3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

January 15, 2002 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on February 15, 2002.

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at kessler@well.sf.ca.us


FYI France: Le Pen is baack!


Le Pen has returned, running to become President of France in this Spring's elections -- and he has, apparently, nearly 10% of the French voters behind him: just announced, see,


So, on the "Mein Kampf theory", that it is better to have read the book -- better to know one's enemy than to pretend that he does not exist -- a list follows of the latest, in print, by and about the Front National and this most recent flirtation by France with fascism.

Is the Front National not to be taken seriously, this time around? Someone who knows France and the French much better than I do had better try to prove this... dunno how they would do that, conclusively and comfortably -- I was assured by several that the split with Mégret had driven in the stake at last...

Until so proven, then, these books and the other resources which may be found via,


-- all to me seem "must" reading, and the FN still a phenomenon to be taken very seriously, for anyone who is interested in any of this or ought to be.

France is a close and long - standing friend of the US: it should be good to know what they or at least some of them are thinking -- or not "really" thinking, hopefully (experts?) -- even now that "Everything Has Changed..."


Recent books, then, by and about the Front National in France: some pretty funny titles, here, if only they weren't true --



A little note: big subject --

Le Pen and his Front National represent intolerance, racism, anti - Semitism, extreme nationalism, jingoism, militarism, know - nothingness: a sort of one man / one party personification of all of the malcontents in his country -- in a US context as though all of the right wing plus a few of the left wing reactionaries, from Montana to Utah to Oregon to Orange County to South Carolina to the North Main woods, suddenly were to ban together into a single political party and run a candidate.

Europe is far more efficient -- it has a long tradition, in fact -- at this sort of unified ideological extremism. European democracy also is parliamentary, in which there is no "two - party system", so that minority "nut" candidates very often garner real power, and occasionally even win...

Those were the tactics of Mussolini, of Hitler: say anything to anyone who will support you, in the beginning -- talk banking with the bankers, industry with the industrialists, socialism with the socialists, rearmament with the military -- then back the French against the Italians, the Russians against the English, the Italians against the French -- real opportunistic marketing - style hucksterism, anything which sells.

Le Pen and the FN boast a similar laundry list of positions: if there is a measure proposed in France today which will cater to the unhappiness of some discontented French group they're for it, for the moment -- their "political platform" is a cobbling together of a long series of unrelated grievances of the discontented, like a bunch of miscellaneous beads threaded onto a single and very slender string. Read it and see...

None of the supporters of such a party ever figure out, until far too late, that what is at issue for the party itself are not the positions, or the platform, but simply power -- the power to do "whatever", as the kids now say. Ideologues always end up stabbing their original supporters in the back. That is one of the several differences between ideology and ideas -- in European extremist politics we are talking Niccolo Machiavelli, not Thomas Jefferson.

You really have to see the photos of Le Pen to understand the impact. But the words may be enough. And the real significance is not this man but his following -- "8% à 9% des intentions de vote" is a lot -- there are a lot of folks in France, apparently, who do not think the way most foreigners believe they do. In the ominous words of Reuters, Le Pen and the Front National perhaps were "enterré un peu vite par certains observateurs politiques".


"Let him who is without sin among you throw the first stone", of course, also "qui aime bien châtie bien": neither chastisement nor stones are being thrown here -- only a discussion, between good friends, of what to do about common problems. Extremism fluorishes in the US too, nowadays, at various levels.

Both the US and France can learn from one another about extremism and extremists, and what makes people go off the deep end in different situations. But first comes knowledge: we have to know and stay aware of the fact that an extremist like Le Pen is running for President now in France, and that nearly 10% of the people there appear to favor him.

Perhaps more important, the parliamentary governmental system in use over there gives a minority candidate "leverage" possibilities not available under the US "two party system": so the more unsettled things get, in France, the more possibilities there are for political exploitation by extremists -- just when a nation most needs solidarity, things can fly apart.

And even if things don't -- fly apart, completely -- "centrist" politicians get pulled in extreme directions by the pressures, which we in the US know about too.

(The 6 février Canard Enchainé shows a cartoon of Le Pen in full flame -- haranguing an audience with, "Contre l'insécurité dans nos banlieues, s'il faut un Sharon je serai celui - là!" -- beneath a headline reading "Vive l'extr&ecric;me centre droit!")

The French may not be there yet; but they've been close recently, and it could happen again -- so have we, and so could it here.


Anyway, for more about Le Pen and the Front National, see,





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Last update: March 18, 2002