Is the French National Front giving up on France?
Even as French Muslims continue to gain in numbers and political influence, the right-wing National Front has been moving—as amazing as it is to hear this—toward some kind of accommodation with them. According to Christopher Caldwell writing in The Atlantic, the National Front is no longer principally concerned about the loss of French national identity to non-Westerners, but about “homogenization” and “globalism,” by which it means Americanization. As an antidote to this homogenization, the Front is embracing cultural diversity—especially the cultural diversity of Muslims. Caldwell recounts a conversation with Front spokesman Thomas Lagane:
“It’s wrong to say that France has a single unique culture,” he said. “In fact, the National Front is the movement in France that best defends multiculturalism. Let me explain. In your country especially there is a sort of destructive cultural imperialism, a global standardization of behavior, consumption, habits of thought, economic philosophy, that is causing European peoples to lose their identity. In defending our national identity we are protecting difference against standardization. The Islamic people loses its identity through the same process. We hope Muslims keep their roots, and don’t try to integrate at the expense of them.” [Emphasis added.]Thus, just as many antiwar paleocons, Buchananites, and white nationalists have turned against the “imperialistic” and universalist United States, while (shockingly) taking the side of Muslim jihadists and terrorists, the National Front is turning against the “culture-destroying” French nation and subscribing to multiculturalism as a counterforce to it. I have always thought that one of the silliest arguments of the neoconservatives was that the paleocons were “multiculturalists.” Sadly, more and more evidence is emerging to support that charge.
For right-wingers to embrace the leftist ideology of multiculturalism is not only ludicrous, but suicidal. It was, after all, within the form of the nation-state—larger than the tribe, but smaller than humanity as a whole—that the modern Western peoples came into being. To abandon the nation-state would be to abandon the historical existence of white Western man. It would reduce the white people living within each Western country (along with those non-whites who fully identify with the white Western culture) to a mere tribe, a tribe mixed in with non-white tribes, with none of the tribes any more important than the others. This multicultural outcome is clearly suggested by Lagane’s proposal that Muslims should neither integrate with the French, nor be encouraged to return to their ancestral countries (which in my view is the only real solution), but rather remain as a non-integrated (and ever-stronger) cultural component within France.
What is emerging more and more clearly in light of the above considerations is the suicidal polarization within the West. On one side, there are the ideological universalists—represented by neoconservatives and transnational corporations—who seek to merge all the countries of the world into a single, uniform, and technically managed system. On the other side, there are the ideological particularists—represented by the paleoconservatives—who seek, in reaction against the de-racinating agenda of the universalists, to destroy any universalism, not only the global universalism of liberal democratic capitalism, and not only the moral universalism of our Judeo-Christian heritage, but even the limited and particularized universalism of the nation-state.
It is the mission of sane Western patriots and traditionalists to resist these ideological simplifications. We must strive, against all the prevailing influences of our age, to find the right balance between the universal and the particular. It is in the balancing of opposites within a transcendent vision of the whole, and not in the embrace of one extreme or the other, that the true essence of Western man is expressed.
I have been concerned about this trend for years. It seems to me that the acceptance of multi-culturalism and sub-state nationalism by many white nationalists is tied to neo-Confederatism.
Just when you think things can’t get more insane, they do. Do Le Pen and company think they would be allowed to exist once the Muslims take over and establish Sharia? Are they planning to become Muslims so they can be allowed to exist as an ethnic minority within an Islamic state - like the Kurds in Iran? It seems that both the Tranzis and elements of the Paleo-right in France are competing for the Islamic vote. The Tranzis promise more immigration, increased welfare and hate-speech laws enforced by a totalitarian state. Now we see the Nationalist right embracing the invaders in an attempt to thwart the Tranzis, and they end up supporting the very things which will destroy them.
