Introduction: the Covert-Obvious Favourite
The biography of the newly elected President of France Emmanuel Macron abounds with events and names that give rich food to the most intriguing speculations and conspiracy theories. If a curate from the Jesuit Order really planned the career and life of the future president, then this man clearly had a remarkable imagination and incredible connections. You can long and hard try to understand whose henchman Macron is, looking at his photographs with Baron David de Rothschild, Mark or Jacques Attali. You can savor the details of his romance with Brigitte Thornier, a schoolteacher for almost a quarter of a century older than him, or speculate about his sexual orientation.
My interest in his path came from a different perspective. A few years ago, I came up with the idea of comparing the career paths of past successful hires and current incumbents to identify new potentially successful candidates for any job that requires not only technical knowledge and skills, but also social adaptation.
It is difficult to imagine that the personal path of Macron will ever be replicated in the same sequence and on the same time schedule, but the key elements of this path can be revealed in the biographies of other people. Then it becomes clear whom should we bet on.
I called this essay Beloved Student not only for playing words, but also because in English the word “beloved” in this context also means “favourite.” Bets on ordinary favourites do not bring a big return, but there are special favorites, known only to a narrow circle of insiders. The bet on them, though it seems insane, is always well calculated and brings a dizzying return.
Although for the general public, Macron was in many ways a dark horse, for his teachers he has long been a favorite. What’s surprising: these teachers did not hide their enthusiasm for the student. Their testimonials, their steps to support him were quite public and accessible with the help of an Internet search. This information just did not interest anyone. So the first takeaway is: if you want to win in modern politics, hide all your secrets right in sight of everyone. By the way, this trick was repeated by the IT people of the election headquarters of Macron’s En Marche movement, when they flooded hackers with so much information that the latter simply did not have enough time or resources to get out of it something really hot, if it even happened to be there.
Nevertheless, I hope that the inquisitive reader after reading this essay will have an understanding of what to look for in the information about a candidate, and how to search for this something. The ability to notice the obvious is the key success factor in any field of human science. In advance I will say: the search should be contextual. Here I am attempting to analyze the path of Macron in the context of his teachers. So whose favorite was Emmanuel Macron?
The Jesuit School
In 1548, ten members of the then newly formed Society of Jesus founded the first Jesuit school in Messina, on the island of Sicily. Already in 1585 a Jesuit school was opened on the other side of the planet — in Macau. In France Descartes, Molière and Voltaire studied at Jesuit schools, and in Latin America the Jesuits built beautiful school buildings of stone and brick much earlier than the first serious educational institution was founded in the British colonies in North America.
When in 1773 the Society of Jesus was forbidden by the papal decree, the Jesuits administered 800 educational institutions scattered all over the world. With one stroke of the pen, the entire educational system was almost swept off the face of Earth, but when the society was recreated in the early 19th century, the Jesuits managed to restore and develop it with great success, especially in North America. I, for example, until I took up this opus, did not know that the word “Loyola” that is often found in the names of US universities is in honor of the most famous Jesuit Ignatius Loyola. The Jesuit educational institutions include the famous cradle of cadres for the US government service — the Georgetown University in Washington.
On the website of the Jesuit school Providence in Amiens in the section Famous Students there is only one name: Emmanuel Macron. In the section Famous Teachers the name is also one: Brigitte Macron (nee Tornier).
Comedy of Language
How would you at school age treat a student who instead of playing with classmates prefers to talk about something abstruse with teachers? And in adolescence ignores the courtship of female classmates, preferring books for girls? Boring? This, according to the responses of fellow students, was young Emmanuel Macron, who grew up under the enormous influence of his grandmother on the maternal line Manette — a teacher by vocation and a passionate book lover. “He never was a teenager,” — recalls a classmate. It seems that this is an utterly polite definition of a nerd, is not it?
