Macron leads!

by Chris Bertram on April 24, 2017

Macron has won the first round of the French Presidential election, and I for one am very pleased at the outcome. In the first place, I’m pleased because Marine Le Pen and the Front National have not done better despite circumstances, such as the Nice and Bataclan attacks, that might have been expected to give them a further boost. This suggests that, at least in France, right-wing populism has hit a limit, for the time being. Second I’m pleased because I think Macron probably has more about him than the Blair and Clinton comparisons and the childish chanting of the mantras of “neoliberal”, “austerity”, “banker” and “elite” by the Mélenchon claque suggests. He’s someone both committed to the EU and committed to changing it, whereas Mélenchon was all about making demands and walking away, in the vague direction of Lexit, as soon as the other member-states turned him down. Unlike Clinton and Blair he has done what he has done without a massive party machine behind him, he’s exhibited a lot of political courage and his bet has paid off. Now that we face the second-round, we see Mélenchon refusing to back Macron against Le Pen, which to my mind indicates that Mélenchon is an unserious poseur, but then his enthusiasms for Hugo Chavez and his apologetics for Assad ought to have been a clue to that.

{ 202 comments }

1

Ben Philliskirk 04.24.17 at 7:37 am

That leftists should refuse to back a status quo, fully establishment-orientated pro-capitalist French version of Tony Blair suggests that they are completely serious and have a nuanced understanding of contemporary political trends, and that they are looking towards the future.

Obviously yesterday’s result is ideal for liberal ‘centrists’ because they can play their ‘lesser-evil’ card for all its worth.

2

Chris Bertram 04.24.17 at 7:38 am

And comment #1 “French version of Tony Blair” is Exhibit A….

3

engels 04.24.17 at 8:14 am

This suggests that, at least in France, right-wing populism has hit a limit, for the time being.

I wonder where that limit will be after four more glorious years of the—ahem—serious pro-European centre-left. We are about to find out!

4

ThM 04.24.17 at 8:29 am

The amazing (to me) result is Hamon at 6.5%; the socialist party has been the mainstream leftist party during my lifetime, they are now barely above the critical level (under 5%, campaigns expenses are not reimbursed).

5

Foppe 04.24.17 at 8:31 am

Chris: with all due respect: reducing all criticism to “childish chanting” (or dismissing all because some are perceived by you as “un-substantive”) is philosophically /uncharitable, to say the least. If you want to have a substantive discussion, this is not the best opening.

As for Macron being “committed to changing the EU”: Just like all the other “Pro-EU/EZ”-pols, he’s committed to paying lip service to changing it, while knowing nothing will change while people who share his outlook dominate. The EU cannot be saved by people who confuse “love for something” with codependency, and none of the current technocratic cabal sees any reason for the EU to change in the direction needed (and even if they would, they wouldn’t dare jeopardize their future career prospects by being outspoken in the criticisms they don’t understand).

6

faustusnotes 04.24.17 at 8:31 am

So Melenchon is using the power of whatever public influence he has to openly tell left wing voters that fascism is equivalent to liberalism? That’s nihilism, not leftism.

7

Marc 04.24.17 at 8:40 am

I understand why an EU enthusiast would be disposed to like him. But there is more to a president than their foreign policy, and there are real reasons to be skeptical of his presidency. First, he has no party and will have minimal legislative support. He is very likely to be working with a right wing dominated body, which will mean that any left leaning ideas go nowhere. It’s also likely that the government will be paralyzed and accomplish nothing.

Second, his stated policies are vague and contradictory. Spend more money, cut taxes, balance the budget… It’s not a profile in courage, and he really did antagonize the left with labor law “reforms”.

8

Phil 04.24.17 at 8:49 am

Mélenchon isn’t “refusing to back Macron against Le Pen”. He’s already said that, if he didn’t get into the second round, he’d consult his movement (like Macron, he ran as a non-party candidate with a new organisation behind him) and give a recommendation on the basis of what they say – and that’s what he’s now going to do. It’s a non-story at best. (Story sourced from that well-known Commie rag Le Monde.)

9

Daragh 04.24.17 at 8:52 am

I saw this earlier and wanted to write a comment expressing my admiration for Chris’ post, which I thought, in addition to being intellectually and morally serious, was a brave one, given the likely reaction from the CT community. But then I held back, because I thought I should wait to see what that reaction was rather than making assumptions (and also because I didn’t want to risk Chris re-evaluating his position by agreeing with it too vigorously). Two comments in and it seems my initial expectations were depressingly accurate.

Then again, perhaps I’m being too harsh. After all the question “Should the anti-fascist left collaborate with anti-fascist liberals and centrists in order to prevent fascists coming to power, or should they go it alone in order to maintain their ideological purity and pursue a ‘heighten the contradictions’ strategy?” is a truly difficult one, with literally no analogous historical examples that could serve as a guide.

10

Chris Bertram 04.24.17 at 9:03 am

I’d like to say that I stick by the above post, even though Daragh agrees with it.

11

Daragh 04.24.17 at 9:28 am

Chris @10

Allez le Front Populaire!

12

Faustusnotes 04.24.17 at 9:43 am

Can we stop using the word “serious ” like this, especially connected to the qualifier “morally”? It’s up there with “wrong headed” as a piece of mealy mouthed weaselry. Just say what you mean!

13

Mark H 04.24.17 at 9:50 am

Regarding comment #1, Melenchon’s position is no more “nuanced” than ‘revolutionary defeatism’.

14

engels 04.24.17 at 10:41 am

Macron currently has a 20% lead and Melenchon hasn’t refused to back him, as Phil says. And while the idea that turkeys all have a moral obligation to enthusiastically unite behind Christmas may feel good if you’re expecting lots of prezzies, as politics it tends not to be terribly realistic.

15

John Quiggin 04.24.17 at 10:45 am

Another notable feature of the outcome is that Le Pen’s first round vote is only about 5 percentage points higher than her father’s in 2002. On the other hand, despite Fillon’s endorsement of Macron, it seems likely she will pick up a lot of his voters in the second round

My analysis is that the core racist/tribalist/Trumpist vote hasn’t increased that much. Rather it’s the fact that right/hard neoliberals, now a minority on the right, have chosen to support Trumpists rather than anyone to their left.

16

Daragh 04.24.17 at 11:00 am

faustusnotes @12

When I say morally serious I mean a moral position that is (IMO) based on rigorous consideration of the world as it is, rather than what one like it to be, and based on defensible moral principles that are consistently held (such as anti-fascism). A morally unserious position, by contrast, is one that is based on wishful thinking about reality and ad hoccery (such as anti-fascism, unless my preferred candidate won’t be the beneficiary, at which point I take my ball and go home). I think its a defensible and relatively well understood shorthand rather than ‘weaselry’ but I accept that opinions may differ on that.

17

Daragh 04.24.17 at 11:05 am

JQ @15

I won’t pretend to have any deep knowledge of French politics, but didn’t Fillon run on a program of Catholic social conservatism, and generally hail from the ‘beat the Front through co-option’ school of the Republicans? That would seem to suggest that Fillon voters drifting to the front aren’t so much hard neoliberals as they are soft Trumpists. Like I said – I’m by no means an expert on this so cheerfully willing to concede the point if I’m missing something.

18

Collin Street 04.24.17 at 11:12 am

My analysis is that the core racist/tribalist/Trumpist vote hasn’t increased that much.

It never does! They don’t like social change, after all.

[If I’m right, compulsory voting is a large part of the solution; how does belgian politics compare with dutch?]

19

kidneystones 04.24.17 at 11:15 am

The free movement of people is the central pillar of the EU and the people who support the EU most vocally seem to also oppose practically limits to the free movement of people in principal and in fact. The French have a far greater investment in the EU than Britain. That and Le Pen’s politics should carry any pro-EU centrist over the finish line. A substantial subset of France’s population has had enough of politics as usual, which explains in part why the mainstream parties lost. My sense, however, is that a substantial number of French people over the age of 35 have a very strong latent sense of nationalism, as foreign and contemptible a concept that is to some. This is not necessarily right-wing, or left-wing. Le Pen’s name earns the respect of the folks she needs least, and engenders fear and loathing in those she needs most. The threat may come from Le Pen, but the Trump presidency shows us that any clown with the right messaging can win high office.
Constrained by the EU and unable to reform the EU the centrist can only promise more of the same only worse, much like HRC. That’s not going to work in the long run, and maybe not even the short. A celebrity clown who promises to pull down the temple can go a long way.

20

Elizabeth McIntoah 04.24.17 at 11:38 am

Should Macron be elected I suspect we will see a France in 5 years where its welfare state has been further eroded, workers’ protection removed, corporate taxes reduced, personal freedoms curtailed in various emergencies, military spending up, French bombers over the Middle East and Africa, the ‘punishment’ of the UK for exiting the EU harsher and Macron’s EM party shuffling to the right – because that is what ‘grown ups’ do.
This is a better outcome than an overtly right wing nationalist.
And if it is Macron by 60 t0 40 then the FN have progressed by 20 points in 20 years. Who knows where they will be in another 20 – especially after Macron’s ‘Hope’ campaign achieves even less than Obama’s.

21

Daragh 04.24.17 at 11:46 am

EM @20

“especially after Macron’s ‘Hope’ campaign achieves even less than Obama’s.”

25 million Americans who now have health insurance might take issue with you here, not to mention the tens of thousands who aren’t dying unnecessarily every year as a result.

22

Chris Bertram 04.24.17 at 11:49 am

It seems to me that commenters complaining that Macron can’t and won’t solve all the problems are correct but irrelevant, since nobody can. European countries (and indeed all advanced capitalist countries) face long-term relative economic decline in a context where there are other pretty big challenges too (including environmental ones). Kicking the can down the road, managing and distributing the pain and disappointment equitably, trying to sustain support for international institutions and human rights, trying to foster reasonably tolerant intercommunal relationship is as good as it is going to get for the foreseeable future. The struggle is going to be to get mass democratic buy-in to that. Millennarian fantasies and cries of treason will only make things worse.

23

djw 04.24.17 at 12:26 pm

which to my mind indicates that Mélenchon is an unserious poseur, but then his enthusiasms for Hugo Chavez and his apologetics for Assad ought to have been a clue to that.

Exactly right; well said.

He is very likely to be working with a right wing dominated body, which will mean that any left leaning ideas go nowhere. It’s also likely that the government will be paralyzed and accomplish nothing.

Perhaps true, but I don’t see how that’s a point in Melenchon’s favor.

24

harry b 04.24.17 at 12:32 pm

Well, I couldn’t have articulated any of this as precisely or well as CB, but if I agree completely and to be honest waking up to reading this was only somewhat less of a pleasure than the news yesterday that Macron is the likely winner. Thanks Chris.

25

Chris Bertram 04.24.17 at 12:33 pm

Mélenchon was willing to give an unequivocal endorsement to Chirac against Le Pen père in 2002, so hard to see why he’s being all procedural about it now, given that Macron is clearly way to the left of Chirac.

http://www.liberation.fr/direct/element/en-2002-les-appels-clairs-de-jean-luc-melenchon-a-voter-contre-jean-marie-le-pen_62442/?utm_campaign=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#link_time=1493035893

26

Soru 04.24.17 at 12:33 pm

The key flaw in the EU has always been freedom of movement without a guaranteed right to vote in the country moved to. I doubt there is any case in history of a disenfranchised, but prosperous, minority getting to keep the wealth they made long term.

Sooner or later there will be a majority vote for kicking them out and taking their stuff. The harder they work, the more wealth they create, the greater that incentive. And so the faster that processs takes place.

27

engels 04.24.17 at 12:34 pm

managing and distributing the pain and disappointment equitably

I guess we have different understandings of ‘equitably’:

Macron wants to roll back state intervention in the economy, cut public-sector jobs, and reduce taxes on business and the ultra-rich. He wants to deepen employer-friendly labor reforms. And he backs the current direction of the European Union, viciously hostile to public investment across the continent. All in all, it’s a program nearly guaranteed to aggravate the problems at the heart of France’s political crisis: unemployment, inequality, and poverty. These are the same forces driving growing numbers of French people to withdraw from politics altogether—or worse yet, cast ballots for the National Front.

https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/french-election-trouble-with-emmanuel-macron-centrism

28

Chris Bertram 04.24.17 at 12:40 pm

Alternatively, Engels, he says things like: “What we are really suffering from,” he insists, “is a deregulated Europe that has let go of its primary vocation, which was to hold aloft our values of freedom and solidarity — a Europe that protects people — that has become ultra-liberal and uniquely primed towards the free market. This is what we must change.”

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/monsieur-le-president-2c86t5bqz?CMP=Sprkr-_-Editorial-_-TheSTMagazine-_-Magazine-_-Cardkitandlink-_-Statement-_-Unspecified-_-ACCOUNT_TYPE&linkId=36047027

29

Chris Bertram 04.24.17 at 12:43 pm

And that Dissent piece is by someone who has co-authored pieces for Jacobin with Mélenchon’s key economic advisor, maybe not an impartial source.

30

John Garrett 04.24.17 at 12:50 pm

I’d appreciate comments from those better informed than me about whether the collapse of the traditional dominant French parties also presages a transformation of the rest of local and national politics, or whether same old same old will prevail.

31

Katsue 04.24.17 at 12:53 pm

@22 I don’t think most people in the West worry about relative economic decline when comparing themselves to China or India. They worry about their ability to find a job, afford a home, provide for their family and deal with any crises in their lives. This has little to do with a country’s competitiveness versus the rest of the world, and everything to do with how income is distributed within countries.

32

Faustusnotes 04.24.17 at 12:55 pm

ONE downside of this is that we won’t get to talk about “melenchonomics” for the next five years. It has a beautiful ring to it, melenchonomics.

33

casmilus 04.24.17 at 1:10 pm

I suppose it’s possible Macron may have said different things at different times?

As with that other great Presidential outsider who conquered the White House, the contradictions get resolved into real policy when he calls in the people who know how things work, and they put in the same old ideas he was believed to be challenging.

34

JAWoodward 04.24.17 at 1:17 pm

given that Macron is clearly way to the left of Chirac.

Macron is left of Chirac on an age timeline, for sure. I think no one in France would seriously think of Macron as left of Chirac in politics. I would be interested in some evidence of just how he might be left of Chirac, though.

French politics, it must be remembered, produced Mitterand, a socialist who rivaled Reagan for title of most right wing politician. So the question of ideological purity is a tricky one. That Macron wants to continue the erosion of the socialist state is pretty damning. And yet, France will elect him for sure. The worry is whether his erosion of protections for French workers and French families will push FN even more towards victory in five years. If the EU doesn’t learn some economic lessons, then that future is almost assured.

35

Manta 04.24.17 at 1:19 pm

Why do you think that another Hollande term will be good for France or for Europe?

36

casmilus 04.24.17 at 1:20 pm

@26

A lot of migrant worker earnings get sent back to the old countries, as is normal with migrant workers elsewhere in the world. I don’t think huge amounts are involved in any individual case.

Apart from Russian oligarchs, there aren’t many Central/Eastern Europeans living in Britain who have acquired “wealth” from working here. And immigrants who want to stay longer term invest the money in the businesses they are building up in this country.

37

Foppe 04.24.17 at 1:23 pm

This simile (h/t Frederic Lordon, LMD, april 12) is quite telling:
Emmanuel Macron, « Moi j’ai jamais connu un éleveur heureux avec des animaux malades (…) C’est comme l’idée que, un employeur, ce serait quelqu’un qui adore licencier les gens », devant la FNSEA, 30 mars 2017.

When are “livestock” owners unhappy? When animals are so sick that they can no longer be profitably used, sold or killed. (Never minding, for now, that this is generally due to business decisions to not treat them better before they are killed.) What does that have to do with business decisions to downsize? Is the point that workers are ‘human resources’ with no intrinsic value? Is it that when someone decides to downsize, this is necessarily because the “business” is “sick” — which apparently “transfers” to the employees, who are then declared “sick” and/or redundant, and thus to be culled? In other words, these two situations are pretty much inverted — the proper analogy would be healthy animals being killed out of financial considerations. What does it say about Macron’s world view that he considers this a proper analogy, and that he sees businesses as organisms?

