Thursday, 4 May 2017

Marine Le Pen is not a fascist


Madame Le Pen in the French presidential debate last night probably got into the dictionary of quotations when she said,

"France will be led by a woman. It will be either me or Mrs. Merkel."
She was rather magnificent, whatever one thinks of her politics.

Though I remember seeing her some years ago handing out pork sandwiches to the Parisian poor and feeling a great distaste.

Is there any actual evidence that she or even her wicked old dad is a fascist? 

It's pretty clear from all that I have read, including an academic book on the subject of the French right (author and title are forgotten), that neither has ever evinced any desire to get rid of free elections.

But fascism has changed its meaning - it now means wanting to reduce immigration to 10,000 a year. 

And democracy no longer simply means free elections or freedom - in fact free votes are a bit unpopular since the UK referendum and the US election. Note how many people are complaining that Mrs. May called an election. 

And freedom has been less and less popular in the West since the end of the cold war.

I recommend this article about the FN by Claire Berlinski, who hates the party. She writes very well indeed - and paints a memorable and vivid picture of the old man, clearly half crazy and increasingly senile. An anti-Semite, yes - and racist, of course - but there's no evidence that he ever wanted to instal a dictatorship, so not a fascist. 

In fact he just wanted to collect protest votes, attack people he despised and say what he thought.

Marine Le Pen is very different from her father, a very talented politician and very plucky. She is worrying and she's a demagogue, like Mr. Trump.

But, in the end, looking back, anyone was better than President Hillary. Is anyone better than President Macron, the federalist and believer in the benefits of more mass immigration into France and Europe? 

Macron, of course, has a better brain than Hillary and made his career by merit not marriage. Hillary would have been as bad as Hollande. But so might Macron.

Marine Le Pen made a big mistake arguing for leaving the euro. 

Protectionism is a very bad idea. 

And I doubt the French will want to leave the EU. But though she wouldn't succeed, at least in the medium term, in taking France out of the EU her victory would probably signal the beginning of its end.

She won't win, and if she did Parliament would thwart her, but if she won she'd be much better for England in the Brexit negotiations than Macron.

Reality, as someone said, is becoming Le Penist. Immigration into the EU will destroy the EU and the hopes placed in it. 

If Europeans want a democratic EU they need a European demos built around shared Europeanness. And if they want that tight immigration controls and, unfortunately, an end to housing refugees in Europe seem called for. 

EU countries can pay to house refugees in countries that receive aid. We'll see how many choose to start new lives in these countries.


  1. "anyone was better than President Hillary"? Anyone?

    1. Well not anyone, obviously - Jill Steyn or Bernie or GaryJohnson would have been even worse.

    2. I am not sure why you think Gary Johnson would have been worse. Behind his pothead persona, he has built a few businesses from scratch (including a construction company that grew from one employee to over one thousand), so he is more astute than you give him credit for. He was a two-term Republican governor of a Western state, and managed to pass a number of small-government measures despite the legislature being dominated by Democrats. So he is not quite as inept as the media made him out to be - he is not as good of a salesman, but I think a better administrator than Trump. Of course, the media hated him bitterly (he openly proposed reducing the scope of the federal government) but only propped him temporarily with the hope it might cost Trump some votes.

  2. Do you think Trump is better than Hillary?

    1. Did I not say so? On the eve I was 50-50 but now it is clear that he is the better choice.

  3. I think it was a calculated move to support protectionism and leaving the euro. In this way she maximises her chances. Sadly, the 40% she'll get will be the maximum achievable. (Sadly for the cultural future of France, but luckily for the personal wealth of Frenchmen. I still think her election would be a catastrophe for the French economy.) In a country that musters at least 4 rabidly anti-capitalist and extreme left-wing candidates, protectionism and etatist economic policies get the sympathies of the electorate. There was Mélenchon (19.58%) who wants to leave the euro and the EU, and admires the "Bolivarian" countries of South-America, including the Chavez-Venezuela. Then there was the candidate of Lutte Ouvrière (a communist party with roots in the communist union movement) (0.64%) who proposed to make lay-offs illegal by law! Then there was the candidate of the aptly-named "New Anticapitalist Party" (1.09%). Then there was the candidate of the mainstream Socialist (maybe cum Social-Democrat) Party, but anyway of its left-wing, more a kind of Podemos/Syriza candidate. He got 6.36%. That puts the extreme-left/"anti-austerity" block at 27.67%.

