The Earthquake in France

By Patrick J. Buchanan – April 23, 2002

“Non” screamed the single-word headline in Liberation. “The French political system, tottering for years, has imploded,” howled the editorial. Now, any election that can produce that kind of pain on the Trotskyite-Socialist Left cannot be all bad.

And the stunning showing of Jean-Marie Le Pen, who ran a close second to President Jacques Chirac in France’s elections with 17 percent of the vote, to 16 percent for Premier Lionel Jospin, is by no means all bad. Indeed, there is much that is healthy in this rightist uprising, beyond ending the political career of the ex-Trotskyite Jospin.

In recent elections, Le Pen, an ex-paratrooper and veteran of the French wars in Vietnam and Algeria, had won at most 15 percent of the vote. Sunday’s 17 percent showing is even more impressive in that his ex-ally Bruno Megret, who broke with Le Pen to form his own party, got 3 percent, giving the hard Right 20 percent of the vote, the same share as that won by Chirac.

While Le Pen stands no chance in the May 5 runoff, his huge protest vote has sent a message in the clear to Paris and Europe: “We are tired of being ruled by the same old corrupt establishment. We want immigration halted, criminals punished and Paris to stop surrendering France’s sovereignty to the socialist bureaucrats of the European Union.”

A lifelong friend of Le Pen’s told The New York Times, “The money, the army, the justice system are all in the hands of Europe. We can’t abdicate to Brussels.” If this cry from the Right could be summed up in five words, it would be: “Let France Be France Again!”

Hearing the election results, 10,000 French radicals stormed into the streets shouting, “Le Pen is a fascist!” as they smashed windows, trashed restaurants, threw up barriers and fought police like the black shirts and brown shirts of the 1930s, showing all but the ideologically blinded that the real fascists of this century reside on the Left.

What will be the consequences for France and Europe of what Le Figaro called the “Earthquake”? While Le Pen, like George Wallace in the United States, may never be president, the center-right parties in Europe will soon recognize that the road to power lies in expropriating the issues and the voters of the populist Right. Indeed, there are reports that Chirac himself had a secret meeting a decade ago with the untouchable Le Pen.

Center-right parties will begin to take up more seriously and directly the issue of the century, immigration, as they have already begun to do in Denmark, Germany and even Australia. “As waves of immigration from the Islamic nations of North Africa … rise, crest, and crash into Europe, the immigration issue will become even more explosive,” I wrote in “Death of the West.” “Major parties will seize the issue from the minor parties, or minor parties will become the major ones.” This is exactly what happened Sunday in France.

The vision of the Davos internationalists and globalists for thickening and growing the European Union into a world government has been brutally set back. Patriots, traditionalists, conservatives and nationalists everywhere cannot but welcome the presence of a militant movement in France that is anti-globalist and anti-EU.

Though a rightist, Le Pen, however, is not a conservative in the American sense, nor can he be considered pro-American. Like many European nationalists, he puts himself “socially on the Left, fiscally on the Right, and nationally, wholly for France.”

What led to the explosion of support for the septuagenarian Le Pen?

One cause is what his National Front calls “the invasion.” France is now host to 5 million Muslims, though she is neither a huge country like the United States, nor has she a history of assimilating immigrants. Also, these 5 million Arabs and Muslims have been associated with rising crime and assaults upon French citizens, including a riot last year at the France-Algeria soccer match, where Parisians were forced to lock themselves in their skyboxes for their own safety.

There is also the sense that French culture is being swamped by America’s and that France’s national identity, even her language, is being lost. What is happening in France is happening to a degree in every country of the West where the populations are dying as the great migrations from the Third World have only just begun.

The earthquake in France may portend the earthquake to come in the West, and even in America. Nor is this necessarily an unhealthy thing. As Georges Bernanos wrote of an earlier time, to be a reactionary today may simply mean to be alive, because only a corpse does not react anymore – against the maggots teeming upon it.