What I Learned On My Spring Break (It’s Complicated)

11 04 2022

Paris

Let’s unpack. There’s a lot to, so budget some time for this one. You know the drill: Sandwich, drink.

For the benefit of relative newbies to this subject matter, I’m spelling out acronyms that we in our sector already understand.

The rankings and percentages I allude to here are preliminary. France does paper ballots, photo ID and hand counting, so they might wind up being different after the real counting. I’ll make note of that in the comments if they are.

PREFACE

I’ve been saying for several months that April in France is going to be the most consequential single month for the direction and the future of our movement in a long time.

And I was correct. Just not in the way that I was thinking.

In the weeks leading up to me arriving here back on the first day of this month, I was thinking that Éric Zemmour (EZ) was going to finish in the top two, then come closer to Emmanuel Macron (or another establishmentarian, as the case might have been) than Marine Le Pen (MLP) did five years ago. And that the lesson would be that message matters more than anything, that we’ve been caring too much about optics, and we need to go full bore on message, with much less regard for optics.

By the time I actually came here, EZ had already run out of gas, and MLP had new life. With each passing day, both things got even more true. Now to the point where there’s so much momentum behind her, indicative of her finishing in first place yesterday, that she could actually go all the way in two weeks.

Earlier this year, she was left for irrelevant, old shoe, yesterday’s news. Her own father and niece ditched her for the hot new thing. And honestly, so did I.

But MLP got the last laugh.

I’m here today to tell you how she got the better of EZ, and the lessons it portends for our movement.

I should note that, as of right now, the mainstream analysis revolves around MLP vs Macron slash the whole system. Now, the spotlight is back on her, after EZ hogged all the oxygen for awhile before hitting the glass ceiling. But I’m going to focus on MLP vs EZ, because that’s where the more interesting lessons can be found.

My last “real” boss back in St. Louis told me something that I already kinda knew, but never thought of in a plain English imperative the way he phrased it to me: That a big part of success is getting inside the margins and differentials, the paradoxes and contradictions, of a thing, and discerning the moral and object lessons while you’re inside, and doing it before anyone else. And then of course making halftime adjustments. In the case of person, place, time and event, MLP vs EZ is that space.

CUT TO THE CHASE

I’m going to start with the four big lessons for our movement going forward.

(1) Optics.

I hate to say it, because I was coming here expecting just the opposite. And it’s strange for someone like me, who has done PR in his life, and is still doing it in a way, to come to this conclusion so begrudingly and non-instinctively.

But optics just won a decisive victory in the Great Optics War of 2018-Current Year.

As I have written here in the past, I never took part in that war. For one, I thought it was being waged disingenuously, in that some of the people screaming optics and some of the people screaming message really didn’t believe what they were screaming, they were only screaming one side because they already had previously stored up contempt for the people screaming the other side, and vice versa. It would be like if I hated you and you hated me for a lot of other reasons, and I thought you liked chocolate ice cream and you thought I liked vanilla, we would be warring over ice cream, when neither one of us have ever eaten any kind of ice cream in our lives. For two, to the extent that some are fighting this war because they seriously believe one side or the other, the reason I didn’t enlist in either army is because I don’t think that either side is ultimately that right or that wrong. I thought then, and I still do, that you have to switch up the blend between message and optics depending on time, place and circumstance.

It’s just that, here in the current moment, I’ve been thinking that the blend needed to be readjusted in the direction of message. To put it another way, I was thinking that there has been too much concern with optics in the most recent current years.

Now I know it’s just the opposite. MLP beating EZ against all previous odds shows that I was all wrong, and that we need to be more focused on optics. That when an optics car and a message car are trying to crowd into the same lane, the message car should yield to the optics car.

Warning to those of you in the optics army who are cheering after reading this: It’s not to say that message doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t mean that you can wing it on message. But, you have made your fundamental point loud and clear. That optics matter, more than I thought they did.

As you read the rest of this missive, you’ll understand more precisely how optics carried the day.

(2) Everything Else.

There aren’t that many people who aren’t of our movement but not so hostile to us that they’re unwilling to offer constructive criticism. Of the few people that do, a common observation is that our movement is sophisticated on the national question (NQ) and related issues. But once you get past NQ, that we seem lost and adrift. To put it another way: Beyond NQ, then what?

