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Graham Stull
Graham Stull
7 months ago

This is the best article on the French presidential so far published on UnHerd. Really thought-provoking and a truly interesting perspective. I am hoping and praying – not so much that Le Pen wins, but that Macron (and all the globalist elitism he represents) is defeated.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
7 months ago

A good read – and the increasing mis-use of right/extreme-right is really a global phenomenon now.
In relation to the intellectually lazy members of the older generations, this misuse is a handy political tool, but younger folk (those who are actually interested) must consider the typical use of these expressions pretty absurd.

Last edited 7 months ago by Ian Barton
Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

The dichotomy of ‘older/younger’ is pretty intellectually lazy and pretty absurd. As you say yourself, labels don’t help much and only mask issues.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
7 months ago
Reply to  Terence Fitch

I didn’t word my comment clearly.
My sentiment was that it is convenient for some MSM outletsto scare older folk who have lived through genuine “far right” times with headlines inappropriately using the term – unless those older folk dig into the “lack of evidence”.
Most young people have not had access to grandparents that fought the genuinely far right, so don’t understand that it’s a misuse in the first place.

Last edited 7 months ago by Ian Barton
Kon Trary
Kon Trary
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

There are certainly a lot more people still around who have lived through “far left” times.

polidori redux
polidori redux
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

1

Last edited 7 months ago by polidori redux
polidori redux
polidori redux
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Really Ian? I am pretty old and I have been muttering for years that the mis-use of left, far-left right, far right and our old favourite, fascist, is commonplace, and almost invariably evidence of non-thinking (lazy thinking is too generous a term).The young are at least as guilty as the old in this regard.
My advice to French voters is to go on electoral strike until the candidates lose their last vestiges of credibility. It probably won’t work (political parties have hides like elephants), but you won’t be any the worse off for trying.
I have started to practice what I preach.

Last edited 7 months ago by polidori redux
Jeanie K
Jeanie K
7 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Today’s best comment.
Also, I was going to post to the effect “NOBODY should vote for Macron, nor for anyone else.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

A way of translating it into British politics occurred to me – Macron/Le Pen/Melenchon = Blair/Farage/Corbyn. Imagine your preferred one of those three got knocked out and it was a choice between the other two. Helps you see why a lot of (in this case) Melenchon’s voters will likely abstain or stick with the ‘progressive’ – tribal loyalties are strong.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
7 months ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

Good comparison.

Last edited 7 months ago by Drahcir Nevarc
Andrew F
Andrew F
7 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

I don’t think so.
Whatever Farage’s economic programme was it was surely not on the left?
Dislike of EU and mass immigration, especially from 3rd world countries, was his programme.

Brian Burnell
Brian Burnell
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Nonsense.
His programme could be summed up in just these words. “The unalienable right of people to govern themselves.”
As the courageous Ukrainian people are showing us now.
Were I French, my vote, despite my lifelong ideological leanings to the left, would be for Le Pen.

Vyomesh Thanki
Vyomesh Thanki
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Mélenchon doesn’t consider himself ‘far right’; Le Pen wouldn’t label herself ‘far left’. I’m not sure labels are misused. What is true is that what far left and far right believe in today has changed. See this article which accurately provides details of the development of the far right in France, and to give agency names individuals and outlines their beliefs: ‘History of far-right movements in France’ –
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_far-right_movements_in_France

Stephen Walshe
Stephen Walshe
7 months ago

Which of the top five candidates in the presidential election were Muslim and minority ethnic voters most likely to support? Mélenchon of course: the proportion of his vote which came from the the traditional French working class was very low. Le Pen’s position on immigration is a red line for most of Mélenchon‘s supporters, which made it impossible for him to fudge his recommendation on how to vote in the second round, regardless of her economic policies. The old Left – Right divide in French politics is entirely redundant now, even if Thomas Fazi refuses to face the fact. Separately, one doesn’t have to be a fan of Macron to question whether raising the retirement age to 65, and requiring recipients of in-work benefits to work more than 15 hours a week, is really crippling the working class.

Last edited 7 months ago by Stephen Walshe
George Wells
George Wells
7 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walshe

In that case immigration has successfully split the working class. Divide and rule.
This is why race is consistently advanced as a focus of politics – anything to keep the plebs focused on something other than money.

David McDowell
David McDowell
7 months ago
Reply to  George Wells

And capitalism has understood and exploited that

polidori redux
polidori redux
7 months ago
Reply to  David McDowell

Capitalism doesn’t hsve a mind and cannot understand or exploit anything. You should attribute agency only to people.

