The Simmering Civil War in France

FIGAROVOX/INTERVIEW : For Damien Le Guay, it is futile to speak of “murderous folly” or “acts of barbarism” when describing terrorist crimes committed on our soil. It is time to name the reality of the situation unambiguously, without being afraid of “playing into the hands” of the Front national.

Damien Le Guay is a philosopher, essayist, literary critic, and public speaker. He has published La guerre civile qui vient est déjà là (éditions du Cerf), “The coming civil war is already here”.

Whether we like it or not, we are in a state of civil war

First published 2nd October, 2017 in Le Figaro as:
Que nous voulions ou non, nous sommes en état de “guerre civile”

Alexandre Devecchio interviews Damien Le Guay

FIGAROVOX : A knife-attack took place yesterday, Sunday, at Saint-Charles Station in Marseille. Two women were killed. The assailant, who cried “Allahu Akbar”, was shot dead. Your latest book is entitled, The coming civil war is already here. Do you mean that we are in a state of civil war, at least in some districts?

Damien Le Guay : When two innocent young women, 17 and 21 years old, have their cerfthroats cut from behind at the Gare Saint-Charles, and when the islamist war-cry is uttered repeatedly by the assassin, are we not entitled to notice that a climate of terror continues from month to month, from one attack to the next! When we see that attacks of this type occur regularly on our territory and that they are perpetrated by [French] nationals, should we not recognise that we’re in a kind of civil war that dare not speak its name! When victims are killed at random and all the killers are acting in the name of Islam, are we not in a state of war on our own territory! Let me add that the Minister of the Interior [Gérard Collomb] tells us that dozens of attacks have been forestalled since the beginning of the year, and that 17,400 “persons of highest interest” [fichés S] are currently under surveillance: not to mention all those coming back from Syria, whom it will also be necessary to watch.

❝ No, Mr. Prime Minister, there is no “madness” in political terror that aims, in the name of an islamist ideology, to strike the West, fight against the “infidels”.❞

Obviously, when assassinations recur regularly, always with the same claims of responsibility, when the threat is now everywhere and we are all potential victims, when security is tightened in all public places, when the experts tell us that it’ll be like this for more than twenty years, is it still possible to believe that all this is just about straightforward “news stories”, which on each repetition should be relativised? No. Yet on each occasion, as yesterday in Marseille, the authorities “deplore” these attacks, show their “compassion” in regard to the victims, express their “indignation”, and denounce the “horrible attack” — again as yesterday from the Minister of the Interior. After each attack, our authorities evade the issue, mitigate the act, and treat the assassin as a “madman”. Thus, yesterday, the prime minister hastened in a communiqué to denounce the “criminal” and to rail against his “murderous madness”. No, Mr. Prime Minister, there is no “madness” in political terror that aims, in the name of an islamist ideology, to strike the West, fight against the “infidels”, against the “impure”, the Kuffar that we all are. No, Mr. Prime Minister, on each occasion we discover that these terrorists follow in one way or another the watchwords of the Islamic State, often with “stem-cells” inspired by a Salafist imam who preaches hatred, and ends up convincing some of his acolytes that they must kill the “heathens”. And as might have been expected, on Sunday night, Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. All this reinforces the evidence: there are some here in our country who detest us, and will stop at nothing to destroy our national fabric, which holds everyone together and defends a particular way of life, “à la Française“.

We have to recognise that these repeated attacks since at least 2015, all committed in the name of Allah and claimed by the Islamic State, do not arise from the folly of isolated individuals, but from a broad and convergent movement to prosecute the fight against France and her values, in order to impose a climate of terror and mistrust in all directions. Clearly, these attacks are related, one with another. They are political, more than psychiatric. They establish a “latent civil war”, according to Gilles Kepel’s expression. Not to recognise this “civil war” against and between us, rather than to ameliorate the situation, merely aggravates it. Euphemism also kills. Our politicians, through naivety, lack of courage, or muddle-headedness, simply reject the evidence. Consequently, to avoid grasping the situation, they just shilly-shally. Rather than care for our national cohesion, they let the problem become inflamed. Take two examples. Rejection of Islam is on a relentless rise in Europe. In France, a recent study by Fondapol [liberal-progressive think-tank] found that this rejection is shared by 60% of our fellow citizens, the same proportion believing that Islam is a threat to the Republic. Meanwhile, the indicators of radicalisation amongst French muslims multiply. A third of them, according to a report of a year ago from the Institut Montaigne [independent think tank], place Islamic law above the laws of the Republic. And a CNRS [National Centre for Scientific Research] study found, in March this year, that 15% of muslim college students in France think that the “armed struggle on behalf of their religion” is acceptable.

FIGAROVOX : If the indications are serious and convergent, and are consistent — whether we like it or not — with the “civil war” scenario, then why do our politicians not recognise this?

