“Marine Le Pen apparaît en effet pour les Français comme le moyen actuel le plus évident d’exprimer désormais politiquement le rejet du Système.”
— Andrea Massari
In a number of opinion polls taken since January 16, when Marine Le Pen succeeded her father as head of the Front National (FN), she’s placed as one of the two presidential candidates likely to reach the second electoral round of May 2012.
Her party’s unprecedented popularity in this period of crisis and uncertainty has sent a shockwave through Europe’s globalizing elites – who fear a possible European Spring will sweep le Peste blonde into the presidential palace.
Five years ago, when following the 2007 French presidential campaign, I thought “Nationalists [Had] Won the Battle of Ideas.”
There was then a good deal of popular disgust with the political class, corruption and scandal were rife at the highest levels of the state, Europeanization and globalization had taken a toll on the economy, and the French were increasingly beset by questions of ‘who are we?’ In the year leading up to the 2007 election, Jean-Marie Le Pen stood not just at an unprecedented 14 percent in the polls, the presidential campaign itself was marked by an unmistakable lepénisation de l’esprit.
The leading presidential candidates were compelled, as a consequence, to present themselves as critics of the established system, exalt the national heritage, talk tough on immigration and insecurity, and ‘out-Le Pen’ Le Pen if they could.
Despite this remarkable change of consciousness, the FN placed but fourth in the first round of voting, receiving the lowest score in its 35-year history.
How was it possible, I wondered, that the FN could ideologically dominate the campaign (by setting its agenda) and still do so poorly at the polls?
There were explanations. Mine was to attribute the party’s dismal showing to Le Pen’s youngest daughter.
The then 38-year old Marine, already being groomed for the succession, had managed her father’s 2007 campaign in a way I thought disastrous.
I have since learned that Marine is no disaster, but rather someone in whom a figure of destiny can be seen.
She stands a head taller than the lightweights of the established parties, she’s an eloquent, charismatic champion of the national cause, and she’s no ordinary political strategist.
Raised by one of the legendary street-brawling politicians of the 20th century, the young Marine (her first campaign was at the age of 13) early on saw how fragile the System was and where it was already starting to give way. She also had first-hand experience of the mediocrities in charge of the System and seen the disorder, doubt, and uncertainty they had brought to everything. But most of all, she realized that in misgoverning France the mediocrities making up the ‘elites’ — these playthings of the System’s consummate meaninglessness — were creating an opportunity that could potentially turn her father’s ‘outlaw’ party into a governing party — next year, or, more likely in five years, with the 2017 presidential election, when the breakdown (and other things) will be far more advanced.
Marine is not content, then, with simply assuming the leadership of her father’s protest party, she wants it to take state power. And that, she knows, requires a long march.
When assuming her apprenticeship for the FN presidency in 2007, she began to re-position the party, ‘modernizing’ — de-demonizing, normalizing, banalizing (?) — it, with the aim of running an electoral campaign that might credibly take it into the Elysée. This entailed not just widening the party’s electoral base, but modifying its rhetoric and jettisoning ‘the provocative, sulfurous themes’ dear to her father.
In endeavoring, however, to purge the party of those causes deeply rooted in Vichy and Algeria, in the Church and in French relations to the Jews — those causes which had kept the party on the fringe, away from power — she threatened to purge all the things, I (along with the party’s old guard) thought, that had defined the Front National, made it the System’s most formidable opponent, and won it the allegiance of French France.
The sole thing that actually seemed to come from her modernizing reforms was the electoral disaster of 2007.
Or, so I thought.
2012: Year of Decision
Today, everything I saw as responsible for the 2007 failure seems suddenly to be working in Marine’s favor.
There are several reasons for this. At one important level, politics in our media-saturated counter-civilization is a matter of image-making, and Marine, now at the FN’s helm, is giving the party a very telegenic image, her smile winning converts more readily than her father’s defiant snarl.
Her critics on the ‘extreme Right’ are not entirely happy with all that comes with her smile — and they go so far as to claim that she is submitting to the System’s dictates, even becoming a part of it.