David Simpson
David Simpson
7 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Alright then – “capitalists (or neo-liberals) have understood and exploited that”

polidori redux
polidori redux
7 months ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Anyone in particular, or do you only talk in cliches?. Remember, he who talks in cliches ends up thinking in cliches.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
7 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

And he who looks for a specific tree fails to see the forest, pr.
We can all recognise trends without the need for detailed inspection of the minutiae.
All the best.

polidori redux
polidori redux
7 months ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

Meaningless.
All the best

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
7 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Super contribution PR, thanks. Dont give up, there are a million nits to pick.

Liomar Marques Júlio
Liomar Marques Júlio
7 months ago
Reply to  George Wells

Except that migrants are usually pretty worst off than natives/educated/burgoise even when both are poor.
In some ways migrants and racial minorities are the new reserve army of capitalim.

Last edited 7 months ago by Liomar Marques Júlio
Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
7 months ago

It’s like buying a watch for the designer label rather than for how well it tells time. Ultimately, it’s a remarkable tribute to the power of branding, especially when we remember that fascism is a leftist philosophy.

Last edited 7 months ago by Francis MacGabhann
Michael James
Michael James
7 months ago

Exactly. When Hitler became leader of the Nazis he adopted a red flag in imitation of the Communists, but put a swastika on it. A policeman observing the early Nazi parades called the movement ‘a second red army’. The Nazis welcomed the many defecters from the Communist Party since they had already been trained in totalitarianism.

Last edited 7 months ago by Michael James
Liomar Marques Júlio
Liomar Marques Júlio
7 months ago

No, fascism is not a leftist movement. Most fascists cling to the capitalist elite, and subdue the workers.
And Hitler was deeply anti-communist, and anti democracy. He even talked about both as Jewish things.

Sue Whorton
Sue Whorton
7 months ago

The gilets jaunes in my area were not just underclass, whatever they are. They were retired teachers and nurses and shopkeepers. The organization of traffic blockading the supermarket car parks on the first Monday of the protest in our area was masterly. Commerce was stopped but emergency vehicles had dedicated lanes.

R Wright
R Wright
7 months ago

Not a single socialist who’d actually read any of Karl Marx would die on the hill of cultural conservatism when there are redistributive economic policies on one side and not the other. These are some of the most castrated, cowardly leftists imaginable.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
7 months ago

What passes for ‘the left’ these days hates the working class.

Last edited 7 months ago by Martin Smith
David Simpson
David Simpson
7 months ago

Unfortunately this requires the most important constituency in France, the apathetic, to sit up, pay attention to the arguments, and vote. They probably won’t. Sadly.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
7 months ago

Nobody should vote for Macron. I’m certainly not going to.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
7 months ago

The late Antony C Sutton suggested that instead of there being a straight line with (far) left communism/socialism on one side and (far) right capitalism on the other, that it’s actually horseshoe-shaped – and they are closer than you think. If true, I think the centre of that horseshoe is for Freedom & Liberty because left and right both want to control. Just my 2c.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
7 months ago
Reply to  Justin Clark

I think the divide is between those who are individuals who support themselves financially and are capable and willing to defend themselves verbally and physically( the yeoman archer-owned land and volunteered his services for money ) and help others and those who lack the abilities and are prepared to surrender to the Collective or Herd. The Individual has the money and means to stand up to and defeat the bully. Do you prefer to be a hungry master or comfortable serf?The Collective or Herd can be Nazis, Communists, Islamic extremists, Roman Catholic Inquisition or any theocracy.
The Collective is normally run by lower midddle class types ( lawyers, journalists, writers, etc) who form a a clerisy. The clerisy resent their lack of status and salary which is a result of their lack of spirit. The Clerisy have a great insight and understanding of spite, cruelty, resentment,cowardice, venality and sloth and manipulate people by using their good nature to control them. The Clerisy persuade the murderous members of criminal underclass to aquire status by the murder,torture and rape of those who oppose them or today social media. Examples of use of murderous members underclass were the criminals released by the French Revolutionaries during The Great Terror, The Cheka used by Lenin, SA by Hitler, Red Guards by Mao and Revolutionary Guards by Khomeini,

Art C
Art C
7 months ago

Macron is a histrionic boy tyrant who has thoroughly destroyed trust in French democracy and frequently restricted personal liberties to a level seen only in full-blown totalitarian societies. When not bullying large sections of the French public he seems to enjoy sneering publicly at them. The only choice for ordinary people, including Mélenchon supporters, is to vote for Le Pen or not vote at all. The latter plays into Macron’s hands: a necessary component of faux democracy is a sizeable number of pliable pawns; ask Putin! A vote for Le Pen would mean giving her the chance to prove she is more illiberal than the incumbent. I very much doubt she would succeed.

