Today, the tragic situation in France has many causes. And many are responsible for it. In today’s government, as well as those of yesterday, which neither had been able to take full measure of the considerable distress and anger of the inhabitants of the “empty diagonal” and the forgotten of the Republic.
However, in this piece, I would like to single out one of the responsible parties, and perhaps not the least responsible: the left. For decades, it has not succeeded in rebuilding a doctrinal path, which many have shaped in their own way (along with many others, I have also tried to do my part, for over 30 years, with several books including “Fraternités” and “la Voie Humaine,” which I believe is still relevant).
In particular, in 2017, the left did not succeed in proposing a serious and unique program, which would have allowed it to hold on to power. And since then, it has not positioned itself to properly hear the rising anger of the population and accurately represent the discontent. Furthermore, the left failed to propose in due time, in Parliament or elsewhere, a coherent, comprehensive and convincing manner, amendments to the energy taxes put forward by the government, in order to improve the environment and advance social justice in a compatible way, which is perfectly possible.
A unified program from the left today should provide for the reinstatement of the tax on large fortunes (with exemptions on investments in ecological or social enterprises), a thorough review of the budget structure, in terms of both expenses and revenues, in order to significantly reduce both. It should also include a raise to the minimum wage, and an initiative to offset the burden on companies that export goods. It should also propose to generalize, and increase the work allowance, which provides a boost to low incomes. Such proposal should also include measures to accompany those who cannot afford to gradually evolve towards a lifestyle consistent with the demands of climate change: It would be absurd and scandalous to ask the poorest to live in accordance with all the standards of an ecological lifestyle. We must progressively provide them with means. Finally, the left should also propose adapting corporate taxation according to the ecological and social footprints of such companies.
A left-wing program should also propose new forms of consultation, dialogue and exchange between citizens. Because it is up to the left, which has been a carrier of the traditions of social democracy, and is therefore supposed to be at the forefront of the ecological battles, to reclaim its place at the forefront of these innovations. It could for example propose to install, throughout France, citizen assemblies that are randomly selected, for a year, who would give their opinion on all legislative proposals and their subsequent implementation. These citizen assemblies could also be in charge of organizing the allocation of aid to the most impoverished. The left could finally propose to widely use new technologies that, under the name of “civitech,” would allow the voices of citizens to be heard, in a constructive way, beyond the invectives of social media.
Many, though not all, of these measures were in the various programs of left-wing candidates in the last presidential and legislative elections. However, division among the left led these proposals to their peril. They can only blame themselves. But it is up to them now to unite, for the forthcoming European elections, if they really want to serve the cause of the people, and not only that of their party. Naturally, such program should also condemn, without reservation or ambiguity, the shameful violence of these recent weeks.
Without a doubt, it is one of the last chances of the political class to save itself and the institutions, in order to establish a new social contract, and prevent anarchy from ruining the endless opportunities for our magnificent country.