In this context, it does not strike me as odd at all that the teacher, Bridget Tornier, who first got passionate about a talented student as a teacher, brought Emmanuel to the stage. Instinctively or knowingly, I do not know, but she wanted to develop his skills of public speaking as soon as possible, the skill that billionaire and philanthropist Warren Buffett calls his “most important diploma.” It is very likely that the charisma of Macron is not an innate trait at all, but a skill developed in him by a talented teacher.
In the play Comedy of Language written by one of the pioneers of the Theater of Absurd movement Jean Tardier fifteen-year-old Emmanuel plays the main role. And behind the scenes love breaks out between the student and the teacher. Frightened parents send Emmanuel to continue his studies in Paris. When he leaves, he promises Bridgitte that the day will come when they will become husband and wife. The curtain falls.
This mini-chapter is illustrated with a photo of Tiphaine Auzière — the daughter of Brigitte of the same age as Emmanuel. Everybody has already seen the photograph of the presidential couple. Tiphaine, a lawyer and a mother of two, is actively involved in the En Marche movement from the first day and will run from it to parliament. Politics is now also a family affair. Fourteen years after the farewell in Amiens, Macron fulfilled his promise.
Not surprising. To always fulfill what was promised and not to promise what one can not fulfill, taught Macron his other teacher, Paul Ricoeur, the world-famous Huguenot philosopher and pacifist, a practicing Protestant who grew up in Catholic Brittany and started his career after World War II with teaching at an international Protestant school of Pacifism that is open to this day in a Protestant village, that sheltered 5,000 Jews from the Nazis. Paul was a member of a religious minority in Catholic France.
Philosophy of Language
Personal identity in every case can be considered in terms of a narrative identity: what story does a person tell about his or her life, or what story do others tell about it? In effect, narrative identity is one of the ways in which we answer the question “Who is this?” Paul Ricoeur came to this understanding of the importance of narrative identity through applying phenomenology to hermeneutics. In 1999, Emmanuel Macron helped prepare for the publication of Paul Ricoeur’s book The Way of Recognition, which was the last. The book with the English name “Memory. History. Forgetting.” was released in 2004, and in 2005 the teacher passed away.
I could not find out who exactly recommended the student of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Paris Nanterre Emmanuel Macron to the former dean of this faculty, Paul Ricoeur. But this, for sure, was one more, though not so famous, teacher by vocation who made a bet on his beloved pupil.
I do not dare to judge, what exactly the current President of France has learned from the philosophy of Paul Ricoeur. The ability to put oneself in the place of another and the need to assume responsibility for other people formed the cornerstones of generally simple views of the Huguenot philosopher. It seems to me that in some ways beliefs of the teacher and the student were close and this allowed them to understand each other. But everyone decides for one’s self if my assumption is true or not. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen!
The help of Macron was mostly limited to the compilation of references and bibliography, but Paul Ricoeur felt it necessary to thank Emmanuel in the preface to the book for “relevant criticism.” He thus emphasized the meaningfulness of the contribution of the student, who was formally responsible for purely technical work. The ability to equally effectively dig into details and generalize later more than once helped Macron. This was most clearly manifested in his work with other teachers, or now, as he became adult, we should, probably, call them mentors: philosopher-politician-economist-writer Jacques Attali and banker Baron David Rene James de Rothschild a member of the French branch of that Rothschild family. The ability to criticize relevantly, first helped Macron to win the respect of his predecessor in the presidential chair Francois Hollande, and not to make him an enemy later. Teachers by vocation love obstinate students, but only if objections are relevant and up to the point. But you will learn about this in the second part of the essay.
To be continued…
I Want to Become a President
Two teachers of the future president: socialist politician Michel Rocard and businessman and friend of Republican president Nicolas Sarkozy Alain Mink — played a key role in the fate of Macron.
Unlike those who know the new president less than him, Mink does not consider Macron’s burning desire to please people as a disadvantage. “This guy will smile at you affectionately, but he will be tough, cynical, assertive when it comes to results. We got not a mattress, but a strong ruler, “ Mink says, and for some reason you believe him. After all, he has been in close contact with Macron for 15 years.
