Macron and the Air France Experience

On an Air France flight from Paris to Latin America, the plane is full, mostly with working class Latinos, going home for Christmas to spend a few festive days with their families and friends. They have worked hard to save their money for the trip. The plane is old and decrepit. Has no properly working entertainment system and that on a trajectory of over 12 hours without interruption. Who cares. Management knows that the humble passengers won’t complain. Anyway, they are under-people. Let’s reserve the better and newer planes for classier people. They pay better, are better clients. Isn’t that the thinking behind such decisions? Of course, it is. It’s the greed-driven maximizing profit scheme to the detriment of the population. It’s not just AF, it’s everywhere. Everywhere you look and are touched by a corporate giant. We, the people, are not even sheeple anymore; we are silenced. We are not asked, not consulted, whether we agree to be photographed and face-read at every corner. It’s just the way it is. It’s intimidation by control, by over-control, and by cattle treatment. In this, the French and the US TSA (Transportation Security Administration) are not far apart.

For airport security, you are pushed through what I call a “naked-machine”  Though they tell you that it’s not true, that nobody sees anything other than potential drugs or weapons hidden in human crevices. Well, if they see crevices, they must see you naked. Behind the scene hidden away in some dark room are the machine operators, they see every human passing through it naked, balls, vagina, breasts and all. Imagine, the absurdly obscene, pathological imagination of those operators and those who command them!

A machine, a robot of sort, disposes over you. If you don’t conform, you are just left behind, or harassed no end, you may literally lose your plane or connection. Cases of the US TSA abound – some of them are violent and are brought before a court – but in most cases to no avail. The ‘system’ is always right. And mind you the system is a private system.  It’s not even state owned.  It’s  outsourcing and privatization “Über Alles”. But no protests à la Yellow Vests. We are conveniently silenced. It’s Macron “Über Alles” – sounds like déjà vu? Well, yes. It is.  Neofascism is undeniable.

Yes, that’s the way the ordeal begins. Actually, it begins earlier – at the check-in, for example. AF weigh your luggage by the kilo, and while some agents are a bit more lenient than others, if you are unlucky it hits you having a kilo in excess. Either you somehow dispose of it or reshuffle it to hand luggage which also has a limitation of weight, you are charged the fee for an extra luggage. What to do?  You are at the airport. They have a captive “market”, because this money-profit centered “market” system has the power over you. You are at the airport, you have to fly, you charge this horrendous extra fee to your credit card, or else you are left behind; no scruples. That’s Macron 101. No concessions. And the French employees are well trained, lest they may lose their badly paid, but nevertheless vital jobs. You want to survive – bend over. No solidarity, no empathy, just hardball. Le Roi Macron says so. And you better obey — or else — but the ‘or else’ has now suddenly gotten a yellow face – the Yellow Vests. We can just hope that they will propel the finance-mafia dictator into his overdue abyss.

Next, boarding the plane – an elderly passenger visibly with a hurting leg, kindly asked the flight assistant, alias the “cattle guard”, whether he could go through with the privileged ‘frequent flyers’, those who have given the company enough money to justify an extra discriminatory favor. She refuses. He insists, she refuses – until a man behind tells her, for human’s sake, please let him through. She hesitantly nods, then lets him go through.

What does all that have to do with Macron? – Everything. The sort of de-humanized civil behavior is what he instills in people, in corporations. Greed first, everything else, like solidarity, is not even second, it’s of no value. The young who want so desperately rto cling to their slave-paid jobs, have to obey, or else they may lose their employment. But now it’s gone too far. Enough is enough. The Yellow Vests represent every industry, every citizen, every abject Macron law; they want to reverse the wheel, à la French Revolution. Enough is enough. Enough privileges for the rich and powerful. Even on the planes.

In ‘economy’, where the cattle is herded, those who saved hard to afford a trip to see their families, rows are getting narrower and narrower. Over time your legs get cramped; an increased risk of thromboses that can be deadly, especially when it happens on 10,000 meters altitude, far from an airport, above the sea. This, of course, is quite different for those on first, business or economy plus class. They have more space, sit comfortably, and their entertainment system works fine even on an old decrepit plane. Proper maintenance for the rich and beautiful, neglect for the “less beautiful” populace.

