General meeting – October 2015

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Recrudescence of nationalism in Europe

30ème General Assembly

October 2nd-4th, 2015

The state of the EU in 2015 is afflicting : so many walls raised in Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece… true Europe fortress which with no regard for its values pushes back the migrants and even the asylum-seekers… 20,000 victims in the Mediterranean since 2000, 2800 since January 1st.

Nationalism reappears in Europe, the intergovernmental method too often carries it on the mechanisms of integration. This new rise of nationalism in Europe and the memory of the catastrophes of the 20th century calls especially our share, an awakening of the crisis of the European spirit. I will examine the French case more particularly.

The French case

1. Components of French nationalism

With the number of the components of current French nationalism one will find causes common to all the member countries of the EU and clauses more specific to France.

a) Common components

In France as in the other member countries of the EU the recrudescence of nationalism is explained by :

  • effects of the economic crisis and financial especially since 2008. This crisis is indeed translated by an impoverishment very Net of the French company and a digging of the inequalities, by a strong unemployment 10 %, in particular of the young people and seniors.
  • the strong push of economic immigration and policy which is lived by many citizens like a threat for the identity of the nations.
  • these difficulties naturally involve in all Europe a very significant rise of the populisms ; parties of far right, all represented at the EP (one counts more than 100 European deputies of far right or far left europhobes on 751 deputies).
  • beyond the economic difficulties, other sociological factors intervene. One notes at an important fringe of the voters, a kind of “hatred” of the policy, a rejection “of the policies” from where which they come, whose inefficiency and corruption are denounced.
  • the young people in particular are diverted of the policy and hope for future only one great blow of brush. The rate of abstention from the young people to the elections is very high. There is no more desire of the left in the young people. It goes without saying, in this context, European construction meets only indifference or dispute today.
  • phenomenon noted for a few decades but which develops, individualism has been a fact of company secreted by the liberal economy, new technologies (data-processing insulation), the consumerism, the ambient hedonism. The cohesion of the city of is threatened as much by it.

b) Components specific to France

In this strongly centralized and proud country of a long story, French as a whole feels a great pessimism, an irreversible impression of decline which leads them to national folding up.

If the tragic events of January 7th, 2015 (the bloody terrorist attack against Charlie weekly) were followed of a remarkable mobilization of the population, it does not remain about it less than one feeling of islamophobie settles deeply in the country.

For proof for example the high number of attacks against mosques, racist registrations which cover the work of the sculptor     Anish Kapor exposed in the park of the castle of Versailles or the photographic assembly, starting from a photograph of AFP, of a train taken of attack by refugees, some share in Hungary, used by mayor FN of Béziers, Robert Ménard with this legend : “They arrive !”.

The National front at the end of a policy of “demonization” very skilfully carried out by Marine Lepen, – the family conflict is revealing evolution of the party benefits from the situation.

It is enough to refer to the results recorded by the FN with the elections as well local, main roads as European. The FN appears today like the second party in France if not the first in the surveys (which one also remembers of the presence of Jean Marie Lepen to the second round of the presidential elections of 2002).

In 2012, more than six million voters voted for the FN which obtained 30 % of the votes to the European elections and which are about to gaining two, even three areas with the next regional elections of December 2015. It could be that in 2017, with the presidential elections, the PS is absent from 2nd turn.

The program of the FN answers the anxiety of the often tinted French public opinion mistrust with regard to the foreigner, with his distress, while proposing like always, of the solutions as radical as inapplicable such as the exit of the euro zone, the rejection from abroad, protectionism… Marine Lepen does not hesitate to compare the current surge of the refugees with the cruel invasions of the 4th century and speaks about a “metastasiation” of the phenomenon.

2. The expression of current French nationalism

How does current French nationalism appear concretely ?

In domestic policy, vis-a-vis the FN and also with the far left if not very European, the French political situation is characterized by :

  • a droitisation of the right-hand side which constantly tends “to stick” to the proposals of the FN (Sarkozy does not want obviously to fight against the FN since it recommends to it nor-nor to the 2nd turn elections).
  • the absence as in Greece and Spain of a powerful movement of far left (Podemos and Stiriza).
  • the rejection from abroad in particular of Roms whose however freedom of movement and stay are guaranteed by the European rules, contrary to the republican tradition of reception from abroad.
  • the absence of the intellectuals who in France however carried long and brilliant tradition of commitment, very strong dice the 18th century (Voltaire and the business Fixed) and since the lawsuit of the captain Dreyfus at the beginning of the 20th century (it “I show” of Emile Zola). On the contrary today the intellectuals when they appear, are made use by the FN thus recently Michel Onfray or Alain Finkelkraut.

In the facts, the “republican” parties seem to have lost their influence on whole pieces of the French company, that it is :

  • the working class, become a plebs marginalized because of globalization and of the disindustrialization which was followed from there, in France particularly.
  • the middle class which is estimated also threatened by international competition, immigration and the insecurity or the peasants in their majority.
  • even the rich, those which do not suffer from the crisis divert also traditional right parties which they consider it unable to protect their heritage, classified buildings, villa luxurious of which they want to protect social environment.  The journalist and Boltanski sociologist note that this class that it names “patrimonial class”, refers on the FN.

The FN benefits largely from the situation of these social groups in which he endeavours to be established.

Outside the foreign and European politics of the French government is generally sensitive to cold.

The current Socialist government does not manage to stop this evolution ; one will take some for proof :

  • the initial refusal by France of the quotas of reception of the immigrants proposed by the Commission in the recent Juncker plan and the very modest quota of 24,000 refugees finally accepted.
  • excessive duration of examination of the files of the asylum-seekers and strong % of nonsuited ; only 31 % of the requests for asylum were accepted in France in 2014 against an average of 44 % in the rest of the EU.
  • a policy of hexagonal folding up in complete ignorance of the considerable advantages of the projections of the European integration thus of Schengen space for the economic development and the warranty of the security.

To describe are a thing, to act another, the more difficult.


What to make to counter this return of nationalism ? The question of nationalism is not new. To already evoke work of the SEC. Norberto Bobbio in introduction to N°45-46 Re-examined To understand Ethical and political, wrote : “Do the men of culture whose specific task does not coincide with that of the ordinary policy have an answer to give to the concerns of the common man ? Which ? I believe personally that it is an ethical answer. The ethics which occupied us with the General Assembly of 2012.

It was there question of the dignity of the person, pluralism, the dialogue of the cultures, universal solidarity.

It is this conviction which must animate us to counter nationalism.

Concretely for what concerns us, the SEC is reduced today at a square of faithful, some national centres and can be a hundred rather active members. To limit the SEC to the conservation and the use of its archives, however invaluable are they, would be to grant its disappearance. It would be very sad and regrettable – that one remembers the thought and the action of Umberto Campagnolo, Norberto Bobbio, Bronislaw Geremek, Henri Bartoli to quote only them to cease carrying the always valid and so singular testimony which is since always that of the SEC, of the food-growing policy which considers the culture like conscience of the civilisation.

In this Saturday, October 3, 2015, I hope that a last fresh start of the SEC is not made.

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