For those of us who love all things French, one of the most beguiling aspects about French-ness is what the French themselves call “French exceptionalism”. This is the notion that France is an exception.
The French eat lots but are skinny, they smoke heavily but have the same level of cancer as others, they drink but don’t get hammered and when they play sport, they are flamboyant and daring. France’s literature, arts, cinema and philosophy is unique. The French work only 35 hours a week yet produce more per head than the work-obsessed British. French trade unions strike at a moment’s notice and, of course, its presidents should have at least two lovers to be taken seriously.
Yes, the French are different.
France also likes to see itself as the centre of revolutionary enlightenment. According to most accepted versions of history, the French revolution set off an entire domino effect of cascading monarchies in Europe, replacing aristocratic rule with democratic rule.
In terms of republicanism, the links between the two late 18th-century revolutions, the American in 1776 and the French in 1789, are self-evident and unambiguous. Indeed, any student of the Irish 1798 Rebellion can tell us that the intellectual roots of the United Irishmen were very much nourished by the American and French revolutionaries such as Maximilien Robespierre, with enlightenment, democracy, liberty and vicious terror being the common gelling agents.
The notion that ideas and methods jump between countries is not new.
But this revolutionary cross-pollination between the USA and France is taking on a different form in 2017. We know that the National Front’s ideologues have had meetings with similar thinkers in America and we know that each insurgency against the status quo emboldens the next one.
In terms of ideas, America’s new Robespierre, Steve Bannon, is an admirer of the reactionary French philosopher Charles Maurras.
Maurras, like Mr Bannon, was a Catholic nationalist and Maurras was an unambiguous anti-Semite.
To Maurras, the French Revolution’s ideals of “liberty, equality and fraternity” were a liberal cosmopolitan corruption of France’s authentic identity — which was white, Catholic and French. He made the distinction between the “legal country”, led by bureaucrats and officials, and the “real country” of ordinary people. This distinction is the way Mr Bannon frames his arguments when he talks about the clash between the people and the elites.
Marine Le Pen obviously approves of this thinking.
The National Front, Mr Trump’s people and the Brexiteers all share some core similarities — local over global, nationalist over internationalist, native over foreign and Christian over Muslim. But the different movements do diverge.
One thing makes France’s right-wing different to the movements elsewhere and it is crucial: French youth are right-wing. Everywhere else the nativist movements are older people. In the UK, the average Brexiteer was 50-plus, a golf club revolutionary railing against foreigners. In the US, too, Mr Trump’s core support in the Rust Belt was an overweight, grey head who roared “build the wall”. As such, demography is not on the side of these movements. But yet again France is different.
The National Front is by far the most popular in France with those in the 18-24 age bracket. The latest polls show it just shy of 40pc among the youth. This is twice the support for Emmanuel Macron and four times more than for the establishment centre-right rival François Fillon.
This is extremely interesting and is quite similar to the Scottish Independence movement, where the youth are much more pro-independence, while older voters in Scotland are unionists. In England it is the opposite: the young want to stay in the EU and the old want to leave. In France, the youth are overwhelmingly nationalist, nativist, anti-EU and anti-foreign. If Ms Le Pen (pictured inset) can get the youth vote out, she will dramatically increase her chances of winning.
There is good reason why the French youth want dramatic change. The system is not working for them. French youth unemployment is 26pc. This is ridiculous. Eight out of 10 of the few jobs that have been created in France in the past two years have been flimsy-contract, low-paying, zero-security jobs.
There is a generation war going on in France where the middle-aged, who are by and large well off, are in protected jobs, mainly in the public service. They want to preserve the status quo. This status quo is pro-EU, pro-euro, pro-big government. It’s an “I’m alright, Jack” vote reflecting the demographic reality of a generationally divided republic.
For the National Front, this youth support is a game changer. Think about it: five years ago the Front was only at 18pc in the polls and now it’s 40pc. The implication of this is that the National Front is the coming party, even if it falls short this time out.
For Ireland, this is crucial because the National Front’s key economic policy is withdrawal from the euro. Ms Le Pen — rightly — identifies the euro being a significant anvil around the neck of the French economy. Since joining the euro, the French economy has faltered while across the border Germany has prospered. The French budget deficit and debt ratios have worsened, while unemployment has risen for the youth.
And as Ms Le Pen has toned down the explicitly racist tones of the old National Front, this has made the Front much more acceptable to the young French voters.
If French young people do sweep Ms Le Pen into power and she takes France out of the euro, a financial whirlwind will be visited on us. If the French leave, everyone will ask who is next. And this will prompt capital flight from eurozone countries to Germany, which would obviously be a safe haven in this storm.
