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Bernard-Henri Lévy

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Address to the Republican Right, Confronted With the New Lepenist Offensive

Posted: 05/ 1/2012 8:57 am

An avalanche of reactions, readers' letters and commentaries followed my last column.

So, let me make things clear.

The Front National is not a party of the right, but of the extreme right.

Between the right and the extreme right, there is the same difference of nature, the same barrier of species that we once argued opposed the left and the extreme left, or, as the dissidents of Central Europe once put it, the moderate left and the totalitarian left.

The left almost died -- and, from Barbarism with a Human Face to Left in Dark Times, I have never ceased to repeat it -- from its proximity, even if only in terms of semantics, with a communism Camus was already saying was, for half of humanity, another name not for "hope" but for a "burn" and an "insult."

The matrix of its faults, the constant source of its blindness (and, for a long time, its dishonor) was this tenacious idea of a great family, "the" left, of which social-democracy was one branch and Stalinism, Leninism, totalitarianism, was another.

Well, mutatis mutandis, the same applies, today, to the right.

It is the same fight to the death with the successors (and proud to be so) of these other totalitarians who once founded the FN on the ruins of Vichyism.

It is the same merciless combat with the dauphine of an old chief whose antisemitism, racism and hatred of democracy, culture and intelligence have been (and remain) an intense and morbid fixation.

And it is the same fatal trap, from whatever angle you look at it (and I'm not talking about an alliance or a contract in due form -- the simple rhetoric is enough, or the appeal to lost votes, or even the simple gesture consisting of adding in the same 'block of the right' UMP voters and those of the 'navy blue wave'*). It is the same fatal trap, then, when one gives the impression, merely the impression, that there might be an affinity, or a broken affiliation, or a community, however vague, of origin and heritage between the civilized right and the obsessions of a candidate who, by inheritance, the logic of her entourage, or temperament, is pursuing no other goal but the "recomposition" or, to put it clearly, the destruction of the liberal, republican right.

Heritage: the fascist tradition that Madame Le Pen defends, loud and clear, when questioned about the crimes of Vichy's collaboration by Ha'aretz journalists, exclaiming that she does not wish "to speak evil of her country."

Entourage: the crowd of advisors, party cadres, old and young prominent figures, who affirm their proximity, one with negationism, the other with Hiterism, a third with the Nazi founding fathers of the dynasty that, for all intents and purposes, reigns and has for half a century, in Syria.

Finally, temperament: this factious fiber that, like nature, comes roaring back when she announces her intention, should she enter Parlement, and just like the good old days of antirepublican poujadism, to "break everything."

There's no appealing the law. In the war they have declared against the liberals of Sarkozy, the neofascists of the FN will give no quarter: any compromise on the part of the former, any accommodation, any wavering, and they're dead.

One last thing.

Yes, in response to the objections of those who have written to say that one who votes for François Hollande should not get mixed up in the affairs of a right that should "wash its dirty laundry inside the family," one last remark.

First, I repeat, it is this very idea of a "family" that is the initial and great error -- this is the thread that must be cut, for it is by conserving it, and then following it, that one digs his own political grave.

But then, this: if there is, indeed, a lesson to be learned from the dreadful 20th century, it is that this affair of so-called "family" never, in any case, is one -- for in truth, the destiny of all depends upon the outcome of this hand-to-hand combat.

Traditionally, the left is the one to cry, "Fascism will not pass."

But it is the right that, through its capacity to resist, its determination to undo the trap, its concern for honor at the same time as its awareness of power struggles, acts so that, in practice, it shall pass or not.

Every time the right has backed down, fascism has passed.

Every time the right has hung on, every time it has made the choice of its soul rather than defending its short-term interests which, generally and in any case, it sacrifices, every time it has taken the risk to lose an election rather than that of losing its honor (and, most often, I stress, the election too) fascism has been stopped.

Today, nearly forty years after its founding and, whatever the result of the presidential election, the real battle against the FN begins.

It will be, first and foremost, by vocation and almost by nature, the affair of the heirs of de Toqueville, Aron, or General de Gaulle. But the very salvation of the republican idea depends upon its conclusion.

*a play on words much repeated by the FN, navy blue being bleu marine, as in Marine Le Pen