The founder of “Marianne”: Jean-François Kahn: “In France, social democracy is dead”
A worried observer: this is what journalist and writer Jean-François Kahn is today, who has just published the second volume of his “Memories from Beyond Life” (Ed. Observatory). Worried because of the scale of the French political fractures. Worried “because the country is polarized at all levels”. Worried, because “the rejection of Europe by a large part of the population will become increasingly difficult to manage”. Worried finally, because “the media accompany and encourage this polarization in France”.
We knew that the founder of “L’Evènement du Jeudis” and “Marianne” always placed himself politically at the center, with the desire to address the greatest number of people and to have those who did not don’t think like him. On the eve of the first round of legislative elections this Sunday (the second round will take place on June 19), the answer falls like a cleaver: “In 2022, it would no longer be possible”. Explanations were collected during the recent festival “Amazing Travelers” in Saint-Malo.
France worries you on the eve of these legislative elections. Can we write it like this?
Jean-Francois Kahn: Yes, because the country is today dominated by the ideologies of the ultra-right and the radical left. Social democracy is dead in France, and it’s a tragedy. Why did we come to this? Because the moderate left was killed by the five-year presidential term of François Hollande (2012-2017). She died because of the indelible betrayal that took place then since none of the promises made to voters in 2012 were kept. I am not a pessimist. I think it will be possible to rebuild these ruins. But a page is turned. I don’t even know if tomorrow we will still be able to talk about a French left.
You say this while Jean-Luc Mélenchon has achieved the feat of uniting the forces of the left behind him, within the New Popular Ecological and Social Union (NUPES). Isn’t that contradictory?
What remains of the French government left has sold out Melenchon and its protest positioning to save MP seats. And that’s not good news at all. I have been warning for several years about the risk of seeing the country split between left-wing fascism and right-wing Stalinism. Which may eventually come together at the polls. The protesting, anti-liberal and anti-European bloc dominates. The so-called “republican” right, which previously refused to ally itself with the former National Front (now the national rally), is crushed by the thrust of the extreme right. How to govern the country with such a political landscape? Yes, I’m worried
There is still Emmanuel Macron and the moderate, center-right, and center-left electorate. Macron was re-elected with 58.5% of the vote…
But who supports Macron in France? Sometimes, one has the impression that this newly re-elected president has only adversaries and detractors. Take the media: there is, five years after his first election in 2017, no resolutely macronist newspaper, while he has been widely accused of controlling the press! Macron is caught in an infernal contradiction. He is right to defend the idea of “At the same time”. But a majority of French people do not want it. Republican pluralism is dying. The right is locked in the authoritarian heritage of Napoleon and Louis XIV. The left wants to deconstruct history in the name of revolution.
You praise the “At the same time”?
To reject the “At the same time” is immeasurably stupid. Emmanuel Macron is right. We must not choose between economic growth and the reduction of social injustice. We must not choose between democracy and geopolitical constraints. We must not choose between our humanist values and the regulation of immigration. I have never been a blissful centrist. The ideas I defend are rarely in the middle. I’m just saying that “At the same time” is a necessity if we want to preserve our way of life, our freedoms, and jobs. I have always tried, in the newspapers that I created, to do “At the same time”, by breaking the cleavage between the elitist and popular press. We must accept our contradictions to hope to resolve them. There are no other options.
You are going strong, evoking a fascist danger on the eve of these French legislative elections…
Fascism is in a position to conquer power when the extreme left and the extreme right come together when they are ready to demonstrate together. I am not saying that we are there, but I am asking the question: what will the voters of Marine Le Pen do in the second round if pro-Macron candidates find themselves opposed to Melenchonist candidates from the NUPES? France is dangerously polarized at all levels. No one had anticipated the collapse of the right in the presidential election, with less than 5% of the vote for its candidate Valérie Pécresse. I am not even talking about the political suicide of the Socialist Party with the candidacy of Anne Hidalgo, who obtained less than 2% of the vote. Emmanuel Macron must take this reality into account. The rejection of the European Union as it functions, of liberalism, elites, and globalization has never been stronger. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, like Marine Le Pen, wants to get the country out of NATO during the war in Ukraine. The first even advocate civil disobedience. That anachronism still survives under these conditions is already a miracle!
To read without moderation: “Memories of Beyond Life” by Jean François Kahn (Ed. Observatory). Volume 1: I turn around, flabbergasted. Volume 2: Despite everything, we did it, we said it.
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