38

Soru 04.24.17 at 2:10 pm

36: small amounts in each individual case, yes. But there are/were ~3.3 million non- voting tax-payers in the U.K. As many of them were on average or above wages, that is going to to add up to several percentage points worth of GDP, which is starting to be be real money. You could use that to land on Mars, halve CO2 emissions, add 6 months to average life expectancy, fight a medium sized war, build a wall, or make a roomfull of billionaire friends.

Of course,one principle of neoliberalism that is quite likely true is that you can’t gain wealth by simply taking it from someone else. But true or not, it is a thing that people believe, and so some will vote that way.

And will until the underlying temptation is taken away.

39

Jesús Couto Fandiño 04.24.17 at 2:35 pm

which to my mind indicates that Mélenchon is an unserious poseur, but then his enthusiasms for Hugo Chavez and his apologetics for Assad ought to have been a clue to that.

Or, even more worrysome, that he is not an unserious poseur, and actually stand by that.

Macron may well be an step forward in the neverending spiral toward some noeoliberal whatever the hell you want. That is not the question, right now. The question is, what the fuck are french leftiest going to tell their Muslim neighbourghs, for example, the day after a Le Pen win they did not oppose. “Sorry, but the dynamic of the social forces right now demand that you lot spend several years in fear for your life, tough luck”?

Get the disgusting nazi beaten, then oppose all the neoliberal stuff you want

40

Z 04.24.17 at 2:36 pm

Another notable feature of the outcome is that Le Pen’s first round vote is only about 5 percentage points higher than her father’s in 2002.

This is partly deceptive, as turn-out was historically exceptionally weak in 2002. Jean-Marie Le Pen got 4,8 million votes in 2002. Yesterday, Marine Le Pen got 7,6. That’s already a 60% growth. We’ll see, but it isn’t unlikely that she will get over 12 million in the second round.

It seems to me that commenters complaining that Macron can’t and won’t solve all the problems are correct but irrelevant, since nobody can.

I don’t think non-Macron enthusiast (like myself) complain that Macron can’t and won’t solve all the problems. I think that we have a pretty accurate idea of his priorities and projects, seeing the influential role he played in the last 5 years, and I think that we take him more or less at his words: he did absolutely campaign on a soft-neoliberal platform of lower income taxes, lower capital gain taxes, balanced budgets, strong European integration and cuts in the public sector and then went on to win a stunning victory, so I think that we expect him to implement his program, with all its positive and negative aspects.

the collapse of the traditional dominant French parties also presages a transformation of the rest of local and national politics, or whether same old same old will prevail.

It’s really hard to tell, especially since the electoral system at the local level has important differences with the Presidential one, so a national victory does not automatically guarantee the same margin of victory in general elections (coming up next month). Nevertheless, it appears likely that the centrist part of the PS will join Macron, so on the former parliamentary left, I think we can expect a deep recomposition (a bit under the “plus ça change…” in terms of actual people). Whether this group can reach a majority is very unclear and on the right, things are much more incertain (to me at least). Also very unclear to me is the capacity of the left/green group of yesterday’s vote to form a political force.

41

Mario 04.24.17 at 2:52 pm

Kicking the can down the road, managing and distributing the pain and disappointment equitably, trying to sustain support for international institutions and human rights, trying to foster reasonably tolerant intercommunal relationship is as good as it is going to get for the foreseeable future.

Ideally, maybe. But truth to be told, I don’t buy it that Macron will do that. I think inequality will continue to rise, workers rights and Frances social system will continue to erode, etc. until the unreasonable people win. And even then it is not guaranteed, c.f. Tsipras in Greece.

42

William Timberman 04.24.17 at 3:02 pm

In situations like this, where I’m not in a position to know what’s really going on, certain moth-eaten historical analogies spring to mind, such as Comintern accuses syndicalists of infantile leftism. Then again, given that we’re discussing France, some historical analogies will inevitably seem less moth-eaten than others.

Cynicism aside, I’m pretty sure that Chris knows more about current French politics than I do, so if he says that a Macron popular front makes sense, or at least more sense than the Hillary popular front did, I can’t dismiss the idea out of hand. I will say, though, that these days some so-called realists seem as untrustworthy to me as ever. One can say in their defense that no one can predict the future, and that perhaps even a neoliberal-infested EU is worth preserving, at least until more of the future becomes visible in the present, but one can also say, with some justification, that a certain cynicism is warranted. One eye on Le Pen, in other words, and the other on Schäuble. (And if one is fortunate enough to have a third eye, perhaps it should be trained on Putin?)

43

Dipper 04.24.17 at 3:12 pm

Some analysis of French society here https://www.city-journal.org/html/french-coming-apart-15125.html that will ring bells in USA and the UK.

It looks like Le Pen will get beaten in the final round, possible quite heavily. Elsewhere UKIP are going backwards in the UK, and AFD in Germany seem to be making no progress. Many will consider the failure of these parties to gain significant power a good thing, and I wouldn’t disagree, but the thing that stands out about, say UKIP, is that it is full of nutters, weirdos, people with some very unpleasant opinions and kitchen generals who have all the answers and answer to no-one. If ever one of these parties gets serious and finds a charismatic leader who can get their rag-tag armies to maintain some kind of discipline then they could make significant electoral inroads. As long as “mainstream” parties ignore the large section of society who are clearly not thriving then they are leaving fertile ground for some potentially seriously nasty parties, so they need to start reconnecting with a broad base as a matter of urgency.

44

David 04.24.17 at 3:20 pm

Commentators in France have pretty much all been saying that the two major parties that have dominated politics since the 1980s are dead or dying, and for once I think they’re right. Which suggests that in the longer term it won’t be the “same old stuff”. But in the short term it will, because, assuming Macron wins, it’s clear that he’s going to try to assemble around him a neoliberal pro-Brussels majority, that he hopes will be effectively permanent: a kind of politics without politics. He already has huge backing from the private sector, oodles of free publicity in a subservient media and declarations of support from those looking for him to give them jobs. This guarantees a smooth continuation of the politics of the last thirty years, with a bit of reworked rhetoric, and anyone who voted for Macron thinking he would bring change was dreaming.
In the longer term, the best way to look at the results is to see the first round as a competition between More of the Same (Fillon and Macron) and Let’s Change it (Everybody else) Who “won” depends on how you classify Hamon. Mélenchon, Le Pen and Dupont Aignan between them took nearly 45% of the vote, and the remaining minor candidates were all pretty much on the Change side. Whether the French electorate can be persuaded to vote for a continuation of the status quo because it’s preferable to having the National Front in power remains to be seen, but that is pretty much the only argument that Macron and his supporters will be able to muster.

45

Z 04.24.17 at 3:30 pm

I agree with Mario @41. Kicking the can down the road (with just a little more inequalities, a little less social mobility and not nearly enough attention paid to climate disruption and general environmental questions) means in all likelihood a little more Le Pen. In 15 years, it went from 18% to very probably above 35%. What happens in the next 15 years?

46

Primadant 04.24.17 at 4:00 pm

Young Mélenchon voter here. It’s painful to see you dismiss all the progressive ideas of Mélenchon’s program just because he wants to renegotiate the European treaties. We know he is going to call to vote for Macron this week but he already said he was going to consult his supporters about it before.

Ever since I was old enough to be interested in politics I have only heard of the EU as the organization that enforces austerity and neoliberal policies, that disregards the referendums that didn’t go its way. For me the EU is that thing that would trigger a massive recession and regressive national immigration policies if we got out of it and nothing else. I feel no emotional attachment to it, I don’t feel European, I support the EU on a purely utilitarian ground. I think it’s a prevalent feeling among young french leftists.

The left and the EU are not compatible and people of your generation have already made their choice. I haven’t made up my mind yet but if I decide Europe is more important than the left I’m just going to stop caring about politics altogether. After all it’s what Brussels wants, that people stop getting involved in politics and leave it to the technocrats.

47

engels 04.24.17 at 4:22 pm

Get the disgusting nazi beaten, then oppose all the neoliberal stuff you want

That strategy appear suggest a good, if risky, counter for neoliberals: make sure there’s always a Nazi in the game…

Oh

48

Raven Onthill 04.24.17 at 4:45 pm

It sounds like Clinton against Trump, redux. This is not a hopeful outcome.

Primandant, the left forgets that before the EU, Europe had been war-torn for centuries. The neo-liberal awfulness of the EU is awful, but a return to a militarized Europe would be worse. “After Le Pen, our turn” is probably not a wise strategy for the French left.

49

OldJim 04.24.17 at 5:06 pm

If the centre-left/liberal ‘realists’ here believe that that kind of politics, or the mere passage of time, can ameliorate the deep sociological problems that the west is presently experiencing; or that those problems do not exist, and that the present upswing of radical nationalism, racism and protectionism is a superstructure standing on no ‘valid’ economic base, then I can see how Melenchon can easily be loathed for his hesitation to unambiguously endorse Macron in the face of fascism.

And indeed I hope we all agree that Macron must defeat Le Pen. The problem for the left, for whom Macronism is the fount and origin of the uglinesses presently producing fascist voters, is that whilst it is clear that Melenchon must muster his voters against Le Pen this cycle, he mustn’t allow a single working-class voter to imagine that he has any complicity whatsoever with the policies that Macron will then pursue. If the left allows itself to be conflated with or seen as a willing handmaiden of the ‘centre’, and loses ground in the “opposing Macronism” stakes relative to the radical right, then, whether she wins this time or no, in the long run, Le Pen has already won a French election.

To put it concretely: Macron’s the Tories, Melenchon’s Labour, Le Pen’s the SNP. It’s all very well for Unionists of the centre-right to insist that, for the sake of the UK, which is facing an existential threat, Labour must endorse ‘better together’. But when the Tory UK government later does as Tory UK governments are wont to do, how do you think Scotland will voice its opposition? And what is the long-term outcome for the Unionism in defence of which Labour tarnished its good name in the first place?

Labour must do the absolute minimum that they need do to ensure a unionist victory, and not the smallest thing more. If the polling says that that means they need do nothing, then, I’m afraid, so much the better.

50

Z 04.24.17 at 5:14 pm

But in the short term it will, because, assuming Macron wins, it’s clear that he’s going to try to assemble around him a neoliberal pro-Brussels majority, that he hopes will be effectively permanent: a kind of politics without politics.

Taking a step back, that to me is the main deficiency of the emerging three-party systems and its main negative game-theoretic consequence: as long as there is a nativist-populist political force representing a quater to a third of the electorate, the neoliberal camp can translate a smallish electoral advantage (think of Clinton’s advantage over Saunders or here Macron over Mélenchon/Hamon) into a huge or even quasi-hegemonic political advantage (simply because the left/green block will endorse it in when faced with the nativist/liberal alternative). In the long run, this seems to me to severely weaken the cognitive capability of the democratic system in the sense of the work of Henry and Cosma: in effect, as long as it is responsive to an electorally motivated, politically powerful and economically dynamic group of around 20% of the population, the political system can inflict endless pains on large segments of the population, not necessarily on purpose, Clinton or Macron are not evil people by a long shot, but just because there is no mechanism in place anymore to, transmit valuable information, identify mistakes and suggest correction.

Or the soft neoliberal candidate ultimately fails and you might end up with Trump or Brexit. Or even Le Pen (not this one, this time, but maybe her niece, in another 15 years).

51

Daragh 04.24.17 at 5:24 pm

Primadant @46

“Young Mélenchon voter here. It’s painful to see you dismiss all the progressive ideas of Mélenchon’s program just because he wants to renegotiate the European treaties.”

FWIW I also dismiss Melenchon because of his opposition to NATO and primitive anti-Americanism, his apologism for Vladimir Putin, demonisation of the Russian opposition and uncritical parroting of the Kremlin line on Ukraine (in the immediate aftermath of Nemtsov’s assassination no less) and policy of confiscatory taxation, which combines insurmountable obstacles to implementation with utterly ruinous consequences if ever actually tried. Combined with the Chavez and Assad snuggling Chris mentioned in the OP, I think this provides more than adequate evidence to support his conclusion that Melenchon is an unserious poseur.

faustusnotes @32

Melenchenomics even has a ready made onomatopoeic definition – an economy based on the bartering of melons and other foodstuffs for essential goods, because your country is led by a man who thinks Chavezism provides a model to emulate, rather than a cautionary example.

52

Manoel Galdino Pereira Neto 04.24.17 at 5:53 pm

I know almost nothing of politics in France. Having said that, I’d like to understand better the second reason CB is happy. He said that “I think Macron probably has more about him than the Blair and Clinton comparisons and the childish chanting of the mantras of “neoliberal”, “austerity”, “banker” and “elite” by the Mélenchon claque suggests”.
And why he says so? Because he is committed to the UE (which I don´t think is a difference from Clinton and/or Blair, who were committed to the liberal international order), and because he doesn’t have “a massive party machine behind him, he’s exhibited a lot of political courage and his bet has paid off”. I don´t see why not having a party machine behind him would make someone happy. Nut maybe it is me.

What is left is that he has courage (didn’t Clinton have it?) and the fact that some bet (?) has paid off (i.e., he will win, whereas Clinton lost?). To sum up, what are the evidence that he will be that different from Clinton and/or Blair? So far the fact that he is not backed by a labour party. Well, Trump wasn’t either.

So, can anyone illuminate me here? Why is Macron so different from Clinton and/or Blair?

53

Sebastian H 04.24.17 at 5:57 pm

“He’s someone both committed to the EU and committed to changing it”

I certainly hope you’re right, but I’d be shocked. If the choice is between stifling monetary policy and helping the lower class get jobs, the Germans have made quite clear that we will be getting stifling monetary policy. If the choice is between job protections and community aid, Macron has already committed to dumping job protections. This is the same dynamic that led to Brexit–which is not to say that France will leave the EU, but rather that it is setting the stage for reactionary politics to be very powerful.

Politics is about priorities. Macron has made clear that his priorities are more on the side of globalization than redistribution. Again, this is the dynamic that led to Brexit–for too long the Party allegedly on the side of the workers chose to prioritize globalization while merely gesturing toward ameliorating the problems globalization caused. For decades they got the votes from leftists who were for the European project because in order to strongly support the European project you had to be willing to support parties who proclaimed they would do things about poverty and disadvantage, while acting otherwise. Who proclaimed they would have a proper regional policy but never did. Similarly, Democrats in the United States constantly prioritized globalization over dealing with the ill effects of globalization. I fully agree that much of globalization has been good for the country when seen as a whole. But at some point (and we are easily 30+ years into the project) you have to decide if FURTHER globalization or FURTHER deeper union ought to take priority over FINALLY starting to deal with globalizations ill effects.

The frustrating thing about the matter is that whenever the status quo pro-globalization candidate wins over a scary populist, we all breathe a sigh of relief and then go right on with the policies which increase the power of the scary populists.

A proper technocrat would say “hmmm, we seem to be alienating more and more people. That isn’t a sustainable course so we should probably take ameliorating action”.

Macron doesn’t give me the slightest reason to think that we are past that dynamic yet.

54

Sebastian H 04.24.17 at 6:03 pm

Manoel is asking a good question. What is it about Macron that makes you think that this is the time where a good regional policy will take priority over further EU-ization or globalization? You say that he isn’t like Blair and Clinton, but they too mouthed the same words about the importance of local interests. Those interests were just never important enough to override globalization interests and EU interests.

55

Ben Philliskirk 04.24.17 at 6:24 pm

Manoel @ 52

“Why is Macron so different from Clinton and/or Blair?”

Where he is different is that he is effectively a liberal Bonapartist. Despite his origins as a career member of the administrative, financial and political elites, he made a deliberate decision to stand above party politics. This stance will both enable him to appeal to all shades of opinion and none, while at the same time governing as head of his own clique without any restraints from party members.

Contrary to his own propaganda, he is an ideal figure for the French establishment because he can ‘rule’ from the point of view of the technocracy while commanding a direct popular mandate. What will be interesting, given that he is unlikely to command significant support in the legislature, will be whether he seeks to mount his own 18th Brumaire, as head of the ‘party of order’ against the vicious extremes of Left and Right.

