Christophe de Margerie’s jet hit a snow plough on a Moscow runway at midnight, flipped on its back, caught fire, and skidded across. The four on board died. A friend of mine said: ”Why are you smiling, what’s funny about that?” Hey, I’m like Margerie, I am a “bon vivant”. Margerie was reputed to be great fun, especially when visiting dictators. So I am keeping up with the fun.
With French ministers, according to a past Ministre de L’Ecologie, Margerie was spiteful, and made them feel that he was the real boss, and politicians were nothing. But not to worry: the French president, the French Prime Minister, the Emir (owner) of Qatar, the head of the International Monetary Fund, and countless other worthies gave a national funeral to the great man who looked like an aged walrus.
With 200 billion Euros in revenue, TOTAL SA is not far behind the French government budget. TOTAL’s profits are 14 billion Euros (“Soyons serieux!” laughed Margerie). It pays nearly no tax in France, having concentrated there its money losing refineries.
Other countries get nearly all their fuel from French refineries; TOTAL has also a green light to frack in Britain. So this is not just a French situation. TOTAL is one of the five great oil companies concentrating the fossil fuel firepower. Those companies have the best technology. Some of TOTAL’s specialties are very deep water drilling, and using steam to extract tar oil in Canada.
What was de Margerie doing at midnight? Flying back to France, after meeting with Putin and Medvedev, late at night.
That’s how these guys are: great fun. Putin was recently invited to Milan for a big time European meeting. He arrived several hours late to visit with Merkel, who was not amused. After keeping her up past midnight, he motored to Berlusconi’s mansion, and the two plutocrats reveled together until 4 am. (We don’t know how many female teenager were in attendance to further their studies.)
The next European meeting was at 8am, and Putin showed up.
Supposedly Margerie had just told Medvedev and Putin to cool it with Ukraine. At least that’s the massaging message Margerie’s minions floated after his death.
Why was Margerie so important to the Russian dictators? Because the six “supermajor” oil companies have the advanced technology. After all, they recruit from the best universities in the world (that’s paid by taxpayers). TOTAL SA was the spearhead of high tech development for hydrocarbon production in Russia. Among other things, it’s helping to build a gas liquefaction plant in the far north, to load special ships with methane (something TOTAL does with Qatar, in the world’s largest such installation).
Once a ship is fully loaded, it has several times the explosive power deployed at Hiroshima (such a catastrophic accident has not happened yet, but it’s just a matter of time).
When citizen Lambda dies, Mr. Anybody, nobody official cares. When a major plutocrat dies, our leaders, even our socialist leaders, weep, and present the accident as a national, even international tragedy.
Is the death of a plutocrat worth that much more, that all this public weeping has to occur?
And, by the way, who and what has authorized Mr. Margerie to lead his own foreign policy? Who authorized him to make nice with thermonuclear dictators? To the point of allowing their survival?
Let me explain: Putin and his goons established a realm of terror in Russia. Thus the Internet is under watch, and brainy Russian engineers can only wish to flee.
I don’t know specific cases in engineering, but I know the case of the top bat researcher in Russia.
As it turns out, most bats are next to Sochi (something about the special climate, and lots of caves). So the bat researcher visited the caves recently there, until all sorts of goons chased him off, and he was accused of having taken pictures of two giant palaces that Medvedev and Putin were building for themselves, next to bat caves. (They probably have dreams of being new Tiberiuses living in limestone caves in Capri). The bat researcher was threatened with long term detention, and barely escaped to Germany (where he has research friends).
The end result is that Russia does not have the engineering talent and know-how TOTAL SA has.
But, as I said, it’s in great part due to superlative schools paid by poor French taxpayers; so this is again a case of a corporation, which, like Google, lives like a leech, sucking civilization dry to feed its pet plutocrats.
All this French high technology has kept Putin’s prospects high, making him more arrogant. Encouraging him to invade Ukraine. Am I saying de Margerie had blood on its hands? Not exactly, but he sure was aiding Putin.
De Margerie was a keynote speaker last spring at Putin’s annual economic summit in St. Petersburg-an event that most Western executives, under public pressure, skipped. Then he signed a deal with Russian oil group Lukoil (LUKOY) to develop shale oil in Western Siberia.