So while we worry about who will be the next leader of Fine Gael, maybe the real action is playing out on the streets of Marseilles, Lyon and Rouen. An upset in France would have a bigger impact here than Brexit, Trump or indeed our own election. Now that truly is a bizarre situation.
Good morning all. Given its’ climate, France should be doing a lot better. Why isn’t it? Therein lies La Pens’ advantage, just not this time maybe. Why isn’t it? Obviously simplification is necessary. 1. Immigration is a huge, huge issue. The phrase disruptive comes to mind. Right now, in France, immigration is the most disruptive societal issue and by a big margin. The disruption this is bringing is giving the La Pens of this world a major boost. And they (immigration and la pen) aren’t going away. Immigration is the major issue in the EU. Hiding behind PC liberalism, the… Read more »
The IRB – International Rugby Board are probably going to increase the residency period from three years to five years for international qualification status.
The French pushed hard for this change and it appeared were going to move unilaterally, if necessary.
A straw in the wind maybe but…..
French civilization from the ascendancy of Richelieu to the defeat of Bonaparte was the most over-rated, debacles of European History. And there, front and centre of the entire project, was the idea that France was special, that France was at the centre of all the action. In other words, Europe would have been far safer, had France been more like the Netherlands or Austria or Britain in that time period. (all three were less agressive, more prosperous, and less inclined to murder their own citizens in moments of madness). There would not have been the once in a generation all… Read more »
A superb summation of Ireland’s situation by Fintan O’Toole.
Ireland’s Love Triangle
Alright, Steve Bannon. A certain Irish oligarch (he who will not be spoken negatively about) donated Millions to the Clinton Foundation. Bertie Ahern was Taoiseach when a sum of money, many times larger was donated to the Clinton Foundation – this time funded by PAYE taxpayers. Steve Bannon threw a massive spanner in the works. And that money will not be returned to the donors. America deserved better than the scandal loaded Clintons. But consider those that are needed a particular result, and then observed the opposite result. There is a stinging pain. Even worse with a minority government, on… Read more »
Only read the first line of this article. A very short simple question and everyone thinks their job can’t be performed by a robot near you
The French might be right.
35 hour weeks are way too long.
The only problem really is to get the rest of the world on board.
Q. Why is Stephen Bannon so hated in the Irish media ? A. Bannon is behind the documentary “Clinton Cash”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton_Cash The documentary “Clinton Cash” makes damning insights into donors to the Clinton Foundation. This is something that never gets any Irish media commentary. But it definitely has relevance to Ireland. Because Ireland donated so much to it. Now, you have been instructed to hate Bannon, repeatedly by the Irish media. Judge for yourself. Here is Bannon, who directed “Clinton Cash”, with his perspective as a director. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmMe-2qaSss This is the man you are instructed to hate. Is Stephen Bannon… Read more »
The French state has been advocating the centralization of power in the EU for a long time, because that is how the French run matters. And that approach has failed, in both the EU, and in France itself. Macron offer continuation, of both failing approaches, along with buzzwords like ecology, social media, digital transformation, etc… Le Pen offers continued centralization in France, and decentralization from Brussels. Fillon offers less control within France, and no difference at EU level (at least for some time). When the French start to lose enthusiasm for the racket, and that is something that they designed,… Read more »
In 2018, you will have Schulz running Germany, Grillo (or a member of his movement) in charge in Italy, Macron running France, Phil Hogan in the EU Commission, and probably Juncker running the EU Commission. It will be as mad as a box of frogs. It will be chaos. An absolute mess. With Beppe Grillo as the clown in the centre ring. The Eastern Europeans will be continually infuriated at the level of stupidity coming from the above circus. Ireland needs to plan an exit from this unfolding failure scenario. That means a plan to join Britain with a continuation… Read more »
The distinction between the legal concept of a country and the real country is obvious and common sense to ordinary people. David seems to have switched from the ‘racist’ Trump to the implied ‘anti-semite’ Bannon. Last month I got into an online argument with a man who made a series of charges against Trump. I told him I didn’t believe them and asked him to back them up, saying I’d change my mind if he could find evidence. None was produced. I have never heard of Maurras and I spent a few minutes researching his links to Bannon, starting off… Read more »
I haven’t read much about the French election (not particularly interested) or looked at any polls but I have a feeling that Le Pen is going to win it.
