La Découverte Poche, 222 pages, 12 euros.
TheEconomic articles written by Romaric Godin in Mediapart Among the most interesting available, his references to Marx are frequent. In this work he aims to explore the economic sources of the authoritarian transformation of regimes generally described as democratic, and especially France which is the main target of his thinking.
On the ideological level, neoliberalism seems to be the main responsible for this development. He remembers that economic liberalism, in contrast to the liberal doctrine of the nineteenth century, is not a permanent opponent of state intervention in the economy. On the contrary, for the neo-liberals, the state must intervene when it is necessary to allow the market to function and carry out the necessary reforms for this purpose. The distinction between liberalism and neoliberalism makes it possible to avoid a certain number of errors of analysis: in particular, those who saw in the hundreds of billions spent during the pandemic a shift of Macron to Keynesianism. In fact, it was only about saving the private enterprise: Macron at no time questioned one of the structural reforms that had already been carried out (labor measures, abolishing the ISF, reducing the APL, etc.) and was always ready for it. Reboot the machine as soon as possible (see unemployment insurance reform, upcoming pensions).
Godin has been classified as a “hybrid” of the French economic and social system until recent years. Neoliberalism did not have the same “depressing” effect in France as elsewhere because it had to come to terms with stubborn social and political resistance. For Godin, the French state was, until recently, not a capitalist state but rather a somewhat neutral polity. This analysis of the state is undoubtedly the most important limitation of his book. If the system remained a “hybrid”, then because of strong social resistance the capitalist state, from which the ruling “elites” had turned to neo-liberalism for decades, could not completely collapse due to strong social resistance.
Describes the change in situation from the 2008-2009 crisis: the neo-liberals are intent on launching their offensive and will indeed do so from 2015 (the Khomri Act under Hollande) and especially from the Macron presidency. The leaders are now determined to break the resistance. For this, two methods are implemented. First, the extensive use of the police tool. Then, turning away from the economic and social debate by raising the debate about immigration, secularism, wakiya, Islamic leftism, etc. Social war gets tougher, and thus the state becomes more autocratic.
We have summarized here what seems to us to be the most interesting element of Romaric Godin’s book: the weakness of his analysis of the state (which is surprising to a good connoisseur of Marxism) has already been pointed out. The Labor Movement, Its Struggles, 1936, 1968 … All this is largely absent from his book.