January 15, 2002 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on February 15, 2002.
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Le Pen has returned, running to become President of France in this Spring's elections -- and he has, apparently, nearly 10% of the French voters behind him: just announced, see,
"Il est crédité de 8% à 9% des intentions de vote..."
So, on the "Mein Kampf theory", that it is better to have read the book -- better to know one's enemy than to pretend that he does not exist -- a list follows of the latest, in print, by and about the Front National and this most recent flirtation by France with fascism.
Is the Front National not to be taken seriously, this time around? Someone who knows France and the French much better than I do had better try to prove this... dunno how they would do that, conclusively and comfortably -- I was assured by several that the split with Mégret had driven in the stake at last...
Until so proven, then, these books and the other resources which may be found via,
-- all to me seem "must" reading, and the FN still a phenomenon to be taken very seriously, for anyone who is interested in any of this or ought to be.
France is a close and long - standing friend of the US: it should be good to know what they or at least some of them are thinking -- or not "really" thinking, hopefully (experts?) -- even now that "Everything Has Changed..."
Recent books, then, by and about the Front National in France: some pretty funny titles, here, if only they weren't true --
-- this last is out of print, according to La FNAC -- sometimes an indication of quality, and so included here in the thought that used copies might be available and interesting...
-- this also for those of you who were unable to find his,
"AUTHOR: Davies, Peter Jonathan
TITLE: The National Front and France : Ideology, Discourse, and Power
PUBLICATION: Routledge (Feb 1999 -- forthcoming)
as previously cited here. Well I guess they went and changed the title on this one... sure wish they wouldn't do that...
-- pulling no punches as to titles... I have inveighed against demonization elsewhere here, but the drama of the comparison suggested by M. Castells is irresistible...
-- time for "academic understatement"...
-- I hesitate to recommend this one, after what Baudrillard said recently about my own country's troubles in Le Monde, as translated in the current issue of Harper's (Feb., p.13) -- see,
-- but I suppose -- the whole purpose here being a reasonable exchange of reasonable views, of each other, among friends -- also considering that "qui aime bien châtie bien", although I do not know to what extent Baudrillard actually "likes" the US -- that it is useful to read all views on everything, on this, politics making strange bedfellows as always.
-- good title...
A little note: big subject --
Le Pen and his Front National represent intolerance, racism, anti - Semitism, extreme nationalism, jingoism, militarism, know - nothingness: a sort of one man / one party personification of all of the malcontents in his country -- in a US context as though all of the right wing plus a few of the left wing reactionaries, from Montana to Utah to Oregon to Orange County to South Carolina to the North Main woods, suddenly were to ban together into a single political party and run a candidate.
Europe is far more efficient -- it has a long tradition, in fact -- at this sort of unified ideological extremism. European democracy also is parliamentary, in which there is no "two - party system", so that minority "nut" candidates very often garner real power, and occasionally even win...
Those were the tactics of Mussolini, of Hitler: say anything to anyone who will support you, in the beginning -- talk banking with the bankers, industry with the industrialists, socialism with the socialists, rearmament with the military -- then back the French against the Italians, the Russians against the English, the Italians against the French -- real opportunistic marketing - style hucksterism, anything which sells.
Le Pen and the FN boast a similar laundry list of positions: if there is a measure proposed in France today which will cater to the unhappiness of some discontented French group they're for it, for the moment -- their "political platform" is a cobbling together of a long series of unrelated grievances of the discontented, like a bunch of miscellaneous beads threaded onto a single and very slender string. Read it and see...
None of the supporters of such a party ever figure out, until far too late, that what is at issue for the party itself are not the positions, or the platform, but simply power -- the power to do "whatever", as the kids now say. Ideologues always end up stabbing their original supporters in the back. That is one of the several differences between ideology and ideas -- in European extremist politics we are talking Niccolo Machiavelli, not Thomas Jefferson.
You really have to see the photos of Le Pen to understand the impact. But the words may be enough. And the real significance is not this man but his following -- "8% à 9% des intentions de vote" is a lot -- there are a lot of folks in France, apparently, who do not think the way most foreigners believe they do. In the ominous words of Reuters, Le Pen and the Front National perhaps were "enterré un peu vite par certains observateurs politiques".
"Let him who is without sin among you throw the first stone", of course, also "qui aime bien châtie bien": neither chastisement nor stones are being thrown here -- only a discussion, between good friends, of what to do about common problems. Extremism fluorishes in the US too, nowadays, at various levels.
Both the US and France can learn from one another about extremism and extremists, and what makes people go off the deep end in different situations. But first comes knowledge: we have to know and stay aware of the fact that an extremist like Le Pen is running for President now in France, and that nearly 10% of the people there appear to favor him.
Perhaps more important, the parliamentary governmental system in use over there gives a minority candidate "leverage" possibilities not available under the US "two party system": so the more unsettled things get, in France, the more possibilities there are for political exploitation by extremists -- just when a nation most needs solidarity, things can fly apart.
And even if things don't -- fly apart, completely -- "centrist" politicians get pulled in extreme directions by the pressures, which we in the US know about too.
(The 6 février Canard Enchainé shows a cartoon of Le Pen in full flame -- haranguing an audience with, "Contre l'insécurité dans nos banlieues, s'il faut un Sharon je serai celui - là!" -- beneath a headline reading "Vive l'extr&ecric;me centre droit!")
The French may not be there yet; but they've been close recently, and it could happen again -- so have we, and so could it here.
Anyway, for more about Le Pen and the Front National, see,
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