France elections: National Front leads in regional polls

France elections: National Front leads in regional polls

Interesting where the new director of the University presents to the main character all the promises that submission presents. Much like the Temptation of Christ.

They might have led in the first round, but the sensible majority had the last laugh. Phew!

All the wise sir's and ladies twaddled about "our identity". This were not just the blond ones. What is for one a Donald Trump is the other a Marine Le Pen. David Cameron is happy twaddling the same crap. Or this German Person of the year, the refugee queen... They all do! Don't they? So what's really the problem besides political correctness?

In his clever satire, “Candide, ou l'Optimisme”, Voltaire makes fun of religious intolerance, the destructiveness of war, and the foibles of mankind in the mid-18th century in France. He concludes with a plea that we should all “cultivate our own gardens”. Maybe this blond woman took his word?

Or looking it from another perspective: About the sudden death of Charles VI, Voltaire wrote 20 years later in this same satire “Ce plat de champignons a changé la destinée de l'Europe”. So lets see what kind of poisoned gnomes a mushrooms are coming up more for us.

Its simply a fact that for many French people Europe has grown out of its proportions, out of control and they find the administration in Brussels as interference in “their” internal affairs, which naturally contributes even more to the current identity crisis. They will probably get a stroke when these funny people in Brussels finally accept the lands of Sultan Erdogan and all what will come with it...

It might be an old Revolution period clink that is a monument unlike our local one. That is a concrete and razor wire affair but built on the site of a camp where the Vichy regime held opposition, Spanish refugees, Jews, Roma and various other folk who were eventually delivered to...

I see the empty, ancient (and very large) erstwhile prison in our nearest big town is being spruced up big time. Are they expecting trouble?

I shall pop in the mairie on Friday and remember to look. I hope the ancient hammer and sickle in the corner is still there after the recent renovation by the local nick external work teams.

I saw that article and thought to myself that it is high time they learned to pull in their size LL belts in those countries.

Anyway, the tendency of the likes of FN to cause internalisation is what people neither see nor wish to hear. Patriotism and loyalty to one's own nation is a perfect propaganda tool, it always has been. It creates them and us, although the divisions within 'us' are often greater than they can possibly be with 'them'. Tat is the folly of the people who want out of the EU in the UK as well as the ridiculous message the Le Pens propagate at the drop of a hat. It does not work. Cut off England and lose trade, where will all the owners of Beamers be if BMW said they don't need the UK market any longer? Under pressure from financial powers that be, my spuriously chosen example may not necessarily be too far from the truth. Large corporations do not need nations, they are small fish, they need large parts of the world. As experts on conflict are saying, the arms trade to countries in conflict, even to Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, rings in vast amounts of money. The conflicts are kept off 'our' doorstep so everybody turns a blind eye. Daesh has upset the apple cart there, FN and their ilk are cashing in and will continue to do so but in truth can do no more than PS or Reps. Shouting about it impresses people, so they shout loudest. However, yesterday they did not walk away with the advantage.

When I finished my stint at 1 pm, about 35% had turned out (60 out of 166), likewise Hollande would never turn up but we do have a nice new picture of him hanging up in the mairie.

Just to reinforce the point (today's Independent)!

Strictly speaking I guess I'm a cross between a geographer, a planner, an engineer and a computer scientist!

The people who carry out terror attacks may of course be deluded but they seldom act alone or without thought. In their eyes their actions are as justified as say those of the Paris students of 1968, or participants in the Prague uprising, or the IRA throughout much of the 20th Century, the Basque separatists, the Black Panther Party...

What we appear to find so abhorrent is when civilians are selected as the targets of violence rather than the armed forces, and particularly civilians in our cities and on our streets. As though it were possible to form a classification of warfare ranging from 'acceptable amongst polite society' (i.e. a ‘limited’ covert operation somewhere unknown to us, a long way away) to 'utterly despicable' (i.e. happening under our noses). The reality is of course, that it is very much a matter of perspective (where and when you happened to be born). Most conflict arises from a stark imbalance of power and resources (the two are almost interchangeable in a material world). Many of those imbalances reflect both past colonial and current global patterns of exploitation.