When I complain about the inoperable entertainment system (ES), the chief of cabin arrives. He promises to see what he can do. After a while he returns with a tablet-screen full of my previous AF flights. I’m a good customer. So, he discretely offers me to be placed on an economy-plus seat, where the ES works. He whispers, you are a good customer, so we will do something for you. Amazing in an overcrowded plane he finds an unoccupied seat. I go and look at it – and as soon as they – the flight attendants for the better people – see me, they say, “Sir, the bathrooms are in the rear”. When I tell them that the cabin chief offered me a seat in their section, their tone changes: “Sir, can we offer you a glass of Champaign?” I’m disgusted, but politely decline, deciding to stay with my kind of ‘cattle’. I prefer reading and writing – like this little essay – among my same-sakes. And am happy about it.

The cabin chief was admittedly nice. He fulfilled his duty, keeping a relatively ‘good customer’ happy, I have to admit. I’m fodder for the ‘maximizing profit’ doctrine. Yet, due to his friendly smile and body language, I give him the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully, not all those who have to make a living off the neoliberal Macron and greed driven money machine, have lost their innermost identity. That’s the cloud’s silver lining. That’s the remaining hope to build on. Hope is the last glow that dies.

Food service used to be decent with AF. No longer. They don’t have you pay for it yet, but it is almost inedible. But then, I think of the millions of Yemenis, who thanks to the western and Macron-supported killing machine, are suffering and dying from famine. So, I eat my portion happily. As a parenthesis, according to the UN, about 85,000 children below age 5 perished through the satanical Saudi-US-UK-French led war of horror. Most of the children died from famine and cholera induced diseases. I was thinking of those big eyed and skeleton-like bodies, too weak to stand, let alone walk, destroyed for life from famine.

What does that have to do with Macron? Everything, of course. Macron’s Airforce helped the crime regime of the Saudis bombing Yemen, a poor but proud people, to bits and pieces; to kill possibly hundreds of thousands – nobody counts – mainly children and women. Macron, siding with the elite – he surely has no reason whatsoever to bomb Yemen – helped the ‘allies’ of crime destroy an entire nation. He, of course, is not alone, but accompanied by the best and the brightest of the western allies, even Germany – which, according to their non-aggression treaty (remnant of the WWII Armistice arrangement) is not allowed to participate in any conflict hostility emanating from her territory except, of course, if the Master of the treaty orders it.

The Yellow Vests want Macron out. Macron has become the enemy of the people. Literally. He is probably proud of it, because that’s testimony enough that he works for the rich and powerful, that he accomplishes the tasks he has been slanted and put in office for, with less the 25% of eligible votes. He lied, promising change, but change that benefitted the people. Change to the detriment of the people is what he implemented. The result is an equation of dynamics, the right has not thought of. Well, thanks god for these dynamics; they brought about the storming of the Bastille in 1789, and a transformation of much of the world. Though, granted, not all that came out of the French Revolution has persevered. The rich and powerful have an unlimited and insatiable stock of wealth to draw upon. Never mind that it’s stolen wealth.  As long as they dispose of it and are able to defend it with brute military and police power, they command.

And so, the merry-go-round continues. Air France will play the game; they have to. They are bound into the system, along with French corporatism. The name of the game is intimidation. “Inconvenient”, not-playing-by-the-rules staff are being dismissed. Of the face reading / passport machines, only one out of three is operable, causing long queues. Out of about 20 customs booths, only two are occupied by an agent. Macron saves at the cost of stressed passengers, who have to spend precious time in long lines, risking literally missing their connection planes.

But the Big shots don’t care. The populace’s time is worth peanuts.  It’s like slave time. In any case, you have to go through ‘the system’.  If not, screw you. You remain stranded.

Good riddens, Mr. Macron, very good riddens – to never appear again on the horizon. Vivent les “gilets verts”!

Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he worked for over 30 years around the world. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals and is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed; and  co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)  Peter is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and is also a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Chongyang Institute of Renmin University, Beijing. Read other articles by Peter.