Mark Collins – French Front National: “it’s now part of an ‘us’, rather than a hideous ‘them’”

Indeed, the times they are a changin’–at the London Review of Books:

Respite from Extremity


The defeat of the Front National in every mainland region on Sunday has given France a welcome respite from extremity. Nicolas Sarkozy’s party, which has taken seven out of 12, is in good spirits, as it was on the eve of the contest. Surveying the field before round one, a centre-right MP concluded that François Hollande’s party had done two things well: stealing Sarkozy’s ideas and losing the socialist vote. ‘If you agree with Gramsci,’ he said, ‘it’s an intellectual victory for the right that will end in electoral victory.’..

With mixed feelings about the results, I turned to France’s recent interest in Antonio Gramsci, an odd name to hear in a right-wing campaign manager’s soundbite [more on Gramsci here]: I don’t recall Sarkozy and his people using it when he was president, or Chirac and his entourage for that matter. It came up in a piece by the French MEP Michèle Rivasi (Europe Ecology-The Greens), who suggested in the Huffington Post that the FN were indeed a bunch of ‘monsters’ breeding in the muggy interval between the death of the ‘old world’ and the birth of a new one. 

But Gramsci’s dictum about monsters is a versatile and overused quotation. Support for the Front across the country suggests it’s now part of an ‘us’, rather than a hideous ‘them’. In any case, the big beasts of the Fifth Republic have grown slowly, and seem less monstrous than they actually are, after years of noisy inertia, shifting centrist policies towards structural unemployment of around 10 per cent, ‘secular’ racialism and European austerity, based less on an appeal to thrifty citizens than a fixation in Brussels with ‘stability and growth’, of which Germany and France were the main advocates (and then, before you could blink, the biggest violators of the rules they’d approved). The machines of centre-left and centre-right are like two Graeae passing the same eye and the same tooth from one to the other as they rotate through office: tunnel vision, no bite, and anything to stop the third sister having a turn. What sense does it make to say that one mainstream party is achieving hegemony – I guess that’s what’s meant by the reference to Gramsci – because its ideas have infiltrated the other? Their styles of government, along with substance, have been hard to tell apart for years. 

The FN’s followers, like the party’s notables, openly despise the ‘system’ that has blocked their path for the second time in 13 years. They don’t look much like lawless, terrifying people as a demographic tranche, but the stewards at a big FN rally are a different matter, and Le Pen’s most worrying admirers, further than far right, must be growing sick of the electoral road…

The battle begins again any minute, as the parties prepare for next year’s presidential, where Le Pen is tipped to get through to round two… 

And the Donald!  The Donald!

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


2 thoughts on “Mark Collins – French Front National: “it’s now part of an ‘us’, rather than a hideous ‘them’””

  1. More on the Donald from Niall Ferguson (not always a good guru):

    ‘Donald Trump pounces on the ills of white America

    …All over the Western world mortality rates are declining and lifespans are lengthening. But not in white America, and especially not among those white Americans whose education didn’t go beyond secondary school. For this group, the mortality rate from poisonings (mostly drug overdoses) rose more than fourfold between 1999 and 2013, from 14 to 58 per 100,000. Mortality from chronic liver diseases including cirrhosis rose by 50 percent.

    If the white mortality rate had continued to fall at its pre-1999 rate of 1.8 percent a year, nearly half a million deaths would have been avoided in the period 1999-2013.

    The white underclass is not so much mad as hell as sick as hell. One in three white people aged 45-54 report chronic joint pain, one in five neck pain, and one in seven sciatica. Presumably, it’s the most miserable who drug or drink themselves into early graves. The rest just exit the workforce, opting for disability benefits. Small wonder labor force participation in America has declined so steeply, even as it has risen in other developed countries. Small wonder Trump is polling so well. He is the sick people’s sick candidate.

    “The Man in the High Castle” is fiction, not history. The Axis powers could never have beaten America, even with a president inferior to Franklin Roosevelt. In the end Trump will turn out to be fiction, too. Either sanity will prevail between now and the Republican National Convention, or Trump will be beaten by Hillary Clinton, much as Wendell Wilkie (another maverick businessman) was beaten by Roosevelt in 1940.

    The lesson of real history is that candidates such as Trump are the Democrats’ best friends.

    Niall Ferguson is professor of history at Harvard and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford.’

    “The Man in the High Castle”:



    Just watched the Republican presidential debate “undercard”; how so many in a nation of 300 plus million can be so mindlessly terrified by 14 people recently murdered is just plain stupid. The Brits after all coped with the IRA:

    And didn’t even think of banning Irish Catholics from crossing to Great Britain.

    Mark Collins

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