SODOM & GOMORRAH: It seems that the 20th century, with its long and terrible efforts at repressing the right, has failed to completely purge Europe of its conservative elements.
This author has a history of getting nervous whenever the “far right” is mentioned by major news sources. Typically it isn’t the far right being discussed at all. He also gets even more nervous when this “far right” grows in popularity, because democratic support tends to corrupt genuine counter-revolutionaries. In several parts of Europe, nevertheless, The Economist has reported that “the populist far right” is on the move.
The message of these parties – that European countries should be wary of cooperation with the European Union since a currency crisis would endanger everyone, that European states ought to worry about opening their borders up to the Middle East and North Africa because for better or worse mass immigration from one place or another leads to violence, and that order is generally preferable to disorder – naturally upset the sensibilities of the paper. The editors call on parties and voters to “counter […] its crude message” rather than “pander” to it. In particular, the paper speaks out against Ms. Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front. Ms. Le Pen speaks frighteningly of the “Islamification of Europe,” globalization, the “height of barbarity” that was the Holocaust, and does so in an ominous “traditional Catholic overtone.”
These parties have appealed to older voters, which is a little perplexing. If in fact distance from the 20th century numbs us to its horrors, since it’s very easy to oppose ideologies that sound fascist or communist when you were alive to see the camps (or were told about them by your parents), we would expect young people to be drawn to people like Ms. Le Pen if her party really is reminiscent of repressive, intollerant groups. Or perhaps these voters are more concerned about the collapse of Europe than they are neo-fascism?
People like Ms. Le Pen are not a revolutionary force, nor a reactionary force, but a conservative force. They are the last vestige of the nation-state; they are its final defenders. They appear to the liberal Economist as bearers of a crude message only because the editors, most of the readers, and the rest of the world have silently abandoned the nation-state as a political idea. Since 1945 and the end of the “height of barbarity” Ms. Le Pen rightfully acknowledges, society has been too exhausted to defend the nation-state – and too frightened of its autonomy to try. In our new political world, human rights and the progression toward world cooperation are the new forms of legitimacy. Ms. Le Pen is a dying breed, an outcast, and at a loss for how to articulate the collapse her constituents have witnessed.