Maybe Le Pen, et al view France’s condition as a viable nation-state to be terminal, given the increasing control from the Eurocrats in Brussels. They appear to have taken the highly dubious position that the survival of a remnant of the French people will be more likely under Islamic rule than under Tranzi totalitarianism. A very grim choice, indeed.Posted by: Carl on April 24, 2003 12:36 PM
Mr. Auster’s entire post is based on a single paragraph quote by a young spokesman who has since left the Front Nacional. I doubt it accurately reflects official FN policy. Moreover, the articles is by Christopher Caldwell of the Weekly Standard, not the most friendly magazine toward rightists. Nevertheless, both the FN and the British National Party have had to accept the presence of a large Muslim population in their respective countries. Both still stand against immigration, and the FN’s policy is that Muslims keep a low profile (e.g. not build “cathedral” mosques).
The post raises an interesting question, however. Which is better, neocons who continue to promote high levels of immigration and unrealistically push assimilation, or rightists who recognize that these foreign communities are here to stay, but what to stop their growth by cutting off immigration? I take the latter — cut off immigration, and assimilation will take care of itself. Continue immigration, and there will be nothing to which to assimilate.Posted by: Mitchell Young on April 24, 2003 3:00 PM
It seems insufficient attention is paid to powerful nonideological or nonphilosophical forces. Recognition of the ideas that are sapping resolve from the French and from Americans seems important. The brilliant people here explain why many of us think ideas such as multiculturalism are wrong. If the ideas here are true, will the ideas remain and be inherited? Inherited by whom? Inherited maybe by an alien race, culture, and religion and not the existing.
Besides understanding the ideas that are contributing to the culture loss, people want to know what chances their cultures and their ideas have of enduring, of being inherited. (This is possibly a genetic drive.) If knowing is not possible, which is almost certainly the case, then people want to talk about their chances, to deal with their fear. People want to quantify, to place into perspective the nonphilosophical forces (abortion, low birth rates, birth control, poverty, aggressive neighbors, economic forces, armed enemies, etc.) that are stacked against their cultures. An examination of these forces and history perhaps will reveal a sound defense or will reveal a need for personal change, for acceptance of some hard realities.
Because the National Front’s plan seems suicidal, the National Front is dealing with its fear irrationally. Perhaps if its members tuned in here, its members would realize their error. At the same time, they perhaps see powerful forces coming from many directions and the thinkers among them are offering no perspective on these forces. So instead of dealing with their fears rationally, that is, through study, discussion, and analysis, they are grasping at their fellow drowning victims.
In any event, I am happy this site is here, and I congratulate Mark Richardson (and the sponsors here) on Mr. Richardson’s Website.
I think Mr. Murgos is onto something important here. There is something in people that, when they are facing a political or civilizational crisis in which there are no immediately good options, will not allow them just to sit still and recognize that fact. They feel they have to seize onto something or they will be lost. So they make bad choices, leaving them in a worse situation than before.
I think it has to do with a desire for power, a desire to remain in the game. People see one basis of power or community or identity apparently failing—let’s say the French nation—and instead of thinking, what’s wrong?, what can be done?, what can be saved?, they grab onto some other, apparently rising source of power, say Muslim immigrants or the idea of a multicultural France. Or people will become so disenchanted with America that they start sympathizing with America’s enemies. The need is to feel oneself connected with a source of power in order to feel that one has an identity, that one exists. So, in a civilizational crisis, people give up allegiance to truth and to their civilization and grab onto something to make themselves feel alive and connected to power. Whereas, as Mr. Murgos points out, the real need in a time of crisis is not to thrash around and abandon one’s principles, but to sit still and go deeper.Posted by: Lawrence Auster on April 25, 2003 2:33 AM
The attitude expressed by this apparent spokesman for the National Front does not surprise me. Much of the European New Right is far more worried about America than Islam. If you troll around the further reaches of the New Right on the internet, you will come across many groups calling themselves Third Positionist, National Bolshevik, National Anarchist, Eurasianist, and various other names. These groups seem quite popular amongst younger people, especially in France, Eastern Europe and Russia. All of these groups claim the heritage of the European New Right, and are fond of quoting people like David Spengler, the Strasser brothers, Carl Schmidt, Alain de Benoist and others. And virtually all of them call for an alliance between “Third World” and Islamic anti-Imperialist forces against America. I have seen their web sites praise such people as Muammar Ghaddafi, Che Guevara, and yes, even Osama bin Laden. This new, rabidly anti-American and anti-Jewish ideology, is often called “Left-Right synthesis”. That the French NF front may in time become influenced by this ideology through its younger members is therefore no surprise.
