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"All rich people have skeletons in the closet, not many have nothing to hide.”

Translated Tuesday 13 July 2010, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Sociologist Michel Pinçon, specialized in studying the big bourgeoisie (1), unveils the way the political right wing is interlaced with this social class and its business networks. Interviewed by Manon Ferrandi, Pinçon sheds light on a closed world keen on growing both its power and its capital.

Is the Woerth affair an illustration of the networks of relationships that you describe in your works as one of the bourgeoisie’s specific characteristics?

Michel Pinçon: This affair does indeed highlight the importance of networking in people’s social lives. Networks are a significant source of power because, in the world of the bourgeoisie, each individual builds up relationships in his sphere of activity and in his family. Taken together, they provide each individual with fantastic powers, with varied and effective means of action...

Are these connections between the world of politics and the world of business a common thing?

Michel Pinçon: They are indeed. As concerns the connections between the bourgeoisie and the world of politics, it’s essentially on the right wing of the political spectrum that things happen. They are characterized by a political personnel that is dedicated to serving high society, the companies, the bankers, and so on. But there are also politicians who come from the bourgeoisie. There are, for example, politicians and scions of the bourgeoisie leading the Cercle de l’Union interalliée (2) – this was the case of Edouard Balladur; they also belong to the high society clubs.

What do the members of the Sarkozy government and the business circles have in common?

Michel Pinçon: They share a profoundly neo-con ideological dimension. Obviously, they are attached to capitalist structures with, today, a financial dimension. The increase in the number of these financial structures makes it possible to generate quick profits without too much effort. This is a sub-circle of people who have recently entered the world of business. Unlike Rothschild, the new money does not date back to the 19th century.

Right from the beginning of his five-year term as President, Nicolas Sarkozy showcased his close association with the financial elite, the trademark of his politics. Does the Woerth affair illustrate Sarkozy’s philosophy and its excesses?

Michel Pinçon: This is undoubtedly a twist of fate. First off, there is the problem of Liliane Bettencourt and her daughter, compounded by the conversations taped by a butler who should not even have witnessed them. From that point on, something happened which is greatly feared in that world: a piece of information concerning them has escaped from their circle. Chic relationships, family relationships, sticking with one’s own... You don’t mix with just anyone, and this is a guarantee of discretion. It is very typical of this world and of the sort of thing you could discover, if you really looked hard. They all have skeletons in the closet; there aren’t many who have nothing to hide with regard to tax havens, tax breaks and everything that makes it possible to pay less in taxes.

(1) Michel Pinçon and Monique Pinçon-Charlot, les Ghettos du Gotha, published in the collection «Points-Seuil ».

(2) The Cercle de l’Union interalliée is a social and dining club established in Paris, France in 1917. The 3,100-member club has many international members and is frequently used for business conferences by organizations such as the WTO, Bank of England, Wharton Club of Paris, Forbes magazine and Radley College. (from Wikipedia)

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