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La grande confusion: Comment l’extrême-droite gagne la bataille des idées. The Great Confusion: How the Far-Right is Winning the Battle of Ideas. Philippe Corcuff. Review.

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Landmark Book.

Imagine a country where a former extreme left party has recycled itself as a Tribune against Woke and publishes articles defending the national populist ruler of Hungary, Viktor Orbán. Think of a political scene, where this party- become-network, joined with members of a Communist party committed to the fight against globalisation, and a wing of a social democratic party, nostalgic for the ‘real’ working working class. Imagine these defenders of the ‘somewhere people’ and the traditional values of family faith and flag, up in arms behind national sovereignty against the European Union. That they came together to fight for the right-wing side, of a Referendum. Think, if you can, of these old revolutionary girls and boys actively supporting a far-right party with a marked hostility to immigration and getting one their number elected as a MEP, and then given a Peerage. (1)

La Grande Confusion is a landmark book. Amongst many things it helps to put the above British twists and turns into a wider European context. The author Philipe Corcuff has a complex background on the French radical left, as he explains in the introductory pages (2). It includes a brief period as a member of micro-party originally left wing Socialists, Le movement des Citoyens. Its leader Jean-Pierre Chevènement would later stand as a Presidential candidate (2002) with the MDC rebranded, ‘Mouvement républicain et citoyen) with the slogan ” ni de droite, ni de gauche  (neither right nor left) winning 5% of the vote in the first round. A paradigm, one could say for some of the book – shifts back and forward from left to right, a pull away from the left to the “real people” and the Nation. Or as the ‘Che’ put it, above the left and the right stands La République. The former Socialist got the backing of sovereigntists, royalists (!!), former Front National supporters, Régis Debray, one-time Socialists and a small number of people on the far left.

What is then is the confusion, the confusionnisme, referred to? This is, “the current name of a relative disaggregation of political benchmarks previously stabilised around the left-right cleavage and the development of rhetorical bridges between extreme right, right, moderate left and radical left” (Page 31) That is there is, he asserts something more than links, or the old ‘Horseshoe’ theory of extremes meeting. It is a kind of ‘bricolage’ of ‘anti-system’ politics, shifting towards the far right or red-brown fronts.

One of  Corcuff’s theses is that the idea of ‘national sovereignty’ is the axis around which a number of themes, from the ‘identarian’ assertion of French nationhood, a republican patriotism that has shifted towards nationalism. It is boosted by an ‘anti-political correctness’ that barely masks a defence of traditional prejudice. The cross-overs between French populists of the left and rights, from language – the common use of the word ‘caste’ to describe the ‘oligarchy’ opposed to the people – to theme amongst left-populists, such as Jean-Luc Mélenchon, to promote the national ‘people’ and working class over all others.

This tendency of the leader of La France insoumise to be worried about the menace of “communitarianism” Amongst many example, we can see in Melenchon’s comments on the responsibility of the Chechen community when Samuel Patty as murdered by an Islamist racist in 2020. This indicates Corcuff argues, a “national republican” thread in his ideas (Pages 520-1). Some of this had gone further, ending in the «l’étrange trumpisation de gauche à la française»> that is a gloss that comes out with a Gallic version of Make America Great Again – a call to restore the universal mission of France.

For the English anti-woke Tribune Spiked read Front Populaire -a review founded by the one-time libertarian anarchist and atheist Michel Onfray. This brings together Sovereigntists “from all quarters” including, amongst others, Jean-Pierre Chevènement (former Socialist Minister, see above) Philippe de Villiers (classical right and …Alain de Benoist (New Right) (Avec sa nouvelle revue « Front populaire », Michel Onfray séduit les milieux d’extrême droite) One has to say that there is not even much of the Brendan O’Neill’s style of residual libertarianism left here.