And that is the key- we should remember when centrists are claiming that the like of Melanchon are ‘unserious’ that Macron is every bit as opposed to the Left as he is the (Far)Right, and that in spite of all the fear-mongering liberal capitalism still holds all the levers of power in France.

56

john c. halasz 04.24.17 at 6:27 pm

If one drops three fringe candidates out of the mix, (a Larouche-like conspiracy theorist, a self-enclosed Trotskyite cult, and an Occitan candidate), then about 47% of the vote went to avowedly anti-EZ candidates vs. 51% pro-EZ candidates. If one regards breaking out of the straight-jacket, strangehold, shirt of Nessus, etc. of the Euro as the key functional issue rather than some gauzy “normative” idealism, then take note. And calling Marine LePen a “Nazi”, when she has, in fact, made considerable efforts to modernize, (even “liberalize”, on e.g. women’s and gay issues) her inherited party and broaden its base, and offers an economic program that is considerably more oriented to popular interests, i.e.” left”, than her opponent, does nothing to bolster your case: one has to decide whether half a loaf is maybe better than no loaf (or maybe brioche).

And calling Melenchon unserious and a poseur. apparently because he doesn’t parrot the BBC view of the world, just marks oneself as unserious and a poseur. He is, in fact, a figure of real intellectual and political stature. commanding a fair amount of respect on the French scene, having made his bones in 2005 while still a member of the SP as a leader of the “non” campaign on the referendum on the proposed EU constitution, ( which succeeded, only to have the “constitution” repackaged as the Treaty of Lisbon and imposed rather undemocratically). His surge was the only breath of fresh hope in an otherwise stale and dismal affair. (And if Hamon, bowing the the polls and the inevitable, had dropped out and endorsed Melenchon rather than maintaining his vanity, likely the latter would have entered the second round in place of LePen. As usual, it’s disunity on the left that permits the right to prevail).

57

Chris Bertram 04.24.17 at 6:38 pm

Sebastian, what was Macron’s actual view on the Greek crisis? He didn’t align with the Germans did he? OTOH, Mélenchon’s brand of xenophobic anti-Germanism was hardly likely to lead to the kind agreement that would be mutually beneficial.

58

David 04.24.17 at 7:02 pm

Even from a purely technical perspective, it’s hard to see how “keep the National Front out of power at any cost” actually amounts to a coherent political programme, still less why people should vote for it. Macron and the media/political/business elite, though, are hoping that the technique can be used indefinitely against the FN (just as traditional anti-Communist rhetoric can be used against Mélenchon) to stifle all realdebate. Whether this is feasible in the long-term, I doubt. In the meantime, it’s already clear that any talk during the next two weeks of rural poverty, jobs exported, factories closing, the ills of globalization or reinforcement of frontier controls will be ruled out of order because it’s “playing the game of the National Front.” In effect, Macron’s plan is that the majority of issues that people are actually concerned about can no longer be discussed, because they were once mentioned by Le Pen in a speech. Macron’s victory speech last night was almost totally devoid of intellectual content, and that’s not an accident. What a way to run a country.

59

Daragh 04.24.17 at 7:09 pm

john c. halasz @56

If ‘the BBC view of the world’ is one that condemns Putin’s invasion and territorial dismemberment of Ukraine as an act of aggression by a crypto-fascist regime, rather than spinning fantasies about ‘US mercenaries’ and echoing Kremlin propaganda outfits, I’ll take the BBC view of the world, thanks.

60

Donald Johnson 04.24.17 at 7:10 pm

For people wondering what unserious and serious means in regard to the Middle East, I found this–

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2017/4/20/frances-presidential-candidates-on-arab-world-affairs

Not sure I find Macron very serious. I know nothing about French politics and don’t want the fascist to win so if I were French I would vote for Macron, but sheesh, if that’s serious then it looks like more of the sort of seriousness that has made Western policy such a great success over there. But by all means crack down on BDS and push for a 2ss. That should work out real soon now. And demand Assad step down, because Westerners making demands and deposing dictators is why Libya and Iraq are garden spots of democracy and freedom.

61

Donald Johnson 04.24.17 at 7:11 pm

Are why, not “is why”. Oh well. Ranting and grammatically correct sentences probably shouldn’t go together anyway. Ruins the tone.

62

Manta 04.24.17 at 7:13 pm

Bertram, Macron was minister of economy: what he says may be nice, but what he did as minister the best way to judge him.
He will be a continuation of Hollande policies: if you liked them, you should be happy.

63

Dave 04.24.17 at 7:27 pm

As an ideological leftist, I hope one day that leftist writers, activists, and politicians (to the extent there are any), will focus their energy on winning elections and exercising power, and not policing liberals and whining.

64

marcel proust 04.24.17 at 7:30 pm

@32 – re: melenchonomics – it may have a beautiful ring to it, but nothing like that of the ol’ time religion… “Macronomics”.

65

PD 04.24.17 at 7:36 pm

If Christopher Caldwell has a point, then politics is now becoming more about geography than traditional right/left orientation. It’s now centres versus peripheries. Look at the map of the French results on Le Point. Le Pen got up to 36% of the vote in the French equivalent of the Rust Belt. In central Paris her vote was tiny.
As we know, you can drive from the Oregon coast to Washington DC without passing through any county that went for Hillary.
But doing something about the pain of the periphery is not a simple task, as with homelessness in the centres.

66

SamChevre 04.24.17 at 7:47 pm

I keep thinking that the US has a pretty clear analog to Macron, and it’s Michael Bloomberg; is that a reasonably fair comparison?

It seems to me, from a school-year in France long ago and reading the newspaper, that at some point, there will be a successful effort to reduce the influence of the EU in France; I don’t expect it this year, though.

67

Chris Bertram 04.24.17 at 7:58 pm

PD, the claim that Béziers is like the US rustbelt is a clue to how seriously the article as a whole should be taken.

68

Cian 04.24.17 at 8:36 pm

Daragh, you dismiss Melenchon’s politics because you have a very different ideology to him. Why not just admit that.

69

PD 04.24.17 at 8:39 pm

Chris, by Rust Belt I meant the de-industrialised northern departments, from Pas de Calais eastward. That was where Le Pen got her biggest share of the vote. Her other stronghold is in the south-east, including Beziers, which at one time had the highest FN vote in France. I know Beziers, and the FN base in the south is indeed different. It very much overlaps with those who were voting for the French communist party thirty years ago.
Do you think there’s no validity to Caldwell’s centre/periphery argument? On the face of it, it explains the Brexit vote rather well.

70

Cian 04.24.17 at 8:40 pm

CB: “I think Macron probably has more about him than the Blair and Clinton comparisons and the childish chanting of the mantras of “neoliberal”, “austerity”, “banker” and “elite” by the Mélenchon claque suggests”.

In what sense? I don’t follow French politics that closely, but everything I’ve seen since his days as Finance minister have seemed almost stereotypically French business elite. While his few filmed interactions with the French working class would suggest that he despises them. If he has new ideas he’s kept them very close to his chest as far as I can see.

Is it his take on the EU, or something else?

71

Daragh 04.24.17 at 8:41 pm

As an aside, most of these analyses of the French election seem to proceed from the premise that he and his hopelessly unpopular policies are being foisted upon an unwilling French public by an unseemly alliance of discredited elites, and that this will inevitably come back to bite them in the form a resurgent FN. This requires us to overlook the minor matter of Macron winning the first round by a solid margin, while Le Pen came close to being knocked into third by Fillon. This would have been regarded as a highly improbably argument 2-3 months ago, and a rather powerful data point contra the ‘Macron is unpopular and helping the fascists’ thesis.

72

Cian 04.24.17 at 8:50 pm

It seems that the mainstream parties in France have been moving towards Le Pen on things like the hijab, Islam, refugees and an authoritarian shift generally. A similar thing happened in the UK. If the Popular Front succeed long enough it seems that in a few years Le Pen will be eligible to join it.

73

kidneystones 04.24.17 at 9:18 pm

France isn’t the nation it was in 1799, or 1899, or even 1999. That said regional hostility towards Paris and regional economic disparity, and xenophobia of varying orders are very real factors in France today as they are in Britain and the UK. So, in my view the rust belt analogy holds – if we accept that the initial demand for an EU referendum and the results were an expression of the demand for change by the unhappy many who refused to ‘move to London’ and get with the program.
Macron is a band-aid and for reasons outlined well by various commenters, unlikely to do other than try to pretend all is well. The notion that Macron is a Bonapartist is a bit of a stretch. However, that doesn’t mean a Bonaparte isn’t exactly what many French want – no matter how unrealistic that dream may be. We can be grateful no such figure (currently) appears on the horizon. Franco ‘rebuilt’ Spain and remains a figure of adoration for the Spanish right. That’s what’s looming over the horizon if those left behind in France tire completely of the empty promises made by politicians kicking the can down the road.

74

Daragh 04.24.17 at 9:19 pm

Cian @68

Yes, my politics include positions such as ‘murderous kleptocratic autocracies are not morally preferable to the western democracies, imperfect as the latter often are’ and ‘a 100% rate of taxation for income above €400,000 in a world where people earning such incomes can easily leave the country and earn elsewhere isn’t so much a rational strategy for reducing inequality as it is a surefire way to destroy the national economy and ensure mass impoverishment.’ But then, I’m a well-known right wing lunatic.

75

Chris Bertram 04.24.17 at 9:21 pm

Cian, fwiw, Macron has been rather better than the mainstream parties on Islam and refugees, iirc, though he has a terrible view on Europe’s external borders.

76

Chris Bertram 04.24.17 at 9:23 pm

PD, yes I was reacting to the sentence in that article that reads “Cities that were lively for hundreds of years—Tarbes, Agen, Albi, Béziers—are now, to use Guilluy’s word, “desertified,” haunted by the empty storefronts and blighted downtowns that Rust Belt Americans know well.”

77

Z 04.24.17 at 9:33 pm

@Sebastian H I certainly hope you’re right, but I’d be shocked. If the choice is between stifling monetary policy and helping the lower class get jobs, the Germans have made quite clear that we will be getting stifling monetary policy.

And Macron explicitly campaigned on hard monetary policy, stable budget and a generally “Schäuble-compatible” European position. That was even his first named priority in the summary in four points of his official campaign program. So I share your skepticism that he will suddenly flip on that position.

@Chris Bertram the claim that Béziers is like the US rustbelt is a clue to how seriously the article as a whole should be taken.

Chris, that is in turn not serious! Marine Le Pen is above 30% (and of course in the lead) in the arc Haute-Saône, Haute-Marne, Meuse, Ardennes, Aisne, Oise, Somme, Pas-de-Calais. That is as close to the French Rust Belt as one can get. In this arc, Macron is typically below 20%. She is also the leading candidate in 18000 French communes, while Macron leads in 7000 only (if memory serves). So there is absolutely no doubt that there is a very strong element of dynamic regions (mostly in the Western part of France) and within them dynamic cities against decaying regions and peripheries. Even the narrow claim of the article (which I went down to check) is that Béziers is “desertified”. That is absolutely and unequivocally true, to an extent that you would have a hard time to imagine if you haven’t been there in the last 20 years.

@john c. halasz And calling Marine LePen a “Nazi”, when she has, in fact, made considerable efforts to modernize…

Marine Le Pen did make considerable efforts to modernize the Front National and is an extremely guarded person herself. She is, however, surrounded in her close circle by genuine Nazis (the kind who celebrates Hitler’s birthday or post swastika on Facebook).

78

Chris Bertram 04.24.17 at 9:43 pm

I’ve been there several times in the last 20 years, and was in the airport (rather than the town) last week.

Tariq Ali has called (on his Facebook page) for the left to abstain in the second round. Another narcissistic tosser.

79

Yan 04.24.17 at 9:46 pm

“xenophobic anti-Germanism” is a thing?

80

Daragh 04.24.17 at 9:56 pm

Chris @78

He’s also publicly endorsed supporting “fighting side by side with Assad and the Russians” against ISIS, despite the fact that neither Assad nor the Russians have shown the slightest interest in doing either. Never mind that, Ali also has no problem publicly stating “the Russians are bombing, and they are attacking ISIS, there’s no doubt about it”. Its almost as if knee-jerk anti-Westernism, regardless of the issue, or even objective reality, is a core value within certain circles that label themselves left-wing.

81

djr 04.24.17 at 10:00 pm

David @ 58 and others in a similar vein talk about ““keep the National Front out of power at any cost”, but at this point it really is Macron or Le Pen. It’s not a “May or Corbyn” / “Trump or Clinton” over-simplification the election, nobody has to not vote for their preferred candidate so that they can keep the far right out.

82

nastywoman 04.24.17 at 10:24 pm

‘European Voter’ here – and NO to @19 as ‘the Trump presidency DIDN’T shows us (with ‘the Pulse of Europe) – that any clown with the right messaging can win high office.

It showed everybody with ‘the Pulse of Europe’ that NO Clown can win in Europe -(with the exception of a Italy from the Past) – and so a Europe is far better able to reform than ‘the homeland’ there is also no comparison to HRC either – actually NO comparison to the duo play of funny US politics – as in France a lot of voters who aren’t that into ‘politics’ voted for new ‘politics’ without ‘politics’ – and especially NOT for easily defined ‘politics’ of ‘Left and Right’.

And Le Pen is – and always will be a small-minded NOT-Clown – but something much, much worst – as here exploitation of the last so called ‘terrorist attack’ has shown.

Vive LA FRANCE!! -(without ‘Nationalism’)

83

Z 04.24.17 at 10:32 pm

I’ve been there several times in the last 20 years, and was in the airport (rather than the town) last week.

Well then, didn’t you think it is having a hard time? Economy is far from being the sole explanatory factor, but: Béziers poverty rate 32% unemployment rate 20% median income 15k€; Antony (where I live, comparable size) poverty rate 7% unemployment rate 9% median income 28k€. Béziers : Le Pen 31% Mélenchon 20% Fillon 19% Macron 17%. Antony : Macron 34% Fillon 26% Mélenchon 17% Hamon (!) 7,8% Le Pen 7,6%.

84

Faustusnotes 04.24.17 at 11:59 pm

I think Europe needs a radical left that is anti austerity and pro EU, instead of this mealy mouthed silliness about how it’s a neoliberal project that can’t be made right. Anleft that is willing to step in and make it better. I think when European voters are faced with a choice of an austere EU or a non-austere non-EU theu prefer the EU. Paranoid ranting about German colonialism just makes you look shonky and you get a lot of side eye – are you really dedicated to that bullshit or just a coward who wants to stop freedom of movement but doesn’t want to say so? If Corbyn had made the case properly for an EU built on socialist tenets maybe he’d have won and labour would be riding high now. But instead he gave this half arsed effort that nobody believes in.

It could be that raving about neoliberal plots doesn’t endear you as much with voters as promising to fix what needs to be fixed. Also not supporting putin and Chavez probably helps too.

85

Peter T 04.25.17 at 1:37 am

“fighting side by side with Assad and the Russians” against ISIS, despite the fact that neither Assad nor the Russians have shown the slightest interest in doing either.

Except at Palmyra, north Aleppo, east Hama, Deir ez-Zor….

One can hold no brief for Assad (or Chavez) and still not mindlessly repeat things that are patently false.

86

J-D 04.25.17 at 2:23 am

87

LFC 04.25.17 at 2:23 am

I’ve not been reading much about the French elections. But I did see a while back (I think initially through a post at this blog) that Macron had stirred some controversy by referring to the French war in Algeria as a ‘crime against humanity’. Presumably the voters most upset by that were already going for Le Pen or maybe also (?) Fillon.

Not that this tidbit has much to do with the main issues, but I found it interesting.

88

steven t johnson 04.25.17 at 2:50 am

Peter T is far too generous. It is the US government which bombed Syrian troops at Deir ez Zor. Of course, even more important in the long run is that it is US allies’ money and weapons, primarily Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, and US weapons and money, funneled via other groups, that have been essential to IS’ campaigns. That is playing both sides, but this kind of Byzantine military strategy is cheap, seemingly effective and apt to the honor and skill of the US military caste.

