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Introduction to The Populist Moment


Alain de Benoist

10,344 words

Chapter 1 here [2]

Translated by F. Roger Devlin

In September 2016, a poll revealed that for 85% of Frenchmen the presidential election of May 2017 would be “disappointing” no matter what the result. That figure says it all. The extraordinary distrust of ever larger layers of the population toward the “government parties” and the political class in general, to the benefit of movements of a new type called “populist,” is undoubtedly the most striking fact about the changing political landscape of at least the past two decades.

This phenomenon, which first affected Southern and Western Europe (Syriza, Podemos, the National Front, the Five Star Movement, the Northern League, the Freedom Party) before reaching Central Europe, Germany (the AfD), Northern Europe (Sweden Democrats), and the Anglo-Saxon countries (“Brexit”), has now even reached the United States (the Trump and Sanders phenomena). Everywhere the breadth of the chasm separating the people from the incumbent political class has been confirmed. Everywhere new divisions have emerged rendering the old Left-Right divide obsolete.

In France under the Fifth Republic, political life long amounted to a regular alternation between two blocs, each dominated by a major party. This system was guaranteed by a majoritarian form of election in two rounds which, by favoring a clear distinction between the majority and the opposition (the parliamentary majority superimposing itself over the governmental majority), seemed to exclude any third candidate from attaining power. But this system stops working once a third party achieves the lasting support of 25% of the electorate. This is where we are now. In the first round of the last departmental elections the National Front, which achieves its greatest success among the young, the working class, and the lower middle class, received more than 5 million votes as compared to 3.3 for the Socialists and 3.2 for the UMP. In the second round, it received an average of 35% in the 1109 cantons where it competed, rising to 45 to 50% in 99 of the cantons. In the first round of the regional elections on December 6, 2015, it became the biggest party in France with 27.7% of the votes. So we can assume that about one voter in three votes for the National Front today, which confirms that we have entered into a new form of electoral tripartition: the political system is now structured around three principal formations, each of which attracts between a quarter and a third of voters.

In Italy, Christian Democracy and the Communist Party have practically disappeared. The same goes for the old Greek governmental parties. In Spain, the PSOE and the Popular Alliance have grown continually weaker to the benefit of Podemos and de Ciudadanos. In Great Britain, where bipartisanism has been a constant for three centuries (with a single change: the replacement of the Liberals by Labour), and where single round first-past-the-post voting gives an advantage to the large traditional parties, we have also witnessed the rise of the UK Independence Party. In Austria the two governmental parties, the Social Democrats and the Christian Social Party, received only 22% of the vote in the 2016 presidential election.


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Year after year, the movement accelerates. In 2016 a representative of the Five-Star Movement was elected Mayor of Rome, Britain left the European Union as Nigel Farage wished, the Austrian FPÖ barely missed electing one of its representatives to the Presidency of the Republic; the National Front passed 40% support in certain local elections; and Podemos won the mayoralties of Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, La Coruña, and Cadiz. On September 4, 2016, in the regional elections of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Angela Merkel’s home base, the Alternative for Germany (German abbreviation AfD), a movement created only three years before, outdid the CDU with 21% of the vote (having already achieved 24.2% in Saxon-Anhalt). Finally, in December, Matteo Renzi lost the referendum he had organized in Italy.

The great event of the American presidential election that same year, 2016, was the collapse of the old-style Republican Party, which was forced to abandon, beneath the blows of populist protest, its political philosophy that had served the interests of the business world; its most emblematic candidates — Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker — all went under. It is not Donald Trump’s personality which should hold our attention here, but the Trump phenomenon, which must be compared to the Bernie Sanders phenomenon among Democrats. Trump (who is anti-Reagan as much as anti-Clinton) capitalized throughout his campaign on what neither his competitors nor the Republican strategists were able to see: the rise of a powerful anti-elite popular protest movement, and a reaction to the establishment that the American political class will have to reckon with from now on. In the Democratic primaries, Sanders won in 22 states against 28 who voted for Hillary Clinton for more or less the same reasons, beginning with his denunciation of Wall Street influence. And finally, it was Trump who got elected.

Faced with this rise in populism, the establishment first tried to reassure itself with talk of a “flash in the pan.” Then, when the wave continued to grow, it was explained as a mere protest vote mobilized by catch-all parties which limited themselves to exploiting discontent and anger of all sorts. Finally, they reassured themselves by alleging a glass ceiling — which has continued to rise, going from 15 to 20%, then to 25%, then from 30 to 35%, exceeding 45% in some places.

To curb the phenomenon, they resorted to biomedical and epidemiological metaphors (pathology, diagnosis, cure). Ritual denunciations multiplied: “the darkest years of our history,” and a “return to the 1930s”; “Godwin points” could be collected by comparing populism to the “extreme Right” or “fascism,” equivalencies which have been condemned in other contexts. Concretely, this translated into an attempt to establish a cordon sanitaire allowing one to distinguish mentally (and at polling places) between the “decent” and “indecent” parties. But vilification misfired. This strategy of constructing moral dykes did not amount to much, and they fell back on the republican pact consisting in the dominant parties giving way to one another in the name of “defending the republican values we have in common,” at the risk of providing proof of the well-foundedness of that populist discourse which tends to reject all such parties on the grounds that nothing really separates them — and with the consequence, for one of the big parties, of either being reduced to a supporting role in favor of its adversary of yesterday, or of not being represented at all. Finally, some politicians struggled to assimilate certain populist themes by integrating them into their own discourse at the risk of legitimizing them by “banalizing” them, and without voters being convinced in any case to abandon the original in favor of the imitation.

For long it was also said that the populist movements disturb the political game, but that they could never come to power — and in any case, they would be completely incapable of governing. But this is no longer true. Today, Syriza is governing Greece as Podemos will perhaps one day govern Spain; Viktor Orbán is in charge of Hungary; the Northern League has already participated three times in a governing coalition; and the FPÖ has been associated with the Austrian government since the 1980s, while the Swiss UDC also holds governmental posts. Other populist formations are participating in Denmark’s parliamentary majority and in Finland’s government.

In France, the founding event of populism’s rise was the “no” victory in the 2005 referendum on the projected European constitution, followed by the nullification of that vote by the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon by the Parliament without consulting the people. This “no” revealed the depth of the chasm that had already been dug between the elites and the people, a chasm both ideological and social. It revealed the distrust of a people which no longer feels itself represented by those who presume to speak in its name, these latter standing accused of merely seeking to maintain their privileges and serve their own interests.

So in fact for the past several decades the people has observed that its own daily life is being deeply affected by developments it has never been consulted on, and that the political class of all stripes has never even tried to adjust or slow down.

