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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: The Straw and the Grain

by Michel Guilloux

The Straw and the Grain

La Paille et le grain

Translated Monday 4 January 2010, by Alison Billington and reviewed by Henry Crapo

From posture to imposture there is often but a single word. We didn’t know, when these words were written, whether the regional "great leaders" of the world, with the exception, and not the most insignificant, of Barack Obama, who had just left Washington, had heeded the call of Nicolas Sarkozy to pass a sleepless night in his company, after having dined yesterday evening in Copenhagen.

Affecting an oratorical style that he enjoys, the "all against one" of Rocky Balboa [1], the head of state delivered a discourse intended to rap the knuckles of all the heads of state of the planet there assembled. "Who would dare say ....", these few words were to rhythm the address, every few minutes of the president’s speech, his finger pointing like that of an angry schoolmaster.

The rhetorical effect was guaranteed. But is the greatness of France’s voice to be found again by awarding black marks and dunce’s caps to ’little’ countries such as China or the United States? In using these tactics, the President even had a few competitors yesterday. Who was next, among the European leaders to add to this with crocodile tears. The British liberal socialist, Gordon Brown, was loathe to end the meeting ‘with a sour taste in our mouths’ before ‘the real victims of climate change’ had a chance to be heard. The Danish conservative, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, stopping at nothing in his dubious exaggerations , went so far as to bring up ’a climate genocide’.

Yesterday, at Copenhagen, a perfume of these ‘G20’, which have been meeting for a year, filled the air. Words, still more words, but not a single tangible act. The President of the Republic criticized ‘international finance’ harshly again, the very finance he contributed to refloating against the peoples’ interests. For that matter, why didn’t he have put on the agenda for debate this tax that he pulled out of a hat last week, together with his British equivalent? And why stop, when on the right path ? Why not propose nationalization of the petroleum groups, to redirect their huge profits into the fight against global warming, and in favour of social progress, since the two should go hand in hand. As regards acts, the first this government has proposed for a year is the carbon tax, the new tax which hits victims of its policies and its system. The second, passed last week, was the proposition that truck transport be exempt to the sum of 100 million euros…

The ‘multinationals’, like empires, watch over their interests and not over the those of the people. That’s not from Nicholas Sarkozy. These words were uttered by the Bolivian President, Evo Morales, who put his finger on the truth about exactly what was holding up the summit on climactic warming. Be it the waste of resources during the race for financial profitability, the response to environmental challenges or planetary food problems and the supply of water, the murderous logic of capitalism shows itself each day for what it is. Given the response given to the former, and the disastrous social state of his country, the Head of State wanted a final document in Copenhagen, even if it be only a simple political declaration leaving any real agreement until later. This was the price for temporarily sprucing up his image. Yesterday morning, young farmers unloaded straw in front of the President’s residence. The planet is heating up, the stock exchanges blaze, and so does our anger.

[1Rocky Balboa is the hero on a long series of Hollywood movies. Rocky is from the working class, an uneducated man who made it to the boxing championships. He took on the world.

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