The « République » was the focus of french political action this week. Attachement to « republican values » and to the very concept of « the republic » was hotly contested between the governing socialists under François Hollande and the conservative oppostion party which has just relabelled itself « Les Républicains ».
On the left (so-called), Hollande delivered a long speech during the investiture of four personalities to the Panthéon, a resting place for heroes of the said Republic. Geneviève de Gaulle, Germaine Tillion, Pierre Brossolette and Jean Zay, all related to the french Résistance during WWII, were thus the setting for a warning by President Hollande against what he calls the « contemporary ennemi », indifference. Indifference to fanatism, racisme, antisemitism, climate change, inequality, injustice, the planet. Making a parallel between today and WWII, he called for attentiveness and resistance (a key word in french politics) in the face of this indifference, which 75 years ago led to one of the darkest pages of human history.
Interestingly, referring to the January 7 attacks and the link to a supposed failure of social integration which spawned the Kouachi brothers and, more generally, social unrest associated with french nationals of northern african origin, Hollande stated that this bad situation was not « the fault of the Republic » but « the fault of a lack of Republic », thus putting the blame not on the french institutions but on the drift towards communautarist extremism. The Republic, he added, was not rooted in one spot but a movement to which all, and especially the youth, should take part.
Quite, but as we know, in hierarchal societies such as this one, example comes from the top and the top is clearly not up to the task. Nevertherless many if not most people here are not indifferent: millions participate in associative activities of all kinds, thousands help – even illegally – migrants alleviate their misery or help refugees get staying rights. The Republic cannot get itself off the hook so easily: it is within its institutions that indifference to real problems takes root. For example, there is no official recognition of the major responsibility of France in bringing down Libya and creating the human catastrophy that has followed, with thousands attempting to cross over to Europe, bated by mafia gangs. It is the Republic that brought in migrant workers in the 50s and packed their children in suburban gettoes with no work, minimal education, great opportunities for crime and, now, agressive communautarism. Solving these problems will take a lot more than moralist hot air and repressive legislation.
Talking of hot air, warmongerer, zionist and moralist-in-chief, ex-playboy philosopher Bernard Henry-Levy (BHL) found himself blacklisted by the Russians and, again, the target of the Noël Godin creampie throwing gang in Brussels. Good shot! This guy was, among other sorry initiatives, key in selling French military involvement in Libya to the french public, and thus helping Sarkozy kill Kadhafi and shut down allegations that his 2007 presidential campaign was partly financed by the ex-Libyan leader, according to investigative journal Mediapart.
Opposition leader and former President Sarkozy was invited to this very republican ceremony at the Panthéon but declined, preferring to prepare his weekend meeting for the foundation of his new political party, « Les Républicains », on the ashes of the UMP – itself a polymorphic political war machine created by Jacques Chirac from a number of right-wing parties in 2002. A new name was needed to conceal the corruption affairs surrounding the UMP and some of its VIPs – including Sarkozy himself – and to tighten Sarkozy’s grip on this electoral machine. He is pitted against at least three other pretenders for the conservative primaries next year: Chirac-era heavyweight Alain Juppé, former prime minister (under Sarkozy) François Fillon and new generation hotshot Bruno Le Maire. Saturday’s foundation meeting went the only way it could: hype, bullshit and hypocrisy from the little prick which most french people don’t want to see again anyway (according to a recent poll by the journal Le Parisien, 72% of respondents say they don’t want Sarkozy to be a contender in the next presidential elections in 2017).
Sarkozy stated his personnal claim to ownership of the republican ideal in the face of the socialist « traitors to the Republic », and his followers in the (small) audience went as far as booing the other pretenders as they took the stage for their own speeches, even though they are all part of the same party. Sarkozy needs to become President again to say a step ahead of (and try to quash) the numerous scandals rattling behind him like a string of cooking pans on a wedding night.
If he wins, he might have to do without his good friends, former Chief-of-staff Claude Guéant and former police chief Michel Gaudin, both about to stand trial for misappropriation of public money under his presidency. No wonder the new « Les Républicains » party was soon renamed « Les Ripoublicains », « ripoux » being slang for « pourri », meaning « rotten ».