However, from my remote perspective (far across the Atlantic and with only an internet access to the subject), her so-called ‘concessions’ to the System don’t seem to go much beyond the surface of things. For despite her media dissimulations, she still stands for national preference, withdrawal from the EU and NATO, opposition to Islamization and Third-World immigration, economic nationalism, and a plebiscitary republic – all positions that challenge the System in its fundamentals
The party’s fundamentals, though, are being given a ‘new look’. In the streets and on television, the fresh-faced youth in jeans and T-shirts — this conspicuous generational change evident at the party’s May Day march — conveys a far different message to the electorate than the former skin-heads, with their Celtic crosses, whom Marine now excludes from FN demonstrations.
The tonality of the party’s discourses is similarly changing. Where her father dismissed the alleged Nazi gas chambers as a historical ‘detail’ and characterized the Occupation as relatively benign, she describes the so-called Holocaust as the ‘summation of barbarism’ and compares Muslims praying in French streets to the German Occupation forces. More forthrightly even, though not uncritically, she extends her hand to Israel and the French Jewish community (both of which have largely refrained from taking it, accusing frontistes [as Haaretz puts it] of having traded ‘in their Jewish demon-enemy for the Muslim criminal-immigrant model’, hoping in this way to get ‘the Jewish absolution’ that will bring them closer to power).
All Marine’s concessions to the System can, in fact, be seen as part of her effort to publicly re-define the FN as a ‘national-populist’ rather than an ‘extreme right’ party. There’s but a fine distinction between these two designations: nevertheless, the first term is considered acceptable, the second is not. Certain MSM commentators claim for this reason that Marine is simply changing the party’s vocabulary and style — that Jean-Marie’s paternal heritage still guides the party — and they, I suspect, are closer to the truth than her far-Right critics.
Partly as a consequence of her ‘de-demonizing’ efforts, a majority of the French now sees the FN as ‘a party like the others’ — which means it will no longer take a conscious act of rebellion to vote for it.
Marine is also suddenly very ‘popular’ in the media — her face is on all the magazine covers, her image or voice is regularly seen or heard on TV and radio, her lepénisation of the presidential campaign has again made the FN the center of political debate, and, far from being a creature of the media as her critics charge, the media-savvy Marine is creating the ‘events’ and addressing the issues (ignored by the System) that attract media attention.
All these things are contributing to legitimizing and normalizing France’s principal anti-System party. As the New York Times has it, Marine presents herself as ‘a kinder, gentler extremist’. But however her ‘modernized’ FN is characterized, it is becoming an increasingly ‘credible’ electoral force — and one day it will likely get a say in how the French state is run.
One of the FN’s more astute observers, the sociologist Alain Mergier, claims we are entering a period when the far-Right’s historic discourse is giving way to a new discourse adapted to the society-shattering realities of financial markets and immigrant waves. In contrast to the reality-denying discourses of the established parties, ‘the extreme Right [i.e., the FN] is beginning to introduce the type of discourse that will mark the 21st century’ (Le Monde, 4-21-11).
Marine expects that the French — this very conservative people with a long tradition of revolution — will at some future point (in desperation perhaps) want to cut the Gordian knot, break with the System and its corrupt parties (from the Communists and Greens on the far Left to the respectable conservatives of the governing UMP) — ridding themselves of them and their System in order, ultimately, to overthrow ‘King Money’ and re-assert the sovereignty and existence of their threatened fatherland.
Marine’s reassuring face – with its charismatic hint of Saint Joan’s faith in France – has undoubtedly been a factor in making the FN’s anti-System campaign increasingly popular.
But in sharp contrast to 2007, something else, something absolutely critical, has entered the electoral equation.
It’s often been said that the FN does well whenever France does not. Today, France, along with the rest of Europe, is teetering on the brink of a potentially terminal system crisis. Combined with Islam’s rapid, brutal, and widespread penetration of the Continent, the crisis is multiplying all political effects by an exponentially higher figure. A fin-du-monde feeling is thus more and more evident, as the world of consumerism and abundance, easy credit, and confidence in the future gives way to a world of scarcity, apprehension, and threat.
France seems headed toward some sort of turning point — to what may be a period similar to Spengler’s decisive years — a period when everything forthcoming is to be decided. One conspicuous sign of this shifting political terrain, in France and across Europe, is the hollowing out of the large national centrist parties (Center-Left/Center-Right) that have governed the Continent for the last half century.
