The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

And…France Moves Hard Right

Here we go again:

Fillon, who has said he will cut public sector jobs and rein

Francois Fillon

Francois Fillon

in government spending, won 44 percent of votes in Sunday’s first-round of voting for the center-right’s nomination. He faces a second-round vote against another former prime minister, Alain Juppe, who trailed him by 15 percentage points.

Polls had him in third place. He came in first. Maybe pollsters should stop polling until they figure out how they keep getting it wrong. Customers might wish to demand refunds.

Fillon thinks Thatcher is the best thing ever and wants to cut 500,000 government jobs.

A neoliberal’s neoliberal, in other words, who is also socially conservative.

Assuming he wins the nomination, he will likely wind up head-to-head against the neo-fascist LaPen.

Here’s how that works:

  • If Fillon wins, his policies will hurt the French so much that LaPen will likely win the next election.
  • If LaPen wins, well, LaPen wins.
  • The left is not a factor because Hollande has betrayed everything they stand for and alienated the left-wing base completely.

Frankly, France should leave the Euro, at the very least, and quite possibly the EU. They are not winning from it any more. Because only LaPen will say that, and because the left continues to insist on irrelevance as they relate to real problems, LaPen is the future, whether Fillon wins this time or not.

This is the twilight of neoliberalism. As I have said for many years, what follows will be an age of war and revolution. This is where neoliberal policies inevitably lead, and we are now on the bleeding edge of that new era.

There will be a chance to do the correct, kind things starting in four to eight years, when the weight of demographics favors young people enough. In the meantime, the old will simply have to age out of politics.

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  1. Tony Wikrent

    But, but, uhh, the left csn tell you all about how you’re exploited.

    The left MUST formulate and enunciate a program of hope and change. The program seems obvious to me: worldwide $100 trillion program of new industry, energy, and transportation systems to eliminate burning of fossil fuels. For the funding, go after the $50 trillion in offshore hot money centers and the $6 trillion a DAY trading in financual markets.

  2. dude

    I mentioned in the previous comments that Mark Blyth sees Trump as part of a larger, global trend. Blyth predicted France’s further move to the right as well.

  3. EmilianoZ

    Neolibs are like those physicians who, when a drug they administered failed, say: “it’s because the dose was not strong enough, we need to double the dose.”

  4. Hugh

    It is not just Hollande. It is the Socialists in general. They embraced neoliberalism in much the same way that Clinton and the Democrats did. Today’s Socialist party is not the party that many of its members remember growing up with in just the same way that today’s Democratic party stopped being the party of the New Deal decades ago. Both parties are running on empty. They are intellectually, morally, and spiritually bankrupt.

    It is important to remember that the Europe of the EU and EZ was largely a creation of a French-German alliance. France’s participation allowed for the re-integration of Germany into Europe and for the dominant position Germany now has. I think the French-Germany relationship has become increasingly strained, but I do not see it yet as at the breaking point.

  5. Greece and Brexit were/are practice rounds for France. I have little doubt that EU and German authorities now believe that they can weather a Le Pen presidency by forcing it into political disarray and collapse if it should come to power — a more spectacular disarray than, say, Hollande, who is just weak. Consequently, they’re willing to take the risk on Fillon. Spain is settling into a mainstream center-right government, and the next government in Greece is currently now most likely to be neoliberal willingly-austerian center right (rather than far-right), having proven that resistance is futile. Consequently, the powers-that-be in Europe are coming to believe that, despite Trump in the USA, the surge of populism is just a flash in the pan that can be brought back down to “reality”.

  6. EmilianoZ

    Why is Martine Le Pen labelled “neo-facist” in this piece and Trump always gets a free pass here? Why the double standards? Is it because she’s a woman?

  7. Left will do everything right, after it does all of wrong things… (with all apologies to WSC)

  8. Herman

    I am not sure if waiting for the older generation to die will be enough. I suspect that as young people age they will become more right-wing, or at least some of them will. As they get married and have kids and feel more pressure from work, bills, etc., they will probably become more susceptible to right-wing propaganda.

    Here is how I have seen it work. Right now in the United States public sector workers and their unions are a huge target because they are being blamed for high taxes and budget problems, especially at the state and municipal level. The Republicans have a very simple and effective message to hard-pressed people: the lazy government workers and their unions are stealing your hard-earned money to shore up their fat salaries, pensions, and secure, do-nothing jobs. You work hard, don’t have a union, no pension, no job security and low or inadequate salaries/wages, so why should the lazy government workers have it better than you?

    This message is very effective in getting ordinary Americans to buy into the right-wing program. It is the reason why Scott Walker succeeded in Wisconsin and why the Republicans have been winning big, especially at the state level. You can add on other successful right-wing talking points such as all of the lazy people on welfare living it up and the government wanting you to pay for someone else’s education and health care. This is the kind of right-wing populism that encourages people to punch down and it is very effective. I don’t know if this is just an American thing but I wouldn’t be surprised if it also applied to France and other countries too.

    What is the response from the mainstream Left? Identity politics and more education. The Left has no countervailing class-based narrative to combat right-wing populism. Ever since the Left discarded class conflict in favor of multiculturalism, identity politics and educational meritocracy ordinary people have been left without an ideology to direct their anger in a fruitful direction. So it is not surprising when the right-wing populists fill up the void left by the demise of the old class-based Left.

  9. Some Guy

    The post is correct as usual but I’d be interested to get your take on LaPen and the FN.

    We don’t really get much coverage of FN here aside from the standard media accusations of istiness -‘fascist, nativist, populist, etc.’ that are automatically applied to anyone not toeing the neoliberal party line, but any time I do get more information their views seem reasonable. You’ve tagged on the obligatory ‘neo-fascist’ prefix in your post suggesting the neo-libs have a point this time. What am I missing?

