The Front National received an objective report from the unlikeliest of sources—BuzzFeed, of all places.
In a piece that highlights the party’s appeal to French youth, we get a fairly accurate picture of the much-maligned movement:
The Front’s ideas, once deemed extreme, are now even appearing in the French political mainstream, which has by and large not confronted problems of immigration and assimilation head-on.
Aliot cited a Socialist party politician, Malek Boutih, who recently declared that corrupt local politicians had sided with the “Islamo-Nazis” and were allowing them to continue unchecked. “These are things we’ve been saying for 30 years,” Aliot said. “And yet we’re called racists because of that.”
That doesn’t seem to be a charge that many inside the party fear. Saint Just said other parties “try to take our measures” but “each time they want to take these actions, they are accused of racism. They’re very afraid of this accusation — that’s what’s preventing them.”
Now, the movement is looking to grow.
Attracting young people has been essential in making over its image as a reactionary party of old men. It also provides it with thousands of activists — the French word for them is “militants” — who are energetically engaged.
“I’ve been receiving an enormous amount of messages from young people who want to meet us.”
The leader of the Front’s youth movement, Gaëtan Dussausaye, is a clean-cut 20-year-old who has his own office at the Front’s national headquarters in Nanterre, west of Paris. If it weren’t for the Gauloises he smoked, Dussausaye would seem like a college Republican. His explanation of how he ended up in the Front recalls the criticisms that American conservatives make of college campuses. “I didn’t necessarily want to participate in a political party; I was more interested in the debate of ideas and philosophy,” Dussausaye said. “What happened is that I arrived at university and realized that this democratic debate couldn’t happen.” Dussausaye blamed a “left-extreme left syndicate” for the fact that “debate didn’t exist.”
I suggest reading the full article as it is arguably the best English-language report on the Front. One of the highlights of the piece is a hilarious account of the anti-Israel sentiment among activists. Instead of declaring that it’s a sign the nationalists are closet Nazis, the author considers it a view shared by progressives and another sign the FN is very different from the American Tea Party.
But the real difference between the Tea Party and the FN a reader can draw from the article is age. The Tea Party is composed mainly of people over the age of 50. The FN is fresh, young, and cool. The Tea Party is none of those things.
This age divergence was also highlighted in a trailer for a recent Glenn Beck special on Alexander Dugin. Beck spent a portion of the time explaining that right-wing meant something else in Europe. In Europe, “right-wing” means anti-immigration. In America, it means supporting “small government.” You can also deduce from the pictures shown that most right-wingers in Europe aren’t nearing pension age, unlike the goobers at Tea Party rallies.
Now granted, there are problems with the FN and they’re probably not going to turn into the saviors of the White race. But they are a strong step in the right direction and there are many positive aspects about its growth. Its appeal to youth is its most admirable trait, and is something we should learn from if we want to have a successful movement in the U.S. A large part of that success is due to the party not lumping itself in with the dour Catholic reactionaries of France, which would’ve severely diminished its chances with the young if they became the party of grumpy old men.
In America, conservatism is the ideology of grumpy old men. If we want to appeal to the best and brightest youth, the first step needed is to fully separate ourselves from conservatism.