France, from Vichy regime to Le Pen dictatorship?


This video says about itself:

Madonna Defends Use of Swastika on Marine Le Pen’s Forehead: Front National Party Threatens Suit

27 July 2012

American pop singer Madonna is defending her use of an image depicting French far-right politician Marine Le Pen with a swastika superimposed on her forehead after Le Pen’s party threatened legal action. Madonna said the image was meant to highlight intolerance toward immigrants and religious minorities and she refused to remove it from a video played during her live performances.

By Joseph Kishore and Alex Lantier:

Charlie Hebdo and the specter of Vichy: From Laval to Hollande

16 January 2015

The past week’s events in France—the systematic promotion of racist propaganda by the state, President François Hollande’s invitation to fascistic National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen to the Elysée Palace, and the resurgence of the FN in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo—have a troubling resonance with an earlier era of French history: the period of the Vichy regime.

In June 1940, less than two months after it invaded France, Nazi Germany defeated the French military forces and successfully entered an undefended Paris. On June 22, France and Germany signed an armistice and divided the country in two between the Nazi-occupied north and west, centered in Paris, and a formally unoccupied but collaborationist regime in the south, centered in Vichy.

The very rapid capitulation of the representatives of French business and the military to the Nazi onslaught was the outcome of a decision—mirroring one made 70 years earlier during the Franco-Prussian War—that the occupation of France was the best means of dealing with social opposition at home. Both the Nazi occupiers and their French collaborators carried out a brutal war against the working class. In addition to a vicious campaign that particularly targeted socialist opponents of social reaction and imperialist war, the Vichy regime participated fully in the racist and anti-Semitic propaganda of the German fascists, and helped deport tens of thousands of Jews to concentration camps.

The two principal figures in the Vichy Regime were Marshal Philippe Pétain, the “chief of state,” and Pierre Laval, who served first as vice president of the Council of Ministers, and later as head of government. Pétain embodied the reactionary, anti-Republican traditions of the French ruling class and military. Hailed for leading French troops at the battle of Verdun and crushing anti-war mutinies during World War I, he was an ardent anti-Semite, tied to the regime of Spain’s fascist dictator Francisco Franco.

Laval personified the corruption of the French “left,” a man whose political career easily transitioned from the Socialist Party to collaboration with the Nazis. Laval joined the 1920s “Cartel of the Left” government, before emerging in conservative governments during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He left parliament and shifted far to the right amidst an upsurge of working-class struggle, eventually positioning himself as a chief fascist collaborator. It was noted at the time that Laval’s name was spelled the same backwards and forwards—a suitable expression of his spineless opportunism.

Following the war, Laval was put on trial and shot. Pétain was sentenced to death, but the sentence was suspended due to his old age. As a matter of fact, only a small number of the Nazi collaborators were held to account for their role in the Vichy government, for the simple reason that so much of the French political apparatus was implicated.

For the past 35 years, what is erroneously called the French left has undergone a long downward spiral, culminating in the current President François Hollande and his prime minister, Manuel Valls, a man known above all for his mass deportation campaign against the Roma. For his right-wing policies, Hollande has justly become the most hated president in post-war French history. Support for Hollande plunged to 12 percent in the polls last November—lower even than the current 16 percent approval rating in France for the Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

While there are still many unanswered questions about the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo, it is absolutely clear that the French government is determined to utilize the atrocity to shift French politics even further to the right, implementing far-reaching attacks on democratic rights while ensuring that the French ruling class has a stake in the imperialist re-division of the world.

To create the political framework for this shift, the most reactionary social and political elements are again being mobilized—though, at least for the time being, the attack on Muslims has replaced the anti-Semitic propaganda of Vichy. Charlie Hebdo is being used as a tool in this project. In particular, the cartoons that the magazine has published, and that it published yet again in a state-financed issue released on Wednesday, are part of the deliberate whipping up of anti-Muslim racism.

The most direct political beneficiary is the fascistic National Front (FN) and Marine Le Pen, who was invited by Hollande to the Elysée Palace last week under the banner of “national unity.” Le Pen’s father and the founder of the FN, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has repeatedly hailed the Nazi occupation of France during World War II, calling the Holocaust a mere “detail” of history.