89

steven t johnson 04.25.17 at 2:57 am

Forgot the second paragraph, which follows:

Macron/Le Pen is not a genuine choice. Le Pen is not an economic populist nor is Macron an EU liberal idealist, except insofar as the EU is the ideal of a hard money, low/no deficit budget, labor discipline, cheap immigrant liberal. The whole point of liberal democracy (or neoliberal if you insist on the latest buzzwords,) is to make sure that there’s no real choice. The increased reaction promised by Le Pen will come under Macron because it is the French ruling class, like all bourgeois ruling classes everywhere, that is moving to the right. The French people as a whole are not likely to be moving rightward, but “the people as a whole” are the delusion of nationalism, aka democracy. The global economy cannot meet even the appetites of the wealthy, much less the needs of the many.

90

Chris Bertram 04.25.17 at 6:21 am

@Z Well then, didn’t you think it is having a hard time?

I don’t deny it is having a hard time, I do deny that it is comparable to the US rustbelt in the degree of abandonment.

91

Chris Bertram 04.25.17 at 6:27 am

The “No real choice because one leads to the other in the long run” line is pretty silly. I don’t accept that Macron’s politics will inevitably have the effect claimed. But even it they did, given a choice between certain death now and having several years to work out some way of avoiding it, it would be better to choose avoidance. Commentary from some people on the left really stinks of “third period” Stalinism, when the German SPD was characterized as no different from the Nazis.

92

kidneystones 04.25.17 at 7:07 am

The notion that France is a benign democracy under assault from enemies within and without is fine, but the history of French colonialism and post-colonial militarism allows more than one interpretation. Last time I checked plenty of French folks support the use of military force as an arm of foreign policy. The levels of corruption are at least on par with those of other European nations and much of the populace is sick to death of empty promises of reform.

93

Ben Philliskirk 04.25.17 at 7:36 am

Chris Bertram @ 91

“Commentary from some people on the left really stinks of “third period” Stalinism, when the German SPD was characterized as no different from the Nazis.”

For God’s sake. The SPD, for all its faults, was a party of the organised working class, trying fruitlessly to strike some sort of bargain with ruling elites that were still sympathetic to the social and political world-view of Wilhelmine Germany.

Macron is a thoroughgoing member of France’s elite playing at anti-establishment politics in a country that is dominated by a liberal capitalist state and economy.

Stop trying to pretend that this is Weimar Germany and the early 1930s.

94

Elizabeth McIntoah 04.25.17 at 7:58 am

It is right that we should prefer Macron to Le Pen. However should we not expect Macron to make some concessions to Left voters to get them to support him with a modicum of enthusiasm rather than ‘well he is the least worst’.
He got 24%, the combined Left of PS, Unbowed and anti Capitalist got 28%. So if he needs the Left for a majority shouldn’t he show some movement towards some of their policies. Especially since he will need their support for a parliamentary majority. Any sign of him adopting a modicum of Left policies?
And on another theme, is this the sixth election where a social democratic party has paid the price for delivering austerity and punishing its support base – Greece, Ireland, Spain, Iceland, Netherlands. You can be seen as ‘grown up’ and ‘realists’ by the political commentators but if you are a Leftist party delivering right wing policies you are seen as Tweedle Dumb – and a significant group of your supporters go to parties which offer to give you some protection – Syrizia, PODEMOS,FN, FF .

95

OldJim 04.25.17 at 8:45 am

Mr Bertram, @91

You’re not interpreting all of your interlocutors as charitably as is possible. You needn’t accept that Macron’s policies will have the effect claimed, of course, as I made clear at the beginning of my last post. I’d just note that I wouldn’t know where to begin accounting for current political trends in the western world without referring to the policies of the contemporary consensus — utterly, perfectly instantiated in Emmanuel Macron — and that this being so, his candidacy doesn’t seem to me to bode well for France’s future.

And I for one have been crystal clear that you are right, temporary avoidance is better than certain death.

But I feel most spectacularly misconstrued when you assert that the left is claiming that Macron is no different from Le Pen — on the contrary, the whole trouble is that Macron and Le Pen both find a political strength that they would otherwise lack in advertising that they are indeed as unlike as two political forces can be. And the only solution to the terrible conclusion in which this is likely to issue is for the left to stress that it is at least as unlike either.

If I were to be uncharitable, I would say that ‘centre-left’ posters here understand that the left will step into the breach, if necessary, to help to deliver France from fascism. And that if they were looking at the situation dispassionately, they would see the logic in the left otherwise keeping as great a distance from Macron as is possible.
What they really cannot stand is that the left feel no enthusiasm whatsoever in supporting the policies in which they remain believers. And the implication that their politics, from which they are used to deriving some moral warmth, causes deep distaste to their onetime allies.

96

phenomenal cat 04.25.17 at 9:18 am

“What they really cannot stand is that the left feel no enthusiasm whatsoever in supporting the policies in which they remain believers. And the implication that their politics, from which they are used to deriving some moral warmth, causes deep distaste to their onetime allies.”

No, they really can’t. Sticks deeply in their craw. Many of them will spend the rest of their lives simmering in resentment, unable to fathom how so many could have been so wrong when they themselves had been so clearly right.

97

nastywoman 04.25.17 at 9:31 am

and @89
‘The whole point of liberal democracy (or neoliberal if you insist on the latest buzzwords,) is to make sure that there’s no real choice.’

Really? –
and as somebody – who always has the choice between:
a kind of a ‘open-minded empathetic (European) Society’
– with a truly ‘GREAT’ Life-Work balance –
– Very good pay for what I do –
‘GREAT’ and payable health care and –
very relaxing and long vacations –
compared to pretty much the opposite – in my homeland the US – I would say – there is a tremendous choice.

And as an even more pronounced type of choice between ‘small-minded nationalistic fascistic idiots’ and the complete opposite is existing inside a country like France –
the choice couldn’t be… yuuger in these times.

And I really, REALLY don’t understand people who think: ‘there is no choice’.

On what planet are they living?

98

Dipper 04.25.17 at 9:42 am

All those who were concerned about putting a facist in power can now relax. Le Pen has stepped down from being leader of the FN and is campaigning as herself, and so is no longer a facist.

Being in the UK and not knowing French sufficiently well to read the newspapers means I am not close to the detail. Have I missed the French feminist movement campaigning for Le Pen as this would smash Le plafond de verre (thank you google translate)? Or is the profile of women politicians not a thing in French politics?

99

nastywoman 04.25.17 at 9:49 am

– and about this funny –
what ‘the left’ got to do -(or not)?
From the perspective of an average American -(if there is something like it?) – the average – ‘liberal’ or lets say: ‘social-conscious’ European who loves her – or his ‘social net’ -(and everything which comes ‘with it’) – such a tolerant and open-minded European is:
‘A bloody Communists’ -(like ME) – and as I’m currently residing in a ‘State’ where ‘the Greens’ are governing and which is the State the closest to France – yes ‘the Left’ -(or ‘Greens’?) doing everything they are supposed to – being ‘solidaric with the workers’ – making sure that their wages and salaries are very, VERY livable – and throw in lots and lot’s of ‘healthy conscience’ for saving our earth too.

So what’s about that?

100

Greg 04.25.17 at 9:50 am

Faustusnotes on a pro-EU left… Sorry but isn’t that pretty much exactly the message Corbyn (and apparently Mellechon) gave? A pro-remain, pro-EU but reformist message? And in Corbyn’s case at least wasn’t it basically the only honestly-held, non-hyperbolic, bullshit-free opinion being shopped around? If you call it half-arsed and unbelievable then that’s your own problem with your own solution.

101

MFB 04.25.17 at 10:35 am

A French colleague I work with, who is very depressed about the state of his country, remarked that the election amounted to a choice between “a fascist, a fascist, and a really fascist fascist”.

It seems that the fascist and the really fascist fascist are now facing off, and the plutocrats are delighted by this (to judge by the markets) as they should be, since whoever wins the election they will benefit.

102

kidneystones 04.25.17 at 10:40 am

@98 Le Pen had the highest level of support among women and young voters.
Downloaded the poll –
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/poll-finds-french-presidential-candidate-marine-le-pen-won-plurality-of-women-young-voters/article/2621106

The Examiner coverage is predictably slanted, but the poll (in French) seems sound.

There are plenty of other sites confirming Le Pen’s support among some French women (NPR tries to pretend the contrary). She’s tough, divorced, has three kids, and speaks her mind(?). So, the poll results come as no surprise. It’s easy enough to read even in French – go to page 4 for an easy-to-read table who supported which candidate by percentages.

103

Chris Bertram 04.25.17 at 10:42 am

Look, if we must go in for facile cross-border analogies, this is like an election where David Miliband or maybe Nick Clegg are facing off against Nigel Farage. Anyone on who thinks that Miliband/Clegg should not be supported in such a contest on the grounds that they are “the cause of fascism” or “objectively fascist” is someone whose reason has gone on holiday (and may never return).

104

Mario 04.25.17 at 11:12 am

MFB,

in part, this multifascist elections come about through a thorough dilution of the term ‘fascist’ that results in perfectly normal people being labelled fascists. It goes so far that I haven’t been able to find a serious document detailing why Le Pen is a fascist in the dictionary sense of the word (I’m not saying that she isn’t, just that nobody seems to bother to put together an argument to this effect involving her positions satisfying a concrete definition). Same thing for the term ‘Nazi’, which currently puts mothers without a criminal record (e.g. Le Pen, Petri) into the same league of those that pulled off the Röhm Putsch.

I must say I find that worrisome, because it makes debating the actual issues impossible. I also find it worrisome how convenient this state of affairs must be for those profiting from the status quo.

105

Raven Onthill 04.25.17 at 11:44 am

This discussion is so much a reprise of the arguments that led up to a Trump victory. “He can’t possibly win,” “He isn’t so bad,” “They’re both the same.” etc., etc., etc.

And then he did, he is, and he is not.

Fight the fascists. Fight them with all your heart and mind and soul. Remember that what is at stake is not peacetime policy, but the peace of Europe and the world itself.

106

nastywoman 04.25.17 at 11:59 am

@101
‘A French colleague I work with, who is very depressed about the state of his country, remarked that the election amounted to a choice between “a fascist, a fascist, and a really fascist fascist”.

Uuuh – one of the ‘I-Can’t-Differentiate-Anymore-Guys’?
Must have been too much on the Intertubes reading that there is no difference between a ‘Democrat’ and a ‘F…face’?

107

Elizabeth McIntoah 04.25.17 at 12:03 pm

It may be that reason is on holiday CB103 but there is a problem for the Left since the guidance to their voters needs to be something like, ‘Vote for Macron as the least bad and then be prepared for the next 5 years to oppose his social policies, his labour legislation, his foreign policy, his taxation policy . . .and so on’.
Then when your living and working standards are worse than now vote for us – while Le Pen says we are all part of an Establishment that doesn’t care for the country or its workers.

108

gastro george 04.25.17 at 12:11 pm

Liberal refusing to endorse leftist: principled
Leftist refusing to endorse liberal: sectarian

109

nastywoman 04.25.17 at 12:14 pm

– and @104 –
the dilution of the term ‘fascist’ – that seems to be yuuge US speciality -(as wasn’t even Obama called ‘a fascist’ by some of US fellow Americans?)

From a contemporary German point of view it’s pretty easy to identify a real ‘Faschist’ or Neo(Nazi) – those are mostly ‘extremly nationalistic and smallminded antiliberal a…holes
who would love to destroy openminded modern and parlamentic democracies.
And on top of it they -(the Fschists) are pretty racist too.

So – just by a (superficial) comparison check of Le Pen and Macron – Le Pen comes out as a pretty solid ‘Faschist’ while Macron doesn’t.

110

kidneystones 04.25.17 at 12:16 pm

@ 107 Yes, yes, yes.

Absent a compelling narrative from the left/center that includes both the promise of a bright future and absolution of past sins Le Pen’s victory is not if, but when. That’s the part those with better reasoning skills fail to grasp.

111

Daragh 04.25.17 at 12:22 pm

“Stop trying to pretend that this is Weimar Germany and the early 1930s.”

This would be identical to the KPD’s position, in that it also underestimated the threat of a fascist authoritarian with disastrous consequences.

“a choice between “a fascist, a fascist, and a really fascist fascist”.”

Also identical to the Comintern’s justification for the anti-Popular Front policy.

“the plutocrats are delighted by this (to judge by the markets) as they should be, since whoever wins the election they will benefit.”

You are vastly misreading the markets. A Le Pen victory would be utterly disastrous for the French and European economy, and the reaction is largely due to the fact that Macron is on course to crush her.

“Look, if we must go in for facile cross-border analogies, this is like an election where David Miliband or maybe Nick Clegg are facing off against Nigel Farage. Anyone on who thinks that Miliband/Clegg should not be supported in such a contest on the grounds that they are “the cause of fascism” or “objectively fascist” is someone whose reason has gone on holiday (and may never return).”

That we’ve reached the point where Chris is envisaging scenarios where he would endorse a vote for Nick Clegg should serve as an indicator of how far off the deep-end of leftier-than-though purism we are here.

One more observation – Le Pen has resigned as leader of the FN. People with greater knowledge of the Front and French politics generally have told me that her ‘moderation’ strategy is not terribly popular with the hard-core of the party that makes up its activist base, and was tolerated only as a means to bring victory. If she loses, the result is likely that the FN adopts a ‘back to basics’ strategy, which strikes me as terribly unlikely to grow its support. That kind of undermines the ‘Macron – mid-wife of fascism’ argument, non?

112

OldJim 04.25.17 at 12:29 pm

Mr Bertram @103
That ‘facile cross-border analogy’ really does obscure more than it illuminates – and even if we had to, surely it would be more accurate to call it David Laws or George Osborne Vs. Nick Griffin.

The Nigel Farage comparison conceals many relevant things about the nature of the national front’s historic platform and tradition; the Miliband/Clegg comparison invites the British voter to imagine that Macron will be taking the French economy leftward from where it is at present, which is the opposite of the truth.

Even my revised offering obscures much, because, of course, it is difficult to squeeze the epiphenomena of parliamentary politics into a presidential framework; not to mention the many cultural and geographical differences.

The intention of my analogy with the ‘better together’ campaign, above, was to show how a political force can be squeezed by polarisation if it too readily associates itself with a party or policies that will cause many of its natural supporters to suffer; and that this is an especially hard case when the thing that the party seeks to avoid, and the place that its natural supporters will go should they lose trust in it, coincide. I hoped to avoid the condemnation of making a facile comparison by ensuring that the analogy was exact, and that no implications or comparisons were drawn between the two cases except for those strictly and necessarily involved in the mechanics of the analogy.

113

nastywoman 04.25.17 at 12:29 pm

‘the promise of a bright future and absolution of past sins Le Pen’s victory is not if, but when.’

What ‘Quatsch’!

Since the US elected a very ‘nationalistic and small-minded Clown’ – and a lot of Europeans got a very realistic ‘taste’ about – what such idiotic right-wing-rule means –
ALL the ‘Le Pens’ in Europe are thankfully – on the retreat!

114

Z 04.25.17 at 12:33 pm

Like OldJim, I’d be pleased with a little more intellectual charity (for instance, Chris, you dismissed Cladwell’s article because of a turn of phrase; do you dispute the general thesis?). The claim is not that “there is no choice”, the claim is that France’s population (and consequently, electorate) is bitterly divided along lines of economic and educative dynamism as well as anthropological and cultural trajectories (still easily discernible on the electoral maps).

Emmanuel Macron’s track record going back to his key role in Attali’s commission under Sarkozy, the program he has been campaigning on and indeed the very sociological and geographical making of his electorate reflect perfectly coherent priorities: in favor of the 10 to 30% of people and territories already on top. So, yes, I expect that highly-qualified professionals in Île-de-France will thrive more and that Hayange will keep decaying during a Macron presidency. As a consequence, yes, I expect that nativist/populist forces will strengthen and that lower classes ressentiment against “the system” will increase and, yes, I fear that this ressentiment will someday become so strong that it will inflict enormous damage, just as it did in the US and the UK.

So of course, Macron’s policies are infinitely preferable to Le Pen’s-at the very least, they will in all likelihood achieve their stated objectives-but when the “outcome” is a second round in which the 50% of the population in the decaying parts will have the choice between more pain for them or a nativist racist and which perfectly mimics the road that led to Trump and Brexit, I admit I don’t quite find many reasons to be “very pleased at [it]”.

