When the pandemic began, I immediately called for our industrial apparatus to be transformed into a war economy, to produce the masks, respirators, medical and hospital equipment, and vaccines that were so cruelly lacking. We didn’t do it. And we were only able to make up for these shortcomings with a great deal of imports (and at great cost), except for masks and gel, for which, after a period of latency, the textile and luxury goods industries got into the act.

The result is tragic: while several of our neighbours over-accelerated their industrial transition, we were content to buy what they produced on credit.

Moving to a war economy requires a real mobilisation of public opinion, and very strong technical measures: paying much more for work and in particular for overtime in these sectors; granting unlimited subsidised loans to any industrialist who credibly launches into this type of production or converts less necessary production lines. Some countries have done this. We have not. We did not even draw up a list of these companies, nor of the incentives that should have been granted to them.

Today, the same antiphon must be repeated, for other sectors: it is an open secret that our armies, like those of all other European countries, will soon be cruelly short of ammunition and weaponry, if they continue, to their credit, to find ways of providing the means to defend themselves and to counterattack those who, in Ukraine, are resisting, in our name, on the front line, the advance of the dictatorship. These means, if they are not drawn from our arsenals, are made up of new productions by our arms companies, diverting orders that our armies had placed with them. In both cases, and at the current rate, our forces will soon be, if they are not already, in no condition to ensure their dissuasive posture, let alone a defensive posture, if the misfortune wanted it to become necessary.

It would therefore be urgent, very urgent, to put the industrial companies of the defence sector to work at a forced march; to make them produce arms and munitions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by paying for it the price that is necessary, “whatever it costs”. By completing it with the conversion, temporary or definitive, of companies, or at least factories perfectly adaptable to these new needs: for example, the entire automobile industry could produce armaments.

The “whatever it takes” should therefore concern, as a priority, the production of defence and security goods by those whose job it is and by the reconversion of those whose productions are clearly listed as harmful to the environment and to health. This would also be an opportunity to produce the tools necessary for the climate and agri-food transition, for hygiene, water, education, the media and democracy; in short, for all sectors of the life economy.

It would also send a clear message to any potential, if not likely, aggressor that, if they were to attack us, we would have the means, at least material, to defend ourselves.

And here again, we should draw up a list of these companies and put them to work as soon as possible, with exceptional pay and working conditions: that’s what a war economy is all about.

France, like others, had not done this early enough, and massively enough, in the years of great tension that preceded the first two world wars. To be convinced of this, one only has to reread, for example, the cruel pages devoted to it by Stefan Zweig in “Le monde d’hier” and Marc Bloch, in “Une étrange défaite”. Everything is there.

It would not be easy, of course.

It requires preparation, organisation, recruitment, and a liberation of practical and technical initiative at all levels of the organisations. An administrative and, above all, political will at all times. This should also be a common project of all the members of the European Union, calling on the continent to give itself the means of its sovereignty, which is a condition for safeguarding its way of life and its standard of living.

Once again, we are a long way from this.