Logically enough, everything is proceeding in concert. At the very moment of Macron’s election, we discover that La Poste [French post office] is enriching its range of services with a "Check in on my parents" offer, starting at €19.90 a month (there’sseveral options: 1, 2, 4 or 6 visits a week). The person tasked with this will doubtless no longer be called an "agent" (so impersonal and bureaucratic, they’ll say); we will see if La Poste goes as far as calling them "the family friend." They will pop round, have a coffee, and send a little text message to keep the relatives updated. In short — as the prospectus itself says — it "maintains the social bond." In summary: just to maintain the social bond alone costs €19.90 a month. And for a concrete social bond (6 visits a week) it’s €139.90. Even so, ultimately the same also holds for living together.
The fact that Macron adopts this position is a reflex, it is not something he has thought about doing. Everyone is the child of their own time and the circles they move in. That is the cost of his youth: for this generation has known nothing other than the hegemony of American visuals, an unconscious domination that has become like second nature. And the Finance Inspectorate, or banking is also a mental ecosystem in which the United States, the parent company, takes the code name "globalisation."
In any case, what sticks out amidst this mass vote is a feeling of absurdity. The absurdity of a mechanism that brings to power a man we know nothing about, and who has grounded his success precisely in his capacity to say nothing (the back cover of his book Révolution has not one line of text, but just a full page photo of Macron himself). The absurdity of a system that gives a crushing majority to such a man, in order to avoid a danger that is largely imaginary. Most of all, the absurdity of a focus on elections that we all feel have nothing to do with our lives, and which we all feel are playing out on a sort of flying carpet, above our heads.
Macron is the name of a crisis of any politics that purports to "represent" political orientations in an electoral space. That clearly owes to the fact that the earthly disappearance of the communist hypothesis and its parties has little by little made the truth about parliamentarism apparent: namely, that ultimately it only "represents" small nuances in the dominant consensus around neoliberal capitalism — and not any alternative strategy. The far Right, in the brutal style of Donald Trump or the renovated Pétainism of Marine Le Pen, profits from this situation, since although it stands totally within that consensus it is alone in giving off the appearance of being on the outside.
This year sees the Golden Jubilee of Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Both are darkly pessimistic texts that speak to our times. They pinpoint the shortcomings of the 1960s generation as much as embody its utopian desires. They transmit a strange optimism, a backdoor sense of hope, and offer another take on what our lives might be.
In this essay Andy Merrifield, author of The Amateur, looks at the importance of these texts on their 50th Anniversary.