The assassination of French satirists and police at Charlie Hebdo resonates particularly strongly. Americans take for granted political satire’s great purpose: to unveil communal recognition of a moment’s unspoken truths. Contemporary American political satire is safely and universally anodyne. It’s not post modern, just another dreary SEO empowered brand.
Elsewhere, shared laughter can be a more purposeful political and social act. With real repercussions. Political satire at its best gives immense power and voice to the seemingly powerless. And helps societies see dangers they might otherwise willfully ignore.
The re-emergence of Europe’s old “New Right” (ENR) from its birth in 1968 through the 1980s to its new, more viral guise underscores political satire’s importance. Satire is a crucial part of a healthy secular society. ENR long understood extremist Het Vlaams Blok leader, Filip Dewinter when he declared “the ideological majority is more important than the parliamentary majority.”
A new novel imagining France governed by Muslims summons a firestorm. This book and other best sellers about Islam in France and the French identity create a mood that ‘the center is giving way to extremes’. Here, in the realm of fascist and racial culture fears and sub rosa warfare, satire is especially valuable. Calls for a deceptive peace through satire’s self censorship in the name of ‘responsibility’ are a chimera.
Fascism in France is a complex, evolving and active political phenomenon. It deserves more attention here soon. For today, it’s worth noting that both Le Pens built the Front National into the third largest political party in France only partly upon French fascist Alain de Benoist’s Nouvelle Droite from 1968 et les autres. Along the way they rejected many of de Benoist’s core beliefs, including his stance against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia (de Benoist consistently has been anti-clerical). Marine Le Pen, even more than her father, combines the most antidemocratic aspects of the ENR with the virulent racialist existentialism of a ersatz Duginism. In a recent mock poll, she beat Hollande for the presidency with 54% of the vote.
It would be a compound tragedy if Le Pen manages to hijack the Charlie Hebdo heartbreak to further the FN’s racist, violent intolerance and gain additional traction. Merkel recently spoke out against German ultra Rightists groups. Europe needs more active affirmation of liberal democratic values. The French political establishment waivers how to deal with the FN in the assassinations’ aftermath. The lights truly go out in Europe if the intolerance of 3 extremists with guns empower the brown barrack intolerance of the crowd.