by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog
In less than three months France will have a presidential vote, and I haven’t written much about it because I’ve been too occupied with what I humbly hope will be the authoritative book on the Yellow Vest movement. The working title is France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values.
It will be published for free in serialised form, like my books on Chinese socialism and Iranian Islamic socialism (but buy a copy anyway!), and it should start getting published soon. As I’ve worked on it I’ve realised how interesting it is to determine the Yellow Vests place in French and global political history, and especially when the alternative is to analyse April’s elections.
In fact, the election is interesting, but not at all in the ways described by the Mainstream Media. After all, Emmanuel Macron is 100% a revolutionist – the 2016 book which laid out his campaign platform was titled (quite unironically) Revolution – but he’s the type of revolutionist only a royalist could love.
And France has many royalists, still. And with guns, money, lawyers and spin doctors the French government certainly supports many hardly-working royals worldwide. But this is mixing too many complicated matters for the Mainstream Media, so rather than using just a bit of logic – such as making actual political structures, slogans and policies the basis for which one can define a country to be “leftist” – let’s play along with their tortured illogic by looking at a new column from France’s paper of record titled, “France is a leftist country which votes right”.
It’s a self-flattering idea which explains less than it confuses, and is only useful for how we can examine it to show that “Western leftism” truly is rather rightist. Let’s look at how Le Monde defines what a “leftist country” is:
“… : a right-wing France, tempted by its extremes, which doubts democracy. We need to take a closer look. And do not confuse the sociological reality of the French with its polling, media and political representations. There is no shortage of visible signs of the progress of democratic values: LGBT tolerance, homosexual marriages, record of inter-ethnic marriages and assimilation of foreigners, feminist movements, increased sensitivity to inequalities and injustices, attachment to the republican motto, etc.”
After covering the US 2020 election I can say this: For two countries which loudly insist on their exceptionalism the political lives of both nations are so very, very boringly similar. I wouldn’t doubt that the mainstream media of both nations are owned by the very same people (or investment management firms), such is the similarity between their mainstream political discussions.
I am analysing this Le Monde article because I assume you don’t speak French, but Anglophones will easily recognise that the French are describing (or their media owners compel them to describe) the exact same problems:
“democratic fatigue”, “crisis of representation”, “society of individuals”, “refusal to vote or a vote of refusal” (well-put!), “society of communication”, “the verticality of institutions” (“verticality” may be too complicated a concept for the US media), “an openly xenophobic media group”, “menace to democracy”, “climate (change)”, “how to reconcile civil society with (Western-style) representative politics”, and with the same exact Salafist answer, merely “return to our forgotten origins”, in the French case Rousseau instead of America’s Founding Prophets-Fathers.
I respond with the ultimate dagger one can thrust in French society: It’s not interesting.
Yet France’s election matters, even if it will be a lesser Cirque du Soleil to America’s 2020 election circus extravaganza, which was truly The Greatest Show on Earth.
Le Monde and the other French MSM are basically pushing quiet-yet-prideful acceptance of the fact that the four leading presidential candidates are all on not just the right but essentially the far-right on either political, economic or cultural issues (or on all three).
This is even though the country saw massive support for a Yellow Vest movement whose essential list of demands was quickly recognised to be traditional West European leftist, and remarkably similar to the platform of the leftist party La France Insoumise, led by Jean-Luc Melenchon. Now that is something which we would like to see the French MSM explain rather than confuse, for a change!
Allow me to skip to the end as quickly and painlessly as possible:
Just like with America, we’d be wrong to accuse the average Frenchman of being an intractable reactionary… even though polls show that leftist voters are outnumbered here 2 to 1 by rightists and equalled in number by independents (who to actual leftists would be called right-wing). Leftism rests upon a fundamentally positive and loving view of humanity: The People have long been denied honest education and instead have been spoon-fed elitist-supporting nonsense, and this historical fact is what leftism must methodically work to overcome.
“We too often forget that democracy is born from the recognition of the individual released from the community shackles.”
