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Eric Zemmour’s grim vision of France

Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

For a nationalist, the far-right French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour takes a pretty dim view of his country, says Benjamin Haddad in Le Monde. In his 2014 book French Suicide, the 63-year-old says France has been on a downward slide since the year 843 – when the Treaty of Verdun divided the Carolingian empire, which covered much of western Europe, between three grandsons of Charlemagne. The centuries since have just been a frustrated attempt to recover this empire. 

Zemmour’s “obsession with decline” borders on self-hatred. Even victories are defeats. He thinks France should have teamed up with Germany during World War One “against the real enemy, England”. The allied victory was a triumph for “Anglo-Saxon liberalism” – a German one would have restored “Carolingian unity” in Europe. He even puts US intervention in the two world wars “on a par with Nazism or the Russian Revolution”. Zemmour’s solutions to France’s “permanent decline” seem to be seizing the French-speaking portion of Belgium, Wallonia, and cracking down on Islam’s “barbarian invasions” of Europe – though he believes the latter will be a fruitless task because of “the iron laws of demography”. Coming from a prospective leader, it’s not particularly inspiring. “How can one claim to prepare a country for its future when one is convinced that it is doomed to decline?”

Why it matters Zemmour’s other “bizarre theory” is that France has been emasculated by feminists and homosexuals, says Andrew Billen in The Times – The New Yorker counted 23 uses of the word “virilité” in his 2014 book, French Suicide. “I shall have to ask a shrink to tell me what it means,” Zemmour tells Billen. 

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