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Editorial

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Problème sérieux

by Maurice Ulrich

A Serious Problem

Translated Sunday 5 April 2009, by Henry Crapo

If the Pope begins to pose a "serious problem", as Alain Juppé says, and, we might add in passing, it is often said these days, what do we say about Nicolas Sarkozy? That he has already for some time now posed "a serious problem"?

We had the impression that he was henceforth inoculated against agitation.
But apparently, all excited about the upcoming G20 and the NATO summit meeting, obsessed by the role that he believes he should play, entering perhaps into an unconscious competition with Barack Obama, there he is again, playing his favorite number: "You will see what you will see". He would be ready to slam the door on the G20, he will save Caterpillar, and doubtless, like Atlas, will carry the planet on his shoulders.

We seriously doubt that the workers at Caterpillar really appreciate this old song on its scratched record. The head of state needed a bravado on the borders
of unconsciousness to make this declaration on the day following the closure at Gandrage [1]
He should have kept his promises made to the workers of Arcelor Mittal. What a fairy tale! According to the calculations of the CGT, 46 out of 575 employees
were provided a real transfer.

We also seriously doubt that the big shots invited to the G20 will be really impressed. A hint of impatience on the part of Angela Merkel, for whom an outburst would not be "the best idea". A hint of very British irony from Gordon Brown, who says he expects Nicolas Sarkozy will still be there for dinner. A sentence from Barack Obama, who, without naming anyone, pointed to "a strong desire to
introduce a bit of conflict, a bit of dramatic theater." Nicolas Sarkozy, in turn, had himself relativized his remarks: "The politics of the empty chair would signify a failure, which would be that of the summit."

We can certainly read in this provocation the desire to cause people to forget the alignment of France with NATO, which Hervé Morin, minister of Defense,
hurriedly affirmed yesterday, with revealing zeal. The position of the president at the G20 "proves that France remains independent". But this degree of will finds its equal only in that of the effort to mask the inanity of measures taken, even here in France, to counter the scandalous payments to big management, the arrogance of the banks, the absence of any real policy in face of the crisis, and the continuation, on the contrary, of socially regressive actions, which are only getting worse.

From this point of view, we hesitate to believe our ears when Nicolas Sarkozy
denounces,
with all the conviction of a fan of Rolex and of those golden holidays with his overly-rich friends, "a finance capital without morals, which pushes the world into this crisis". Because we have to start back with fundamentals. The scandals of recent days have justifiably sensitized public opinion. In the face of this, the government decree is itself a scandal. It will affect only certain individuals, in a ridiculously restricted domain, and for a limited duration. We need a real law against such abuses, one that really attacks at the root of the unbelievable inequalities in salary that violate all sense of justice.

But the basis of the crisis is not a question of morals, or even of principles.
It is the very logic of capitalism, leading to a financial accumulation without
precedent, on a planetary scale. Masses of capital, in competition with one another, were engaged in mammoth risk-prone operations designed to maintain their profits. To escape from the crisis, means to escape from this logic. It’s to revise salaries in the face of capital. It’s to relaunch the real economy and to dry up the financial accumulations. This, no matter what happens, the G20 will never do, but the people have no choice but to demand it.

There are already a number of articles waiting corrections.
Since there seem to be no real problems here, I’ll just publish it straight away. But feel free to make or suggest changes.

Henry

[1Site of the steel plant operated by Arcelor Mittal, recently shut down.


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