Mink has almost the official title of the mentor of Emmanuel Macron. This friend of presidents is little known outside of France, perhaps only with the exception of Germany, where he is loved for having taught Sarkozy how to deal with Angela Merkel when Sarkozy was president. A journalist of Der Spiegel in 2012 asked Mink what position he held in the Sarkozy administration. “We are friends with Nicolas Sarkozy for 25 years and I can always call him.” Mink answered modestly.
When Dominique Strauss-Kahn was offered the position of the head of the IMF in 2007, he phoned Mink for some reason to ask what Sarkozy thinks about this. And Mink found out that Sarkozy was in favour of this appointment. On Mink’s question, is it not dangerous to nominate a potential rival for the presidency to such a serious post, Sarkozy responded with something like: “Do not worry, you know that he can never win elections.” As you probably remember, in 2012, the ideal opponent for Sarkozy’s — non-winning Socialist candidate Strauss-Kahn was unable to take part in the elections because of the scandal with the alleged rape of a maid in a New York hotel, while Republican Sarkozy lost the elections to Socialist Francois Hollande.
It’s time to go back to Macron. At their first meeting to Mink’s question, who he wants to become, Macron answered simply and directly: “I want to become president.” So Mink remembers. Macron remembers that he responded with something more general, such as “to benefit society,” but I like the answer in Mink’s interpretation more.
They met with Mink in 2002, when Macron already studied at the school of presidents — ENA (National School of Management). He already managed to pass through the famous school of politicians — the Institute of Political Studies Science Po, repeating the path of Mink and many other influential Frenchmen, including his future mentors — Michel Rocard and Jacques Attali.
“And Blessed Me on His Way to Grave…”
Grandmother Manette in addition to being the only family member who approved the love affair between Emmanuel and Brigitte also instilled in him an interest in socialist ideas. Therefore, the appearance of a prominent socialist politician Michel Rocard among the teachers of the future president does not look surprising. They say that Macron wrote to Rocard enthusiastic letters as to his hero. Did it really happen or not, I do not know, but in 2007 Michel Rocard was present at the wedding ceremony of Emmanuel and Brigitte. Macron first met with Rocard back in 2002, about the same time as with Mink.
“Do you want to know what I think about the Greek crisis? Read Emmanuel Macron, “- Michel Rocard, the prime minister — reformer of the presidency of Francois Mitterrand — declared in 2015, the year before his death. Rocard, who, like the Huguenot philosopher Paul Ricoeur, was raised in the Protestant tradition, was considered the conscience of the socialist party, although he no longer held any official posts in it. A year later, Macron and his then chief, Prime Minister Manuel Valls, stood near the coffin of Rocard. They behaved amicably towards each other, but it did not deceive anyone — the war for the legacy of Rocard began undeclared.
It was a blitzkrieg and, as we now know, it ended with the defeat, first, of Waltz and, second, of the socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon. The legacy of Rocard inherited by Macron, however, was by no means limited only to socialists. In addition to Macron, Rocard had another passionate admirer, also an ENA graduate — Republican Edouard Philippe. That same mayor of Le Havre, whom Macron recently appointed as his prime minister. It was Rocard who for the first time brought the two together.
Stuff of a President
After graduating from ENA, Macron went further along the common path of the French political elite — to the auditing department of the Ministry of Finance. The culmination of his transient career in civil service was the participation in the work of the Commission established under the aegis of President Sarkozy to find ways to remove obstacles to France’s economic growth, or as it was called shortly by the name of its chairman — the Attali Commission. Weather Macron was seconded to the commission on the recommendation of Mink or Rocard, or both was no longer essential. Importantly, as in the case with the help in preparing the book for Ricoeur, he began with a purely technical role, but soon managed to prove himself useful to Attali already in essence.