“No longer the equality of individuals through similarity and having, but a more-demanding equality through the singularity of being particular. Beyond any condition, belonging or identity, everyone feels more and more the equal of the other by their own ‘originality’.”
What we see here is the replacement of both class politics (“having”) and even mere fake-leftist identity politics (“similarity”) with the Western Liberal Democratic emphasis on hyper-individuality, adored by their self-adoring elite.
However, historically and politically the aim of both democracy and leftism was to reduce the power of the monarch, i.e. to place some shackles on the over-empowered individual, both monarch and noble. This is what produced the calls for constitutions and votes and ends seigneurial (feudal) rights, after all.
But in Western Liberal Democracy – or democracy with Western characteristics – “democracy” means protecting what we can call the “over-rights” of the elite – whether you want to call that elite the 1%, the neo-aristocracy, the bourgeois or maybe les seigneurs. Whatever you call it the point is that in a fundamentally disunited “society of individuals” the modern-day lords will always win the maintenance of the current status quo due to their superior resources. The entire point of Western Liberal Democracy’s war on Socialist Democracy has been (and will be) to keep it this way.
There isn’t much more to say than that. I need not quote you the second half of the column, which is a litany of Western grievances with “this way”, i.e. their own system, i.e. that list of societal logjams I bomb-dropped 12 paragraphs above.
They all amount to an admission that Western Liberal Democracy fundamentally rejects class-equitable representation in the halls of political power, and that this power imbalance is brutally enforced by “liberal strongmen” like Macron in “rubber bullet democracies”. Western civil society and the middle and lower classes are thus rendered apathetic, wary of cooperating and de-politicised, and even in a formerly-revolutionary culture like France.
Socialist democracy – i.e., the evolutions in politics represented by the advances from 1917 onwards – are certainly not permitted as an option for discussion in Le Monde, thus the author can only suggest France re-study Jean-Jacques Rousseau. That’s a fine idea, but not if we don’t also study the histories, lessons and ideas around Marx and Mao, Castro and Khomeini, Sankara and Sandinista.
A far more interesting article, by a journalist and not a sociologist, can be found in the current issue of the long-form monthly Le Monde Diplomatique, which has total editorial autonomy from Le Monde (and it shows): “If the working classes were listened to”. A quick recap of the surprising things their interviews with the working class found:
- They don’t care about rising salaries because the cost of goods will just rise commensurately. Who says you need to be an economist to understand how capitalist economics works, LOL? What they want is price controls on essential goods, which France ended in 1987.
- Public debate on education is centred around austerity cuts to government budgets, but what’s driving the average person crazy is the multiplying costs centered around school or outside of school: nurseries, camps, after-school programs, cafeteria food, school supplies, etc.
- The price of entertainment, or should everyone just study/work all the time? Leisure expenses are so high there’s only room in the budget to watch Netflix again. So all three are purchasing power, which has been the number one complaint of French voters since I’ve been here, but – hey – prior to corona the Eurozone’s problem was not enough inflation, right? Sure.
- The alignment of salaries between manual labor and intellectual labor, of which there is zero public discussion in this “leftist” country. It’s another case of unions and other working-class representatives pushing so-called solutions which are fundamentally right-wing. For tough jobs, one worker noted, what’s the point of union discussions of lowering the retirement to 60 – one’s body is already wrecked at 50. Try explaining that to your average French sociologist.
- Getting social welfare deposited directly into the bank accounts of those deemed to deserve it. Tortuous paperwork leads to unclaimed sums for 1 in 3 French families totalling €10 billion, or the total monetary concessions of 2018’s failed effort to buy off the Yellow Vests.
Now that’s a good article, and unlike the Le Monde column it doesn’t totally ignore the biggest development in French politics in decades – the Yellow Vests.
But to a committed Western conservative human politics are based on natural, unregulatable laws, and not on a science of history or reason. Thus your average French voter – which insisted to me prior to 2017’s round 2 that Macron was a “centrist” – gave up on me long ago! “Our top four candidates essentially on the far-right? Ramin, you misunderstand modern Western conservatism!”