First of all: immigration. In the space of two generations, through a combination of migratory influx and family reunification, the former temporary immigration has taken on the character of demographic replacement. Massive, rapid, badly digested, and badly controlled, it has engendered a series of social pathologies in all domains (school, daily life, employment, security, crime), created or worsened cultural or confessional divisions, affected mores, and deeply transformed the composition of the population. More than 80% of Frenchmen are concerned. The popular classes, which are the first to be confronted with these problems, have the feeling that political leaders refuse to deal with them head on, as if it were simply a matter of choosing between angelism and xenophobia. The rise of jihadism and assassinations has only poisoned the situation further.

Then there is the European Union. Since the beginning of the 1980s, the European construct has resulted in the disappearance of whole layers of State sovereignty without reestablishing it at any higher level. The rapid rise in public debt, at first due to the determination to save those banks that were threatened by the 2008 financial crisis, has made States dependent on financial markets at the very moment that the creation of the Euro deprived them of their ability to make sovereign decisions regarding monetary policy. Already militarily dependent on NATO and subject to the budgetary constraints dictated by the EU, the individual States have a mere cardboard sovereignty. Besides, European institutions are established from the top down. The people have not been brought into the task of European construction, and the few times they have been consulted no account has been taken of their opinion. Long presented as a solution to all problems, the building of Europe today appears as a problem being added to all the others. Debates have become increasingly technical and thus ever less comprehensible. Divided, powerless, and paralyzed, the European Union has ended up discrediting Europe, which the dominant ideology only conceives of as a “continent asked to empty itself of all content to give way to the Other” (Elisabeth Lévy). “In short,” notes Pierre Manent, “whereas the European Union was supposed to introduce us to the final stage of democracy, it has reconstituted a self-conscious oligarchy, sure of its prerogatives and determined to impose its views on the recalcitrant majority.”[1] [5]

Finally, there is globalization. Made possible by the collapse of the Soviet system, which had symbolized the division of the world into two systems, globalism represents a major symbolic revolution which has changed our relationship to the world. Carrying out a switch from the normative to the cognitive register, it has put into competition not merely businesses and products but social systems and entire nations, putting an end to the slow rise of the middle classes and rendering untenable the social gains conceded to the world of labor during the era of the “Thirty Glorious Years.” Through delocalization and by putting Europeans into competition with the underpaid masses of the Third World in a context analogous to dumping, globalization has destroyed the collective bargaining power of workers while damaging the sovereignty of States, putting them on notice not to make use of their political decision-making power.[2] [6] Thus has been established a world with nothing outside of it, no alternative, a world directed only toward profit. Defended by the business world in the name of the free circulation of persons, goods, and capital, globalization is defended by the Left in the name of moral cosmopolitanism and abstract humanism, both factions in agreement on the legitimization of international mass migration, the universalization of norms, downward pressure on salaries, and threats to employment. Globalization creates a lot of winners among the elites, but millions of losers among the people who, moreover, realize that economic globalization opens the way for cultural globalization — even as it dialectically elicits new forms of fragmentation.

We have also seen the near-disappearance of sociological families in which people voted the same way for generation after generation. As late as the mid-1960s, the more Catholic one was, the more likely one was to vote for the Right; and at the social level, the more one identified with the working class, the more one voted for the Left. This has not been the case anymore for a long time. Electoral volatility has not stopped increasing—to the point where it is no longer rare to find people who, over the course of their lives, have voted for practically all the parties. In 1946, François Goguel calculated that between 1877 and 1936 the balance of forces between all the Right- and Left-wing parties in France had never varied by more than 2%. Today we know that 17% of those who voted for the extreme Left in the 1986 legislative elections voted for a Right-wing party in the first round of the 1988 presidential elections, that 60% of Mitterrand voters in 1988 refused to vote socialist in 1993, and that nearly four million voters switched sides during the six months that preceded the 2012 presidential election. According to a study of the Elabe Institute published in August 2016, the share of Frenchmen describing themselves as “having no party preference” continually rises, especially among the young (35%), workers (37%), and white-collar workers (38%), while only 14.1% of those asked feel themselves close to the Socialist Party and 16.4% to the Republicans; i.e., a total of 30.5% for the governmental parties with which, thus, the remaining two-thirds of Frenchmen therefore no longer identify.[3] [7]

Corresponding to this apparent loss of structure in the electorate is an enormous recentering at the level of party leadership and government administrations, one toward which the two-party system inherently tends. Convinced that elections “are won at the center” — in conformity with the theory of the “average voter” developed by political scientist Anthony Downs — and not having yet understood that the middle class is in a process of decomposition, the big parties continue (as they did during the Thirty Glorious Years of the post-war era) to push their discourse toward the center in order to rally hesitant electors, leading them to formulate programs that increasingly look alike.

In the Giscard era, some celebrated this as the benefits of “consensus”—that consensus which Alain Minc did not hesitate to compare to a “circle of reason.” Such people were mistaken first of all because democracy is not the elimination of conflict but the mastering of conflict. For a political society to function normally, a consensus must obviously be established regarding its framework and forms of debate. But if consensus makes the debate itself disappear, then democracy disappears by the same token, since by definition it implies, if not a plurality of parties, at least a diversity of opinions and choices, as well as recognition of the legitimacy of conflict between opinions and choices. This means that, contrary to what supporters of “non-partisan” democracy or “good governance” maintain, democracy cannot be reduced to procedures, for it has an inevitably agonistic form. If parties are only separated by insignificant programmatic differences, if competing factions implement essentially the same policies, if neither are distinguishable in regard to their aims or the means of obtaining them — in short: if the citizens no longer see themselves presented with real alternatives and genuine choices — there is no more reason for debate, and the institutional framework which permits it to take place is merely an empty shell from which one should not be surprised to see a majority of voters turn away. The price of “consensus” is civic desertion.

But excessive consensus is anti-democratic in another way. We must not forget that, contrary to what the champions of the political marketplace assert (who assume that the voter seeks to maximize his interests at election time above all else), voting is primarily a means of self-representation and affirmation.[4] [8] Now, if the electorate gets the feeling that no alternative is being offered to him by the parties competing for power, it can clearly only lose interest in a political game which no longer allows it to express its belonging or affiliation through voting. The end of any “democracy of identification” (Pierre Rosanvallon) will then contribute to a rise in abstention, which will itself end in social anomie. There will then be a growing risk not of a society pacified by “consensus,” but of a dangerous and potentially bellicose society where we should not be surprised to see the return of other forms of identitarian affirmation (religious, ethnic, national, etc.), sometimes in pathological forms. These will not result from any desire for “dangerous purity,” but will be the logical consequence of the impossibility of affirming oneself as a citizen.

