Francoscepticism

Naomi Klein’s ‘anti-globalisation’ polemic No Logo, first published in 2000, makes no mention of the European Union (EU), which is odd on the face of it as the twelve-starred EU ‘flag’ is as much of a corporate logo as any discussed in the book.  Perhaps, from her Canadian home, she didn’t even think about it.  The only indirect reference to the EU is a photograph showing French farmers protesting about cuts to farm subsidies by throwing bags of corn gluten and chicken feed into the Seine during a protest in November 1992; this is shown above a photograph of G-8 leaders posing for the official ‘family’ photo in Cologne in June 1999.  If the juxtaposition is supposed to represent the farmers protesting against globalisation then it shows how little Klein understands, or at least at the time understood, about the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The CAP pre-dates the transformation of the European Economic Community (EEC) into the European Union and was used as a means of integrating the agricultural economies of the member states in preparation for eventual political union.  France has always received the largest individual slice of the CAP cake and French livestock farmers are renowned for their militancy in opposing cuts to their subsidies and/or low prices for their goods.  The real reason that subsidies could be cut, but rarely are, is more meat being produced than will ever be eaten, as farmers have been subsidised to breed too many animals. This oversupply in meat production results in low prices. But the farmers want to have it both ways, to breed too many animals and to be paid a high price for their carrion.

In all areas of agriculture, heavily subsidised European farmers – the French in particular – are able to undercut African farmers, destroying the livelihoods of the latter and keeping their countries in a state of post-colonial dependency on Europe; the real reason for the continued poverty of African countries.  Concomitant with this, the EU imposes stringent import duties on agricultural products from outside the EU.  This is a distinctly French economic model, of which former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, the friend of post-colonial African dictators, would be proud: a policy of protectionism at home whilst preaching ‘free trade’ elsewhere.

If mentioning the CAP appears to be going off at a tangent to the subject of France specifically, then think about how the attitudes of French farmers reflect that of the French political and economic elite, who are happy to use ‘Anglo-Saxon’ methods when it suits them, Électricité de France (EdF) being a prime example of French protectionism at home, whilst exploiting free trade abroad.  EdF owns all of Britain’s nuclear power stations, so these are again ‘nationalised’, it is just that they are owned by a different nation.  As with globalisation, so with the EU, the French establishment are happy to flout the regulations (border controls, budget deficit in relation to GDP for Eurozone membership), when it suits them, but protest about other countries doing likewise.

Returning to the subject of farmers, another good example of French hypocrisy was that of José Bové (pictured above), a celebrity in the ‘anti-globalisation’ movement, who became famous for demolishing a McDonald’s outlet in 1999 and being imprisoned for it a few years later.  (Although Klein’s book mentions the McLibel trial in London, it omits any mention of Bové’s protest).  His protest wasn’t for environmental, let alone vegan, reasons.  Rather, it was against US import tariffs on Roquefort cheese, i.e. against the US taking a leaf out of the French book, practicing protectionism at home, whilst preaching ‘free trade’ elsewhere.  Bové is now an MEP, a corporate ‘Green’, ensuring that the subsidy taps keep on flowing.

Why I am rambling on about all this, is because these French attitudes appear to have been forgotten by the mainstream media and numerous bloggers when dealing with the forthcoming French presidential election, where personality politics have taken over.

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French cultural protectionism has long-been directed against the English-speaking world, even when the French themselves are happy to exploit ‘Anglo-Saxon’ economic methods when it suits them.  So whilst Marine Le Pen may be championed as an outsider, the only woman in the race, her support amongst the Anglospheric Alt-Right (the Breitbart crowd) may well work against her.  Aligning herself with the loose cannon in the White House may go down well with the Trumpkins, but is unlikely to do so with the French domestic electorate.  On the basis of mine enemy’s enemy is my friend, many British opponents of the EU are hoping that she will win to hasten the EU’s demise.  I am sceptical that first of all she will win and even if she does that France will leave the EU, because French Eurosceptism is based, not on a weak sense of European identity (as British Euroscepticism is), but on a strong one.  To put it bluntly, the French are happy to be European as long as they are in charge, or they think that they are.  It was the French, after all, who twice vetoed British membership of the EEC.

Prior to German reunification, France was an equal partner to West Germany in the EEC and as far as their respective capital cities were concerned, the Bundesdorf of Bonn could never compete with Paris.  However, since German reunification, followed by European Monetary Union and with it the dominance of the German economy, France has become a junior partner.  My other scepticism on France leaving the EU is precisely why I rambled on so much about the CAP, as whilst Marine Le Pen’s views may appeal to some rural conservatives, she will have a very hard job in convincing French farmers to give up the CAP privileges that they have become so accustomed to.  If she were to be elected and commit to take France out of the EU, I think that it may well be that militant farmers would bring her down; and there would be nothing whatsoever that the Trumpkin Alt-Right could do about it.

Reference

No Logo – Naomi Klein, Harper Collins / Flamingo, 2000; first paperback edition, 2001, photograph referred to above on p 438.  I purchased and read the paperback edition in early 2002.  Before typing all the above, I had a skim through it again and was surprised to find no reference to the EU, other than that photograph.

