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An interesting analysis March 20, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

… here from Édouard Louis in the Observer on the working class and the right in France. Louis has a rapid journey in his short 23 or 24 years growing up gay and working class but getting a scholarship to ‘elite’ schools in France.

It was a “huge shock” to come to Paris and discover the curse of politics did not afflict those who were better off, he says: “Among the Parisian bourgeois, I realised that politics is absolutely not about life or death, about being able to eat and afford medical care or not; that whatever the government right or left does will not stop them living, eating. And because the bourgeoisie is the dominant class everywhere in the world, there is a kind of amnesia about what politics means to other people. Whatever happens, no government is going to radically change their lives as it does for the poor and dominated.”


“Today I don’t want to insult Marine Le Pen, I want to attack Manuel Valls [former prime minister] and François Hollande for putting my father in this situation. I accuse them directly. When I see my father voting for Le Pen, I am revolted by the current government and its failings. Of course, I’m revolted by the right, but I never expected the right to do anything for the lower classes, but the left… the left has stopped speaking about poverty, misery and exclusion. People talk about Le Pen winning the presidential [race], but the FN has been winning for the last 20 years because the left that should be representing people like my mother has abandoned them.


Louis is equally angry about what he sees as the “global fascination with the extreme right” that has hijacked the news agenda and made everyone a prisoner of the far-right discourse. “Even the most ridiculous thing said by Marine Le Pen or Nigel Farage makes headlines, while anyone who is young, who is trying to invent a new discourse, is ignored. It’s a shrinking democracy: the right speaks to the right, the left speaks to the right, where is the left’s discourse? What’s even more dramatic is that the whole world is speaking the language of the extreme right; Marine Le Pen is imposing the language, the subjects we talk about.


Silence has to be a part of our progress. We have to put silence at the centre of politics today. Stop responding to the questions, stop letting them control the language, the debate, the agenda. I hear some argue it’s better to be open about these things. If you are racist and hide your racism, then you’re a hypocrite. I say no, it’s better you keep quiet.

“To me, democracy is not about saying everything. Some things, like racism, antisemitism, shouldn’t be issues, they shouldn’t be talked about. Some subjects should be considered obsolete, and yes, let’s shut down the debate because they are obsolete. I grew up as a queer child in a small village. Lots of gay children in this situation suffer the same things: being threatened, beaten up. When I published my book in Paris, some said, ‘Well, if you’d grown up in a bourgeois milieu, people would have thought the same thing, they just wouldn’t have hit you.’ Are they joking? I would rather that, than being constantly beaten up for being queer. Of course I’d rather people weren’t racist or homophobic, but if they are they can keep it to themselves. Just shut up.

The thought strikes that he’s absolutely correct about the dereliction of duty on the part of the ‘left’ – at least the social democrat left, and the inability of the left more broadly to shape the narrative. I’m also taken by his point about wresting the narrative back from the far right. But without a strong left how can that second be achieved?

And what of a far right that cannot genuinely represent workers – because its concerns are not actually theirs, not least in its own massive over-reification and absurd and deceitful exaggeration of identity politics and disinterest at any but the most rhetorical aspects of class politics and the actuality of their antagonism and belligerence to class politics and to the working class as is.


1. GW - March 21, 2017

I thought that was a very insightful article. I’d like to read the novel.

Another older gay writer, I completely forget his name, made quite a stir in his book about the abandonment of the working class by the left and his family turning from one that voted as a matter of course for the Communist party to one that voted for Le Pen.

The name will come to me later…


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