American conservative patriots should make no mistake. The European New Right is not our friend in any sense, it is our enemy. Moreover, these ideas are now filtering slowly but surely into the paleoconservative right here, as can now be seen in the pages of Chronicles.
Now more than ever I believe that the way forward for patriotic conservatives is an alliance with the neocons, who at least understand the meaning of loyalty and patriotism. We must bring with us America First policies on immigration and economics, and engage with the neocons on these issues, and, at the vey least, obtain a compromise with them, and bring them back to the more balanced positions that used to be common in National Review and Commentary.
Hopefully what remains of genuine patriots in paleoconservative, neoconservative and traditionalist circles, can forge some unity for the sake of our nation. Because we are, in the decades ahead, faced with real dangers, both from Islam, and sadly, from an increasingly hostile continental Europe.Posted by: Shawn on April 25, 2003 10:03 PM
“Now more than ever I believe that the way forward for patriotic conservatives is an alliance with the neocons…”
Yikes! The neocons will never give up their fundamental anti-racism pro-immigration “melting pot” corporate-globalist position. An alliance with the neocons would be slow (or maybe not so slow) suicide for traditionalists, it seems to me.Posted by: Matt on April 25, 2003 10:08 PM
Thanks for pointing that out, Matt. Shawn, I don’t think that neocons have any concept of loyalty or patriotism at all. They are Tranzis at heart, still true believers in the coming Utopia to be facilitated by the abolition of anything transcendent - including the very concept of an American nation. These so-called Euro-rightists are suicidally flailing about, grasping for any aid to resist the onslaught of the Tranzi hegemon currently devouring what is left of Europe. A European traditionalist faces a poiltical situation more bleak than the one here. The Tranzis in Europe have already allied themselves with Islam against their own people and are no doubt banking on the corrosive effects of welfare and a libertine culture to do their work on the changing the newly imported Islamic horde into a large, compliant underclass ready keep them in permanent power. Islam sees things quite differently, of course. The real battle will ultimately be between the Tranzi ruling class and Islam. The real question for any remnant of traditional conservatives in Europe is “how do we survive”?Posted by: Carl on April 26, 2003 12:23 AM
I dont share the pessimmism regarding neocons expressed here. I have been making a point for the last year or so of talking to people whos political ideology fits neoconservatism, as well as with some who openly identify themselves as such, and I believe that slowly but surely a change is taking place on the National Question and immigration as a result of 911. It strikes me as much more useful in the long run to encourage this change and enter into an adult and friendly debate with neocons on these issues, rather than simply dismissing all of them as unredeemably liberal and internationalist.
I have also found that even amongst those who identify as neocons there is a variety of views on many issues. Putting all neocons in the same basket is covenient but false.
And if the last few weeks has taught me anything, it is that many neocons are more patriotic that some paleocons, especially the likes of Thomas Fleming and Justin Raimondo.Posted by: Shawn on April 26, 2003 1:37 AM
Shawn, you make a good point about the possibility of changing minds as far as at least some neocons are concerned. The label “neoconservative” should be used more sparingly than the way many on the Paleo-right throw it around. David Horowitz, for example, would most likely be labled as a neocon by many Paleos, but I don’t think he really fits the description I gave earlier (Tranzi at heart) very well at all. So, I’ll add the caveat that pure neocons are probably not that common. As in many things, there are plenty of folks who accept some neocon positions but reject others.Posted by: Carl on April 26, 2003 2:14 AM
Perhaps Auster was a bit unfair to Front spokesman Thomas Lagane.
