For the far-left, attacking the vulnerable spots of the oligarchy is paradoxically taboo. Its wrath against the predatory elite is stereotypical and hides its open-secret counterpart, a trompe l’oeil justice system. Their ethos is to struggle, never to win : it’s a neurosis. We survey three inspirational leaders:once lawyer of Julian Assange, Juan Branco (ENS, Yale, ICC, Max Planck, MFA), the French Michael Moore, Denis Robert, and Marxist theorist and activist, Frédéric Lordon (CNRS, Sorbonne). We conclude that while Desmarais & Frère (Denis Robert’s villains) sit on top of the wealth pyramid, the three cited sit on top of the compassion pyramid, and that the two are in an equilibrium. They embody the status quo.
- 03/08: Conditions to repost specified in commentary.
The puzzle of white collar crime
§1 It has been 18 years that the NGO Anticor is active, they boast, to alert on their soon expiring habilitation by the ministry of justice (so much for their independence) to bring corruption cases to justice. Like that of the narcotics brigade, their action is visible and therefore presumed useful: both identify offences and suspects in their respective fields, and it is the judicial institution which takes care of the rest. Denis Robert supports Anticor with all his soul. Corruption negates democracy and is the catalyst of all ills of society, we should commend him for that. As if it were that simple!
§2 Let’s start with a reality check: is white collar crime under control? Readers who think the answer is ‘yes’ can stop reading. That should exclude those that swear by the best-seller of Juan Branco prefaced by Denis Robert, Crépuscule, as it debunks Emmanuel Macron’s election as a coup by French oligarchs. The question is rarely framed like this. At prime time, corruption is talked about as a case of “a few bad apples”. This goes against majority opinion[5, Introduction] and the few authoritative estimates that exist[8, p. 7] (between 1/4 and 1/3 of elected officials have come under inves tigation for corruption). Ironically, it’s a ritual the authors of the first book cited in this § have obliged with on air (10:45), in passing bashing the far right as if to repay the establishment for their crime of Lèse-majesté. Textbook cases of this ritual include the disgraced high profile intellectual Olivier Duhamel, the outgoing director of the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life, Jean Louis Nadal, and former Anticor and Transparency International affiliate Corinne Lepage (in her case resorting to glaring infantilization). In 2019, Denis Robert interviewed the VP of Anticor, Éric Alt, once affiliated with a Left-wing magistrates’ trade union, to talk about “corruption and behind the scenes of justice” . They took the view of the judiciary that defines the bargaining ground between the said trade union and the government, in other words conventional (lack of resources, of consideration, etc.). Let us remind ourselves Anticor is the child of a movement started by white-knights in the judiciary in the 1990s that took on crony notabilities, politicians and CEOs alike, fueling the non-fiction genre of which Crépuscule is the n-th exponent. The prevailing hindsight about that era, if one cares to look for thorough references, is that this democratic insurgency, so to speak, was foiled : the MOJ corrupted the course of justice, the legislator raised the bar to bring politicians to justice, and judges ruled against free press. Georges Kiejman and Jacques Toubon were key players of this act. They would become respectively darling of the left for turning coat on societal issues (gays & lesbians, migrants) as ombudsman, and champion of free press as lawyer of Charlie Hebdo.
§3 If white collar crime reigns supreme, where lies the flaw? According a certain lawyer turned academic, Vincent Le Coq, it’s by design, a thesis he has expounded in a book titled “Impunity: a two-tier justice” (which we sometimes find under the more eloquent title of “Impunities: a justice system hijacked”). As an expedient to picture his place in the French establishment, here’s an anecdote he told me : militant of the 1st hour for the 6th Republic–the left’s grand constitutional project, MP Cécile Untermaier auditioned him in secret as rapporteur of the (it turns out failed) reform of law professions. Its distinctive feature are an analysis of the rules, official and tacit, governing the relationship of the political and the judicial authority, rather than power (which got self-declared “révolutionnaire” MP Ugo Bernalicis into trouble). Formulated in 2017, this thesis is one of an institutionalized conspiracy whose history goes back to the French Revolution. Yet, it hasn’t piqued the curiosity of those who swear by Bildegberg and Le Siècle (once presided by Olivier Duhamel). Not in this book, are such catchy memes as “They are not corrupt, they are corruption” found in Crépuscule. The application of this line of thought to the acquittal of ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the Carlton de Lille affair was published in an op-ep in 2017. It received no commentary from Pascale Robert-Diard who had chronicled the trial for Le Monde, @Maitre_Eolas who writes a blog on justice once labeled “pro free speech” by Pascale Robert-Diard, or the outspoken victim of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Tristane Banon. . .
