Macronism: The ideology of Emmanuel Macron


This article is a translation of the following French version : Qu’est-ce que le macronisme ?If you have comment to improve it, please contact me.

With the Emmanuel Macron’s victory to the French presidential election, I’ve wrote something like this:

With the rooster, France has a new emblem now: the weather vane.

Then, I have immediately deleted this little bit hostile tweet. Since, I has been tried to analyze objectivily the ideology under the « macronism » label, and I must confess that my tweet was not justified. This acknowledgement is not an endorsment of Emmanuel Macron politics, but the result of an analysis of the macronism as political ideology.

Inspired by Michel Freeden work, I define ideology like a set of concepts configure itselves arround one or more core concepts which is (are) decontest – i.e. substract of interpretative conflict on public sphere – by a social movement that claims those core concept(s) to and for its political orientation.

With this definition, macronism looks like a « particular ideology » as well as Emmanuel Macron is a singular leader. But to be honest… nothing of that is original. I think that every theorist who have perceived Emmanuel Macron as an emanation of a certain rawlsian liberalism or, on the contrary, like the incarnation of a bureaucratic populism make are partialy right, partialy wrong. The macronism is a synthesis of these both ideologies, but mainly the political denomination of the French managerialism (or managerial ideology).

By managerialism, I do not described an approach of management but an ideation by which management is a substitutable phenomenon for all decision-making practices and certain human interactions. Among them, managerialism pursues the idea that social determinisms or political passions distort the « good » public decision. Thus, the managerial ideology is characterized by several concepts, including the effectiveness of the decision.

Managerialism can be observed in macronism by its conceptual weakness. I don’t doubt that people can be sincerly « macronists », in a very similar way that people are thatcherists or reaganist. Nevertheless, these « macronists » people express their alligiance with words that have a low conceptual level. The issue is not a question to make history or having charism. Every ideology – even ideologies where a name is a core concept – adds automatically others concepts to precize the core(s) concept(s). For macronism, these adjacents concepts are cosmopolitism, europeanism, liberalism, alternativism, and … that’s all!

It is not very exhaustive, but it is not the main problem. These adjacent concepts are defined in a piecemeal way : Macron’s cosmopolitanism is not really tied to post-nationalism; his europeanism rarely invokes the federalist project; his progressivism is societal, but with limits like the no-recognition of cultural or regional minorities or the surragocy forbiden; his liberalism is narrowed to the economic sphere; and the pseudo-political alternation has promoted the same social elites.

There is a gap between representations and the political existence of macronism. This discrepancy is explained by a phenomenon which is quite common to particular ideologies the « legitimation ointment ». The legitimation ointment consists to cover the conceptual weakness of an ideology X by the concepts X’ – i.e. periphical concepts, often symbolical, ever simple – in order to increase the supporters. For example, Nicolas Sarkozy before the presidential election in 2007 was a right-wing liberal « à la française » who conceived that an economic and societal liberalism must be counterbalanced by a republicanism. To increase his supporters he tooked a peripheral concept of the right-wing republicanism: Caesarism, that carries itself several peripherical concepts as a centralized, strong and monistic state. The objective was to design an ideology competitive toward le Front national, the far-right party. Did this legitimation ointment made Nicolas Sarkozy a far-right tyrant ? Not more François Mitterrand became a communist…

Without this ointment, managerial ideology appears in every single statement of Emmanuel Macron. By example, Macron argues his right to govern with ordinances to because they allow to « accelerate the debate ». Facing accusation of autocracy, he said  that he wanted to use the ordinances only for fundamental reforms, such as labor law because only this tool is enable to reduce the expression of political passions and accelerate the debate to maximize the decision-making process. This quest of effectiveness and usuefulness  is the core of management ideology. Of course, Macron tries to apply an ideological ointment like « revolution », « progress » or other.

If it is so obvious, why a large part of French media, artists and intellectuals, and people with a political culture believe in the ointment rather than the ideology’s bases? In fact, nobody have been abused. They believe that Macron generates a renewal of political representation with a certain continuity. They hope that Macron will accelerate the end of the « old » politics and its eternal divisions. They define themselves as liberal in the board sense. In brief, they  endorsed the macronist managerial ideology without any doubt. The mistake about Macron has comitted by the same people who regret about their prodigy who  – once he had the suprem power – betrayed his intellectual references. But an ideology is not an intellectual pedigree, it is a set of representations and practices. And these representations and practices reflect more the management theory taught at the École nationale d’administration (ENA), in business schools and the concern of the management practiced everywhere rather than some expectations of high-normative theorists.

Macron is therefore not a weather vane, nor a a mere marketing phenomenon. The macronism is the doctrine of a fringe of the French elite which is despairing of politics but it still persuades that some « positive » values ​​transcend it, such as European integration, social progress, national union, etc. But these beliefs remain ancillary in comparison with the prospect of a « good » public management seen necessary among every policies, which one advocates utility and efficiency in the decision-making.


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