In reviewing Caldwell’s article, I found this quote: “We’re not against globalization,” [Lagane] said. “We’re against a globalism that destroys the family and the nation.” To give Muslims some due, they are somewhat traditional in matters of the family; they procreate, marry younger, apparently use less birth control, seem to have less abortions, and seem to take gender roles more seriously, or realistically, or something. So, would you rather Muslims throw out the baby with the bathwater (which pretty much literally happens every day in The West) and give up all their traditions to emulate the now generally non-traditional sort-of multiculturalists formerly known as French people, or would you advocate a principle of caution with regard to abandoning tradition, even so far as to advocate allowing immigrants some leeway to apply that principle? Tough call.
Of course, whatever the failings of the French, and whatever the merits or virtues of their immigrants, the French would be right and do well to insist that immigrants respect and conform to their laws and customs –where those laws and customs are legitimate and good. One aspect of moral courage is to insist upon the right despite one’s previous errors.
Thus it strikes me that the Front spokesman may be playing a necessary political game here if you will, and he may not be playing it too badly. He believes that French culture and traditions are under attack, that French people are too easily giving up their ways and giving away their country, and that at the heart of the problem is the sense that culture and tradition do not matter, which has led to the perverse practical solution, called multiculturalism, which may be usefully oversimplified as: Us bad; Them good. For Lagane to say, essentially, that the Front respects culture and cares about culture —all cultures, culture and tradition themselves as concepts, he is challenging all other political parties and voters, who are presumably anti-tradition or at least tradition-apathetic, to defend the indefensible and self-contradictory tenets of multiculturalism.
To illustrate: The Front gets attacked as racist and anti-muslim. They respond: No, we respect muslims and respect their right to a culture of their own. We merely suggest that we French might also respect our own culture and ourselves.
Now, given that the French electorate can be divided into three camps: (1) The Majority, crippled by multiculturalism into a state of apathy towards tradition; (2) The Minority Muslims, of a different tradition and somewhat clinging to it, somewhat adapting; and (3) The Minority French Traditionalists, concerned about French tradition and the French nation, including its progeny, what to do if you are a traditionalist? Refuse to engage The Majority on its own terms, or even use terms that they use, or even acknowledge those terms? Attack The Muslim Minority, thus looking both mean and granting the muslims victim status, which you know has cache in the multicultural scheme of things? Or talk, in words that The Majority can clearly understand about what you are for, and how about what you are for will be the best for The Majority, and also good for everyone else?
Therefore, when Lagane adds, “in fact, the National Front is the movement in France that best defends multiculturalism,” he may be fulfilling a small, critical part of the very mission Auster advocates of finding “the right balance between the universal and the particular” by effectively advocating, in terms people understand, the basic principle that culture and tradition matters. Perhaps before a Frenchman can say to himself that French culture and tradition matters enough to limit immigration he must first think that culture and tradition themselves matter. A crawl before a walk. A scaffolding to (re)build the basic principle that tradition, that having a country, has value.
In a country which has given up its traditions, is dying, and is giving itself away to immigrants, and all primarily due to the pernicious lie of multiculturalism, perhaps it is not such a bad thing to take the multiculturalist argument at its word and thus demonstrate that it is a lie —to eke out a small victory, to at least stab the enemy in the foot when you can.
Of course, perhaps when Lagane gets down to the nitty-gritty of explaining his views, as he seemed to, some True Multiculturalists will hate him, but so what? They hate him already. They will hate him tomorrow. At least by using terms from multiculturalism, he can gain a few minutes time to present his program to most Frenchmen and to demonstrate the inherent flaw in the general multicultural viewpoint.
