The French National Headache

The French National Headache

| First published 9th September 2018 in Le Figaro

The Alarming Propagation of Islamist Ideology

As the Institut Montaigne publishes its report entitled The Fabric of Islamism, the fire-power and audience-size of the Internet and social networks are providing major tools for proselytism.

In these times when ideals and political parties are in crisis, one ideology in particular has enjoyed, in France, a nine-fold increase in its number of adherents. In the 1990s, the internal intelligence services [Renseignements généraux, RG] recorded a few hundred “Salafists”, characterised by their peculiar dress and islamist preaching : Algerians straight out of the années noires [Algerian civil war, 1988-2000], or Tablighis [members of the Sunni missionary movement] anxiously seeking “re-islamisation”. In 2004, again according to the RG, the number of adherents had reached 5,000 across the country. By 2015, a former Interior Ministry official was talking about “15,000 to 20,000”. And, according to the most recent estimate, Salafism now brings together between 30,000 and 50,000 people.

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Flowers and Candles

Flowers and Candles

FIGAROVOX/INTERVIEW : The essayist Guillaume Bigot observes that the struggle against terrorism is being frustrated, at the judicial level, by the ‘human-rights-above-all’ culture of the supra-national jurisdictions, as well as certain French magistrates…..

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The Simmering Civil War in France

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”. Continue reading “The Simmering Civil War in France”

Indulging the French Extreme Left

Indulging the French Extreme Left

FIGAROVOX INTERVIEW : The trial of the accused in the case of the torched police car [18th May 2016, Paris] has been interrupted by militants of the extreme Left. Laurent Bouvet, Professor of Political Science at the University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, analyses the motivation and ideology behind these radical groups. Continue reading “Indulging the French Extreme Left”

Europe’s Auto-Immunity

Europe’s Auto-Immunity

2018-00-00 widgets.001Asked recently whether he thought Brexit was a pivotal moment in European history, the writer Alain Finkielkraut responded: “In order to put an end to the distinction — judged potentially genocidal — between an ‘us’ and a ‘them’, the European Union has sedulously drained Europe of all content. It has replaced civilization with values, it has dissolved identity in rights, norms and procedures. The English have said “no” to these developments: we [the French] don’t need to emulate them, but seize the occasion of Brexit to reconstruct the European Union.”

And thereby “defend our European civilization”. Mathieu Bock-Côté, the québécois sociologist, shares this formula with Finkielkraut, and in the article translated below asks what precisely it is that must be defended. A good question that demands another: that of how European civilization is to be defended, assuming that it can be identified.

❝ This alien therapy has produced a cultural auto-immune reaction, a kind of political lupus eating away at Europe’s prodigious heritage.❞

The “replacement of civilization with values”, and identity with a porridge of “rights, norms and procedures” is the foul work of generations of European politicians and bureaucrats. European “civilizational identity”, to use Bock-Côté’s formula, has been redefined as its own self-abnegation, as the endorsement of everything exotic. This alien therapy, exercised through the education system, has produced a cultural auto-immune reaction, a kind of political lupus eating away at Europe’s prodigious heritage. What is it that we wish to defend? An inconvenient question with an even more inconvenient answer — to which Bock-Côté alludes: thirty centuries of European high culture, the sine qua non of continuity and development through education. Who today would come to the defence of that, apart from Matteo Renzi? In an apparent response to the destruction of the temple at Palmyra, the Italian prime minister announced last year that on attaining his or her majority, every citizen would receive from the state a debit card charged with €500, to be used exclusively to gain entry to institutions where heritage was protected and revered. An exceptional gesture for a politician of the Left, and one that cannot be imagined coming from the islamo-gauche in France.

It is high culture that teaches values, not the other way around as neoliberal orthodoxy demands. High culture is the criterion, literally the senate, by which values are made true. On the other hand, received ‘values’ such as human rights and the rule of law, while essential for a functioning society, are defenceless against corruption. Only ‘civilizational identity’ has the authority to regulate them. Abuses of the rule of law, as of human rights, are legion. In Germany, one may not insult a foreign dignitary or deny the Shoa. Everywhere in the so-called liberal democracies, freedom of speech is honoured only in the breach. Representative democracy represents only those who own the law and profit from it. The law itself is becoming indistinguishable from a taxonomy of victimhood.

❝ It is high culture that teaches values, not the other way around as neoliberal orthodoxy demands.❞

High culture, by contrast, is the senior authority standing above received values, which are essentially bureaucratic in timbre. It is free of humbug and corruption, because winnowed by time and the force of countless great minds. A piece of ancient architecture might be eroded according to the second law of thermodynamics, or even physically attacked, but it cannot be corrupted in the sense meant here in relation to ‘values’. The Greeks taught Europeans how to think, but that lesson is immune to corruption. The mysterious theme that arrives in the first movement of Mozart’s 40th symphony might be mangled by pop culture, but the original endures and cannot be corrupted. Lilliputian minds dice up the freedom to speak according to the demands of this or that self-referential group of victims, and this is what is served up by western political elites as a received ‘value’. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the reductio ad absurdum of received ‘values’: in this respect it is resistant to improvement. Meanwhile, high culture, ‘civilizational identity’, legislates for taste and discrimination and common sense humanity. Who then are the preferred lawmakers: Mozart and Brahms, who taught us how to feel; Euclid, who taught us how to think; or the mandarins of the European Union, who are showing Europe how to die in the name of ‘universal’ — in truth, ephemeral — values?

That is the essential point. Received values, being corruptible, cannot stand the test of time. ‘Compassion’, raised to Angela Merkel’s geopolitical scale, can lead in time only to resentment or worse, and finally to its own antithesis. As for the defence of our European civilization, the struggle has one primary theatre: education.

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The French Left Lives In Fear

The French Left Lives In Fear

 

FIGAROVOX/TRIBUNE : For Pierre Rigoulot, the death-threat hanging over our liberal societies comes from islamist fundamentalism and not from “fanatical madmen”. Our history, distinguished by various forms of totalitarianism, should serve as our guide, says the historian. Continue reading “The French Left Lives In Fear”

The Terror Haunting France

The Terror Haunting France

Merah, Charlie, the Bataclan, Magnanville, and now Nice… How many times before our eyes are opened? How many savage attacks, blind massacres, before our leaders resign themselves to admitting that Islamist fanaticism has joined a fight to the death against our country and our civilization? How many more innocent victims — men, women, and children — before those who govern us decide at last to respond ruthlessly, as demanded by the barbarity of these madmen of Allah? Continue reading “The Terror Haunting France”