Skip to content Go to sidebar Go to footer


FIGAROVOX / BIG INTERVIEW – On the occasion of the release of the last issue of Causeur, Elisabeth Lévy looks back on the first weeks of Emmanuel Macron's presidency. For her, with the new President of the Republic, "the French are both seduced and skeptical".

Élisabeth Lévy is a journalist and managing editor of Conversationalist. Its latest issue is called Everything is going very well, Madame la Marquise!

FIGAROVOX.- The latest issue of Causeur is entitled: “Everything is going very well, Madame la Marquise”. An obviously ironic title. After a very long year of presidential elections, aren't the French entitled to a little optimism?

Elisabeth LÉVY. A new human right, the right to optimism! If you really want to invent new rights, all in all, I would prefer the right to truth, or to lucidity. Allow me to remind you that the song "Everything is fine Madame la Marquise", which dates from 1935, has become the symbol of the unconsciousness of a world dancing on a volcano. That said, Gramsci spoke of the optimism of the will – which he wanted to combine with the pessimism of reason: today, we feel rather a fierce (and somewhat unreasonable) will to optimism. And this mood, contrary to what many think, is not a fabrication of the media, even if they are rather indulgent: for example, when Macron makes Chevènement criticizing Europe and recalling the need to protect, they applaud whereas, usually, this kind of remark seems to them to be the abomination of desolation. Neither business, which opportunely forces power to fall back on the "I wash whiter" side, nor the Melenchonist eructations, nor the arrogance of the Castaner-style hipsters who constitute Macron's close guard, nor the scam of "the civil society" which hides a large-scale takeover by experts and senior civil servants under the close surveillance of a cohort of finance inspectors, nor the waltz-hesitation on taxation seems to break the mood, as if the French wanted a break before talking about angry subjects again. In short, it is they who ask their governments to treat them by the method of Doctor Coué, at least for the summer break. As they say at the beginning of the movie La Haine, as the character falls 50 stories: "So far so good." However, we are perhaps not on the eve of a world war but all is not going very well and wanting to act as if, above all, we are preparing for a brutal landing.

The French seem to want to give Macron the benefit of the doubt. Isn't it natural after all? Isn't talker a bit of a bad loser?

There is no question of calling into question the legitimacy of the president, to whom the French, after having elected him, granted a very clear majority. When Mélenchon, with his eighteen deputies, claims to represent the people, we should all burst out laughing. However, should we content ourselves with shouting "Vive le Roi" and celebrating the youth and talent of our new monarch? In reality, beyond the diffuse desire to push back the painful questions at the start of the school year that I mentioned, the French are at the same time seduced and skeptical.

Let's start with the asset. First of all, given the magnitude of the game of massacre that has just taken place, there is something for everyone: some applaud the disappearance of the Najat left, others the debacle of the right Fillon. Then, after the depressing Dutch normality, the return to a certain verticality of power is obviously good news. Who would not be delighted to see France, through its president, once again considered on the international scene? That Macron is the one who reconnects with Putin and who receives Trump testifies to a pleasant independence of spirit. Moreover, his discourse on Europe disappoints me for the better, as they say in Switzerland. When the Head of State affirms that Germany "must move, like France must move", he speaks of "shared responsibilities" explaining in veiled terms that the prosperity of our neighbor is partly built on the back of its partners, this reflects a healthy desire to rebalance the balance of power. It remains to be seen, of course, whether he will obtain results.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#993300″ class=”” size=””]While his predecessor ruled with the revolver of the World pointed at his temple, he said that his thought is too complex to be left to questions from journalists.[/perfectpullquote]

In the meantime, there is another area where Macron wants to rebalance the balance of power, it is between political and media power. While his predecessor ruled with the revolver of Le Monde trained on his head, he says his thinking is too complex to be left to questions from journalists – it's quite bloated and very amusing. This does not prevent him, it is said, from discreetly receiving a few lucky chosen ones from the profession, but after all one has the right to choose one's friends. In any case, that he holds the dragee high for journalists is one of the most encouraging signs of the claimed verticality.

