Cultural Revolutions

Tapping into Concerns

Jean-Marie Le Pen’s success in the first round of France’s presidential election—he came in second and faced President Jacques Chirac in the final round-fell far short of a “revolution,” despite the right’s wishful thinking.  The number of votes in his favor has risen only slightly since 1995, and the rout of the Socialists was primarily caused by the disunity of the left and by the arrogant odiousness of Lionel Jospin, the Socialist prime minister and presidential candidate who has now retired from politics.  Even with the votes of his former ally Bruno Megret, Le Pen could not come close to becoming France’s president on May 5.

Le Pen’s relative success nevertheless indicates that he has tapped into resonant sources of grievance and concern.  Many Europeans worry about immigration, crime, and the loss of cultural identity, and they feel alienated from the dominant post-national establishment.  France is ten-percent Muslim today, and one third of her newborn babies are Arab, not French.  Her classrooms have been turned into laboratories for multicultural experimentation, and her working-class suburbs are ruled by immigrant gangs that are every bit as violent as their counterparts in East L.A. or Brixton.

Faced with such issues, mainstream politicians run for cover—either because they don’t have a view, or because they have politically...

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