Fortunately I have a choice. I can decide to live a modest life, and fortunately in France and large swathes of Europe (alas not much of the UK), that is still possible. Or I can choose to be an overtly aggressive and conspicuous consumer (as in the UAE or Qatar, not to mention much of North America and, increasingly, large parts of Asia) and leave others to pick up the pieces, generally through dumping the many side effects of my actions on poorer nations while simultaneously willing some as yet undefined but miraculous technological solution into existence. Now if we choose to adopt the latter stance should we then be surprised when the 'beneficiaries' of our pollution, trash products and exploitative power games rebel?

Political parties like the FN do nothing to further understanding or to improve the situation. At best they encourage nations even communities to turn in on themselves (denialism) at worst actively to destroy those who disagree with them (aggression). All too often they merely divert a lot of time and effort into pursuing social and economic dead ends.

OK so experience suggests that we should be wary of expecting the 'powers that be' to solve complex, possibly intractable problems. But equally we should accept that many such problems in reality stem from our own individual behaviours and decisions (magnified billions of times over). Thus COP21 can work, but only if we, collectively, make it work. In the current environment that is more likely to be as a 'consumer' than as an active participant in a democratic/ mutualistic society. Whichever.

The ultimate message must surely be that, as always, it's largely down to us as individuals; particularly those of us in the 'West' since we have some semblance of 'choice'. We cannot magic terrorists away by hoping to cluster bomb them into oblivion or closing our national borders. Worse still, if we do bring down the shutters we risk merely plunging ourselves further into darkness.

Right! I take it from your phraseology that you too are a social scientist of some kind. One of the key things, as you point out in closing sentences, is the façade of peace created by the powers that be. Where I have said elsewhere, worldwide we have 38 conflicts of one nature or another in the 193 nations in the world (Sudan is at present on the verge of starting up again, so perhaps 39 if they have sparked off today). That is a large proportion of all nations and is the largest number over around two millennia of reasonably well documented/remembered history. The topic here being FN essentially, belongs well within such matters. They promise cake but the crumbs they would deliver would be stale and few because they are subject to the same forces as any other political group, simply their rhetoric is different. They are also better at scapegoating, so Moslems today and possibly Smurfs tomorrow, metaphorically speaking. The present political climate is designed to distract, as you point out the TTIP and the other global pacts that offer multinational corporations far more of a say in the world than even a large body of politically franchised citizens. The climate deal done this weekend is a promise. Promises are built on straw. Correlate the TTIP back into the equation then ask why politicians from around the world spent 10 days hacking out a deal that is not enforceable? COP21 only signals an intent but not what will actually happen. Those of us who are still alive to find out may be sorely disappointed.

Meanwhile, the powers that be can sit back, relax and plan for two years time. How to exclude FN rather than defeat them no doubt, but something along those lines. The population will be offered a bevy of attractive promises but let's review them in 2018. The political world is not what we would elect if we could but we have no alternative. The 'placebo of austerity' along with the shrinking democracy we are told is increasing democracy will not let up and ultimately we will be left to mutely protest and elect different variants of the same for the sakes of appearance. I am not a pessimist, just have eyes and ears open.

And the lot of them have done exactly as the past ten generations have done and voted PS...

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose !

And if they showed Thalassa they could drown the lot of them !!!

Hmm, I must have been looking elsewhere when I lived in the Middle East for three years, had a flat for six years in Paris St Denis also lived in Brussels (in a Jewish quarter that required armed gunmen outside schools to protect against Muslim attacks).

It is NOT scaremongering to ignore the obvious, just stupid. The litany of actual attacks speaks for itself surely? Spend five minutes on youtube and look at the videos - some by Muslims, some by others. Open your eyes and minds to reality and then maybe some application of sensible thought can be applied.

Simply and pompously decrying those who see dangers is akin to ignoring any danger signs.

I have given up on mine as it is not my world or life that will be affected. I don't have children or grandchildren so why should I give a stuff? It is always far easier to 'look the other way'

Also I don't give a dam' about people thinking I am extreme of hard-right, as I don't believe I am either, so don't waste your time sending insults in my direction. It's YOUR world now, and if it keeps you happy to ignore reality, then so be it. Let's hope your children will understand.

Sense and decency prevail. Vive la France! And thank goodness for the French voting system which allows people to step back from the brink rather than being lumbered with ineffective, vote pleasing egoists for 4-5 years (from which, sadly, no political association appears immune).