Now I know that everything else (EE) not only matters, and matters that much, but it matters even to a big majority of the people who are receptive to the NQ agenda. Which means that we just can’t wing it or mail it in or IOU or rain check or we’ll get back to you later or ??? or fill in the blank on EE, just because EE is not in the NQ wheelhouse. We have to be just as sophisticated on EE as much as we are on NQ, and furthermore, we have to get EE right. Because getting EE not so right, or wrong, will even lose you NQ-minded people.

Here’s a cute way of putting it: I’ve axiomatically written here in the past that, beyond the occasional lone wolf Charleston Nutbar type, nobody will do anything in the sense of violent group revolting because of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. But every 90-something in America will team up to carry out a violent revolution if next year’s Social Security check is $1 a month less than this year’s.

See where this is going?

As ace as he was on NQ, EZ was a combination of lost and insouciant on EE. He just thought he could run to MLP’s apparent (and I’ll get to that) right on NQ, and then mail it in on EE. Furthermore, his economic agenda sounded too corporate-libertarian-ish. That stuff has never flown here on The Continent, even if it did once have something of an audience in The ‘States. On top of that, the corporate-libertarian-ish economic agenda, no matter what the country, appeals to the kind of people who want no part of any kind of nationalist agenda, either EZ’s “real deal” or MLP’s supposedly “soft.”

So, where EZ gained a big audience and big numbers at first and out of the gate by filling in the apparent (like I said, I’ll get to it) vacuum to the right of MLP on NQ, the combination of his apathy and disagreeableness on EE was one of the things which helped build his own glass ceiling. (There were other factors, and, once again, stay tuned.) OTOH, MLP, while she “seemed” to have left a lane to her right open on NQ, and “seemed” to have cucked out on NQ, she was able to hold on to a large enough percentage of working and middle class NQ-minded French voters with her populist-centrist economic agenda, even during the peak of Zemmourmania, such that it gave her a solid base to launch a comeback.

MLP had a long head start on EE.

Here, the most important lesson for our movement going forward is that the pop-nat space needs to be much more pop than nat in its public facing side. Meaning that “white nationalism” has to be about economic populism fundamentally, almost making the actual white nationalism a lower rung concern, for outward consumption. Or to put it more bluntly and for the lack of a better way to phrase it, smuggle white nationalism behind economic populism. I suppose it’s all because, at least for now, the EE of economic populism matters more broadly to more white people and more NQ-minded white people than the meat and potatoes of the NQ itself.

If I’m honest with myself, that’s something I kinda figured out three years ago when the Yellow Vest Movement (“Gilets Jaunes”) broke out, and again, in France. And I guess this has been hiding in plain sight since even before that — But it took a head-to-head faceoff between the two models in the same country at the same time to produce the hard copy receipts. That we never really had until now.

(3) Dutch Model.

One of the things I wrote here as a comment to one of my own posts, even early in the season, is that France in 2022 just might prove that having two pop-nat parties instead of one is the way to go. The reason I speculated that has to do with another country that happens to border the one in which I currently live, that country is in fact the nearest to where I live. That country is The Netherlands.

There, you have the Wilders party and the Baudet party. As the left and the establishment bang on one, the other rises up. Whack-a-Mole.

My thought months ago is that what might wind up happening is that it’ll prove the necessity of having a message party and an optics party.

Now, whether Reconquête will even exist here in the wake of EZ’s foibles being exposed, I have my doubts. Because Reconquête is just too much of a personality cult, at least for now. And, as you’ll understand once you keep reading, combined with what you have already read, and considering yesterdays’s numerical results, nobody’s going to want to waste time, energy and money on a message party when optics have won.

(4) Activist Energy Doesn’t Much Matter.

At the height of Zemmourmania, there was absolutely zero excitement among pop-nat activists for MLP. Even when he hit his glass ceiling and she was resurging, all the pop-nat activist energy stayed with him, and it did all the way to the bitter end. (To wit: Myself.) And what did it get him? Seven percent and fourth place.

Bernie Sanders also learned the same lesson the hard way in the recent past.

Can’t have populism without the pops.

HOW WE GOT HERE

Now I’ll get to some of the factors that mattered here and now, which will help put everything else into more clear focus.

(1) Dédiabolisation, But Not Really.

That was going to be the whole point of EZ’s campaign and new party. That MLP left so much open space to the right on NQ, with her Dédiabolisation (DD) efforts, that someone who would pass her to the right would instantly zoom to national credibility and national power.

But what if I told you that DD never really mattered that much?

What if I told you that the very idea that there was a whole open lane to the right of MLP was a political chimera all along?

