Thursday, December 02, 2021

the rise of Eric Zemmour

The following link, one of several, was sent to me by an e-friend (i.e., an online friend I've never met in person): Will France Save the West? The article is about Eric Zemmour, a French polymath (journalist, writer, thinker, etc.) currently looking to run for president of France. His message is nationalist and populist in nature; he speaks and thinks in a fairly Trumpian vein, although without the egomaniacal bluster of our former chief executive (I agree with much of Trump's politics but find him unpalatable as a person). Wikipedia labels Zemmour "far right," but he strikes me as more complex than that label. Anyway, here's an excerpt that contains another excerpt:

Today[,] Zemmour released a video declaring his candidacy for president, and I’ve heard comparisons (including from a French student in my political science class this semester) comparing it to Charles de Gaulle’s famous July 18, 1940 radio broadcast pronouncing the cause of Free France amidst the nation’s collapse before the German army. For our readers who understand French, the video is at the bottom—but even if you don’t speak French I recommend watching it for a few minutes to take in how powerful it is. 

Here is a rough translation:

My dear Countrymen— For years, the same feeling has swept you along, oppressed you, shamed you: a strange and penetrating feeling of dispossession. You walk down the streets in your towns, and you don’t recognize them. 

You look at your screens and they speak to you in a language that is strange, and in the end foreign. You turn your eyes and ears to advertisements, TV series, football matches, films, live performances, songs, and the schoolbooks of your children.

You take the subways and trains. You go to train stations and airports. You wait for your sons and your daughters outside their school. You take your mother to the emergency room.

You stand in line at the post office or the employment agency. You wait at a police station or a courthouse. And you have the impression that you are no longer in a country that you know.

You remember the country of your childhood. You remember the country that your parents told you about. You remember the country found in films and books. The country of Joan of Arc and Louis XIV. The country of Bonaparte and General de Gaulle.

The country of knights and ladies. The country of Victor Hugo and Chateaubriand. The country of Pascal and Descartes. The country of the fables of La Fontaine, the characters of Molière, and the verses of Racine.

The country of Notre Dame de Paris and of village church towers. The country of Gavroche and Cosette. The country of barricades and Versailles. The country of Pasteur and Lavoisier. The country of Voltaire and Rousseau, of Clemenceau and the soldiers of ’14, of de Gaulle and Jean Moulin. The country of Gabin and Delon; of Brigitte Bardot and Belmondo and Johnny and d’Aznavour and Brassens and Barbara; the films of Sautet and Verneuil.

This country— at the same time light-hearted and illustrious. This country— at the same time literary and scientific. This country— truly intelligent and one-of-a-kind. The country of the Concorde and nuclear power. The country that invented cinema and the automobile.

This country— that you search for everywhere with dismay. No, your children are homesick, without even having known this country that you cherish. And it is disappearing.

You haven’t left, and yet you have the feeling of no longer being at home. You have not left your country. Your country left you. You feel yourself foreigners in your own country. You are internal exiles.

For a long time, you believed you were the only one to see, to hear, to think, to doubt. You were afraid to say it. You were ashamed of your feelings. For a long time, you dared not say what you are seeing, and above all you dared not see what you were seeing.

And then you said it to your wife. To your husband. To your children. To your father. To your mother. To your friends. To your coworkers. To your neighbors. And then to strangers. And you understood that your feeling of dispossession was shared by everyone.

France is no longer France, and everyone sees it.

Of course, they despised you: the powerful, the élites, the conformists, the journalists, the politicians, the professors, the sociologists, the union bosses, the religious authorities.

They told you it’s all a ploy, it’s all fake, it’s all wrong. But you understood in time that it was them who were a ploy, them who had it all wrong, them who did you wrong.

The disappearance of our civilization is not the only question that harasses us, although it towers over everything. Immigration is not the cause of all our problems, although it aggravates everything.

The third-worlding of our country and our people impoverishes as much as it disintegrates, ruins as much as it torments.

It’s why you often have a hard time making ends meet. It’s why we must re-industrialize France. It’s why we must equalize the balance of trade. It’s why we must reduce our growing debt, bring back to France our companies that left, give jobs to our unemployed.

It’s why we must protect our technological marvels and stop selling them to foreigners. It’s why we must allow our small businesses to live, and to grow, and to pass from generation to generation.

It’s why we must preserve our architectural, cultural, and natural heritage. It’s why we must restore our republican education, its excellence and its belief in merit, and stop surrendering our children to the experiments of egalitarians and pedagogists and the Doctor Strangeloves of gender theory and islamo-leftism.

It’s why we must take back our sovereignty, abandoned to European technocrats and judges, who rob the French people of the ability to control their destiny in the name of a fantasy – a Europe that will never be a nation.

Yes, we must give power to the people, take it back from the minority that unceasingly tyrannizes the majority and from judges who substitute their judicial rulings for government of the people, for the people, by the people.

I'll stop there. There is much more to the speech. The guy sounds as if he's calling strongly for Frexit, which is a sentiment I wholeheartedly support. His popularity, at least among French conservatives, seems to have leapfrogged that of Marine Le Pen, who must be eternally frustrated that she's always the bridesmaid and never the bride. My e-friend also sent me a link to the French-language video in which Zemmour gives the above speech. It's embedded below for those among my readers who speak French. But before you scroll down to the video, here's a snippet of the article's conclusion:

This is dynamite stuff. We like to make fun of the French (Why does France like to line their boulevards with trees? So the German army can march in the shade!). But it has always been true that when France gets serious[,] it usually acts with great ferocity and strength. I have thought for a long time that[,] if any nation in Europe might go as far as to expel the Islamists in their midst, it would be France.

I am told today by my French student that Zemmour and Le Pen have formed an alliance, and that early polls show them attracting 40 percent of the vote. Keep your eyes on this.

Is it a coincidence that Zemmour released this video today, which happens to be Churchill’s birthday?

So Le Pen is a pragmatist, it seems. Well, good for her: she puts the cause before her own ego and knows it's better to try to consolidate the vote. It could be that the French are simply tired of where their own knee-jerk leftism has led them: economy in the shitter, ethnic strife in the big cities, education a mess. Maybe even those on the left (and there are many) finally understand that it's time for a change. I don't know enough about Zemmour to judge him; if he's truly a Trumpian nationalist-populist, he might do France a lot of good. If, however, he's in thrall to the darker elements of the French far right, then we should all take warning, French or not. Here's hoping he's a sincere force for good.

Personally, I do love France and the French, however much I might disagree with the general tenor of French politics. I wish nothing but the best for France's future, and I'd love to see a return to the 1980s-era France that I fell in love with way back when I was young and optimistic. Maybe I view France's past with rose-colored glasses; it's possible. But the country has, like the US, done so much lately to cram its head up its own ass that it's hard even to say that this is the same country I first encountered in 1986. Zemmour has an unabashed love for his patrie, and that, at least, is a good quality. How sick I am of the virtue signalers who hang their heads and say, "I'm ashamed to be American." All you fuckers can leave if you think there's a better country out there. And the same goes for those "French" people who profess to be ashamed to be French. Foutez le camp!

That video:

Dr. John Pepple offers his insights here.


John Pepple said...

I'm not going to go so far as to say I love France and the French, but I will say it would be very sad to see it destroyed.

Kevin Kim said...

Understood. It undoubtedly helps to have people you consider family. My French host family is that way for me; I've known them since 1986.