Yellow Vests get 1st game-changing win: A vote to stop denationalisation of airports
RAMIN MAZAHERI for The Saker Blog
You never read the word “denationalisation” in Western media anymore, only “privatisation”.
That makes sense… “denationalisation” is so obviously negative; it’s lack of patriotism and concern for the public welfare isn’t being covered up.
The New York Times seemed to stop using the word around the mid-1980s – which makes sense, because that’s when the propaganda of neoliberalism fully took hold. In 2019, a generation later, journalists don’t even question that “privatisation” is a bad thing: for them “nationalisation” is probably a pejorative term, smacking of “nationalism”, which has become essentially synonymous with “racism” in the Western vocabulary.
But “denationalisation” is totally accurate: the selling off businesses which were undoubtedly paid for by the People of the nation, and then operated for the good of the nation.
We cannot say that all neoliberals hate their nation – being “anti-nation” is the ideology of globalists, a subset of neoliberalism. We can say that neoliberals hate “the state”, and the distinction is important.
Listen to talk radio in the United States and you invariably find Protestant religious radio, and they love to equate “the Beast” of the Bible with the federal government; this satisfies both neoliberal and libertarian listeners. This explains why neoliberals push “privatisation”. When they discover that the 1% to whom the denationalisation was made was to foreign 1%ers… they might get upset at that – they won’t if they are globalisation neoliberals.
Accurate political-economic terminology aside, the Yellow Vests can now tell everyone, “Ta gueule!” (shut your face)
They undoubtedly won their first real victory against Emmanuel Macron this past week, as opposition parliamentarians surprisingly banded together to vote in favor of holding a referendum on the sell-off of all three airports in the Paris area. Swiss-style RICs – citizens’ initiative referendums – is the primary democratic-structural demand of the Vesters; the fact that one might now take place is undoubtedly due to their agitation.
(ER: See this report by TheLocal.fr titled French MPs push for referendum over privatisation of Paris airports. See also this and this.)
A begrudging French media, which hates the Yellow Vests for daring to question the agenda leadership of the 4thestate, of course did not celebrate what is an obvious victory for everyone living on French soil or just flying through Paris. However, their skepticism is justified: France’s last referendum was in 2005 for the Maastricht Treaty, and that was immediately ignored… much like the Brexit vote appears to be. Today was supposed to the day the UK left the EU and regained their sovereignty, and now we’ll have a 24-7 media onslaught for a 2nd vote. Personally, I think the first vote should not be respected – everybody knows votes don’t really count until the 4th or 5th one….
I was quite surprised at France’s revival of economic patriotism/good sense. The day prior to the decision I did this report for PressTV – there were only perhaps 150 Yellow Vest protesters in front of the Senate, which appeared certain to vote their approval for Macron’s sell-off. It’s still not sure a referendum will actually take place – it would be a first – but it could be in the headlines for months, emboldening more to join the Yellow Vests all the while.
Did Macron’s incredibly dirty tactics turn the tide?
The idea of selling off state assets to rich people is already shameful to anyone who isn’t rabidly against Socialist Democracy, but Macron’s tactics went beyond the pale.
Firstly, he pushed the totally-compliant, neophyte, business executives-turned-politicians (or, to places like The Economist – “civil society”) in the National Assembly to rewrite laws allowing the denationalisation of the airport. It’s always fun to read France’s Orwellian names for their “deforms” – this one was the Action Plan for the Growth and Transformation of Companies (Loi PACTE).
Then, to avoid media coverage and a possible defeat, at 6:15am on Saturday March 16, he called a vote on the sell-off. French PMs work really late hours – I have no idea why, this isn’t Spain – but I’ve never seen that. Only 45 deputies voted out of the lower house’s total 577. The mainstream media had to go into overdrive to explain why the vote was actually legal. Nobody covered that – we all missed it, including me. Hey, I’m a daily hack journalist – I can’t do a story 2 days after the fact. Ya can’t cover them all, and there’s always another one around the corner.
Then, in something no media appears to be connecting, Macron pushed back the end date of his phony PR-campaign known as the “National Debate” in order to draw attention away from this week’s planned Senate vote. Yellow Vesters did not care, they – as planned – engaged in massive civil disobedience on the Champs-Elysées the day after the National Debate was supposed to end, March 16, even burning down a bank, though I was truly the only one to properly explain why (and at the bank!). So this week Macron unveiled his “conclusions” of the 2.5-month talk-fest, which were, essentially: “It’s good to know that I’ve been right all along!” He was clearly hoping the media would focus on his technocratic rightness, instead of giving column inches and air time to the airport sell-off.
