From the January-February 2022 issue of News & Letters
by Gerry Emmett
French President Emanuel Macron’s conscious and calculated use of fascist language in saying how he’d like to “cover [the non-vaccinated] in shit” was shocking. This was coming from “Jupiter,” the representative of high French culture, defender of civilization against neo-fascists like Marine Le Pen and the National Rally.
Although Macron has borrowed Far Right rhetoric before—in relation to immigration—this marked a new low. But he may have felt it necessary to go there in response to the unexpected campaign of Eric Zemmour.
Zemmour, author and television personality, has staked out an anti-immigrant position that includes an explicit appeal to France’s high culture and history. He is also a believer in the racist “Great Replacement” theory as laid out by Renaud Camus, who supports his candidacy.
SIGNALS THROUGH THE FLAMES
Zemmour has founded a new party, Reconquest, in reference to that theory. He kicked off his campaign stating, “The reconquest is now underway…of our economy, security, identity, sovereignty, country.” He pledges to abolish immigration and the right of asylum.
So Macron felt forced to create his own damned class, his own wretched of the earth, the non-vaccinated.
It took the wit of Diderot, and the philosophic genius of Hegel, to describe this kind of situation where the high and low, the noble and the base, keep changing places in the culture of self-alienation.
For those of us who have to live through such a time, it’s more like watching a French presidential campaign conducted by tongues of flame in a burning cathedral.
REELING BACK CENTURIES
The French election is like a prism refracting the crisis gripping Europe as a whole. A continuing economic crisis was only made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and the futile methods many governments have used in response.
Lockdowns and mandates, done in the name of flawed science, enforced by technocrats in office and brute force in the streets, have seen a massive rollback of human rights. The reality of elderly men and women knocked down, and young girls beaten into unconsciousness by German police, Dutch protesters mauled by dogs, and Austrians denied all civil rights loom behind Macron’s fascist words.
This has nothing to do with epidemiology, virology, or any other real discipline.
NOT A QUESTION OF PERSONALITY
Neither this retrogressive French election rhetoric, nor Europe’s lockdown and surveillance measures, are a matter of personalities. They are manifestations of capital and its needs of the moment.
The politicians who articulate these needs probably have no idea that they are doing so.
Unfortunately, the historic French Left has become so marginal they barely feature in the political landscape. Part of this is due to their avoidance of philosophy, despite every nuance of Hegel and Marx playing out before their very eyes.