Open Letter to “A Hated President”

François Ruffin, Deputy, La France insoumise

Published in Libération
26th November, 2018
Translation by TheEuropeans

In 2017, François Ruffin addressed a letter to Emmanuel Macron, describing the “hatred” that the French felt for him. More than a year later, the Deputy hammers in the message again: “What unites the Gilets jaunes [Yellow Vests] is the aversion you provoke.”

“Open Letter to a Hated President”
By François Ruffin, Deputy, La France insoumise (LFI), for the Somme.

For how much longer, Mr. Macron, will you abuse our patience? Even before your election, on the eve of the second round, I addressed you thus, in an ‘Open letter to a president already hated’ : “You are hated, you are hated, you are hated. I am hammering it home to you because, with your court, with your campaign, with the bourgeoisie that surrounds you, you have been struck down with social deafness. You do not hear the rumblings : the stormy interlude you spent in the car-park at Whirlpool was just a foretaste. It’s a class-divide that is growing wider because of you.”

With twelve counts of “you are hated” in about thirty lines, I warned you with some insistence. Stylistically speaking, I do not pin the text on my lapel with literary pride. On the question of substance, however, I disown none of it. The warning was just: you are now hated, hugely hated. The seed was already sown, and now we are witnessing the harvest. The ditch has become a gulf.

The polls barely reflect this rejection, of which you are the object. They measure your popularity rating, which has plunged to a low level, it’s true, but only to the same low-water mark of unpopularity as that of your predecessors, 20%, 25%, or whatever. A base therefore remains, a base that will probably hold for your entire five-year term, a foundation that may even be sufficient to win elections — with the help of abstentions and discord. What the institutes do not measure, on the other hand, is the powerful, virulent disgust that you arouse in — how many? roughly a quarter? a third? — of the French.

You have felt it yourself, this hatred, from Lorraine to the Ardennes, from the Marne to the Somme, during the week of your “commemoration tour”  [marking the centenary of the armistice — Ed.]. You affected joviality, with “I like making contact”, and “I’ll be back more often”, but this resentment in your own people must have hurt you. And, I hope, alerted you. Last Saturday, especially, what was it that rallied the “Yellow Vests”? What united them, much more than the diesel [tax]? What, despite a thousand differences, put them all in lock-step? You. The aversion that you provoke.

And that’s understandable. You have torn up the social contract. And you are tearing France apart.

Since your entry into the Elysée Palace, you have been conducting an unjust policy, so manifestly unjust: how could the body politic not be jarred by it, not feel itself under duress? You dared to abolish the wealth tax [ISF, Impôt de solidarité sur la fortune], and at the same time, at the same time*, to raise the CSG [Contribution sociale généralisée] for pensioners; to scrape five euros off the APL [housing benefit]; to eliminate 200,000 subsidized employment contracts. It is so excessive, so abusive. It affects not only the wallet, not just people’s “purchasing power”: it’s the pride and honour of a people that are wounded. You make fun of them; their own Head of State makes fun of them. And to this injustice, this glaring injustice, like rubbing salt into a wound, you add the arrogance of injustice with provocative flourishes like “the nothing people”“lazybones”, “refractory Gauls”“you only have to cross the street [to get a job]”, “crazy money** [spent on social programmes]”.

You are mad. I listen to you, and I say to myself, “He’s mad.”

You are drunk with hubris, with the “compulsive excesses” of the ancient heroes, who took themselves for gods. Fate then brings them down, misfortune shrinks their ballooning egos; in short, returns them to their human condition, at last able to see with Oedipus’ pierced eyes. We do not know by what light you will return to reality and humility, as a pseudo-Jupiter who again touches his feet to the Earth.

We must hope, always. For belief in people, that is.

But your hubris, your excesses, are not just your own. They go beyond you. They are those of a class that has cut itself off from the common world, that has detached itself from the nation. Those of a caste that has seen its fortune increase sevenfold in twenty years, and which nonetheless evades tax, optimises, Paradises, Panamises, Caymanises; which places the common interest behind that of multinationals; which piles up share buybacks, dividends, golden parachutes and other stock options; and at the same time, at the same time, without shame, extols the virtues of belt-tightening and sacrifice to wage- and salary-earners, and to pensioners. In short, an elite that places itself above humanity and its laws, on an Olympus for the rich, and which believes that all is permitted.

You are all mad, collectively mad.

I’m worried, truly. Not at all for you, but for my country, which you are leading down the path of madness. A word to the wise.

— François Ruffin, Deputy (LFI) for the Somme.

*Macron’s political catch-phrase, en même temps.
**Crazy money: the famous “pognon de dingue”.