But he didn’t count on non-Macron party deputies joining together for the good of the nation. Or, for many, the good of their re-election campaign: after all, denationalisation is so unpopulard its name cannot even be uttered anymore – opposing the 10 billon euro windfall from the sale is a sure winner with the voters.
Briefly: it is totally absurd to believe Macron’s claim that the state can only find 10 billion euros for an “industrial innovation fund” via selling off Paris airports (as well as the National Lottery and France’s stake in energy giant Engie). France has given scores upon scores of billions in tax cuts to corporations and businesses during the Age of Austerity, repeatedly telling us that the 1% will invest in industrial innovations funds of their own making and all without state strings attached to the cuts. Then you have tax evasion, which is in the hundreds of billions in lost money for state coffers… which will be hard to find, considering that Macron wants to cut thousands of jobs in the Finance ministry, the ministry whose job it is to collect taxes (must kill the Beast… it’s what Jesus would do!).
In short, it’s a very bad week for Macron: just 6% of France said his National Watch-Macron-Outdo-Fidel-Castro-In-Speechifying was a success, and then it didn’t even provide cover for the privatisation his neoliberal globalist ilk loves more than absolutely anything. Why is it better to them than even oh-so-profitable wars – you axe tens of thousands of Beast/government jobs, and you get an already-made cash cow which has a customer base which is obviously guaranteed / an outright monopoly.
Iran knows what everyone in France hasn’t learned (except the Yellow Vests)
So in the mid-80s, the neoliberal mindset had spent about 5 years ripening like bad French cheese; in 1991, the USSR’s leaders ignored the referendum which saw 78% of Soviets vote to remain Soviets; and by 2002 those “lefty” Frenchies had initiated denationalising the highways – the historical arc is clear, if slow-moving to some.
I was really surprised when I moved to “socialist” France that they had sold off the nation’s roads. Today, when a driver pays 60 euros in tolls to drive from Paris to Marseille – and that’s just the one-way – you feel like setting the toll booths on fire. Which is what the Yellow Vests did – it was a public service….
Denationalising the airport would have the same costly effect for the average Frenchman. It will have the same effect the UK experienced after denationalising their railways: a season ticket is now 5 times higher than on the Continent, with time-keeping, safety and comfort all worse, too. In the US you have headlines like this one last year from St. Louis: Lambert (airport) privatisation looks like Chicago’s parking meter disaster.
(Anyone recall the fringes of a scene in Godfather II of Cuban-style socialism’s victory night – they were smashing the parking meters? I can report that in 2019, the People’s land is still free for the Cuban People to park on. Many probably thought they were just looting….)
Macron should take heart that I will not be allowed to park my car – which I bought entirely with change – for free in Paris anytime soon: the West European / Liberal Democratic system is geared in his favor. Want more proof? Yellow Vests demonstrations have been totally banned in Lyon, the third-largest city, after a complaint from what is honestly (no kidding!) the real power in Western societies: the local chamber of commerce.
So we have “privatisation” and “denationalisation”… and then we have Iranian “privatisation”, which we hear about all the time. Rouhani has gone “neoliberal”, right? Ahmadinejad did, too, uh huh?
LOL, I swear, I truly am always laughing when I write about this subject! Iran is not selling off 51% of state assets to the Rothschilds, or the Swiss, or… the Turks?! LOL, the Turks running Iran? Do we want our nice things to be ruined?!
Iran’s “privatisations” aren’t “privatisations” because they “sold” the state-owned assets to state-controlled groups like the Revolutionary Guards, bonyads (religious charity co-operatives) and the Basij. So it wasn’t even “denationalisation”. It certainly wasn’t “neoliberal privatisation” – because the state nearly always retains more than just a controlling interest (20%) but a 51% share – and if you say Iran has gone “neoliberal globalization,” I am truly going to be in hysterics!
So it’s not that Iranian media is obscuring what is going on by excising previously popular terms, it’s that Iran has revolutionary (unique) concepts of governance for which there simply are no words for it in foreign languages… yet.
But we can agree on this: such unique changes are the opposite of what Macron wanted for France; and such unique changes are so reviled by the capitalist-imperialist West that – as of this week – everyone in the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij is now considered a terrorist by the US.
There are 10-25 million Basiji, almost none of whom are armed, and the majority of whom are women and children, but… ok, they’re all terrorists. Whatever it takes to not pay 60 euros in tolls one-way.
That sounds like a very effective revolutionary cry for the Yellow Vests!
France should thank them – they have stopped (for now) the French People’s loss of one of the world’s busiest airports.
Certainly, it’s a tangible victory which shuts up their detractors, which forcibly changes the mainstream media’s Liberal Democratic agenda, and which prods their fellow citizens to become more politically enlightened.
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Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.