Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Le corps français traditionnel"

The name of Malek Boutih has been mentioned as a possible successor to Louis Schweitzer as head of the Haute Autorité de Lutte contre les Discriminations et pour l'Égalité (HALDE). Gérard Longuet thinks this is a poor idea, even though he thinks Boutih is a "man of great quality." Unfortunately, he is not, in Longuet's eyes, a representative of "le corps français traditionnel," a rather elastic group, in Longuet's definition, since it includes "old Bretons and old Lorrains--who are generally speaking Italians and Moroccans" but does not include the likes of Boutih, who is, besides being of Algerian extraction, a Socialist. In Longuet's view, the mission of HALDE is not, despite the name, to fight against discrimination and for equality, but rather to welcome relative newcomers to France (down to, say, the second, third, fourth, who knows how many generations?) who aren't part of the "corps traditionnel."

Longuet is of course a senator, énarque, former regional president, and member of the "reformers" group within the UMP. Une grosse huile, quoi! He was also, in his youth, co-founder of the extreme right group Occident, and in 1972, the year in which the Front National was founded, he drafted its economic platform. But that flirtation with the devil is all in the past, of course: « J'assume avoir été d'extrême droite. On s'est simplement trompés sur le modèle colonial, qui ne pouvait perdurer[3]. » (Remember, this is 1972 when he made this mistake about the colonial model, not 1954!)

So what are we to make of this statement of Longuet's, which he retrospectively characterizes as maladroit? Has he all these years been practicing a form of entrisme equivalent to that of Trotskyists who allegedly chose to make the "long march through the institutions" without abandoning their initial objective? Or has he simply never been able to get beyond that youthful "mistake" of believing that the "colonial model" would endure forever? For it seems that he still thinks of France's demographics in colonial terms: there is le corps français traditionnel, which lives relatively well and is cooled by servants with punkahs, and then there are the nativesimmigrants and their children, who can eventually prove themselves worthy of welcome if they behave themselves and conform to the traditions taught to them by those already inside. Indeed, a "Protestant"--"a bourgeois Protestant"--like Louis Schweitzer was perfect for the purpose. For Longuet, he was the very symbol of republican tolerance and diversity and, even without being Catholic, an ideal representative of le corps français traditionnel--not to mention chairman of Renault. In other words, not a guy the cops are likely to mistake for a nativenon-traditional Frenchman. Which is apparently Boutih's problem--one that he might like to consider if he becomes the chairman of le HALDE. As it now appears he will not.

UPDATE: Bruno Gollnisch, who heads the FN list in Rhône-Alpes, supports Longuet.


MYOS said...

Love your tongue-in-cheek presentation.
Perhaps Longuet has moved to the center compared to his youth, but he may have been very far right and thus is just on FN threshold?

The equivalent I can think of is if an American politician were to consider someone "too dark" for a job, or "not light enough"...?
Am I naive to think that, in the US, such a statement would end his political career and bring forth vigorous condemnation from his own party?

I am liking Schneidermann more and more in these "free" colums:

MYOS said...

further analysis, placing the quote within the past 6 months' context.