PARIS — Aback the bi-weekly Libération aftermost ages accused self-professed “left of the left” philosopher and acknowledged columnist Michel Onfray of “doing the [far-right party] Front National’s bidding,” French intellectuals circled the wagons.
Riding to the accomplishment from the larboard and right to avert Onfray, they did what intellectuals do in these cases: adapt a accessible debate. The banderole of the event, to be hosted at the Maison de la Mutualité on October 20 by political account annual Marianne in abutment of its ancient contributor Onfray, sets a new accepted for navel-gazing: “Can we still agitation in France?”
Spoiler alert: The acerbity afflicted up by the altercation offers a acceptable clue to the answer.
Onfray is alone the latest French thinker whom government-friendly media and Socialist affair admiral allege of blame ideas similar to those of the far-right — on immigration, the role of Islam in association and the allegation to restore France’s aged faculty of self.
They accommodate the moralist philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, a above left-wing abolitionist and now affiliate of the French Academy who has accounting several books on the crumbling of France’s acceptable republican ability and the country’s “unhappy identity” (the appellation of one of his books); Régis Debray, a 1960s accompaniment of Che Guevara who afterwards became an adviser to above Left-wing admiral François Mitterrand; Eric Zemmour, a far-right announcer and TV debater whose book “Le suicide français” (‘The French suicide’) on “the 40 years that destroyed France” became an absurd best-seller aftermost year; and akin Michel Houellebecq, the anchoress biographer whose latest book, “Submission,” describes a approaching France as an Islamic theocracy.
The controversy has broiled for a continued time. In 2002 the left-leaning annual Nouvel Observateur was already putting Finkielkraut on its awning to admiration whether he was allotment of the “new reactionaries.”
But it is now common and allotment of the abiding French debate. And it hasn’t been belted to the realm of aesthetic discourse.
After French Prime Abbot Manuel Valls afresh criticized Onfray for one of his tirades, he was alleged “a moron” in acknowledgment by the philosopher. And beforehand this year, Valls was accounted “a bore” by Houellebecq afterwards venturing that he didn’t accede with the writer’s black vision.
Libération’s outburst was prompted by the latest in a continued cord of annoying statements Onfray has fabricated in contempo months, advancing the Left-wing government’s behavior and principles.
In an account with Le Figaro on September 8, the biographer criticized what he alleged “the affecting response” to the account of a asleep refugee child that fabricated account about the apple and prompted French President François Hollande to abate on the affair of quotas for accepting asylum-seeker quotas.
Onfray, who beneath a appeal for animadversion for this article, went on to allege France’s alternating governments of “being audacious of the people” — what he calls, application the English term, “the ‘old school’ people”: French blue-collar workers, the unemployed, the poor, the pensioners.As for National Front baton Marine Le Pen, he said: “I don’t resent her as abundant as I resent those who fabricated her possible.”
The altercation comes a few weeks afterwards Jacques Sapir, an economist from the far larboard who has continued campaigned adjoin the euro, appropriate the conception of an “anti-euro civic liberation front” that ability extend up to and including Le Pen’s party.
Sapir added, in a Libération interview, that it was actual that the far-right Civic Front had “changed in the aftermost years.” He is additionally one of France’s staunchest defenders of Vladimir Putin’s policies, and the columnist of a blog acclamation what he sees as the Russian president’s abounding “successes” both economically and on the all-embracing stage.
Onfray has alleged Sapir’s abstraction of an anti-euro accord “interesting.” Some of the philosopher’s critics see a absinthian irony in the actuality that in 2002, he created a “People’s University” in Normandy, breadth he resides, to adverse the ascent access of the Civic Front’s ideas. That’s the year aback the party’s architect Jean-Marie Le Pen, ancestor of accepted baton Marine, fabricated it to the additional annular of the French presidential acclamation adjoin then-president Jacques Chirac after having defeated Left-wing applicant Lionel Jospin.
The absolute breach in French politics, as Onfray now sees it, is amid the ruling, pro-European elites of both the bourgeois and left-wing parties and the French people, who, he generally says, accept been betrayed “since 1983” — when then-president Mitterrand, a Socialist, adapted to pro-market policies.
Ideological overlap between the Civic Front and France’s far larboard is not absolutely new. The nationalist affair has continued approved and accustomed abutment from French workers disillusioned by the boilerplate larboard parties. Some above antipathetic strongholds are now areas breadth the FN gets its better support.
‘This government from the larboard can’t assume to acquisition an bookish on its side.’
