From Rex: France - Understanding the Gilets Jaunes Uprising
Since getting banned from Twitter for the 80th time, Rex finally found a home to post. I remember reading he lived France for a long time, so he has a good perspective of what the real story is.
Many still understand France through the lens of Vogue magazine covers: a nation of affluent, happy people who live in elegant homes, with endless holidays, wine and food.
A 24/7 utopia of chic, elegance and style.
Important to note: that France does exist. It is the world of the French ruling class, less than 1% of the population.
This small group of citizens have dominated the business, banking, legal and political scenes for decades.
The ruling class comes from a small group of grandes ecoles, or elite colleges. There are only 3 or 4. The top of the top? L’Ecole d’Administration Nationale (ENA).
Emmanuel Macron’s journey is typical of the ruliing class. He completed a Master's of Public Affairs at Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris(called "Sciences Po"), the #2 elite college, before graduating from ENA in 2004, age 27. He then worked as a senior civil servant at the Inspectorate General of Finances (The Treasury), before getting a high paid gig ad an investment banker at Rothschild & Cie Banque.
See how fast Macron worked his way into the senior civil servant position in the Treasury, before flipping into an exclusive investment bank? That is normal in France. It's a never-ending protected cycle of patronage, promotion, favors and cronyism.
Here’s another French word: parachutage. It is normal for young ENA graduates to be "parachuted" into senior civil service positions at a very young age, some as young as 25 years of age, without even interviewing for positions.
Imagine this. You’re an American, working in a French corporation. You're a very talented executive with 20 years experience and stellar performance reviews. Suddenly, your boss’s position becomes available. You apply.
A week later, a 26 year old is sitting in your old boss’s chair. Your new boss has been "parachuted" into the position.
This happened to one of my best friends in France, a bi-lingual MIT/Stanford graduate with 21 years of superb work experience across the world.
The French kid? A graduate of ENA.
ENA has a complete stranglehold on the French state. Only 100 students graduate every year.
Set up by de Gaulle just after WW2, the original concept was sound - to pool students of extreme talent and ability in one place, in order to create a new civil service that could re-build France.
It worked. Very talented patriots flocked to enter ENA and within a decade, the new French civil service had successfully rehabilitated France as a leading nation-state. From 1946 through 1973, France experienced what they describe as their trente glorieuses, nearly 30 years of economic success.
But by 1970, ENA’s meritocracy had become a self-replicating elite caste - and a ticket to the French ruling class. Astonishingly, every French President since de Gaulle has been an ENA graduate, excepting Georges Pompidou, who attended Sciences Po. Eight of the last ten French Prime Ministers have been enarques. All key civil service/government departments are run by enarques. How about business? 84% of the 546 top executives in France’s 40 biggest companies are graduates of a handful of elite colleges. 48% come from ENA and Sciences Po.
Get it? If you want to be part of the French ruling class, graduate from ENA or Sciences Po.
Otherwise, screw you.
I can't imagine living there. I honestly think we'd be in the similar situation if Hillary had won.