Save that for the book – I promise such political explorations will be far more fruitful than this Le Monde column.
List of articles covering the 2022 French elections
Catastrophe since 2017: How to cover France’s presidential election? – November 22, 2021
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’ as well as ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’, which is also available in simplified and traditional Chinese.
“depresso” comes to mind.
It leaves me with 0 enthusiasm. Apathy? It “feels” like it.
Indeed there is no democracy in France. Plus, TV is all bought, most of radio and newspapers/ magazines too. Nothing new under the western sun. The only newspaper that is (“was”really) independent in France is “ le canard enchaîné “. Until 2020 it was making good benefits (something quite rare) and has a very interesting structure of ownership, where one can have shares only if being working for the newspaper. Old French communist style I guess). A great way to keep your sovereignty. They are dedicated at denouncing political, economical and financial frauds and scandals. Plenty of work.
But, in 2020, the distribution company Presstalis went bankrupt, inflicting “ le canard” more than a million Euros debt, a first. And as Nicola Brimo, the director, said: “ a press in deficit, is not free anymore”. Still, the newspaper being very well organized have plenty of savings to keep going. But what is worse, is that they had to go for another distribution company, France messagerie, which is entirely owned by “Cooperative de distribution de quotidiens”, a monopolist company led by the same 3 billionaires ( Berger, Noel, Pigasse) that own “Le Monde” and more. So, “le canard” ‘d better behave, as it has a string on its leg now.
Dictature in France uses all the indirects ways to crowbar one to comply.
There is no real democracy. Referendum results are not respected, candidates shown on MSM are all sponsored by billionaires. The juridic, legislative and executive powers are not really separate powers, like Montesquieu designed it.
The continental Law was overturned by maritime Law, financial totalitarianism, like the Anglo model.
I bore myself writing that. “same old, getting worse”.
As far as politics, the only politics with integrity and competence, running for the présidence, are Francois Asselineau (UPR) and George kuzmanovic, both souverainistes.
The “gilets jaunes” are a legitimate protest movement, but, as far organization of the people in groups to reclaim political responsibility, as well as offering a new Law system, and a great understanding of the flaws of our present system, Valerie Bugault is the one.
“Waking pains” are on the menu.
Not much to say… just in repeat mode, echoing the boring rigged situation.
“ ‘d better shape up!”
Some of the French are very much alive, and the Yellow Vests are one proof, even if they have no official on-line site AFAIK. If anyone knows of an official site, please let all of us know.
But there is another site, a wide-enough window into French dissident politics, and that is https://www.egaliteetreconciliation.fr/ It’s almost entirely in French, and definitely has a focus on things that only the French care about – of course, because they are nationalists. This site publishes a range of opinions. It’s where I learned about Christopher Lasch, the American centrist and social essayist. If you don’t like the first article or writer you see there, check out a few others before you start to make a judgement.
There is a lot going on in France, but since 2003, the French MSM has build a solid steel wall of non-existence for people the MSM and the super-rich French don’t like. Absolutely, you will not see even a ripple in any of the glossy magazines or fancy TV shows. Rien, rien de toute. I think this intense censorship started with the ban against the great Afro-French comedian, Dieudonne, You don’t have to be a Francophone to appreciate the handful of DIeudonne’s performances which come excellent English subtitles, rather than machine translation. His sketch about Cancer is universally loved: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_7zGe1Q1cI. Search on Youtube.com for “Dieudonne English” and you will find more sketches, about a third of which are just dirty attacks on this genial man. His sketch, “Palestine” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypIqpclCXE will show you why certain folks hate him so much.
Thank you cosimo for posting those videos of Dieudonne. I hadn’t heard him before.
The cancer: I needed to laugh like that with my belly cramping. That made my day.
