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Quick Take on France: Not Necessarily a Defeat
American Righties are distraught over Macron’s win and Lefties are relieved. Both are wrong. In my view, it was a mistake to analogize or allegorize this French election into the Trump/Brexit story as everyone was doing. There is no such easy overlap. I think those two things are something uniquely Anglo-American; something taking shape in the Anglosphere that only has hints around the world. First, as Daniel Hannan recently wrote:
Let’s get one thing clear at the outset. Marine Le Pen is not “far Right”. She is not, in any meaningful sense, Right-wing at all. She wants wealth taxes, higher social spending, limited working hours, worker control of companies, tariffs. The garrulous agitator is Right-wing only in the BBC sense of “baddie” – a designation which the corporation applies to everyone from the revolutionary ayatollahs in Iran to the Stalinist nostalgics in Russia.
Marine Le Pen is a National Socialist. I’m not calling her a Nazi, it’s just the most accurate description of her program. From an American perspective, she is a decidedly left-wing candidate. It was her views on immigration and culture that necessitated her labeling as a “baddie” and thus right-wing. Second, Reuters says of the new French President:
Macron will now face huge challenges as he attempts to enact his domestic agenda of cutting state spending, easing labour laws, boosting education in deprived areas and extending new protections to the self-employed… Furthermore, his economic agenda, particularly plans to weaken labour regulations to fight stubbornly high unemployment, are likely to face fierce resistance from trade unions and his leftist opponents.
Is this what passes for Leftism now? Methinks not. Macron’s position on immigration and culture aren’t great, but it looks to me that the French voted with their wallets. They seem to be in the mood for some economic liberalization above all. A passing first glance at the results also indicates that the urban areas outvoted the suburban and the rural, and according to The Economist, Le Pen might have done a lot better if France had a US-style electoral college.
But, I also take the point that too much immigration and Islamization makes all these issues moot, and that was the reason to vote for Le Pen. Basically Ann Coulter’s argument for Trump. I’m sympathetic to that.
Had we all bothered to really look at what every candidate was about, US conservatives would’ve been rooting for Fillon. Hélas, he was too damn ennuyeux. François who? As fun as it sounds I can’t join my fellow Righties today in the OMG FRNACE IZ OVEERRR!!1!! chorus. I’m doing my best Gallic Shrug thinking “we’ll see.”Published in Foreign Policy
Thanks for the post. I agree. The more I learned about Marine Le Pen, including her secularism and relationship with Russia, Macron looked like the more reasonable candidate of the two. The right backing Marine Le Pen seemed to cone from the desire to blow up the system that appealed to some Trump supporters. It’s too bad for Fillon, but it just shows that conservatives need to stay scandal free. Not that there aren’t enough scandals to go around, but it hits conservatives harder.
You make some good points. A Le Pen win would have been more fun in an upset-the-apple-cart drive-the-elites-crazy kind of way, but the way you describe it Macron may be all right. I feel better about it after reading your post.
Indeed. From the description, it sounds like they elected a younger version of JEB!
I agree with you in regards to Le Pen let’s face it as much as we don’t like to use those words she is a National Socialist. In regards to Macron I seriously doubt a guy that worked for Hollande is likely to liberilise the French economy.
Great post from a relative newbie. :)
I don’t disagree and I’d add that Trump enthusiasts‘ backing Marine Le Pen appears to come from their being anti-political Islam, anti-immigration, and anti-EU.
Which is where we’re at: many on the post-conservative Right support the anti-American, Pro-Iran candidate who wants to strengthen Putin’s hand in Europe, because she might do something about those Muslims in a country where they don’t live, and upend a political / economic order in which they do not participate.
However, I think that comes mostly from people not actually looking what she was about. It seems everyone accepted the media’s (on all sides) constant “far-right Marine LePen, far-right Marine LePen, far-right Marine LePen” mantra.
Do you think many non-French speakers know of her anti-American, pro-Iran, pro-Russia, pro-big government stances?