115

casmilus 04.25.17 at 12:35 pm

Would could Le Pen actually achieve if she wins the 2nd round? How much support does she have in the NA for any of her program, such as she has one? Are we just going to get a long cohabitation with a President at odds with the legislature?

116

PGD 04.25.17 at 12:36 pm

Agreed with Mario @104 that the devaluing of the term “fascist” and the incessant Nazi analogies are making reasoned political discourse a lot more difficult. With Le Pen you have more purchase for the claim than Trump, who is just an opportunistic con man, but we are still talking something very far from Weimar Germany. People who want to see what a fascist looks like need to go back and read Hitler’s speeches, and refamiliarize themselves with the history of violent civil war in Germany from 1919-1933.

The entire history of interwar fascism is completely bound up with conflict against a militant and aggressive Communist movement combined with the massive disruptions to traditional regimes coming out of WWI. It’s a movement born out of large-scale private armies fighting in the streets; when it looked like the left-wing private armies were going to win the weak state surrendered to the right-wing private armies. The current situation of the right wing taking advantage of popular discontent with a powerful / hegemonic bourgeois regime that has succededed in utterly quashing the left but failed to address declining living standards is just utterly and completely different. Ideologically, strategically, and tactically.

117

casmilus 04.25.17 at 12:39 pm

@108

My view of the UK GE is that the “no deal” wing of the Tory Party are so demented I have to vote Labour regardless of how bad I think Corbyn is. But I only have to mark a paper that I support the sitting Labour MP, and there’s not much danger of the Tories breaking through in this bit of West London.

118

steven t johnson 04.25.17 at 12:46 pm

Presumably I am the third period Stalinist (in much the same fashion Le Pen is a fascist, I suppose.) Chris Bertram should take heart that I am not a member of the CT commentariat.

I would like to point out that in 1919 the SPD used the Freikorps to kill the precursors of the Communists. Anyone who says there is a clear distinction between the Freikorps, precursors of the Nazis, and the later Nazis, really would be a “narcissistic tosser.” I know that the sensible moderates are always eager for self-amnesty, and confused people in general couldn’t even remember events dating back an eon of fourteen years. Trotsky was likely right that a united front might have had more success, but it is still not at all clear that the SPD would have cooperated at all. The assumption that if only the KPD had forgiven and forgotten the SPD would have too, would be idiotic were it not so useful as a way to blame victims. I’m not quite sure what kind of a political critique is implied by “narcissistic” by the way.

There are of course differences between Le Pen and Macron. Le Pen, unlike Berlinguer and Trump, is not one of the owners coming to push aside incompetent middle management, and show their peers how things really get done. So there’s that. And it seems to be true that Le Pen has roots in the old anti-Dreyfusard, Boulangerist, Vichyite, OAS tradition rather than De Gaulle’s defeatist tradition. (But it’s equally true that Macron is very much about revising the old Gaullist Fifth Republic party system.)

But in regards to fascist tendencies, it really does seem somewhat obtuse to forget that an essential goal of fascism is to mobilize the nation for conquest. The French owners do not need Le Pen to become President for the French to start attacking, for instance, African countries. It’s not just the ghost of Qaddafi who laughs at this preposterous notion. The French army has openly intervened in its old colonies, reasserting its old empire, while still under the political control of the Macrons. The fascist goal of empire is being actively pursued under the alleged choice of the supposed mainstream that Macron champions.

119

Z 04.25.17 at 1:05 pm

@Mario and PGD

This is ancillary, but “a serious document detailing why Le Pen is a fascist in the dictionary sense of the word” would almost be a contradiction for obvious historical reasons. Serious documents detailing how the Front National emerged from the real, historic fascist segments of the French right and how, since then, it constantly campaigned (and governed, in the rare instances it could) on the idea of a France subjugated by foreign powers, threatened by immigration, losing its identity to multiculturalism, bankrupted by social programs and parasites, plagued by crimes and duped by leftists ideologues and teachers… and how only a strong(wo)man relying on the full extent of state power and violence can save it, you will find no shortage of.

Nazi is easier. I think everybody will agree that someone who expresses sympathy for the Nazis, for instance someone who deplores the death of Hitler, or who jokingly celebrates the Third Reich’s annihilation of the Jews is at the very least a Nazi-sympathizer. In that most literal sense, Marine Le Pen’s inner circle is populated by Nazi-sympathizers.

120

nastywoman 04.25.17 at 1:08 pm

– and the fact – that a lot of ‘Young French’ are ‘Real Europeans’ -(as living on the continent Young French can’t avoid being friends with other Young Europeans) – and a lot of them voted for a ‘nationalistic’ Le Pen anywhoo – is just the same type of confusion Young Americans suffered when they thought the voted ‘anti-establishment’.

BUT that type of confusion get’s cleared up pretty quickly in Europe if somebody finally threatens to take ‘the Euro’ away – which mind sound not too bad in some crazy theory BUT if a Young – any Young European who has grown up with the Euro then starts thinking: ‘And then what’?

Some… ‘Franc’?!!
-(What is it worth? – and can I still make vacations with some low valued ‘Franc’s’ anywhere else in Europe?)

121

OldJim 04.25.17 at 1:27 pm

Daragh @ 111

Well, see, what you’ve said here is different. If you’re willing to reserve yourself to “we must ensure that Macron beats Le Pen – and enjoy a somewhat well-founded hope that in the aftermath the NF will implode,” well, as far as that goes, you and I can shake hands and leave it at that.

I only object when you go further and say that the present upswing in radicalism has no economic generators, and certainly not any rooted in the modern economic consensus; or that a dose of monsieur macron is either irrelevant to the present malaise or likely to alleviate it.

That attitude seems to me to be terribly dangerous. The left is needed right now, and probably before now. The ‘centre’ is emphatically ‘left-wing’, or an effective compromise with the left-wing, no longer, insofar as it ever was. If the left does not win at this juncture, the radical right will.

You can hold out for a technocratic or civil-society-based solution between this election and the next if you want to, and I don’t discount the possibility. But I rate it fairly low. And it would not say flattering things of your political principles if you had to hope on some extra-political deus ex machina, so wedded were you by conviction or interest to the present political and economic dispensation.

122

kidneystones 04.25.17 at 2:29 pm

A good analysis and breakdown of voting patterns from Le Monde. Le Pen does better in big cities than I’d have thought. But the story bears out the rust-belt analogy, according to Le Monde: large urban centers favor Macron. More rural communities go to Le Pen.
http://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2017/04/25/presidentielle-macron-favori-des-centres-aises-le-pen-des-campagnes-melenchon-des-banlieues_5117257_4355770.html

123

faustusnotes 04.25.17 at 3:11 pm

The second round vote is going to be similar to the way the brocialists imagine the 2016 US election: a racist populist who represents the interests of the rust belt (cough! goldman sachs cough!) vs. a classic militarist neoliberal. So if the French vote massively in favour of the militarist neoliberal and squish the fascist, what does that tell us about the difference in political attitudes between France and the USA? And can the “both sides do it” Putin leftists mount the same arguments about France as they can about the USA? By their lights Le Pen should win and a good thing too, because North Korea never did anything wrong and Assad is no worse than Obama and Le Pen will drain the swamp. But if she doesn’t – and if just two months later (or is it a month?) Corbyn’s labour get their arse handed to them, is it yet time to admit that Trotskyism is not a winning electoral formula? And the modern developed countries prefer “neoliberalism” to either Fascism or incompetent Granddad leftism, as represented by Corbyn and Sanders?

124

nastywoman 04.25.17 at 4:09 pm

@118
‘The fascist goal of empire is being actively pursued under the alleged choice of the supposed mainstream that Macron champions.’

You write the funniest things? – as what ‘Macron’ champions – and hopefully (still) the French mainstream is a very peaceful Europe – without any of the old European ‘Empires’ being ‘Empires’ so just relax – everything is going to be okie-dokie -(at least in ‘Urp!)

125

Z 04.25.17 at 4:10 pm

@casmilus Would could Le Pen actually achieve if she wins the 2nd round?

First of all, she won’t. Purely theoretically, if she did, her support in the Assembly would be very thin: for historical reasons, French electoral districts are drawn around the locally larger city so naturally gerrymanders the Front National vote (funnily, Macron’s En Marche, Le Pen’s Front National and Melenchon’s France Insoumise, movements, which do not have a single point of common agreement, would all gain if this system was changed to better reflect the composition of the electorate; so that might finally happen).
A more interesting question is the level of support Macron will get in the Assembly. Personally, I would completely rule out neither a hostile strict majority (making him powerless as soon as elected within current institutions) nor an overwhelming victory for his movement nor an intermediate situation in which he has to preside over a coalition.

@nastywoman Since the US elected a very ‘nationalistic and small-minded Clown’ […] ALL the ‘Le Pens’ in Europe are thankfully – on the retreat!

The original one is on the retreat by picking up more than a million voters since the last presidential election, with the most optimistic polls predicting another four to five millions new votes in the second round.

126

engels 04.25.17 at 4:17 pm

So if the French vote massively in favour of the militarist neoliberal and squish the fascist, what does that tell us about the difference in political attitudes between France and the USA? And can the “both sides do it” Putin leftists mount the same arguments about France as they can about the USA? By their lights Le Pen should win and a good thing too, because North Korea never did anything wrong and Assad is no worse than Obama and Le Pen will drain the swamp. But if she doesn’t – and if just two months later (or is it a month?) Corbyn’s labour get their arse handed to them, is it yet time to admit that Trotskyism is not a winning electoral formula?

Logic this tortured is surely a crime under international law.

127

SusanC 04.25.17 at 4:26 pm

If your political priority is to defeat Le Pen, it’s not at all clear that you should be pleased with this outcome. Presumably, you’ld have been better served by a final election that was (a) between two candidates neither of which was Le Pen; or (b) between Le Pen and the candidate most likely to beat her. We certainly don’t have (a), and it’s not clear it’s (b) either, as Macron appears to be so unpopular with a segment of the left that we’re worrying they might defect to to Le Pen. So it looks more like we’ve got the worst and most alarming of the likely outcomes.

128

Anarcissie 04.25.17 at 4:34 pm

OldJim 04.25.17 at 1:27 pm @ 121:
The left is needed right now, and probably before now.

Probably not as far as liberals are concerned. They’ve solved the problem of defeating the Left pretty reliably, and the remnant are safely confined to reservations.

129

SusanC 04.25.17 at 4:37 pm

I found the tone of the original piece a bit over the top using phrases like “unserious poseur”; and then in followup comments goes the full Godwin’s Law with questionable comparisons with the Nazis.

The term “Fascist” has long been abused by the left to refer to anyone they don’t like, and is no longer at all informative, even if it once referred to actual political movements, such as Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.

130

casmilus 04.25.17 at 4:45 pm

@118

” I’m not quite sure what kind of a political critique is implied by “narcissistic” by the way.”

Presumably it has the same argumentative force as “infantile leftism”.

“The French army has openly intervened in its old colonies, reasserting its old empire, while still under the political control of the Macrons.”

They’ve been doing that for quite some time, since not long after the empire got independent. No “reassertion” necessary. The ghost of Gadaffi can tell you about French troops deploying to Chad when Macron was still at primary school.

131

Cian 04.25.17 at 7:34 pm

A non-serious politician is one who supports the Syrian government’s war against ISIS. A serious politician is one who supports Saudi Arabia’s war against the Houthis.

Serious politician: supports Egypt’s dictatorship.
Non-serious: doesn’t reflexively oppose everything Putin does.

132

Elizabeth McIntoah 04.25.17 at 7:43 pm

faustnotes123 – what aspect of Labour’s election policies are Trotskyist? What are the characteristics of Granddad leftism? Who has said Assad and Obama are equivalents or that North Korea never did anything wrong?
Are you projecting your fantasy left rather than engaging with the actual opinions given on this site?

133

Daragh 04.25.17 at 8:02 pm

Peter T @85

“Except at Palmyra, north Aleppo, east Hama, Deir ez-Zor….”

I was under impression that ISIS had no significant forces involved in the battle of Aleppo. Ditto East Hama. Happy to accept correction if this isn’t the case.

ISIS repulsed the Deir ez-Zor offensive, which given the difficulties ground-based forces without effective anti-air capabilities have when faced with an opponent that has capable air forces on its side, suggests that neither the Russians nor the Syrians were putting their back into it.

You’re on slightly firmer ground with Palmyra, but the first time the Russians/SAA took the city was basically a quickie propaganda exercise so the Russians could claim they were fighting ISIS, get a few shots of Roldugin in front of some ruins, and then bug out to focus on Aleppo. The force the Syrian Arab Army left behind was so second rate ISIS retook it near the end of 2016 in 2 weeks. The Syrians then spent three months retaking it at the start of 2017.

So while may have I over-stated the case a bit, it is indisputably the case that the vast bulk of the Russian military effort in Syria, as well as that of the SAA has been directed towards the anti-Assad rebels, rather than ISIS. The initial actions specifically targeted the US backed, moderate rebels (relatively speaking – I’m sure I’d find most of their views pretty objectionable myself). In this, Moscow has simply been providing more firepower for the strategy Assad has been pursuing since before the start of the war – focus your efforts on massacring your most reasonable opponents and empowering the most bugf*ck extremists, then turn around and claim “Overthrow me? Are you mad! Then the most bugf*ck extremists will be in charge!” Putin knows the game because it was the KGB that taught the Mukhabarat how to play it.

You’ll also note that in the case of Deir ez-Zor and Palmyra (round two), that joint offensives commenced at the start of 2017. Palmyra (round one) was launched in March 2016. Tariq Ali was speaking in late 2015 when Russia was overwhelmingly focused on Aleppo except for a few token anti-ISIS strikes to provide propaganda cover – so still an ill-informed narcissistic tosser.

steven t johnson @118

“I would like to point out that in 1919 the SPD used the Freikorps to kill the precursors of the Communists”

You’re confusing the SPD with Gustav Noske.

“I’m not quite sure what kind of a political critique is implied by “narcissistic” by the way.”

This is… not surprising.

“Le Pen, unlike Berlinguer and Trump, is not one of the owners coming to push aside incompetent middle management”

It seems Trump has found yet another sucker to buy into his ‘I am a billionaire real-estate mogul, for reelz’ schtick. Free tip steven – a man who hocks a line of ‘five-star gourmet’ (sic) cheap steaks, sold at a home electronics store of all places, is highly unlikely to also be a paid up member of the oligarchy.

“it really does seem somewhat obtuse to forget that an essential goal of fascism is to mobilize the nation for conquest.”

[citation needed]

“Presumably I am the third period Stalinist”

Only in your pseudo-intellectual pretensions, opportunistic distortions of the historical record, and willingness to defend mass-murdering autocracies on the grounds that they are not ‘capitalist’.

134

Yan 04.25.17 at 8:42 pm

“Putin leftists”

135

Z 04.25.17 at 9:13 pm

@Daragh

Just of curiosity, if I may, what would you advise people do in the eventuality of a Mélenchon/Le Pen second round?

If you don’t like hypotheticals, in a month, there will be a number of electoral districts in which the candidates from Front National and from France Insoumise will be the two top candidates, perhaps followed very closely from the candidate from En Marche ! or Les Républicains (Béziers above might be such an electoral district). For the general Assembly, candidates placed third and sometimes fourth may maintain their candidacy in the second round if they wish to do so (subject to some conditions of course).

Any advice on what the candidate from En Marche ! and her voters should do? Does it change something if in other situations with order reversed the France Insoumise does not withdraw her candidacy? I admit I would be very pleased to see you write that the candidate should obviously withdraw its candidacy and that electors should obviously vote for France Insoumise and be quite disappointed if the question “Should the anti-fascist left collaborate with anti-fascist liberals and centrists in order to prevent fascists coming to power?” should suddenly prove to be difficult.

136

Chris Bertram 04.25.17 at 9:45 pm

Just to let you all know, I am now out of this conversation.

137

J-D 04.25.17 at 10:33 pm

steven t johnson

I am not a member of the CT commentariat.

