The French Far-Right: Bogus ‘Detoxification’ Campaign
Written by: (Contributed) on 18 June 2021
Recent coverage in the mainstream Australian media about the French far-right has shown how the business-classes continue to attempt to distance themselves from controversy; from a standpoint of open gullibility and/or downright complicity.
There are important lessons for Australia.The far-right in France and globally has increased its political position by attempting to adopt a 'clean-skin' type presentation; Australia has proved no exception.
Beneath the veneer of far-right political fronts, older Nazis and their neo-Nazi brethren still continue to pull the strings; puppet masters controlling supposed popularist political parties.
In early June the Australian published a small news article about a supposed purge of the French far-right National Rally, formerly called the Front National. The purge, a continuation of a so-called decade-long 'detoxification' program to rid the political organisation of Nazis and neo-Nazis, was an attempt by the leadership, Marine Le Pen, to open the way for an election campaign for the presidency next May. (1)
A number of National Rally members standing in more than a dozen regional election campaigns, were officially informed their far-right credentials were no longer required by the political organisation.
The regional elections are intended as a barometer for Le Pen's forthcoming presidential election campaign. One of the regional candidates was actually identified as posting a Sieg Heil Macron' slogan on his social media, another pushed quirky displacement theories about a supposed conspiracy amongst the French elite to replace whites with immigrants from non-white backgrounds. (2)
Such behaviour has become commonplace with far-right groups using social media to mobilise the politically unsophisticated. France, however, has a relatively well-educated workforce, with little time for far-right diatribes. Le Pen has therefore made a token gesture in order to distance herself from political rabble assessed as undermining her 'credibility'.
The political manoeuvre, however, is about as shallow as the history of the French far-right. Fascism was never a unified political ideology, although it contained a number of core elements. They have included and continue to include readily identifiable characteristics of some or all of the following:
nationalism and super-patriotism;
aggressive militarism and glorification of war;
violence, or the threat of violence;
authoritarian reliance on a leader;
cult of personality around a charismatic leader;
reaction against modernist views;
exhortations about 'people' and heroic missions;
dehumanisation and scapegoating of 'an enemy', usually defined as being inferior';
self-image of superiority;
elements of national ideological roots to gain support and the forging of an alliance with
existing political elites;
abandonment of a consistent ideology in a drive for state power. (3)
Established in 1972 by Marise Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the Front National (FN) aimed at mobilising far-right forces in France. The founding committee of the organisation was composed of 'Vichy apologists, Waffen SS veterans, Catholic integralists, and ex-members of a white supremacist terror sect that tried to kill President Charles de Gaulle'. (4) Not to be outdone, Le Pen also dyed his hair blonde 'to accent his Aryan origins' although paid reference to a 'purely popular and democratic mass movement'. (5)
There was also a much more sinister side to the establishment of the FN; subsequent revelations about NATO secret armies and 'stay-behind' networks included the French section recruiting Rene Bousquet, a senior police-officer in the Vichy regime held responsible for deportations of French Jews to concentration camps, together with other neo-Nazis and fascists. It has shown how the FN, from their onset, were intended as a popularist face of a reactionary movement with a foothold already established inside class and state power systems. (6)
France has long had to deal with such problems, which are largely the product of the Vichy collaborationist regime from the Second World War. There are numerous examples: in the 1980s an illegal French 200-strong neo-Nazi organisation, the Federation d'action National Europenne (FANE) was found to have about twenty per cent of its membership composed of serving police-officers. (7)
Such deceitful behaviour is quite common in far-right groups, who are always keen to play the popularist card in political forums. In France Le Pen successfully mobilised far-right political forces in local, regional and national election campaigns, although never managed to distance his organisation from controversy, despite trying very hard.
For nearly half a century the far-right around Le Pen and his daughter have continued to announce name changes and purges to distance themselves from controversy of their own making. The moves, however, amount to little other than a calculated political strategy to enter mainstream French political discourse and legitimise reactionary prejudices.
Jean-Marie Le Pen used a close political associate, Ivan Blot, for example, to liaise with right-wing extremists in Europe, North and South America, while maintaining his political organisation 'had nothing to do with neo-Nazis'. (8) A similar association with the US-based Liberty Lobby saw Le Pen directly linked to remnants of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), white supremacist organisations and the neo-Nazi Deutsche Volksunion in Germany. (9)
Eventually Le Pen's daughter, Marise, forced her own father out of the far-right organisation and, following a name change to National Rally, has attempted to portray herself as a popularist president-in-waiting.
The forthcoming French presidential elections are likely to be hard fought, with present President Emmanuel Macron likely to win a second term although with a reduced majority.
Macron has already had to endure a physical attack. (10) Over a hundred left-wing and progressive groups have established nation-wide networks of anti-fascist campaigns.
It will be interesting, therefore, to monitor the presidential election campaigns in the Australian media; it would appear those responsible for mainstream media have little intention in identifying far-right political forces and their odious philosophies, particularly when safeguarding like-minded people here in Australia who have specialised in using parliamentary legitimacy to propagate far-right positions. Such home-truths raise serious questions about those in positions of power and their media cronies who have no intention of providing appropriate answers.
1. Knives out in Le Pen party purge, Australian, 9 June 2021.
3. Old Nazis, the New Right and the Republican Party, Russ Bellant, (Boston, 1988), pp. ix-x.
4. The Beast Re-awakens, Martin Lee, (London, 1997), page 367.
6. Ibid., footnote, page 56.
7. Ibid., page 201.
8. Ibid., page 261.
9. Ibid. page 356.
10. Macron faces the voters, gets a slap for it, Australian, 10 June 2021.
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