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.”

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  1. BD1 Member
    BD1
    @

    “Eiffel Tower To Be Surrounded by $20M Bulletproof Glass Wall by Year’s End.”

    Oh, thank goodness the fascists have been defeated in France!

    • #31
  2. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    The post-conservative Right is a mishmash, because it has no coherent principles. It’s a movement, not a philosophy.

    • #32
  3. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Wylee Coyote (View Comment):

    DocJay (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Indeed. From the description, it sounds like they elected a younger version of JEB!

    The exclamation point means excitement!

    Please clap.

    It’s not “Jeb!”  It’s “Jeb?”

    • #33
  4. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Wylee Coyote (View Comment):

    DocJay (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Indeed. From the description, it sounds like they elected a younger version of JEB!

    The exclamation point means excitement!

    Please clap.

    It’s not “Jeb!” It’s “Jeb?”

    Or maybe that cool interrobang symbol I’ve heard about. It’s “Jeb‽”

    • #34
  5. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    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

    This was a governing philosophy expounded 20 years ago by none other than The Weekly Standard. They just didn’t have hats!

     

    Without a vision….the people will starve.

    • #35
  6. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    The post-conservative Right is a mishmash, because it has no coherent principles. It’s a movement, not a philosophy.

    This may be true in a broad generality. However, not because the majority of the individual voters, or “strains” if you will, of the Right, who supported Trump, don’t have coherent principles. Trump may not, and some of his voters may not, but certainly many, if not most, do. ABC. Anybody but Clinton. And it has been clearly established, Marine LePen is in no way a good analogy for the ‘Right’ of America. The only thing that truly unites the two is an opportunity to poke a finger in the eye of the EU.

    As such, it seems somewhat disingenuous to impose much of the policy of Marine Le Pen (fans of Putin, Iran and Big Government) as embraced by the Right of America.

    • #36
  7. Snirtler Inactive
    Snirtler
    @Snirtler

    Columbo (View Comment):

    <snip> And it has been clearly established, Marine LePen is in no way a good analogy for the ‘Right’ of America. The only thing that truly unites the two is an opportunity to poke a finger in the eye of the EU. [emphasis mine, not Columbo’s]

    As such, it seems somewhat disingenuous to impose much of the policy of Marine Le Pen (fans of Putin, Iran and Big Government) as embraced by the Right of America.

    When @jameslileks first weighed in, it was in reply to my observation that Trump’s more enthusiastic American supporters cheered Le Pen’s anti-political Islam and anti-immigration views.

    I disagree that the only thing uniting Le Pen and a certain strain in the Trump-era right is their anti-globalism, including the rejection of supranationalism’s embodiment in the EU. This similarity isn’t merely about wanting to blow up the EU system (the way pro-Trump Americans wanted to see him bring down the political establishment).

    @bereketkelile just had a post where various Ricochetti (@outlaws6688, @brianclendinen, @stad) explained their reasons for wanting to see Le Pen win, apart from their rejection of global elites and the EU:

    It’s disingenuous to deny these other points of similarity between Le Pen and members of the American right exist.

    • #37
  8. Snirtler Inactive
    Snirtler
    @Snirtler

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Columbo (View Comment):
    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”?

    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.

    He’s is the only world leader, to my sadness who is defending the Christians of the Middle east. Russia is the biggest obstacle to the Globalist millenium. It’s a nationalist country, It’s a christian country It’s an anti globalist country. It opposes the European Union. It opposes the One world order.

    This is why the left reviles and hates Putin.

    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.

    Support for Iran is a Le Pen policy that I have not seen American conservatives embrace, unlike other aspects of her worldview.

    • #38
  9. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Columbo (View Comment):
    This may be true in a broad generality. However, not because the majority of the individual voters, or “strains” if you will, of the Right, who supported Trump, don’t have coherent principles. Trump may not, and some of his voters may not, but certainly many, if not most, do. ABC. Anybody but Clinton.

    I agree that was an animating motivation, and I understand the argument, but it’s not a principle. It’s a reaction.

    Now, to be boring and honest, it can be seen as a set of principles, inasmuch as Group A believes in a group of principles we’ll call Idea Set #1-#15, and is reasonably confident based on experience and observation that HRC, being a member of Group B, will actively oppose Idea Set #1-#15 and implement Idea Set #16-#30. But acting from the Anybody But Clinton mindset does not necessarily mean you are doing so to advance Idea Set #1-#15; it could mean you’re content with anything else. I’m not saying that’s necessarily bad – sometimes you might have to roll the dice. But it’s a reaction.

    And it has been clearly established, Marine LePen is in no way a good analogy for the ‘Right’ of America. The only thing that truly unites the two is an opportunity to poke a finger in the eye of the EU.

    As such, it seems somewhat disingenuous to impose much of the policy of Marine Le Pen (fans of Putin, Iran and Big Government) as embraced by the Right of America.

    Yes and no. I’m not talking about the old GOP, but the explanations of Trumpism offered up by his explainers. I don’t think Trump is a pawn of Putin, and I think his artless parrying away of the opportunity in the campaign to condemn Putin came from thoughtlessness, ignorance, and a desire to see himself in the same club of Important People. Trump being Trump. Nikki being Nikki is more important, and her words at the UN are more instructive than Trump’s talk about being green-room buddies.

    But it does back to what I said about reaction over principle: if people on the right want to cheer LePen because she wants to put a thumb in the eye of the EU, and that overrides all the positions that are inimical to our interests, then we go along with winking at bad actors because ABM – Anyone But Merkel – is sufficient to get our approval.

    • #39
  10. outlaws6688 Inactive
    outlaws6688
    @outlaws6688

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    ChrisFujita (View Comment):
    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.

    And the right that you belong to is fine with throwing away our culture to the barbarians in exchange for tax cuts.

    • #40
  11. outlaws6688 Inactive
    outlaws6688
    @outlaws6688

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    The post-conservative Right is a mishmash, because it has no coherent principles. It’s a movement, not a philosophy.

    At least we are not a bunch of defeatists looking to give away our country to the new fascists (Muslims).

    • #41
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