Jacques Attali, a representative of the powerful clan of Sephardic Jews of North Africa and the Middle East, came to Paris from Algeria, following the same path as Macron several decades later: Science Po, ENA. In the government of Rocard, he played an important role, which enabled him to take up the post of the first head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Then there was Angolagate. Attali began to write books and participate in the political life of France and Europe, without occupying formal positions. Sarkozy invited him to head the commission because he wanted to give it a truly non-partisan character.
Macron was responsible in the Attali commission for the preparation of documents, but, upon agreement with Attali, began atop of paperwork to meet with representatives of the French and multinational business in order to better understand their aspirations. These ties, especially the acquaintance with the CEO of the Swiss multinational corporation Nestle Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, later helped him in his career. He managed to charm his new boss and teacher so, that Attali once exclaimed: “This guy has stuff of a president, you’ll see!”
Attali’s words were still to be recognized as prophetic, but after finishing his work in the commission, Macron completely disappointed his mentors, who had not yet fully recovered from his marriage to Bridgitte — a very bold but unconventional step for the “golden boys” of French politics. Now Macron announced that he was leaving the civil service for business, and not just to any business, but to a bank. And not just to any bank, but in the bank of Rothschilds.
Now Mink argues that Macron came to the bank on his, Mink’s, recommendations. However, it seems more likely to me that it was Attali who persuaded Macron that in order to achieve the presidential goal he should deviate from the traditional path of French politicians. Perhaps he reasonably believed that in modern politics it is much easier to pick up dirt than even in the bank Rothschilds. The time will come when Macron will experience it on his own skin. In the meantime, I seem to hear the words of Attali: “Why should conspiracy theorists guess whose protege you are: Rockefeller’s or Rothschild’s? Go to the Rothschild Bank and kill the whole intrigue in the bud. “ Although, there was never such a conversation between them, of course.
Baron David de Rothschild was born in 1942 in New York, where his parents fled from the Nazis. There, to New York, David’s father, Guy, left for good when the French Socialist government nationalized the Rothschild bank. Only in 1986, after the socialists moved to opposition, David and a group of relatives managed to obtain a license to conduct banking activities and founded the investment bank Rothschild et Cie. With a capital of one million dollars and only three employees. By the time Macron came to work for David’s bank, David built a successful investment bank, which first merged with the British N.M.Rothschild & Sons, and then totally acquired it.
There was only one problem: the Rothschild Bank, the founder of the international banking business, almost did not conduct cross-border mergers and acquisitions. Lazard Bank reigned supreme in this segment of the investment services market.
At first Macron was laughed at: Mozart of Finance. I do not know if it was just a coincidence or his colleagues somehow found out that Brigitte was saying about young Emmanuel: “I have a feeling that I’m teaching Mozart.” Or they just hinted at his virtuosic play on the piano?
Many colleagues did not like that he only worked with financial models in Excel, preparing a deal for the purchase of Athos by Siemens, and a couple of days after the deal was closed, he already became a partner. He always said “thank you” to everyone and did not know what EBITDA meant, but he was not afraid to ask about it.
Teachers by vocation love when they are asked questions, and Macron found good mentors in the bank, for example Cyril Harfouch. However, David Rothschild himself joined the crowd only when Macron came up with the idea to propose Nestlé to buy a baby food unit of American company Pfizer. The idea sounded like an adventure: the French conglomerate Danone was already targeting Pfizer’s baby food advised by Lazard, the coryphaeus of cross-border acquisitions. Rothschild supported the idea of Macron. “At least Lazard will not run across the road with Nestlé, if it’s already signed by Danone,” Macron thought, picking up the number of Peter Brabeck-Letmathe.
The $ 12 billion deal with Nestlé went through and brought to Macron a bonus of 2.9 million euros. Macron paid 50 thousand euros of compensation, when he broke the contract with the civil service. Now this investment has paid off a hundredfold. Then old friend Mink brought a couple of deals. The nickname “Mozart of Finance” began to be filled with new meaning.