The principal result of recentering is in fact to disappoint those it is trying to seduce. “Nothing better displays the nature of neoliberal rationality,” write Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, “than the evolution of governmental practice which for the past 30 years has claimed to be on the Left while implementing policies very similar to those of the Right.”[5] [9] The four alternations in power between Left and Right during the past quarter century have in fact allowed voters to take the measure of their insignificance, especially as neither camp has received decisive results and both have proven themselves incapable of reclaiming a margin of maneuver in the face of the constraints imposed by the financial markets and European treaties. People have the feeling that the Right-wing parties are pursuing Left-wing policy while the Left-wing parties pursue Right-wing policy, or more generally that both are pursuing convergent and interchangeable policies when they come to power. This convergence has taken place at the price of a double abandonment: the Right has abandoned the nation, and the Left has abandoned the people. This is what Pierre Manent observes: “The Right has renounced the people-nation, renounced searching for justice and unity in the sense in which ‘the people’ refers to the nation: Farewell to Gaullism. The Left has renounced the people-working-class, renounced searching for justice and unity in the sense in which ‘the people’ refers to ‘the exploited’: Farewell to socialism.”[6] [10] At the same time, any genuine alternative (replaced by mere alternation) becomes impossible, and a growing number of voters have the feeling that the political system is rigged in advance so that the only ones who can win are those who are certain not to change anything about the system.

People long believed that things would get better if the government were changed. Observing that nothing now distinguishes the big parties that still claim to oppose one another, they no longer believe this. The result is always the same, and therefore the disappointment is always the same. If one insists on analyzing the situation in market terms: Political life is characterized by an ever more reduced choice in the face of an increasingly malcontented (because increasingly disorganized) demand. Consternation first favored abstention, then protest voting, then populism. The populist parties have in fact been the first to perceive a change in the political and social demands which the traditional parties, whatever the good intentions of their elected officials – and who are always careful to be as close as possible to their electors — do not understand because they are mental prisoners of habits and patterns of thought that prevent their understanding. Thus, the political class finds itself marked with illegitimacy because it no longer resolves any problems and offers no means of overcoming the generalized crisis of the system, but seems to actually contribute to it.

*  *  *

The discrepancy between the political class and the electorate constitutes a special problem for the Left, which in the past always claimed to better represent popular aspirations than the Right. But the Left has gradually cut itself off from the people. Leftist intellectuals have abandoned the messianic hopes that they placed in the working class not so long ago, while their political elites have gradually distanced themselves from the popular circles by way of class contempt. Exactly like the Right, the Left has settled in the upper middle classes, if not in the State apparatus. By rallying to the market economy, privileging marginal demands to the detriment of the aspirations of those who are most threatened by unemployment and insecurity, and providing the spectacle of an elite wallowing in its media image, it has greatly disappointed those it was primarily supposed to address.


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The people and the Left have certainly never been equivalent concepts, as was quite clear during the June days of 1848 and during the Commune of 1871, when the republican and bourgeois Left ordered the people fired upon (in his celebrated History of the Commune, published in 1876, Prosper-Olivier Lissagaray reminded readers that if the Versailles bourgeoisie was able to crush the Parisian proletariat, it was thanks “to the Army, the Administration, and the Left”). We also know that during the entire twentieth century the Left showed itself largely indifferent, if not hostile, to the cooperative and mutualist movement. Still, the evolution of the Left over the last 30 years at least has something astonishing about it.

In 1979, François Mitterand and his friends presented a composite motion at the French Socialist Party’s Metz Congress affirming that “economic rigor in the sense intended by those in power constitutes a fantastic lie.” But in 1992, the socialist project entitled “A New Horizon” declared: “Yes, we think the market economy constitutes the most efficient means of production and exchange. No, we do not believe in a break with capitalism.” Just consider the distance travelled! This is what allowed Michel Rocard to redefine socialism as a “sort of tempered capitalism” (sic). In November 1999, Lionel Jospin himself declared that socialism no longer existed, neither as a “doctrinal system” nor “as a system of production, the superiority of the market over planning having become incontestable.” Of course, one would still like to know whether socialism can be reduced to “planning” . . .

The Left’s liberal turn in fact goes back to 1983, when a capitulation began which — from privatization to subsidies for management — has continued to accelerate. Thus the critique of capitalism was abandoned, and along with it the idea that the State, no longer being the motor of the economy, could at least have a right to oversight over the private sector. The rehabilitation of profit, the defense of the market and “business culture,” income on capital rising faster than wages: the about-face has been complete. The result is a soaring stock market, corruption everywhere, and the Bernard Tapie’s promotion to the rank of model economic “victor.”

At the same time, the rise of a hedonistic-libertarian culture of the Left (called bobo) also contributed to cut off Left-wing parties from the common people, who watched with amazement as the media gave rise to and established a worldly and arrogant Left more inclined to defend homosexual parenthood, the undocumented, contemporary art, minority rights, talk of gender stereotypes, political correctness, bodily phobias, and permanent surveillance of the others’ behavior than to defend the working class’ interests. Cultural liberalism thus teamed up with economic liberalism which, in order to make the market’s endless expansion possible, seeks to destroy all traditional forms of existence beginning with the family, one of the last islands of resistance to the reign of mercantile values. The heirs of May 1968, who recently wanted to forbid forbidding and enjoy without restraint (two typically liberal slogans), quickly understood that liberal capitalism could better satisfy their desires, easily shifting from “enjoyment without restraint” to “consumption without limit,” and from the utopia of the global spread of a classless society to the utopia of neoliberal globalization.

With François Hollande, the abandonment of the social for the benefit of the “societal” was confirmed and accelerated. From the abandonment of any significant fiscal reform to the absence of industrial policy; from the revision of the employment code in the sense demanded by the Movement of the Enterprises of France, the country’s largest employer federation, to employment blackmail aimed at lowering salaries — despite the fact that those of the big bosses remained outside the “framework”; and not forgetting the El Khomri Law and the law on employment security, which signed the no-term contract’s death warrant: the social-defeatist result of François Hollande’s five-year term in office gave proof of absolute submission to the financial markets’ demands.