It’s one thing I learned the hard way, and only could have learned it by actually being on the ground here in Paris, in the middle of it all:

Most people here don’t take DD literally, and they only take it seriously in terms of rewarding her for having done it, all while not taking it literally on its face.

Time for Uncle Blogmeister to sit the world on his lap and teach it an important lesson about political psychology.

Even if a given thing is actually true, cosmically true, true against the background of the stars, if most people and especially most people involved in the business of public affairs don’t think it’s true, then it’s not politically true. Perception becomes reality, even if it isn’t reality.

If the entire American political community in the 1960s thought the moon was made of green cheese, even if real science said and proved otherwise, there would never have been an Apollo program.

Let’s apply to here and now:

What I learned by being here is that the only people who think that DD is a literal thing are MLP herself, the parts of the Rassemblement National (RN) party leadership who agree with it, EZ himself, and virtually everybody who voted for EZ on yesterday. MLP because she came up with it, her party’s true believers in it, because they agree with it, and then EZ and virtually all of his voters, because they’re opposed to it.

Problem is, once you get to everyone else, there is no “it.” Nearly everyone else who is not one of those four categories, including most people who voted for MLP yesterday, and most assuredly the French left, think that DD is nothing more than one of those things that commercially mainstream political figures feel obliged to say or do as a matter of social pressure and expectation, but nothing more than that. It’s the political equivalent of telling your grandma that that ugly sweater she knitted for you for Christmas is the most beautiful thing in the world. Everybody knows the sweater is ugly, and on some level, even your grandma knows. But the whole point of it is instilling the social decorum of the concept of benign diplomatic mendacity, aka little white lies.

And that same universe of “nearly everyone else” truly believes that everything that EZ has said and proposed on NQ while he sincerely believed he was running to MLP’s right on NQ are things that MLP actually believes and would do if she has the power to do so.

What it means is that, while we’ve been sitting here hoo-hawing over what we think is all the space to MLP’s right on NQ, that the perceived political reality for most of France is that there is hardly if any actual such space. It’s the political equivalent of what accountants call a sunk cost.

Now, between you me and the gatepost, I think DD is real and literal. And, should MLP punch it all the way through in two weeks, when she actually has to govern, and she governs in a DD-informed fashion, then everyone else will realize that. And that’s when disappointment will set in. That, and even her moderate DD-informed agenda on NQ will be thwarted by the really powerful French public bureaucracy, which, as powerful as you think American bureaucrats are, it’s much more so here.

That’s why I came here supporting EZ.

(2) EZ As Foil.

An item of hot take conventional wisdom from the English-speaking American media is that EZ made MLP more palatable by running to her right.

It’s not that easy. One of the reasons, you now now.

The way EZ made MLP more palatable wasn’t that he ran to her right, for, like I just wrote, for most French, there is no real “right” of MLP. No, the way he served as a stalking horse for her is in the abstract. Like I wrote earlier, his economic agenda helped build his own glass ceiling. But the more I saw him in action, the more he came off as an unctuous haughty ass. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen plenty worse in that regard. But just enough he was, such that it gave people that sort of “the more you see the less you like” feeling. Which is another factor that built his own glass ceiling. All pointing back to optics. And all pointing to the reality that some people can build big audiences within the context of a media career but can’t convert that to the necessary even bigger audiences for a national political career. Twenty million made Rush Limbaugh a radio legend, but twenty million would be an existential disaster for a self-styled serious major party American Presidential candidate.

Also like I wrote above, in the perception of most of the French, on NQ questions, what EZ says is what MLP believes. Another way he was a foil for her is because he pushed the Overton Window on NQ in a markedly rightward direction, getting the statements and precepts out there for public consumption, but being consumed by a public that thinks that MLP happens to be an optically better and way more EE-adept vehicle for the NQ matters that EZ liberated from the cordon sanitaire, even if MLP wanted to distance herself from those ideas. Chew on that for a moment: She’s being rewarded for what he said that she was too scared to say, and she’s also being rewarded for being too scared to say it. Does your head hurt yet?

Then there’s the matter of MLP not being subject to a nationwide hate machine aimed at her head for the first time in her political career. Me, as a comment, back on December 1:

I can easily see all the king’s horses and all the king’s men really firing all four barrels at Zemmour, which will mean that they’re not firing at MLP, which means she’ll be the one who does better than ever.

Was that ever a good prediction. It’s one that I didn’t take seriously, during the height of Zemmourmania. Only during the middle point of her resurgence, about a week before I got here, is when I did.