Already after the departure of Macron from the bank Baron David de Rothschild was elected head of the World Jewish Congress. He retained the best possible relationship with Macron.
Cuba without Sun
François Hollande invited Macron to join his advisers during the election campaign of 2012. After the victory, he offered the young banker a high position of deputy head of administration in the Elysee Palace. Already in the first months of his work, Macron realized that the implementation of Holland’s pre-election promises would lead to the flight of business from the country from an excessive tax burden. It was then that he wrote in his email to his patron that, as a result of his policy, France would turn into Cuba without the sun.
Hollande began a U-turn, and Macron received the task to reassure the group of the most displeased with the implementation of leftist promises of Hollande heavyweights of the Socialist Party, among whom Lyon’s Mayor Gerard Collomb was the most noticeable figure. “I was on the verge of Hollande’s policy, but Macron invited me and several other deputies to dinner to try to calm us down.” Collomb remembers.
He calmed them down, but at this time, Prime Minister Arnaud Montebourg managed to torpedo the deal on the purchase of the French machine-building concern Alstrom by the American General Electric. Macron stepped in and a $ 17 billion deal took place, and Macron himself resigned from the administration of Hollande. “Oh, so you’re working with Monsieur Macron? They ask me in all foreign trips,” Hollande joked at Macron’s farewell party. Macron responded with a serious speech that France needs real reforms.
A couple of weeks later, Montebourg was displaced, and Macron received an offer to become Minister of Economy in the government of Manuel Valls. He agreed, but not immediately, only when Hollande assured him of his readiness to carry out real reforms.
Tires on Fire
I wondered for a long time whether to include Hollande and Valls on the list of Macron’s mentors, but decided that I should include them. After all, we learn not only from our well-wishers, but also from those who try to use us. Indicative in this sense is the story with the notorious Macron’s law. It was easy for him to prepare the pro-business law based the experience in Attali’s commission. Yet another mentor — a veteran of the Socialist Party Richard Ferran helped Macron to understand the intricacies of the parliamentary law making. Like Collomb, he was displeased with the policy of Hollande, whom Macron tried to calm down. As a result, the law was ready in a record time. Moreover, the group of multi-party mentors of Macron and he personally secured for the law the parliamentary majority necessary for its adoption.
Then strange things began to happen. First Valls shoveled and cut the law. Then he persuaded Hollande to pass the law that the media had already dubbed the “Macron law” by presidential decree bypassing the parliament, so as not to undermine his authority. Macron prepared the next law. Strange games began around it again. Before Christmas 2015, Macron wrote to Hollande a letter about the need to speed up the reform process and … received no response. Collomb and Ferran began to assure Macron that he would not achieve any serious reforms under Hollande’s presidency, leading to the idea that he should put forward his candidacy.
Contract with God
When Macron told Mink about the decision to run for president, Mink tried to convince him not to hurry. “You talk about the politics of the past. Now everything works at other speeds, “- he heard in response. The student has grown up.
“This is not just a matter of hierarchy. He knows what he owes me. This is a matter of professional and personal loyalty, “Hollande commented in the spring of 2016 on the creation of the Macron’s En Marche movement. “When a president appoints someone as a minister, it does not turn that person into his personal servant,” Macron retorted. Later, Macron was seen with Ségolène Royal, who was rumored to have reunited with Hollande, and Macron still respected his loyalty — he was officially nominated to the presidency only after Hollande’s official refusal to run for a second term.
“You have a contract with God, I tell him,” Mink tells of his conversations with Macron. “It’s just that you’re phenomenally lucky. It was this feature that Napoleon sought in his generals. “ A friend of presidents certainly is more insightful, but I still see the power of Macron not only in luck, but also in the position of an eternal disciple who tries his best to please his teachers not just with nice words, but with actions for which his mentors can rightly be proud of their beloved student.