In the first of a three-part series on the French presidential election, political activist Jacques Cheminade recently took time out from his busy schedule to speak with Uncovered Politics about his bid to unseat President Nicolas Sarkozy. Waging his second campaign for the presidency in seventeen years, the 70-year-old Cheminade is one of ten candidates competing in the first round of balloting on Sunday, April 22.
A retired career officer in the Directorate of Foreign Economic Relations of the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry, the longtime associate of self-styled U.S. economist and perennial presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr., has made the twin goals of reinstating a French version of Glass-Steagall and creating a national credit or banking system to finance much-needed public infrastructure projects the centerpiece of his seemingly long-shot candidacy.
Billing himself as a “left-wing Gaullist” while running on the LaRouche-affiliated Solidarity and Progress Party, the amiable, Buenos Aires-born candidate predicted the current global financial crisis as early as 1995 and promises to wage war on what he calls “the destructive and predatory global financial oligarchy” — the large financial institutions on Wall Street and in the City of London responsible for Europe’s ever-deepening debt crisis. One of his first acts as President of France, he says, will be to launch a Pecora Commission-style investigation similar to the widely-watched inquiry conducted by relatively obscure Senate lawyer Ferdinand Pecora, the gutsy “hellhound of Wall Street,” in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash, thereby paving the way for the Glass-Steagall Banking Act and the other sweeping financial reforms of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
1) Assuming that the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall and the establishment of a national banking or credit system are among your top priorities, can you briefly describe the “five pillars” of your campaign? Given the fact that several other presidential candidates, including the Left’s Jean-Luc Melenchon and the Socialist Party’s Francois Hollande, have also come out in favor of a Glass-Steagall type policy that would separate commercial banking from investment banking, how does your program differ from those advocated by some of your rivals? My candidacy is not a mere list of items to catch some voters as others do, but a political platform to defeat the City of London and its Wall Street affiliates and restore a world of mutual development among people and nations. That’s from that standpoint that I’m pushing since 2008 together with Lyndon LaRouche for a Glass-Steagall like dismantling of big banks. On both sides of the Atlantic, banks’ accounts are full of worthless debts that must be liquidated according to a bankruptcy reorganization procedure; that is the only way to protect ourselves from the otherwise inevitable collapse of the financial system. Separating banks is the key to establishing a public credit system that would provide funding for long term investment in public services, science and infrastructures.
3) What has been the most enjoyable aspect of your campaign so far? Are there any humorous incidents that you would care to share with our readers? The media tries to misinform the people about me and my program but it is now backfiring against them, mainly because more and more people are upset by such treatment and are looking for what I’m really representing. But there is another aspect: for example, the media wanted me to repudiate my friendship with LaRouche by showing his “moustache” campaign against Obama, pretending he is an extremist attacking a nice and progressive US president. So it turned out to be a great opportunity to expose how financial fascism is at play in the United States with Obama and his Wall Street crowd organizing bank bail-outs, cuts in public and social services, a health policy excluding the poor and suffering, a policy of targeted assassination and NDAA kidnapping, etc., all issues that were not known from the French media!
4) How does this presidential campaign differ from the one that you waged in 1995? Do you feel that French voters are treating your campaign more seriously this time around? We’ll see with the voting results, but despite massive efforts deployed to prevent my ideas from being known by the general population, the anger among people against the elites may create a difference. A new aspect in the campaign is the existence of internet, as a tool to put pressure against the established medias and spread ideas directly to the population.
5) In 1995, you accurately predicted the current global financial crisis. What specifically did you say back then and to what extent was “casino capitalism” to blame for the financial meltdown? Whatever is the value pinned on a monetary asset, it remains a monetary asset, that is a fictitious asset. From that standpoint, any society where money is not created as a political instrument to feed a physical economic growth based on human mind creative powers in art and science, is doomed to fail. Thus, I said in 1995 that the focus of public policy should be to prevent this “speculative cancer” of real-estate, derivatives and offshore money laundering, from leading us to a general collapse of our societies.