Hi David, I am not sure that the youth in France are right wing. I’d say fucked off with the establishment and considering voting for anyone. For example; if they were right wing they would think that the Michael O’Leary approach to their employment circumstances is a good idea. Once again no mention of the banks. Why are you not mentioning the fact that country after country Europe is being laid waste to keep banks open? Deco is right re statisim; the older Brits know the price that has to be paid when head cases like Hitler or suds get… Read more »
“Populism is the result of global economic failure”
Irish populace are very tolerant of the revolting Irish State Civil SERPENTS’ : grotesquely large salaries + extras incompetence hostility towards the public immunity from dismissal for incompetence & hostility etc. The above should be the basis of a revolution by the Irish nation. Then, the Irish nation should “revolve” the other abominations sequentially. U must get ur own household [ Irish State with its Civil SERVANTS ( ostensibly ; But, woefully in the main are SERPENTS ) ] in order before u start tackling the private, & foreign, & trans-national, foes ; After all, “A house divided among itself… Read more »
Excellent article and very lucid. It was wonderful read but dismissive to agree . I am reminded how the wrong reason can give the correct solution and how the right reason can give the incorrect solution. Fooling a reader is political correct if you can get away with it . Getting paid is even better . I am only a punter and what I say will never buy anyway and neither will any other punter on this site. I believe that the rise in the National Front is due to the political policies within France and being unable to agree… Read more »
Hi David, I know you don’t decide on the headings.
Question: Why do we need to insert the words brexit, trump, populism and/or climate change in every heading of an article? Is there no other way to attract attention to an article?
This is the Politico article David used.
The furthest I can get that Bannon share Maurras’ss views is:
“Bannon has also expressed admiration for the reactionary French philosopher Charles Maurras, according to French media reports, confirmed by Politico.”
I don’t know what these reports were or the nature of Politico’s confirmation, which may have been no more than confirming that this is what they were told. We are getting into fake news territory.
The EU is starting to behave like a cult, in a world of their own imagination, where they can do no wrong, and nobody is allowed out, and everybody is bribed to enter. Oh, look into the clouds as they approach….the 4 donkey-men of the EU-Collapse. Martin Schulz, expected to lead the next German government, who only exhibited competence when he was running a small town. He inhertits a inheritance that amounts to a diplomatic deficit that is out of control. And he will not fix it. Macron, the amateur, running a serious country with serious problems, and track record… Read more »
Transparency International ( only as relevant, as their donors admittedly, and I have no idea of their donors ) is sceptical of the ECB and it’s handling of the Irish banking crisis.
But, anyway – never mind. Trichet, obviously was doing something exceptional. He was looking after the banks of an exceptional country. Or at least one that believes itself to be the exception.
The current Eurozone is the merger of German concepts of economic organization, and the French concept of political organization.
For some strange reason, everything is now an absolute mess.
BBC News Anchor Live News Blunder Fail Strange Behavior Explained – 3/22/17 Skull And Bones Hoax
I suggest that viewers of this link :
bookmark it & give it apt name for ready recall
copy & paste it as :
video file & save it with apt name for ready recall
audio file & save it with apt name for ready recall
& also copy & paste the transcript [ even though it may be flawed transcript ] & save it with apt name for ready recall
The French drink and let me assure you they are alcoholics who DO get hammered, thats a myth that they stay in control. They snort coke, eat pills and get wasted on tasty booze.
As for the youth being conservative right wing? They cant stand what Muslims have done to their country in one generation and want to change it. Simple as.
“Core inflation remains sluggish”
If prices went up, they went up.
The “pound in my pocket” doesn’t know the difference between core inflation and any other kind of inflation.
Just having a rant.
I don’t know much about statistics but one of the things I do know is that very, very often they are used (manipulated) to tell lies or evade telling the truth.
Well, now, it seems that the EU grand illusion, has shown an essential absurdity in the clear light of day. The key element, from the EU’s dictat of terms – reveals an inability to grasp that monopolistic thinking is the problem, not the solution. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/31/brexit-donald-tusk-article-50-eu-watch-live/ ( bear in mind, that the terminology used have been deliberately manipulated so as to convey moral superiority) [ No tax cuts or bonfire of regulations Any free trade agreement should be balanced, ambitious and wide-ranging. It cannot, however, amount to participation in the Single Market or parts thereof, as this would undermine its integrity… Read more »
The biggest liability that any Irish negotiations on Brexit, can hold, is FF as the back seat driver of the government.
The party that bankrupted Ireland, is a back seat driver, and they are prepared to sabotage our interests, for a few crumbs off the master’s table in Brussels.
Help get the truth out about election fraud.
Moscow And Beijing Join Forces To Bypass US Dollar In Global Markets, Shift To Gold Trade, Tyler Durden
The blog is dead.
Would this be acceptable in Ireland?
A view on Scotland.
“”Many individuals see the attempts of the EU to take over Europe as the same as any foreign invader. After all, they have examples like Greece to look at. The title of one Russian-Insider article puts it succinctly: Greece to Surrender Gold, Utilities and Real Estate in Exchange For Pieces of Paper Printed in Brussels.””
“Detailing the Commission of Comey Crimes”