The cahiers de doléances preceding the convening of what may be another Estates-General have yet to be announced, but a petitioning of grievances is already underway in the reigning psychology. According to recent polls, three-quarters of the French oppose globalization and ‘Europeanization’; a similar number has a negative view of ‘capitalism’; and nearly everyone believes the governing elites care nothing about the ‘people’, whose welfare is daily sacrificed on the altars of their (the elites’) cosmopolitan gods — who self-righteously demand the leveling of the whole world for the sake of consuming ‘Coca-Cola and Nikes’.
Such anti-System sentiments are not distinct to France. Everywhere in Europe, they are fueling the rise of ‘national-populist’ parties opposing the globalizing forces of Europeanization, Americanization, Third-Worldization, and Islamization, each of which is seen as serving interests hostile to the ‘people’.
The first great depression of the global economy, structural unemployment, impending state bankruptcy, secessionist immigrant enclaves, ugliness and insecurity everywhere — all these disturbing trends are making Europeans more conscious of the forces threatening them, as the economic-system crisis of a globalizing modernity converges with rising populist resistance to create a potentially explosive situation.
Since its origin in 1972, FN campaigns have focused on the population-replacing implications of Third World immigration — a focus the System designates as ‘racist’ (i.e., inhuman and hence totally condemnable).
It’s become a bit harder, lately, for the System’s defenders to play this card (especially since Angela Merkel publicly repudiated multiculturalism). At the same time, the FN is taking a different approach to immigration.
By critically re-framing questions of Islam and immigration in terms of a larger anti-System critique that circumvents the restrictions the System imposes on discourses related to the globalizing forces of Islam and immigration, the FN can no longer be dismissed as solely a ‘racist’ or xenophobic party. In fact, it is arguably the only party addressing the great social and economic issues of our age, which is making it a political vanguard that the established parties will try to recuperate for themselves — as Sarkozy did in 2007.
Against the System’s arrogant elites (the ‘UMPS’), the FN presents itself as ni gauche, ni droite, but nationalist — defender of family, work, and community — champion of la France profonde — counter-elite of an awakened people refusing submission to US, EU, and IMF dictates — and, as such, a party that holds that Dominique Strauss-Kahn got what he deserved and that the IMF shouldn’t be reformed, but abolished, for being the misery-inflicting pit bull of international finance that it is.
The FN now orients less to the traditional Right electorate than to the popular classes — the ‘little people’ — who have paid the highest price for ‘Anglo-Saxon ultra-liberalism’. Two-thirds of the FN electorate are males between the ages of 35 and 49 — the most active part of the population and the part most touched by the economic crisis. Rumor has it that half the party’s latest recruits are workers who once voted Communist or Socialist. Slate.fr claims the FN is even adapting the old PCF’s organizational forms to structure and federate its expanding membership base.
The anti-globalist, economically nationalist, and identitarian anti-System campaign the FN is beginning to wage is steering the party clear of the taboo racial aspects of Islam and immigration, while, at the same time, providing the party with innumerable social and economic reasons to legitimize its resistance to the invaders — reasons are intersecting popular concerns.
Thus, without any reference to the biocultural character of the Third-World hordes assailing Europe’s frontiers, the ‘global capitalism’ favoring such population-replacing migrations is condemned for destroying the high-wage manufacturing sectors of First-World economies, devastating their working and middle classes, undermining and bankrupting their national states, fostering dysgenic social values, betraying rooted forms of identity and heritage, etc.
Marine’s mix of far-Right nationalism and Left-wing anti-globalism oriented to the interests of blue- and white-collar workers threatened by the financialization of the world economy, along with her opposition to US/NATO military adventures in Libya or Afghanistan, are attracting elements not only from the Right and the Left electorate, it’s confusing the established parties, whose every effort to steel her thunder simply adds to her legitimacy.
The Far-Right Critique
My tendency is to privilege the ideas that go into constructing a political identity rather than the political expediency of realizing them. This makes me temperamentally closer to the FN’s far-Right critics (who emphasize ideological clarity and fidelity) than to the practical-minded electoralists of the Mariniste camp. Nevertheless, if I were French, I would defend the FN against its critics.
