On the history of French anti-immigrant sentiment exploited by the Front National

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“ There is a lot of assumption that far-right anti-immigrant sentiment is driven by this increasing prevalence of Muslim immigrants. There has been politicization of immigration and in particular attacks on Muslims, like the ban on headscarves in public schools — an absurd and racist measure passed in 2004. At the same time, mass immigration from the Arab and Muslim world, and from the French colonies, has been a permanent feature of post–World War II life. The numbers kept increasing in the decades following that war, from the Maghreb, during the 1960s and 1970s. There was a lot of racism during that time. During France’s brutal colonial war in Algeria, there was an infamous incident in 1961 when a police captain ordered the massacre of several hundred Algerian pro-independence demonstrators; the police then dumped their bodies into the Seine River ”

Jonah Birch, ‘The Centrist Cul-de-Sac’, Jacobin Magazine

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On the French elections contradictions and confusion

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“ Besides undermining Hamon’s chances to win, the crippling efforts by prominent figures of the PS revealed the rotten core of the party apparatus. As in the case of the Democratic contest between Sanders and Clinton in the US, the attempts to obstruct an even moderately left-wing candidate like Hamon to campaign illustrated the extent to which the party does not tolerate any deviance from its new liberal, pro-business, anti-social character (…) Macron represents everything that gave rise to the FN in the first place. In this sense, in the 2nd round French voters are called to choose, as in the 2016 US presidential elections, between proto-fascism and what fuels fascism. The extreme centre and the xenophobic right feed off each other in a toxic, dangerous cycle. They are two sides of the same coin. Although barring the way to the FN in the 7th of May is the most sensible thing to do in the short term, we must have no illusions: Macron and what he represents are part of the problem as much as the FN and the far right across Europe ”

Tommaso Segantini, ‘Six considerations on the French elections’, Tommaso Segantini Blog

On how an alternative political view must grow in France to defeat the Front National’s xenophobic rhetoric

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“ In addition to the necessary indignation and condemnation of the party’s chauvinism and undemocratic nature, it is crucial to challenge the FN’s social discourse directed at rightfully angry and disillusioned working class communities in France. In this respect, we cannot rely on traditional mainstream parties to fight the FN. In fact, the centre-right, represented by Les Républicains, which continues to push for more austerity measures, and the Parti Socialiste, which under the mandate of François Hollande fully embraced neoliberalism, betraying its original constituencies and promises, are at the root of the FN’s rise: both have uncritically defended the socially destructive policies of the European Union, increased inequalities and unemployment, and participated in the gradual erosion of the country’s social safety net. They have lost all credibility, and, although they declare themselves as the only barrier to the FN, they carry the historical load of its ascent. Only a radical, strong, alternative discourse, based on hope and solidarity, that denounces both the FN’s racism and xenophobia and that exposes its disguise as the upholder of worker’s needs, along with a credible political vision, will succeed in regaining the lost ground, and redirecting people’s anger in a progressive direction, towards those at the top society, instead of easy scapegoats. ”

Tommaso Segantini, ‘The truth behind Front National’s change of heart’, OpenDemocracy

On Hamon’s criticism of centrist parties

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” Hamon’s team argue that as long as political parties on the centre-right and left keep throwing out the same ideas, which have done nothing to reduce unemployment and poverty in France. voters will continue to turn to the Front National ”

Kim Willsher, ‘French Socialists in hunt for the candidate with a populist touch to challenge Le Pen’, The Guardian

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