The symbolic counts in politics. At the beginning of February, while the French took to the streets to oppose a pension reform that they consider unfair, its promoter, Emmanuel Macron, awarded, with the utmost discretion, the highest distinction of the Republic, the Legion of Honor, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and third richest man on the planet, According to the magazine Forbes. The ceremony did not even appear on the presidential agenda. Nobody had to know. If so, what would the irreducible and refractory Gauls have thought of their president and his conception of the common good? He, who has declared war on tax evasion, and who is labeled by his detractors as “president of the rich” for that small detail of having abolished the tax on large fortunes as soon as he came to power. He, who in the previous five years of his solemnly promised not to fall into the low considerations of the realpolitik and “revalue” the Legion of Honor. Would the French remember that the president’s ethical commitment to the nation lasted two days and that shortly after the Egyptian dictator Al Sisi left the Elysee with the medal hanging from his tuxedo? When in doubt, better to be discreet.
The news, revealed exclusively for the magazine Le Point Last week, it has set fire to the networks and low-key gatherings. As a Macron minister said when he was still defending the reform of the Legion of Honor: “the French are very sensitive to the ideal of greatness of national decoration embodied in its motto, honor and homeland”. A sensitivity that, after months of social mobilization, has mutated into enormous anger, giving the opposition, particularly the left, a new argument to criticize Jupiter. “Macron grants the Legion to Bezos, world exploiter. The president’s doctrine: punish all French people, reward billionaires.” tweeted the communist deputy Fabien Roussel. Macron decorated Bezos with the Legion of Honor, which “rewards eminent merits acquired on behalf of the nation.” His most outstanding merits of him? Amazon does not pay taxes in France. But in the macronía everything is for sale. Even honor”, wrote François Rufin, a leading figure on the left.
Macron décore Jeff Bezos of the legion d’honneur, “recompense des mérites eminents acquis au titre de la Nation”.
Your eminent merits? Amazon ne paye pas d’impôt sur les sociétés en France. Mais en Macronie tout s’achète pour les nouveaux seigneurs. Meme l’honneur.
— Francois Ruffin (@Francois_Ruffin) February 28, 2023
Beyond the political reactions, the Bezos award is shocking for several reasons. No matter how many jobs the businessman has created in France, we are talking about the person responsible for having suffocated small businesses and contributed to developing a vision of work based on precariousness and exploitation, with methods worthy of the crudest dystopias, as the journalist narrated Jean-Baptiste Malet in In the domains of Amazon. An assumed libertarian with philanthropic whims, but who does not pay taxes in the countries where he develops his lucrative activity, and whose useless space trips, designed for the exclusive enjoyment of a handful of millionaires, are highly polluting. “In 10 minutes, Bezos and his three clients will emit 75 tons of CO2 each. There are a billion people on Earth who do not reach these emission levels in their entire lives,” economist Lucas Chancel tweeted in 2021.
In 10 minutes, Bezos and his three clients will blow up 75 tons of CO2. 10 minutes. Sur terre il ya un milliard de personnes qui n’atteignent pas ces niveaux d’émissions sur une vie entière.
— Lucas Chancel (@email@example.com) (@lucas_chancel) July 20, 2021
Apart from the obvious problem of casting, the moment chosen by Macron could be interpreted as yet another show of contempt for the real suffering of citizens. France has been involved in the most controversial reform of this legislature for months. A social response in which citizens demand the exact opposite of the neoliberal vision promoted by the tycoon whose employees cannot even take a five-minute break to go to the bathroom: to be able to work and retire with dignity. And if possible on this Earth.
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Jeff Bezos, hero of the country (in secret)