The debate between neo-fascist candidate Marine Le Pen and incumbent President Emmanuel Macron shows the growing danger of a fascist dictatorship in France.
The debate was relatively discreet. Macron, a banker whose staff warned him against appearing arrogant, and Le Pen, who spent a decade ‘de-demonizing’ his neo-fascist party, both visibly straining to avoid outbursts or mannerisms that could alienate voters. Both have made their respect for each other clear, with Macron in particular repeatedly telling Le Pen, “You’re right.” Ultimately, the debate showed above all the very limited nature of the differences separating Macron from a politician descended from collaboration with Nazism in France.
The Socialist Equality Party (PES) has insisted that the fight against the danger of a far-right regime can only continue through the independent mobilization of the working class, rejecting both candidates and boycotting the elections. This is the best way to prepare for the struggles that will emerge against the vicious attacks that the winner of the election – be it Le Pen or Macron – will launch against working people.
The debate began on the issue of inflation and the purchasing power of workers, which collapsed with soaring energy and food prices. Le Pen said she “only met French people who said they couldn’t make ends meet anymore” and criticized the skyrocketing natural gas prices internationally and in France as NATO countries impose sanctions on Russian gas exports.
Macron attacked Le Pen’s largely right-wing social demagoguery, arguing that any attempt to address popular grievances against his policies was unrealistic. He accused her of voting against his government’s measure temporarily freezing any further increases in natural gas prices. After Le Pen accused Macron of pushing 400,000 people below the poverty line during his tenure, he accused her of challenging corporate privileges: “You won’t decide for the employer, Ms Le Pen pen. You will not dictate salaries.
Both candidates aligned themselves with NATO’s war on Russia in Ukraine and remained silent on Biden’s comment that the Pentagon is considering the possibility of 45-60 million deaths. While Macron applauded NATO’s policy of war against Russia in Ukraine, Le Pen replied: “The efforts you have made to try to find, in the name of France, the ways and means of peace deserve recognition. ‘to be supported’.
In conditions where significant layers of workers in France are considering voting for Le Pen out of anger against Macron, it is clear that this endorsement of Macron’s Russian policy is one point among many that shows that Le Pen is also a tool of French banks and the financial aristocracy.
When Le Pen called Macron’s deeply unpopular call to raise the retirement age to 65 an “intolerable injustice”, and Macron responded by attacking Le Pen’s pension funding plans, it sparked a brief exchange on the pandemic. “Don’t lecture me about funding my plans,” Le Pen said, criticizing the “600 billion euros in additional debt” incurred by Macron during his tenure.
Macron responded by defending his deadly policy of mass infection against the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already claimed the lives of 144,000 people in France alone. The €1 trillion pandemic bailouts have massively enriched the banks, with billionaire Bernard Arnault’s fortune rising from $70 billion to $167 billion. But Macron hypocritically claimed it was a defense of lives, health and small businesses: “How dare you say we helped big business? Ask small businesses, craftsmen… These numbers, we saved lives thanks to them.
Le Pen, whose party has denounced France’s wildly popular COVID-19 vaccines, has remained silent about the mass deaths through which Macron has enriched his billionaire friends and backers. Her attempts to exploit the “yellow vests” protests for social equality against Macron also failed, as she also applauded Macron’s cops who violently assaulted them. “The ‘yellow vests’ aspired to democracy, they were not listened to”, lamented Le Pen, before saying that the police should be entitled to a “presumption of self-defence” in the event of police brutality.
Macron took advantage of Le Pen’s lifting of the police to attack him from the right. He denounced Le Pen for criticizing “the police officers of M. Darmanin”, Macron’s interior minister, after he brutally expelled a protester from one of Le Pen’s press conferences.
As the debate drew to a close, they turned to attacks on immigration and Islam. Le Pen violently denounced immigrants: “We are facing a real barbarism, a turn towards savagery. We are hurt, we are bullied, people are jumping at us and trying to murder us. It can’t go on like this. She also denounced the Islamic veil as a “uniform imposed by Islamists”.
Macron reacted by warning Le Pen: “You are going to start a civil war” and, with unparalleled hypocrisy, posed as a defender of “universalist France”. He said it would be “betraying the Republic” if France became “the first country in the world to ban a religious sign in public space”.
Indeed, after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Macron imposed an “anti-separatist law” allowing the arbitrary dissolution of Muslim associations and the repression of their leaders by the state. This law was imposed by Gérald Darmanin, a sympathizer of the far-right Action Française party, who then denounced Le Pen as “gentle” with Islam. In other words, Macron sought to deflect attention from growing class tensions by inciting xenophobia and nationalism and reinforcing fascist forces in the police state machine.
Against Macron, it should be added that France has already become a country that completely bans religious symbols, the burqa and the niqab, in 2010. If Macron really believed that this betrayed the Republic and democracy, he could clearly have denounced this attitude. undemocratic. extent when he took office in 2017. But he did not, and his “democratic” posturing against Le Pen is political charlatanism.
The debate testified to a reactionary consensus that has emerged in the ruling class in the period since the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. NATO’s imperialist wars, from the 1991 Gulf War to Iraq and in Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Mali and now Russia has received deeper and deeper support in ruling circles. Likewise, the plundering of society by the financial aristocracy and the permanent incitement to xenophobic hatreds have pushed the entire ruling class far to the right.
After implementing a mass death policy on COVID-19 and acquiescing to NATO’s war campaign against Russia, any residual commitment to democratic rights that might have existed in French ruling circles evaporated. .
On Wednesday evening, as he concluded the debate, Macron told Le Pen: “I fight your ideas, I fight your party, [but] I respect you as a person. It is an unequivocal signal that the French bourgeoisie is ready to accept a neo-fascist at the Elysée Palace, and that Macron himself is on a far-right path.
The alternative to the wild movement of the ruling class to the right, as the PES explains, is to fight for an active boycott of the election and the rejection of Macron and Le Pen. This aims to politically mobilize the working class, to forge among the workers independent organizations of struggle and to prepare the workers to build a powerful movement against Macron and Le Pen in a struggle for socialism.