by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog
The two big differences between 2017 and 2022 are that back then France had a presidential candidate who should have been called a National Socialist, and that in 2022 the country has somehow moved even further to the right.
History will show that back in 2017 the Great Financial Crisis – just the latest failure of Western liberalism – had inflamed the masses too much for every single politician to ignore: Marine Le Pen thus dropped the Reaganism of her father and made it to the second round.
She defended economic ideas similar to the Germanic National Socialists of the 1930s, who pillaged the Marxists of their “anti-international finance” analysis only to dangle economic equality for those of a certain religion and ethnicity. The latter is why they weren’t socialists, of course, but merely people who somewhat understood the economics buttressing Western Liberal Democracy.
Five years after 2017, Eric Zemmour draws widespread praise from people who believe they are entirely well-meaning by saying that he is, “here to save the French people and France…not here to save the world.” It’s a telling, semi-messianic remark because it is truly straight out of Adolf Hitler’s platform in the 1930s.
Ah, old Adolf – we can’t bring him up in the West, can we?
Many have heard of Godwin’s Law, or the rule of Nazi analogies: an Internet adage asserting that as an online discussion grows longer (regardless of topic or scope), the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches. However, an important corollary is that whenever someone compares someone or something to Nazism – that person has lost the argument and/or the argument is summarily over.
Essentially, the world is to accept that all discussions of Western politics cannot discuss the anti-Western Liberalism ideology which was German Nazism.
How difficult it will be, then, to describe a French election where the four top candidates are all on the far-right – either economically, politically, culturally or all three!
I will come out and say it: Today’s left does not want to talk about the socialism in Germanic National Socialism, even though there was some.
Namely: Unlike seemingly all Western politicians today, Hitler actually read Marx and incorporated something of class analysis into Germanic Nazism. He clearly was familiar with the perfectly accurate Marxist analysis of European historico-economics up until the late 19th century: landed wealth was joined by commercial/trading wealth was joined by industrial/financial/stock-jobbing wealth, and then they all stopped squabbling and peacefully joined hands to oppress the 99%. Western Liberal Democracy remains – eternally – at this point.
German National Socialism opposed – in their campaign promises, at least – the domination of international high finance and the liberalism (whether “neo-”, “ultra-” or sans-préfixe it’s all the same: free markets, unregulated capitalism, rights for those who can afford it) which forever is ultimately cover for a bankocracy. In political power structures and culturally Germanic National Socialism totally rejected the grassroots empowerment and multiculturalism of Socialist Democracy.
But the right does also not come out and say it, either: Today’s right doesn’t want to talk about the economic socialism in German Nazism – because they oppose talking about socialism with anything but death threats – whereas they are entirely thrilled to use their same racist scapegoating and autocracy.
Hitler would have called Zemmour far-right, and that’s saying something
Returning to Zemmour’s jingoist messianic message: He promises to save only those within his own borders and only those of a certain color/religion/DNA, and thus he totally rejects the internationalism embodied by socialism, just as Hitler did. Nobody was less internationalist than old Adolf – his nation was to be a purely Teutonic one. This message still resounds across Europe 90 years later – Zemmour is hardly unique – in what can easily be termed “National Neoliberalism”.
Zemmour doesn’t just go against the tide of history, he is anti-history – in the sense that his own particular interpretation of French history hopes to be predominant, and not interpretations which rely on accuracy, rationality, scientific historical analysis, etc. Thus, Zemmour also incarnates the autocratic vision of a dictator like Hitler on how a political power structure should operate – per his whims. France is whatever Zemmour says it is. If he says France means no kebab shops or people named “Ramin”, then so be it.