6) The Economist magazine once described you as a candidate of the far left, but other publications have described you as a “right-winger.” How would you personally describe your politics? I read that you recently described yourself as a “left-wing Gaullist.” For readers in the United States who are unfamiliar with Charles de Gaulle and the Resistance, could you briefly explain what that means? First, I must say that if I was considering seriously all these stickers that has been put on me, I would not know who I am anymore! Being a left-wing Gaullist is bringing together great statesmanship with social utopia, as was also Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Today, the objective of a left-wing Gaullist is to crush the rule of financial oligarchy while promoting social justice and people’s sovereignty through scientific and artistic progress for each and all.
7) What are your personal views of Nicolas Sarkozy and why do you think it would be a disastrous mistake for the French electorate to give him a second term? Sarkozy is nobody and anybody. He is made out of rubber; he has no inner strength and is thus unable and unwilling to fight against the financial elites that own him. In that sense, he is like President Obama.
8) Warning that spending cuts were necessary if France is to avoid the sort of financial difficulties currently experienced by Spain, President Sarkozy recently promised to slash public spending by $52 billion (EUR 40 billion) while raising $17.6 billion (EUR 13.5 billion) in new taxes to help erase public indebtedness by 2016. How will those spending cuts affect ordinary citizens and the poor? Moreover, in the face of a worldwide economic depression, why are so many European leaders fixated on deficits and spending cuts? Austerity, as you are well aware, is a recipe for disaster. I have been attacked for defending the “Obamoustache,” but here in Europe, the Greek elders who fought fascism during WWII are denouncing the EU-IMF-ECB policy as being similar to the Nazi occupation. The ones who are obsessed with balancing budgets don’t dare to lead the offensive against the financial enemy.
9) In 2007, you endorsed the Socialist Party’s Ségolène Royal. What led you to make that endorsement? According to recent news reports, Ms. Royal and Francois Hollande have recently buried the hatchet. Would you consider supporting Mr. Hollande against President Sarkozy if you fail to qualify for the second round? As I said publicly and repeatedly, I would personally vote for Hollande only if he shows real intent and personally vows to fight against the City of London and Wall Street, if not I will vote blank. Whoever wins, I will be his worst opponent if he fails to take the required measures against financial interest, and his best promoter if he dares to do so.
10) What is your opinion of Jean-Luc Melenchon’s economic program and why do you think that he has suddenly surged into third place in recent polls? He surged in the polls because of the increasing anger and also because some people thinks that by pushing him, it will weaken Hollande. But the guy is a real demagogue whose program is only a set of measures unable to face the real nature of the crisis we are in. He is faking because he pretends to fight for social justice, but he is opportunistically turning green, rejecting nuclear physics and nuclear energy to such a point that social justice would be impossible with his “geothermal energy.”
12) I’m sure you would agree that the austerity measures being imposed on Greece by the financial elites, including those calling the shots on Wall Street and in London — the same folks responsible for this global financial meltdown in the first place — are draconian in the extreme. Portugal, Spain and Italy are next. With the possible exception of Germany, in the end no European country will be spared. What can the citizens of Greece and other European nations do to resist the austerity measures imposed by the ECB and the IMF, and what specifically would you do as the President of France to lead Europe out of this debt crisis? We have to face that this crisis is not the result of bad luck but is the direct consequence of submission to the British-centered monetarist and financial empire. Thus, as president of France, I would fly first to Brussels (UE headquarters) to declare the French policy of bankruptcy reorganization of the banking system and the creation of a public credit system. Either some leading countries are responding and we do it together, or I would break out from the EU consensus as a maverick. Then I would fly to Washington, Moscow and Beijing to create a Eurasian alliance to defeat this monetarist empire and promote transcontinental projects and scientific partnership for world development.
This is, I am sure, what de Gaulle would have done today and what he did in 1963, when he rejected Britain’s oligarchic system out of the European Union.
Thank you, Mr. Cheminade.