Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Éric Zemmour, Presidential Candidate. 

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Libération on Twitter: "À la une de Libération mercredi : 🔴 Zemmour, un cauchemar  français 👉 Cette édition est entièrement illustrée, l'essentiel du journal  est écrit par des auteurs jeunesse https://t.co/nj2k4mQp7h  https://t.co/asSVk24KjK" /

A French Nightmare.

Éric Zemmour’s most recent book La France n’a pas dit son dernier mot (2021) is self-published by the Maison d’édition Rubempré. The far-right polemicist named his imprint as a tribute to the novelist Honoré de Balzac and the central character of his masterpiece, Illusions perdues (Lost Illusions), Lucien Chardon. The ambitious provincial writer becomes, by assent of the Restored Monarchy,  Lucien de Rubempré, “a cowardly and unscrupulous character”, able to play with women’s affections and a large fortune, in Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes.

Few French commentators who have alighted on this name and the fondness of the polemicist for the author of la Comédie Humaine have failed to remark that from being the toast of Paris, Lucien, “le dandy et le poète” ends up shunned, accused of fraud and theft in cahoots with the identity-shifting criminal mastermind Jacques Collin. In gaol, overcome with remorse, rent with a “fièvre de suicide” he hangs himself. Recounted in detail, it is a deeply affecting passage. “One of the greatest tragedies of my life,” wrote Oscar Wilde in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying, “is the death of Lucien de Rubempré. It is a grief from which I have never been able completely to rid myself. It haunts me in my moments of pleasure. I remember it when I laugh.”

Yesterday our modern Rubempré (whose fall one can only hope will be worse than Balzac’s famed protagonist) announced this, putting an end to a threadbare game about whether or not he would officially aim to be France’s Head of State.

This Blog has published quite a few posts about Zemmour, which we have no need to repeat.

One of the best overviews is offered by the Fondation Jean Jaurès (suitably named after a nemesis for the man who has cast doubt over the innocence of Dreyfus) by the specialist on the far-right JEAN-YVES CAMUS.

ÉRIC ZEMMOUR : UN DISCOURS QUI LIBÈRE LA PAROLE EXTRÉMISTE

The Origins of the Zemmour Candidacy.

“The first sign of the polemicist’s presidential ambitions dates back to the creation, in January 2021, of a website entitled “I sign with Zemmour”. According to the investigation of the daily Liberation and the weekly L’Express , it comes from the entourage of the mayor of Orange, Jacques Bompard 1and more broadly from the La Ligue du Sud, the micro-movement he founded in 2010. The former member of the Front National (1986-1988), which broke with Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2005, is a major actor on the “right outside the walls” working since the end of the five-year term of President Sarkozy to the constitution of a union which brings together those who, within the FN / RN and the conservative right, agreed to put an end to the ostracization of the camp lepenist (that is Le Pen, fille et père). He is also a follower of the “great replacement” theory, as shown by the motion for a European resolution that he tabled in 2015 as a member of the National Assembly 2. In his explanatory memorandum, we find two major themes of Eric Zemmour’s campaign: that of immigration-invasion and that, consequence of the first, of “massive immigration [which] resulted in an explosive and dangerous situation for civil peace and the future of France ”. “

Camus offers an extremely detailed account which is certainly one of the best available.

This is also highly recommended, by a radical left writer who is a critic of right-wing and left-wing populism.

This is equally important, how the upper-levels of the bourgeoisie are showing a degree of good-will towards Zemmour, invitations to speak at elite clubs, bosses’ organisations, and how some of the liberal left (Marcel Gauchet, Luc Ferry,  Jacques Julliard) have shown more than an interest in the way he has raised ‘real issues’:

In the last few days Zemmour has stalled in the opinion polls.

One of the reasons has been his response to a forceful female critic during his visit to Marseille, which has drawn comparisons with former President Nicolas Sarkozy who once told somebody who refused to shake his hand during a visit to the Salon de l’agriculture, saying it would dirty him, “Eh ben, casse-toi pauv’ con” – fuck off you pathetic tosser.

It seems that Zemmour is fond of the C word (one meaning is the same as the one in English), calling television presenter Gilles Bouleau a “connard” (stronger than con), yesterday.

A Harris Interactive poll for Challenges credited Eric Zemmour with 13% of voting intentions, far behind Marine Le Pen (19%). The polling institute gave it at 18% just a few weeks ago.

(1.12.21. Eric Zemmour candidat : bousculé sur TF1, vidéo polémique, sondages en berne… ça part mal

Then there is this:

Still Zemmour has some friends.