La Grande Confusion covers many writers and political figures any of whom are not widely known outside of the hexagone. To cite only a few Éric Hazan (who defended in 2019 demonstrating with the far-right violent wing of the Gilets Jaunes, against Macron, ” A whole range of intellectuals see violence is evil. For those who do not stick to this position and may sometimes consider it legitimate, the fact that the far right is present in this violence puts them off quite a bit. But it doesn’t bother me ) and Houria Bouteldja (notorious with a photo shot of her holding a placard saying Jews to the Gulag, she has been a member of the  Indigènes de la République) , on the other hand, between Alain Finkielkraut (extreme cultural conservative) and Christophe Guilluy (the ‘geographer’ and self-appointed spokesperson for La France périphérique) Jean-Claude Michéa (who talks of ‘Capital’ as the Enemy, who draws on the late Christopher Lasch and claims an insight into George Orwell and Michel Onfray, on the one Chantal Mouffe (left populist’) and Frédéric Lordon (once fashionable theorist whose Les affects de la politique, 2019, talks of the importance of the emotional ties of The People to a Sovereign Power), Alain Soral and Éric Zemmour: two variants of French-style ideological ultraconservatism, Renaud Camus and the conspiratorial fantasy of the “Great Replacement”.

One of the few ventures outside the Francophone world is a long section on he German populist a member of Die Linke, Sarah Wagenknecht who has highlighted “immigration’s negative impacts on the domestic working class”.

“The book is a dizzying Ferris wheel” writes Adrien Mariani in Lignes de Crêtes. At six hundred and seventy two pages, with references to Merleau-Ponty and Foucault’s theories of discursive formations, and a lot of detail, La Grande Confusion is perhaps, despite the clarity of the writing, more of a resource, or as it says on the cover, a small Encyclopaedia, than a sit down read.

Corcuffs’s meticulous pursuit of his subject, the inevitable comparison with an earlier call to be wary of a slide to the right, the late Daniel Lindenberg’s Le Rappel à l’ordre : enquête sur les nouveaux réactionnaires” (2002) That itself echoed a post Great War art movement away from avant-garde experiment back to classicism. Today it is no the classical right but the hyper-nationalist, ‘archeo-conservative’, conspiratorial, identarian national populist right which has infected some of the left. The book describes how this has happened, it does not tell us why, or explore the deeper reasons for the popularity of national populism and the extended (if ultimately limited) extreme-rights ideas across Europe.

The present work, as Le Monde says, shows ” un méticuleux travail d’analyse, nourri par une considérable érudition, le goût de la pluralité des sources et le culte de la nuance.” As the opening paragraphs of this review indicate, this take on political ‘confusionnisme’ has great relevance beyond France. La Grande Confusion is a trail-blazer. Will an emancipatory left emerge to fight the confusion? One can only hope so.

(1) I refer to the RCP/Spiked network and the Full Brexit: one can see the radicalisation of the Blue Labour politics of the common good’ and the ‘mainstream of the Nation’ to the leader of Trade Unionists Against the European Union:

See

(2) It is hard to match this record!: , Jeunes Socialistes (1976), Parti socialiste (1977-1992), Mouvement des citoyens (1993-1994), Les Verts (1994-1997), Ligue communiste révolutionnaire (1999-2009), then NPA (depuis son congrès de fondation en février 2009 jusqu’en février 2013), et enfin, un tournant libertaire, avec son adhésion en février 2013 à la Fédération anarchiste

Written by Andrew Coates

September 5, 2021 at 3:12 pm

Bellend Laurence Fox Joins London Mayor Race.

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I used to like Lewis, me, now I can’t watch it when this geezer comes on. 

(Why do all the breaking new stories come in the bleeding evening).

Laurence Fox joins London mayoral race on anti-lockdown ticket

Guardian.

Activist from acting dynasty says he wants to speak up for ‘those who are being dominated into silence’

Fox joins a motley cast of candidates including fellow lockdown sceptics Piers Corbyn and Brian Rose, the former Wall Street banker and host of YouTube channel London Real, which famously aired a controversial interview with conspiracy theorist David Icke early in the pandemic.

An esteemed commentator says,

Attention Seeking Bellend Wants New Career. Also note that his entire run for mayor is being funded by a single donation of £420k from a former Tory benefactor.

What  a Geeze!

Image

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 6, 2021 at 9:26 pm

France, Minister Launches Investigation into “Islamo-Leftism’ in University Research.

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Islamo-Leftism is not a scientific reality – Centre national de la recherche scientifique

In a counterpart to the UK government’s sudden interest in academia this story has been at the top of French news for the last week.

Minister orders probe into ‘Islamo-leftism’ in French academic research

Speaking on French TV on Sunday, Vidal alluded to Islamo-leftism, which she said was “eating away” at society in general, and that the universities were not immune.

“What you notice in universities is that there is a minority of people who use their academic aura and qualifications…to advance radical or militant ideas.”