Palestine: … partage de douleur, partage de cœur. Horreur, malheur. Au delà de la comédie et du drame, la tragédie dit tout et laisse sans voix. C’est beau et terrible.
Comme dirait une gonzesse dans « gros dégueulasse», l’amour c’est comme le cinéma, le chiant c’est les commentaires.
Coluche est mort? Vive Dieudonne!
Palestine: … sharing pain, sharing heart. Horror, misfortune. Beyond comedy and drama, tragedy says it all and leaves you speechless. It is beautiful and terrible.
As a chick would say in “gros disgusting”, love is like cinema, the boring thing is the comments.
Coluche is dead? Long live Dieudonne!
Le Monde: “There is no shortage of democratic values: LGBT tolerance, homosexual marriages, inter-ethnic marriages, feminist movements, increased sensitivity, attachment to the republican motto, etc.”
But a great shortage of socialist values: equality of income, of social amenities, of ownership, of decision making, etc.
As you say, “It’s not interesting”. France will remain a pale copy of the U$A until Les Gilets Jaunes learn to dance the Carmagnole…
Re leisure prices, as someone who lives around half the year in France and the other half in England, I can say that cinema and theatre ticket prices are far more reasonable in France than London. Last weekend I had booked to see Isabelle Huppert in The Cherry Orchard at Odeon Theatre in Paris, ticket cost 40 euros. Unfortunately it was cancelled due to covid among the cast. I suspect the price would have been double that in London. I went to cinema instead. Ticket cost 10 euro and fortunately, no sign of bucket sized portions of popcorn or coke among the audience, sadly an increasing trend at cinemas in England.
Agreed that leisure is cheaper here, but that’s mainly because wages are so much lower and taxes so much higher.
I know very few people here taking home much more than $2k per month, but unlike in the US I know hardly anyone with very high salaries. It’s the high-salaried people who can take the whole family to a ballgame, top theatre, etc. in the US. The article makes a good point that “fin du mois” problems put a squeeze on leisure/entertainment budgets, and while that’s tough for everyone kids must have the hardest time accepting it these days I imagine.
Since I reside in France, my view is slightly different: A socialist country which votes against the far right.
Macron’s votes are people which did vote against Le Pen and not actually because they opted for Macron.
Disregarding the present fake polls, I would say the real candidates are Macron, Zemmour and Le Pen.
Macron has taken damage on the handling of the pandemic, plus the inflation on food and energy prices, plus the handling of the yellow wests.
Zemmour could win, even if he does not deserve it.
I live in France as well, and agree with you.
Except for at this point I think Zemmour’s chances are the worst of the 4, and that actually Pecresse could be the surprise winner – enough mainstream conservatives find Macron too divisive and revert back to a more mainstream candidate.
Another important trigger for the next election might be the issue of Russia and the U.S strategy to provoke the final cut off of Nordstream2 by blowing up the Ukraine issue.
French people are not Russophobic or at least would not share the intention to go to war for Ukraine.
Macron is part of the European Americanized elites which would not dare to oppose realistically US aggression.
Macron’s posturing as a mediating actor in this crisis lacks credibility.
When Russia finally acts, and they will, Macron might be placed in a very difficult position.
My view Macron is history (a bad one).
I enjoy your articles on this blog and keep posting.
Cheers from an Argentinian in Gers.
France is a Fascist Country which pretends it is a Classical Liberal country. Like in Orwell’s 1984 the political vocabulary is designed to appear “Liberal” or socialist but is Imperialistic and militarist. That is why the Bankster establishment has spent so much energy promoting Psychiatry and against Christianity,.They want people to think in sane/insane and not good/evil categories. They also want a collective society for the masses while the Rich can live as Individuals.
An interesting French astrophysicist, Jean Pierre Petit, was mentioning some kind of sociological contradiction and complex: Freedom versus Truth. Yes, ultimately, Truth shall set us free. At the same time truth restrains our liberties, like being sustainable requires restraint on our endless desires for more. The taste for truth goes down as truth is often unpleasant. The desire for truth is a concern to not be duped. But it seems that, in majority, people are more concerned to FACE the fact that they have and are still been duped than to be duped really, especially if it is still kind of comfy. The frog stove thing.
