The Development of the Radical Right in France: From Boulanger to le Pen

The Development of the Radical Right in France: From Boulanger to le Pen

The Development of the Radical Right in France: From Boulanger to le Pen

The Development of the Radical Right in France: From Boulanger to le Pen

Synopsis

Tracing the origin and evolution of extreme-right wing thought in France from the end of the 19th century to the present day, this text helps students of modern French politics to see movements like Front National in their historical perspective.

Excerpt

Each of the chapters presented in this volume examines an aspect of the origins and the evolution of radical right-wing thinkers and movements in France from the last two decades of the nineteenth century to the present day, and helps to explain and further an understanding of the extremist tendencies of right-wing politics in France today. This study examines the history of the right wing in France during a century punctuated by periods of national crisis (les guerres franco‐ françaises): the Commune, the Boulangist episode, the Dreyfus Affair, 6 February 1934, the débâcle of 1940, the Occupation, the épuration, 13 May 1958 and May 1968. These successive periods of tension were generally exploited by the groups on the extreme right for their own political ends.

This collection of essays presents the origins and evolution of specifically French twentieth-century extreme right-wing thought, and asks a number of questions that have preoccupied historians. Was fascist ideology 'invented' in the France of the Belle Epoque? Was France fascist in the interwar years? Can Vichy be seen as a fascist régime? Is there a resurgence of fascism and/or French national populism in the postwar extreme right? In the context of the continuing debate on the conundrum of fascism, it is significant that the themes of organic nationalism and anti-Semitism that were developed in Belle Epoque France, have not only fed subsequent forms of fascism (Italian, German) but were also to become a significant part of the discourse of French extreme-right and fascist movements and intellectuals during the interwar years. These themes were a driving force behind the anti‐ semitic policies of Vichy and its involvement in the Final Solution. Some aspects of this ideological tradition have reappeared in postwar France and are notably identifiable in the ideology and political myths of the National Front. Consequently, our perception of contemporary movements and individuals is significantly changed if we see them as possible components of an ideological tradition that has existed in France for over a hundred years, and, at the height of periods of national crisis such as the Occupation, as willing actors in the policies of genocide.

What emerges from studies of the French radical right over the last hundred years is the diversity and variety of movements, individuals . . .

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