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In a statement in reaction to the proposed probe, the Confederation of University Presidents expressed its “astonishment in the face of another pointless row about Islamo-leftism in universities”.

“If the government needs analysis, argument, scientific back-up to help it rise above its grotesque caricatures and petty nit-picking, then universities are ready and waiting,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, MP Julien Aubert, of the mainstream right wing LR party, welcomed Vidal’s move. He declared that the creation of such a fact-finding mission was urgent, so that parliament might address the issue.

The minister also announced that among the issues to be examined by the CNRS is research into post-colonialism.

She said it was “essential” that France’s social science and humanities departments study such such subjects.

French academics blast minister’s warning on ‘Islamo-leftism’

French Higher Education, Research and Innovation Minister Frederique Vidal addresses the National Assembly in Paris on January 12, 2021. © Christophe Archambault, AFP

The French minister for higher education has sparked a backlash from university heads after warning about the spread of “Islamo-leftism” in the country’s academic institutions.

The term “Islamo-leftism” is often used in France by far-right politicians to discredit left-wing opponents they accuse of being blind to the dangers of Islamist extremism and overly worried about racism and identity.

“I think that Islamo-leftism is eating away at our society as a whole, and universities are not immune and are part of our society,” Minister for Higher Education Frederique Vidal told CNews television on Sunday.

The comments came amid a divisive debate in France about what President Emmanuel Macron has termed “Islamist separatism,” in which Islamists are said to be flouting French laws in closed-off Muslim communities and fuelling terror attacks on French soil.

……..

Vidal also announced that she would order an investigation into the problem of researchers “looking at everything through the prism of wanting to fracture and divide”, which she said included those focused on colonialism and race.

The National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the research body Vidal charged with the study, has already hit back.

Although it agreed to carry out the investigation, the CNRS condemned “attempts to delegitimise different fields of research such as post-colonial studies”.

Asked to comment further in parliament on Tuesday, Vidal said the investigation would determine “what is academic research and what is activism and opinion”.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal appeared to distance himself from the idea on Wednesday when asked for Macron’s views on the issue at a news briefing.

The president has an “absolute commitment to the independence of academic researchers”, Attal said, adding that it was “a fundamental guarantee of our republic”.

In further responses academics have protested at the claims:

 

More protests:

 

As this tweet says, Le monde has an excellent article on the background (I have a sub to the on-line paper). It even mentions our dear old SWP and Chris Harman’s The Prophet and the Proletariat (1994)  – though not the Respect Coalition which was a bloc between right-wing Islamists. softer Islamists, and left groups, like the SWP, and, latterly Counterfire, behind George Galloway. This illustrates that there have indeed been political alliances which could be said to be Islamo-leftists, though few would class Galloway as left-wing these days.

« Islamo-gauchisme » : histoire tortueuse d’une expression devenue une invective

 

Part of the radical left took  another path. In 1994, British journalist Chris Harman, a member of the Socialist Workers Party central committee, theorised, in an article called “The Prophet and the Proletariat”, “the need for a strategic alliance with the Islamists”. “In the past,” he writes, “ the left made the mistake of seeing Islamists as fascists, with whom we have nothing in common. “ But Islamism, he adds, ” has emerged in societies traumatized by the impact of capitalism. ” It is therefore strategically useful and possible to convert these young people to a different approach, that is to say “socialist, independent and revolutionary”.If he did  not use the term Islamo-leftism, the idea of ​​an alliance in the face of a common enemy – capitalist, Zionist, American – is clearly stated here. In France, the text was reproduced in a book, Islamisme et Révolution, by the small group Socialisme par en bas (SPEB), which would go onto  join the LCR.

Islamo-leftism

Essays in Libération and France 24 on the history of this term do not claim to find the definitive origin of this term, rather, both publications trace the term as far back as a 2002 use in New Judeophobia, a book by Pierre-André Taguieff, historian of ideas, who describes Islamo-fascism as a type of anti-Zionism popular among “the new third-worldist, neo-communist and neo-leftist configuration, better known as the ‘anti-globalisation movement“.[3][4] Interviewed in 2016 by Liberation journalists Sonya Faure and Frantz Durupt, Taguieff is not certain whether he coined it or had heard it used, but he points out that the phrases Islamo-progressives and in the 1980s Palestino-progressives were used as self-descriptions by the French left.[3]

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The fact is that a large section of the British left opposed Respect and any alliance with Islamists.

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 18, 2021 at 4:43 pm