That a leader of the Socialist Party, Dominique Strauss-Kahn as it happens, could be called to direct the International Monetary Fund in implementing the same policies Christine Legard practices today was already highly symbolic. It is easily seen in any case that neither homosexual marriage, nor the legalization of cannabis, nor the struggle for sexual parity (except within marriage!), nor uncontrolled immigration, nor the abolition of borders, nor even the defense of the “Rights of Man” (pitilessly criticized by Marx) are socialist measures or themes. These are liberal themes, intended to respond to individual desires and caprices, and which attempt to distract our attention from five or ten million unemployed. The dominant class has abandoned the social to engage in a bidding war of rights for the benefit of minority groups, each now transformed into a lobby group for making demands. But, as Laurent Bouvet remarks, “the change in elite preoccupations from the social to the cultural is always unfavorable to the lower classes, besides being deadly for the Left.”[7] [13]

Having become a social-liberal party — ever more liberal and ever less social — the Socialist Party conceives society merely as a collection of individuals. Having rallied to the money system, it has become a party of bureaucrats, technocrats, and bobos who have long forgotten about socialism and are only interested in “for-everybody-ism,” the “struggle against all forms of discrimination,” “humanitarian” interventions, and the defense of “victims” in the most emotional and lachrymose manner.[8] [14] Thus, one can hardly count on the party’s leaders to explain that the current crisis is first of all a crisis of the capitalist mode of production, i.e. a generalized crisis of the logic of capital accumulation, and one can count on them even less to try to remedy the situation.

Thus, most voters have had the leisure to observe that, for the past 30 years at least, the parties of the Left are carrying out regressive social policies which yield in no way to those of the Right. This is what Serge Halimi has called “the great leap backwards,” and Jacques Généreux “the great regression.”[9] [15] “For 20 years,” observes Jean-Claude Michéa soberly, “each victory of the Left has necessarily corresponded to a defeat for socialism.”[10] [16] We are looking at the end not merely of institutional socialism, but even of social democracy, which has dissolved itself into liberalism and only serves to produce a “progressive” camouflage allowing the Left to remain in sync with capitalism’s recent evolution. The more the Left rallies to the existing system, whose wrongs the people feel, the more the people will turn away from it; the more the people turn away from the Left, the more the Left displays its contempt for the people. This divorce, which is not peculiar to France but can be found everywhere, is now complete.

Frequent reference is made to Bertolt Brecht who, when East Berlin’s workers revolted in 1953, responded to an official tract which stated that “it is its own fault that the people have lost the government’s confidence” by ironically advising the government to “dissolve the people and elect a new one.” This is more or less what the Terra Nova Foundation has proposed doing by replacing the native people via the addition of minorities, immigrants, young people, women, and bobos, thus following the example of America’s Democratic Party.[11] [17]

By disappointing the people, by working toward the destruction of everything to which it is attached, by adopting solidarity with the market society’s predators, and by making a spectacle of autism, indecency, and corruption, the Left has cut itself off from the popular classes and thrown them into the arms of populist movements that are just waiting to receive them in order to speak in their name. Jean-Claude Michéa sees correctly when he writes that

it is not in the moral darkness of one segment of the popular classes (or their “lack of education”) that one must seek the true reasons for the rise of the “extreme Right.” One must seek it in the indignant reaction of these classes toward a political and intellectual movement which, in the name of “science,” “modernity,” and the “natural” evolution of morality, proposes to destroy (such, at least, is their sincere conviction) all the virtues and moral tradition to which they are attached — beginning, as Orwell emphasized, with their religious faith, their sense of personal effort, and their patriotism.[12] [18]

Between the 1978 legislative elections and the 2002 presidential elections, revealingly the percentage of blue- and white-collar workers who voted for the Left fell from 27 to 15%. The most recent elections reveal that nearly 50% of workers now vote for the National Front. This does not mean that workers constitute the majority of the Front’s voters (they represent only about 13%), but it means that this party is overrepresented in the world of labor, something which undoubtedly contributes to its being discredited among elites. The prevalence of worker support for the Left, which was regularly observed in the post-war era until the end of the 1970s, has thus disappeared. With the years, an increasing number of working people shifted to the National Front, especially those born after 1960, who were confronted with problems due to immigration, unemployment, and insecurity as soon as they entered active life. These generations, notes Florent Gougou, “experienced the crystallization of a mostly cultural cleavage produced by globalism in the dynamics of French politics, just as the interwar generations of working people experienced the crystallization of the class cleavage.”[13] [19] Let us also recall that in the referendum on the European constitutional treaty, 60% of young people, 80% of blue-collar workers, and 60% of white-collar workers, along with a majority of salaried employees, voted no; the yes vote attracted a majority only of the upper bourgeoisie, management, the economically inactive, and retirees.

It is no different in neighboring countries. In Great Britain the majority of workers and residents of the popular neighborhoods voted in favor of Brexit, which was only able to win by mobilizing a large share of Labour Party voters (nearly 80% of districts electing a Labour Party MP voted Leave). In the last Austrian presidential election, 85% of the workers voted for the FPÖ candidate; the working class and the unemployed are equally overrepresented in the ranks of the UDC in Switzerland and in those of the AfD in Germany.

To speak of a “shift to the Right” [“droitisation”] would only be a lazy way of interpreting this development. It is obvious that Left and Right no longer mean anything as soon as the general opinion is that all the big parties of Right and Left are saying more or less the same thing — and confront one another, at most, over the means for implementing the same policies. In reality, the Left-Right divide is no longer useful for analyzing new political phenomena, beginning with the rise of populism. The proof of this is that populist party programs often combine Left- and Right-wing themes. In Greece, when Alex Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, was forming his government, he preferred to ally himself with a sovereignist party classed on the Right, the Independent Greeks (ANEL), rather than with traditional Left-wing groups such as Pasok. In France we even saw the economist Jacques Sapir plead for an alliance between the National Front and the Left Front. Elsewhere we see voters for the big parties no longer following the party leaders’ directions. Thus, it is remarkable that in Great Britain the leadership of both big parties, Conservative and Labour, were favorable to Remain, which means that Brexit won by combining votes from supporters of both camps. In the US, where the Left-Right scheme could already barely be applied to Republicans and Democrats, one also saw neoconservative personalities from the Republican party – and not the least of them (Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Armitage, James Kirchik, Max Boot, Bret Stephens, etc.) — announce that they would vote for Hillary Clinton, who was being described for the occasion as a “true conservative” and the only candidate capable of resisting “systemic change”[14] [20] — which happened anyway.

But the blurring of the Right-Left distinction could be observed not only at the base. By reaction, and in an almost symmetrical fashion, it was also found in the dominant class with the idea of a “national union” destined to prevent the rise of populism and neutralize the “recalcitrant” on both sides. There is a certain logic to this: as an electorate drawn from both Right and Left is forming at the base, populism evokes a regrouping of formerly antagonistic governmental parties at the top who today have no trouble realizing that nothing any longer really separates them.

