Monday, April 11, 2022

Macron, Le Pen, and Zemmour: Does the French Far Right Need Catholic Integralism?

 As expected, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen will face each other in the presidential runoff April 24.  In a field of 12 candidates, Macron received 27.4% of the votes cast yesterday, and Le Pen received 24.3%.  Eric Zemmour, the other far right candidate, received only 7%.  He has immediately pledged his support for Le Pen in the runoff.

Zemmour's defeat was predicted by Jacques de Guillebon in his April 6th editorial for L'Incorrect.  He predicted an 8% vote for Zemmour.  Guillebon scorns Zemmour for his decision to run for president, which took far right votes away from Le Pen.  Even Marion Marechal betrayed Le Pen (Marechal's aunt) by campaigning for Zemmour.  Guillebon still hopes that Le Pen can win, but he gives off a tone of pessimism.

The reason for his pessimism is suggested by his editorial, which has the title De Profundis Droitibus (To the Depths of the Right).  He points out that in some public opinion surveys, 45% of the French identify themselves as right-wing.  But somehow the French right has failed to fully mobilize those voters to win power.  Why?

Guillebon says "this identity right has completely forgotten its people."  The right has offered the French people "to rid them of scum and Islamists, a healthy idea but oh so incomplete."  He laments that the French right is "far from the time of Thomism and organic Maurrasism."  "In truth, this right will not have been too reactionary, it will not have been reactionary enough."

He concludes with a remark that I quoted in my post yesterday: "In truth, if we knew anything about our history, we would know that one never seeks temporal power without having taken spiritual power: without Saint Remi, no Clovis. We demand a right of the soul."

As I said yesterday, Guillebon is intimating here that the French far right could be far more successful than it has been so far if it embraced the French Catholic Integralism of Maurras.  Neither Le Pen nor Zemmour has done this.

Both Le Pen and Zemmour have warned about the threat to French cultural identity coming from the increasing number of foreign people immigrating to France, with Muslim immigrants being the greatest threat.  Le Pen has proposed to ban Muslim women from wearing head scarves and to fine them if they do.  She has said there is "a choice of civilization," in which "the legitimate preponderance of French language and culture" should be protected and full "sovereignty reestablished in all domains."  She has also argued for changing the French Constitution to ban any policies that lead to "the installation on national territory of a number of foreigners so large that it would change the composition and identity of the French people."  But notice that she does not define the "identity of the French people" as rooted in Catholic Christianity, which is what the Catholic Integralists want.

French Catholic Integralism would require the repeal of "The Law of December 9, 1905, on the Separation of the Churches and the State."  This law was enacted during the Third Republic to establish state secularism and the freedom of religious exercise in civil society.  After repealing this law, Catholicism could be established as the state religion of France, as it was before the Revolution of 1789.

Is this what Guillebon wants the French far right to do?  If so, then it's striking, as I have said in my post yesterday, that none of the writers in Guillebon's magazine clearly endorses this.  As I suggested, the reason for this is probably that they know that there are not enough "counter-revolutionary Catholics" in France to support this.

We thus see that even those people on the French far right turn out to be liberal conservatives who reject the illiberal conservatism of Maistre and Maurras.

1 comment:

Alexander Gieg said...

"(...) ban Muslim women from wearing head scarves"

Curiously, if actual Catholic reactionaries had their way and were a driving force on the French far-right, the proposal would go in the other direction, requiring all women to wear head scarves, with Le Pen herself not going anywhere without hers. That comes from Biblical commandments and was the rule most everywhere the Catholic Church had a strong saying, or even full command, of public morality and decency laws.