Éric Zemmour, one of France’s most remarkable thinkers, is running for President of the Republic. The television talk show host, best-selling writer and consummate provocateur made his intentions official with a fiery appeal to his compatriots on November 30, thus putting an end to months of speculation.
In the video, a masterpiece of political communication, he is seen seated at a desk, reading, in a solemn and almost elegiac tone, a text on the decadence he intends to reverse. The staging is reminiscent—mutatis mutandi—of the speeches of General de Gaulle, a figure for whom he professes great admiration. His portrait is that of an unrecognizable France, culturally engulfed by the Anglo-Saxon world and demographically by North Africa, where the model of coexistence is failing.
Who is Éric Zemmour?
“Today there is a proliferation of words ending in the suffix phobia: Islamophobia, Europhobia, homophobia. It is a medicalization of divergence: every problem is turned into a pathology of those who denounce it. I would like the questions ‘who are we?’ and ‘who do we want to be or to remain to be?’ to be asked by everyone,” said Alain Finkielkraut.
Zemmour is often identified as a member of the “new reactionaries,” figures in French cultural life who reject the progressive paradigm that emerged from May ’68. The label, no doubt infamously, was given to him by essayist Daniel Lindenberg in Le Rappel à l’ordre: Enquête sur les nouveaux réactionnaires. It has been applied to the philosopher Luc Ferry, the political scientist Pierre Manent or even the famous novelist Michel Houellebecq. Far from being confined to a homogeneous group of figures of conservative extraction, it includes, for example, foquismo and guerrilla theorist Régis Debray.
What unites the “new reactionaries” and their great sin — at least in the eyes of the popes of political correctness — is to expose the weaknesses of the “do-gooder” model that prevails in contemporary societies, with its dissolution of national identities, its presentism and its lack of social cohesion.
Zemmour’s place among these critical voices is one of the most prominent, since he has always had a space in the mainstream media. Although he has been compared to Joe Biden’s strident predecessor, in reality he is more like Tucker Carlson. Saving intellectual distances, of course. From CNews, a conservative channel that serves as a vernacular answer to Fox News, he has captivated millions of viewers. In the midst of great hostility, his incursion into the political arena has the unique advantage that his principles — whether they are shared or not — are well known.
Although we are in an age where the identity of the enunciating subject is as important as the content of what he enunciates, Zemmour’s Judeo-Berber origin has not shielded him from judicial persecution or from being singled out by phobia hunters. His remarks against the Islamization of France have landed him in a lot of trouble, including a couple of convictions for “hate crimes.”
Quid est Europe?
“Europe will be a theme park of churches, museums, modern restaurants and whores, to be enjoyed by Chinese, Muslims and Russians”. — Fernando Sánchez Dragó
According to the cliché, Europe is the cradle of the West. And what is the West? The sum of Greek philosophy, Roman law and Christian religion. If we take it to a minimal definition, it would be enough to keep the last part: the West is Christianity. Zemmour, although not part of the Church, understands this perfectly well. Once he has abandoned this religion and accepted the black legends about himself, what is left of him? Just a geographical space, without a mortar to bind it together.
Pat Buchanan wrote that when one faith dies something else appears to take its place, because nature abhors a vacuum and so do men’s hearts. That vacuum has been filled for the time being by modern superciliousness: scientism, belief in the inevitability of progress, blind obedience to experts, etc. Can Islam eventually fill it? Can it displace one civilization over another?
Immigration is war
Zemmour articulates his discourse around four I’s: identity, immigration, insecurity and Islam. The four are closely linked to each other, but the rallying flag of his campaign is clearly that of immigration.
The volume of immigration that France is receiving today, with a weakened culture and a deep birth rate crisis, is simply overwhelming. If even massive population movements within the same region generate tensions, it is easy to imagine what can be unleashed when the differences are so marked between the sending and receiving countries. The possibility of civil war has been slipped into both works of fiction (see Submission, 2015) and works of political science (see Ethnic Apocalypse, 2019.)
The migratory debate is not about contrasting multiculturalism and assimilationism. In the end it is pure mathematics, it comes down to numbers. As José Javier Esparza would say: “80 million Nigerians in Germany do not make Germany, they make Nigeria.” Twenty thousand North Africans in Paris can constitute a dynamic and vibrant minority, with colorful customs and an enrichment of the gastronomic offer. Two million North Africans in Paris, on the other hand, would end up reproducing all the social problems of their land of origin. A “third worldization,” to borrow a word that Zemmour likes.
Reconquête, whose name is a clear allusion to the Spanish Reconquista, is the party that our protagonist has created ad hoc for the elections. It adds some support among traditional politicians and members of the army, but it seems not to be up to its public profile. In the polls he oscillates between third and fourth place, and probably will not even make it to the second round.
Make no mistake, the foppish Macron is widely favored to remain in the Elysée. As a prototypical politician of the technocratic governance driven by Brussels and supranational bodies, he has the support of the establishment and the mainstream media.
Zemmour’s realist aspiration is to push the boundaries of permissible discourse, to emphasize existential problems. Not only to displace Overton’s window, but to blow it up. Stealing the monopoly of the defense of the sovereignist values from the Le Pen clan, with a much more coherent and alt-right proposal.
His is a first step in the right direction, which can open the door to new developments and a new conception of the right. Because there is no inescapable destiny or written history. It is men, with their actions, who make and unmake history.