The huge defeat of nationalist and protectionist candidate Marine Le Pen at the hands of the centrist Emmanuel Macron is symptomatic of the strong self-destructive impulses in France in particular and Europe in general. Coming a couple of months after Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s comfortable victory over the anti-jihad free-speech champion Geert Wilders, Le Pen’s defeat underlines the Western civilization’s incomprehension of the threat arising from the march of radical Islam.
At a time when Europe is being swamped by Muslims, who scarcely show any inclination to embrace the values of the continent, rejecting Le Pen is downright dangerous. It is true that her economics is not very evolved. Though she is correct in her stand that her country should move out of the European Union, she is not exactly a proponent of free market economy. Despite her inadequacies on the economic front, she offered a better deal for the people of her country which, unfortunately, they have rejected.
It seems that Le Pen’s economic views have cost her some support. Like US President Donald Trump, she wants a new tax on companies that hire foreign workers; she is against globalization for what she called “intelligent protectionism.”A votary of economic nationalism, she favors new trade barriers, the dumping of the euro, and introducing a “nouveau franc” of a lower value to boost exports. She has no problems with the 35-hour working week. She is opposed to privatization of big state-run companies.
She also supports lower income tax but only for the poorest. She is certainly not a low-tax campaigner, as she is all for social security: “In this country we are willing to pay a certain level of taxes in order to assure a certain standard of living.” In fact, there is no hint of a Thatcher or a Reagan in Le Pen. While expressing her faith in free markets, she warns against the danger of “ultra-liberalism, where financial markets impose all the rules.”
On the other hand, Macron, a former banker who later became economy minister, favors globalization, free trade, the euro, and the EU. He has also promised to slash corporate tax rates gradually to 25 per cent from the present 33 per cent, cut local housing taxes for most people, reduce public spending by $64 billion a year, downsize the government by not employing the positions left by retiring staff, and boost infrastructure spending. Unlike Le Pen, he is also not comfortable with the 35-hour work week norm.
In a way, Le Pen’s economic policy is not much unlike that of the Bharatiya Janata Party—statist, populist, skeptical of free market. Apparently, such regressive approach succeeds all the time in India but not always in France. The people of France have found Macron’s economic policy more sensible, which it is.
Yet, I believe that Le Pen would have been a better choice, for the real threat to France is not economic but religious—the growing number of Muslims, their relentless radicalization, rising terror incidents, and the increasing spread of Islamist views. Le Pen clearly sees this danger and, therefore, may have been capable to tackle it.
But Macron’s worldview has been shaped by the multicultural mob—Left-leaning academics, pathologically pro-Islam intellectuals, media Brahmins, parlor pinks, et al. That is, the folks who are the bane of mankind. Unfortunately, Macron parrots their shibboleths and clichés. For instance, he said in October last year, “No religion is a problem in France today. If the state should be neutral, which is at the heart of secularism, we have a duty to let everybody practice their religion with dignity.”
No religion? Who carried out the November 2015 Paris massacre, the deadliest terrorist attack in the country’s history? Guns and grenades were used to slaughter people at random at a music venue, a sports stadium, and several bar and restaurant terraces. As many as 130 people were murdered and 368 injured. Who was responsible for the mass shooting at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo office in Paris in January 2015 that killed 17 and wounded 22?
People of all faiths live in France—Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jews, Christians of countless denominations—but it is only the Muslims have problems with everybody else. One has to be a pure intellectual, who has absolute disdain for empirical evidence, to ignore the role of Muslims’ faith in their activities. Or under the sway of pure intellectuals, which seems to be Macron’s case.
We can only hope that Macron’s better sense prevails over his flirtation with multicultural claptrap and that he would be able to shief the land of Voltaire from the depredations of zillion Osamas.
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