Neurosis of the far-left
§4 Philosopher-king for some, guru of the French version of Occupy movement for others, Frédéric Lordon embodies, like Sartre, the committed intellectual. Some cues about his ethos: although on the state’s payroll as a researcher, he shied away from the Great Debate (Macron’s answer to the Yellow Vests’s protests), by way of a vitriolic response to Macron (an act greeted with laughter and applause) . His highly conceptual body of work encompasses economics, sociology and philosophy. None of that and his militancy address two-tier justice (a euphemism for those that know what it is), except by detour. Take the example of management by terror of France Telecom that caused a wave of suicides: they were sanctioned by suspended sentences against its leaders. Le Monde called it a “penal turning point”. There exists an unfortunate precedent (the one about Strauss-Kahn, already cited) and one may surmise they were at it again for France Telecom. Frédéric Lordon has devoted a long post to the issue, but in order to put the “sociopaths” of neoliberalism on trial. Are there not in the judiciary, agents in key positions that systematically pervert the course of justice in favour of the powerful? The Yellow Vests movement, 2018-2019, was a test case of the far left’s “readiness”. Photographer David Dufresnes became their darling for reporting police abuses that came with this caption: “Allô, Place Beauvau?” (the interior ministry’s HQ that would systematically cover-up abuses). Everyone with a microphone went along with the charade. The likes of Juan Branco and Frédéric Lordon got into a bashing contest (it’s not over) against the designated lightning rod, the prefect of police, Didier Lallemant. Penal law applies to all, and that battle should have been fought in court. It was long to come by, and remains marginal. In this regard, the Luc Ferry case is edifying. Why is Didier Lallemant on the pillory and not those who gave the police a license to mutilate protesters? The name of the rapporteur of the cited ruling is Edmond Honorat.
§5 The far left wishes death on the capitalist-oligarchy but, in significant ways, shoots themselves in the leg. It’s a neurosis. Finding an explanation is complicated. In the past, the far left has produced terrorist organizations, so could the literature on counter-terrorism shed some light? According to a review of the field from 2008 terrorist organizations also come under the diagnosis of neuroris. The recognition thereof, has brought a shift in paradigm in modeling their raison d’être, from rational (called ‘strategic’) to social (‘natural’). To make a long story short, “Foot soldiers never develop a basic understanding of their organization’s political purpose”. The reason the cause serves as a pretext to fraternizing, which “appeals disproportionately to certain psychological types of people, namely, the socially alienated”. The far left would probably score some points against the strategic model in view of such “stable political demands” as the Solidarity tax on wealth and the Tobin tax. And crucially, some its values have become synonymous with political correctness. Regarding the natural model, the “bourgeois bohème” exemplified by our three specimen are anything but “socially alienated”. Evidently, fraternizing plays a role but the analogy with terrorist groups stops
there, leaving our enigma unresolved.
We only have their bodies to oppose to them, bodies that have suffered from their policies for years, bodies that have been crushed by their indifferenceJuan Branco, Paris Labor Exchange, 2019 (4:16)
§6 Awareness of the real purpose of an organization, or movement, is the privilege of the elite: let’s see about their motives. If Denis Robert was critical, he would question Anticor’s legitimacy. He would discover that their social composition is a corporation in league with the state. In particular, regulation grants exorbitant privileges to the legal professions. One thing leading to another, he would bring to light hidden parts of the mechanisms of social domination. What is preventing him? If Frédéric Lordon could support Mélenchon, it must be that France Insoumise and the far left have something in common. Its flagship program, the 6th Republic, promises direct democracy but misses out on the separation of powers (reminder: authority, not power). This was the subject of my post « The Hidden Lessons of the Bernalicis Commission », where Robert Badinter once again revealed himself as the watchdog of the oligarchy. Here again, what is blocking? Hypothesis #1: the submission of the judiciary to a supreme power is in the DNA of the far left, and it would be counterproductive to question such an institutional arrangement in a Neoliberal regime. Hypothesis #2: to threaten the corporation mentioned is to sign one’s death warrant. In this context, the demonization of crony capitalists by Denis-Robert & Juan Branco, would make them touts for France Insoumise, all the more effective it passes as investigative journalism (1).
