Presidential campaign in France: populism and anti-populism, two expressions of capitalism’s dead-end

4 posts / 0 new
Last post
jk1921
Presidential campaign in France: populism and anti-populism, two expressions of capitalism’s dead-end
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Presidential campaign in France: populism and anti-populism, two expressions of capitalism’s dead-end. The discussion was initiated by jk1921.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

jk1921
Who is the anti-populist?

Who is the anti-populist in this race? There doesn't seem to be one--or at least not one who presents themselves in such a way. Fillion seems to be done (but so did Trump), so Macron seems to be the best bet of the establishment, but even he is running as a kind of outsider--a centrist outsider, but an outsider nonetheless. It is interesting though that this article doesn't even mention Melenchon, who has supposedly surged in the polls and even if he doesn't make the second round will have an important role to play in determining the eventual winner. Still, some things I have been seeing seem to suggest there is some growing sympathy for him in the political class as the only way to ensure Le Pen does not win, in other words the French political class should not make the same mistake as the American pols did and try to shove a centrist down an angry population's throat and allow a dangerous boor to win. Well, we will see what happens tomorrow and in the second round.

jk1921
So Macron probably wins,

So Macron probably wins, which is interesting, because he seems a creature of something like the "center-left" policy-wise, even though politically he has to try to present himself as an outsider. David Milliband was on US television this weekend, where he seemed to suggest that Obama should come out of hiding and try to reinvigorate something like an international center-left, which is in increasing discredit across the developed world--not a center-left hiding behind outsider politics, but a self-conscious, proud centrism that is the only possible response to populism. Supposedly, Obama could do this, because he remains immensly popular around the word. So what is this now--a proposal for an international of neo-liberal centrists? Too funny.

And of course, no sooner does Milliband say this than Obama comes out and makes his first public appeareance since leaving office yesterday--in which he denounced all the usual demons that have led bourgeois civilization to its current impasse--gerrymadering, political polarization, self-reinforcing partisan news narratives, cultural sorting, etc. Although all of these things certainly do play a role in the emergence of the populist moment, there was no attempt to offer a deeper understanding of where these features of modern life come from themselves. Tellingly though, Obama will be continuing his speaking circuit, as he is set to give a speech on Wall Street for the fee of $400,000 pretty soon. Well, at least he had the good sense to do this after he left the White House, rather than before trying to win an election. Still, this whole episode seems rather illustrative of the moment we are in. All that was missing was an appearance by Justin Trudeau.

jk1921
Well, that election was

Well, that election was rather anti-climatic. No messed up polling in France, I guess. It almost seems like the threat from Le Pen was exaggerated in order to set up the narrative of a huge win for rational centrism and a stunning blow for "populism." Obama's endorsement of Macron just before the election seemed designed to give the impression of a neo-liberal comeback in the works. Sanders and Corbyn's celebration of the outcome as a defeat of racism and xenophobia seemed to be an attempt to not get tarred with the populist label, while at the same time demonstrating their roles in defending the democratic ideology--as if it is elections can vanquish racism and xenophobia.