Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Macron Is a Tyrant: Don’t Let Him Fool You

French president Emmanuel Macron has been praised for his response to the explosion in Beirut. But his violently anti-worker actions in France tell us what kind of leader he is.

Samuel Karlin

August 19, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Ludovic Marin—AFP/Getty Images

French president Emmanuel Macron has once again popped up in the news cycle after his response to the devastating explosion in Beirut. It makes sense that people not used to following the president would find his response endearing. He showed up in a devastated city, met with victims, called out the political corruption that led to the disaster, and offered financial support to Lebanon.

Macron is ideologically a neoliberal, and like all neoliberals, his supposed humanitarianism is nothing but an act. If mainstream media ever bothered to report on Macron’s actions the way they report on world leaders who don’t align with Western capitalist hegemony, everyone would see past Macron’s PR stunt in Lebanon. They would see him for what he truly is — a tyrant.

Every anti-worker action typical of neoliberalism can be found in how Macron has been running France since he was elected. Attacks on unions, violent suppression of protests, privatization of industries, glorification of militarism, and cuts to pensions are just a few of the themes that have defined his leadership.

Though the Yellow Vests movement did receive some coverage in its early stages, it certainly never got the top-story treatment that a historic movement for working-class liberation deserves. It also isn’t the only movement in France to go largely underreported by capitalist media. Earlier this year, France saw its longest strike in modern history when 30 unions came together to fight a  plan that would’ve significantly cut millions of French workers’ pensions or forced them to work past the legal retirement age.

There should be no serious expectation that capitalist media would give working-class news the attention it deserves. The bourgeois class, which controls the news cycle, would have a lot to lose if people regularly saw what working-class direct action looks like. Still, it should always be pointed out when they so blatantly refuse to cover long-lasting class conflicts such as the regular strikes and protests that have been a staple of Macron’s France.

In response to an increase of organizing by the French working class, Macron has been a fan of using police violence to repress it. This is no surprise coming from a leader who’s said publicly, “Do not speak of ‘repression’ or ‘police violence’; such words are unacceptable in a state under the rule of law.” This sentiment has resulted in countless videos of French police attacking protesters, comparable to some of the most vile attacks by U.S. police. In fact, Macron’s tyranny had already found its way into Lebanon when, back in November 2019, Middle East Eye reported that the same tear gas canisters used in France against the Yellow Vest movement were used by Lebanese forces against working class protesters.

To squeeze all the disregard for workers’ rights and free speech that have characterized the Macron regime into one article would be difficult, since examples are plentiful. But if the president is going to attempt to restore his reputation by exploiting a crisis of political corruption in another country, it’s an unfortunate reality that mainstream media will fall in line and do everything they can to paint him as a great, compassionate leader. To get a more accurate sense of the type of leader Macron is, people would benefit from reading up on the corruption and abuse of workers, which he’s been getting away with for years now.

From 1923 to 1946, France colonized Lebanon, and Macron’s effort to gain favorability among the Lebanese people is an act of neocolonialism. Ultimately, it’s the right of the working-class people of Lebanon to choose how they address the devastation that the corrupt ruling class of their country and Western meddling has brought on them. For those of us who are watching from abroad, we can support Lebanon’s working class by exposing Western power grabs for what they are: greedy, two-faced bids for influence over the region, not at all based in concern for working-class liberation.

Now, as Lebanon’s fight for working-class liberation and sovereignty from Western bourgeois influence of their economy grabs the world’s attention, Macron postures as a hero ready to help out a country in need. It’s neoliberalism that sabotaged Lebanon’s economy in the first place. U.S. sanctions on Lebanon’s neighbor, Syria, have long limited Lebanon’s ability to trade, confined to the Beirut port. Now that it is gone, the country will starve if sanctions are not removed, but of course Macron isn’t speaking out against the U.S. corruption that starves Lebanon.

Rather than using his influence to challenge the greatest threat to independence of Lebanon’s working class, Macron is setting France up to once again control the country. No matter how much aid he provides, the situation will not improve while the working class of Lebanon continues to have zero say in the material decisions that shape their country.

Neoliberals are great at fooling those who don’t pay attention. Champions of the ideology know how to mask their disregard of workers’ rights and democracy with performative displays of concern for vulnerable people. We must be vigilant in exposing neoliberals like Macron for the two-faced tyrants they are.

Facebook Twitter Share

Samuel Karlin

Samuel Karlin is a socialist with a background in journalism. He mainly writes for Left Voice about U.S. imperialism and international class struggle.

Guest Posts

Haverford College student Kinnan Abdalhamid and Brown University students Tahseen Ahmed and Hisham Awartani, Palestinian college students who were shot in Burlington, Vermont.

Haverford Faculty for Justice in Palestine Releases Statement Supporting Pro-Palestinian Students

Haverford College Faculty for Justice in Palestine have published a statement following the shooting of three Palestinian students in Burlington, Vermont.

Balata Refugee camp in the West Bank, Palestine following a bombing in November 2023.

“No Wounded, Only Martyrs”: Night Shift Stories from a Nurse in the West Bank

A Palestinian nurse working in Nablus details his experience working the night shift in a hospital following the bombing of the Balata Refugee Camp.

Palestine Is a Worker Struggle: UAW Graduate Student Workers in California Show Solidarity with Palestine

UAW graduate students at the University of Southern California joined the walkout for Palestine during their picket line. U.S. labor must fight for Palestinian liberation!

Maryam Alaniz

November 16, 2023

When History Failed to Turn

One hundred years ago, a communist uprising took place in Hamburg. But the revolution in the rest of Germany was canceled.

Doug Enaa Greene

November 14, 2023


All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

#AllThatsLeftPod: What the Historic UAW Victory Means for the Working Class

In this episode of the podcast, we discuss the historic UAW victory, its shortcomings, and the tasks for the future.

Left Voice

December 5, 2023

The New Hollywood McCarthyism Emerging Around Palestine

Over the past week, a new Hollywood McCarthyism has emerged: multiple people in Hollywood have jobs and representation over their support of Palestine. We must denounce and fight these attacks which weaken the movement and scare supporters into silence.

Sybil Davis

December 3, 2023
A UAW sign is held next to a "Free Palestine" sign

The UAW Has Called for a Ceasefire. It’s Time for All of Labor to Stand Up.

The UAW International union has joined calls for a ceasefire and is exploring how to divest from Israel. This is a step which should inspire union activists to take up the fight to bring their union into the fight against Israel's attack on Gaza and the struggle against imperialism.

Rose Lemlich

December 2, 2023

Robert Habeck Wrote a Play Praising a Right-Wing Mass Murderer

Germany's Green vice chancellor strikes many as an idealist who has been struggling with the tough realities of government. Yet before he was a national politician, he wrote a play that opens a window into a dark soul.

Nathaniel Flakin

December 1, 2023