Ultimately there are three types of social relationship (at any scale): dominant/ submissive; schismatic; and consensual. The first two are strongly correlated, and the more inequitable societies generally flip-flop between them; a critical reason why supposedly 'strong' leaders are not a good idea (except when the choice is between one of many despots). The consensual model is clearly the most mature, ultimately the only sustainable option. But it is entirely predicated upon mutual trust and respect. So why, given millions of years of biological evolution and millennia of human cultural evolution, is it still not the dominant model? Very simply, it can barely survive, let alone flourish, in an environment of wide economic/ material disparity.

Is it any coincidence that the world's major flashpoints occur where the gulf (no pun intended) between rich and poor is the greater. Just consider, for example, GDP per capita in the Arab nations (those with oil) and you a strong pattern quickly emerges. And the West's 'interest' in all this? Simply to safeguard its own ‘conduits’ to increasingly scarce resources, often by playing off once set of armed ideologues against another. One of the reasons why the COP21 agreement was so significant is that it, potentially, signals an intent to reduce reliance upon such resources.

But inequity remains a problem even in nations with more than enough wealth to go around. History reveals that the supposed trickle-down effect simply does not work, anywhere, any time. Because far too many people are inherently (even if unconsciously) greedy: it is a simple defence mechanism, we hoard surpluses in case of future lean times! And even humble monkeys know when they are being deprived of their fair share.

So while the west subscribes to the placebo of fake austerity, the real issue is whether we wish to allow democratically elected officials (national, regional, local) to decide and, to a greater or lesser extent, enact policy based on a shared view of social justice, or whether we wish to allow ever larger global corporations, based on the limitless greed of their owners and shareholders and the limitless gullibility of supine consumers (just think VW) to inflict their own unbidden agendas upon us?

Yet while we have the media making considerable waves about yet another opportunistic bunch of, ultimately impotent, political low-lifes intent merely on exploiting the vulnerability of others, there is virtually no commentary or debate about TTIP and its sister pacts. And although centuries of 'free market'/ neoliberal, vote-winning economic mythology persists, despite any empirical evidence to support it, typically it takes 50-100 years of patient campaigning/ negotiation (built of course on a substantial foundation of scientific evidence) for the 'majority' to accept irrefutable truths that inconveniently fail to align with personal or received prejudices or mores: asbestos is linked to cancer; lead is poisonous; smoking (active or passive) increases the risk of developing cancer/ respiratory disease/ heart disease etc; oh, and 7 billion or more striving and acquisitive people might conceivably be having a negative impact on their mutual life support system.

As for our enjoying the most peaceful period in history...possibly, if measured on a per capita basis (there being now 3 x as many people on the planet since the great Attenborough first graced our TV screens - and to infinitely more effect than the contemporary televisual effluent). But in reality, all that has happened is that the major powers have been moderately successful (with the exception of terrorist campaigns) in avoiding conflict on their own shores, in large part by fighting their wars through intermediaries and in a more fragmented manner (in the full knowledge that it is less costly in terms of both material and political collateral) but increasingly through the global export of trash consumerist culture (specifically designed to subdue the masses).

Any surprises there might be the odd backlash here or there?

A close German friend sent me a copy of the translation, Unterwerfung, which I suspect has lost a bit of the original in translation. Recommended anyway. I love the bit about the Sorbonne being privatised and then only Moslems being allowed to teach there, the allegory reflects reality and one of the reasons it has gone from one of the top five universities in the world in the 1970s to somewhere in the 60s or 70s in the top 100 today. Scary book in a way, too much potential truth for comfort.

Just said hello to the conseiller closest to us as he passed on his tractor. I asked how the election went, less than 20% of the roughly 300 turned out and from his guess delivered 100% for one party. I doubt Hollande is going to turn up to thank this commune, but then nor would Le Pen if it had gone her way.

Talking about tv programs ... I found it highly amusing what TF1 chose to show us yesterday evening: first we were invited to apero with the results of the Regionales, and then to the "Le diner de cons" !
There must be a secret message in this programming ;-)

If you really want to see how French Society and the Republic ends not with a bang but a whimper read "Soumission" by Michelle Houllebecq. Far more frightening than a few gunmen.