I can’t say. But there’s a strain in the post-conservative Right that wants big government, as long as if does the proper things, and admires Russia as some great defender of Christian Civ. I wouldn’t be surprised in a year or two if they develop a strange new respect for Iran.
Most of us just hate the left and wanted it pimp slapped. I don’t admire Russia, Frankly the most trustworthy thing in Russia are incontinent hookers. I don’t like big government Trump style by any means (hell I’ve turned off the news now beyond this sort of center right right of center sort of bucket o nerds) but had job offers in 2 countries that I was ready to take if Shrillary and her horrific cabal from hell won.
I think we can respect Iran now. So many places to bomb and so much suffering to cause on them for the wicked ways of their leaders. I respect target rich environments for the joy.
LePen is an odd duck and not my cup of soup. The young Dustin Hoffman is also a strange cat.
The exclamation point means excitement!
I find it amusing that the media (both US and Brit) spent the last week trying to frame this as a referendum on “the far right”, “Trumpism” and “the dark forces that caused Brexit”. They now seem happy about “reason” prevailing – as if this election marks the day when the world order is restored rather than an outsider winning the French presidency.
Good luck to the French – honestly – I hope their new President makes positive changes.
But better luck to those looking to ease their Brexit/Trump pain by living vicariously through an election which – as James wonderfully put it – is in a “political/economic order in which they do not participate”.
Le Republicans needed to nominate someone who would take the immigration issue away from Le Pen. Failure to do so prevented them from getting into the second round.
They potentially will be wiped out in parliamentary elections by a similar mechanism
Thanks, good article. This is my impression but don’t know France or it’s politics. There is an anomaly in what we’re calling right these days that has nothing to do with what I’d call conservative. Some we call “right” have absorbed the age’s false belief that the government is capable of fixing government ineptitude and corruption if just led by strong dedicated people. This is the same illusion that keeps the left coming back to do more damage and demonstrates the left’s inability to learn from constant and universal failure.
The idea that you can have open borders (which is what Schengen essentially is) and a welfare state is lunacy. Macron says you can have both. Le Pen realizes you cannot.
Those conservatives who think you can are as delusional as Macron.
Schengen is only open internal borders within the Schengen area. If they rigorously defended the external borders, there would be only the issues of internal migrations and they seemed to largely have addressed that. The problem is the external borders are not being enforced.
But they don’t.
But that’s not the essence of Schengen. It’s the essence of modern leftism.
As Claire Berlinski has pointed out, Fillon is also anti-American and Putin- appeasing. I would have favored him as the least bad choice, though. But he had “appropriate” leaks that undermined him, while Macron was the victim of “inappropriate” leaks. Or something.
I don’t much care if France falls off the continent. It has no impact on my life.
I think the victory is that FN is a mainstream party now.
Will a third of voters spoil their ballot or abstain next time? Especially if things don’t get better?
Will the conservative party do what the Tories in the UK have done and seize on FNs popular issues and dominate the next election, and turn the FN into the rump party that UKIP is now?
What will the far left do?
Does Macron make it to the 2nd round next time?
Some of the locals seem to be taking the possibility seriously.
Whatever the “post-conservative Right” is, it certainly is not this mishmash of wildly non-correlated issues … big government, admiring of Russia as a defender of Christian Civ (huh?) and new respect for Iran?! Where have you found the existence this unimaginable “strain”?
Wow, that was quick work! They’re already protesting him.
As for the first, many of Trump’s explainers and advocates – TKC here, those fellows over at American Greatness – were saying that big government was a useful tool for MAGA, and it was time the Right used this power for Good. There’s also the matter of a trillion-dollar stimulus plan.
As for the defender of Christian Civ, I hear this from various tweeters with Crusader avatars, and other marginal sources.
As for the Iranian support, LePen wants to tilt towards Iran, so yeah, strange new respect from some circles will be along eventually. Yeah, why do we side with the Saudis over Iran? Why shouldn’t we support Iranian efforts to defend itself against Israel’s capacities? And so on.