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« Elsewhere | Main | Sexes and Plates »

April 20, 2007

Left? Or Right?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Dept. of It's a Funny World: According to Christopher Hitchens, many of France's Communist Party members have defected -- straight over to Jean-Marie Le Pen's extreme right-wing National Front party.



posted by Michael at April 20, 2007


one form of fanaticism is much like another. in Shirer's book on the 3rd reich, there is a passage discussing how the nazis and communists were always poaching each others members. if the consequences weren't so serious, it would be comical. for a fantastic view on mass movements and their followers, see "True Believers" by Hoffer.

Posted by: cjm on April 21, 2007 5:26 AM

Well, if it all goes wrong for them they can head back left using Mitterand's ploy: you know, the old "I-was-actually-with-the-Resistance" number. Corny, but good. Or they can just rub our noses in it, Talleyrand-style: "I'm, I'm I'm, I', I forget!" Plus ca change!

Posted by: Robert Townshend on April 21, 2007 5:48 AM

Ethnic politics invariably follows ethnic stratification brought on by mass immigration. WHY WHY WHY ARE OUR ELITES SO BLOODY CLUELESSS!!!!!????

Posted by: adrian on April 21, 2007 7:20 AM

LePen voters come in all shapes and sizes, but they are mostly people who have good reason to be distrustful of the North Africans. Most are either the descendents of the Pied-Noirs ethnicially cleansed from Algeria or the working class whites ethnically cleansed by the Muslims from the banlieues. Elites like to whine and emote, but LePen voters legitimately consider themselves in a fight for their very survival, they've seen what the Muslims do.

Posted by: adrian on April 21, 2007 7:26 AM

Politics makes for strange bedfellows. I recall reading the BNP was playing down anti-Semitism to focus on being anti-Muslim. I doubt LePen would do the same, but it would be amusing nonetheless if you had Jewish fascists.

Most of the time these people are in fact, as adrian says, reacting to real problems; ethnic strife tends to occur at the lower classes most violently (the upper-middle-class can argue over number of spots at, the Sorbonne), and working-class whites have the most to fear from underclass blacks (or tans in France).

Posted by: SFG on April 21, 2007 6:43 PM

The far left and the far right are similar because they are both totalitarian. Its not much of a jump. See Hayek's "Road to Serfdom".

Posted by: BIOH on April 21, 2007 10:58 PM

If you've ever talked to an old-school, working-class French communist, this isn't the least bit surprising.

Posted by: Intellectual Pariah on April 22, 2007 1:40 AM

Something missing in the comments here is that Le Pen actually reached out to Moslems in his just-finished campaign, telling them they were just as French as anyone else. Whatever communists he picked up clearly weren't enough to make up for the ethnic nationalists who were offended by his statement and defected elsewhere.

Posted by: James M. on April 23, 2007 11:59 AM

I decided to check old election results at (best site in the world for such data). Did you know Le Pen first ran for President in 1974? (0.7%) It's not easy to make direct comparisons.

In '74 the Left united behind Mitterand (43%), but in '81 there was Mitterand (26%) and a Communist (15%). Mitterand lost the run-off in '74 and won in '81.

Then in '88 Le Pen re-appeared (14%), the Communist dropped to 7%, the right & center had 37%, Mitterand had 34%, and Mitterand won the run-off with 54%. It sure looks like a bloc of Le Pen voters went over to Mitterand.

This year: the Left aggregated 36%, the center-right 53%. Le Pen drew 11%. We'll see what happens in the run-off.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on April 25, 2007 10:37 PM

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