I do not understand this statement. It conveys no clear meaning to me. I reread it — in context again — in case it became clearer to me, but I only experienced a mild sense of hallucinatory disorientation. I would much appreciate any possible clarification.

138

nastywoman 04.25.17 at 10:48 pm

@125
‘The original one is on the retreat by picking up more than a million voters since the last presidential election.’

When was that?
And then she was picking up more and more – and then (since the erection of the Clown) she is on the retreat?

Peut-être?

139

Donald Johnson 04.25.17 at 10:53 pm

Just to be clear, on the main point of this post I am a lesser of two evils voter so I would support the centrist Macro despite his ” serious” stance on the Middle East, even if I think his views are awful.

But in partial response to Daragh, John Kerry explicitly said that Russia entered the Syrian war to prevent Isis from winning. He also said that he US stood by and watched the rise of Isis, hoping it would pressure Assad to negotiate but instead he got Putin to help. You can hear this at minute 26 on the tape below.

Minute 25 also has some interesting admissions from Kerry and another American that the US, the Saudis, Qatar and Turkey on the rebel side poured vast amounts of weapons into Syria and that this led to weapon imports on the other side and more deaths. This is the Serious foreign policy we hear so much about.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e4phB-_pXDM

140

Daragh 04.25.17 at 11:13 pm

Donald Johnson @139

“But in partial response to Daragh, John Kerry explicitly said that Russia entered the Syrian war to prevent Isis from winning. He also said that he US stood by and watched the rise of Isis, hoping it would pressure Assad to negotiate but instead he got Putin to help.”

I think John Kerry is wrong.

141

harry b 04.26.17 at 1:03 am

Old Jim — I agree that “Griffin” would have been a better comparison than Farage, but clearly CB was speaking loosely and off the cuff. Farage is good enough. I’m really impressed with the person who thinks that Clegg would push the British economy leftward; not sure I disagree with that, but still it’s generous. And, if we were face with a choice between Osborne or Laws and Griffin, I wouldn’t have to think for a second. Would anyone here really have to?

CB is obviously not enthusing about Macron as some ideal wonderful leftish candidate; and equally obviously expressing relief and pleasure that, even though Le Pen got through, the one candidate who can crush her (and looks as if, by contemporary standards, he will be a fairly standard sane representative of the ruling class) also got through. I shared that relief and pleasure; not because I am particularly hostile to Melenchon (sorry, can’t figure out how to do the accent), but because his success would have created an opening for Le Pen. That he (Melenchon) is hesitating to support Macron now is dispiriting.

142

Peter T 04.26.17 at 1:16 am

Daragh

Not the place to discuss Syria,. Just note that you are wrong (google Kuweires and Deir Hafr).

Still, the ME, like the various rust-belts dotting western countries, is a good place to look at the limitations of liberalism. Not in a dismissive way – I’m a liberal myself. Liberalism does not seem to have any emotional purchase outside the professional classes. When there’s lots of money flowing in and the upper classes are on the outer, workers can create a middle class life for themselves (as in the post war west). Everyone is a liberal. When the money dries up or the upper classes come back, or where these conditions never existed at all, liberalism is the preserve of a small group indeed.

It does no good to pretend that, if only different choices had been made, liberal values would triumph. This is a staple of liberal analysis – that, if only….then Kerensky, or Bazargan, or those articulate and appealing Syrians and Iraqis on tv. There’s no weight behind the talking heads. If liberals want an army, they have to look to the left to provide one. In which case, they need to figure out what – in each national case – people will actually fight for. It turns out that they mostly won’t fight for money.

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engels 04.26.17 at 1:21 am

even though Le Pen got through, the one candidate who can crush her (and looks as if, by contemporary standards, he will be a fairly standard sane representative of the ruling class) also got through

Where does this come from? The projections I saw showed Mélenchon (and Fillon) beating Le Pen.

https://www.thelocal.fr/20170420/french-presidential-election-the-six-unprecedented-scenarios-facing-france-from-patriots-vs-globalists-to-armageddon

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faustusnotes 04.26.17 at 1:22 am

In a Melenchon vs. Le Pen run off the right wing have to decide whether to go against their principles or vote for a fascist. In a Macron vs. Le Pen run off the left wing have to decide whether to go against their principles either way. The problem is that recent experience in several other countries have shown that much of the contemporary right is pretty comfortable with voting for authoritarians and strongmen, and that every time they’re faced with the choice of voting sensibly or voting for the authoritarian racist a large number of them cave and go for the latter. So long as the left cleaves strongly to the principle that you never elect a fascist no matter what then everything is okay. But as soon as the right has to choose between a genuine left wing candidate and a fascist, we’re in big trouble.

Also since the contemporary right is now completely divorced from reality, letting a fascist in for a few years to heighten the contradictions and show how mad the right has become also won’t work, because they will ignore the evidence.

The problem here is that there is no right wing politician who is too far to the right for a large part of the contemporary right. We can’t fix that by bitching and moaning about the left being a bunch of sell outs. We need to destroy right wing politics.

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Cian 04.26.17 at 3:00 am

Faustusnotes: The only country I can think of where there has been a genuine choice in recent times between a socialist and a fascist was in Greece.

If Melenchon had won, we’d have seen if liberals could vote for the lesser evil. You seem to assume that they wouldn’t.

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Trampman 04.26.17 at 3:14 am

Time and again the moderates, the liberals, the “serious politicians” will sent the leftists to the front in the fight against fascism and reaction. At one moment they say that it will be “our” time soon; in the next they shoot those leftists in the back as soon as victory in the front seems secure–though often they don’t even wait for that. All in the name of destroying right-wing politics, of course.

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J-D 04.26.17 at 4:17 am

Melenchon (sorry, can’t figure out how to do the accent),

All you have to do is find it or create it anywhere else with the accent, Copy, and then Paste here, like this:
Mélenchon

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casmilus 04.26.17 at 5:47 am

For the record, UKIP has now come out as an anti-Islamic party with policies to ban burkas etc. That was Nick Griffin’s big idea for the BNP, a decade ago.

When Alan Sked originally founded UKIP in the early 90s he was keen to stress it wasn’t going to be a racist anti-immigration party. How long ago that was. But intellectuals don’t last long in real politics.

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john c. halasz 04.26.17 at 7:02 am

Z would know the terrain much better than an outsider like me, but the idea that Marine Le Pen hangs out with the old guys exchanging Nazi jokes doesn’t square with the available (if mostly Anglophone) reporting. She’s side-lined her old man and apparently doesn’t speak with him, (unlike her niece Marion who reportedly still gets along famously), and reportedly her key adviser/confidant Florian Phillipot is both an Enarch and gay, hardly traditionalist. It’s true that in her efforts to modernize and de-demonize her inherited party, thereby expanding her appeal and “base”, she actually risks splitting it between the old guard and the new, (many of whom in the north especially were or would have been SP or PCF voters). But I think the faux pas she made toward the end of the campaign is symptomatic: that the French were not responsible for the deportation of Jews during the War because the legitimate government was in London, a Gaullist myth and a far cry from the anti-Gaullist Poujadist beginnings of the FN. (I would even guess she has a fair amount of Jewish support, since most French Jews are North African Sephardics who might be susceptible to her to her appeals).

But I have no wish to defend MLP, other than to note that, having grown up in a thoroughly political, if odd and broken, family, she’s a fairly adept politician, (which isn’t exactly a good thing in my book). What I do object to is the utterly ahistorical application of fascist or Nazi to any sort of right populism, in order to forcibly align sundry leftists with the “liberal” status quo. (At a local lefty discussion group, I objected to the same move against Trump, saying he’s a right libertarian far more continuous with the Republican right in everything but style, which as a sociopathic con-man, he’s just blown the lid off of, and such a trope just serves to align the U.S. left, marginal, but growing, with the Dembots, who want to hold on to their power apparatus at all costs and evade responsibility for their own abject failures. If there’s an analog, it’s Berlusconi, not Mussolini, and if there’s any question of “neo-fascism”, it’s of a decidedly post-modern sort- at which point they laughed, as if “post-modernism” were just an intellectual fashion, rather than a “superstructural” symptom of broader socio-structural evolutions). My basic point is that such reflexive labeling, though peculiarly comforting by virtue of donning models and clothing from the half-remembered historical past, does little to to clarify and analyze current situations. (Though there are real fascist parties with clear roots in the War, such a Jobbik in Hungary- 20+% or Golden Dawn in Greece).

But my initial intervention here was to note the pro-Euro vs. anti-Euro split in the initial vote, (which is a reverse mirror image of the Brexit vote, Cameron’s not Corbyn’s fault). From my far distant perspective, that is the crucial issue, functionally rather than ideologically. (The Italian banking crisis is being papered over by the EU “authorities” until this election season is past, but that is likely the next big financial “shock” and not just for Europe). Ignoring that in the name of “normative” idealism and misplaced moralizing, (a standard liberal mind-set), strikes me as just blame ignorant. This I think is a fair reading of what Macron amounts to, ( though maybe I’m just linking to it so Faustnotes head will rotate 380 degrees at increasing rpms until s/he emits some effluvium):

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/31/big-stakes-in-the-french-presidential-election-governance-versus-the-people/

That Chris Bertram is now an acolyte of such “post-democracy” (Colin Crouch) to the extent of smearing Melenchon as a Chavista amd therefore unserious and “narcissistic” is one of the interesting things I’ve learned from this thread. But I suppose I’ve never put much stock in these quadrennial plebiscites on which the people are to be herded like sheep to the slaughter into procrustean electoral systems in order to produce “legitimacy” for prevailing power relations. When Niklaus Luhmann first proposed 50 years ago his theory of self-referentially self-legitimating political elites, based on a sheer sociological functionalism modeled by general systems theory, it seemed nuts. This guy doesn’t even understand the meaning of the word/concept “legitimacy”. But nowadays, however loopy, it seems prophetic. But for ordinary citizens forced to make impossible choices for their fearless leaders, not lesser evilism, a Hobson’s choice, but double binds, a Sophie’s choice, my only advice is don’t identify with them and their media-manufactured “charisma”. Politics has become the last refuge for magical thinking in an otherwise thoroughly disenchanted world: it’s the same for Obama voters as for Trump voters.

steven t johnson @ 118:

I checked it out and Enrico Berlinguer was indeed from a Sardinian noble family of Catalan descent. Some of his forebearers were supporters of Garibaldi and Mazzini and collateral relatives became Christian Democratic notables. A much different background than the great Sardinian himself. But he youthfully joined the anti-fascist resistance and then the PCI and was probably the most effective and popular PCI leader of the post-war era. (What happened later after his death and the dissolution of the U.S.S.R to the PCI I don’t claim to understand). But your conflating him with Trump only serves to demonstrate that you are the hardest and most retrograde of hard leftists. Congratulations! I don’t think you’ll find much competition there.

J-D @ 137:

Don’t listen to what I’m saying. A paradoxical injunction. It’s just another version of the ancient Greek Cretan liar’s paradox. I always liked Wittgenstein’s response to that: yes, one can go back and forth on that forever, but so what? Reading between the lines: why would anyone say such a thing with the aim of conveying any meaning whatsoever? If there is no such context in any natural language, then such an utterance could have no illocutionary force, which is equivalent to no semantic meaning. (Corollary: meaning is never a purely logico-semantic issue alone).

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Daragh 04.26.17 at 7:55 am

Peter T @142

You’re right it isn’t. Suffice to say I’ve been following the Russian intervention reasonably closely for professional reasons, and I’m not. (Though I did oblige you and Google. When the main source for a militia group being ‘ISIS’ is Al Masdar News… well let’s just say it increases my skepticism).

Z @ 135

My response to what I thought was a perfectly reasonable question got modded out for some reason. Briefly – in a straight up fight between Front National and France Insoumie, the latter. Without enthusiasm, but without hesitation either, on the back of the fact that they aren’t racists alone. I think FI’s policies are ruinous, and if implemented would result in a far quicker route to fascism than even the most pessimistic versions of Macronism provided by commenters here, but I’d rather not skip the intermediate steps. If nothing else, it gives one time to pack…

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novakant 04.26.17 at 8:07 am

You’re confusing the SPD with Gustav Noske.

And Ebert – who of course had no affiliation whatsoever with the SPD.

This is pathetic.

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engels 04.26.17 at 8:41 am

if we were face with a choice between Osborne or Laws and Griffin, I wouldn’t have to think for a second. Would anyone here really have to?

If I thought Griffin wasn’t going to win anyway would I have to think before voting for Osborne? Yes.

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engels 04.26.17 at 8:44 am

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kidneystones 04.26.17 at 9:43 am

400k for one Wall St. speech by the Democratic champion of ordinary folks.

Kind of puts French political corruption in perspective. And people wonder why people are sick to death of politics as usual.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/25/barack-obama-criticised-400000-wall-street-speech-fee/

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MFB 04.26.17 at 10:04 am

Faustusnotes, don’t you think that the only effectual way to destroy right wing politics is to provide an alternative so attractive that people will vote for it? So long as the alternative to the sleazy extreme right wing is the sleazy slightly less extreme right wing, the idea of destroying right wing politics isn’t even a fantasy, it’s a mental illness.

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nastywoman 04.26.17 at 11:03 am

@155
‘the idea of destroying right wing politics isn’t even a fantasy, it’s a mental illness.’

Not really – or ‘Yeah’ – as the preference should lie with the ‘deconstructing’ of ‘right wing politics’ – as ‘right-wing politics’ could be something completely else – a what an American is thinking – ‘right-wing politics’ could be?

It could be ‘right-wing politics a la France’?
Which could be something pretty much different than US ‘right-wing politics’?

As for example – let’s think for a second about how confused some Americans can get -when they find out that Le Pen supports all ‘this real good social stuff”-(like Health Care etc.) – which in the US get’s just supported by so called ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’.

And that might be the problem here? –
As we might have some ‘serious’ problems with ‘labeling’ – here – which is kind of hard to understand as there are all kind of dictionaries which define ‘political’ labels very well.

In other words: It might be a problem – IF after just a few comments about ‘Macron Leads’ -(a very much ‘welcoming thing’ – as he leads against a really obvious bad ‘Nationalistic and Racist Fascist’) – the conversation in my homeland always tends to turn into some kind of ‘definition wars’ about WHO is WHAT?

Which my mom always answers with: ‘I’m my own person’!

And where was I?!

Oh yes: We are very – VERY confused!

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Donald Johnson 04.26.17 at 11:09 am

Daragh– what was Kerry wrong about? He said Russia entered to prevent a ISIS victory. He is an unlikely apologist for Putin. He also says in the tape that he lost the Administration fight for more intervention, so he isn’t some lefty Assad apologist. He also says along with some other American in the room that we and others have supplied enormous quantities of arms to the rebels and it has made things worse. Is that wrong?

To me discussions of the Mideast have gone full almost full circle back to 2002. We aren’t yet at the point of talking about full scale invasions, but I suspect mainly because the politicians know how unpopular that would be with voters.

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Donald Johnson 04.26.17 at 11:14 am

I forgot to say Kerry also said the US watched the rise of ISIS hoping it would put pressure on Assad, but instead Assad turned to Putin. Kerry can’t be wrong about US behavior. Tom Friedman openly advocated that we do this in a piece in early to mid April. I think Friedman is sort of the id of the foreign policy Serious People. He has no filter and bluntly says what normal people with self control wouldn’t say out loud.

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nastywoman 04.26.17 at 11:30 am

– or perhaps is it the funny conditioning of fellow Americans to think in this funny ways of some ‘lesser evil’ – while the French -(and most other Europeans) – just have too many different ‘parties’ or socio-political choices – that they can’t bother with some foolish thoughts – which of the many ‘choices’ are lesser – and lesser – and lesser evil’?

And so the French just concentrated -(like most ‘sane voters in a democracy) on electing the dude -(or the ‘chick’?) they liked most –
Or to give the ‘politics-interested’ here their due: ‘on electing the ‘politician’ whose ‘politics’ they like most – and for sure ‘all politicians are bad, bad, bad -(or use all these funny words our self proclaimed ‘Stalinists’ or ‘Whatevers’ like to use?) – with my absolute favorite – what john c. halasz on the 04.26.17 at 7:02 wrote:

‘What I do object to is the utterly ahistorical application of fascist or Nazi to any sort of right populism, in order to forcibly align sundry leftists with the “liberal” status quo.