§7 Regarding Frédéric Lordon: he sees himself as the heir of Karl Marx. Thomas Piketty had the bitter experience of it: he is hard core. A motive commensurate with his drive and ideal could be this: since destroying capitalism is what he desires above all, then that would justify depriving the people of avenues of emancipation below this objective, because it prolongs the capitalist reign. Compatible with that hypothesis, that of egotism. We know the price of touching a sensitive spot of the oligarchy from Julian Assange’s case. But if people were more curious, they would also know that, and more, from ruling of September 20, 2016 by the Court de Cassation, # 15-81.406. Skin in the game is the big foresaken commitment of the elite in the modern era. Frédéric Lordon is in a safe yet gratifying place to be. All he needs to do to secure it, is continue to entertain his followers with his vision of the Grand Soir, and for good measure hurl anathemas of facism to Didier Lallemant.
§8 Some values of the far left, those that pertain to tolerance, have gone mainstream. The catch, of course, is the establishment appropriated them. We know of servants of the oligarchy that were able to wipe their slate clean just by wearing them with the active complicity of leftist journalists. In parallel, the far left maintains a narrow, and stereotyped, view of what constitutes the enemy of welfare. These include unassailable fortresses such as the European Commission. Abstractions, such as neoliberalism. And villains, such as Desmarais & Frère (Denis Robert’s villains) and Didier Lallemant. If one deems that the machine is going in circles, then one must think outside of the box (something Frédéric Lordon would say). People are expected to believe the courts uphold the law, but what if that was a deception? Then democracy would be servitude, which is an impression vaguely accepted by everyone. We have tried to show from different angles that it is indeed the vocation of the judiciary to corrupt democracy. People are not completely fooled, but all the forces of society, Frédéric Lordon who reduces the matter to affects, Anticor that entertains the illusion of checks and balances, prevent them from connecting the dots. The extreme left’s complacency towards itself can have several reasons: an ideological hang-up (Jacobin), elite-capture, and, in the case of France Insoumise, the calculation that caution is golden. In this framework, Juan Branco and Denis Robert’s dumbing down demonization of the capitalist-oligarchy makes perfect sense.
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sous la Vè République. French. Nouveau Monde éditions, 2014.
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- Alt, Éric Anticor.
- Assange, Julian Wikileaks.
- Badinter, Robert .
- Banon, Tristane .
- Bernalicis, Ugo National Assembly.
- Branco, Juan Paris bar.
- Dufresnes, David .
- Duhamel, Olivier Sciences Po Law School.
- Ferry, Luc .
- Honorat, Edmond Conseil d’État.
- Kiejman, Georges Paris bar.
- Lallemant, Didier Ministry of Interior.
- Le Coq, Vincent Université Toulouse 2
- Lordon, Frédéric Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.
- Macron, Emmanuel French presidency.
- Mélenchon, Jean-Luc National Assembly.
- Nadal, Jean Louis Judiciary.
- Piketty, Thomas École des hautes études en sciences sociales.
- Robert-Diard, Pascale Le Monde.
- Robert, Denis .
- Strauss-Kahn, Dominique .
- Toubon, Jacques .
- Untermaier, Cécile National Assembly.
(1) In 2019, on the YT channel Thinkerview, at 20:00, Denis Robert claims the “heist” of public utility Gaz de France by Desmarais & Frère (the predators in this book by the same name) in 2007 was behind a 120% hike [in the price of residential heating powered by gas] in the six to seven years that followed. It’s highly unlikely the regulator would cover-up fraud and he leaves that in the dark. A mere glance at https://www.ecologie.gouv.fr/tarifs-gaz and one realizes there are other reasons way more likely behind a price hike.
(2) The picture is from here.