De Margerie also pressed ahead with Russian investments, including the $27 billion Yamal natural gas venture in the Arctic led by Russian gas group Novatek. Even though sanctions against Novatek and one of its owners, Gennady Timchenko, complicated financing. De Margerie told Bloomberg News recently that he was “doing everything” to move the Yamal project forward, in keeping with his belief that politics and business should be kept separate.
However, business with Hitler, or Stalin, was not business. It was partaking in criminality. Total said that Russia could become its largest supplier of oil and gas, within a few years.
Was de Margerie abetting Putin? Here is de Margerie whispering his poisonous bad faith to Reuters: “You hear people say we have got to protect ourselves from Ukraine and then they talk about Russia. This is not the same thing. Are we going to build a new Berlin Wall? Russia is a partner and we shouldn’t waste time protecting ourselves from a neighbour . Russia, which has saved us on numerous occasions.”
Let’s not waste time protecting ourselves from Russia the neighbor-partner who shoots down civilian airliners, and kills thousands, invading Ukraine, while disguising the death of hundreds of Russian soldiers?
Well the Ukrainian People has answered Mr. Walrus de Margerie: 70% voted, in the legislative elections, half and half for the parties of the strongly pro-European President and Prime Minister. The PM is on the record saying what I also believe, from Putin’s own words, that Putin wanted to annex all of Ukraine.
What’s the funniest aspect of all this?
What if really de Margerie put the pressure on Putin and Medvedev, as it is now rumored? Margerie was known to believe he had the power. Let’s imagine him saying:
”Hey, guys, you know, you are losing in Ukraine, you bringing us all down, it’s time to take your losses, or this sucker is for sure crashing. You are losing those elections in Ukraine. And, without me, you are not much. I have the tech, you just are bullying your way around. It reminds that the Ukrainian republic wants to frack its way out of its energy crisis, and I am ready to help them.”
Imagine Putin boiling with rage: he always wanted the power, and now he had to submit to a French walrus.
Before that strange occurrence, the French pilots had seen the machine, and others cross the runway . Then they got the go ahead of the tower. After 14 seconds of acceleration, they saw another vehicle cross the runway, ahead. A curiously busy runway, while a plane is trying to take-off.
Sure, it’s embarrassing to have “Russia lost de Margerie” (website Gazeta.ru ). But it may have been even more embarrassing to have him turn around, and, say, help Ukraine frack, after declaring to his face, jokingly. that, all well considered, Putin was nuts.
Then de Margerie would have died, because he went to dinner with the Devil, using too short a spoon.
Vlad the Invader will see his economy sink. But the Russians love him, for the same reason, all proportions kept, that the Germans had never been more in love with Hitler as in 1945.
Nothing like constant beatings to improve morale.
The larger philosophical question is why we let unelected individuals and walruses such as Margerie decide the fate of the world. The French giant bank BNP got sanctioned in New York for helping Sudan, under trade sanctions crimes against humanity, sell its oil. Of course, it helped that it was a French bank. American banks have done worse for years, and their bankers keep on whistling all the way to the bank.
The way out, once again, is direct democracy. Sanctions against Putin should have been voted by We The People. This is what the Ukrainian People did indirectly (more than 70% of the legislators just elected are pro-European, that is, anti-Putin).
Socrates used to worry a lot about direct democracy electing leaders who did not know their job. For example, incompetent judges and generals. The way around is what I call democratic institutions (justice, police, army, education, etc.).
For profit corporations are themselves giant institutions. Total is the world’s fourth largest non-state energy company. It has superlative technology, like the other oil supermajors.
But all these for profit institutions need to be watched over, by We The People, just as the democratic institutions do.
After my friends saw the areopagus of plutocrats swarming at De Margerie’s funeral, she said: ”I understand now why you were smiling.”
Yes, we need an even longer spoon. And, like De Margerie, we will do them in, only if we go gaily, like bon vivants, into battle. I agree, that this is a good mien. Just, our targets are those who believe they own the world, because they were born this way. Christophe Gabriel Jean Marie Jacquin de Margerie’s mother was born Taittinger (a French champagne and plutocracy family).