Changing what needs to be changed, the union of Hollande and Le Pen reproduces that of Laval and Pétain. More than political opportunism is involved in this new alliance. The essential character of the French ruling class is re-emerging. In a period of deepening political crisis, it is recreating in new forms all the filthy practices in which it engaged when it stood side-by-side with Nazi Germany. The stench of Vichy hangs over the Elysée Palace.

FREE SPEECH PARADOX? “The French authorities are moving aggressively to rein in speech supporting terrorism, employing a new law to mete out tough prison sentences in a crackdown that is stoking a free-speech debate after last week’s attacks in Paris.” [NYT]

80% of Anti-Muslim Attacks in France Against Women, Says Report: here.

21 thoughts on “France, from Vichy regime to Le Pen dictatorship?

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  13. France fell to the invading nazi forces in early summer 1940. The north and Atlantic seaboard of the country came under German occupation. The south and east were unoccupied.

    A meeting of the French National Assembly on July 10 granted Philippe Petain plenipotentiary powers. Communist deputies and senators had already been banned from office in January. A minority of assembly members — largely of the left — voted against and a small number had fled. The vote was 569 to 80.

    Petain set about establishing an authoritarian regime based in the town of Vichy in the unoccupied zone, though its civil authority ran through the whole of France.

    The justification, which Petain and defenders of the regime would cling to after the war, was that it in some way provided “a shield” for the French population.

    But while not formally joining the Axis Powers, the Vichy state embraced their anti-communist, anti-semitic and fascistic policies.

    By 1942 initial expectations that the war would be short and an unoccupied French state — with its overseas empire — restored were dashed. That had given the regime a degree of popular support, particularly among elites and on the right.

    In November of that year, Germany extended the occupation to the whole of France. But already, Vichy officials had fully collaborated with the roundups of Jews, and the murder of resistance and left-wing fighters.

    The French police responsible for Vel d’Hiv exceeded the target set for them by the nazi occupiers.

    The liberation in 1944 saw the rapid creation of a new French government headed by General Charles de Gaulle, who had led the “Free French” forces from London, in time for the French state to take its place among the victorious Allied Powers.

    There was a wave of summary, street justice meted out to collaborators at the hands of resistance forces. Some high Vichy officials fled. Only four were put on trial.

    For the post-war French state, firmly in the Western camp of the developing cold war, faced a problem. It rested on continuity with the wartime administration. A systematic purge of collaborationist forces would open the door to the kind of events unfolding in Greece, where liberation from below gave way to revolutionary civil war in which the left threatened to take power.

    It was in the political compromise to avoid that happening that the official Gaullist narrative of Vichy was born. The regime had not really been French. It had comprised a few traitors lacking in all legitimacy. True France had been in London, with de Gaulle, throughout the occupation.

    Stability could be maintained by relegating Vichy to an aberration that was not really of France at all.

    But it was the extent of the continuity and the scale of official and elite collaboration that by the 1990s meant the cold war story could no longer hold.

    Maurice Papon’s was one of a series of trials that forced Chirac to revise the legend. Papon had been responsible for the “Jewish Question” in Bordeaux during the war. He went on to be prefect of police in Paris during the French war in Algeria from 1954- 62, presiding over a massacre of over 200 Algerian protesters in Paris.

    He then served as treasurer of the Gaullist party and as a government minister as late as 1981.

    As well as Papon’s, other trials and scandals rising from the archives threatened to open not only the “dark chapter” of the occupation but also the subsequent story of French criminality in Algeria, and the line of descent from the right-wing elites and the state in the 1940s to today.

    Chirac, followed by subsequent presidents and now Macron, conceded a wider responsibility — but with a new obfuscation.

    Now it is “France” that was responsible — but a largely undifferentiated France. According to Macron, it was a national shame. His honeyed words about racism — which excluded any mention of the intense Islamophobia in France today — last week placed it as some kind of national sin, committed by all.

    The one specific form of racism he mentioned was anti-semitism with the implication that the major problem in today’s France is hostility to Jewish people by Muslims. In fact, it is among those holding anti-Muslim prejudices that anti-semitic views are most likely to be found.

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-5fc5-France-Macrons-selective-history-aids-Netanyahus-deception#.WXWkKVFpwdU

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