This new strategy, which obviously favors coalition governments (in 2013 11 of the EU’s 28 countries were governed by a coalition of Right and Left) was already present in the “third way” idea theorized by Anthony Giddens in the time of Tony Blair, whose stated object was to legitimate the “renewal” of social democracy in the sense of an assumed fusion with liberal logic.[15] [21] This is found in France in an Emmanuel Macron, the heir of Blairism, when he assures us that “the real division in our country . . . is between progressives and conservatives,” or in the Liberal Guy Sorman for whom “the recent British referendum of leaving the European Union did not oppose Right-wing Conservatives to Left-wing Labour, but the partisans of openness to those of closure.”[16] [22] Since “closure” is supposed to designate “withdrawal into oneself,” “tribalism,” and “irrational fear,” we must understand that “openness” means markets transcending national boundaries and free exchange as the automatic source of growth and prosperity. “Open society” means the law of the market.

*  *  *

The end of the “grand narratives,” and the collapse of collective projects and great struggles for liberation following the implosion of the Soviet system, spread disenchantment and disillusion. Among the popular classes this was expressed by a certain loss of orientation with regard to anything going beyond the political sphere. Everything which supports identity (national belonging, social class, family, religion, relations between the sexes and the generations) is today in crisis. Education, under the influence of fashion, has abandoned its vocation in favor of utilitarian and economistic drift. Work, reduced to “employment” — Simone Weil saw in salary earners the most important factor in uprootedness — is no longer a source of identity and even less of dignity, but merely a painful obligation which allows one to earn a little money. Liberalism, by affirming that egoistical actions lead to contributing to everyone’s well-being, adds to the destruction of the foundations of morality. “Since our vices are supposed to be useful to the collective, why make an effort to be good, demanding, and honest?”[17] [23] The rise of liberal individualism also crushed ancient structures of solidarity by destroying all forms of allegiance and stability. Social life has become increasingly perilous: We have reached the era of “zapping” and precariousness. Nothing is meant to last. The social bond is coming undone, and this social dissolution increases the vulnerability of individuals in a climate of competitive pressure amounting to a new “war of all against all.”


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The idea of progress, a secular form of the belief in Providence, is itself in crisis, and the idea that tomorrow will necessarily be better than today is nearly dead thanks to the dynamics of permanent acceleration well-theorized by Hartmut Rosa. The “sunny tomorrows” have disappeared, giving way to a diffuse fear of the future which nourishes thoughts of catastrophe and specters of disaster. “The future is empty of promises” (André Gorz). This fear of the future, presumed to carry mainly threats, is paradoxically accompanied by a tendency to erase the past. “A denial of the past, superficially progressive and optimistic,” remarks Christopher Lasch, “proves on closer analysis to embody the despair of a society that cannot face the future.”[18] [26] All “presentism” forbids imagining the future except as a leap into the unknown.

This disorientation is due above all to the fact that for the dominant ideology, man is not fundamentally a social being and that he can construct himself out of nothing, all men being posited as fundamentally identical (“the same”) and thus interchangeable. At the normative level, the goal then becomes to encourage everything which allows him to become even more “independent” of his fellows: the celebration of “nomadism,” the free circulation of men and capital, paeans to hybridization of every sort, the denial of collective identities, the eradication of particular cultures, a programmed amnesia regarding the past, the abandonment of all concern with identity, and criticism of all forms of belonging or affiliation. The “liberalization of mores” itself results from the need to submit all areas of social life to capitalist consumption; the Left defends only an indeterminate freedom (which is also the freedom of liberal anthropology) indifferent to the institutional and socio-historical conditions which allow it to be established.

Now, the people does not interpret the suppression of all norms as synonymous with greater freedom. Spontaneously hostile to a “counterculture” which has undertaken to deconstruct all its points of reference on the basis of an abstract conception of freedom, despoiling it of all reference to a substantial normative framework, it confusedly perceives that to be free is not to tear oneself out and refuse, but to adhere and participate in (places, situations, ways of living), which involves recognizing the conditions (especially reciprocal obligations) which allow for the autonomy of human communities.[19] [27] In a world where all forms of authority (with the single exception of the technical authority of “experts”) have been delegitimized one after the other, and in which the only institutions called upon to regulate relations between men are the legal contract and commercial exchange, he comes to realize that this loss of meaning is bound up with the way economic relations have assumed precedence over social relations. The primacy of the economy and the “furies of private interest” have brought about a reification of human existence which puts an end to organic society and to human interdependence. “The economy transforms the world, but only into an economic world,” as Guy Debord said.

The unleashing of the logic of the limitless in a world which has lost its bearings evokes a deep identitarian and existential malaise in people’s minds. When we speak of populism we must take account of this malaise, aggravated by the internalization of the idea that there is no alternative to the disappearance of any horizon of meaning within the world of economic reproduction: “The world must be neither interpreted nor changed: it must be put up with” (Peter Sloterdijk). “Our heritage leaves us maladapted to a world which devalues what we spontaneously tend to value and which brings into the foreground what we look down upon,” observes Marcel Gauchet.[20] [28] The people is aware of this inversion of values.

It is all the more attuned to this inversion given that, since the 1970s and ‘80s, its material situation has not ceased deteriorating. By the end of 2013 there were 8.5 million poor and 4 million beneficiaries of State-guaranteed social welfare payments, i.e. with their spouses and children, 7.1 million persons (11% of the population). As of the same date, more than two out of five persons consider themselves poor, as compared to 30% in 2009. Poverty has become urbanized (it is rising above all in the large urban aggregates), younger (in the past 40 years the poverty rates of those under 25 has doubled) and female (it affects mainly single-parent families, most of them headed by women).[21] [29] As for the number of unemployed, if one takes into account low-salaried jobs, it is well over 6 million. Formerly, when one made it into the middle class it was never to leave it again; today, a growing number of middle-class people with modest salaries are threatened with dropping out of the middle class: for the first time, an increasing number of young people occupy a less desirable social class than their parents. The middle class is becoming impoverished and inequality is increasing. The poor are getting poorer, the rich getting richer. The peasantry is disappearing, and farmers consume not so much what they produce as what they buy. In short, we have passed from one Age — that of the “Republic of the Center,” which sought to include “two Frenchmen out of three,” and where two-thirds of citizens were satisfied with their lot — to an age when this is true only of a third of the population, the other two-thirds feeling themselves excluded or threatened. Such a development necessarily has its political counterpart.