    The sole part of the electorate that would be anti-leaving the EU and more free-market would be the Fillon and Macron electorate: 20.01% and 24.01% respectively.

    Now, with a free-market and anti-immigration policy, what would she have got? A part of the Fillon electorate, let's say the whole of it. But she would have lost a part of what she has now. While as it stands now she can syphon both Fillon voters (thanks to her stance on immigration) and Mélenchon voters.

    Remember where her party was before: when it was only about Islam and nation it stood at about 20-24%. So the protectionism/anti-euro was a growth strategy, albeit a short-sighted one, in my opinion. Anyway, as she departed on a "de-demonising" campaign when she took over from her father and wanted to wipe off the collective memory his anti-semitic remarks, she needed a new pitch. She found two: her persona and the protectionism, the figure of the mother who cares about the layed-off steel workers. About her persona, another part of her strategy that disgusts me is the personalising of her campaign. Fillon's or Macron's supporters speak of "Monsieur Fillon" or "Monsieur Macron", but her supporters chant "Marine! Marine!" All these references to Jeanne d'Arc, to messianic figures that save the country in desperate hours is so vulgar. It's a pity that good ideas are often carried by vulgar people or people who prostitute themselves such that they get the votes.

  4. I am sympathetic to Macron and hope he wins, but I thought Le Pen did very, very well and won the debate...until I saw on the news that "viewers" decided that Macron won and then that narrative took off. Now we can hardly find anyone who thought Le Pen did well, apart from you, Paul. Kudos to you for having an independent thought.

  5. Some 63 percent of people surveyed by Elabe pollsters for BFM TV found Mr Macron the most convincing on the night. That may reflect the fact that she is not mainstream, widely disliked, rather than be a comment on her performance as such

  6. "It's pretty clear from all that I have read, including an academic book on the subject of the French right (author and title are forgotten), that neither has ever evinced any desire to get rid of free elections”

    And if they did this would be a bad thing? Say that by some fluke Jean Marie Le Pen had won his first presidential election run in 1974 and changed the law to make himself President for life. Do you think there would be 10 million Africans and Muslims living in France today? Would the French way of life be more threatened or less?

    Elections are not free. Democracy is a joke because you don’t get to elect who controls the media. Any remaining justification for the democratic idea died with the advent of television. The power of the masters of news/entertainment is such that they can effectively change the perception and will of the people to whatever they want it to be making the concept of mass democracy meaningless. This would be true even if the media masters were benevolent. When they have evil intentions democracy becomes suicidal.

    1. And if they did this would be a bad thing?

      Representative democracy is inherently corrupt and it is a failure. It needs to die.

      Some form of direct democracy might be better although I can foresee huge problems with that system as well.

      The best solution I can see is a monarchy with the king having enough real power to balance the power of the elected legislature. Obviously it won't happen in France - the French, like the Americans, have an irrational fear of monarchy.

      The French are most likely doomed. I feel no sympathy for a nation that chooses its own destruction.

  7. “Chirac was widely applauded for his remarks, even by the Gaullist establishment. They were, everyone knew, long overdue. But Jean-Marie Le Pen—Marine’s father, then president of the National Front—found them offensive. Chirac, he sneered, had just “paid his electoral debt” to the Jews”

    And it’s true because the apologies are always only one way. Do you think Israel would ever apologise on behalf of the Jewish people for their dominant role in the state apparatus of the USSR which killed tens of millions of Europeans? No, nor can I.

    1. Jews did not dominate the Soviet state apparatus in the 1920s and 1930s and many were purged by Stalin. France should certainly recognise her role in the German-instigated murder of the Jews.

  8. "...clearly half crazy and increasingly senile"
    Or this:
    A ceux qui se proclament amis et soutiens des étrangers migrants, je dédie cette
    relique de Jeanne à son procès. Un des juges, lui dit « Jeanne, le seigneur nous fait
    devoir d’aimer même nos ennemis. Aimez-vous les Anglais ? Oui ….. Chez eux ! »

  9. Good analysis, as a Francophile I feel sad for France. The English have simply no concept of how much hold the State has over the French, the militant and aggressive unions still hold sway. The people expect the State to provide all solutions to all problems. I see no substance to Macron, Le Pen is the inheritor of a Napoleonic thread of political thought that has a mystical belief in the glory of an eternal France. The appeal to Culture to something else that the English find baffling, as we still have a different relationship to the State to most of Europe , France included.