There were ten police vans going up Rue de la Bretagne, which was a good predictor of a political rally by the left. It was gray, a penetrating over the seasonal deadline gray, a where is spring gray. Weather in cities: I could make a concept album. Everybody was walking around still wrapped up in scarves and long coats. Not gloves, though – the average Parisian seems to have lost the glove habit. Me, I’m a glove man. My hands get cold. I walked along and observed the traffic, which was snarled. The Marais seems to have been converted into a vast chantier since we moved back. It is a sign that the French economy is coming back, but it is also an irritation. The traffic was even worse because streets were arbitrarily blocked and the busses were running on an irregular schedule. The grève had knocked out a lot of public functions, and one noticed. Paris without these functions is rather like a sentence that had lost its punctuation, its commas and periods. It becomes a vast run-on.
I headed up to the Bastille. Walking along Beaumarchais, a sweet old lady gave me an anti-globalization handout. There were posters up against the EU. This gave me a sinking feeling. I understand that the EU was designed to spread neo-liberalism in Europe, and that the last ten years have been terrible – it is as if the policymakers at the EU had skipped the economic course about Keynes. Instead of shoveling money into the economy for the workers, the EU’s big solution was to shovel money into the banks for the banks. The reasons for this were multiple, but they all came down to one thing: the poohbahs at the top want to remain as wealthy, and are willing to use the power of the state to do it.
However, the framework of the EU doesn’t necessitate this kind of austerity economics. I’m for a reformed EU. But I think the EU poohbahs have underestimated how they have lost the patience of the people. I still don’t think they get it, don’t get what a massive force popular impatience can become.
Political thoughts. I go on up the street, approach the Bastille monument, which is surrounded at the base by a high wall. I look around. There are signs, posters, but no demonstration, no marchers. I thought they would be here by 3:00, but apparently getting hundreds of thousands of people to move from Bercy to the Bastille takes more time than I had reckoned on. So I hang around with a small group of communists, read their literature. Again, I have a bad feeling. Macron-Holland-Sarkozy reforms work, partly, by shaping the options. Instead of reshaping the options, calling for massive eco infrastructure investment by the state, and raising salaries, etc., the leaflets are all about analyzing the reforms sarcastically and defending the status quo. You don’t win if you don’t promise the goods. You just keep retreating. That, at least, is my feeling.
Alas, after a while, I have to make my way back. I have to get groceries and pick up Adam. So I missed the great assembly of the workers. Like is this a symbol or what? Still, I’m not going to croak like a crow. This day was well worth it. And I’d like to think that my sinking feeling that Macronism is inevitable is one of those momentary internal surrenders that happens with those of us who are prone to mainlining the news for breakfast. Which, don’t do.