“Emmanuel Macron’s technological patriotism testifies to the influence of a very dated imagination”

Anear Gaulle inaugurating the submarine The Redoubtable (1967), Pompidou flying in Concorde from Paris to Toulouse (1971), Giscard visiting the Gravelines nuclear power station, in the North (1980), or even Mitterrand inaugurating the TGV (1981), Emmanuel Macron is living at his turn its techno-nationalist moment.

At the end of a very “Silicon Valley”, “French Tech” and “start-up” five-year term, we come back to the fundamentals of French technological patriotism: speech on september 17 in front of the cameras to celebrate the 40 years of the TGV with, in the background, the prow of the latest model, brand new. 1is September, Macron had entrusted to the magazine Challenges his pantheon technological: “The TGV, Ariane, Concorde and nuclear power. “

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Here are the techniques “National” that he admires and to which, he says, should be given “Successors”. This is what the billions of euros of the recovery plan should be used for, and certainly not to finance the insulation of buildings or the necessary but unspectacular railway renovation.

This inventory of cutting-edge machines, powerful and fast – which seems straight out of the rather comical erotic scene of the last OSS 117 – odd that it is difficult to find a technology that has made the French more prosperous.

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The most obvious case is that of Concorde. If we sometimes accuse the American jealousy of having killed in the bud “the beautiful Franco-English bird” under the pretext of noise pollution, its story is in fact that of an announced economic disaster. As recently shown by the work of Thomas Kelsey at King’s College London, the British Treasury has consistently opposed this project with no commercial outlet.

Parisian tropism

Successive governments persevered for various reasons – not to anger the French who held the key to their entry into the EEC, not to alienate the unions, not to offend the patriotism of the voters. And despite the heavy propaganda on “technological prowess”, the Concorde was a formidable fiasco. Because of its extravagant consumption, the weight of the on-board fuel was greater than that of the aircraft and equal to ten times its payload.

The operating costs were so high that it had to be sold for a fifth of its production price for British Aviation and Air France to agree to fly it; the other companies refused. Even at 8,000 euros for the Paris-New York ticket, the taxpayer’s money largely subsidized the speed fantasies of a wealthy few.

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