Marine Le Pen Is No Reactionary
Being a quarter French on my mother’s side, I like to keep abreast of goings on in France. By now everyone should be aware that a Presidential election is under way, and that for the first time ever the Front Nationale party has a better than impossible chance of actually winning. Polls consistently put the FN candidate, Marine Le Pen, out front in the first round of voting, and while she is expected to lose the second round in a world where Donald Trump has become President of the United States nothing can truly be discounted. Just as Trump seemed to benefit from an almost perfectly coordinated series of events that conspired to lift him to the presidency, an observer of the French election could be forgiven for getting a feeling that history will get what history wants. The sudden scandal that has engulfed Francois Fillon, the candidate of the conventionally right-winged Republicans. The emergence of Emmanuel Marcon, a former investment banker turned Europhile, as the favoured candidate of the left. The boneheaded decision by the European Parliament to strip Marine Le Pen of her parliamentary immunity (on the grounds that she reposted pictures and videos of acts of violence committed by ISIS). If one were writing a story that ended with Marine Le Pen winning the presidency, these are precisely the kinds of events one would include in the build up to set the stage for it.
The possibility certainly has excited quite a few people on the reactionary right. Judging from social media, many of my fellow aspiring counter revolutionaries see Ms. Le Pen as a modern-day Joan of Arc come again to save France from the tyranny of the European Union and the marauding terror of ISIS and its fellow Islamist militants; I’ve even seen some members of the conventionally conservative right begin tentatively making approving noises in her direction.
Is this deserving though? I would actually argue that it is not. True, Marine Le Pen is an ardent opponent of the European Union (an institution that I have absolutely nothing good to say about and which should be consigned to the dustbin of history) and open borders. Yes she should be credited for calling a spade a spade and condemning both Islamic terrorism and its culturally relativistic enablers. This does not change the fact that her broader political platform is one I find highly unappealing.
No I’m not refering to the Left’s predicatable trope that Le Pen is the second coming of Hitler (an accusation that would be more compelling if they hadn’t applied it to every political slightly to the right of Tony Blair for the last half century). Whether out of genuine conviction or political convenience, Marine Le Pen has actually done a pretty effective job of sidelining the old school anti-semites and neo-nazis who the Front Nationale were rife with during her father’s heyday.
What I refer to is the inconveneint fact that while Marine Le Pen may well be a nationalist, she is a nationalist for the France of modernity that was a product of the French Revolution. The French values she espouses are the ones of feminism, and atheism, and Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite! Among other things it should be noted that Le Pen has only reluctantly come out against same-sex marriage in this presidental election, and was noticably mute on the subject when it was first legalized (over massive public protests) a number of years ago.
The France I am a nationalist of is not the France of the Revolution, the Enlightenment, and Rousseau, but the France of the Bourbons, the Catholic Church, and the Palace of Versailles. It is not the France of Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite! but the France that can trace its history back to Charlemagne and Peppin and Charles Martel and was founded on de Maistre’s twin principles of Throne and Altar. That was the France my ancestors left, and that was the France that evil men destroyed when they stormed the Bastille and unleashed the Robespierre’s Terror upon the Vendee.
In this sad modern world of moral and cultural relativism, it is understable to feel a desire to make common cause with anyone who the usual suspects deem unacceptable. However, there is more to being a reactionary than simply triggering progressive snowflakes. Moreover, unlike the American election (which was ultimately a binary choice between the imperfect candidate of Donald Trump and the absolutely unacceptable candidate of Hillary Clinton) the French election does have an alternative in the form of the Republican candidate Francois Fillon who, being a devout Catholic father of five children, is a far more genuine embodiment of the France and its values that I do identify with and support.
When raging against this sad modern world it is important to look beyond tearing it all down and also consider what we wish to build up in its place. Faith matters. The family matters. Tradition matters. These are the foundations upon which civilization depends. A candidate that does not recognize this is no friend to reaction and reactionaries.