  10. MojaveWolf

    1) Agreed w/Tony and everyone right down the line about the left’s need to provide actual policy prescriptions that people can believe will make their life better. Right now, our leaders are mostly not doing it.

    Now, at the risk of being suddenly laughed at or hated by everyone else here, which would make me sad because I really like this site and some of the people here, but I have to do this . . .

    2. Okay, I’m not an expert on French politics. But I just read Marine Le Pen’s wiki page, and I’m not understanding how she qualifies as hard right. I disapprove of her desire to provide the right opportunities to “increase the birth rate” as the page said, and she made a stupid comparison back in 2010 (people should not be blocking streets and intersections for their prayers, fully agreed, but this should NOT be compared to the Nazi occupation of WWII), but otherwise … she sounds like a real populist, not a fake one, and WAY to the left of any American Democrats who ran this time except Bernie and maybe O’Malley. What am I missing? If my reading of this is correct, then if she is hard right then every single American candidate running except Bernie and O’Malley were foaming at the mouth crazies, and those latter two are verging on right wing themselves.

    I know, different continent and all, but, I’m not getting something.

  11. MojaveWolf

    Clarification of bad wording on my part: I disapprove of her desire to provide the right opportunities to “increase the birth rate” meant that she wanted to provide social conditions that would make people happier about having kids in hopes that they actually would have more kids. I did not mean she specifically wanted right wing people to breed. Very poor choice of words on my part.

  12. I just sent in a guest post on the subject to Ian, but in a nutshell, the problem with the FN is not MLP’s economic program but the usual tradeoff between a left-wing economic nationalist program and the right-wing cultural politics of MLP’s base, coloured in by the difficulty of implementing a left-wing nationalist program in a European context where European-level systems are designed to make the costs of self-extrication catastrophic. Result: violence in the streets and likely eventual reassertion of neoliberal politics.

  13. Some Guy

    \”the problem with the FN is … the usual tradeoff between a left-wing economic nationalist program and the right-wing cultural politics of MLP’s base, coloured in by the difficulty of implementing a left-wing nationalist program in a European context where European-level systems are designed to make the costs of self-extrication catastrophic.\”

    So you\’re saying it is a good program, but because the EU is run by power mad dictators who would rather destroy the countries they ostensibly lead then let them make their own decisions, it could lead to conflict?

    And this is the case *against* FN?

  14. BlizzardOfOz

    @MojaveWolf, do let us know if you figure that one out.

    My own belief (as an irredeemable racist transphobic deplorable) is that the answer lies in a nationalist vs globalist frame. The Money Power increasingly needs globalization (mass migration and “free trade”) to feed its hunger for never-ending growth. The left has mostly aligned with globalization because they see it as increasing the living standards of impoverished 3rd-worlders, and also because importing dependent populations increases their power base in the Western nations.

    But the globalists’ flank is seriously exposed, because globalism is screwing over the Western lower-to-middle classes in the form of vanishing jobs, declining wages, and social service cuts due to strained national budgets. The nationalists are poised to fill this void, hence the strident denunciation of them as “hard-right white-nationalist neo-Nazis”, even when, as you noted, their positions are really very moderate. Le Pen is “hard right” when she opposes ending public funding of abortions? Okay then.

  15. atcooper

    MojaveWolf, here’s something that was passed to me by a French national:

    The only bits that strike me as particularly right wing are the security policies.

  16. atcooper

    Oh goodness, make that French citizen passed to me. Not an FN party member.

  17. MojaveWolf

    Thanks, atcooper! The FN platform does indeed appear problematic, and there are some elements that are eyebrow-raising in a not-good way. What I’d seen about Pen indicates she is an improvement over her traditional party, if you take her as more or less genuine (I gather there is disagreement about this?), but it’s good to get some idea of the background and why people on the left are concerned. The article’s pro-EU slant notwithstanding (“the increasingly harmonious EU” line somehow struck as me wrong, given developments over the last few years) it was helpful, albeit I am hopeful she can lead the party in a new and better direction (for example, I understand she is pro-gay rights and gay marriage and pro-secular, in opposition to that platform).

    Apologies to all; I agree w/all the criticisms of the FN but the more I study Le Pen the more I like her.

    @Mandos–I see your article and am about to get to it. Thanks!

  18. Richard

    Thing is, median wages in France (unlike the UK the past decade or the US the past 4 decades) has been improving impressively (French government has traditionally been much more willing to put their thumb on the scale to save jobs compared to Anglo countries). So why would they turn populist? Granted, youth unemployment is high.

    Think France may be going through their Thatcher/Reagan phase. People take for granted the benefits of a strong welfare state and because of crime/social issues, put in power a right-winger who dismantles said welfare state. Inequality then soars. Scapegoating right-wing populist demagogue then wins.

  19. Synoia

    The Germans have caused the last 4 of the World Wars in Europe. The French one.

    These are:

    WW II
    WWI I
    Franco-Prussian War
    Napoleonic War
    30 Years War

    Every time these is a large unified country in the Center of Europe, there is war. The Russians knew this and insisted on partitioning Germany. The US either did not, or RealPolitik (Empire under another guise, by people who are mendacious by reflex).

    Neoliberalism succeeded because it is Mendacious at its root. For a while people placed their hope on its lies, which are now exposed and have worn thin.

    Leaving its only supporters being those who employ its Mendacity to grasp for power (Clinton, Blair and others).

    Deceit, root deceit, was its success, and is the cause of its failure.

  20. Synoia

    One other thing: The rise of the Left (Peasant Revolts, French Revolution, or orkers and Unions) is a consequence of the Power of the Right.

    Only when the right, the aristocracy, is firmly in power does the left have a clear target.

    Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. That is the Left at the current time. The Right was planning for the last 30 years.

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