Sunday, March 13, 2011

An American Neocon Looks at Marine Le Pen

American neoconservative writer Christopher Caldwell sees echoes of the American Tea Party in Marine Le Pen's Front National, but most of all he sees a demonstration of "public choice" political economy: a self-serving elite has lost touch, he argues, with ordinary people, creating a political vacuum exploited by a variety of movements:

Mademoiselle Le Pen, par contre, se concentre clairement sur le principal problème politique d'aujourd'hui : la dérive du pouvoir, qui se désintéresse des électeurs et des citoyens et se rapproche de ces « experts » non-élus qui agissent par intérêt personnel.Sa popularité a quelque chose de commun à celle d'une grande variété de mouvements de gauche, de droite et du centre dans le monde entier.


This analysis is not incorrect, as far as it goes, but it would be more convincing if it were not the rhetorical and ideological mask for another self-serving elite that would also rule in the name of a people with which it is no more organically linked than the elite(s) it proposes to replace. The fallacy lies in the utopian assumption (or feint) that ruler and ruled can indeed be one, that there is no difficult problem of principal and agent to be resolved in any modern system of governance. Caldwell knows this, but he prefers not to say it, and in consequence comes off as remarkably tolerant of right-wing populism in both France and the US. He comes close to being an apologist for xenophobia:



Pas une des promesses économiques de gauche et pas une des promesses sécuritaires de droite ne peut fonctionner en l'absence de frontières. On peut avoir Médecins Sans Frontières et Ecoles Sans Frontières, mais des concepts tels que la citoyenneté sans frontières ou l'Etat-providence sans frontières n'existent pas. Autant allumer le chauffage et laisser les fenêtres grandes ouvertes.
Que vous soyez d'accord avec mademoiselle Le Pen ou non, elle aborde la question de l'Europe avec une logique qui manque aux principaux partis politiques. Entre une gauche qui défend les sans-papiers et qui condamne un capitalisme effréné et une droite qui protège les entrepreneurs pendant qu'elle sévit contre les délinquants, elle est la seule dirigeante d'un parti politique majeur à réaliser que, dans une large mesure, l'immigration EST le capitalisme.
Comme elle me l'a expliqué il y a deux semaines :
« [L'immigration est] en réalité un processus économique, un peu la petite sœur de la mondialisation, qui permet de peser à la baisse sur les salaires, selon un effet tout à fait mécanique. C'est l'offre et la demande. »
When one knows the links between Mr. Caldwell's paper, The Weekly Standard,  and Sarah Palin, none of this is surprising.




6 comments:

Cincinna said...

  @Art: re: links between Caldwell, Weekly Standard, & Palin

  For the record, what you call "neo-cons" really refers to people like Bill Kristol's father & Caldwell's father-in-law, the late Prince of Darkness himself, Robert Novak. They were a different generation, all Leftists who became Conservatives.       The Weekly Standard has no particular affection for Sarah. Neither do the so-called(by the left) "neo-cons" like George Bush & Karl Rove. But that is all about wanting Jeb Bush to run in 2012.


  There is absolutely no comparison between Sarah Palin &
Marine le Pen. Not in character, temperament, history,
philosophy, or ideology. 

   Sarah Palin is a uniquely American political phenomenon, the common sense, fiscally restrained, small government
Constitutional Conservative. 

As for MLP, throughout history, from Evita on down, there has been no shortage of women who have been  willing puppets of their neo-fascist totalitarian husbands or fathers.

Arthur Goldhammer said...

Cincinna, As the translator of Justin Vaisse's book on neoconservatism, I am well aware of the generations of neoconservatives, but you're quite wrong about the lack of connection between Palin and Bill Kristol. It was the latter who recommended her to McCain. He doesn't support her for the presidency, however. Your characterization of Palin I leave to you.

Cincinna said...

  @Art:
     Thanks for the tip; I will have to look for Justin Vaisse's book. I'll check to see if it's available in audio format. 