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
7 months ago
Reply to  Art C

Macron and Trudeau, both pretty boys ‘eduacted’ by Schwab to appeal to voters as harmless and liberal.

Madli Kleingeld
Madli Kleingeld
7 months ago

I see no mention of Putin factor ??

James Chater
James Chater
7 months ago

So, Le Pen maybe be ‘lent’ many votes by people (particularly amongst younger voters) who hope and pray she doesn’t satisfy her ‘core’ ultra-nationalist supporters if she were to win? This is what people want apparently, or are prepared to tolerate, or risk – Division.
Closer to home. Yes, as long as the unapologetically divisive keep slipping in, democratic politics (properly ‘democratic’ in the historic, political-philosophical sense) slip away.
‘Left’ & ‘Right’ still seem pretty reliable to me, though in this era it seems age demographics do play a larger part.

Last edited 7 months ago by James Chater
Art C
Art C
7 months ago
Reply to  James Chater

If you want to talk about Division you’re way behind the game. Macron has been sowing division for 4 years already. That’s precisely why we are where we are!

Michael Launer
Michael Launer
7 months ago

A contrary opinion: you may think Macron is bad for France, but Le Pen will be disastrous – not only for France, but for EU unity. Should she win, the West can kiss off Ukraine forever and then have to deal with an emboldened Russia. Not a good prospect.

Liomar Marques Júlio
Liomar Marques Júlio
7 months ago

The big problem is that Le-Pen plays by the Putin book. She will tell anything to win an election, and then make sure this was the last fair election you had.
She simply isn’t trustworthy.

Andrew Langridge
Andrew Langridge
7 months ago

Immigration is not as important to voters as commonly believed. In Britain, according to YouGov, twice as many people think that the economy and health are more important than immigration.

Kathryn Dwyer
Kathryn Dwyer
7 months ago

I loved your book with Toby Green on Covid and clearly you make many excellent points in this essay particularly the uselessness of the terms left and right. Should it now be “the very rich and super rich and the rest” ? However, I can only be grateful that almost no-one with a vote in France will take the slightest notice of the exhortation to not vote Macron from reading this essay!
For many presidential elections now it’s been a vote for “the least bad” and nothing has changed this time. As a fairly new French citizen I take it all extremely seriously and abhor the “white” vote which is in effect an abstention, noted only by the fact you bothered to vote at all and so counted as some sort of gesture.
The fact is, if too many of Mélenchon’s voters vote “blanc” tomorrow is not a done deal

Kon Trary
Kon Trary
7 months ago

The French system makes it implicit that the winner of the second round is only the first choice of those who voted for the eventual winner in Round One. This should be made explicit in both rounds by changing the ballot to something like:
▢ I don’t want any of these candidates; but the least objectionable choice is:
▢ Candidate “A”
▢ Candidate “B”
▢ Candidate “C”
 ▢ Candidate “D”
Voters could just check the “least objectionable” box; or the “least objectionable” box and one candidate. Then the position of the electorate would be clear when all the results were published after the vote was completed.

Last edited 7 months ago by Kon Trary
William MacDougall
William MacDougall
7 months ago

Interesting article, but the closeness of far left and far right is not new. Mosley was a former Labour Party Minister. Mussolini was Editor of the Socialist Party newspaper. Laval was first elected as a Socialist. And Hitler called himself a “Socialist”…

Michael James
Michael James
7 months ago

I thought unemployment had fallen considerably under Macron. Perhaps that doesn’t count if the French prefer Le Pen’s policy of national bankruptcy.

Last edited 7 months ago by Michael James
Martin L
Martin L
7 months ago

The only difference between Marine Le Pen and her father is that she is a lot more shrewd than he was and she doesn’t spout off the more extreme views of her party. Claiming that the far right is the true friend of the working classes is the same tactic as used in 1930s Germany. It depends on the ‘othering’ if vast swathes of people and must be defeated! Do we learn nothing from history?