Two Visions of France

Paris France
Skyline of Paris, France, May 27, 2020 (Unsplash/Nicolas Jehly)

Two videos, two visions of France.

The first kicks off Éric Zemmour’s presidential campaign. (Version with English subtitles here.) It’s a France where gangs of dark-skinned men rob elderly women and liberal elites call true patriots racists and xenophobes.

The second comes from the Elysée Palace and celebrates the “pantheonization” of American-born singer and French Resistance fighter Josephine Baker. It appeals to the best of France: brave, cultured, multiethnic, republican. It’s a vision Emmanuel Macron will want to make his own. Read more “Two Visions of France”

Conservatives Put Party Before Country. They’ve Harmed Both

Mariano Rajoy
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy looks out the window of a cable car in Sóller, Majorca, June 22, 2016 (PP)

Center-right leaders in Britain, Spain and the United States have put the interests of their parties ahead of the good of their countries. Both their parties and their countries have suffered as a result. Read more “Conservatives Put Party Before Country. They’ve Harmed Both”

Nationalism May Be Down, But It’s Not Out

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Donald Trump
Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Donald Trump of the United States meet in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 16, 2017 (Presidency of the Republic of Turkey)

Nationalism may be down, but it’s not out, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The nationalist insurgency is both growing and metamorphosing. It is not just eating away at relations between countries on issues such as free trade; it is also eroding the institutions and norms that prevail within countries.

With economies growing on both sides of the Atlantic, populists now draw on cultural grievances to undermine the stable, rules-based environment businesses crave. Read more “Nationalism May Be Down, But It’s Not Out”

Nationalist Right and Identitarian Left Feed Off Each Other

Dalibor Rohac of the American Enterprise Institute argues in The American Interest that two intolerant communities have emerged in Western democracies:

  1. A nationalist right, whose overarching ambition is to return ethnic homogeneity and reverse the decline of status enjoyed by whites.
  2. An identitarian left, whose goal is to rectify the injustices caused by the historic domination of white heterosexual men.

We don’t have to accept a moral equivalence between the two to see that they have things in common.

Nor does either side need to be in the majority (neither is) to pose a danger to our democracy. Read more “Nationalist Right and Identitarian Left Feed Off Each Other”

It’s Not the Economy, Stupid!

Donald Trump
Donald Trump gives a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

The votes for Brexit, European populism and Donald Trump weren’t working-class revolts.

Ta-Nehisi Coates and Adam Serwer have argued that mostly-white elites are drawn to the “economic anxiety” thesis because it absolves them of responsibility for more intractable problems, like racism, xenophobia and self-delusions about both.

If nativists are motivated by stagnating wages, then there are policy solutions for bringing them back into the mainstream.

But what if their grievances aren’t so concrete? Read more “It’s Not the Economy, Stupid!”

How Law and Justice Stays Popular in Poland

Remi Adekoya explains in Foreign Affairs how Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has been able to remain popular despite truncating democratic norms and institutions and antagonizing the EU:

  • It has raised social spending, specifically for poor rural families with children.
  • It portrays its domestic opponents as corrupt elites fighting to preserve their influence.
  • It portrays its European critics as fanatical multiculturalists and militant secularists who are so obsessed with political correctness they have lost all sense of self-preservation. Read more “How Law and Justice Stays Popular in Poland”

Catalans, Kurds, Given No Other Choice, Announce Referendums

Barcelona Spain
View of the Palau Nacional from downtown Barcelona, Spain, December 29, 2013 (CucombreLibre)

Both the Catalans and Iraq’s Kurds have announced independence referendums this week over the objections of their central governments.

The two might seem a world away. Catalans have virtually no security concerns. The Kurds are waging a war on two fronts: one against Turkey to the north and another against the self-proclaimed Islamic State to the south.

Yet they have things in common.

Both are economic success stories. Catalonia has only 16 percent of Spain’s population yet accounts for a fifth of its economic output, giving it an economy the size of Denmark’s. Kurdistan has Iraq’s lowest poverty rates and, thanks to its oil reserves, is increasingly self-reliant.

Both have desired more autonomy for years and both have been rebuffed by their national authorities, leaving them with little choice but to press for unrecognized votes on independence. Read more “Catalans, Kurds, Given No Other Choice, Announce Referendums”

National Front Has Most to Gain from Becoming Conservative

Marine Le Pen
French party leader Marine Le Pen makes her way to a news conference in Strasbourg, May 11, 2016 (European Parliament/Fred Marvaux)

France’s National Front will have to reinvent itself after a disappointing election result on Sunday.

The nationalists were hoping to get 40 percent support or more in the presidential runoff, but Marine Le Pen got stuck at 34 percent. Still double her father’s performance when he qualified for the second voting round in 2002, but a letdown nonetheless.

In her concession speech, Le Pen promised voters “profound reform” of her party in order to create “a new political force” for all French “patriots” who oppose the globalism of Emmanuel Macron, the incoming president.

Whether this means starting a new party or rebranding the National Front remains to be seen, but change is in the air. With it could come a struggle for the movement’s identity. Read more “National Front Has Most to Gain from Becoming Conservative”