Monday, May 27, 2013

Charles Maurras' Screaming Ghost

A specter is haunting France, it's own very far right wing is on the march once again.

Printemps Francais;
They are responsible for most of the violence at the big anti-gay demonstrations in Paris.

The political branch of the St. Pius X Society of far right Catholic fundamentalists who want to remake France as a Catholic theocratic state

And the contending issue is gay marriage.  What Alfred Dreyfus and the Jews were over a century ago is now reincarnated in the horror of two men or two women getting married, and worse, raising children!  France's national greatness is in mortal peril again!

Note the presence of Royalist symbols in the anti-gay crowd above.

Lest we be so shocked that liberal secular France could be home to so much intolerant parochialism, chauvinism, and bigotry, remember that France has always had a very active and very far right.

There was the attempted coup d'etat by right wing generals opposed to Algerian independence in 1961.  The coup failed because of widespread resistance to it by the military rank and file as well as civilian resistance.  Out of the failed coup emerged a short-lived far right terrorist movement, the Organisation de l'Armee Secrete or OAS.  The OAS murdered a number of government officials and left-liberal political leaders and tried to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle in 1962.  Dominique Venner who killed himself in Notre Dame Cathedral last week was a former member of the OAS.

Let us not forget the Vichy regime.  It too was a kind of coup d'etat by the right wing generals who refused orders from the last government of the Third Republic to resist the German invasion of 1940.  The generals preferred German occupation to serving under the republican government.

Another Vichy government poster.

And there was L'Affaire!  Here is an Anti-Dreyfusard publication.

Another Anti-Dreyfusard publication

The Bourbon Restoration; the coronation of Charles X and the restoration of pre-Revolutionary institutions and symbols as if nothing happened between 1789 and 1814.

The Restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy after Napoleon's final defeat:  France Rescued From Its Ruins by Louis-Phillipe Crepin

The major virtue of the French far right is that it has a long history of going too far and crapping all over itself.  I suspect that now will be no different.  Despite the big angry crowds in Paris, they do not have much support among the rest of the French electorate.  As in the past, their extreme tactics may well backfire against them sending them back to the margins of French life.  I worry that they could do a lot of harm in the meantime.


The intellectual and spiritual father of so much contemporary French far right politics is the poet and propagandist Charles Maurras; anti-liberal, anti-cosmopolitan,  anti-republican, anti-parliamentarian, anti-democratic, anti-internationalist, and anti-semitic; an ultra-nationalist, a militarist, and a monarchist.

He founded the prototype for today's far-right movements in France, Action Francaise.

The movement had its own publications, engaged in massive street demonstrations together with  violent confrontations with authorities and opponents.   Maurras attacked the French Third Republic as illegitimate and called for its overthrow in a coup d'etat.  He wanted to restore the French monarchy and the aristocracy as a military dictatorship. Though Maurras himself was a secularist, he very much admired the the authoritarianism and hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church, and readily allied himself and his movement with far right Catholic legitimists and monarchists.
Though Maurras was almost as anti-German as he was anti-semitic, he readily and enthusiastically supported the Vichy regime during World War II.  He complained that Vichy's anti-Jewish laws did not go far enough.

Maurras was arrested and tried for collaboration with the Nazis in 1944 and spent the rest of his life in prison.

The historian Gordon A. Craig once wrote that the most radical politics of the modern era are far right politics.  The far right opposes the Enlightenment concepts that are the foundation of the whole nation-state system that all the world now rests upon.  Charles Maurras' progeny and so many others like them oppose the very idea of government by consent of the governed.  They oppose the social contract theory upon which almost all modern constitutions are based.  French and most other far right politics (including American) are driven by counter-Enlightenment concepts of blood and soil nationalism, of an almost mystical idea of national identity always anxious for the "purity" of the nation, always convinced that the present is but the decadent shadow of a lost greatness.

Homophobia and antifeminism now play the role that anti-semitism did a century ago, as a focus for hatred of liberalism, for anti-modernism, for anxieties about being displaced in an increasingly cosmopolitan world.  Islam today plays the role that communism and "Bolshevism" played almost a century ago, as the demonic existential threat.

What an irony it is that the far right movements in France, the USA, and in much of the Western world resemble the Islamism they claim to defend us all against more than anything else in their own countries.

I expect more of this in France and the rest of Europe since the dolts who run the EU have given up on everybody except the banks.  With 12% unemployment in Europe as a whole and countries like Spain, Portugal, and Greece going through nation-wrecking unemployment rates of around 25%, what did these idiots expect?


Rupert of Hentzau said...

ALFRED Dreyfus.

JCF said...

I'm not sure what it means, but EWTN (world-wide Popoid cable network) has once again been running a documentary series called "The Eldest Daughter of the Church", all about France.

Specifically, all about ROYAL France . . . and w/ several episodes discussing the (desirable, as they see it) possibility of bringing back the Bourbon monarchy (they even postulate that the "Uncrowned King", the child Louis XVII, survived, w/ a line, and his descendent will accede to the crown as "the Savior of France"! You can't make this sh*t up. :-X)

Monarchist, Popoid, Fascist, Homophobic, Anti-Semitic, Anti-Muslim: it's a toxic mess of (conflicting?) hatreds. Feh, smells like Merde!

Counterlight said...

Albert to Alfred...corrected. Captain Dreyfus has suffered enough.

Berthoise said...

Effectivement, il y a en France des manifestations de droite et d’extrême droite qui ont d'affreux relents du passé. Mais une grande majorité des Français est attachée aux valeurs de la république, se réjouit de la loi pour le mariage pour tous.

Counterlight said...

Merci Berthoise