Macron med en känsla för historia

Han kom från ingenstans och på söndag blir han Frankrikes nye president – den yngste i den femte republikens historia. Det är bara tre år sedan tog han emot ett telefonsamtal där han fick erbjudandet att bli ekonomiminister i president François Hollandes turbulenta administration. Det har varit en snabb resa.

Under hans valkampanj väcktes frågan om vad han egentligen tror; vad som är hans ideologi. När man läser det Macron har sagt framkommer det att det faktiskt finns något som har haft ett stort inflytande på hans sätt att se världen och hur han kommer att regera: hans intresse för historia.

Ett exempel på det är från en intervju med Ben Judah från The Times, där Macron sa att i det franska politiska systemet saknas det en kung som folket egentligen aldrig ville skulle försvinna. Frankrike har sedan revolutionen alltid försökt att fylla det tomrummet – från Napoleon till De Gaulle.

I den första TV-debatten mellan de olika presidentkandidaterna i den första valomgången hamnade Macron i ett intressant utbyte med Marine Le Pen. När Macron attackerade hennes nationalistiska retorik hänvisade han till sitt uppväxtområde, Amiens, som ligger i Somme-regionen vilket under första världskriget var skådeplatsen för några av mänsklighetens mest blodiga strider. Han har vid flera tillfällen lyft upp det som en av anledningarna till varför han är en stark anhängare av det europeiska projektet.

I hans tal vid Humboldtuniversitetet i Berlin talade han om Europa och historien:

”Because this European ethic cannot exist without France and Germany. The European project is based on the Franco-German reconciliation. There is a cultural dimension in the broadest sense, that we should never forget: countries and people who killed each other now work together. It is because we do not think in the same way, because our immediate interests sometimes differ, because we share a history made of bloody conflicts, that we need each other and that Europe needs us together.”

Edward Hadas skrev ett intressant inlägg för Center for International Governance Innovation om hur Macron formades intellektuellt:

”Before he was a politician, before he was a banker, before he was a high-flying civil servant, Emmanuel Macron was a budding intellectual. What the front-runner for the French presidency learned from studying the philosophy of history helps to explain his vision of France and of Europe. The lessons could also bring clarity for other countries.

The teacher was Paul Ricœur, one of the more impressive French philosophers of the twentieth century. Macron not only gets an acknowledgement in the master’s last big book, Memory, History, Forgetting, published in 2000, but he also wrote an impressively coherent summary of the 650-page work for a French intellectual journal.

Obviously, there is a great distance between Ricoeur’s complex reflections on, among many other things, the absent and present past, and Macron’s often vapid political speeches. Still, a close reading of the public utterances of the former economy minister suggests he has retained something from those formative years.”

Han fortsätter:

”Until well into this widely watched election campaign, history was one of the topics on which Macron went beyond enthusiastic platitudes. He risked controversy by declaring that during the Algerian War of Independence French forces committed what would today be called crimes against humanity. His later visit to Oradour-sur-Glane, the site in 1944 of one of the worst mass civilian killings in France, was a controversial historical gesture. Some of the soldiers involved in that massacre were Frenchmen drafted into the German army. They were pardoned in 1953, despite strong protests.

Of course, Macron’s team is trying to create a contrast with his opponent in Sunday’s election, Marine Le Pen. Her family and its National Front party have long espoused a noxious telling of French history. The story they tell has no problem with anti-Semitism and glosses over French collaboration with the occupying German forces in World War II. It treats the loss of Algeria as a national disgrace.

However, political combat aside, when Macron said in Wednesday night’s television debate that Le Pen is proposing an “exit from history,” audiences got a glimpse into his intellectual formation. Macron’s comment expressed one of Ricoeur’s main points: the only way to put the past truly behind us is to accept it. Acceptance requires recognition of the full historical truth, both the grand and the disgraceful.”

Macrons känsla för historia påverkar hans syn på kristendom och islam. The Economist publicerade häromdagen ett blogginlägg under rubriken ”France, secularism and religion”.

I blogginlägget skriver man:

”France’s new President, Emmanuel Macron, seems to have a rather similar sensibility. In one of his most detailed pronouncements about history, religion and the state, a speech in Montpellier last October, he waxed eloquent on the subject of Protestant-Catholic warfare half a millennium ago:

”France was given up to fire and bloodshed, she experienced famine, she experienced the worst of things, she was nearly chopped up in pieces forever because of the decision…to exclude, to brand one party as guilty and annihilate  them…”

The “excluded” party to which he referred were the Protestants. Like many of his historically-minded compatriots, Mr Macron reveres the memory of King Henri IV, who was tactically flexible about his own religious identity and affirmed confessional tolerance. And he regards with horror the darker moments of French religious history, such as the mass expulsion of Protestants in 1685.

For all his cerebral intensity, Mr Macron was not giving a history lesson for its own sake. His aim was to warn his compatriots not to repeat the mistakes of the Middle Ages. Just as it was wrong and inexpedient for medieval France to demonise the Protestants, so too it would be wrong for today’s politicians to demonise Islam or its followers.

Although he accepted that Islam was a unique subject of concern in today’s France, he was equally adamant that no religion was in itself a problem. The purpose of France’s regime of laïcité  (strict secularism) was not “to conduct a battle against this or that religion in particular, not to exclude, not to point a finger…” As he conceived it, the function of laïcité was not to curb religion but to affirm and underpin religious freedom, albeit strictly within the framework of the law. That last sentiment is more characteristic of American church-state separation than of French secularism in its most zealously anti-clerical form.”

Givet att Macron har hamnat i centrum för global politisk diskussion är det förvånande att hans teorier om fransk och europeisk historia har väckt så lite intresse. Analyserar fokuserar på att han avvisar gamla politiska doktriner, men de har inte undersökt vad som formar honom istället.

Mycket av vad som kommer att hända efter söndag är uppe i luften, men det vi vet är att Macron är en man formad av historien i en tid av historia. Det kommer att bli spännande att följa honom.

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