As the ‘liberal status quo’ in France might mean a two hour lunch with so called French ‘Communists’ – AND Wine! – we might enjoy our ‘forcible alignment’?

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Daragh 04.26.17 at 11:55 am

novakant @151

That is an entirely fair point. I allowed my irritation with an otherwise ridiculous argument to get the better of me and as a result, dismissed one of its few legitimate observations. Snide dig cheerfully withdrawn.

john c. halasz @149

“I objected to the same move against Trump, saying he’s a right libertarian far more continuous with the Republican right in everything but style, which as a sociopathic con-man”

Why yes, if you ignore the not-even-dog-whistling rhetoric (including the bellowing of an actual fascist slogan at the end of an inaugural speech written by a man with genuine fascist beliefs), the ‘law-and-order’ excuses for police brutality, the refusal to acknowledge acts of far-right terrorism directed at minorities while heralding every jihadist attack as the second coming of the apocalypse, and AG Sessions determination not only to allow racist police departments to carry on as normal, but also to actively prevent reform in those areas where local government has pushed for reform, as well as a host of other explicitly racist policies. I know Jonathan Chait might not be considered that much of a source here, but his observation that Trumpism is built on telling white Americans that they are the only Americans that matter, and making policy accordingly is spot-on. There’s a reason that ‘Trump is a standard issue Republican, not a dangerous authoritarian racist’ school of thought hasn’t been one that POC journalists and authors have taken terribly seriously.

“That Chris Bertram is now an acolyte of such “post-democracy” (Colin Crouch) to the extent of smearing Melenchon as a Chavista amd therefore unserious and “narcissistic” is one of the interesting things I’ve learned from this thread.”

As has been made abundantly clear here, and elsewhere, there is very little common ground between me and Chris and I’m not sure he wants defenders like me. That beinng said – to declare him an acolyte of post-democracy – while tut-tutting someone else for their unreasonable hard-leftism no less – is both deeply unfair and a true sign of that one is a practitioner ‘no allies to my right’ variant of self-defeating political obscurantism.

Also – he was calling Tariq Ali narcissistic, not Melenchon.

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Z 04.26.17 at 12:04 pm

@ harry b even though Le Pen got through, the one candidate who can crush her […] also got through

I guess that if one believes 1) that it was impossible to defeat Le Pen in the first round and 2) that Macron was the only one able to secure a crushing victory, or at least a decisive victory, or at least a victory against her, then the outcome was the best possible. I believed neither 1) nor 2) so I’m not overjoyed. While recognizing that this judgment has no bearing on their actual truth, 1) and 2) are also incredibly depressing.

@ Daragh Thanks for you answer (and kudos on your principled opposition to nationalism).

Meanwhile, La Manif pour Tous and Sens Commun (the catholic Trumpist wing of Fillon’s electorate, for a lack of better analogy) declared it was impossible to choose between Le Pen and Macron and at the same time that, well let me quote them directly: “Pour les familles, pour les enfants, pour l’avenir, le 7 mai : Macron, c’est non !”

@ john c halasz Marine Le Pen hangs out with the old guys exchanging Nazi jokes

Your sources are right, she doesn’t hang out with the old guys as her father did, she hangs out with the young guys. Google Alex Loustau or Frédéric Chatillon, or read “Marine est au courant de tout…” That said, you are right that Florian Philippot is still something else entirely: from the souverainiste left, young, elite-educated, impeccably self-controlled in terms of racism or xenophobia, obviously clever and a talented debater…

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Daragh 04.26.17 at 12:06 pm

engels @152

“If I thought Griffin wasn’t going to win anyway would I have to think before voting for Osborne? Yes.”

A stance shared with US left-wingers tried in both 2000 and 2016, with absolutely no negative repercussions whatsoever.

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steven t johnson 04.26.17 at 1:01 pm

john c. halasz@149 It was a lapse to type “Berlinguer” for “Berlusconi,” the comparison to Trump I intended. How stupid of me! But I have very little use for Berlinguer, not least because there’s no reason to think Berlinguer was an effective leader of the PCI. His “success” in holding offices was precisely because he was ineffective in policy. He basically reduced the PCI to a clean government, anti-corruption party, but how you could think he was effective at reducing corruption in Italian politics escapes me.

As for being the hardest and most retrograde of the left? Thanks for the compliment but I’m much too old to really qualify. Also, my KISS program has dwindled over the decades to “Kill all the billionaires!” This is much too crude to be genuinely leftist, even for a KISS slogan. But on the bright side, you did at least get right there is no competition for the title of “hard,” that is, genuine leftist at CT.

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chris s 04.26.17 at 1:16 pm

“Why yes, if you ignore the not-even-dog-whistling rhetoric (including the bellowing of an actual fascist slogan at the end of an inaugural speech written by a man with genuine fascist beliefs), the ‘law-and-order’ excuses for police brutality, the refusal to acknowledge acts of far-right terrorism directed at minorities while heralding every jihadist attack as the second coming of the apocalypse,”

Your first sentence contains a tell though (“dog whistling”). All these things were prefigured within the Republican party prior to this – and once they started riding the Tea Party tiger this was eventually where they were heading – purely because these are just developments of trains of thought that were very common among the line members of the Tea Party.

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Katsue 04.26.17 at 1:18 pm

@Daragh 160

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Ronald Reagan open his 1980 election campaign at a town famous for the murder of Civil Rights campaigners? And didn’t he tell the attendees at that event that he believed in states’ rights? How is that any different from Trump?

166

harry b 04.26.17 at 1:22 pm

Z — yes, I factored in the assumption that Le Pen would get through long ago, and only had any doubts in the last few days before the election. That’s why I hoped for Macron to get through too. I didn’t use the term overjoyed. And I don’t have CB’s more intimate knowledge of and connection with French politics. But… I have been focused on US and UK politics lately, and in the context of what looks like its going to be a hard right turn for the Tories, after they have retrenched, and what has been happening in the US, Macron looks, as I said, like a sane and stable representative of the ruling class. I wish the balance of forces were different; given how they actually are, I want to see Le Pen defeated as badly as possible.

And that’s why, choosing between Osborne and Griffin would not be difficult for me, even if I knew one of them was guaranteed victory.

167

kidneystones 04.26.17 at 1:22 pm

Far left deplorables open door to Le Pen victory, via the NYT https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/25/world/europe/france-melenchon-macron-le-pen.html?_r=0

Three options: blank ballot, abstention, or right-light. Given the level of vitriol we’ve witnessed since Brexit, it isn’t too difficult to imagine a sizeable chunk of Mélenchon’s supporters sitting May 7th out. If this happens and Le Pen attacts the centre-right and women, she could take it. It could be very, very tight. Two weeks is a long time and Mélenchon may yet change his position, but at the moment the prospects of fake reform can kicking look far less certain. The German press (sorry too tired to link) is convinced that the FN supporters will definitely show up at the polls and are also voicing fears that Macron’s frankly bizarre appeals to voters may fall on deaf ears.

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mjfgates 04.26.17 at 2:15 pm

Katsue@165 It was Reagan’s 1976 campaign that kicked off with a celebration of states’ rights over the graves of civil rights activists. Totally different thing. Totally.

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Cian 04.26.17 at 2:42 pm

Daragh: A stance shared with US left-wingers tried in both 2000 and 2016, with absolutely no negative repercussions whatsoever.

This isn’t true of either of those elections. The significant factors in 2000 were massive vote suppression in Florida and the terrible UX of the ballots.

In 2016 there is zero evidence that the left did anything other than vote for Clinton in swing states. Hillary lost due to a combination of the ineptness of her campaign (the book Shattered is a very enlightening, if depressing, read) and in ability to get working class Democrats to vote for her in swing states (which again was in part due to the ineptness of her campaign – they didn’t do the basic get out the vote stuff that Obama’s campaign did in 2008 and 12).

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Faustusnotes 04.26.17 at 2:51 pm

Yes Reagan started it and the republicans rode the tea party tiger but that doesn’t mean that where they ended up is not categorically different from where they started. Trump is the endpoint of a long, continuous process but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a new thing now. And that analogy doesn’t fully work in Europe because LePen and her grubby skies are not effusions of pus from a gangrenous right wing mainstream, but a separate political movement. This is also why they will be defeated if everyone sticks to their principles – because the conservatives always have another party they can turn to (US conservatives didn’t). But we need conservatives to stick with their principles and they are notoriously bad at that (since conservatism itself has nothing but greed at its dark heart). Cameron and the Tories’ slow slide towards UKIP are an example of that, and if LePen were up against a leftist we might see the same lack of principle in the French right.

I would prefer to see a genuine left wing party crush her on a pro Eu platform, but I’ll settle for a market liberal doing it.

And yes MFB to crush the right we need a genuinely left wing alternative – but it has to be one that people will vote for, and for that we need better than people like Corbyn – or we need to rebuild the left from the ground up. Watching momentum from afar, I’m not filled with hope that is going to happen – especially when I think abut how many hard lefties still believe in vanguardism …

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Cian 04.26.17 at 2:57 pm

Daragh clearly knows little about the modern Republican party and it’s supporters. I wish I was so lucky, but I live in the South so it’s inescapable. Trump’s racial and authoritarian rhetoric was pretty bog standard Republicanism, particularly in the South. What was unusual was the economic populism (and also why he won the nomination – he was simply articulating the views of a large chunk of the working/middle class Republican party).

As for what Trump actually believes, who can say.

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Cian 04.26.17 at 2:57 pm

Kidneystones: Maybe Macron should campaign on issues that would get people on the left to vote for him. Just a thought.

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nastywoman 04.26.17 at 3:31 pm

@167
‘The German press (sorry too tired to link) is convinced that the FN supporters will definitely show up at the polls and are also voicing fears that Macron’s frankly bizarre appeals to voters may fall on deaf ears.’

Did you mean: ‘l´appel du vide’? -(‘The Joy of Self-Deconstruction’)
As some in the German Press – ask IF their friendly French neighbors are – indeed ‘THAT desperate – that they are willing to jump off the cliff together with the:

‘I really don’t like anybody who isn’t ‘French’ and especially not those Germans and Americans – but the Americans I currently like better BE-cause they already erected the same a…hole I am!

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Cian 04.26.17 at 3:33 pm

Daragh: In this, Moscow has simply been providing more firepower for the strategy Assad has been pursuing since before the start of the war – focus your efforts on massacring your most reasonable opponents and empowering the most bugf*ck extremists, then turn around and claim “Overthrow me? Are you mad! Then the most bugf*ck extremists will be in charge!” Putin knows the game because it was the KGB that taught the Mukhabarat how to play it.

This makes no sense. Not because I think Putin is a good guy, but because politically and militarily this is nonsensical.

1) Russia clearly wants a stable Syria, with Assad controlling at least the major cities and coastline.
2) Russia has neither the appetite, or ability to pay for, a years long occupation in Syria. That’s impossible while ISIS are a serious fighting force.
3) Legally the situations are completely different. The Russians have a legal right to be there, and they don’t need to justify their presence in the way they do with their squalid little border incursions.

Russia’s military tactics have been very clearly focused on creating a defensible, and sustainable, area for Assad. Their strategy appears to be to crush the most intransigent rebels, then create some kind of Republic in peace negotiations with everyone else. Now they could be lying, but given this strategy makes political and military sense, I don’t really see why they would be. It’s frankly the only strategy that makes sense.

So no Russia are not in Syria to destroy ISIS, but to achieve their objectives they will need to destroy ISIS (as well as the jihadist/sectarian ‘rebels’).

moderate rebels (relatively speaking – I’m sure I’d find most of their views pretty objectionable myself)

It’s the sectarianism, genocide and rape I have a problem with. But knock yourself out. And is rebel really the right term for groups who contain large numbers of foreign jihadists? Maybe invaders is a better term?

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bob mcmanus 04.26.17 at 4:17 pm

there is no competition for the title of “hard,” that is, genuine leftist at CT.

I have been forgotten, even as a poseur.

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Elizabeth McIntoah 04.26.17 at 4:31 pm

I thought Melenchon’s movement was consulting its membership on what the next step should be. Perhaps if he was a hard left authoritarian as some have painted him he would send out an order through his transmission belt and his supporters would turn out. However, he seems to be operating in a different way and seeking to give people the opportunity to debate and express their opinions on the way to vote. What a novelty!

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OldJim 04.26.17 at 6:39 pm

Harry B @ 141, 166

Obviously, I too must object that polling consistently showed Melenchon to beat Le Pen in a putative second round between them; and I find your gloss on what Chris B has said a little more conciliatory than is credible – not that I need to be conciliated, and I hope that I don’t come across as though I do! Otherwise, I have no objection to what you have put as you have put it.

Ms McIntoah @ 169

Do you really mean that? It doesn’t strike me as terribly credible that Melenchon’s consultation of his voters stems from some actual principled attitude towards mass democratic participation – he hasn’t countenanced allowing his supporters to reply that he should endorse Le Pen (not that I’m saying that he should!) — the options, as I understand them, are 1) Macron, 2) Abstain, 3) Spoiled ballot, so clearly he is only seeking consensus within a window of views that he considers acceptable. Equally, it seems obvious to me that Melenchon doesn’t really change much with this ‘consultation’ – he was never actually in a position to compel his electors to turn en bloc to another candidate: all he does in offering or withholding endorsement is to provide those who care for his opinion with advice; in soliciting advice on that advice from his voters, what he has chosen to do is to render manifest and reflect back to his constituency the differences of opinion already subsisting within it.

In other words, the purpose isn’t to endorse only that which his electors advise him to endorse, out of high democratic principle; not really. The purpose is to avoid the risky business of changing minds either way altogether; and so to avoid either materially aiding the NF by actually advocating abstention on the one hand, or losing credibility as an opponent of liberalism by supporting Macron on the other.

In short, he is risking the small difference that he could make for Macron in this election to retain elements of his constituency that he would otherwise lose in the next. How you feel about that depends a great deal on how sure you are that Macron will win in any case, how you feel about Macron as a candidate, and how necessary you feel it is to keep Melenchon’s constituency intact for the future. I don’t disapprove, but I don’t think that he’s acting the noble democrat here. Insofar as it’s more than a fit of pique or an attack of scrupulosity, it’s simply a political calculation.

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Daragh 04.26.17 at 7:08 pm

Katsue @165

Good point, but as Corey Robin spent much of the election illustrating, there’s a whoooole lot of common ground between Reagan and Trump. Arguably the main difference was tonal – Reagan did ‘happy warrior’, Trump did ‘angry lunatic.’ But I’d still argue Trump is a different order of awful based on reasons I’ll explain below.

chris s @164

You’ll find no argument from me against the proposition that racism has been an integral part of GOP electoral strategies since the Nixon administration at least. I’d still make two points. First, the difference between ‘dog-whistle’ and ‘full on bullhorn hooked up to the PA’ is an important one, for reasons outlined in the Chait piece I linked to. Second, Republican racist pandering prior to Trump was largely that – pandering. Now that’s not to excuse it or even say it isn’t significant – pandering resulted in pernicious policy initiatives and the empowering of real racists. But ultimately, I have trouble believing Ryan hates people for the colour of their skin, rather than hating them for the content of their bank accounts. Trump and his senior lieutenants appear to be true believers, who seek to proactively harm minority communities.

To use a sadly relevant metaphor – its the difference between defending existing Confederate monuments using arguments based on nonsense history, and demanding new monuments be erected everywhere using arguments based on the proposition that slavery was an objective good, life would be better if the Confederacy had triumphed, and minorities need to be constantly reminded of this so they know their place. Both are bad, and the first encourages the second, but the second is still worse.

179

J-D 04.26.17 at 8:04 pm

john c. halasz
If your aim was to convey no clear meaning to me and leave me feeling more confused and disoriented than before, then congratulations! you have succeeded admirably.

Seems like a strange hobby, though.

