2018 – There are good reasons to fight and to hope

2018 – There are good reasons to fight and to hope

by Natacha Polony, France

France is still confident that everything is possible. Some say it is enough to silence Kassandra in order to prevent the Trojan War. Some turn away. Still others try to prevent shipwreck by controlling their own ship as well as possible.

There is a strange uncertainty in the cold air at the end of this December regarding the balance of the year which is about to end. One would have to be surprisingly uncritical for both statements, that the first months of the presidency of Emmanuel Macron were either wonderful or catastrophic.
Of course, it is possible to ignore all tensions and hate, political petty wars and dwarf battles that have occurred. One might forget the fact that the myth of the “fifth largest economic power in the world” has just officially been buried, and that the recent international investigations carried out on both adults and children describe a country whose abilities are in free fall.
However, France is still confident that everything is possible. Some believe that a president castigating the whistleblowers, the revealers, will change the situation for the better and that it will be enough to silence Kassandra in order to prevent the Trojan War. Some turn away. Still others try to prevent shipwreck by controlling their own ship as well as possible. And those are the ones who deserve respect – all those Frenchmen who keep France alive. All those ordinary people who simply and unwaveringly fulfill their duties.
It is true that a large part of the French industry has been destroyed. Textile industry, industry of leather, stationery, china and steel ... are erased by free trade and the resulting unfair competition. But in each of these production sectors, heroes are struggling to continue producing in France or to build something new, driven by the will to resist low-cost logic. More and more French people are realising that by choosing “Made in France” quality products, they have a chance to combat mass unemployment. Because only through an industrial reconstruction – which causes the long-standing unrealistic fantasies of the elites about “service society” and “companies without factories” to disappear – we can still be saved. Entrepreneurs are fighting, tradespeople are training apprentices, many of whom are full of responsibility, professional pride and pursuit of excellence.
It is true, the number of farmers has dropped to 320,000 and many of them are greatly suffering from the difficult economic situation. But many of them have begun to develop new local and regional sales opportunities, to turn away from wholesale and to invent new ways of upgrading their products. Importantly, one particular law is still in force: The Agroecology Act, which is one of the few rays of hope in the alarming result of the past five-year presidency. This law helps farmers to work with methods combining ecology and profitability and providing them the only good opportunity to do without glyphosate, which is claimed by the National Association of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA) to be irreplaceable.
It is true that the Estates-General for Food are mere window-dressing, the conclusions of which have even been rejected by Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot, since they only consist of clichés and decoys. But the mere fact that there are Estates-General for Food proves that consciousness has been awakened. From that point on, no politician can pretend that he does not know that the French people’s health is affected by the food they consume – at a time in which diabetes and obesity are exploding worldwide caused by American eating habits. Each politician must also know that the survival of the farmers, the quality of the soil and the continuance of nature is in danger – a nature from which 80% of the insects have already disappeared.
It is true that French schools fail to teach children–even those from a privileged environment– to read and to understand simple texts. They have renounced to expect excellent achievements in mathematics sufficient to train their children’s thinking skills for the education of the future engineers and mathematicians for whom they used to be known.
But for the first time in thirty years, the new Minister of Education [Jean-Michel Blanquer] has challenged the fortress located at Rue de Grenelle [seat of the Ministry], which has been built by charlatans, convinced of their right to use children as their guinea pigs.
From there the renewal is about to come. There the strong forces are hidden, that make this country what it is – despite decades of moral crisis and mistakes of the elites, who are obsessed with the elimination of the old remnants of French idiosyncrasies and the adaptation to the neoliberal model. Those who decide not to be carried away by the fantastic announcements of the PR army of power are anything but weaklings or pessimists. It does not mean wallowing in joyless passions if you bluntly reject the stupid talk of the “start-up nation”, if you manage to turn failures into fabulous victories, such as the renegotiations of the guidelines concerning posted workers, glyphosate, and the fight against tax havens in the EU. This “No” is affirmative.
It is a huge “Yes”, addressed to all those Frenchmen who humbly contribute to the persistence of industry, agriculture, craftsmanship, expertise, to all those teachers who come forward with effective teaching methods, to all the young people growing up to develop as personal human beings. They all are the modest army of fighters for France.     •

Source: © Natacha Polony, “Le Figaro” from 29.12.2017

(Translation Zeit-Fragen [Current Concerns])

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