Intellectual regression of the French élite

Intellectual regression of the French élite

The outburst of vulgarity and aggression against the managing director and owner of the LVMH luxury goods holding company by the newspaper Libération is shameful and deeply troubling. The Socialist Party is flexing its (verbal) muscles by stoking the fire of class struggle.

Libération, the unofficial press organ of the Socialist Party, is merely following up on the “hate-the-rich” rhetoric of the new president. Like the Pravda of old, it launched a “hate attack” on an imaginary “enemy of the people” namely one of France’s most successful entrepreneurs. The verbal violence and personal attack on its front page (under the headline ‘Get lost rich bastard’) was shocking yet many thought it was fair game. The bottom line is that the idea that citizens should be free to decide where to pay their taxes has become unacceptable across the political board. The extreme left demands tougher action. One wonders; is this a wall to keep tax dissenters in perhaps?

As Margaret Thatcher said “the problem with socialism is that one day you run out of other people’s money”. Therein lays France’s problem. Its social-democratic state apparatus like other Club Med welfare states, has reached that stage. After four decades of reform sclerosis and unaffordable social policies, the élite is resorting to fiscal oppression to fill the empty coffers of the Treasury. The Socialist Party are following the path set by the previous government which had broken a record in this respect. Exploring the use of a flat tax so successful inter alia in post-Soviet Georgia is anathema to them.

Paying one’s taxes, even if they have become punitive, is branded as a patriotic duty. It is a matter of “égalité” and “solidarité” repeats the élite for whom austerity means taxes, not the reduction of the burden of the state (57 percent of debt). If this means less individual liberties and less prosperity all around, so be it. Sadly, what this state-sponsored mentality does to the image of the country and, more importantly, how it negatively affects society is relegated to “petit bourgeois” politically incorrect thinking. For a marxist-minded left, what matters is the dogma.

Yet how can a country prosper when success is denigrated and entrepreneurs pilloried? When unions can with impunity “snatch” their bosses (lock them up for hours or days) without the State intervening to protect private property? How can a society “blinded by socialism” as Prof. Philippe Nemo puts it, build a better future when the most successful and its brightest risk-taking youths are forced to emigrate?

The 1789 Revolution ended an absolutist regime producing the inspirational document that the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is. But it should never be forgotten that it also produced the Terreur, a period of bloody repression of dissenters. Of course in 2012 no heads will be lost to the guillotine’s blade but French taxpayers (rich or not) are entering a period of fiscal Terreur. Gradually an egalitarian order is being enforced with the full force of the law.

Economist Emmanuel Martin argues that the Fifth Republic has become a dysfunctional democracy where power is held by a statist-socialist élite unwilling to reform but eager to tax. With increased state intervention in the economy and inter alia the imposition of state-edicted historical truths, one cannot help but think that the regime is sovietizing. Its self-serving intelligentsia in full intellectual regression cheered on by a state-subsidized press is walking the country down the road to less liberty.