(3) Cherchez Le Juif.

We gotta go there.

Did EZ’s Jewishness help build his own glass ceiling?

If I said yes, then I would be less than honest. If I said no, I would be less than honest. If I said yes and no, I would be less than honest. If I said yo, then I’d be running yes and no together.

The best way to answer this question is the way that some people answer the question of their relationship status: It’s complicated.

First off, most of you reading these words read other sector outlets. So we all know the standing theory from the outset. That EZ was just a troublemaking Jew who only got in it to fuck things up for MLP.

The reason I never bought into that theory is that when official sorts of public facing organized activist Jewish interests (“the Jews”) actually do co-opt the right, they do it by pushing the right leftward. They don’t do it by pushing the right rightward, especially on the “dreaded” NQ, like EZ tried to do. We all know, even if a few of us don’t want to admit, that the Jews are the most sensitive and fearful about NQ-related politics on the right among non-Jewish whites/Europeans in “traditionally” non-Jewish white/European political cultures. The Jews don’t want white people advocating for our own best interests on our own volition, and will move Hell and Earth to prevent us from doing that. They surely won’t consciously push us in that direction. EZ pushed matters in that direction. QED.

And if EZ ever had as his real intention to ruin MLP, he certainly did the worst possible job of it! (Later addition: Endorsing MLP with zero hesitation or qualification after the first round results should prove once and for all that he had zero intention of hurting her.)

There is now whispering here on the ground around a new tinfoil theory that goes the other way, that EZ deliberately did it all to help MLP. The reason I don’t buy into that one either, is because EZ’s ego is too big. But, considering the way things turned out, that theory is way easier to believe than the other one.

But I digress, somewhat.

It’s complicated in that it wasn’t EZ’s Jewishness per se that was a contributing factor in his building his own glass ceiling. But if you look at it in combination with other things, then it becomes obvious. He’s Algerian in birth nationality and Berber in ethnicity. So if you roll together Algerian, Berber and Jewish, then you see there are three cascading identities that mean that EZ is not traditionally French. Even though he’s compatible in some ways, and politically, totally bona fide in terms of having the best interests of the (real) French at heart. OTOH, there’s no doubt that MLP is the real deal in terms of being “really” French.

And that’s what I think made enough of the (real) French apprehensive about him. Not Jewish by itself, not Algerian by itself, not Berber by itself. But all three, meaning he is ultimately a triple-layered outsider who comes off as too interested and too gung-ho about French nationalism, as if he has something to prove or some internal psychological insecurity. Or worse: Perhaps it triggered the French historical memory about another non-Frenchman who was born in French-controlled territory, migrated to France proper, and converted domestic instability into gung-ho nationalism and then some. Je suis la révolution.

That, and people within a group tend to get really nonplussed when outsiders get too positively interested in the group. It’s why most Jews dislike philosemitism, becuase non-Jews aren’t supposed to be that damned interested in Jews, even if it’s from a loving vantage point. Besides, we all know that love and hate are not antonyms, but synonyms, and that indifference is the antonym of both. That’s why it’s so easy for people to switch up from love to hate and vice versa on a dime (e.g. the man and woman arguing with each other one moment and then in bed the next). Jews, looking at philosemites, have to be worried that today’s love will become tomorrow’s hate, and it will do that among people who are in close proximity and are in a good position to translate their lovehatelovehate into very undesirable action.

There’s also a part of me that’s just cynical enough to think that EZ’s whole motivation for doing all this, both in terms of his media career and now his heretofore short political career is long track revenge against the Arabs, Muslims and Africans who ruined Algeria for his own kin.

(5) And I Should Add.

Speaking of above, on a few occasions, EZ did come off as something of a neo-Napoleonic ultra-nationalist crank. As if he wants to put the real estate in which I currently reside under new management. Thanks, but no thanks. I’m good on that. I came Europe for Germany, not France.

(6) Mr. Putin’s Spring Break.

Speaking of territorial aggrandizement, from this and Hungary the week before, it’s clear that Mr. Putin’s spring break isn’t going to affect conventional European politics that much.

When February 24 happened, the conventional wisdom was that it would existentially damage MLP and the Rassemblement National (RN) party as a whole, because of her and their previous open overtures toward Putin. (EZ, either in his short political career or longer media career, has nowhere near that kind of pro-Putin paper trail.) Obviously, that didn’t happen. But I don’t think it’s as simple as saying that being pro-Putin wouldn’t hurt. Because once February 24 happened, MLP recalled all the public imagery of her and Putin together, and took all the statements back. This is why the American media are wrong in saying that an ultimate MLP win in two weeks will result in France becoming pro-Putin.

