Europe’s Hard Right: In Hitler’s Footsteps?
French prime minister Manuel Valls called the breakthrough by Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration, anti-Euro Front National in one of the EU’s founding nations a political “earthquake.” (photo: AFP)
Marine Le Pen has just made her Front National a major force in European politics, winning some 25% of the French vote in Sunday’s election to the European Parliament. But her more telling success has been in controlling the conversation about her party’s – and her father’s – fascist past.
Even on French television, where everybody knows where she comes from, the question is almost always about whether the Front National remains anti-Jewish. At least in public, it does not. But few commentators here or anywhere else probe the more important question: What are the party’s intentions toward Muslims, Roma, gay people, and other “outsiders?”
The answer is obvious. The Front National will go after them as fast and as hard as it can. In France and in Europe, Marine Le Pen will follow the example of the Nazis to build an alliance of blood and soil nationalists who wave the banner of Europe’s “Christian civilization.”
“We are the only truly patriotic party” in France, she told Russia’s Kommersant daily back in 2011. “We believe that the success and prosperity of France are [only] possible … with the preservation of national identity and patriotism.”
She sees the same blood and soil nationalism in Russian president Vladimir Putin, whom she recently called “a pure democrat, but with an authoritarian style.” As I previously quoted from her interview with the Austrian daily Kurier, “He is aware that we defend common values. These are the values of European civilization” and of our ‘Christian heritage.'”
Marine Le Pen could be wrong, of course. But she has a much better insight into Putin’s nationalism than do the well-meaning readers who took such umbrage at my critical view of Putin’s propaganda and his claim to be defending Russian-speakers in Ukraine from “a fascist coup” in Kiev. Readers may recall that I was the first journalist to expose in detail “The Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev” (Part I & Part 2), which discussed at length the fascists with whom they worked. In “The IMF’s Big Lie,” I pointed out that Petro Poroshenko and other of Ukraine’s corrupt oligarchs were now gaining even greater power, and in “Who Will Control Eurasia’s Oil and Gas?” I explored the deep background of US policy in Ukraine, and argued consistently that it was a long-standing consensus and not just the intercession of the neo-cons.
But, unwilling to ignore Putin’s agenda, I faulted him for heightening the threat of a nuclear accident by moving his troops toward the Ukrainian border, and I acknowledged that he had broken Moscow’s treaty commitments, citing his point man on Ukraine – Sergei Glazyev – saying that Putin would do that. I then quoted one of his spokesmen who saw a parallel between Putin now and “the Good Hitler” in the late 1930s bringing all the Germans together in a way that Bismarck never did. This is precisely the kind of nationalism that Marine Le Pen admires in Putin. I think we all need to oppose it, whether in Russia, France, or the United States. Differ if you will, dear critics, but climb down off your effing horses.
Marine Le Pen sees the same nationalism in Geert Wilders and his Dutch Party for Freedom, which did poorly in the elections, and in the Freedom Party of Austria, the Belgian Vlaams Belang, and the Swedish Democrats. She would also like to make common cause with Nigel Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party, but they need more assurance that the Front National has given up its old-fashioned Jew-bashing.
Opposition to the European Union is all part of the same nationalist urge. While the founders of the European project, including the American CIA, foresaw the creation of a broader European nationality, the EU’s present leaders have lost credibility with their arrogance and their creation of the Euro as a single currency and their enforcement of austerity and neo-liberal economics.
“The sovereign people have proclaimed that they want to take back the reins of their destiny into their hands. Our people demand one type of politics: politics of the French, for the French, with the French. They no longer want to be directed from outside,” said Marine Le Pen. I might agree if I didn’t know where her kind of nationalism leads.
A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, “Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold.”
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