Monday, 26 May 2014

The Front National Could Destroy France, by David Lindsay

Like the UMP and its numerous Gaullist and Giscardien predecessor formations, the Front National, rather than individuals, factions and tendencies within it, is not immediately easy to locate within René Rémond’s theory of the three French right wings, les trois droites.

Both the UMP and, to a lesser extent, the FN now exhibit, far more than they used to, Orléanism as the bourgeois and economically liberal Franco-Whiggery against which stand both the populist traditionalism of the Legitimists and the populist authoritarianism of the Bonapartists.

There is a certain continuation of Legitimism in the more-or-less Lefebvrist wing of the FN and its electorate, but also in the Social Catholicism of a section of the old UDF and of those who look to the Gaullist conception of the strong French State with a strong Head to deliver the goods.

Not for nothing did Philippe de Villiers withdraw from the UDF over Maastricht as surely as Charles Pasqua withdrew first internally and then externally from the RPR.

Although Gaullism does have obvious Bonapartist roots, just as Boulangism did, yet the popular followings for either and both were and are at least as much Legitimist, especially deep in the countryside.

Especially there, the anti-Gaullist Right is not entirely Orléanist, either; not for nothing did it most recently rally to a man whose name was not merely Giscard, but Giscard d’Estaing.

And from where does anyone think that the popular constituency for an anti-Marxist Socialist Party first came from, or very largely still does come?

Mitterrand could never decide whether he wanted to be Louis XIV or Napoleon. But he certainly wanted to be one or the other.

Deep down, at least, one or the other was what huge numbers of his voters wanted him to be, too. Otherwise, he would never have won.

When he did win, he gave a job to Poujade, in whom the Legitimist and Bonapartist populisms of the Right met, who had endorsed him and who did so again.

To all of which, what says François Hollande, who was endorsed, after all, both by François Bayrou and by Jacques Chirac?

But more, what says the UMP?

The Legitimists celebrated patois (it was more than a century after the Revolution before anything more than half the population of France spoke French), local festivals and folk-customs, the ancient provincial boundaries, and everything else that Jacobins, Whigs, and their imitators or collaborators would wish to iron out, to put it at its very mildest, in the name of progress.

At present, the FN has a thoroughly républicain approach, not only to regional peculiarities, but also and increasingly to secularism.

However, if a new movement is indeed arising out of much or most of it and much or most of the UMP to give voice to those who would thus rise in electoral revolt against an increasingly Islamised, or at least to their mind no longer recognisably French, Île-de-France, then such a movement is likely to be most popular the further from Paris one travelled both geographically and culturally.

It is likely to be a movement very largely conducted in Breton and Corsican, in Provençal and West Flemish, in Occitan and Franconian, in Catalan and Alsatian (already spoken by a goodly number of FN supporters), even in Basque.

And even in places not quite as different as that, the call will be for ever-greater rural, traditional, Catholic, even French-speaking autonomy from a centre actually or apparently less and less characterised by such features, or even tolerant of them.

Thus, a movement sincerely intended to save France might very well end up destroying her.

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