No, what I think happened is that MLP isn’t being rewarded for being pro-Putin before 2/24, and she’s not being rewarded for being relatively hostile to him now. What she’s being rewarded for is changing her mind based on new events and circumstances. IOW, she’s being rewarded for major issue flexibility. As much as we ideologues don’t like anything that smells like flip flopping, the truth of the matter is that it actually comforts most people, if they think it’s a consequence of changing circumstances or genuinely Damascene changes of heart rather than cynical expediency. It means that the given political figure who “flip flops” isn’t cult-like wedded to a given ideology or opinion or agenda item.

Another subtext to Mr. Putin’s Spring Break is that the conventional wisdom was that it would hurt the pop-nat parties, movements and sectors in the world generally, because of their/our median relative lack of hostility towards Putin in recent years. That was possible. But I also floated the possibility that it would help, because military invasions tend to get peoples’ minds focused on the very kind of primal concerns that the pop-nat space has made its raison d’être. And I think we’re seeing some of that come true, with this and Hungary just in this month.

(7) The Next Two Weeks.

Virtually all EZ voters will vote MLP in two weeks. Whether or not EZ himself officially endorses MLP, (and considering his ego, he likely won’t), won’t matter, and won’t make any difference. (UPDATE: Late on Monday, EZ did unconditionally endorse MLP and advised all his voters to go with her in the runoff.)

Since the focus is now back on MLP, you might be thinking that the hate machine is also now returned to being aimed at her, which will hurt her in two weeks. Perhaps. But I think it’s different now. First off, a lot has happened since five years ago. And second, because of the EZ foil, when it comes to MLP, people are starting to get down with the Chris Rea Doctrine: Seeing new light through old windows.

(8) Under the Bridge.

At one point in February, before the start of Mr. Putin’s spring break, I thought there was an outside possibility that EZ and MLP could finish in the top two, meaning the runoff would have been against each other. At that point, Katie bar the door. Unfortunately, Mr. Putin’s spring break has generally helped the incumbent leadership of much of the nearby and relevant world, including Emmanuel Macron. So that’s why he at least made the runoff, but I should say that only finishing in second in the runoff and with not even a quarter of the whole French first round electorate as an incumbent flashes on heavy weather ahead.

PERSONAL NOTES

(1) Because MLP now has a real chance of winning all the marbles, I’m going to stay the whole time and not go home until after. I want a front row seat to history in the making, in spite of everything else. If it was a situation to where everyone knows Macron will easily win in two weeks, I’d be going home a few days from now, after seeing all I want to see in Paris and meeting everyone I want. After all, once I do get home when I do, I’ve got NRW state elections to concern myself with on May 15, and a blue team that’s this close to a civil war.

It also means I’ll be spending Easter Sunday in Paris. I could have only wished at Notre Dame. Whose reconstruction is coming along surely even if slowly, and the first time I saw it was the first time I was ever in Paris, a mere month and a half after the fire.

(2) Marion Maréchal. Wow, just wow. With some wow on the side. As stunning as she looks in photography, the pics still don’t do her justice compared to real life. I’ll put it to you this way: Take her and all the Perfect Ten women off of this world and give them their own Earth analogue planet all by themselves. On Planet Perfect Ten, she’d be a nine.

I also met Jean-Marie Le Pen (JMLP) for the first time. I only wish I could have met him in his younger, or not-quite-as-elderly, years.

MLP, I already met at Matteo Salvini’s rally in Milan almost three years ago, so she wasn’t brand new to me.

Though that reminds me once again that the next Le Pen family gathering, if there is one, isn’t going to be a happy one. I don’t see MLP being any sort of magnanimous toward either her father or her niece during her Presidency if one happens.

In the past, on two different occasions, I was in close company with Emmanuel Macron. He really is that much of a dweeb and a twerp. Embarrassed that we were born in the same year.

(3) Paris. The most visually attractive major city from the built environment perspective that I’ve ever seen, though I know I’m not the first person to have made that assessment. On the flip side, poor Paris is really getting it on diversity. And this mentality that the core city is safe and the problems are all out in the suburbs is years out of date. It’s in the core city and all the tourist trap areas as well. When we were in Rome between Christmas and the New Year at the end of 2019, (and it turns out that was a really risky time to be in Italy, considering what would transpire soon after), it was the first time that any place in Europe really scared me, because of the you-know-whos. Paris? Same deal, because of the same people. Africanus Bellcurvius.

