François Fillon

During the second round of Presidential elections in France, it is likely (at this point in time) that a coalition led by center-right candidate François Fillon will defeat Marine La Pen. In The University Bookman, Eamon Moynihan (whom we might call a #NeverPen-er) reviews two books written by François Fillon.

Somewhat paradoxically, [Fillon] can be viewed as both a precursor to Donald Trump and as the anti-Trump. In effect, he is the kind of nominee that many American conservatives were hoping for in 2016 but which, for a variety of reasons, our political process did not or could not produce.

Some salient excerpts:

In another chapter entitled “Belief in Progress,” Fillon makes clear that he has no time for modern environmentalism. Deriding what he refers to as a “new religion” that is dedicated to “décroissance” or “shrinkage,” he writes, “We have learned to be afraid of everything, of nuclear energy, genetically modified organisms, fracking, nanotechnologies, globalization.” Rejecting what he calls the “absurd precautionary principle,” he wonders whether “the land of the Enlightenment” is still recognizable. “The world challenges us,” he says, “and we respond with obscurantism, jealousy, fear of progress, hatred of success, a blind egalitarianism that drives talent into exile and causes poverty to rise.”

On Catholicism:

Fillon’s politics also involve an unusual willingness to acknowledge his Catholicism and a more tentative willingness to support social conservatism…

On family values:

In the chapter on “Authority,” he makes a strong defense of the family in general. “Nothing,” he says, “can replace the family in terms of human development, in how we learn to master authority and respect.”… In this chapter, Fillon also weighs in on transgenderism, which arguably is the Lysenkoist cousin of the effort to redefine the family. Here he writes, “The force of popular opposition to the wacky [farfelu] project of introducing gender theory into the school curriculum is explained by the exasperation of seeing the State intrude everywhere, going directly into the home, trying to regulate everything.”

On The National Front:

A key chapter in the book focuses on his likely opponent in the second round, Marine Le Pen. Arguing that it serves no purpose to accuse her supporters of being would-be fascists, he writes, “All the supporters of the National Front are not nostalgic for Maréchal Pétain.” Rather, he says, “they are tired of the pervasiveness of ‘political correctness’ and ideological conformity.” The problem with the National Front, he says, is twofold. First, “everything is blamed on scapegoats, foreigners, and Europe.… It refuses all comparison and competition. But a great country cannot be isolated from the world.… From this point of view, a European currency is a standard that makes it possible to evaluate and differentiate the economic performance of the different countries that share it. Leaving the Euro would be like breaking the thermometer instead of treating the illness.” And second, “the National Front defends completely unrealistic policies on government spending that rival the utopianism that one hears on the far Left. Roughly speaking, the reasoning is: Let’s get rid of these scapegoats and we will be able to do anything you can imagine, the money will flood in, no effort will be necessary.” Does any of this sound recognizable in an American context? Sadly, of course, it does.

On Islamism in France, and Islamism in general:

As the blurb on the back states, “Let’s forget political correctness and the usual preconceptions: it is long past the time to call a cat a cat [yes, the French say that] and totalitarianism a totalitarianism. Yes, the bloody invasion of Islamism in our daily life could presage a Third World War. Yes, the real question will be how to overcome this terror that has taken aim at France and the French people. Enough with the rhetorical evasions, enough with the demagoguery. In lieu of the spirit of Munich that now emanates from the highest reaches of government, this challenge calls for the approach favored by Clemenceau: in politics ‘it’s necessary to know what you want. When you know it, it’s necessary to say it. When you say it, it’s necessary to have the courage to do it.’”…

According to Fillon, the threat of Islamic totalitarianism is similar in many ways to the threat that totalitarianism posed during World War II. “To some this reference seems excessive,” he writes, “and yet we find ourselves before an adversary that pursues total war against us, not for the purpose of enslavement, but rather to annihilate us.” In this regard, Fillon argues that the roots of Islamic totalitarianism are deep indeed, and stem from a long alliance between religious and political authority. More than just a war against colonialism, he argues that the Algerian War was also a war for Islam, although, he says, it was never fashionable to admit this…

[Fillon] wants an end to policies that accommodate anti-Republican sensibilities, such as separation of the sexes. Finally, he decries the media that prefers to showcase people like Tariq Ramadan as the supposed face of moderate Islam, while ignoring many defenders of Western values who have spoken up at great personal risk.

Moynihan concludes:

As noted, Fillon is the kind of candidate that many American conservatives were hoping for in 2016, a champion of both free markets and traditional values. As such, his campaign is one that should be watched closely. It will be a test, first, to see whether his ideas can currently win an election in a Western nation, and second, if Fillon wins, whether his ideas can achieve their stated purpose. In the meantime, it will be particularly interesting to see how Fillon is covered in the American media, especially by such outlets as Drudge, which seems more intent on highlighting candidates on the irresponsible right, such as Marine Le Pen or Geert Wilders.

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