy checks” for low-income families, and every liter of petrol is being sold with an 18-cent reduction (30 cents as of September) “generously” offered by the State – but taxes on fuel represent between 50 and 60 percent of the price paid at the gasoline station by individual.
Other public measures have been arranged, such as a rise in social benefits that is also being supported by the taxpayer.
In fact, the situation is perfect for the furthering of socialist responses, making individuals and families ever more dependent on the State through the redistribution of riches. Even now, France has a compulsory contribution rate of nearly 45 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), as opposed to an average of about 36 percent in the OECD (and 25 percent in the US), meaning that the French State controls the spending of nearly half the nation’s income.
It is hard to believe that this percentage will decrease in France, as COVID support measures over the last two and a half years made public spending hit the ceiling. Public debt now represents 111.9 percent of the GDP, as compared with 97.4 percent in 2019. All this “borrowed” money appeared out of nowhere, and the government message was “We’ll do what it takes, whatever the cost.” At the same time, successive lockdowns also complicated the economic situation, for a dearth of raw materials is holding back industries and construction and some of the psychologically damaged younger population is finding it difficult to get to work, despite high demand for workers.
The energy situation is Kafkaesque
The energy situation is Kafkaesque. Turning eastward, Russia has found eager clients for its gas and petrol in China, Iran, and elsewhere while Europe suffers from the economic sanctions it imposed after Putin invaded Ukraine. Under “green” pressure – and the environmentalists have always leaned to the extreme-left in the same way that pacifists and anti-nuclear activists in the West furthered the interests of the USSR during the Cold War – countries such as Germany have been pushed to depend on unreliable “renewables” such as windfarms and solar energy. As a result, coal plants are reopening. And France, which kept its nuclear plants active, is now obliged to share its energy with its EU partners.
However, at the worst possible moment, about half of France’s 56 nuclear reactors were forced to halt as an unexpected corrosion problem was discovered earlier this year. While it was perhaps genuinely unforeseeable, little was done over the last 20 years for the maintenance of nuclear plants, thanks to “green” pressure. In fact, before switching back to a pro-nuclear discourse, Macron had committed in 2018 to shutting down 14 plants by 2035 for environmental reasons. Lack of proper investments in this sector over recent years may force France to ration electricity in the fall and winter. And this would lead, although nobody seems have noticed, to periodical shut-downs of the economy at a time when most human activity is computer-driven.
Is the threat a real one? That’s another question: official statistics published on Thursday show that France’s gas reserves have reached 90 percent and should be at full capacity by November, and an increasing number of families are turning to wood and heat-pumps as primary sources for heat and hot water. Petrol prices have decreased as the world economy slumps, and electricity is more and more expensive. Nevertheless, the sale of thermal engine cars will be banned in the EU as of 2035, and electric cars are being heavily promoted. These come with a heavy environmental cost: electricity is being increasingly produced in coal-plants – which in turn are threatened with closure in the name of the climate, building batteries requires plenty of energy, and the cost of transport from China, where many are made, is high. Meanwhile, fully electric cars have a dismal effective “autonomy” of only a few hundred kilometers, as rows of cars waiting for a recharge in stations along France’s holiday routes showed this summer.
The summer drought was a boon for climate doomsayers
Maybe the threat, making people angry and worried, is the point. Conversations in traditional French country markets nowadays are all about the “planet” being “at the end its tether,” interrupted only by complaints about the cost of living.
This summer’s drought in many parts of France (not as bad as the dry period between 1942 and 1949) has actually been a boon for the climate doomsayers. It is true that use of water has soared since that time, but there has also been a lack of foresight with the universal use of valuable drinking water for everything from flushing the toilet to watering gardens.
At any rate, all these factors can be used as leverage to implement statist measures while creating the illusion that mankind is bad for “the planet” and that lifestyles must be drastically changed. Macron’s “tipping point” might well be found through this narrative.
Already, owners of uninsulated dwellings may no longer raise rents as of this month. By 2028, they will not be allowed to rent out their “energy-draining” property at all – under criteria fixed by a government that actually encourages assessors to under-estimate a property’s “protection” and make it practically impossible for owners of old stone houses or traditional city apartment buildings to meet official standards. Owners’ rights are facing difficult times.
This is just one of the future crises that the government is preparing for the French. Is this what Macron meant in his latest speeches?
If so, no wonder that he is one of the World Economic Forum’s favorite leaders!