Why exactly do NeoCons hate France? After all, for anyone who has studied or lived in France, as I have, it is apparent that France does in fact have a strong conservative tradition, one could argue, even stronger than the one in the U.S. France has its problems – like any country, especially its liberal media and bureaucracies – but it certainly does not deserve the unhinged neocon propaganda it receives.
Neocon Denis Boyles, French-hater par excellence, author of boilerplate articles and book Vile France: Fear, Duplicity, Cowardice and Cheese, rants about the current election in France over at National Review. Unsurprisingly, he is disappointed that the neobliberal Francois “I am a Clintonian” Bayrou probably will not make the final round in the election. He says:
“Only a Bayrou-Sarkozy contest will force the center-left and the center-right to stake out genuine differences. Sarkozy trails in that projected contest, but what his campaign should be about â€” creating fundamental change â€” is best suited not only to his real personality but more importantly to a pursuit of a mandate for change.”
Following Burke, shouldn’t conservatives be skeptical of unbridled change? Or shouldn’t we at least give reasons for it, and not just blindly celebrate it?
And in an ideal world, what change would Boyles like?
(1) For France to become an obsequious client state in a neocon global empire?
(2) Of course, globalization, globalization, globalization. Suicidal free trade, etc?
(3) For France to relinquish any pride in her traditions (especially those conservative ones, against which the neocons have declared war)?
Of course, if National Review were conservative – which it is not – it would come out in support of Le Pen, the only real conservative in the race. But Bayrou barely mentions him in his article.
The typical neocon / neoliberal dismissal of Le Pen is that he is a “socialist.” If this were true, which it is not, it would not automatically disqualify him from being a conservative. This type of economic reductionism practiced by Republicans, the building of a political philosophy upon an economic system, is more reminiscent of Marxism than conservatism. For any real conservative, tradition, family, and ancestors should matter more than ideological adherence to an economic system. Le Pen is a real conservative because he has an interest in conserving, i.e. preserving, France, the French and their totemic traditions.
Paut Gottfried has recently written – and he is correct – that authentic conservatives in the U.S. should be looking at the Front National for inspiration. Even though we may not follow it point for point – Americans definitely would want a more decentralized variant – it certainly passes as more conservative than the Republican Party, arch-defender of neoliberal corporate globalism.
So why do the neocons hate France? Chilton Williamson, although writing about John J. Miller, hits the nail on the head, and could be discussing almost all neocons, when he writes:
“Miller and his co-author (an old school chum who teaches history at Seton Hall University), are very angry with France and with the French. The proximate reason is President Chiracâ€™s opposition to the Iraq War. An amazing list of more distant reasons is also adduced, ranging from the French-Indian Wars of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the XYZ and Citizen Genet Affairs of the 1790s, Napoleonâ€™s insults to the young American republic, Napoleon IIIâ€™s contemplated support of the Confederacy and his invasion of Mexico (perhaps if heâ€™d won, the Border Patrol would today be arresting Frenchmen in berets along the U.S.-Mexican border?), Clemenceauâ€™s bamboozling of President Wilson at Versailles, Jean-Paul Sartre, Charles De Gaulle, and Deconstructionism.
Only at the conclusion of the book, with its coy references to the French peopleâ€™s â€œhistoric levels of anti-Semitic sentimentâ€ and the French governmentâ€™s failure â€œto grapple with a rising tide of anti-Semitic sentiment,â€ are we given a hint at what is really eating the authors. “
Of course, the French are not truly anti-semitic, unless of course by “anti-semitism” one means criticism of Israel, under which charge about half of American Jews would be found guilty. But since the Suez Canal crisis, the French have been a little more pragmatic and patriotic (i.e. concerned with what actually is in France’s interest), which is bound to upset any neocon itching for perpetual war in the Middle East.
It is also amusing that the anti-French neocons are in fact the modern manifestation of the Jacobins: armed with liberal abstractions, they are prepared to transform the world to liberal democracy. And, simultaneously, they denounce the French conservative tradition, which is skeptical of this Jacobin nonsense.
The neocon hatred of France is about one issue and one issue only: Israel. It has nothing to do with France’s political and intellectual traditions.