How French Intellectuals Lost Their Faith…

My new piece for Quillette

As the Socialist government of François Hollande slumps into obscurity, the favourites in this year’s French presidential elections are a liberal, Emmanuel Macron, a conservative, François Fillon, and a national conservative, Marine Le Pen. Amid the usual corruption scandals is the smell of what the French call “le declinisme.“

France is a country ill-at-ease with itself. Mr Hollande plumbed record depths in his approval ratings and while Ms Le Pen is predicted to lose the elections, it is astonishing that she has so much of a shot. Populism has spread across America and Europe, of course, but what distinguishes France is the extent to which its artists and intellectuals have expressed the same concerns as its electorate.

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5 Responses to How French Intellectuals Lost Their Faith…

  1. Simon says:

    What coincidence, this week I’m putting the finishing touches on an article for a Danish political magazine about the history of right-wing politics in France from the 1789 revolution until the coming election and how the current ideological schisms in the country can be roughly traced back to then.

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    • bsixsmith says:

      Interesting! I avoided mentioning, for example, Maurras and Brasillach because I didn’t see too many contemporary connections but am I wrong?

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      • Simon says:

        There’s a direct line from then to now, just many generations removed, and it seems like something French academia is more aware of. The political science journal “Politica Hermetica” published by Sorbonne frequently discusses both of those two authors and many more as well as their influence on contemporary politics, for example.

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      • bsixsmith says:

        Cheers! I’ll have a look.

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  2. Did you have a look at the debate between Eric Zemmour and J-C Cambadélis from last year? Zemmour speaks at length about France not being Franc any more and they both give opposing definitions of populism and its origin.

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