You can see, Madame la Marquise, that all is not so bad….

Wait a minute! First of all, the serious things have only just begun. But we are still largely in the domain of discourse. However, the juxtaposition of contradictory proposals which is the hallmark of the Macronian verb reveals an ambiguity from which the president will have to get out, at one time or another. Thus, in his speech to Congress on July 3, the president, as always, fairly distributed the freebies: a spoon for the reactionaries, a spoon for the progressives, a spoon for the sovereignists, a spoon for the federalists, a spoon for the Colbertists a spoon for the free-traders, without forgetting the platitudes, like “I am for peace and for fraternity”.

You have to be quite a bad sleeper to resist the promise of “openness to possibilities that bring us together” or refuse “a powerful and desirable imagination where everyone will find their place”. Alright, that doesn't mean anything. But it sounds good. It reminds us that between the sublime and the ridiculous, the border is tenuous. And the risk that the staging of the Macronian gesture turns into a festival of postures is not negligible.

In the meantime, when you criticize the president for advocating a certain economic efficiency, in a blocked country where the word "undertake" seemed to have become a dirty word, you are in bad faith...

Bad faith yourself! Where did you get that we are against economic efficiency? Only, when the president calls for an "efficient society", it rather evokes a brave new world where everything would work, where nothing, neither people nor things, would be broken down. What to spin the bumblebee, right? The founding ideology of the new power, more managerial than political, is not liberalism, even neo, but start-upism: "If you didn't do your start-up at 25, you've wasted your life!" .

You criticize Macron for his little phrase about “those who are nothing”. He apologized and explained that it was only a language error. Are you now going to track down the slightest "slippage" of the president as a certain left has made a specialty of it with all those who are not on the left?

Except that it is not a question of stolen tables but of a public speech delivered by the head of state. Of course, it would be just as unfair to judge the president on this distinction between “those who succeed” and “those who are nothing” as it was to reduce Nicolas Sarkozy to his “Break it off poor idiot!”. Nevertheless, in both cases, the blunder undoubtedly reveals a part of truth – more endearing in this case with Sarko than with Macron.

And what is this part of truth in the case of Macron?

I would not speak, as we have heard in a loop among the rebellious and assimilated, of class contempt, rather of a compassion of lady patroness, not for the poor but for all those who are not in the wind. Emmanuel Macron does not admire the rich so much as neo-entrepreneurs: old money, which he calls rent, and the old school bourgeoisie is not his cup of tea. And no doubt he has more consideration for a long-term unemployed person than for a notary – but who would rebel against notairophobia? In short, while regularly presenting himself as the heir to the great history of France, Macron never ceases to express his pride in being the man of the gale on the old world. But most people hold on to that old world because that's where they belong. The president is going to find out, the France that cares about historical continuity, the one that does not want us to revolutionize the symbolic and institutional frameworks that have made its collective existence, the one that we love to poke fun at on Canal + and France Inter does not intend to disappear. Which, if the right were really interested in ideas, should open up an avenue for popular conservatism.

You criticize Macron for forgetting terrorism and identity anxiety. Sounds like an obsession with you...

