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Correspondence: Church and State and the Macron Plan

24 April 2018

Date Line: Paris 18 : 04: 2018 It was hoped that this day would be a day like any other—a day of traffic congestion and choking chlorofluorocarbons. But this was the day that Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron the President of France would make a journey to secure his reactionary plan for government. To be sure the route he had chosen was the traditional route for political opportunists and reactionaries—to cross Paris to sit by the right hand of the cardinal—to gesture to one of the central myths of the ancien régime—that the poor only respect those who rule like Richelieu and not those who think and act like Diderot. But behind the smiles and handshakes the question was raised: would Marcon’s wager on rapprochement between church and state—win? A lot of ground has yet to be covered before that can be decided. We know now which “free riders” can be relied on to help Marcon to cross the line to a trade union free future. These are of course his former investment banker colleagues who have no problem cheering on the president’s police as they use their billy clubs against workers and students. The question is now—how much can the Catholic Church be relied upon to support the regime as it attempts to crush organized labour?

In 1905 Voltaire’s Enlightenment finally came to pass: the Church and the state would be separated. Now in the twenty first century what is the ethical basis for both to exist in a new uncivil partnership? That conversation—about the political role of the church in a secular state began across the family dinner table. The upshot: The catholic patriarch and catholic matriarch shamefully demonstrated their indifference to the LGBT members of their own families and took to the streets to deny them their civil rights. But as the laity in the United States and Ireland have demonstrated it is more ethical—not less ethical to support a movement for civil rights than to join a movement to deny them.

LGBT citizens with or without catholic backgrounds should not need any lectures in history as to what can follow when minorities loose, or are deprived of their human rights by the (religious) majority. And again the stakes are high. In choosing to follow the church’s recommendation to vote for Emanuel Marcon rather than Le Pen many Catholics took pride in refusing rule by Le Pen and the Front National. But to support the plan Macron to defeat the organized working class—this will without doubt bring fascist rule closer, as their will be no significant politically organized force to stop it.

Today we live in a world of advanced communication and steep learning curves—where a moribund morality becomes an active ethics and an active ethics becomes the politics of radical social change. It is not difficult to learn what can be done to avoid Vichy 2.0—to innovate and implement—to move from a theology that oppresses—to a liberation theory of the oppressed. To understand that defeating fascism does not simply mean moving “from the Tridentine Creed to Trotskyism” (Terry Eagleton) but to accept that believing the former does not mean rejecting the unavoidable truths of the latter: that the organized working class and its allies are the only political force that has the capacity to defeat fascism.

Gerry Fitzpatrick

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