Liberty leading the people: The rise of the extreme right in France, Part 2
The famous painting by Delacroix shows a triumphant Liberté, with a French flag, urging her army towards us, the viewers. We can either join them, or flee. The painting celebrates the July revolution of 1830, and since then Liberté herself has become an enduring icon of France. As the French pick a new president, it's the extreme right and the Front National with their candidate Marine Le Pen, which might well lead the French out of Europe and shut the door to immigrants. The second of Philip Coulter's three-part series. Part 3 airs Friday, May 5.
"Seen from the outside, I think France is looked at as a country which is very much united with a strong tradition of civil liberties...but seen from the inside, I believe we have really not recovered from the very wide rift that emerged at the time of the Revolution...and we are still fighting each other."
-- Jean-Yves Camus
Liberté égalité fraternité might look self-evident today, but the history of modern France is all about that struggle between those who believed in the natural right of people to govern themselves, and those who believed in the monarchy, or a military leader -- in any event, a strong man. That strong man theory morphed into something more familiar, what we would call the extreme right -- nationalist, isolationist, monocultural, at times xenophobic, fascist, anti-semitic. The present-day version of the extreme right in France is the Front National, and their leader, Marine LePen, is in the run-off election for the presidency this coming Sunday. The Front National pushes this nationalist idea of a monocultural France and a return to an idealised past -- that almost certainly never existed.
Guests in this episode:
- Jeremy Ghez -- professor of economics and international affairs at the Hautes Etudes de Commerce in Paris, Director of the HEC Centre for Geopolitics.
- Jean-Yves Camus -- political analyst at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS) and director of the Observatory for Radical Politics, author of Far-Right Politics in Europe.
- Joel Patrelle, farmer in Gisors.
- Didier David, Mayor of Trie-Chateau.
- Stall-keepers and shoppers at the Gisors market.
**This episode was produced by Philip Coulter.