Frankly, I think Zemmour is a total waste of my time, and it’s easy to explain why:
Zemmour is so pathetically predictable precisely because – as this analysis of Zemmour notes, by the must-read political polymath (and longtime inhabitant of France) Pepe Escobar – he’s such a sycophant; so obviously fuelled by winning the approval of the elite. He is not like Donald Trump, who was born with the brazen independence of the super rich – Trump never needed a patron – and who was much more a genuine political outsider. LOL, you work at Le Figaro for 25 years and you’re not tenderly ensconced in the political mainstream? Tu parles…. With Trump a voter had at least some grounds to hope that: Here is someone asking for my vote who might actually have the courage to be a renegade against the 1% – a hope that was dashed on the unimpressionable rock which is apparently Trump’s brain. Not only will Zemmour never be 1/10th the loose cannon Trump was, Zemmour does’t even have the potential to do so. Few outside France realise that Zemmour is not even intellectually courageous enough to actually be original – he’s the racist, social-climbing, poor man’s Alain Soral, who had a Yellow Vest on seemingly immediately.
Zemmour’s long-delayed economic program is totally Reaganite/neoliberal – this was totally predictable precisely because he’s such a toady to the elite. Hitler truly would have called Zemmour right-wing, economically.
Therefore, I assume Zemmour’s totally pro-insider ideology makes him so unelectable that I won’t have to say much more on him, unless I have to in-between the first and second round, and thus Macron’s re-election. I should note that I treated Emmanuel Macron with very similar disdain in my journalism in 2017 – both are total suck-ups to the elite, of course.
Zemmour offers the same old reactionary faux-promise: reversion to a bygone (autocratic, insular) era. He has kept all the rabid anti-internationalism and racism which helped sweep Hitler to power, and which seems totally embedded in Western society after nearly a century, and none of the economic promises of Germanic National Socialism, unlike Le Pen in 2017.
Marine Le Pen, whom I would totally disavow in a one-round vote, exactly as I explained in 2017, is far worse than she was in 2017, as my previous column just showed. 2017 had much more on the table – namely her anti-liberalism economic policies of leaving the euro, a vote on Frexit six months after her election and repudiating banker-induced debt.
Xenophobia in the headlines means liberalism’s economic failures aren’t
What liberalism learned from Germanic National Socialism is that xenophobia and security (greatly augmented by the total insecurity provoked by corona’s alleged once-in-a-millennium threat) are spectacles just big enough to dominate the headlines, and thus to ignore neoliberalism’s failures, and thus to get elected more liberalist, 1%-er proxies.
(To put it in Zemmour’s terms: France’s economic problem is Muslim welfare, not banker welfare. A pathetic intellectual analysis.)
Thus I can report that there is no economic program being bandied about during the French election campaign, despite the screams of the inflation-gutted French masses. Have you even noticed that we’re just two months from the vote? They’re calling it a”Teflon campaign”, where faux-issues and faux-candidates like Zemmour aren’t sticking, thus producing a 10% drop in domestic interest in the upcoming vote. Like I wrote – it’s nothing as compelling as 2017, to say nothing of 2012’s hope that Hollande would end austerity (Germanic National Neoliberalism, of course).
It is precisely by ignoring history – by refusing to acknowledge Napoleon Bonaparte’s revolutionary contributions, or by calling them the “Revolutions of 1848” when they produced nothing but political counter-revolutions everywhere but France, or by ignoring French liberalism’s collusion with Bismarck to lay siege to Paris in 1871, or by claiming that World War I started merely by some sort of unforeseen accident, or by refusing to allow any political discussion of Germanic National Socialism, etc. – that Western Liberal Democracy is able to persist despite the regular depressions, inequalities and the suicidal disgust with politics it provokes.
And yet despite Zemmour’s ascent to 4th place the Yellow Vests proved that there are indeed pre-revolutionary conditions in France – my book on them will soon start to be published, chapter by chapter, because that is so obviously true.
But with the viability of the candidacy of Zemmour – who truly must be considered to be to the right of Germanic National Socialists and Adolf Hitler – it does’t take a historian like Trotsky to note that revolutionary changes never came via a Western Liberal Democratic ballot.
List of articles covering the 2022 French elections
Catastrophe since 2017: How to cover France’s presidential election? – November 22, 2021
Le Monde’s circus invite: ‘France is a leftist country which votes right’ – January 27, 2022
Le Pen now wants in the euro & no Frexit – should the Left want her in? – February 2, 2022
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.