In this regard, populism is also a sociological phenomenon: It is tied to the people’s situation, where the predominant feeling is one of triple exclusion: political, social, and cultural. Cultural insecurity, which has been well-studied by Laurent Bouvet,[22] [30] begins when you start feeling, rightly or wrongly, like a foreigner in your own land; and when you start perceiving, rightly or wrongly, your neighbors as a threat because of their ethnocultural origin or religion. The question of your way of life is essential here — of mores in the Hegelian sense of Sittlichkeit (customary ethical life as opposed to formal Kantian Moralität).

Christophe Guilluy has demonstrated that class divisions now conceal cultural and identitarian issues.[23] [31] In a world that has become at once illegible and a source of anxiety, identitarian motivation is inseparable from the social question. Those who most greatly suffer from the social pathologies brought by immigration are also those who do not have the means of avoiding them because of their poverty or the precarious situation in which they find themselves. The popular classes are suffering the consequences of austerity policies and mass immigration at the same time: those who do not have the means to live apart or go to school apart, who live far from the big cities where wealth and managerial personnel are concentrated, those who are relegated to peripheral France. At this point, the National Front becomes the middle class’s party of escape. “Support for the NF expresses a real class conflict,” emphasizes Christophe Guilluy. “The NF electorate is almost more proletarianized that was the Communist electorate of the 1960s.”[24] [32] “For the first time,” he says, “the majority of the popular class is not living where wealth and employment are created. This has never before happened in history. The result: the inhabitants of peripheral France are being excluded from any chance of rising in society and turn towards anti-system political options. If we add white-collar workers, small farmers, and other ill-paid and threatened groups to the working class, we get most of the economically active population. Add to these retirees and the young originating in these categories, and you have most of the French population.”[25] [33] This is why nearly all populist movements defend both living standards and a way of life. “Parties which insist on only one or the other of these objects will not achieve great results,” emphasizes political scientist Marco Tarchi.[26] [34]


You can buy Greg Johnson’s The Year America Died here. [36]

Poverty, distress, a feeling of abandonment: All this explains the breadth of the crisis. As at the time of the Cahiers de doléance, the people has the feeling of no longer being represented by the elites which form a caste “with separate interests contradicting those of the population” (Jacques Sapir). It has the feeling that its social situation is continuing to deteriorate, that the era of full employment has passed forever, and that the future will be even worse. It has the feeling that the values to which it adheres are today being mocked or held in contempt, and the feeling that its way of life is being threatened by the presence on the national territory of a population with different mores that it perceives as foreign, if not hostile. It has the feeling that the public powers have abdicated sovereignty and that the European Union, far from protecting it from the effects of globalization, constitutes an anti-social project that contributes to aggravating economic and cultural insecurity.

Ever larger segments of the people feel excluded, misunderstood, held in contempt, and forgotten. They have the sense that they have become non-existent, superfluous. They no longer support the ritual formulas and mantras of the politically correct, the tool of neopuritan leagues and the interventionist State, hygienic and punitive. They are fed up with hearing that their fears are empty and the threats to them illusory, that we are experiencing the “blessings of globalization” or that immigration is an “opportunity for France,” and that in any case “one cannot stop progress.” They become furious when the only response to their concerns is that they result from xenophobic fantasies, optical illusions, or groundless fears. They become furious when told there is no problem because we have decided once and for all that there cannot be any.

A formidable crisis of confidence is affecting men, institutions, and the media. People no longer believe anyone, or believe in anything. Locked in a system where they can do anything as long as it does not change anything, suffering every day the effects of decisions they did not make, confronted with denial by the media and with the moral superiority claimed by the elites as a monopoly, our contemporaries go mad. Then they revolt against the only correct way of thinking [pensée unique], which pretends that there is no alternative to the neoliberal order and that the dissolution of peoples in the global market is the only horizon of human history.

Since 2005, the same scenario has been repeated: the Right says to vote yes, the Left says to vote yes, all the big media companies say to vote yes, the international experts and foreign heads of state say to vote yes — and the people says no. Result: amazement, indignation, and anger. And on the side of the elites, contempt only grows toward an unpredictable people who think wrongly and whose reactions upset all their plans. There as well, fear is omnipresent: fear of the people’s anger, fear of losing the privileges and positions they have obtained, fear of seeing the papier-mâché walls that separate them from their fellows collapse.

With the chasm that has been opened between the people and the ruling class, political legitimacy and political reality have each moved farther away from each other. With the thought of the public square separated from the thought of the palace, we are seeing a new secession of the plebs. The “plebs” is seceding within the national community not because it wants to destroy it, but because it intends to reconstitute it on a different basis. The hollowing-out of politics has caused it to lose its capacity for giving institutional form to the social realm. “Without an implosion of the traditional political system,” writes Christophe Guilluy, “an explosion and fragmentation of French society appears inevitable.”[27] [37]

This is the main characteristic of populism: It expresses not a horizontal (Left-Right) opposition, but a vertical one; the people against the elites, ordinary folks “down here” against the privileged “up there.” This opposition cannot be reduced to a recycling of the old Poujadist rancor of the “little people” against the “bigshots.” It rests on the conviction that a technocratic and financial elite established in the media and in the corridors of power, based on incestuous connivance if not actual corruption, has deliberately decided to deprive the voters of their power in order to remove their own activities from all oversight. This elite, which is divided only regarding the means for arriving at the same ends, adheres to values and propounds watchwords in which the people no longer recognize themselves. It imposes orientations the people condemn because they observe that their way of life deteriorates as a result. Cut off from social reality, it is perceived as foreign to the nation insofar as it is both indifferent to the national interests and deeply deterritorialized. As in 1793, the elites are perceived as the “foreign party” — or more precisely as the party which thinks all forms of belonging have become obsolete, so that no one is foreign any longer.

The opposition between the dominant and the dominated has thus returned in a big way. “People” have replaced the people. The dominant ideology refers as always to a dominant class; but while it commands the assent of a majority within the corridors of power, it has become increasingly a minority position among ordinary people. Looking for the bearings it has lost, the people manifests its disdain for a New Class[28] [38] which thinks itself exempt from the rules to which “little people” have to submit, and whose way of life, far removed from and superior to that of the people, displays an irresistible tendency to nomadism, perpetual change, the rejection of roots, contempt for communitarian and popular values, a mad rush for profit, limitless permissiveness, and a fascination with “winners.” Elected by neocapitalist globalization, this political and media New Class was formed under the effects of an intensification of mobility in a climate marked by the deregulation of markets, and technological innovations that overcame the limits of space and time. It groups political leaders, businessmen, and media representatives — all intimately bound together, all convinced of the “danger” of popular aspirations — in a common elitism of wealth and appearance.

