Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Fever Grips the Entire Nation

What would Tocqueville have made of the US (or French) presidential election. I take up the question in The Nation. It's the cover story in this week's issue.

La Nuit des Couteaux Longs

There used to be honor among thieves, but no longer. Jean-François Copé, evidently bitter at being left to swing slowly, slowly in the wind in the Bygmalion affair, has unloaded on Nicolas Sarkozy and, less predictably, on François Fillon:

Alors le candidat à la primaire des Républicains, sûr de son destin, sourd aux quolibets, s’emballe. Et déballe. Il pense avoir été la victime d’un complot politico-judiciaire, orchestré par Nicolas Sarkozy et François Fillon, désireux de régler son compte à leur ennemi commun en lui faisant payer les (fausses) factures de l’UMP. Jean-François Copé, entre rancune et revanche, accuse.
What a sordid business! What a lovely party.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Open Racism

French racists no longer even try to hide their true colors. Eric Zemmour presented his new book (a compilation of his columns over the past 5 years) to a large crowd in Versailles, where he was interviewed on stage by Marion Maréchal-Le Pen. The master of ceremonies introduced him thus:
« Ici, vous êtes en famille. Pas de SOS-Racisme, pas de LICRA [Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l’antisémitisme]. »
But who can be shocked any longer in the age of Donald Trump? Zemmour did not disappoint his audience:
Le journaliste ne craint pas d’adopter une posture maximaliste. C’est même ce que son public lui réclame, à grand renfort d’applaudissements. « C’est un défi civilisationnel que nous lance l’islam, estime-t-il. L’islam est conquérant par essence (…). A toutes les frontières de l’islam, il y a la guerre. Toutes les frontières de l’islam cèdent. »
Cette religion, « incompatible » selon lui avec la République, la laïcité, la démocratie, ou tout simplement la France, aurait investi des champs délaissés, le « pouvoir viril, l’autorité, la hiérarchie, la spiritualité ». Une situation rendue possible par la discrétion supposée du christianisme, et surtout la trahison d’élites qui ont fait alliance « avec le nouveau peuple arabo-musulman contre le vieux peuple français ».
François Hollande said yesterday in remarks directed at Nicolas Sarkozy, if the right in France pursues this course on which it seems doggedly set, there will be civil war. The phrase was not well-chosen. A "civil war" against a minority of 8 percent is not a war but a massacre. The "virile power" that Zemmour calls for will have blood on its hands. These people must be stopped, but with the left in total disintegration, is there anyone left to stop them?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Comparative Disruption: US and France

The presidential campaigns in the US and France are destabilizing political systems in both countries. I write about it here.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sarkozy, Climate Change Denier

I am beginning to wonder if Nicolas Sarkozy is not working to elect Marine Le Pen. He has adapted Goldwater's slogan in the service of himself: Extremism in the defense of Nicolas Sarkozy is no vice. Now he has added climate change denial to his list of sins, repudiating his own previous position on the issue. "We human beings must be arrogant to think that it is we who cause climate change."  The Good Lord may be flattered by this nod to his transcendent powers, but Sarko's intended audience is the working-class voters whose jobs Marine Le Pen has promised to protect (or bring back) by exempting factories from any need to rein in their emissions. Whether there are any votes to be won here remains to be seen, but Sarkozy has meanwhile demonstrated that he deserves his old epithet L'Américain. But its meaning has changed. Previously it signified that he was a supply-side tax-cutter, a neoliberal in the Reagan-Bush mold. Now it means that he has become Donald Trump: a shameless prevaricator who will say and do anything to gain advantage. Post-truth politics has come to France.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The PS and the EU

I have a new piece in Foreign Policy giving some of the historical background of the current EU crisis.