Maybe it’s a latent reformism in me, or maybe a sense of what’s needed to prepare the national revolution, but though I agree that Marine is making compromises to the System, restricting the militancy of the party membership, and soft-pedaling her differences with Islam, her party (the sole credible anti-System challenger in Europe’s most important country) has already begun preparing the preconditions for a national revolution.
Thus, after considering the anti-Mariniste critiques of Robert Spieler, Pierre Vial, and the groupuscules linked to the NDP, the MNR, PdF, and the tradis (Traditional Catholics) — and accepting even the justice of much of their criticisms — I nevertheless still think Marine’s FN serves the French people, being the one party that might actually defend them from the System’s inherent nihilism. Everything else at this point of high uncertainty and crisis seems utopian.
The debates over Marine’s impure distillation of French nationalism remind me of earlier debates between the revolutionary and reformist wings of the last century’s nationalist and labor movements — debates that pitted Home Rulers against Fenian insurrectionists, Social Democrats against Communists.
Most history-changing social movements, I sense, combine both revolutionary and reformist elements, and one usually serves as a spur to the other. Indeed, it could be argued that a revolutionary movement depends on first having a well-established reformist movement to create an electoral and institutional audience receptive to a more radical pursuit of the movement’s goals. (Nationalists of this ilk might argue: No Parnell, no Pearse).
Marine’s far-Right critics go even further, however, claiming that her entourage is ‘full of Jews, queers, and Arabs’, that she’s ‘a Zionist and the candidate of the political-media system’, that she lacks all conviction, etc. These (I assume) exaggerated accusations seem to have had little resonance in the popular classes (where she’s seen as the sole bulwark against the ‘rising tide of color’) — and they have not mitigated the alarm felt across the Left spectrum (which, in any case, prefers to fight the ‘fascists’ of the FN than the vampire capitalism that today has the whole world in its clutches).
Marine’s concessions to the System, however ideologically impure, have already created a public space for the discussion of issues that would never otherwise have escaped the nationalist ghetto. Indeed, the nationalist agenda, through her efforts, is increasingly part of public debate.
Marine’s rising popularity and the growing anti-System disaffection relate, in fact, less to ideological matters than to the spreading realization that the great problems born of the System’s now unmistakable failures (unemployment, Third-World immigration, debt, cost of living, security, etc.) are not being addressed by the established parties — and that alternatives solutions, even radical ones, ought to be considered, especially as things get worse.
Beyond all concern for ideological sign and symbol, Marine wants state power. If obtaining it means sacrificing certain sacred ideological cows, then Marine, like Henri-Quatre, hasn’t a qualm. (Paris, after all, vaut bien une messe).
Marine can say almost anything and make almost any concession to the System’s totalitarian dictates (especially if made with Machiavellian purpose) and it won’t detract from the nationalist cause, for if her party should capture the presidency or even establish a significant parliamentary presence, the state will be forced to modify its anti-national policies, as French France advances a step closer to reasserting herself.
But of even greater political consequence to the world, a FN-led France would radically re-align global power relations, for Marine has learned from France’s many Russophile geostrategists that Europe’s future lies in the lands of the rising sun and not in America’s decadent Abendland.
Marine promises thus to take France not only out of the EU and NATO, but out of the Atlanticist Alliance, whose nomos has governed the earth since 1945.
Such a course would undoubtedly set off ‘an epochal tectonic shift’, as France, in partnership with Russia and Germany, frees herself from the satanic globalist forces (Chinamérique) headquartered in Washington and New York, to reassert her sovereignty in ways favoring the development of a European continental bloc.
Even assuming that Marine manages to win 30 percent of the vote in late April 2012, placing first, she still won’t survive the second round of the elections, for all the System forces are certain to unite against her.
Marine evokes the possibility of a European Spring.
It’s impossible, though, to know what the world will be like a year from now, even given the accelerating severity of the crisis.
Marine will probably have to wait for 2017. But no matter, the sands are running for her. The System’s peste blonde, my Saint Joan, is only 42. She has time — especially considering that the liberal-modern system sapping the life from European-descended peoples has finally entered the late Winter phase of its demonic cycle.
Vive le Peste!