Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mélenchon Attacks Moscovici

Jean-Luc Mélenchon has drawn criticism from all sides for his blunderbuss attack on finance minister Pierre Moscovici, whom he described as "un petit intelligent qui a fait l'ENA" et qui "ne pense pas français, qui pense finance internationale". For Harlem Désir, this remark place Mélenchon beyond the limits of respectability: "C'est un vocabulaire des années 1930 que l'on ne pensait plus entendre de la bouche d'un républicain et encore moins d'un dirigeant de gauche",

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

The PS and others are accusing Mélenchon of anti-Semitism. My dim view of JLM is well-known but I don't believe for a second that he's an anti-Semite. JLM's detractors (of which I am one) are hitting below the belt with this one.

Arun

Art Goldhammer said...

The language used is reminiscent of the language used by, say, Georges Frêche when he attacked Fabius for having "une tronche pas très catholique." Ambiguous words, which one might interpret as anti-Semitic. Imagine if Marine Le Pen uttered them. The same goes for Mélenchon. I don't think he's an anti-Semite either, but he is a wordsmith who should know better than to lapse into language of the sort relied upon by anti-Semitic dogwhistlers, whom Mélenchon would be the first to call out. Live by the sword, die by the sword. I think you let him off the hook too easily.

Art Goldhammer said...

Roland Ducoulombier:

Quelles peuvent être les conséquences politiques d’une telle déclaration ? Certains taxent aujourd’hui Jean-Luc Mélenchon d’antisémitisme.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon n’est pas antisémite mais le choix particulièrement malheureux de Pierre Moscovici, dont les origines juives sont de notoriété publique, ont nimbé ses propos d’un relent nauséabond. Il s’en défendra, il s’en excusera peut-être, là n’est plus l’essentiel. Le plus grave, ce sont les conséquences politiques que cette erreur stratégique comporte. Elle va entamer son capital de sympathie médiatique et va accroître les tensions avec le partenaire communiste du Front de gauche, pour le moins perplexe devant tant d’agitation. Mélenchon a été dépassé par sa propre radicalité.

https://www.lesinrocks.com/2013/03/24/actualite/en-sattaquant-a-moscovici-melenchon-a-ete-trahi-par-sa-radicalite-11377372/#.UU78ujuEumo.twitter

Art Goldhammer said...

To clarify my thought further, I think that what Mélenchon did was to express his basic anticapitalist stance by invoking one of the standard tropes of the extreme left: that "international finance" knows no allegiance to any people, being interested only in profit. Having no national loyalty, it speaks a language of its own. The problem, of course, is that this trope has often been used in combination with the allegation that "international finance" is controlled by "rootless cosmopolitans" who lack the instincts and loyalties of citizens of the countries in which they happen to operate. This is where the link with anti-Semitism was traditionally made. The allegation that international finance is indifferent to national interests is logically separate from the claim that it is controlled by alien operators, but the proximity of the two arguments in the discourse of the left calls for extra care by anyone who would wield the first claim without embracing the second. Mélenchon should have been aware of this.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Mélenchon here is the general violence of his political discourse. He talked about Moscovici the way he talks about everyone he doesn't like (and which is just about everyone to his political right). He was apparently stunned when informed that what he said about Mosco was being interpreted as anti-Semitic. He said he didn't even know Mosco was Jewish and I'm sure he was sincere. JLM comes from a political culture (Lambertiste Trotskyist, républicain laïcard) where everyone is an atheist and one's religious roots are never discussed, as they are considered to be of no interest or consequence whatever. The only time those in JLM's political milieu bring up religion is to attack it. I would agree with you that JLM should have been aware of how his words on international finance could be interpreted but he really does operate in another political universe, and with its own set of political and historical references.

Arun

Anonymous said...

Apparently the problem originated in a false transcription... and some of the things Mélenchon was accused of saying/thinking never were uttered in the first place.
He did call Moscovici "un des douze salopards" (like the film "the dirty dozen" but it sounds worse in French).
http://www.arretsurimages.net/vite.php?id=15338

Anonymous said...

Maurice Szafran agrees with Arun.
http://www.marianne.net/A-propos-de-l-antisemitisme-de-Melenchon_a227707.html

Anonymous said...

Another take on this, by Médiapart, the first to point out that the buzz had built on... an error.
http://blogs.mediapart.fr/blog/stephane-allies/240313/melenchon-antisemite-ou-la-fabrique-dun-buzz-factice

brent said...

And here I thought "international finance" meant "international finance," the primary locus of power in the world as we know it. But careful--if you try to refer to it, pejoratively (and hasn't IF done an exemplary job over the last, say, 5 years?), it turns out "international finance" means "international Zionist conspiracy", just as it did 80 (!) years ago in the mouths of real anti-Semites. And since we all read the Protocols of Zion before bedtime, and privately endorse its vocabulary ... well, obviously a soi-disant anti-capitalist like Mélenchon was obviously using Marxist code words to express his latent anti-semitism (despite the fact, as anonymous noted, his vocabulary and ideology have consistently denied the relevance of any ethnic or religious identity whatsoever).

Sorry, but I find this interpretive gambit to be completely without merit, proof not of some absurd and unprecedented anti-Semitism on the part of France's most zealous secularist, but rather of the hatred (and fear) of Mélenchon by "international finance" 's apologists among the governing and chattering classes.

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