Last updated on 28th July 2019
Supporter of Emmanuel Macron, the senior civil servant Jacques Attali believes that the Yellow Vests movement will persist. He notes the “pessimism” of a society where the middle and working classes no longer see a future for their children.
Invited to “Europe 1” on April 19th, Jacques Attali has once again donned his oracle costume, even if it means taking a few liberties with reality. The influential senior official, who has advised many governors since the accession to power of François Mitterrand in 1981, Jacques Attali returned to the social movement of Yellow Vests on the eve of act 23.
Explaining first the resistance of the French in the sphere of food compared to the rest of the world – in terms of the duration of food in particular – Jacques Attali then embarks on a sociological analysis of France, as a rural country. Because of this rurality, Jacques Attali believes that France “does not evolve continuously but by revolutions”. However, if to believe the statistics of the World Bank, France is gradually urbanising with an urban population of nearly 80% in 2017 – a rate almost identical to that of the United States, and close to that of Germany, where 77% of the population is urban.
Trying to establish himself as a historian, the economist believes that “France [by its alleged rurality] makes revolutions but no reforms”. “So we have done a lot of revolutions in our history,” he added.
Asked about the Yellow Vests, Jacques Attali sees “the beginnings of what could be a revolution” because “it refers to deep anger”.
He describes France as a society that is “rich” but “pessimistic” because it is “very unfair”. As a result, he does not believe that the movement will end. “There is extremely deep, extremely justified anger that refers to the fact that the lower middle class feels hopeless and, above all, feels that its children have no future,” he argues. This reasoning may come as a surprise since it comes from a man who had fervently supported the “austerity turn” of the left-wing in 1983: the first jolts of this deep anger?