Damien Le Guay : There is a three-fold fear that paralyses our politicians. First of all, the fear of “playing into the hands of the National Front”, by recognising that during the first decade of the century there was a hardening of the muslim community under the influence of foreign clerics, leading here and there to an indifference to cultural rejection or an animosity towards our way of life, and to the emergence of home-based muslim terrorists. Contrary to the leitmotiv replayed everywhere, immigration would not turn out to be solely “an opportunity for France”, but would give rise to the sort of “cultural insecurity” identified by Laurent Bouvet and greatly resented by “la France périphérique” [the disadvantaged regions of France]. Secondly, there is the fear of being suspected of “islamophobia” — a broad and protean concept, used indiscriminately to render impossible any discussion of Islam or muslims. This weapon of mass destruction, the sort of “imaginary racism” denounced by Pascal Bruckner, suppresses all intellectual debate and quickly locates everyone who, like Alain Finkielkraut, dares to discuss the situation openly, in the “fachosphère“. So, between Marine Le Pen and the CCIF (Collective Against Islamophobia in France), it’s a tight squeeze: the vocabulary is controlled, and the ideas are fuzzy. Ceding points to the extreme Right is considered a political blunder, which leads to the concealment of evidence. As for the CCIF, they drag before the courts anyone who questions certain tendencies of the muslim community — as was the case with Georges Bensoussan and Pascal Bruckner. Add to that a third fear: that of taking issue against “the religion of the poor” (i.e. Islam, as Emmanuel Todd tells us), against the “damned of the earth”, and the victims of colonialism. A cultural gauchisme, with its plethora of associations, media mouthpieces, and prominent university professors, ends up by regarding today’s victims as the inheritors of historical guilt, and the guilty of today as victims of old discriminations. History is settling its accounts on the backs of today’s innocents — with racial excuses on the one hand, and the guilt attached to whiteness on the other.

These three fears combine to head off ideological challenges, sow intellectual confusion, and hobble analysis. When the enemy is not really the enemy, when it’s not necessary to say anything against Islam, and when the cultural insecurity felt by the electors of the National Front is deliberately exaggerated, not to say invented, our politicians are almost mute. They don’t know what to say. “Every elite that is not prepared to give battle to defend its positions is in full decline”, Pareto tells us. So for want of a better formula, there remain emphatically an immense sorrow for the victims, and hollow denunciations for the “murderous madness” of the assassins. Yesterday, the president of the Republic spoke of an “act of barbarism”. But the security response remains, prolonging indefinitely the “state of emergency”, as we know. Remaining also are the bunches of flowers and the teddy-bears left at the scenes of the attacks. Out come the mechanical watchwords: “no connection!” [between crime and religion], “no to islamophobia!”. Chantal Delsol [French writer] was rightly surprised when, during the demonstrations in Barcelona, the crowd accepted “Occidentophobia” but not “islamophobia”, as though the terrorists had attacked Islam even while professing it as their religion. This paradox would seem generous were it not tragic!

FIGAROVOX : What, then, would be the advantage in your view, after the attack in Marseille, of acknowledging that we were at war?

Damien Le Guay : French muslims are not enemies, that’s obvious, but some amongst them are waging a war against this Nation that they hate, and that we do not love enough. Let’s not forget that François Hollande recognised that a “partition of the territory” was under way, when his Minister for Towns & Cities [Patrick Kanner] observed that there were “a hundred Molenbeeks” in France. If we want to fight against this general drift and these spasms of terrorism,

❝ To disarm the terrorists, we must also disarm their minds. The civil war enters first into the mind.❞

which regularly shake France (as was the case yesterday in Marseille), then we must also fight against the ideological feedstock that arms the consciences of the terrorists. To disarm the terrorists, we must also disarm their minds. The civil war enters first into the mind. What to do? Defuse the three fears mentioned earlier. Create an “Islam of France”, as against a “consular” Islam with its imams who preach hatred uncontrolled, — as was recommended by senators Féret and Goulet in their report of July 2016. Reforms can’t take hold when time is running out. Ask French muslims, as did Ghaleb Bencheikh [former president of the Great Mosque of Paris], to choose between muslim solidarity and love of France. Because parliamentary reports are showing that “the fight against radicalisation” — new euphemism invented by our politicians — is a failure. It comes at a high price and relies on abortive analyses and questionable correlations. Again, multicultural utopianism is to be condemned, and as my book proposes, we must work towards a “de-radicalisation of antiracism”. Whether we like it or not, we are in a state of “civil war”. Let’s think about it, the better to avoid it. A war, says [Emmanuel] Lévinas, consists in “seizing the substance of the Other” and in seeking out his “Achilles’ heel”. French terrorists, soldiers of the Islamic State and of cultural islamism, are cultivating our fears and succeeding in seizing our “substance”. They are pushing us towards ever more multiculturalism, ever more omertà, ever more self-detestation.

FIGAROVOX : Since 2015, we’ve lost count of attacks of this type. Are we witnessing a kind of resignation and routine acceptance?

Damien Le Guay : That is a justifiable fear. What will happen after Marseille? One would like to expect a new beginning. More probable is asphyxiation under teddy-bears and crocodile tears. We can expect another repetition of “murderous madness”, without putting everything on the table and calling out the ideological complicity of muslims. No need to risk revealing ourselves as first-rate islamophobes! In this way, without wishing it but being unable to do anything to avoid it, we shall slide from small defeats into grand renunciations, from terrorist attacks to which we have become acculturated to hand-wringing weariness and willing submission. We shall therefore continue, in complicit passivity and lacking in courage, towards the breakdown of our politics and the grand defeat of intelligence. This painful observation should be enough to provoke an outbreak of pride. But even pride is forbidden to this Europe that has so much to atone for, so much to be forgiven for! ♦