We indeed reproach the president for seriously underestimating the problems posed by the advance of a radical Islam which, on the one hand undermines French cohesion and on the other hand, feeds terrorist violence. What threatens us even more than the desire for Islamist influence is the denial that makes us incapable of facing the challenges. And if it's an obsession, we share it with quite a few of our fellow citizens. According to a survey published in Le JDD, for example, the question of the integration of Islam is a priority for 61% of French people, far ahead of pensions (43%), employment (36%) and purchasing power (30%). So yes, at the risk of triggering the usual exasperated airs and the same pinching noses of the olfactory left, I believe that the integration crisis should be a priority of power. However, on this subject, it is almost radio silence. As well as on the assassination, in Belleville, of Sarah Halimi by one of her neighbors, to cries of "Allah Ouakbar". And if I am contradicted on this point by the speech that Emmanuel Macron will deliver in Nice, so much the better! Still, more broadly, it is urgent to negotiate a pact between the Islam of France and the Republic, that is to say to define the rules of the game. Saying that is not racist. To qualify the jihadists who hold a French humanitarian, the president used exactly the same words as at Halle F: "They are nothing." This recurrence perhaps reveals another facet of the “Macron thought”: a propensity to dismiss unpleasant realities from the photo. When the President affirms "we cannot claim to fight effectively against terrorism if we do not have resolute action against global warming", the old refrain emerges according to which the economy is the source of all ills and all the solutions. Would Macron's man eat only bread?

Isn't the best way to resolve the integration crisis and regain a bit of national pride to reconnect with a unifying narrative? With the idea that France is a country where everything is possible no matter where you come from...

No doubt you are referring to the presidential will, delivered through his Twitter account, to make France a "start-up nation", that is to say "a nation where everyone can say that he will be able to create a start-up”. What a unifying story indeed! So, sorry, someone has to speak for the retarded who would like above all that France remains a nation at all and who are worried about seeing it come undone. As Alain Finkielkraut amusingly says in our issue, we must rehabilitate Cassandre (who was, it must be remembered, damn right to invite the Trojans to be wary). It's a bit like the role of Talker.

You also devote a dossier to “the destruction of Paris”. In your article, "Paris, capital of an undesirable future", you joke about "the municipal, citizen and innovative hodgepodge". And you write: "And if a city, precisely, was not a land of peace but a zone of conflicts, fractures, antagonisms?". With the migratory chaos at Porte de la Chapelle, you should be served...

If Anne Hidalgo didn't exist, Muray would have invented her! The migratory chaos is precisely the proof that concrete life, with its excesses, its turpitudes and its joy, does not obey the dreams of a new man (é-e, as it is now displayed on all the documents of the town hall ) of the heirs of Jack Lang who run City Hall. Anne Hidalgo is migrants + the Olympics. She wanted to show off by playing the Merkel in front of the cameras, when she has absolutely no solution for welcoming migrants to Paris (a question that only falls within her remit). Good feelings are not enough, sorry. And moreover, it is only a question of reinventing the city, of transporting nature there, and of pedestrianizing places where one hundred Nights can flourish. And this without ever ceasing to subject Parisians and all Ile-de-France residents to a terrifying whirlwind of effectively innovative and civic festivities that paralyze all other activity. It seems that, for Mrs. Hidalgo, those who do not want to dream of the city of tomorrow, but wish more modestly to be able to move in that of today, for example to work there, are nothing. Like the opponents of the Olympics. Scraps of History on the move..

Finally, if you had to choose, wouldn't you prefer "the best of the macronized worlds" to Anne Hidalgo's "wonderful Paris"?

I fear, precisely, not having to choose and having both! Despite the animosity between the president and the mayor of Paris, Macronian progressivism is not fundamentally different from that of Anne Hidalgo, remember the show of the president-tennis player on the Seine to defend Paris 2024. However, if I Had to really choose between your two versions of the bright future, I'd bet on the monarchy rather than the citizen. Macron's ambiguities will perhaps be the source of good surprises, while nothing will stop Anne Hidalgo in the enterprise of destroying the conditions of concrete life that she leads under the banner of transformation. Nothing, except of course the voters. Until then, the Parisians who so much like to call themselves rebels have shown themselves to be surprisingly docile in the face of nonsense invented to rot their lives. We will know during the next municipal elections if the neo-humans on wheels grouped under the banner of Homo festivus have succeeded in carrying out the Great Replacement of the People of Paris.

Source: ©  Le Figaro Premium – Elisabeth Lévy: "Macron reminds us that between the sublime and the ridiculous, the border is thin"

Leave comments

CJFAI © 2023. All Rights Reserved.