Oscar Wilde’s other famous literary judgement concerns Charles Dickens and The Old Curiosity Shop.

“One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing.”

Let us hope that Zemmour’s candidacy ends badly so we can also break out laughing.

And please, do not forget this:

Written by Andrew Coates

December 1, 2021 at 1:29 pm

7 Responses

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  1. Charlie Hebdo mocks married with 3 children Zemmour (63 years old) for his public affair with his top aide, Sarah Knafo (28).

    Zemmour for a Judeo-Christian France, “I’ve already put the little Jesus in his crib”.

    Andrew+Coates

    December 1, 2021 at 6:10 pm

  2. […] two souls of France were on display yesterday. The racist Eric Zemmour announced his presidential candidacy with a dark Trumpian video … but then came a magnificent […]

  3. Biggest concern in France is why the run off opponent to the neo liberal candidate is always a fascist or near fascist (thus burnishing their radical credentials). It should be an opponent from the Left. The fact that it isn’t is almost deemed normal.
    Just shows how far the far right have advanced in the West over the past 40 years.

    IainF

    December 2, 2021 at 5:07 am

    • François Hollande, of the Parti Socialiste, president of France from 2012 to 2017…..

      Andrew Coates

      December 2, 2021 at 8:40 am

  4. Andrew+Coates

    December 2, 2021 at 12:46 pm

  5. David Aaronovich in today’s (print edition) Times:

    French firebrand Éric Zemmour is a danger to Britain too

    Like Gwendolen in Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, I am known for the extraordinary sweetness of my nature. So I was taken aback to find myself disobligingly cited in the text of an interview between the deputy editor of The Spectator magazine and the newly announced French presidential hopeful Eric Zemmour. In the author’s view I was the person mostly likely to accuse the magazine of “giving a platform to nativism or white supremacism merely by speaking to him [Zemmour]”.

    In fact I’m pretty well known for my free-speech fundamentalism and I would certainly interview Zemmour myself (actually Andrew Billen got the job, which you’ll be able to read this Saturday), so this was nonsense. But what the author had done was to confuse what gets called “no-platforming” with something else entirely: expressing alarm at the Zemmour-amour that is evident among influential sections of the British mainstream right. I think it’s dangerous and hypocritical, and I’ll explain why.

    For those who don’t know him, Zemmour is French TV’s idea of an intellectual. He has written books and columns and pontificated on the airwaves which means, if we look, that there’s a substantial record of what moves him.

    Most famously he blames inward migration for many of France’s problems, because the migrants won’t assimilate, there are too many of them and a substantial proportion are Muslim “thieves, rapists and murderers who persecute the French”. In this way “France is paying for its own invasion”.
    Also he argues that anyone who does come to France should assimilate totally, and he doesn’t just mean by obeying French laws or being proud to be French (which over 80 per cent of French Muslims say they are), but also, for example, by being forced to give their children “French” first names. He once told a woman colleague that her first name Hapsatou (she is part Senegalese) was “an insult” to France.
    The same extreme assimilationism has led to darker places. In 2012 an Islamist terrorist murdered, among others, a rabbi and three Jewish children in Toulouse. In his most recent book France Has Not Said its Last Word Zemmour denied the Frenchness of the murdered children because they were taken to be buried in Israel. “They wanted to live in France,” he wrote, “but as for leaving their bones, they did not choose France, foreigners above all and wanting to remain so beyond death.”

    Jews, eternally taxed with being unpatriotic, already had cause to be alarmed by Zemmour’s casual rewriting of history. Not least his argument that the collaborationist antisemitic Vichy regime of Marshal Pétain had actually saved French Jews from extermination by the clever expedient of only rounding up the non-French Jews and putting them in camps ready to be deported to their deaths. It is a distinction that would disgust most Jews, and it’s not even true.

    What allows Zemmour to get away with it is that he was born into an Algerian Jewish family that emigrated to France. As that old neo-fascist bruiser and loser Jean Marie Le Pen (estranged father of Marine Le Pen) once put it rather plaintively, being Jewish meant no one could accuse Zemmour of being a Nazi and “that gives him great freedom”.

    Sure does: none of these things were touched on in the Spectator interview, which instead contained a long section on fishing. But reference was made to Zemmour’s big idea, how “woke” culture, along with feminism and gay rights, was leading the way to (in the interviewer’s words) “the Islamification of formerly Christian nations”.