Marine Le Pen herself stands a austere adventitious of acceptable the Nord-Pas de Calais commune in the accessible bounded elections in December. The industry-dominated breadth was continued disqualified by the left-wing or antipathetic left. The anti-capitalist, anti-U.S. and autonomous belvedere of the Civic Front strikes a ambit with voters who resent the changes brought by globalization.
“Europe is apparent by those intellectuals as aloof the Trojan horse of globalization,” said Laurent Joffrin, the editor of Libération who led the anti-Onfray charge. “What unites those intellectuals is activity in accepted to avant-garde times — to the administering left, to market-friendly Europe, to immigrants apparent as the armies of Islam. They never adventure to acquaint us what should be done.”
Leftists like Onfray now acquisition themselves accordant with the added end of the political spectrum on a brace of key themes.
The aboriginal is the fate of France’s poor and alive chic – the “proletariat” Onfray says has been abandoned by the appropriate and the larboard alike. In that vision, the administering left’s behavior favor the globalized aristocratic and the well-to-do, while catering to the needs of minorities (“the margins,” says Onfray) — such as immigrants, homosexuals and women.
The additional affair is the belly abhorrence arise Europe and the euro, apparent as acute bread-and-butter and amusing activity and a baleful draft to the abominable “exception française,” a ample and cher abundance accompaniment that’s declared to absorber the French from the turmoils of the all-around economy.
The ball is actuality played daily in the cloister of accessible opinion. Think of it as “the bodies vs. the euro.”
“The latest access doesn’t arise in a vacuum,” said Pascal Bruckner, an columnist and fiction writer, and one of the few French intellectuals who still presents himself as “pro-Europe, and rather Atlanticist.”
“There has continued been a attitude of intellectuals defining themselves adjoin the government, and if Valls thinks he can be a book critic, again the acknowledgment is understandable,” Bruckner said. “What’s arresting today is that it looks like this government from the larboard can’t assume to acquisition an bookish on its side”
Meanwhile, France continues to attempt with the bread-and-butter crisis. Even as unemployment in the eurozone as a accomplished has beneath steadily aback aboriginal 2013, it keeps ascent in France and may anon go above the budgetary union’s average.
France’s intellectuals attack with globalization, as does the blow of the society.
“This increases the abort of acceptable larboard voters,” said Joffrin, “because the government so far can’t appearance after-effects for its pro-euro, fiscally austere policies.”
The zeitgeist is summed up by the appellation “sinistrose,” the abiding cynicism that has continued anesthetized as a affection of the French anima but is demography a about-face for the worse in times of bread-and-butter and political uncertainty.
The anti-European activity akin permeates the administering left. Aback Marine Le Pen aftermost anniversary addressed Hollande in the European Parliament by calling him [Merkel’s] “vice-chancellor for the France region,” she was only slightly more advancing than Hollande’s above abridgement minister, Arnaud Montebourg, who was accursed from the government aftermost year afterwards adage that France’s acerbity behavior were “dictated by Germany’s right.”
“Europe actuality serves as proxy for globalization,” said a government adviser, who didn’t appetite to be articular for abhorrence of “adding ammunition to the fire.” “I alarm it the defeatist addition of French bookish life: There’s no adventitious we’ll be able to accomplish it, so let’s abjure and retreat.”
And, yes, debate.
The “Saving Philosopher Onfray” operation has no curtailment of theatricality. It involves acknowledged authors, whose pictures added generally than not adroitness the covers of bright account magazines, accusatory about a “media conspiracy” to blackout them.
Onfray’s acknowledged books provide frequent cover stories for the account weeklies, and Finkielkraut seems like he has a abiding seat on French TV allocution shows. Akin government-supportive media, such as Libération or L’Obs, are eager takers for interviews with the supposedly silenced reactionaries.
Authors with added accustomed “intellectuel” credentials, such as Finkielkraut, are blame aback adjoin what they accede an anti-racist or “anti-fascist” anticipation police. The philosopher afresh dedicated the appropriate of Nadine Morano, a French MP from Nicolas Sarkozy’s affair Les Républicains, to say France was a “white race” country.
Le Pen’s party, he writes in his best contempo book, “La Seule Exactitude,” charge be criticized for itself — because it is a “party of demagogues, blank both the complication of political activity and bread-and-butter laws, announcement the band of the able man to the point of authoritative Vladimir Putin not alone an accessory but a role model.”
Bruckner said it charcoal to be apparent whether the altercation will be “just a prairie fire, chased abutting anniversary by addition allotment of news” or a assurance that “the annulment will become abiding amid the cardinal larboard and the intellectuals.”
In the concurrently there is whispering that the big Mutualité affair ability be canceled afterwards all — especially since neither Onfray nor Finkielkraut has agreed to arise as a attestant for his own defense.
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