The principal characteristic of this oligarchy, writes Paul Piccone, is its claim to “possession of a superior and universally valid knowledge proper for legitimating what it envisages as a highly necessary rationalization of society.” The New Class uses its cultural capital to assure itself a privileged position by disqualifying “as ‘irrational’ any alternative, intuitive, or more generally informal modes of existence which allow ordinary people without intellectual or specialized pretentions to give meaning and coherence to their everyday lives. The result is that we see nihilism and the gradual disintegration of society.” “This social fracture,” adds Piccone, “observable not merely at the local level but also on a global scale, engenders a type of inequality much deeper than anything the capitalism of old was ever able to create.”[29] [39]

Costanzo Preve speaks of a “global middle class characterized by ease of travel, by touristic English, a moderate use of drugs, birth control, a new androgynous transsexual aesthetic, third-worldist humanism, a multiculturalism without any real cultural curiosity, and finally by a general approach to philosophy which turns it into a form of psychological group ‘therapy’ and a gymnastics of communicational relativism where the old, laborious Socratic dialogue becomes the babbling of the half-educated.”[30] [40]

It is this ruling class which today finds itself confronted by the eternal return of the people — and this confrontation transcends all the old divisions. As Marcello Veneziani was saying as early as 1995, “It is possible that the old Left-Right opposition may be replaced or regenerated by the opposition between populism and oligarchism, or to be more exact between communitarian and liberal culture.”[31] [41] Christophe Guilluy in turn has recently observed that “the break is no longer so much between Left and Right as between the dominant class, whether of Left or Right and the popular class.”

The main (but not the only) division opposes those who profit from globalization, whether on the Left or Right, and those who are its victims — those who think in terms of peoples and those who only want to recognize individuals and humanity. It is the division which opposes peripheral France to urbanized France, the people to the globalized elites, the ordinary man to the New Class, the common people and the declining middle class to the globalist grande bourgeoisie, those who favor borders to the partisans of “openness,” the “invisible” to the “omnipresent” — in short: those below and those above. The real division is the defense of the people — the cause of the people.

This break between the New Class and the people seems irreparable, but we must not be fooled: The rise of populism does not correspond only to a moment of crisis characterized by the decay of systems inherited from the post-war era following the collapse of the Soviet system, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of the Cold War. It also marks the end of a historical cycle which is in part the cycle of modernity. Gramsci said that the old world is dying while another is finding it hard to be born — and that between the two there exist monsters. “Political reconfiguration has itself become a political question,” says Paul Piccone, “and its outcome will depend on a political struggle.”[32] [42]

“All sorts of political representation are today roundly looked down upon and sometimes even held in contempt,” observes Alain Duhamel. “The parties have no prestige left. . . . Labor unions have little credit. I won’t even speak of the media world. Office-holders enjoy no prestige, and one can even speak of an adamantine contempt for representative democracy.”[33] [43] In this climate of universal organic crisis, can populist movements represent a long-term solution? This is impossible to say, and it is not the object of the pieces brought together in this book to answer such a question. (Some of them have already been published, others not. They have been revised in order to make up the present volume, but each nevertheless preserves its autonomy and internal coherence.) We have not tried to pass judgment on the value of populist movements, on their good points and faults, or on their propositions’ relevance, but rather on the political meaning of their irresistible rise insofar as it obviously corresponds to a new page in Europe’s political history. The final balance, whenever it can be drawn up, will necessarily be mixed. What we can already do now is ask ourselves the meaning of what we are seeing.

*  *  *

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[1] [46] Pierre Manent, « Les gouvernants ne nous représentent plus, ils nous surveillent, » Le Figaro, August 1, 2016, 19.

[2] [47] Raoul-Marc Jennar does not hesitate to describe globalization as a “world coup d’Etat,” since “it amounts to a transfer of the attributes of popular sovereignty to supranational decision-making centers where everything has been done to assure that popular sovereignty cannot be exercised: the IMF, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the European Union” (“Left/Right: an obsolete cleavage?” at the website Médiapart, September 5, 2011, 3.). Cf. also Antoine Garapon, « Une gauche ‘ringardise’ par la mondialization ?, » in Esprit, September 2016, 33-43.

[3] [48] Let us remember that in the first round of the 1988 presidential election the two main candidates, François Mitterand and Jacques Chirac, together received 54.1% of the vote. On April 21, 2002, Chirac and Lionel Jospin had already received no more than 35.8% With 19.7% of the vote, Chirac registered the lowest score ever obtained by an incumbent president since 1974. (François Mitterand had obtained 34.1% in the first round in 1988.)

[4] [49] For a critique of the theory of the political market, cf. especially Pierre Merle, « L’Homo politicus est-il un Homo oeconomicus? L’analyse économique du choix politique: approche critique, » in Revue Française de science politique, February 1990, 75. Cf. also Chantal Mouffe, L’illusion du consensus, Albin Michel, Paris, 2016.

[5] [50] Pierre Dardot & Christian Laval, La nouvelle raison du monde. Essai sur la société néolibérale, La Decouverte, Paris 2010, 137.

[6] [51] Pierre Manent, « Les gouvernants ne nous représentent plus, ils nous surveillent, » op. cit.

[7] [52] Laurent Bouvet, L’Insécurité. Le malaise identitaire français, Fayard, Paris 2015, 5.

[8] [53] Cf. Bertrand Rothé, De l’abandon au mépris, Comment le PS a tourné le dos à la classe ouvrière, Seuil, Paris 2013.

[9] [54] Serge Halimi, Le grand bond en arrière. Comment l’ordre libéral s’est imposé au monde, Fayard, Paris 2004 (second revised edition: Agone, Marseille 2012); Jacques Généreux, La Grande Régression, Seuil, Paris 2010.

[10] [55] Jean-Claude Michéa, « Pour en finir avec le XXIe siècle, » Preface to the second edition of Michel Landa’s French translation of Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations, Climats, Castelnau-le-Lez 2000, 18. Cf. also the title of Manuel Valls’ Pour en finir avec le vieux socialism . . . et être enfin de gauche, Robert Laffont, Paris 2008.

[11] [56] Cf. the report by Bruno Jeanbar, Olivier Ferrand, & Romain Prudent, Gauche: quelle majorité électorale pour 2012 ? (Terra Nova, Paris 2011), where one can read this revealing passage: “It is not possible for the Left today to restore its historical class coalition: the working class is no longer the heart of the Left-wing electorate, is no longer in step with the Left’s values as a whole, and can no longer be, as it once was, the motor driving the makeup of a Left-wing electoral majority. For the Left to implement a class strategy based on the working class, or more broadly on the popular classes, would require it to renounce its cultural values.”