Facing our gullibility and our lying to ourselves is rather unpleasant. Generally the lie is convenient.
I find that critical thinking has been replaced by criticism. For example we criticize and reject the one pointing at a conspiracy, who ends up with the label “conspiracy theorist”. Whoever says “it” is “it”.
Systematic doubt, is a scientific method to question and explore reality and truth, in order to build a solid foundation, a body of knowledge. Part of the Orwellian thing is that that doubting, rather than remaining a tool, becomes the permanent state. Kind of, the mind being the master instead of being the servant.
Ourselves opting for being slaves in denial instead of masters of our mind. Then we become intolerant of people having different points of view, or even just for speaking up their truth, as this may bring a sense of our own cowardice to do so. Our fear to be judged and condemned by the group, on one hand, and the desire to feel free to challenge any agreed upon matter, like our earth to be round, as a classic exemple.
Scientific attitude confronts our cognitive bias, like belief and conditioning, and yet consolidate our understanding.
Doubt, originally coming from a desire for truth, turns out to deny any truth.
Doubt becomes a weapon or a shield to prevent truth to constrain our liberties. Those seem more important than truth, less unpleasant anyway. Like the value of the clan, be it of color, gay, trans or other, is judged more important, more special to us, than the value of the “social contract”. The individuality versus the collective.
Our rights versus our duty and obligations.
I don’t know where I’m going with that. I guess, it is about finding that equanimity, that balanced mind centered between rationality and the paradoxes beyond our mental grasp.
What is of concern to me, is to see how irrational and easily manipulated humans can be.
Have a good day. Thanks for allowing my thinking out loud, rather cloudy. By the way, the sun is shining behind the window and the doggies are been more patient than I am. Time to go and resource myself.
Many North Atlantis sinking Social Democrat born into their party’s leading elite families follow the same pattern as those “leftist” fake French left leading Rat-catcher of Hamlen politiciansleading the youngsters of the populace into near drowning on Children’s Crusades of sleepwalker “wokeness”. The most galring example probably being the former Labour PM of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, returning from a stint as the chief eunuck of NATO and now applying to become top chief of the National bank of Norway,
A couple of things I wanted to add. One about France, truth and freedom: “franc” was the name of the “free people” after the Roman invasion was over. « Franc » also means sincere. True in the sense of free to communicate, without holding back or lying. I hope this is not lost but just covered. Of course when you see a bird coated during an oil spill, there is very little hope, for that bird anyway.
Our liberal system coating the living one might be as deadly. Just a different scale. Global maybe?
Another thing was about « l’air du temps », the zeitgeist I guess, our current « disposition »: on one hand we cling on what we have established, on the other we feel the call for a revolution. To illustrate that, in astrology, we currently have Saturn in Aquarius squaring Uranus in Taurus. In the best of all worlds, we would « con-sider »
(get those « astres » together) the qualities at play and sort out the most harmonious form of radical change with the cautious conservatism of collective structures, like public services, freedom of speech, and such.
Both Aquarius and Uranus are inviting truth, freedom and change, whereas both Saturn and Taurus are rather conservative, sticking to what works and is comfortable. We obviously have many different ways to play that out, left and right.
Anyway, I think we leave in times where left and right are flipped upside down, so we can see their bellies, and also realize that it is not black or white, not even all grey, maybe many shades of grey, or black and white patterns? We cannot go wrong seeing the Yin/ Yang.
Times to remain different and, at the same time, times to change in sameness. It is up to us to choose our best version of what that means.
Maybe the best and the worst go together… until the end.
It is refreshing, or, at least ,it put things in perspective to think about the Big Bang being just one of many, in cycles of Generation, Organization and Destruction. GOD is all there is…
… unless The Goddess is all there is and God, on the other end, gave it all and remains nothing. Who knows?