 

Cognitive Dissonance

On 5th February 2015, Marine Le Pen gave a speech to Oxford University’s debating chamber, the Oxford Union, on the matter of ‘Islamic ideology being to blame for Western Society’s ills’.  Outside there were more than two-hundred protestors (see picture below) according to the BBC, many of these from ‘United Against Fascism’ (UAF) who use the distinctly fascist tactic of trying to censor their opponents, rather than attempting to defeat their opponents’ arguments in debate.  These ‘anti-fascists’ fit into the category of Regressive Left, a term attributed to Maajid Nawaz, who is attempting to secularise Islam so that it can be compatible with Western Society.  He would have been a good opponent in the debating chamber to Marine Le Pen, had he been invited.

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The first political demonstration that I ever saw was back in 1980 or thereabouts, in Oxford.  Some Iranian students had set themselves up at the corner of Queen Street and St Ebbe’s with a banner entitled ‘Transition of a Dictator’, showing cartoon illustrations of the Shah gradually changing into Ayatollah Khomeini.  It was a piece of satire which would certainly have cost them their lives back in Iran.  Although the term ‘Regressive Left’ didn’t exist back then the common tactic for people of that ilk was to try and ‘No Platform …’ those who disagreed with them.  Also, at the time, because Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan were being financed by the USA to fight a proxy war against the Soviet Union, no-one on the political left allied themselves with Islam or tried to defend Islam.

Those protesting against Marine Le Pen were guilty of cognitive dissonance, trying to censor someone who was speaking against Islam, rather than challenging her views as to which aspects of Islam merit criticism; particularly where this relates to men who have been brought up in an Islamic culture and their attitudes towards women and girls from outside that culture.  One would think that so-called ‘anti-fascists’ would realise this, but to date they have remained silent about the ‘grooming’ gangs, Oxford having one of the worst of them, as exposed by the Operation Bullfinch investigation which I detailed in a previous blog post.  If these protestors had an ounce of intelligence between them, they would realise firstly that censorship campaigns usually backfire; and secondly that Marine Le Pen’s family-oriented conservative views (and even more so those of her niece Marion, who is now an Alt-Right pin-up) may well appeal to Muslims, who dislike the ‘decadence’ of living in a secular society.  This is an electoral inconsistency that Marine Le Pen has and which the Regressive Left are simply too stupid to exploit.

Postscript

For any native or former resident of Oxford reading this, the Iranian students had their banner under the covered area where Don Miller’s Hot Bread Kitchen was located at the back.  Their banner was opposite where the buses went along Queen Street and therefore visible to a lot of people.

There are other issues with regard to Marine Le Pen’s election campaign, re globalisation and French protectionism, which I may well deal with in a future blog post.

Since I first drafted this post, the Oxford Mail has reported that, there have not surprisingly been anti-Trump protests in Oxford, though they hardly represent the city’s population as a whole.  The protestors have remained quiet about this issue though, as always.

Winter Warmer

As my last post showed a half-naked man, then in the interests of balance, I’ve decided to write a post about Brigitte Bardot, the woman who made the bikini fashionable.

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Bardot is a ‘Marianne’, an icon of the French Republic, someone unafraid to speak her mind; a woman who abandoned her acting career to live with her menagerie of animals in Saint-Tropez, devoting her life to the causes of vegetarianism and animal rights, long before these became fashionable causes célèbres for the Hollywood Set.  It is easy to criticise Bardot and many may see her as just a wealthy elderly woman living near the Côte d’Azur, with its tan-to-cancer beaches and locals who look like they have been bred for their leather, speaking controversially in the safe knowledge that she can afford lawyers to fight any prosecutions against her for her views; also knowing that her iconic status affords her a certain degree of impunity.

Bardot’s objection to the barbarity of Halal and Kosher slaughter methods has drawn criticism from the Regressive Left to whom she is ‘racist’, when her views on this matter are in reality ‘culturalist’; and praise from the whiter-than-white snowflakes of the Alt-Right, a large proportion of whom are gun-toting, pro-hunting rednecks, hostile to her support for vegetarianism and animal rights.  If Bardot’s views on religious slaughter are ‘xenophobic’, then her opposition to the inherent cruelty of force-feeding ducks and geese for the production of foie gras; and her opposition to bullfighting, which is still practised in Languedoc, must be similarly ‘prejudiced’ against French culture, given that France is not exactly renowned for its adherence to animal welfare standards, let alone animal rights.  Bardot’s views on these matters are consistent (just like those of Morrissey, one of our most famous old curmudgeons, who has also in the past been accused of ‘racism’).

It is Bardot’s support for Marine Le Pen, whom she compared to Jeanne d’Arc, which is where she has drawn the most criticism.  If Bardot’s support is unconditional, then that criticism is deserved, as it is unlikely that Marine Le Pen would pay anything more than lip service to the causes to which Bardot has dedicated her life, as it would damage Le Pen’s electoral campaign among conservatives to do so.  That Bardot is willing to speak out, when feminists are unwilling to do so, against Islam, a religion which subordinates women, is itself a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that she should compromise her other views by allying herself with pro-hunting conservatives.  As an aside, a couple of years ago, French politician Nadine Morano used the above photograph on her Facebook page to campaign against women wearing burkas at the beach (this was slightly before the advent of the ‘burkini’ and the ‘controversy’ about that).  As Bardot is now an octogenarian, presumably Morano wouldn’t expect her to wear a bikini in order to prove her secular, patriotic credentials in the service of the republic.