Hence the embarrassment of a great part of today’s Left with regard to radical Islam or anti-white racism. The memory of the anti-colonial struggle has nourished the essentialist and overdetermining idea that, even after the disappearance of the old colonies, European man remains fundamentally imperialist and racist, and thus always guilty, which justifies demanding eternal “repentance” from him, while the formerly colonized and their descendants remain victims, which authorizes an empathetic response to (if not actual justification of) their most aggressive and violent behavior, since everything they do is supposed to result from their identity and their “dominated” position. So nothing is ever really their fault (such is the basis of the “culture of excuses”).

Laurent Bouvet, who speaks in this context of a “colonial complex,” explains: “From the 1970s, when the economic crisis and immigration from formerly colonized countries began, this post-colonial way of thinking has been swallowing up the classic workers’ emancipation and class struggle way of thinking. . . . A large part of the Left — in politics, non-profits, labor unions, and the intelligentsia — has been orphaned by this great socialist and Communist grand narrative, and will find a raison d’être in this fight for the new wretched of the Earth by largely converting to different forms of liberalism: political liberalism with the Rights of Man and Liberal Democracy against the residues of Communist Totalitarianism; economic liberalism with the law of the market and finance capitalism against Statism and Keynesianism; cultural liberalism with individual emancipation according to personal rather than collective identity. . . . In such a setting, the terrorist is first and above all perceived as a victim, even if his act per se is condemned” (« L’Islamisme, la gauche et le complexe colonial, » on the website Figaro Vox, July 22, 2016). The denialist Left thus nourishes the rejectionist Right.)

[12] [57] « Jean-Claude Michéa répond à dix questions, » in Gilles Labelle, Eric Martin & Stéphane Vibert (ed.), Les Racines de la liberté. Réflexions à partir de l’anarchisme tory, Nota Bene, Montréal 2014, 359-360.

[13] [58] In Jean-Michel De Waele & Mathieu Vieira (ed.), Une droitisation de la classe ouvrière en Europe?, Economica, Paris 2011. This migration of the working-class vote to the National Front, which is perceived as better able to defend the dominated classes’ structural interests, accelerated the collapse of the Communist Party which, beginning with the 2001 municipal elections, lost control of one-third of the towns of over 15,000 people that it had previously controlled. In the 2007 presidential election, the Communist candidate Marie-George Buffet received no more than 1.9% of the vote.

[14] [59] This new rise in populism on the political scene of the United States (which is one of its countries of origin) has had its effects on party political programs. In August 2016, a poll by the Pew Research Center showed that only 32% of Republican voters are favorable to free trade, compared to 58% of Democrats, whereas in 2009 the figures were 57% of Republicans and 48% of Democrats.

[15] [60] Anthony Giddens, The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy, Polity Press, Cambridge 1998.

[16] [61] Guy Sorman, « Le clivage droite/gauche est dépassé, il faudra fous y faire, » on the website Contrepoints, August 6, 2016.

[17] [62] Thibault Isabel, « Christopher Lasch : un populiste contre le progrès, » Krisis, February 2008, 99.

[18] [63] Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations, W. W. Norton & Company, New York 2018, 7. Cf. also Michaël Foessel, Le temps de la gauche, in Esprit, September 2016, 68-79, who notes that the Left’s view of the future “has become increasingly disillusioned” (p. 70), whereas “faith in the future” was its principal driving force in the past.

[19] [64] Cf. Jean-Pierre Lebrun, La condition humaine n’est pas sans conditions, Denoël, Paris 2010.

[20] [65] Marcel Gauchet, in Le Journal du dimanche, September 16, 2013.

[21] [66] Cf. Julien Damon, Eliminer la pauvreté, PUF, Paris 201 ; L’Exclusion, PUF, Paris 2014.

[22] [67] Laurent Bouvet, L’Insecurité. Le malaise identitaire français, op. cit. Cf. also by the same author Le Sens du peuple, Gallimard, Paris 2012.

[23] [68] Christophe Guilluy, Fractures françaises, François Bourin, Paris 2010 (2nd ed. Flammarion, Paris 2013); La France périphérique. Comment on a sacrifié les classes populaires, Flammarion, Paris 2014; Le Crépuscule de la France d’en haut, Flammarion, Paris 2016.

[24] [69] Christophe Guilluy, « L’antifascisme cache des intérêts de classe, » Causeur, January 2016, 29.

[25] [70] Ibid., 29-31. “Immigrationism, i.e. the ideology which celebrates and makes use of migratory flows, has always been the enemy of the popular classes,” writes Galaad Wilgos, who recalls that “in Marx and Engels we find one of the first revolutionary critiques of immigrationism. They both use the concept of a reserve army to describe the existence of a mass of unemployed that allows the holders of capital to not raise salaries and threaten those fortunate enough to have a job” (« Bouge de là!, » Limite, January 2016, 67-68). Marx and Engels write in particular that “the English bourgeoisie has not only exploited Ireland’s poverty to keep the English working class’ standard of living low thanks to the forced immigration of poor Irishmen, but also divided the proletariat into two hostile camps” (Ireland and the Irish Question, International Publishers, New York, 1972).

[26] [71] Marco Tarchi, « Pourquoi le populisme hante l’Europe, » Causeur, July-August 2016, 45.

[27] [72] Christopher Guilluy, La France périphérique, op. cit., 179.

[28] [73] The expression “New Class” goes back to Mikhail Bakunin. It had a resurgence in the 1970s in the writings of the Hungarians György Konrád and Iván Szelényi, who used it in their critique of the old Soviet Union. More recently it has been taken up by Paul Piccone, founder of the American journal Telos, in the same sense we are giving it here.

[29] [74] Paul Piccone, « De la Nouvelle Gauche au populisme postmoderne, » in Krisis, February 2008, 82-83.

[30] [75] Costanzo Preve, «Une discussion pour l’instant interminable. Considérations préliminaires sur la genèse historique passée, sur la fonction systémique présente et les perspectives futures de la dualité politico-religieuse droite/gauche, » in Krisis, May 2009, 12.

[31] [76] Marcello Veneziani, Sinistra e destra. Riposte a Norbeto Bobbio, Vallecchi, Florence 1995, 154.

[32] [77] Paul Piccone, « Les héritiers américains de l’Ecole de Francfort, » Eléments, November 2000, 49.

[33] [78] Alain Duhamel, « Crise des institutions ou crise de la société politique?, » Le Débat, September-October 2016, 19.