And last thing, I heard that paradox about saying the truth or lying at a cross path. I think there are many versions of it. This one might might be cheesier than others: 2 giants are blocking the path ( in fact in that story, it doesn’t matter to have 2 of them, I don’t think): they say to the wanderer passing by «if you tell the truth, you go»
and « if you lie, you die ». The smart ass pilgrim says « I’m gonna die ». Well, see, I cannot keep a story straight, especially if there is a paradox supposedly at play… But that reminds me of a non paradoxical one, kind of similar, a Buddhist moral one, where a fugitive is passing you by at that cross road, running for his life. The chase party arrives and ask you to tell them where the guy went, or else… Would you?
To end on a French note on fascism, a cute little one: retired old ladies are volunteering to check the « sanitary or vaccinal passes » at the entrance of places, serving the cause.
PS: being cynical was originally referring to Cynic, that Greek bum who lived with dogs and had a great heart, but little hope about humanity. Somebody said recently somewhere, probably in the comments, that cynicism was probably the least offensive option for someone to answer/confront an evil doer.
Thich Nhat Hanh, that little Vietnamese monk who lived for many years in France and just passed away 6 days ago, would have said one word: « kindness ». In fact, he was embodying kindness.
One about France, truth and freedom: “franc” was the name of the “free people” after the Roman invasion was over. « Franc » also means sincere.
I believe that you might be mistaken, the word Franc comes from the Franks, which were the Germanic northern invaders of the territory which is France today. The Franks oppressed the Latin peoples of that territory, so they were the “free people”, like all slaveowners.
Yes Andrei, you’re right about the Franks as being northern invaders, from nowadays Scandinavia through Germany, Netherlands and France. I just got to learn that the franks were civilized by the Romans, who were still ruling then, and turned them into their administrators, as they had done before with the Celtic « Gaulois ».
The romans knew already the art of manipulation, subjugation and delegation. In one word, corruption.
Thanks Andrei to bring some realism to my romantic picture of what «free people» means.
Though « Not-slave » sounds less generalizing or systematic than «slave owners».
I realize that it must have been common place to be, in a slave depending society, either slave or slave owner.
My mind still entertain the pleasing picture of a nomadic people « avec l’esprit d’aventure « who broke free from Vikings slavery… yeah yeah yeah…
More likely to be murder, plunder and oppression, dominance and submission. Pressured cooperation.
Fuck or be fucked. Excuse my French.
Invasions don’t happen without force usually. Although if you watch the little house in the prairie you might think otherwise. I heard that black people in America were slaving back in the day to pay off the shipping… Kind of like you end up washing dishes after you had your meal at the restaurant and no money in your pocket. That simple. No sweat.
Slavery went apparently and morally out of fashion with the spreading use of money and machines.
By the way, as I was checkingWikipedia quickly to pretend I know what I am talking about, I found a paragraph that brings our Franks to the core of our conundrum. According to history, the franks would have kicked back the Muslims invasion from Europe. The suggestion is that, without that event, there would have been no development of science, industry, « pas de lumières « , no globalist liberalism, no evil geniuses. Thanks Franks!…
That said, that kind of reasoning « if we hadn’t done that, we wouldn’t be here now » is both true and false.
Not easy to embrace all that… the light and the dark. The rise and fall.
A bit of B.S helps.
Thanks for keeping me in check though.
I like your comments and analysis as much as you seem to love France which by the way is my motherland.
I’d just would like to point out that the people who love Macron are not the aristocrats or the monarchists they are the upper bourgeoisie and bankers who initiated 1789 and benefited of the ultimate chaos till today. The monarchists who I respect would never back a narcissist psychopath as the little despot who sold off the best French companies and brag that there is no French culture. I pity this man who may have a dramatic ending in the coming months.
I’m definitely going to buy your book about my blood brothers the gilets jaunes that even Nostradamus mentioned in one of his eleventh centuries.
May your God and Mine help us in these eschatological times.