    This idea, “echoing as it does ‘the great replacement theory’ of Renaud Camus — causes consternation in progressive circles”. Camus is a gay former leftist who underwent a negative epiphany when he saw women in hijabs beside a Gothic church in a thousand-year-old French village. He subsequently founded a political party dedicated to “repatriating” the wrong kind of immigrants and their children.

    He also wrote a book, The Great Replacement, which has the unfortunate property of often being cited by far-right terrorists. It avers that “replacists” (among whom Zemmour appears to list Pope Francis) have an agenda to out-populate white Christians with — well, with just about anybody who isn’t a white Christian.
    I could locate Zemmour in a long French intellectual history of pessimistic ultra-Catholics and ethnic nationalists, whose demented claims of a France Juive have morphed into a fantasy of a France Islamique. Suffice to say it’s all there if you care to look.

    So, and now we come to the nub, why in heaven’s name are people on the British mainstream right cheerleading for this appalling man? And they certainly are. In the interview Zemmour “leafs through the magazine making polite and appreciative noises. ‘Ah, Doooglas Murray!’ he exclaims. ‘I like Doooglas Murray very much. We’ve exchanged ideas.’”

    Murray is an influential intellectual figure on the British right. At the moment probably the most influential. At the beginning of October in The Daily Telegraph he wrote a column extolling Eric Zemmour. “Some of his views,” Murray wrote, “would be considered seriously radical in British politics. But in France he is a phenomenon.” And so on in this slightly abstract vein. Zemmour “has sought to shatter the consensus of the Parisian intellectual and journalistic class”; he “wrote about subjects that the public cared about deeply”, “said many things that the public had not previously dared” and so offers “serious change” because of his “dislike of the European Union, hatred of the status quo and belief that France can reassert itself as a sovereign power”. And any criticism of him by journalists was “predictable”.

    The hypocrisy of Murray and others is obvious when you consider their fury (which I shared) at some of the people with whom Jeremy Corbyn consorted. Yet had any one of these comrades expressed Zemmour’s views about Vichy or the dead children, for example, it would have made a damning Spectator front cover.
    All the same it’s the danger I want to focus on. France has endured far worse Islamist attacks in the last decade than we have: Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, Nice and right up to the present. One of the objectives has been to provoke a war of civilisations between Muslims and non-Muslims. Essential to this is creating a community-wide grievance against French society on the part of ordinary non-radicalised Muslims (religious and secular) which then provides recruits and sympathisers for armed jihad. What Zemmour says as a TV pundit can help this process a little. What a Zemmour can do as president hardly bears thinking about.
    Fortunately it isn’t just those derided “progressives” who get this: most leading British conservatives understand it, too. They’ve been chary of the “unity of the right” that Zemmour is supposed to offer and that Murray apparently longs for ever since that nice Mr von Papen wound up at Nuremberg.

    Jim Denham

    December 2, 2021 at 4:18 pm

    • Indeed, on the last point, “most leading British conservatives understand it, too” this is from a French ‘classical’ liberal (in the Continental European and British sense, centrist, against a planned economy and centralisation, but against “neo-liberalism’, and attached to liberty, inspired by John Stuart Mill) philosopher Gaspard Koenig in Libération today,

      “Mr. Zemmour does not exactly cherish the rule of law. He proposes to “take back power from the judges”, to remove the legal mechanisms to fight against discrimination, and to put an end to “the stranglehold of the five supreme courts” : Council of State, Court of Cassation, Constitutional Council, Court European Union for Human Rights, Court of Justice of the European Union. In other words, the majority, finally freed from the “dictatorship of minorities”, could decide on the rules of law without any restriction: it is the “government of the people” invoked by Mr. Zemmour in his candidacy speech.. In the old debate between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Benjamin Constant, Mr. Zemmour takes the path of absolute popular sovereignty. The individual and his freedoms will no longer be protected, but submitted to the goodwill of those in power. Too bad for those who, like Mr. Zemmour himself, appeal to the supreme courts to defend their freedom of expression… and chilling when we know that Mr. Zemmour is “philosophically favourable” to the reinstatement of the death penalty.”

      (Zemmour) “…promotes the harshest illiberalism: political authoritarianism, economic interventionism, cultural standardisation, territorial centralism. Individual singularity is denied in favour of a homogeneous national community.”

      https://www.liberation.fr/idees-et-debats/tribunes/eric-zemmour-une-menace-pour-lidentite-francaise-20211202_P6GEPQJZCBEONCIREO767IQ7PM/

      Andrew Coates

      December 2, 2021 at 5:52 pm


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