(4) Mon Français. French and Latin were my two foreign languages in terms of formal education. My (High) German came from Lutheran churches. Of course, these days, I need and use German way more than French, so, predicably, my French really withered on the vine. But one thing I found out is that if you want to resuscitate what were previously deprecated French language skills, France is a really good place to do it. Especially since the French don’t play all this creeping Anglicism bullshit, unlike… (looking back towards the Reich).

(5) Speaking of looking back towards the Reich, the two hostages to fate and fortune back home got “this” close to true steady walking on two feet before I left. I knew it would happen, that they would make it all the way, when I was away. And of all days that it did, it happened over the weekend. The older one had his first all day full steady day of walking and no falling down on Saturday, and the younger one joined him yesterday. A red letter weekend, both personally and politically. But the first such life milestone of theirs that I wasn’t there to see in person. Such is the life of a traveling political hack.

Like I said, with each new major step of progress, I already miss them in their previous step. I guess it’s because it means they’re getting older, which also means…

Next up: Töpfchen.

CONCLUSION

I really didn’t want to learn what I did from this month, but I had to.


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38 responses

11 04 2022
countenance

And now you know why I get paid the big bucks.

11 04 2022
Evil Sandmich

Marion Maréchal. Wow, just wow. With some wow on the side. As stunning as she looks in photography, the pics still don’t do her justice compared to real life.

This is something I’ve noticed about British women too, at least in the past*. They have a way of putting and holding themselves together in that it puts them in a league beyond mere appearance. But of course when “good looks” are added into the equation, watch out! (I have seen this with American women, although it’s rare. Most American women (white, natch) are quietly discomforted, like they’re looking over their shoulder for something, just, never comfortable in their own skin.)

Your analysis aligns Zman’s weekend analysis (great minds and all that). You both allude to the sad reality that the NQ doesn’t sell with Monsieur Normie, or any other kind of normie. To the extent that MLP can get traction with both NQ and EE it’s a coincidence. If Normie has a choice of voting for a decent future for his people with an uncomfortable life for himself at the present, or, voting for the “other guy”, well, prepare to be disappointed.

*(When I was there a few years ago the lower female British proles were every bit as fat, tatted up, and pierced as their American counterparts).

11 04 2022
countenance

Now that what I’ve seen and realized is live for the world to see, I’m going to start taking in everyone else’s hot takes and analyses, to find out how close to correct they get it. It’s one thing to have an opinion from afar, but actually being here is just that valuable.

11 04 2022
countenance

Again, these are prelim numbers, so they probably will change.

28% for MLP, 7% for EZ. This means that of the pop-nat voting universe in the first round, 80% of them went for MLP and 20% for EZ. Meaning that, if you use this as a rule of thumb, that only one-fifth of the pop-nat voting universe took DD literally enough to defect to EZ. And that matches my perceived rough educated guess back of the envelope estimate based on observation.

11 04 2022
countenance

Only one human being in this world could find a way to work in ice cream, ugly sweaters, green cheese, and a long forgotten about Italo-Anglo yacht rocker, into a missive about a French national election.

Is that boy good or is that boy good?

11 04 2022
countenance

Considering that it’s election season in France, AR has been re-running as classic articles from the archives the articles that were in its April 1998 printed issue about France, JMLP and (as it was known then) the Front National (FN). I remember reading it when it was brand new and came to me in my snail mail box, right around my 21sth birthday. And here I am, just past my 45th, actually in Paris, for an election season in France that heavily involves people named Le Pen. (And now having met all three of the important Le Pens.)

What’s even more scary is that articles noted as “AR classic articles” are now almost a quarter century old, and first came out when I myself was already quite grown.

11 04 2022
David In TN

On Topic, Slightly.

Speaking of Love-Hate, I have read a lot (though not recently) about Napoleon. He was a Corsican, born when Corsica was a French colony, and in childhood hated the French. He still did when admitted (as a minor Corsican noble) to a French military academy.

By the French Revolution Napoleon had become French, by choice, seizing The Main Chance. For the rest of his life, Napoleon professed to love (“She is my mistress. I sleep with her.”) France.

A Corsican (I’ve read) is “ethnically” similar to an Italian. Napoleone Bonaparte had ancestors from the Italian mainland. A book on the Bonaparte family I read a long time ago held the Bonapartes, Napoleon’s siblings in particular, were very “Italian” in their personal characteristics.