Take another look: “It’s wrong to say that France has a single unique culture,” he said. “In fact, the National Front is the movement in France that best defends multiculturalism. Let me explain.” [I wish I could add emphasis to that last.]
And again: “We’re not against globalization,” [Lagane] said. “We’re against a globalism that destroys the family and the nation.” [Emphasis please.] And, “Lagane admitted that globalization has its merits.”
Who is polarizing? Who is being extreme? Who is striving for a balance? Or, more importantly, who is suicidal? I remain unconvinced that it is Lagane or the Front, but confess ignorance about the views of either but for this and a few articles on Le Pen.
On second thought, expressing sympathy to the multiculturalist agenda as Lagane did [“the National Front is the movement in France that best defends multiculturalism”] would be better if it was expressly just for the sake of argument and discussion, which, on review, it doesn’t seem to be. One can’t support Lagane only to the extent that he is attempting to re-define the word, as that means one is only sympathetic to his statement to the extent that he is attempting to mislead people…which, of course, presents a few problems.
On the third hand, perhaps such a lie would be a legitimate ruse of war (or, to use the French, ruse de guerre)?
Meanwhile, for an interesting essay on a specific practical problem in France, see the current issue of Theodore Dalyrmple in the City Journal online, “France’s Headscarf Problem; How should a western democracy accommodate Islam?”
I agree completely with your response. David Horowitz is an example of the kind of person I think we can engage with. As you say, there will be some who, on the issue of immigration in particular are simply not going to bend at all. Obviously we may well be wasting our time with such people. But I do believe that many who are placed, rightly or wrongly, in the neocon camp, may be open to compromise and debate. And dialouge is surely better than the civil war we have had since the 1980’s.
It may be more useful to use the term mainstream conservative rather than neocon, as I suspect like you that there are few purist self-identifying neocons.
Although Pat Buchanan and some others in the palecon camp seem to think that anyone who is not a paleocon isolationist is a neocon.
Its this kind of shooting at each other from behind walls that I think neocons and paleocons need to get beyond. A house devided against itself cannot stand. If I can give up my dream of a Protestant America and recognise the need to work constructively with Catholics to reclaim America for all patriotic conservatives, then I think paleocons and neocons can do the same.Posted by: Shawn on April 27, 2003 12:52 AM
Great discussion guys. I’ve been a lurker for a while. I’ll just say that like liberalism, paleoconservatism seems to be a mental illness for some people. The National Front embracing multiculturalism to fight Americanism? I don’t shock easily, but I am shocked…and appalled.Posted by: Brendan Kenny on April 30, 2003 2:49 PM
Many nationalists today are making a big mistake. They think that they can oppose globalization, multiculturalism and liberal values by participating in ‘elections’, by ‘gaining power’ in the old nation-states, and then by somehow changing the world. In the decades and centuries to come, these people will learn (as some of us have already learned) that this will not happen. You cannot hold out any hope of winning elections on a significant scale unless you have sustained and significant access to the media. In most countries this will never happen. In those countries where it can happen, it happens at a price — the price being that the nationalists must sell out completely on their principles and become merely a mouthpiece of American imperialism (as Fini and Zhirnovsky have done). Therefore nationalists cannot get anywhere worth getting by electoral means. Force and violence are out of the question — the police and intelligence services are too efficient. Therefore, nationalists will never ‘gain power’ and ‘change the world’ — the world is doomed to pursue a path of globalization and multiculturalism.
The way forward for nationalists is to change strategies. Instead of trying to preserve the old nation-states, you must go out into the loneliest corners of the earth and build your own communities there, isolating yourselves uncompromisingly against the outside world. Govern yourselves however you will — that’s nobody’s concern but yours. That way, and that way alone, may you preserve your people, your values, your culture against the influence of the New World Order.
This is the essence of national-anarchism, the only hope for nationalists in a post-nationalist world. You can read about it on http://www.nationalanarchist.com . I urge you to do so.Posted by: David on June 14, 2003 3:45 PM