Saturday, July 30, 2011

Le Pen Contre Le Pen

Jean-Marie Le Pen is doing his best to counter the supposed transformation of the Front National desired and to some extent achieved by his daughter. Yesterday he blamed the massacre in Norway on "multicultural elites" that failed to respond with appropriate force to "the colonization of Europe" by Muslims. The party's official position had previously been to condemn the massacre unequivocally and to express solidarity with the people of Norway. But Le Pen père seems unwilling to disassociate himself from violence in what he considers to be the righteous cause of Islamophobia, even if he calls the agent of that violence "fou."

There's no point trying to parse J.-M. Le Pen's precise intent. What his words reveal is a state of mind that is no doubt widely shared on the extreme right but that a younger generation has learned to veil more skillfully than the always disinhibited Jean-Marie, whose inveterate taste for provocation is now abetted by a semi-senile crumbling of the garde-fous that would normally prevent a politician, even of the extreme right, from associating himself with a mass murderer of children.

Polls earlier this year had shown Marine Le Pen with remarkably high first-round scores in a variety of cas de figure. Her numbers had already subsided somewhat before her father's outburst. One can hope that they will subside further in the wake of this latest verbal atrocity by the honorary president of her party.

Front de Gauche in les Quartiers Popu'

Mediapart has an interesting piece ($) on political activity by minority community organizers in a suburb of Montpellier. The leader is one Mohammed Bouklit, and after considering an alliance with EELV, he rejected it on the grounds that the Greens may be good for this sort of thing elsewhere but in Montpellier they are "too bobo." So he is now working with the Front de Gauche, despite Mélenchon's fierce commitment to "une république laïque" and rejection of "communautarisme." This is the kind of alliance that could eventually shake things up on the left by tapping into a population that has hitherto largely abstained from voting:

Bouklit a décidé de prendre le mouvement rassembleur à la gauche du PS au mot. «Le Front de gauche c'est quoi?, explique-t-il. Un cartel de trois partis ayant vocation à s'élargir et appelant à la constitution d'assemblées citoyennes. Eh bien nous, elle est déjà constituée. Donc on veut participer à cette recomposition de la gauche. Nous, on veut plus de gauche dans les quartiers.» Conscient de devoir montrer patte blanche, ou du moins «patte laïque», il estime aussi que «la volonté d'ethnicisation entretient la ghettoïsation et le clientélisme» et pense que «le communautarisme nuit aux revendications, car elles se heurtent d'emblée à une rhétorique accusatoire. Même si on n'a aucune leçon à recevoir, et que personne n'a à nous dire qui on est, ni ce qu'on doit penser». Désireux de dépasser «les débats caricaturaux et simplistes», il dit aussi croire «aux vertus de l'éducation populaire, et au fait que le printemps arabe est en train de jouer sur les consciences. Comme un contrechoc des civilisations».