12 04 2022
countenance

You didn’t write that because you think there’s a through line between EZ and Napoleon, in that they’re both French colonial born who are really intense in their Francophilia, do you? And that maybe when I wrote that EZ came off as a neo-Napoleonic crank at times, that I should have seen the common denominator right then and there?

12 04 2022
David In TN

No, I didn’t.

11 04 2022
Alright Dan

I took me a bit of time to get that Chris Rea line.

12 04 2022
countenance

My favorite song from that album:

12 04 2022
countenance

Final first round numbers:

Macron 27.8
MLP 23.1
Mélenchon 22.0 (Bernie Sanders type)
EZ 7.1

So Macron did finish in first in the first round. The reason for the difference between prelim and final is that prelim didn’t include a lot of Paris.

EZ finished better in Paris itself (9%) than he did in the country in general (7.1%). Probably because Paris has enough people who want both hard nationalism and neoliberal economics.

12 04 2022
Hard Right

There’s no way they’ll let her win. Assuming they don’t steal the election, Oedipus will find some EU court to rule that he actually won. Assassination isn’t out of the question.

12 04 2022
David In TN

I don’t see any similarity to Napoleon from EZ, I remembered what I had read–Napoleon Bonaparte as a child wanted to free Corsica from France. As an adult he became a Frenchmen.

Napoleon said on St. Helena “I would have fought to the death for Rousseau.” He was a supporter of the French Revolution, but when he became First Consul then Emperor of the French he capped it for his own ends.

In exile Napoleon made his legend by portraying himself as a “liberal” crusader bringing “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity” to Europe.

The 1815 Congress of Vienna (according to historian J. Christopher Herold) did Napoleon the favor of portraying him “The Torchbearer of the French Revolution.”

Herold felt Napoleon was basically a conservative.

12 04 2022
countenance

There’s a graphic going around of the Mélenchon vote versus the known migrant percentage of given areas, and they match up close to exactly. The tempting way to interpret this is to claim that it’s all the migrants voting Mélenchon. Even Martin Sellner fell into this trap. Yes, some of it was the migrants. But there are also real French who live in those areas, and as a generality, Bernie Sanders economics sells really well among the kind of native born white people who live around a lot of non-whites but don’t feel any nationalist aversion to them.

12 04 2022
countenance

Saw the twisted ribbon graphic, what the Germans call Wählerwanderung. EZ got more of his votes from those who didn’t vote at all five years ago than he peeled off from MLP. But I think the common sentiment among both groups is that they take DD literally and think it’s selling out.

16 04 2022
Hard Right

Marine to debate Oedipus on Hitler’s birthday

https://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/1596916/Macron-latest-frech-election-polls

First, she betters him during the 20 April TV debate that may decide the election. If she does very well in the eyes of anti-Macron viewers, some of those planning to abstain will decide to vote for Le Pen, instead.

17 04 2022
countenance

I don’t have the networking pull to be able to be in attendance, though I’d like to. So I’ll be watching it on TV like most of the country, albeit surrounded by other semi-important hacks like myself.

17 04 2022
countenance

Here in the first of the two weeks between first round and runoff, Macron has been acting unusually trepidatious, and MLP is moving like she’s trying to tone down inordinate expectations of her potential Presidency, as if she’s trying to dog whistle to hard core nationalist militants that she’s not the hard core militant nationalist that most people here still believe she is. The reason for that is that she’s trying to cut off future disappointment in her (potential) governance off at the pass, to prevent some real disappointed wackos from trying to do something really naughty to her. MLP be liike: “Yo, you accelerationist knuckleheads. DD is for real. It ain’t no frontin’ or stuntin’ and it ain’t no put-on. I ain’t gonna round up all the (pejorative expletive) and send them back to (______) and certainly I ain’t crowding them into box cars to send them off for a nice long relaxing permanent vacation at the chemical spa.”

The truth of the matter is that, for a lot of political figures, the worst danger doesn’t come from political opponents, but from delusional utopians on the extreme flank of your own side, who inevitably get disappointed, disillusioned and then angry enough to pick something up.

17 04 2022
Alex the Goon

#1 clue she’s not hard core: She’s female.

17 04 2022
Propagandaoftruth

Excellent insights, QD. What, by the way…is DD? Missed that one.

18 04 2022
countenance

Dédiabolisation.

18 04 2022
Propagandaoftruth

Thanks! That’s a lot of syllables – DD it is.