180

Brett Dunbar 04.26.17 at 8:07 pm

The 1930s KPD were evil, openly admiring the genocidal USSR. They were conspiring with the DNVP (Nationalists) and NSDAP (Nazis) to destroy the Weimar Republic. Believing that a right wing dictatorship would provoke a revolution that would bring about a left wing dictatorship they would vote no-confidence in any constitutional government. As between them the three anti-system parties had a majority they succeeded in making a constitutional government impossible.

Much like in 1919 the KPD were an existential threat to democracy and freedom in Germany. In 1919 Ebert and other democratic politicians were able to co-opt the Freikorps to crush the communists and then defeated the Kapp Putsch in 1920. A tactical alliance with the Freikorps was a successful tactic and gained Germany a decade of democracy. Brüning’s mishandling of the depression (austerity gold standard &c.) revived the political extremes.

Trotsky was a murderous evil bastard. He was a key figure in Lenin’s blood soaked despotism. While Stalin’s regime was even worse; Lenin was also much worse than the Tsar had been. The Tsar was a brutal incompetent tyrant but less vicious and murderous than Lenin.

181

PGD 04.27.17 at 12:20 am

ultimately, I have trouble believing Ryan hates people for the colour of their skin, rather than hating them for the content of their bank accounts. Trump and his senior lieutenants appear to be true believers, who seek to proactively harm minority communities.

it is weird to trust one’s mind-reading capacity enough to determine that Trump, who worked with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton on and off for years earlier in his career, and made his money in all kinds of ethnically diverse settings, is a real soul-deep racist hater while Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan just act that way for show sometimes. I mean, who the hell really knows, but I don’t see the grounds in the public record to make this kind of judgement.

Ronald Reagan and GW Bush did a lot of damage to this country. Until Trump does as much or more it seems to me the jury is out on where he stands in the Republican wreckers pantheon.

182

kidneystones 04.27.17 at 9:20 am

I read somewhere today that Le Pen is 21 points behind Macron, which would seem to suggest that Macron has the election sewn up. The polls couldn’t be that wrong and normally wouldn’t be unless the opponent is a candidate so widely reviled that openly stating an intent to vote for said candidate is tantamount to admitting support for racism.

Then I thought about Trump and the polls, and then I thought about Le Pen.
Then I realized there may a number centrist and left-leaning Le Pen supporters.
Enough to turn the tide? For the moment, I’ll take a dump truck size pinch of salt with Macron’s 21 pt. lead.

183

Chris Bertram 04.27.17 at 9:59 am

I’m not getting back into this discussion, but I do want to note the stupidity, incoherence and vileness of a comment by Brett Dunbar that excuses the murder of Rosa Luxemburg in para 2 and then complains about “murderous evil bastards” in para 3. You are an idiot: go away and don’t comment here again.

184

Z 04.27.17 at 10:55 am

@Old Jim In other words, the purpose isn’t to endorse only that which his electors advise him to endorse, out of high democratic principle; not really. […] In short, he is risking the small difference that he could make for Macron in this election to retain elements of his constituency that he would otherwise lose in the next.

I think you are right about this. In addition, it occurred to me last night that he and his movement had a very clear strategic reason to wait a couple of days: to see in which directions Emmanuel Macron and En Marche ! were nodding in preparation for the second round and the general elections. Sadly, everyone can read electoral maps and so this debate seems to be in the process of being settled strategically (meaning that En Marche ! needs members of parliament from the rightwing north-east more than it needs members of parliament from the leftwing south-west to gain a majority and reciprocally right wing LR candidates need more En Marche ! than left wing PS candidates need it, so Macron seems to be moving in the direction of an alliance with the right wing of LR).

185

Donald Johnson 04.27.17 at 11:20 am

The Lenin worse than the Tsar argument of the banned Brett ignores two things —

WWI, which killed some people in civilized fashion

And the Russian Civil War in which the pro Tsar forces were as bad as the Bolsheviks. They just lost. If they had won, how nice would the have been to the losers or anyone they suspected was on the wrong side? Or to Jews?

So both sides were murderous.

186

Daragh 04.27.17 at 11:45 am

PGD @181

“it is weird to trust one’s mind-reading capacity enough to determine that Trump, who worked with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton on and off for years earlier in his career, and made his money in all kinds of ethnically diverse settings, is a real soul-deep racist hater “

Except Trump has a long and well covered history of both doing and saying racist things, including prior to his political career, a career which was launched on the back of an openly racist conspiracy theory (birtherism) and included a presidential campaign where he openly called for five innocent black men to be lynched.

McConnell and Ryan are awful people, willing to overlook and excuse racism, and possibly even more than a little racist themselves. But they aren’t Trump level racists, or at least if they are they hide it incredibly well.

OldJim@177

You are correct about the ‘choice’ Melenchon is offering his supporters, apparently unaware that even if one considers the LePen/Macron choice a ‘lesser of two evils’ one, abstention in such elections is de facto support for the greater evil. Le Pen is fully aware of this and adjusting her campaign strategy accordingly. So in effect, Melenchon is offering his supporters three options, two which are basically variants on ways to vote for LePen while pretending you aren’t – indulge in a futile gesture, or don’t even bother getting off the couch. How noble and inspiring. Truly, he is the true progressive here.

kidneystones @ 182

“Then I realized there may a number centrist and left-leaning Le Pen supporters.
Enough to turn the tide?”

Given there’s literally no evidence that this block of voters existing, a 21 pt. lead is vastly different from a 2-3 point lead, the US polls were largely accurate, and Trump’s victory was likely the result of the FBI’s open political interference, this is a QWTWIAN.

187

chris s 04.27.17 at 1:20 pm

“proposition that slavery was an objective good, life would be better if the Confederacy had triumphed, and minorities need to be constantly reminded of this so they know their place”

Firstly, there was always a minority of people who went along with this mode of thought. Secondly, there’s a larger number of people who have arrived at the conclusion that ‘minorities need to know their place’, either because they were nativist in some way, or they felt that ‘equality’ had gone ‘too far’.

Ultimately to the extent Trump and his coterie are able to succeed while adopting these beliefs is a reflection on the fact that there is some electoral advantage to holding these views, while simultaneously you are unlikely to get punished too badly by ‘traditional’ republicans for holding these views, as long as you go along with the orthodoxy they believe in be it tax cuts/abortion/supreme court appointees or whatever.

So in that sense, the idea that Trump is just a standard republican politician with a racist spin isn’t that much of a stretch. Chait’s article says as much:

“Trump’s ethnonationalism reverses a trend in the Republican Party: Beginning with Bush, it had repudiated its Southern strategy and attempted to craft a racially inclusive message that would broaden the constituency for its oligarchic economic agenda. “

One reading of the above is that Trump is just a return to Republican ‘business as usual’ and to the extent that Bush was racially inclusive it was a historical anomaly (as he also points out – a lot of Trumps policies are just extensions of what Bush did while in office).

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Daragh 04.27.17 at 3:53 pm

@chris s

I wouldn’t disagree with much or any of that (though Trump’s personality disorders, disengagement, and practice of informal governance via family members and especially close subordinates are, to my mind, genuinely novel and horrifying developments). What I’m arguing is the fact that they’ve dispensed with the code words and made the racism open matters in and of itself. Though perhaps we’ve reached a point where we’re looking for hairs to split.

189

Elizabeth McIntoah 04.27.17 at 6:32 pm

I note the cynicism on Melenchon’s motives on consulting the membership of FI. However he did stop the crowd chanting his name in Marseille and tell them they were not devotees of his but the people carrying the programme; and that he wanted to cure people of the mania of expecting the perfect man to lead them. They should count on their own strength. His position was one where the candidate commits to respecting and implementing the programme.
He would have been accused of hypocrisy if he had done anything else but seek the views of those supporting the FI programme on next steps. It may be our failing that we want to be bewitched by ‘strong and stable’ leaders who act like our Mammy’s and tell us what to do.

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john c. halasz 04.27.17 at 7:07 pm

J-D @179:

Jeez…

I was pointing out that the steven t. johnson line that discombobulated you was a paradoxical injunction, a double-bind statement. One can’t comply without dsi-complying. In effect, he was saying ,”don’t listen to what I say”. He should have just said, “talk to the hand”. And I went on to note that its structure is akin to the ancient Greek liar’s paradox, which has befuddled logicians for centuries and showed how to unravel that seeming paradox.

But are you one of those people of limited intelligence and culture who think that meaning must always be clear, so as to be self-evidently comprehensible, and must never contain any ambiguity, distortion, misfires or mis-cues, since meaning never (rather than always) imposes a task of interpretive understanding (and perhaps, ya know, thinking)? Maybe so.

You’re welcome.

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Daragh 04.27.17 at 8:15 pm

EM @189

Wasn’t aware that I was attacking Melenchon’s motives. I was merely noting that it’s a two-person fight in which abstention, or spoiling your vote and pretending its not abstention, is an effective vote for Le Pen. Only a vote for Macron is a vote against Le Pen. Melenchon is smart enough to know this, or at least was in 2002. His willingness to pretend otherwise is pretty cynical IMO, and that you’re bypassing the argument entirely for a rather caricatured version of your opponents indicates you might be aware of this too.

192

J-D 04.27.17 at 9:10 pm

Elizabeth McIntoah
I don’t think that proposition withstands careful scrutiny. It would make sense for Mélenchon to say that he is not in the business of dictating to his followers and they should make up their own minds. But in that case, how does it make sense for him to ask them to tell him in advance what they’re going to do? It might make sense for him to say that he is not going to dictate to his followers, but he will them what he himself personally is going to do, but he could have done that at once, and he didn’t.

Suppose the consultative poll produces a 65% majority for Option X. What is he then going to say to his followers? ‘I do not ask those of you who disagree to accept my dictation, but I do ask you to accept the dictation of the majority’? or ‘I personally accept and will comply with this majority decision’? or what?

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kidneystones 04.27.17 at 10:48 pm

“This election is a referendum for or against France. I call on you to vote for France, not Mr Macron…who will lead to its destruction,”

La nation, ou le roi – with Macron cast as traitor/tool of les aristocrates et l’Autrichienne.

If the FN leader had a different family name she’d definitely win.

194

Ben Philliskirk 04.28.17 at 7:28 am

JD @ 192

“Suppose the consultative poll produces a 65% majority for Option X. What is he then going to say to his followers? ‘I do not ask those of you who disagree to accept my dictation, but I do ask you to accept the dictation of the majority’? or ‘I personally accept and will comply with this majority decision’? or what?”

I expect he will say, ‘as a result of your decision I recommend, as spokesman for the movement, this course of action’. Not difficult to comprehend, is it?

195

engels 04.28.17 at 8:30 am

it’s a two-person fight in which abstention, or spoiling your vote and pretending its not abstention, is an effective vote for Le Pen

Why does Le Pen get to count the abstentions and spoiled papers as effective votes for her but Macron doesn’t? Seems a bit unfair…

196

OldJim 04.28.17 at 9:21 am

Daragh @ 186, 191

“abstention in such elections is de facto support for the greater evil.”
“…an effective vote for Le Pen”

I agree with you that we are now reaching the point where we look for hairs to split. I just want to note that I already used the language that abstention would ‘materially aid’ the NF, and that I did so pointedly. By way of contrast, I think that saying that abstention is ‘de facto support for’ or ‘an effective vote for’ Le Pen strengthens the rhetoric at the cost of collapsing a distinction that is not necessarily trivial, and that I, for myself, should like to insist on retaining. (Not least because I am not a consequentialist!)

Mr Philkirk @ 194

“I expect he will say, ‘as a result of your decision I recommend, as spokesman for the movement, this course of action’. Not difficult to comprehend, is it?”

But that’s not what’s happening; the following quote is from Reuters:

“Melenchon said before the first round that he would not be endorsing any candidate, and has stuck to that. The statement said the result of the poll would not amount to an endorsement.

During the campaign he was a fierce critic of both former economy minister and investment banker Macron and of National Front leader Le Pen.

‘The second round pits the candidate of the extreme right against the candidate of extreme finance,’ the statement said.

‘This is not about a voting recommendation. It is simply to know the positions of the unbowed.'”

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Guano 04.28.17 at 10:10 am

There are plenty of stickers on lamp-posts in Paris pointing out that it was partly Macron’s fault that Hollande’s government became so unpopular, and now Macron has benefitted from the unpopularity of Hollande and the PS.

198

engels 04.28.17 at 11:24 am

#BlocusNiFnNiMacron Clashes in #Paris #France during protests against election system today. Video by @BlocusInfos
https://twitter.com/enough14/status/857656965060853761

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faustusnotes 04.28.17 at 3:43 pm

engels, le pen gets to count the spoiled votes because conservatives don’t waste their vote. They will vote for her even though she’s queen of the thugs because they have a focus and no principles. That’s why when it comes down to these crappy situations the left has to stop dicking around and behave like adults.

200

Z 04.28.17 at 4:14 pm

@OldJim In short, he is risking the small difference that he could make for Macron in this election to retain elements of his constituency that he would otherwise lose in the next

With every day passing, I fear that the strategical geographic analysis is getting more and more probable and by now, I think this ship has sailed: Emmanuel Macron and his movement have chosen to swing hard to the right for the second round, perhaps to get a majority of former Fillon voters, perhaps out of conviction, or (what is the most likely alternative in my mind) because they calculated that they do not need to convince leftwing voters to vote for Macron in the second round and that they need them less for the general elections than they need an alliance with the rightwing of LR (the mainstream rightwing party) and vice versa.

So the new Macron is all tough on crime, “prison sentences are not applied with enough severity”, “illegal immigration must be curbed”, “reforms must go further [than already described in his program]”, “unemployed benefits must be controlled more severely” (all direct quotations) etc. with not even a hint towards his left (no let me amend this, if that were true, it would an improvement; more accurately, with a rather new hostility towards his left).

@ engels #BlocusNiFnNiMacron Clashes in #Paris #France

I would have bet we wouldn’t see the mass protests against the FN that spontaneously happened in 2002, but honestly I would never have guessed that the closest equivalents would oppose Macron and Le Pen equally, nor of course could I have imagined in my worst nightmares that Macron would celebrate his first round victory by turning into the caricature of himself (but perhaps I become ipso facto a member of a childish claque by mentioning this).

All in all, I still (of course) believe that Macron will score a crushing victory and I can’t even imagine him losing, but I admit I experience a tingle of fear that this kind of statement will end up sounding like “Paddy’s paying out on the presidency” from late October 2016.

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Daragh 04.28.17 at 9:11 pm

engels @195

Melenchon has already argued FI voters could never possibly support Le Pen and for the vast majority of them I suspect he’s right – they’re anti-fascists after all. Therefore, if they abstain rather than holding their nose, that’s one less vote Le Pen needs to win. Unless there’s an even-farther-to-the-right candidate than Le Pen urging abstaining and throwing the election to Macron that I’m not aware of, I’m happy putting the abstainers in her camp.

OldJim @196

My apologies – my post wasn’t clear. I didn’t mean to suggest you were unaware of the electoral dynamics, I meant to imply Melenchon was. One more hair off the splitting table!

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J-D 04.28.17 at 10:03 pm

Ben Philliskirk

Note what I wrote above about careful scrutiny. The idea of his making that kind of recommendation only appears to make sense until you ask why he’s making any kind of recommendation at all or what a recommendation actually is. When I make a recommendation to you, I mean that I’m telling you that it’s good. In this case, what would it mean for Mélenchon to give a recommendation? It couldn’t possibly mean that he’s telling his followers that it is his personal opinion that Option X is the best — if he has a personal opinion that Option X is the best, he doesn’t need the poll to state it, and if he has no personal opinion then finding out the poll results can’t suddenly endow him with one. I suppose it could possibly mean that he thinks it’s a good idea for as many members of the movement as possible to choose the same option, which would require people holding minority preferences to switch to the majority preference, but that would just leave us with the conundrum of what reason Mélenchon would have for thinking it a good idea for as many members of the movement as possible to choose the same option.

Mélenchon said before the first round that he would not be endorsing any candidate, and has stuck to that. The statement said the result of the poll would not amount to an endorsement.

This is not about a voting recommendation. It is simply to know the positions of the unbowed.

Why? What value is that supposed to have? I can’t figure out what the point is supposed to be no matter how I reckon it up.

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