On the return of Nicolas Sarkozy: Political Observer comments

Never fear, Mr. Sarkozy’s resort to the neo-fascist trope “your ancestors are the Gauls.” : the autochthonous tribe, a distant echo of Heidegger’s volk! This, an example of a usable political nostalgia, all scrubbed clean of any taint, making it more palatable to the respectable bourgeois voter. That voter, who might be considering Le Pen, just might be swayed by Sarkozy’s rhetoric?

What of the Sarkozy record on the riots in the banlieues as demonstrative of his ‘Leadership’ ?

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who has consistently advocated a tough approach to crime and restoring law and order, was a major probable contender for the 2007 presidential election. Success or failure on his part in quelling violence in suburban ghettos may thus have had far-ranging implications. Any action by Sarkozy was likely to be attacked by the political opposition, as well as by members of his Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) political coalition who also expect to run for the presidency. Le Monde, in a 5 November editorial [17] reminisced about the “catastrophic” elections of 2002 where right-wing candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen managed to enter the second round of voting, showing concern that a similar situation might arise in the upcoming elections as a backlash to the riots.

After the fourth night of riots, Sarkozy declared a zero tolerance policy towards urban violence and announced that 17 companies of riot police (C.R.S.) and 7 mobile police squadrons (escadrons de gendarmerie mobile) would be stationed in contentious Paris neighborhoods. Sarkozy has said that he believes that some of the violence may be at the instigation of organized gangs. “… All of this doesn’t appear to us to be completely spontaneous”, he said [18]. Undercover police officers were sent to identify “gang leaders, drug traffickers and big shots.” Sarkozy’s approach was criticized by left-wing politicians who called for greater public funding for housing, education, and job creation, and refraining from “dangerous demagoguery” [19]. Sarkozy was further criticized after he referred to the rioters as racaille and voyous [20] (translating to “scum” [21], “riff-raff” [22], “thugs” [23] or “hoodlums” [24]). During his visit to Clichy-sous-Bois, the Interior Minister was to meet with the families of the two youths killed, but when the tear gas grenade was sent into the Clichy mosque, the families pulled out of the meeting. Bouna Traoré’s brother Siyakah said, “There is no way we’re going to see Sarkozy, who is incompetent. What happened in the mosque is really disrespectful.” [25] The families finally met Prime minister Dominique de Villepin on 3 November.

The left-wing newspaper Libération cited the exasperation of suburb youth at the harassment by the police and Interior Minister Sarkozy (“lack of respect”) [26]. A schoolkid parent declaration that “Torching a school is unacceptable, but the one who put on the fire is Sarkozy” was all over the French press, including conservative Le Figaro [27].

Azouz Begag, delegate minister for the promotion of equal opportunity, made several declarations about the recent unrest, opposing himself to Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy for the latter’s use of “imprecise, warlike semantics”, which he says cannot help bring back calm in the affected areas [28].


Sarkozy: Xenophobe, Islamophobe, not speak of being an enemy of the minority immigrant community, and the failed project of  ‘integration’ into ‘mainstream’ French life. If such a project ever existed, at least as an ideal of a class of thinkers/actors  who remain in the shadow of both Sarkozy and Le Pen’s benighted politics. That politics being the grotesque offspring of Charlie Hebdo’s Enlightenment writ large. The spirit of French Colonialism is alive and well as domestic political phenomenon.

Political Observer




About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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