18 04 2022
countenance

One thing we have to remember about French type systems (first round then top two runoff) is that the first round is all about who you like the most, while the runoff is being against who you fear the most. Of the people who look at these things seriously, a general consensus is and has been that DD has always been about making people fear MLP less, rather than any real substantive change in ideology or worldview.

18 04 2022
countenance

Emmanuel Macron actually said over the weekend that he’s opposed to self-defense because he wants everybody to be safe. I guess that includes people with felonious intent.

And he wonders why he could be out of a job in six days.

19 04 2022
countenance

About those new “allegations” that have so conveniently popped up in the last few days, about MLP, JMLP and financial fraud.

Nice try, but MLP and her father haven’t been on speaking terms for a long time.

21 04 2022
countenance

The debate last night.

A lot of the conventional wisdom is on how well she did.

The truth of the matter is that it wasn’t so much that she won, it’s that he lost.

He came off as nervous, unsure, uneasy and chippy. Which is how he has been acting in general all week.

She was her usual boilerplate.

However, and true to my axiom about the uselessness of political debating in general, nothing that happened last night will change whatever will ultimately happen in Sunday, definitely not in binary outcome, and probably not at all in round number percentages.

22 04 2022
countenance

Final prediction: Macron 53, MLP 47.

If MLP pulls it off, it will be because of big turnout and running up Assad-like margins among the actual French outside the big cities.

If not, then it will be because left wing populists will have shown themselves to be big frauds and phonies, which they have in many other places at many other times in the recent past.

24 04 2022
countenance

This may not be indicative of anything.

But in the French controlled overseas territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guyana, where Macron beat MLP in the 2:1 to 3:1 ranges five years ago, MLP beat Macron by those same margins now. They vote earlier than France proper, and their votes have already been counted and reported.

24 04 2022
countenance

Just after 10 PM. All the news and media outlets that matter have projected a Macron win. The only open variables are the final numbers.

25 04 2022
Au Revoir et Bonne Chance | Countenance Blog

[…] And when it comes to business, my prediction in the months leading up to this one turned out to be t… […]

25 04 2022
countenance

The counting will take maybe another day, but it looks like the final result will be 58-42 or very close.

Like I said, the first Sunday rather than the second Sunday was always the critically important day, for my concerns, and ours.

But I’m also not gonna lie or cap: I would have liked better than 42%. Even though once again I wanted Zemmour to be in MLP’s position yesterday. Yet and still, it marks another gain.

25 04 2022
countenance

Some polling suggests that a majority that voted for either Macron or MLP yesterday only did so to prevent the other from winning. That is NOT a profundity. It’s actually the way French style systems (beauty contest first round, top two runoff, found also in Louisiana) are designed. The first round is about voting for who you like the most, while the second round is voting against who you fear more.

3 05 2022
Another Country Heard From | Countenance Blog

[…] of our movement is one that has already happened, and, as I never fail to remind you, one that I witnessed first hand for almost the entirety of last […]

17 05 2022
Short Is Easy | Countenance Blog

[…] Me, precisely one month ago today, here, as a comment: […]

19 05 2022
countenance

Late postscript.

EZ’s loyalists are running real hot and heavy with the notion that EZ fell off because, with the rise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, this forced enough people who would have gone with EZ in the first round to rally around MLP to make sure she at least made the runoff.

That contention is one cup truth, one cup coping mechanism, and one cup rationalization.

The problem is that that might answer a question, but it begs another one. Namely, why didn’t MLP’s voters get behind EZ? The easy answer is that by the time JLM’s rise complicated things, MLP was well ahead of EZ. Which means this idea doesn’t answer the fundamental question of how it came to be that MLP wound up way ahead of EZ at that moment of time, when, at the beginning of the season, he was the hot new thing with all the steam under his feet. And I think to the question of how that circumstance arose, I have already answered.

21 06 2022
A Sunday In Contrasts | Countenance Blog

[…] Postscript on my spring break. […]

14 07 2022
countenance

Later postscript.

In the June parliamentary elections, the RN won an astounding 89 seats, where they were only projected to win 15 at most, and had only nine in the last session.

This is finally making people figure out that she’s got something going on, some magic potion or secret sauce. My analysis here I think would have been just as valid had that not happened. But that it did happen is making people trying to find answers, and driving traffic to this post.

However, I don’t think most other people, even people on the pop-nat right, who are floating theories, have it quite right.

It's your dime, spill it. And also...NO TROLLS ALLOWED~!

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