Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Raconter la Vie: Pierre Rosanvallon and Pauline Peretz Launch a New Book Collection

This, I think, is a much needed contribution to the contemporary literature on France:

 La Croix :  À quel moment et pour quelle raison avez-vous ressenti la nécessité de lancer cette initiative ? 
  PIERRE ROSANVALLON :  C’est plutôt à la suite d’une succession de déclics. Le niveau de délitement, de méfiance, de décomposition, de racisme, enregistré par les sondages, ne cesse de monter dans la société française. Il en résulte des phénomènes de violence, la construction d’un lien social tissé par la haine, ou des phénomènes comme la fuite devant l’impôt. Plus généralement, le monde politique s’est coupé de la société parce qu’il s’est professionnalisé.
(h/t EJ)

The Front National: The Window and the Backroom

Le Monde reports that the Front National has lost several recent recruits, attracted by Marine Le Pen's efforts to de-demonize the party but then repelled upon discovering that the demons still flourished underground. One distinguished between the shop window, in which shiny new wares are prominently on display, and the back room in which the old racism, xenophobia, and homophobia still hold sway.

I may be misreading Le Monde, but it seems to me that the article is intended to express a sort of wan hope that despite polls showing growing popularity for the FN, the party has been less successful than might appear at first glance in recruiting the young cadres on whom its future depends. But the evidence of defections concerns only a handful of cases. We don't know how many other new cadres are delighted by what they find once they lift the veil on the party's base. And in any case, what the article makes quite clear, is that racism, xenophobia, and homophobia are indeed rampant among the rank-and-file, whose numbers are also growing, apparently at an increasing rate. So most new recruits are not dismayed by the attitudes they discover among party veterans, whose suspect humor did not need a Marine Le Pen to become décomplexé.