     As for Sarah Palin/MLP; if Kristol, Caldwell, Weekly Standard,  & most of the so-called neo-cons (a term used only by the Left  in America as a term of derision, not description) do not support Palin for President, why the analogy to MLP? 
     In France, as in America, the 2012 Election is  too far in the future to make any polling signicative, let alone predictive. A lot can change in 14-19 months. 
     Just a tip, but from some of your posts, I fear you are falling victim to MDS (Marine Derangement Syndrome)  as well as PDS. It is dangerous for the victim, not the politician. When you demonize a candidate's supporters, they get offended, become more loyal & protective. They can never be won over, will never vote for your candidate,and your candidate will lose.
  My own strategy is demonize the candidate at your peril. Far better to run a positive campaign on issues & offer a real program of solutions that address people's genuine concerns. Having a united front around a single electable candidate is crucial. For example, why waste time & ink obsessing about Ron Paul? He may win every Straw Poll & make big headlines, but could never win the nomination, let alone the Presidency.    

  Elections in the US are won by winning over the center
& are decided by that 8-10% of Independents. True, the center has shifted somewhat to the Right since 2008, but America has always been a center-right country.  I'm beginning to see a similar trend in French elections. 

Anonymous said...

Since I don't read Marianne, a friend of mine who does took it upon herself to type an article she found especially illuminating. Since it's a column by Jean François Kahn, I expected the worse, but his points make sense, so I'm reproducing short excerpt here (it's not possible to acess them online otherwise). For the full read it's in Marianne 725, this week's I assume. He seems to follow Art's idea of "anger" in political choices (after Art/FN, Art/JFK, today's the day!!) and what he writes matches what I've heard and encountered.
Myos

Short excerpt (I don't think it's more than the legal %, the whole article is pretty long!!!)
Quatre problèmes attisent l'exaspération et parfois la rage d'une majorité de Français : la flambée des délinquances et une poussée migratoire dont ils redoutent qu'elle devienne déferlante. Mais, également, l'ampleur effarante des inégalités (le pouvoir d'achat chute, le CAC 40 flambe) que la réforme des retraites a contribué à rendre encore plus insupportables. Enfin et surtout le fameux « non-remplacement d'un fonctionnaire sur deux », qui, pour un gain de 400 millions d'euros, est en train de faire des dégâts considérables dans une France profonde de plus en plus confrontée à ses conséquences délétères en matière de sécurité, d'éducation, de santé et de services publics en général.

Or, qu'a fait Marine Le Pen ? Elle a évidemment repris à son compte, et même radicalisé, toute la rhétorique de papa concernant la sécurité, l'immigration, l'identité. Mais - et il faut être socialiste français pour ne pas s'en être aperçu -, à l'opposé de tout ce qu'était le discours de l'extrême droite jusqu'à présent, elle s'est également prononcée contre la remontée de l'âge effectif de la retraite à 67 ans, en faveur du renforcement du rôle de l'Etat, et donc contre la braderie des services publics, tout en se déchaînant, à l'image d'un Mussolini dans les années 20, contre le capitalisme financier et les nantis du CAC 40.
Autrement dit, contrairement aux sarkozystes, qui entendent instrumentaliser deux sujets sur quatre, et à la gauche, qui en relaie également deux sur quatre, elle a préempté les quatre.

Anonymous said...

ps: I hasten to add that parts of that loooong column are in the typical JFK style with Sarkozy's visit to Puy en Velay compared to former president campaigning with a cross in their hands....
But it's worth reading even if you discard the usual JFK flourishes.

Cincinna said...

@Anonymous:
The identification and analysis of
a problem may be correct, but a wrong & dangerous solution is never an answer to a real problem in the long term.
MLP is her father in high heels. Her father's puppet. Same neo-fascist ideology in a new wrapper. Marine-Marionette.
Are the problems you cite real? Of course they are. Are the Statist neo-fascist like solutions of the le Pens the answer? Of course not!