FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Neoliberal “Wall of Values”

The far right’s strong performance in elections was for decades an insurance policy for left- and right-wing neoliberals: any moderate, no matter how bland, could easily get elected provided he stood against a political party widely perceived as unacceptable and offensive. Jean-Marie Le Pen’s share of the vote in the 2002 French presidential election did not grow significantly between the first and second rounds (16.8% to 17.8%), but Jacques Chirac’s surged from 19.8% to 82.2%. Emmanuel Macron won in a similar, though less spectacular, fashion in 2017.

Neoliberals hope that what worked with the far right will work with the left. To block any progress it might make, they are trying to build a ‘wall of values’ that will make the left suspect. They hope this will force people who can no longer bear the government’s policies to put up with them, because they will deem those of its most powerful adversaries even worse.

As if by chance, the left has been accused of antisemitism simultaneously in France, the UK and the US. Once a target is selected, all one need do is find a clumsy, outrageous or contemptible opinion expressed, say on Facebook or Twitter, by a member of the political movement one intends to discredit (the UK Labour party has more than 500,000 members). Then the media take over. One can also destroy an opponent by pretending they have expressed antisemitic prejudices they do not hold — such as ‘democracy/journalism/the financial sector is controlled by Jews’ — as soon as they criticise the oligarchy, the media or a bank.

Philosopher Alain Finkielkraut recently claimed that ‘If [Jeremy] Corbyn was in Downing Street, you could say that, for the first time since Hitler, an antisemite was leader of a European country’ (1). According to President Donald Trump the situation is just as bad in the US because, with the election of a number of leftwing militants to Congress, ‘The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party. They’ve become an anti-Jewish party.’ (He later said, ‘The Democrats hate Jewish people.’) Bernard-Henri Lévy has even dared to compare French journalist and leftist National Assembly member François Ruffin to Lucien Rebatet, author of the antisemitic pamphlet Les Décombres; to Xavier Vallat, commissioner-general for Jewish affairs in Vichy France; and to Robert Brasillach, a Nazi collaborator executed after the liberation of France. Lévy, a professional defamer, claimed to detect in Ruffin a ‘conscious or unconscious echo of the style of Gringoire’ (2), a magazine dripping with antisemitic hatred; its most notorious smear campaign drove a minister of the interwar leftwing Front Populaire government to suicide.

Jews have been murdered by antisemites in France and the US. This tragedy is now turned into an ideological weapon used by Trump, the Israeli government and mendacious intellectuals. If we must build a cordon sanitaire, let it protect us against those who purposely accuse their adversaries of an infamy of which they know they are innocent.

Translated from the French by Charles Goulding.

Notes.

(1Alain Finkielkraut: ‘Ich bin kein Opfer’ (I am not a victim), Die Zeit, Hamburg, 21 February 2019.

(2Bernard-Henri Lévy, ‘Il faut franchir le “point Godwin”’ (We must move beyond the ‘Godwin point’), Le Point, Paris, 7 March 2019.

Originally published in Le Monde Diplomatique.

More articles by:

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
September 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Age of Constitutional Coups
Rob Urie
Bernie Sanders and the Realignment of the American Left
Anthony DiMaggio
Teaching the “War on Terror”: Lessons for Contemporary Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: They Are the Walrus
T.J. Coles
Jeremy Corbyn: Electoral “Chicken” or Political Mastermind?
Joseph Natoli
The Vox Populi
Sasan Fayazmanesh
The Pirates of Gibraltar
John Feffer
Hong Kong and the Future of China
David Rosen
The Likely End to Roe v. Wade?
Ishmael Reed
When You Mess With Creation Myths, the Knives Come Out
Michael Hudson
Break Up the Democratic Party?
Paul Tritschler
What If This is as Good as It Gets?
Jonah Raskin
Uncensored Tony Serra: Consummate Criminal Defense Lawyer
Ryan Gunderson
Here’s to the Last Philosophes, the Frankfurt School
Michael T. Klare
The Pompeo Doctrine: How to Seize the Arctic’s Resources, Now Accessible Due to Climate Change (Just Don’t Mention Those Words!)
Luke O'Neil
I Would Want To Drink Their Blood: God Will Punish Them
Louis Proyect
The Intellectual Development of Karl Marx
Tom Clifford
How China Sees the World
Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson – Negin Owliaei
Who’s Burning the Amazon?
Yasin Khan
Rideshare Drivers are Employees, Not Contractors
Ralph Nader
Big Business Lies Taught a Watchful Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Sacking of John Bolton
Andrea Maki
Wild Love Preserve Founder: Our Path Forward
Jeremy Kuzmarov
The War in Eastern Ukraine May be Coming to an End But Do Any Americans Care?
Tim Davis – Stan Grier
Protect the Sacred Grizzly Bear, Follow Those Who Know Grandmother Earth
Clark T. Scott
Super-Delegated and Relegated
Jim Britell
Lessons From America’s Greatest Grassroots Campaigns 
Howie Hawkins
Workers Need More Rights and Economic Democracy
Ramzy Baroud
‘Justice is Indivisible’: Screams of Israa Ghrayeb Should Be Our Wake-up Call
Jill Richardson
It’s Not About Your Straws and Your Light Bulbs
George Wuerthner
Montana’s Wilderness Deficit
Colin Todhunter
Officials Ignore Pesticides and Blame Alcohol and Biscuits for Rising Rates of Disease
Volker Franke
Me First and the Loss of Compassion
Adolf Alzuphar
Why is the Left Without a Single Elected Official in LA?
Kim C. Domenico
All We Are Saying, Is Give Peace A Chance (Bring It Home!)
Jennifer Matsui
The End of Aquarius and The Dawn of a Death Star: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Missy Comley Beattie
Never Forget
James Haught
Prodding ‘Nones’ to Vote
David Swanson
For the First Time in My Life I’m Against Impeaching the President
Nicky Reid
Yemen as Arabian Vietnam
Kenn Orphan – Phil Rockstroh
Bearing Witness at Aeon’s End: the Wound Becomes the Womb
Fred Gardner
Homage to the Tabloids
Yves Engler
RCMP Attempt to Silence Critics of Trudeau Foreign Policy
Stephen Cooper
Hempress Sativa: “Rastafari Should be Protected”
David Yearsley
Joie-de-Job: Staying High, at Work
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail