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MA in International Relations
Alternative Normative Attractors in Chaotic Political Systems: The Case of the Front National
University of Kent Department of Politics and International Relations 2003
Supervisors: Pr. Mervyn Frost & Dr. Stefan Rossbach
Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................................................ .3 List of Abbreviations & Memorandum
2. From Theory to Practice: Complexity in Political Systems
2.1. Ilya Prigogine: The Theory of Dissipative Structures
2.2. Entropy as the Breakdown of Meaning
2.3. Niklas Luhmann: Autopoiesis and Expectational Structures
ANTI-SYSTEM POLITICS ........................................................................................................................ 15
3. Ideology as Autopoietic requirement
3.1. The Negentropic Dynamic of the Left-Right Cleavage
3.2. The Front National: Beyond the Parasitical Syndrome
3.3. From Parasite to Ideological Pole
3.4. A Brief Excursion in the FN Worldview .............................................................................................................
4. Diagnostic of the French Political System
4.1. The Phenomenon of Desideologisation
4.2. The Re-interpretative Dynamic of the Political System
4.3. ‘Neither right nor left, French!’ The FN’s Anti-System Stance
4.4. The Lepenisation of Political Discourse
5. Conclusion: From Metaphor to Prescription
I would like to offer my thanks to Pr. Jacques J. Herman and Pr. René Zayan for their insights and analyses on chaos theory and the phenomenon of populism; to Pr. Mervyn Frost and Dr. Stefan Rossbach for supervising this dissertation and for comments on successive versions of this draft. I am of course indebted to my parents for constant support and encouragement. Finally, I am grateful to James Lupia for his help in reading through draft chapters and for long conversations about Chaos.
List of Abbreviations
FN : Front National GRECE : Groupement de Recherche et d’Études pour la Civilisation Européenne LCR : Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire LO : Lutte Ouvrière MNR : Mouvement National Républicain PCF : Parti Communiste Français PS : Parti Socialiste RPR : Rassemblement pour la République UDF : Union pour la Démocratie Française UMP : Union pour un Mouvement Populaire
Unless specified otherwise, quotes that were originally not in English have been translated by the author for the purpose of this analysis.
1. Introduction: Towards a Reinterpretation of Politics
“The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.” George Lakoff and Mark Johnson.1 “You don’t see something until you have the right metaphor to let you perceive it.” Thomas Kuhn.2
In 1993 French political commentator Alain Duhamel declared, “the Front National seems to have stopped making headway and even seems unable to maintain itself at its current level.”3 Ten years after Duhamel’s remark, the situation seems somewhat different. In 2002, Front National (FN) founder and leader Jean-Marie Le Pen managed to ban socialist candidate Lionel Jospin from the second round of French presidential elections in 2002, obliterating the accustomed duel between candidates from both sides of the left-right cleavage. Hence, after twenty years of continuous electoral consolidation, the FN cannot be underestimated or ignored. A wide range of factors has been pointed out to explain this steady intensification. According to Pascal Delwitt, “we see a reconfigurating movement of the European right more and more forced to cope with the extreme right and populist parties, but also with growing disaffection towards parliamentary parties.”4 For demographer Hervé Le Bras, we are witnessing a “decline of the political intermediary forces that have until now filtrated immediate societal impulsions.”5 In this dissertation, our endeavour is to articulate and evaluate an atypical comprehensive framework for the understanding of a complex but widely treated phenomenon: the surfacing, implementation and normalisation of populist and ‘extreme-right’ movements.6 More precisely, we will analyse a particular case – the
G. Lakoff & M. Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1980, p. 5. T. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970, p. 262. 3 A. Duhamel, Les peurs françaises, Paris: Gallimard, 1993, p. 237. 4 ‘Certains ont cru à tort que l’extrême droite était moribonde’ , La Libre Belgique, 22 April 2002. This phenomenon however does not represent a novelty. With regard to the 80’s, Betz likewise highlighted “a marked increase in public disaffection and disenchantment with the established political parties, the political class, and the political system in general.” H-.G. Betz, Radical Right-Wing Populism in Western Europe, New York: St Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 167. 5 Hervé Le Bras quoted in E. Plenel & A. Rollat, La République menacée, Dix ans d’effet Le Pen, Paris : Le Monde-Éditions, 1992, p. IX. 6 The term ‘extreme right’ is perhaps not the most proficient idiom to characterise our object of research. Likewise, the tem ‘populism’ has to be liberated from its negative connotation with regard to this study. As indicated by Papadopoulos, “being assimilated to a pathology, populism is loaded with
French Front National – through the lens of complexity.7 This dissertation therefore hopes to take its place among an increasing number of studies discussing this phenomenon, by presenting a singular outlook about Jean-Marie Le Pen and his nonconforming and intriguing party. 8 It is not in our attention to formulate a study of contemporary manifestations of fascism in its traditional sense. The Front National surely adheres to a fascist Weltanschauung but – as we will see – has remarkably understood the mechanisms of modern democracies.9 The Front National is thus not, in its actual configuration, a fascist movement, but rather an atypical yet democratic party with an illiberal agenda. It will therefore be indispensable to observe the peculiar normative elements constituting the FN’s ideology and thus, go beyond any initial categorisation. Nevertheless, the objective of this work is not to pass moral judgement on the political message or investigate the historical context of the emergence of the FN as has been done in the past, but to formulate an analysis in which different axioms of system theory and complexity, combined with a concise diagnostic of the FN’s ideology and discourse, will co-construct an investigative path towards a new perception of the place of anti-system parties in the broader frame of democratic party-politics. Lastly, it appears crucial to emphasise the experimental character of this study. This study represents an ‘essay’ in the true sense of the word in which different theoretical tools will be applied to a concrete situation regarding a specific case. While much of what we present may suggest and lead to further exploration and analysis, we propose
negative connotations, so that the use of this term for analytic purposes becomes very delicate. It usually depicts a sort of disease: far from referring only to a social phenomenon, it is associated to a political and moral problem too.” Y. Papadopoulos, National-Populism in Western Europe: An Ambivalent Phenomenon, at http://www.unil.ch/iepi/pdfs/papadopoulos1.pdf 7 Complexity is also named ‘the edge of chaos’. Chaos theory studies the characteristic occurrences of complex system. 8 See for instance P. Milza, Fascisme français, Paris: Flammarion, 1987; and N. Mayer & P. Perrineau, Le Front National à découvert, Paris : Presse de la Fondation Nationales des Sciences Politiques, 1989. 9 According to Emilio Gentile, “Fascism is a modern, nationalistic and revolutionary, anti-liberal and anti-Marxist political phenomenon, organised in a militia-party, with a totalitarian conception of politics and of the State, with an mythically founded ideology, ‘virile’ and anti-hedonist, consecrated as a secular religion, claiming the absolute superiority of the nation, conceived as an organic and ethnically homogeneous community, hierarchically organised in a corporatist State, with a warmongering vocation, a policy of grandiosity, of power, and conquest, striving for the creation of a new order and of a new civilisation.” Qu’est-ce que le fascisme ? Entretien avec Emilio Gentile , La Nouvelle Revue d’Histoire, No. 6, May/June 2003, p. 30.
that considering the conciseness of the academic framework encompassing this topic, the elements presented in this study can be judged as sufficient for an autonomous first report of an ongoing project. 1.1. Chaos: A Metaphor for Alternative Questioning Chaos is a powerful term. It traces its conceptualisation to the mythological heritage of humanity rooted in ancient Greece, where it had a positive and fertile connotation.10 Additionally, chaos theory constitutes a field of trans-disciplinary research connecting mathematics, informatics, physics and other disciplines interested in issues related to the instability of dynamic systems. The term complexity can be defined as “the ability to switch between different modes of behavior as the environmental conditions are varied,”11 and can occur in natural as well as in social systems, which are neither entirely deterministic nor totally unpredictable. The different parts of a complex system are linked and affect one another in a synergistic manner through positive and negative feedback. Moreover, the evolution of chaotic systems is viewed as non-linear, i.e. no variable revealing the state of the system undergoes a regular repletion of values. To formulate a premature characterization of chaos in the field of complexity, one could consider chaos as the general confusion about elements before their separation and rearrangement to constitute a new order. As we will subsequently emphasize, this concept of order out of chaos is essentially present in Prigogine’s work on dissipative structures. Our suggestion is that the metaphorical use of a theory once reserved to the domain of science may contribute to the general understanding of political phenomena such as the rise of populist movements. The transfer of ideas from ‘hard science’ to humanities is neither new nor exceptional. From Plato to Hobbes, classical geometry has always guided the intuition of political thinkers. For these thinkers, mathematics like politics was the science of order.12 Furthermore, it appears not erroneous to affirm that the understanding of politics and human behaviour is essentially a matter of interpretation
See J.-P Vernant & P. Vidal-Naquet, Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece, New York: Zone Books, 1988, pp. 95-7. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Chaos is the formless matter from which the cosmos, or harmonious order, was created. 11 I. Prigogine & G. Nicolis, Exploring Complexity: An Introduction, New York: W.H. Freeman & Co, 1998, p. 218. 12 J.J. Herman, Chaologie Politique et Nationalisme, Revue Internationale de Politique Comparée, Vol. 1, No 3, 1994. pp. 2-10.
and conceptualisation. According to Pierre Bréchon, “democracy means disorder.”13 If this is correct, then chaos seems particularly adapted to contemporary political situations with issues such as the crisis of the Nation-State, the implosion of sociopolitical regimes and, with regard to our study, the rise of democratic disenchantment and the emergence of Anti-System parties. Hence, the metaphor of chaos implies a new model of interpretation of political behaviour thereby overcoming the objections to scientism and mysticism.14. According to Prigogine and Stengers, “we need new ‘tools of thought’ [and] one of the greatest benefits of models is precisely to help us discover these tools and learn how to use them.”15 1.2. From Science to Social Systems In order to see where the metaphorical language of complexity can be resourceful, one has to envision the elements constituting political life as part of a system. The following analysis will therefore focus on the ‘political system’ rather than on politics, considering that “social and political behaviour is by definition holistic and synergetic.”16 Concepts such as system and structure are essential to the understanding of social sciences and politics. Gregory Bateson conceives a system as a “global organized unity of interrelations between elements, actions, or individuals.”17 But, while the transfer of knowledge from ‘hard science’ to the understanding of political phenomena appears feasible and appealing, one has to underline the particularity of social systems. Unlike their natural counterparts, social systems and structures are abstract entities and, as
P. Bréchon, Le Front National en France : Une montée inquiétante, Economie et Humanisme, AprilJune 1991, p. 73. 14 See F. Cramer, Chaos and Order, New York: VCH Publishers, 1993, pp. 218-9. Cramer agrees that the theory of complexity might appear mystic with regards to its anti-naturalistic, non-scientific and sometimes mystical elements. However, statistical fluctuations can be recognized by non-linear equations used in chaos theory and since the latter incorporates the latest scientific findings, it cannot be regarded as mysticism. 15 I. Prigogine & I. Stengers, Order out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature, London: Flamingo, 1984, p. 203. 16 T.A. Brown, Nonlinear Politics, in L.D. Kiel & E. Elliott (eds.), Chaos Theory in the Social Sciences, Foundations and Applications, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1997, p. 123. 17 G. Bateson, La Nature de la pensée, Paris: Seuil, 1984, p. 102. Likewise, for Waltz, structures ought to be described by “the arrangement of the system’s parts and by the principle of that arrangement” K.N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979, p. 80.
indicated by Waltz; “cannot be defined by enumerating material characteristics of the system.”18 Hence, to overcome scientism or grave reductionist fallacies, leading scholars in the field of chaos such as Maturana and Varela have emphasized this difference in stating that “the human social system applies the individual creativity of its components, as that system exists for these components.”19 Likewise, Ilya Prigogine underlined that “a social system is by definition a non-linear one […] At each moment fluctuations are generated, which may be damped or amplified by society.”20 1.3. For a Positive Reading of Chaos According to chaos theory, systems such as those revolving around politics develop along a certain path and then reach a point where a decision must ultimately be made between two or more alternatives. The perfect illustration is the moment of democratic elections in which a choice is given between two or more candidates. In the language of complexity, this moment of choice is called a bifurcation. Consequently, chaotic systems are those, which are permanently undergoing bifurcations. In the case of the last French presidential elections, the bifurcation was remarkable considering that no less than sixteen candidates were competing for the presidency. This path-dependency shows that the behaviour of systems is non-linear; a system can suddenly move from one state to another, thus allowing chaos to provide a rather unpleasant paradigm for politicians striving for continuity and stability. As a result, it is not uncommon that comments given by several mainstream politicians on an uneasy conjuncture or on a moment of crisis are illustrated by a negative use of the metaphor of chaos.21 Chaos is seen here as a critical, unpredictable and dissempowering state. Conversely, other parties labelled as ‘extreme’, ‘fascist’, ‘populist’, or ‘anti-system’ are less reluctant when it comes to the chaotic non-linearity constitutive of the democratic apparatus. As in the ancient Greek conception, chaos incorporates the essence of a new order and thus can also be seen as promising. This
Ibid. H. Maturana & Francesco Varela, The Tree of Knowledge, Boston: Shambhala, 1987, P. 199. 20 I. Prigogine, Science, Civilization and Democracy: Values, systems, structures and affinities, Futures, Vol. 18, No 14, August 1986, p. 503. 21 “We must make sure to secure our national unity with the values of the republican pact. These are the very values negated by terrorists creating chaos, doubt and division in our democratic societies.” L. Jospin, Situation Consécutive aux Attentats du 11 Septembre 2001, Discours du premier ministre à l’Assemblée Nationale, 3 October 2001, www.archives.premier-ministre.gouv.fr/jospin_version3/fr/ie4/contenu/28930.htm
encouraging view has to some extent been adopted by populists such as Le Pen, as he demonstrated in an address to the FN’s youth wing in September 1996:
“[…] crisis is the great midwife of History. When situations are blocked, it’s generally the drive of human nature which forces a breakthrough into new times […] Now it is certain that only the National Front can tear this country from decadence […] There is a time when all that will end, and that will be the revolution. […] So I believe that you too should prepare yourselves, because at a certain point the worm-eaten structures of our system are going to collapse.”22
1.4. The Two Levels of the Metaphor It seems however important to ponder the consistency of the metaphorical approach that will be used throughout this study. To undestand the entire dimension of the latter, one has to bring in and distinguish two different levels: our personal understanding of the political system as theoretically chaotic and the FN’s use of this diagnostic for its own purpose. We will see that the Front National is a party making an important use of metaphors. Therefore, our hypothesis is that unlike conventional politicians, Le Pen understands the essential role of symbolism and semantics in the practice of politics, which partially explains the vibrant support to his movement contrasting with the general disenchantment in mainstream politics. As such we will see how the FN injects new meaning in the field of politics deriving from its own observation of the system. Conversely, we will see how the FN is part of the political system that we consider as dissipative and self-organising. In our conception, meaning in politics is based on the self-understanding of the system subject to permanent reinterpretation. As a result this study contributes to this very self-understanding in presenting new tools for comprehension associated to an interpretative rather than a descriptive or prescriptive metaphor. In the following chapter of this dissertation we will overview the essential concepts encompassed in the theory of complexity with regard to Ilya Prigogine’s theory of
Jean-Marie le Pen devant les cadres du FNJ : « préparez-vous à la révolution », Le Monde, 17 September 1996. In this extract, the fact that Le Pen almost talks like a chaos theorist is not exceptional. Karl Marx already considered chaos and anarchy as punctual moments of the dialectic march towards Progress.
dissipative structure and the importance of entropy in the field of chaos theory with regard to our personal comprehension of the metaphor. Subsequently, we will present Niklas Luhmann’s account on system’s theory with concepts such as autopoiesis and expectational structures. These theoretical elements will help us to comprehend the implication of complexity in the domain of politics with reference to actors such as the Front National. In the third chapter we will apply the latter concepts and see how the political system is structured around a delicate equilibrium, as well as present the role and endeavour of the FN in this configuration – the purpose being to show why the Front National is more than a mere parasite in French politics. We will therefore consider the claims made by political scientists such as Mastropaolo arguing that “democracy was unable to renew itself, or did it in a not reasonably suitable way, encouraging disaffection, resentment and scepticism”23 or that “Le Pen’s feat was caused not by a dramatic swing to the far right but by a crushing defeat for the parties of the mainstream.”24 In the last chapter we will then finally underscore the dynamic of the political system in emphasising the crucial role of ideology in the reinterprative process of politics.
A. Mastropaolo, Quatre hypothèse sur le succès de la droite antipolitique, in O. Ihl, J. Chêne, É. Vial & G.Waterlot (eds.), La tentation populiste au cœur de l’Europe, Paris : La Découverte, 2003, p. 54. 24 P. Fysh & J. Wolfers, The Politics of Racism in France, Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, p. 237.
2. From Theory to Practice: Complexity in the Political System
“It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.” Niccolò Machiavelli.25
2.1. Ilya Prigogine: The Theory of Dissipative Structures The first theoretical model we can make use of to contribute to our understanding of the rise of the Front National and its manifestation as a solid competitor in the political system, is the theory of dissipative structures, introduced by Nobel price laureate Ilya Prigogine. This theory states that as a system moves further from equilibrium, not only does self-organization arise, but also new structures and behaviours surface at critical points of instability. This cause/effect paradigm has emerged from the discovery of chaos theorists that the characteristic state of most systems is, precisely, one far from equilibrium. Furthermore, for chaos theorists, “most systems are subject to fluctuations.”26 With regard to the political system we can look at these fluctuations as individual or groupal behaviours – such as protest movements – in discrepancy with the current political equilibrium. However, the theory stipulates that the escalation of these fluctuations does not always drive the system ‘out of control’ but creates dissipative structures as new forms of order or new types of organisation, emerging from the edges of chaos. In his theory, Prigogine has demonstrated how organisation can emerge out of chaos, and gave a detailed description of self-organising systems establishing the relationship between non-linearity and systems far from equilibrium. As a result, our hypothesis is that a political system is a dissipative structure and a self-organising system, and that in addition, populist leaders such are Jean-Marie Le Pen are conscious of their dynamic role within the system. It seems now explicit why the theory of dissipative structures is also called order through fluctuations. According to Prigogine, “a social system is by definition a non25 26
N. Machiavelli, The Prince, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984, chapter 6. H. Sungaila, Organizations Alive! Have We At Last Found the Key to a Science of Educational Administration?, CCEA Studies in Educational Administration, No 52, May 1990,p. 8.
linear one, as interactions between the members of the society may have a catalystic effect. At each moment fluctuations are generated, which may be damped or amplified by society.”27 One may therefore distinguish two types of fluctuations with regard to social systems: random or involuntary fluctuations, and cognizant fluctuations i.e. fluctuations embracing a ‘will to paradigmatical change’. In other words, antisystemically oriented fluctuations representing individuals or groups striving for change within the system. According to Prigogine’s theory, this change is susceptible to appear at a critical point of instability of the system, also called bifurcation point. At a bifurcation point, a dissipative structure proves “an extraordinary sensitivity to small fluctuations in its environment.”28 Hence, in the political system, for Anti-System actors with a will to paradigmatical change, the moment of elections seems particularly appropriate to induce this change. Peter Wiles recaps that populism, fervently opposed to the establishment, “arises precisely when a large group, becoming self-conscious, feels alienated from the centres of power.”29 Nevertheless, for Prigogine, a fluctuation cannot at once invade the system as a whole. “It must first establish itself in a limited region and then invade the whole space: there is a nucleation mechanism. Depending on whether the size of the initial fluctuation region lies below or above some critical value […] the fluctuation either regresses or else spreads to the whole system.”30 A conflict might follow between the growing nucleation and the larger system. The system may seek to eradicate the nucleation, but occasionally “the nucleation prevails and becomes a new self-organised system.”31 The development of the Front National as a multifaceted and overarching movement within French society seems to illustrate the latter point and to indicate how models inspired by the concept of ‘order through fluctuations’ can help to reformulate the complex interplay between individual and collective aspects of behavior.32
Prigogine, Science, Civilization and Democracy: Values, systems, structures and affinities, p. 503. F. Capra, The Web of Life: A New Synthesis of Mind and Matter, London: Flamingo, 1997, p. 186. 29 P. Wiles, A Syndrome, Not a Doctrine: Some Elementary Theses on Populism, in G. Ionescu & E. Gellner, Populism: its Meanings and National Characteristics, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969, p. 167. 30 Prigogine & Stengers, Order out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature, p. 187. In fact, near a bifurcation point, fluctuations “may self-amplify or cross-amplify [autocatalysis and cross-catalysis] via positive feedback to produce a nucleation.” K.B. De Greene, Field-Theoretic Framework for the Interpretation of the Evolution, Instability, Structural Change, and Management of Complex Systems, in L.D. Kiel & E. Elliott (eds.), Chaos Theory in the Social Sciences, Foundations and Applications, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1997, p. 276. 31 Ibid. 32 Prigogine & Stengers, Order out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature, p. 206.
2.2. Entropy as the Breakdown of Meaning It consequently appears in our perspective that the political system presents itself as a dissipative structure in permanent reconfiguration or rearrangement with regard to enduring fluctuations that the system has to encounter. Nevertheless, a further fundamental notion for the comprehension of the theory is the concept of entropy. In fact, dissipative structures are commonly defined as “open systems evolving as a result of their environment’s entropy, amplifying through feedback encountered random fluctuations.”33 Entropy symbolises the ‘process of degradation’. It stands in particular for “the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity.”34 According to Prigogine, “entropy leads to disorder, to the forgetting of initial conditions, this history is a history of decay, of degradation; a history expressed by the increase of entropy.”35 Therefore, to uphold their intensification, dissipative structures must “eliminate the positive entropy that naturally accumulates over time and degrades the system’s internal structuring.”36 We thus have to explore how entropy is characterised in the political system. We have seen that the theory of dissipative structures is highly pessimistic presenting the idea that imbedded within entropic systems exists an arrow of time in the form of a deterministic path moving towards final dissipation, annihilation and disintegration. Yet, from our viewpoint there might exist a metaphorical but concrete comprehension of the significance of entropy in the political system, which may explain its internal dynamic. In accordance with Luhmann, the political system such as social systems in general, is based on communication.37 Furthermore, in the field of complexity, the state
Herman, Chaologie Politique et Nationalisme, p. 5. According to the ‘Merriam-Webster dictionary’, entropy refers broadly to the “degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system.” http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary Fritjof Capra indicates that “the concept of entropy was introduced in the nineteenth century by Rudolf Clausius, a German physicist and mathematician, to measure the dissipation of energy into heat and friction. Clausius defined the entropy generated in a thermal process as the dissipated energy divided by the temperature at which the process takes place. According to the second law, that entropy keeps increasing as the thermal process continues; the dissipated energy can never be recovered: and this direction towards ever-increasing entropy defined the arrow of time.” Capra, The Web of Life: A New Synthesis of Mind and Matter, p. 180. 35 Prigogine, Science, Civilization and Democracy: Values, systems, structures and affinities, p. 495. 36 D.L. Harvey & M. Reed, Social Sciences as the Study of Complex Systems, in L.D. Kiel & E. Elliott (eds.), Chaos Theory in the Social Sciences, Foundations and Applications, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1997, p. 303. 37 “Social systems use communication as their particular mode of autopoietic reproduction.” N. Luhmann, Essays on Self-Reference, New York: Columbia University Press, 1990, p. 3.
of maximal entropy consists in an undifferentiated state – a state in which nothing is occurring anymore. It seems therefore possible to understand the notion of entropy in terms of communication as the breakdown of ‘meaning’ in politics – in other words, when voting for A does not make any more difference then voting for B. The breakdown of meaning signifies in the words of Dorna, that “the matrix of common values is put in question and social cohesion ceases to be a barrier against the process of disintegration and of political exhaustion.”38 2.3. Niklas Luhmann: Autopoiesis and Expectational Structures With regard to chaos theory it appears that the comprehension of self-organization generates a new accurate understanding of the relationship between living systems and the notion of equilibrium or, in what interests us, the dynamics of the political system. The study of self-organisation in the field of complexity has also come out of the works of Erich Jantsch and above all Niklas Luhmann.39 While Jantsch hypothesised the integration of a variety of theories of self-regulation – also present in Heinz von Foerster’s work on the self-organising features of living systems40 – within the framework of dissipative self-organisation, Luhmann specifically applied the findings to social systems. Following the key concepts of complexity such as the problem of entropy and the nature of self-organisation in a system, Luhmann indicates that “unstructured complexity is entropic complexity, which can at any time disintegrate into incoherence. The formation of structure uses this disintegration and constructs order out of it.”41 In other words, “structure transforms unstructured complexity into structure complexity.”42 As a result, the emergence of social structures and systemic arrangements refers to the unpredictability and the multiplicity of choices that individuals are challenged with. Therefore, a way to defy this randomness is institutionalisation, allowing living systems “continuously faced with complex and risky choices, to deal with such choices
A. Dorna, Le néopopulisme et le charisme, in O. Ihl, J. Chêne, É. Vial & G.Waterlot (eds.), La tentation populiste au cœur de l’Europe, Paris : La Découverte, 2003, p. 91. 39 See E. Jantsch, The Self-Organizing Universe: Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution, New York: Pergamon, 1980; N. Luhmann, Social Systems, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995. 40 See H. von Foerster, On Self-Organizing Systems and Their Environments in M.C. Yovits & S. Cameron (eds.), Self-Organizing Systems, London: Pergamon Press, 1960. 41 Luhmann, Social Systems, p. 282. 42 Ibid.
meaningfully” i.e. to minimise the unpredictability in the system.43 Consequently, “social structures are expectational structures.”44 For Luhmann, structures of expectations designate the possible outcome of choices. dimension.”45 The institutionalisation of democratic elections is particularly illustrative of the latter stabilisation. Along with Luhmann, this institutionalisation within the political system certifies the “unpredictability created by the system itself.”46 However, this uncertainty is firstly absorbed by the fact that “the system produces its own unpredictability and insofar cannot stabilise itself. The system reaches with regard to the environment the ‘requisite variety’, but only through the fact that it compensates the volatility of the environment with its own volatility.”
The process of
institutionalisation and of expectational structures operates thus to “stabilise the social
In other words, the institutionalisation of
elections previously described as a chaotic moment inside the political system represents an expectational structure bearing in mind that “one can handle more easily the internal unpredictability than the external one, that is through decisions.”48 The self-reproduction of elements within a system such as the institutionalisation of democratic elections in the political system represents for Luhmann a form of selforganisation. In fact, structures of expectation are “the condition of possibility for elements’ self-reproduction through their own arrangement,”49 which he describes as autopoiesis. Autopoiesis implies that all units, which are needed by the system, are produced by the system itself.50 Hence, for Luhmann, “self-referential systems are closed systems in the sense that they produce their own elements and thus their own structural changes.”
Autopoiesis is therefore essential to our conception of the
Niklas Luhmann in H. Sungaila, Organizations Alive! Have We At Last Found the Key to a Science of Educational Administration?, p. 11. 44 Luhmann, Social Systems, p. 292. 45 Sungaila, Organizations Alive! Have We At Last Found the Key to a Science of Educational Administration?, p. 12. 46 N. Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, Frankfut am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000, p. 104. 47 Ibid. 48 Ibid. 49 Luhmann, Social Systems, p. 289. 50 According to Humberto Maturana, autopoietic systems “are defined as unities, as networks of productions of components that recursively, through their interactions, generate and realize the network that produces them and constitute, in the space in which they exist, the boundaries of the network as components that participate in the realization of the network.” H.R. Maturana, Autopoiesis, in M. Zeleny (ed.), Autopoiesis: A Theory of Living Organization, New York: North Holland, 1981, p. 21. 51 Luhmann, Social Systems, p. 350.
political system as a dissipative structure in connection with Prigogine’s theory. As such, autopoiesis refers to the internal mechanism maintaining the dissipative political system in a certain state.52 Nevertheless, one may highlight a major disparity between the existing and the perceived order of political systems. Actors in the political system such as mainstream parties seem paradoxically to be unaware of the dissipative character of the system. According to Luhmann, “the political system is a self-referentially closed system, and whatever it declares to be political is thereby political. And it is precisely this closed nature of the system that sensitises it to all possible demands however exacting” 53 The exclusion of the Front National as ‘politically incorrect’ is therefore particularly significant. In fact, in being semantically put ‘outside’ of the system by its central elements – i.e. mainstream parties – the FN might be in a better position to observe and disobey to the consensual procedures and ethical norms adopted by actors in the system. As we will later emphasise, the Anti-System stance espoused by the Front National describes in terms of system’s theory its ‘marginal’ character with regard to mainstream parties. However, as we will see in the case of the fluctuational forces emerging in the political system and linked with general societal circumstances, a self-organising system cannot be insensible to its environment. Moreover, as indicated by Stefan Rossbach, “the environment offers impulses and perturbations but it is not able to determine their effects on the system. Thus, the concept of autopoiesis goes beyond and, in some sense, generalises the distinction between “open” and “closed” systems.”54 In fact, for Luhmann, “the relation between closure and openness has to be understood as an increasing combination [Steigerungszusammenhang], and not, as in older system
In liberal democracies, autopoiesis would thus be the mechanism describing the implementation of elections held at relative intervals, this implementation representing a negentropic feature of the system. 53 N. Luhmann, Risk: a Sociological Theory, Berlin: De Gruyter, 1993, p. 160. For Luhmann, the operative closure of a system means “own recursiveness, orientation on self-produced values […] thus creation and continuation of a particular past and of a particular future. It does not mean: independence from the environment.” Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, p. 111. 54 S. Rossbach, The Myth of the System: On the Development, Purpose and Context of Niklas Luhmann’s Systems Theory, ECPR Joint Session of Workshops – Workshop No. 9: Modern Systems Theory and International Society, Copenhagen, April 2000, at http://www.essex.ac.uk/ECPR/events/jointsessions/paperarchive/copenhagen/ws9/rossbach.PDF
theory, as an opposition of models.”55 In the case of the political system one might state that while coping with its persistent environmental impulsiveness, the system must be in a constant process of introspection and redefinition in order to integrate, to digest the disparate external perturbations and internal fluctuations. As a consequence, albeit being self-referentially closed, the political system is open pertaining to its dissipative nature – it evolves and maintains itself by exporting entropy.56
Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, p. 106. Luhmann describes this phenomenon as forced selectivity. Some fluctuations are integrated or ‘digested’ by the system others are expelled. The process of selection is part of the negentropic process vital for the maintaining of dissipative systems. With regard to the political system one may conceive it as the political reinterpretation of societal fluctuations.
3. Ideology as Autopoietic requirement
“This system was regulated like a musical piece, right and left dancing the ballet of connivance to abuse the majority. But the people have whistled the end of the representation. Then, the facade fell, and the comedians of the Establishment dumped the fun for the gun.” Jean-Marie Le Pen.57
3.1. The Negentropic Dynamic of the Left-Right Cleavage In a system such as a political system, different features may have a negentropic function.58 One of them is the establishment of a conventional and predictable understanding of politics, recognisable by the average elector, based on a left-right divide. For Luhmann, “it is remarkable that, with its reminiscences of the French revolution or of socialist ambitions, the left/right-divide constitutes a pure political schema without exact correlations to the societal environment.”59 However as once indicated by Harold Lasswell:
“Politics is a process that brings to the surface the irrational foundations of our society. [...] In politics, the success and the handling of rational interests are always subject to the continuously changing definitions of an emotional consensus. [...] Many disturbing changes in the life of many members of society lead to adjustment problems that are mostly solved with the help of symbolic forms.”60
Consequently, one might argue that this divide is central in our contemporary conception of democratic politics. For Lane and Errson, “according to a major theory in political sociology social heterogeneity and cleavages have a profound impact on politics, including political stability.”61 As a result, mainstream parties place themselves routinely within the right-left cleavage or are categorized as such by political scientists. This divide represents therefore – in Luhmann’s terminology – a structure of
J.-M.Le Pen, Discours Fête de Jeanne d'Arc du 1er mai 2002 : devant plus de 100 000 personnes, 1 May 2002,at http://www.frontnational.com/lesdiscours.php?id_inter=23 58 Negentropy stands for the prevention of the intensification of disorder – of entropy – in a system. 59 N. Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, Frankfut am Main: Suhrkamp, 2000, p. 95. 60 Harold Lasswell quoted in M. Edelman, The Symbolic Uses of Politics, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976, p. 28. 61 J.E. Lane, S. Errson, Politics and Society in Western Europe, 4th edition, London: SAGE Publications Ltd, 1999, p. 73.
expectation. With regard to the self-organisational nature of the political system, structures of expectation represent the very condition of possibility for connective action and therefore “the condition of possibility for elements’ self-reproduction through their own arrangement.”62 Luhmann highlights that the function of this divide should not be contested. On the contrary, it signalises the willingness of the political system to attract and reinterpret conflicts in connection with its own interpretative model, the societal environment not being able to meet the expectations.63 As such, conflicts are taken out of society and reoriented in the field of politics. Parties in the left-right divide represent thus the institutionalisation of diverse partisan orientations and thus provide a suitable ‘menu’ for each voter during election-time. Nevertheless, mainstream parties tend to concur on a list of ‘settled norms’ that, moreover, ascertains the common ground for political debate. Settled norms include ideas and teleological orientations such as modernisation, the existence of democratic institutions and the protection of human rights. According to Mervyn Frost, “it is settled that human rights are a good,” likewise “it is settled that democratic institutions within states are preferable to non-democratic ones.” Finally, along with Frost, it is settled that “modernization is regarded as an approved goal in itself (in that a modernize society is preferable to a primitive one).”64 These values are the essence of the French, and of most political systems. As highlighted by Prigogine, “values are the code we adopt to maintain the social systems on a branch which has been chosen by history.”65 The conception of Human Rights seems predominant considering that nowadays it appears undistinguishable from the notion of democracy. As pointed out by Luhmann, “one assumes also from democracy that it allows liberty and equality and an individually self-determinate life.” 66 With the help of this common normative structure based on the protection of Human Rights as well as a general liberal consent, one can distinguish a homogeneous normative equilibrium within the political system. In the theory of dissipative structure,
Luhmann, Social Systems, p. 289. Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, p. 96. For Luhmann, political conflicts are differentiated [ausdifferenzierte] conflicts, which can only take place in an operatively closed political system.” Ibid. 64 M. Frost, Ethics in International Relations, A Constitutive Theory, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 110-1. 65 Prigogine, Science, Civilization and Democracy: Values, systems, structures and affinities, pp. 5034. 66 Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, p. 358.
this equilibrium is called an attractor. According to Prigogine, attractors are potential generators and processors of information. In other words, with regard to the political system, an attractor produces ‘meaning’. The ideological partition expressed by the leftright divide represents therefore the equilibrium, the central attractor of our political system. This attractor is meant to provide meaning to politics, and according to chaos theory, to characterise the long-term behaviour of the system and channel entropy. In fact, the path towards dissipation is irreversible; the leitmotiv of the central attractor of the system is therefore to expand its existence by exploiting entropy in permanently redefining itself with regard to societal fluctuations. In other words, extend the arrow of time on which the system navigates. Conversely, if entropy cannot be exploited succesfully by the system, it may lead to the disenchantment of the conventional attractor i.e. the consensual normative equilibrium expressed by the traditional partycleavage. As indicated by Prigogine, “values are always facing the destabilising effect of fluctuations generated by the social system itself, which give the whole process its characteristics of irreversibility and non-predictability.”67 In the case of the political system, these fluctuations can be actors such as the FN, striving to foster and accelerate entropy. 3.2. The Front National: Beyond the Parasitical Syndrome In accordance with Luhmann, it appears that populist leaders such as Jean-Marie Le Pen are products of the political system from which they emerge. In fact, “even elements, that is, last components (individuals) which are, at least for the system itself, indecomposable, are produced by the system itself.”68 With regard to the theory of dissipative structures, one might even state that the emergence of the Front National in the French political environment as electoral alternative indicates a bifurcational behavior [elections being a key bifurcation], that is, “a fluctuating behavior that sends the systems into an oscillating movement between two or more new points of possible equilibrium. This cyclic oscillation indicates the dissipative systems in question has destabilised and entered a chaotic phase.” 69 As such, populism habitually appears far from equilibrium, at the periphery of the political system. For Alexandre Dorna, “populism does not emerge ex-nihilo, but amidst a society on the verge of fragmentation, when the state of social anxiety formulates an extended and
Prigogine, Science, Civilization and Democracy: Values, systems, structures and affinities, p. 504. Luhmann, Essays on Self-Reference, p. 3. 69 Harvey & Reed, Social Sciences as the Study of Complex Systems, p. 304.
contradictory demand of, all at once, order and change.”70 Likewise, he states that “the emergence of populism is generally connected to a syndrome of disenchantment. It’s a moment of cultural depletion.”71 In other words, populism emerges when the social system is in a deadlock – when politics requires redefinition. Without falling into any mythopoetic fallacy72 it seems interesting to question the state of awareness showed by ‘Anti-System actors’ about their chaotic environment – the state of entropy i.e. the disintegration process of the system – within which they appear. For Lothar Probst, parties such as the FN “enter the political arena, which is already replete with political symbolisms, and place their own logos, images and symbols.” 73 Furthermore, “they suggest with their political propaganda and holistic ideology that the existing democratic system with its complex structures could be replaced by a new social system.”74 For its leader, the FN must “guide the popular upheaval which will liberate the country from decadence.”75 Decadence, which until the last elections, was mainly personified by the left-wing coalition, as Le Pen was underlining in its traditional diatribe on the first of May 2001, in which he affirmed that “the multicolour and showy fair-barrack of the socialo-communist republic is collapsing.”76 For Le Pen, the state of the system is critical; “anaesthesiated by the propaganda of the totalitarian democracy, the French are on the edge of irreversible disasters. According to the formula of the last century, ‘they dance on a volcano’.” 77 Remarkably enough, the Front National has adopted an apocalyptical, almost chaotic terminology in the last decades. In the words of its leader, “in the last few decades that we lived through, the
Dorna, Le néopopulisme et le charisme, p. 90. Dorna describes the dynamic of populism as a moment of crisis in an existing order leading to the emergence of a charismatic leader with the formulation of a new societal project. This new project causes a rupture with the ancient order and ends in the customisation [routinisation] of a new order. 71 A. Dorna, Le Populisme, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1999, p. 8. 72 “Mythopoesis refers to that tendency in humanist research to mistakenly treat obdurate facts of nature as though they were purely discretionary human constructions, that is, objects whose form and content were wholly dependent on the intentionality and interpretive activities of persons or their communities.” Harvey & Reed, Social Sciences as the Study of Complex Systems, p. 315. 73 L. Probst, Political Myths and Symbolic Communication: A Local Case Study of Electoral Mobilization by the German DVU, Institut für Höhere Studien: Reihe Politikwissenschaft, No. 19, February 1994, at http://www.ihs.ac.at/publications/pol/pw_21.pdf 74 Ibid. 75 Jean-Marie Le Pen quoted in A Toulon, Le Pen a lancé une OPA sur le 14 Juillet, Libération, 15 July 1996. 76 J.-M. Le Pen, Discours Fête de Jeanne d'Arc du 1er mai 2001 : La bataille de France, 1 May 2001, http://www.frontnational.com/lesdiscours.php?id_inter=17 77 Ibid.
System destroyed the results of more than a thousand years of deployed efforts to build a Nation and a State.”78 Consequently, along with Dorna, “the astonishing liveliness of populism manifests a global criticism against the status quo and the establishment.” 79 Likewise, for Birgitta Orfali, “the notion of crisis is permanent in the extreme-right discourse […] taken in their plurality, it is the perturbation of the social body, perceived as manifestations of decadence that are designated that way.”80 Hence it appears that the self-understanding of the FN as a fluctuational player in a dissipative structure reveals itself particularly through the party’s expressed ideology.81 Gilles Ivaldi and Marc Swyngedouw, drawing on a definition once suggested by Mannheim in ‘Ideology and Utopia’,82 assert that “the extreme right ideology can be regarded as a developed system of ideas, whose utopian component is comprised in the refusal of the existing status quo.”83 The authors underscore that “in cognitive terms, ideology can be conceived as a means of organising and selecting information from the social environment and thus easing the task of dealing with the complexity of the world.”84 In this overall context, the concept of insecurity plays a central role in the FN’s ideology for further emphasizing the sensation of crisis. According to PierreAndré Taguieff; “insecurity is part of a conception of general decadence; it is, in Le Pen’s vision, one of the most revealing aspects of the end of a certain world.”85 Hence, the ideology of the FN appears crucial in understanding its role in the political system. In fact, the core of the party’s voters is “ideologically committed to it and vote for it in election after election, serving as a pole of attraction to ever-widening circles of more peripheral supporters whose disparate discontents are adroitly exploited by party propaganda.”86 Declair indicates that “survey research evidence indicates that Front
J.-M. Le Pen, Discours de clôture du Congrès du FN à Nice, 21 April 2003, at http://www.frontnational.com/lesdiscours.php?id_inter=45 79 Dorna, Le néopopulisme et le charisme, p. 91. 80 B. Orfali, L Adhésion au Front National, Paris : Éditions Kimé, 1990, p. 221. 81 ‘Fluctuational player’ with reference to Prigogine’s theory based on ‘order through fluctuations’ – the FN wanting to establish a new order in the system through the aggregation of fluctuations. 82 P. Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1960. 83 G. Ivaldi & M. Swyngedouw, The Extreme Right Utopia in Belgium and France: The Ideology of the Flemish Vlaams Blok and the French Front National, West European Politics, Vol. 24, No. 3, July 2001, p 1. 84 Ibid. p. 6. 85 P.-A. Taguieff, Un Programme Révolutionnaire, in N. Mayer & P. Perrineau (eds.), Le Front National à Découvert, Paris : Presse de la FNSP, 1989, p. 211. 86 Fysh & Wolfers, The Politics of Racism in France, p. 75.
voters are not voting against the status quo, but rather voting for the ideas espoused by the party’s leadership.”87 Indeed, in 1995, a large part of the electorate of the Front
National (46%) declared to vote for a candidate of their choice, while no more than 38% declared to vote Front National primarily in order to punish other parties.88 One might argue that this trend may have considerably increased in the last years. As Le Pen himself uttered in may 2003:
“all those who only considered [the FN] as a protest movement, all those who at each of our electoral successes analysed the latter as insignificant, predicting our forthcoming disappearance, they now have all taken into account that the fire that they had initiated as a result of their incompetence is not ready to be extinguished.”89
3.3. From Parasite to Ideological Pole If entropy in the political system is represented by the collapse of meaning, chaos theory is susceptible to formulate other points of interrogations. In fact, with reference to the Front National’s ideology one might recognise the implications of our theoretical metaphor. The FN – as a typical parasite – is nourishing itself from the disorder in the system. However, on a higher scale, the FN represents something different than just a parasite. According to the theory of dissipative structures, fluctuations may potentially merge in parallel attractors – in other words: in new potential equilibriums providing alternative meaning. As put forward by Dorna, populism facilitates the reconsideration of the status quo and “the development of anti-conformism in order to accelerate the intendancy of the crisis and the search for a new social and political equilibrium.” 90 A movement such as the Front National would thus foster the increasing disorder in the system by promoting its own worldview, its own conception of order. Therefore, beyond the conception of the FN as a mere parasite, chaos theory is asking the following question: does the FN propose a parallel conception of ‘meaning’, perhaps in
E.G. Declair, Politics on the Fringe: The People, Policies, and Organization of the French National Front, Durham & London: Duke University Press, 1999, p. 5. 88 N. Mayer, Du vote lepéniste au vote Frontiste, Revue française de science politique, No. 47, JuneAugust 1997, pp. 446-7. 89 J.-M. Le Pen, Discours Fête de Jeanne d'Arc du 1er mai 2003, 1 May 2003, at http://www.frontnational.com/lesdiscours.php?id_inter=48 90 Dorna, Le néopopulisme et le charisme, p. 93.
the materialization of an illiberal worldview and thus, as an alternative to mainstream politics? The FN would then not only constitute a parasite to the central attractor of the political system, but also a genuine competitor. As indicated by Luhmann, societal values such as tolerance, Human Rights and democracy “are not objective features of [a] system but are flexible and continually renegotiated social constructs.”91 Actors such as the Front National want to take part in this renegotiation. In fact the agenda of the FN is straightforward and constant. It proposes a worldview in which ‘Liberty-Equality-Fraternity’ is replaced with ‘LabourFamily-Fatherland’ [Travail-Famille-Patrie]. As such, “the discourse of Jean-Marie Le Pen creates an argumentative inter-linkage […] In applying with the greatest coherence its ideological analytical framework and its value-system to any events, Jean-Marie Le Pen erects his ideology as a genuine tool for the mutation of societal representation.”92 Consequently, the FN represents a movement striving for a ‘revaluation of all values’ – the very values situated, promoted and represented by the central attractor of the system. As an attractor, the FN endeavours the aggregation of discontent voters, i.e. strives to collect the existing fluctuational behaviours far from equilibrium – Hazareesingh speaks about the ‘adversarial politics’ of the FN.93 The FN seems to have understood, with regards to chaos theory, a crucial mechanism of political evolution, namely “the re-foundation of Politics on fluctuations”94 contrasting with the apparent stability of the system. Consequently, in the context of elections, populism relies fundamentally on the principle of correlation95 considering that “an attractor may over time degrade from chaotic to limit cycle to fixed equilibrium point.”96 In other words, in this correlating process, Anti-System actors such as the FN are empowered agents exerting a pull on
Capra, The Web of Life: A New Synthesis of Mind and Matter, p. 206. M. Souchard, S.L. Wahnich, I. Cuminal & V. Wathier, Le Pen Les mots, Paris : Le Monde-Éditions, 1997, p. 120. 93 S. Hazareesingh, Political Traditions in Modern France, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994, pp. 138-49. 94 Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, p. 429. 95 The phenomenon of correlation is essential in the field of complexity: “if a single element in the system is perturbed, the disturbance may propagate, neighbor-to-neighbor, across the entire field. Distant elements, now structured in the same way, have become correlated […] The system is now hypersensitive to very small perturbations, the effects of which can now nearly instantaneously explode across and engulf the entire system.” De Greene, Field-Theoretic Framework for the Interpretation of the Evolution, Instability, Structural Change, and Management of Complex Systems, p. 279. 96 Ibid. p. 290.
political discontentment within the political system in order to increase and most likely collect fluctuations. The ultimate and somewhat utopian ambition of this dissipative behaviour – also named order through fluctuations – has as an outcome the collapse of the old system with the emergence of a new order following a phenomenon of nucleation. In the theoretical field of complexity, some attractors are also fractals, i.e. they are selfsimilar at an infinite number of levels. Moreover, if one considers the Front National as a persistent movement rather than a mere electoral phenomenon, one can distinguish the existence of a ‘self-similarity’ of political and ideological behaviour at different systemic levels – going from the infiltration of the FN in politics to its presence in trade union and youth movements. Indeed, as indicated by Declair, “the Front continues to create additional satellite organisations that address what the party’s leaders see as unmet needs”97 In recent years, the FN has for instance “been especially successful in recruiting within the ranks of the police; the Front’s police union is now the fourth largest in the country.”98 The comment given by Fysh and Wolfers seems particularly illustrative:
“Profiting from the fragmentation during the 1980s of the various social structures which previously held together life in France’s urban centres, from the Communist Party to the various secular associations on the periphery of the French left, FN activists were able to weave themselves into the fabric of communities, offering opportunities for conviviality to those who had none and creating a periphery made up of a series of concentric circles with different modes and degrees of attachment to the core.”99
To recapitulate, one can now possibly state that the self-understanding of the FN as a fluctuational player is decisive. In fact, within the autopoietic cycle characterising the political system, the FN also contribute to the process of self-organisation in creating the very elements for its potential success. We have illustrated how the Front National included in its ideology strong conceptions of decadence and crisis with regard to the political system. As indicated by Frank Wilson, “there is often the sense, more implicit
Declair, Politics on the Fringe: The People, Policies, and Organization of the French National Front, p. 169 98 Ibid. 99 Fysh & Wolfers, The Politics of Racism in France, p. 85.
then explicit, that the trend of party decline is both inevitable and irreversible.” 100 Hence, more than aspiring for a short-term mandate and dwelling with the realities of world-politics, the Front National seeks to inject elements of its worldview in society as a whole and more specifically in political discourse as we will now illustrate. With reference to autopoiesis, this worldview contributes to the disorder in the system through the materialisation of a new attractor – an attractor that subsequentially feeds itself on the disorder in the system to fortify its position as only alternative to the system. As such the cycle seems completed. 3.4. A Brief Excursion in the FN Worldview We have formulated the hypothesis that the ideology spread by the FN serves to contribute to the deployment of its role as an alternative attractor in the political system – in which communication represents the ontological vehicle – with the intention to revaluate the values characterising the central attractor, the equilibrium of the system, represented by the mainstream parties. Furthermore, we have evoked that Jean-Marie Le Pen applied its ideological framework to any event. It appears therefore important to take a closer look to the nature of the values distinguishing the Front National from the central – liberal – attractor and contrasting with the settled norms to be found in the system.101 Le Pen himself indicated often the illiberal stance of his movement. In 1984, he stated that “because life is a choice, we personally make the choice of law against anarchy, people against the underworld, the national community against communism, justice against liberalism.”102 More recently he confirmed in asserting: “we reject liberalism assimilating labour to merchandise and socialism utilizing it exclusively for the State.”103 In the following lines, Le Pen resumes the endeavour of his movement quite clearly:
F.L. Wilson, When Parties Refuse to Fail: The Case of France, in K. Lawson & P.H. Merkl, When Parties Fail: Emerging Alternative Organizations, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988, pp. 5267. 101 According to the New Columbia Encyclopedia of 1975, Liberalism is a “philosophy or movement that has as its aim the development of individual freedoms.” Habitually, the principles of 1789, i.e. the French Revolution, are considered as the essence of Liberalism. As maintained by the Catholic Encyclopedia, a fundamental principle of Liberalism is the following proposition: “It is contrary to the natural, innate, and inalienable right and liberty and dignity of man, to subject himself to an authority, the root, rule, measure, and sanction of which is not in himself.” 102 J.-M. Le Pen, Les Français d’abord, Paris : Carrère/Lafon, 1984, p. 119. 103 Le Pen, Discours Fête de Jeanne d'Arc du 1er mai 2001 : La bataille de France, 1 May 2001.
ANTI-SYSTEM POLITICS “We are not doing politics for the pleasure of the game, or for ambition. We fight to come into power and to put into practice our doctrine relying firstly on the respect of life, the defence of the familial institution, the respect of labour and the love of the fatherland, being the foundational elements of our independence.”104
Consequently, the illiberal ideology adopted by the FN embraces a teleological purpose; action is oriented towards the future.105 As maintained by Taguieff, “The foundational evidences of the nationalist gnosis, worldview, ethic and method of salvation at the same time, articulate themselves in an argumentation with an extremely political objective: creating action, in making believe.”106 Moreover according to Davies, “the philosophy espoused by the FN is founded on the distinction between ‘the self’ and ‘the other’.”107 He underscores that “nation and identity are of course the most obvious and important political ideas embraced by the FN, but underpinning these are other concepts; exclusion, hierarchy, inequality and equilibrium.”108 For Ivaldi and Swyngedouw, the worldview of the FN reflects a holist conception of society:
“The ethnic community takes absolute precedence over the individual, as men are essentially regarded as social animals. Individuals have no separate existence, from which they could draw universal rights […] Individual rights therefore exist only insofar as they are derived from the performance of duty within the ethnic community.”109
One may therefore argue that the ideology of the FN is essentially anti-modern. Modernity, as indicted by Alain Touraine, defined by three elements: “the universal principles of rationality; the separation of Church and State; and finally, the respect of
Jean Marie le Pen quoted in M. Souchard, S.L. Wahnich, I. Cuminal & V. Wathier, Le Pen Les mots, p. 134. 105 According to Birgitta Orfali, “national identity leads to a revolved past and to a near future.” Orfali, L Adhésion au Front National, p. 223. 106 P.-A. Taguieff, La Métaphysique de Jean-Marie Le Pen, in N. Mayer & P. Perrineau (eds.), Le Front National à Découvert, Paris : Presse de la FNSP, 1989, p. 174. 107 Davies, The National Front in France: Ideology, discourse and power, p. 222. 108 Ibid. p. 224. 109 Ivaldi & Swyngedouw, The Extreme Right Utopia in Belgium and France: The Ideology of the Flemish Vlaams Blok and the French Front National, p. 26. Taguieff equally highlights the organic model of society defended by the FN. For him, ideology answers to “the organic values of unity, hierarchy of elements, solidarity, harmony, values situated in a traditionalist vision, more precisely: traditional-communitarian, violently anti-progressivist, in which one finds the essential elements of agrarian conservatism (inheritance, family, labour, fatherland).” Taguieff, La Métaphysique de JeanMarie Le Pen, pp. 174-5.
individual rights as they have been defined in the ‘Declaration of Human Rights’.” 110 In fact, for Le Pen, “liberty makes no sense if it is an abstraction and not the sum of concrete liberties.”111 The standpoint of The Front National with regard to Human Rights appears thus fundamental for the comprehension of its role as alternative attractor in the political system. To understand its anti-modern position one has to recognize the influence exerted by varied think tanks such as the ‘Club de l’Horloge’, or the ‘GRECE’ [Groupe de Recherche et d’Étude pour la Civilisation Européenne].112 As said by Davies, “In the 1980s GRECE was a significant influence on the FN in terms of doctrine, but also in terms of political strategy.”113 For Taguieff, GRECE’s aim is “to destroy the humanism which is the basis of the democratic consensus,” which is why Human Rights are subjected to unrelenting attack by GRECE and represent a major target for the FN.114 The doctrine of Human Rights represents, according to Bruno Mégret, a former leading figure of the party, “a war machine against the nation.”115 Likewise, as noted by Harvey Simmons “for GRECE, egalitarianism is the source of almost all societal problems […] this belief necessarily implies a root-and-branch attack on democracy, individualism, universalism, and equality.”116 “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”117 This opening article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stands for a main controversy for the FN. In the words of the leader of the Front, “the egalitarian movement consisting in leveling ages, genders and peoples is in my view criticisable because it consists in masking the reality, in fact the latter is fundamentally unequal; however, there are inequalities that are injustices. We are supporting justice but not equality. The theme of equality seems
Alain Touraine in Qui Menace la République ? Un débat entre Elisabeth Badinter et Alain Touraine , Le Nouvel Observateur, No. 2015, 19-25 June 2003. 111 Jean-Marie Le Pen quoted in Taguieff, Un Programme Révolutionnaire, p. 204. 112 See www.grece-fr.net/manifeste/_manifeste.htm 113 Davies, The National Front in France: Ideology, discourse and power, London: Routledge, p. 21. 114 Pierre-André Taguieff quoted in H.G. Simmons, The French National Front: The Extremist Challenge to Democracy, Oxford: Westview, 1996, pp. 212-3. 115 Quoted in J. Marcus, The National Front and French Politics: The Resistible Rise of Jean-Marie Le Pen, London: Macmillan, 1995, p. 103. 116 Simmons, The French National Front: The Extremist Challenge to Democracy, p. 212. 117 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 217 A (III) of 10 December 1948. See www.un.org/Overview/rights.htm
decadent for us.”118 His non-egalitarian worldview appears more distinct in the following passage:
“There is a multiplicity of races and of cultures in the world but there exists today a sort of utopian trend […] promoting a ‘globalism’ [mondialisme] striving for the establishment on our planet of a foundational leveling, a generalised cross-breeding [métissage] aimed at definitively reducing differences existing between humans, in particular racial differences […] This is a blameworthy stupidity, because races, in their diversity, have been created by God and therefore have surely their raison d’être.”119
In terms of political strategy, the denunciation of the egalitarian ideology, offers for Taguieff, the advantage of “allowing a unitary characterisation of the real left (communism, socialism, etc.) and of the false right (‘advanced liberalism’, etc.).”120 For Le Pen, “the left has a considerable seductive power on the weak, the flawed, on the drunks, on bandits considering that it makes them understand that what they are facing is not their fault.”121 As a result it appears that Le Pen denounces “one of the effects of the inversion of values leading to the decline of western nations, maintaining and fostering nowadays the holders of ‘flaws’ or ‘infirmities’.”122 This particular stance of a unitary characterisation of the mainstream parties conducted the FN to adopt a particular vocabulary. As indicated by Simmons “two kinds of words were to be avoided: those belonging to Marxist ideology and those belonging to the ideology of the rights of man.”123 The evolution of the semantic process in the political system has progressively charged the notion of democracy “with symbols of the arsenal of Human Rights.”
Luhmann this constitutes a paradox – a paradox “implemented in the utopia of the absence of differentiation (equality) of the different (the free and self-determining individual).”125 Yet, this fallacious assertion of normative immovability does not cope
Le Pen, Les Français d’abord, p. 183. Quoted in J. Marcilly, Le Pen sans bandeau, Paris: Grancher, 1984, p. 192. 120 Taguieff, La Métaphysique de Jean-Marie Le Pen, p. 178. 121 J.-M. Le Pen, Le Front National, in J.-P. Apparu (ed.), La droite aujourd’hui, Paris : Albin Michel, 1979, p. 179. 122 Taguieff, La Métaphysique de Jean-Marie Le Pen, p. 186. 123 Simmons, The French National Front: The Extremist Challenge to Democracy, p. 218. 124 Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, p. 358. 125 Ibid.
with the renegotiating process – the mechanism of normative redefinition – existing in the political system. Consequently and to summarize, the goal of the FN does not depend on an immediate and neutral gain of power but resides in overturning the actual liberal equilibrium of the system in order to establish a new illiberal paradigm. The method consists in patiently injecting its illiberal worldview in the political system – in other words, a ‘Lepenisation of political speech’.
4. Diagnostic of the French political system
“Democracy has ever been the form of decline of organising power.” Friedrich Nietzsche.126 “For thirty years we have rung all the warning bells. Now that everybody agrees with our diagnostic, the debate will be on the solutions.” Jean-Marie Le Pen.127
4.1. The Phenomenon of Desideologisation We have suggested that the autopoietic organisation of the political system coexists with its specific vulnerability to fluctuations. As a result, we have indicated that politics can be seen as the continual management of societal fluctuations. With reference to the theoretical framework of chaos theory, political systems have to constitute themselves as negentropic entities in order to cope with the law of entropy. As Luhmann underlines, “the theory of self-producing, autopoietic systems can be transferred to the domain of action systems only if one begins with the fact that the elements composing the system can have no duration, and thus must be constantly reproduced by the system these elements comprise.”128 Nevertheless, mainstream parties have progressively abandoned the negentropic mechanism customarily exerted by the left-right cleavage functioning as a vibrant attractor for the political system, hereby demonstrating a notable trend towards desideologisation. Desideologisation accompanied with the convergence of party position represents for Luhmann a reaction of the mainstream parties to the unpredictable future on which the system must count with regard to the regularly held elections in democracies, which decide whom, in a delimited time, might lead the government.129 According to Luhmann, the dissipative nature of the system results in the fact that “every party wants to be potentially successful during elections” and, in the fact that “variations are only possible if one regularly evaluates the prospect of winning the elections with concrete programmes.” commanding will.”131
Consequently, “unity and
coherencies of the political system are shaped by fluctuations and not through a
„Demokratismus war jederzeit die Niedergangs-Form der organisierenden Kraft.“ F. Nietzsche, Götzen-Dämmerung, Frankfurt am Main: Insel Verlag, 1985, p. 98. 127 Le Pen, Discours Fête de Jeanne d'Arc du 1er mai 2003. 128 Luhmann, Social Systems, p. 11. 129 Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, p. 430. 130 Ibid. 131 Ibid.
During the presidential campaign of 2002, both left and right wing displayed a quasi anxiety with regard to doctrinal orientation, which led, as a consequence, to a wideranging centrist drift.132 Similar to the German SPD’s ‘Neue Mitte’, the French PS abandoned most leftist themes and focused on broader issues. Likewise, the right wing uniquely focused on the problem of insecurity – a typical FN theme – also widely adopted by the Media. As a result, this centrist drift in French Politics led to an ‘extremist drift’ with the popularity and relative success of both extreme right and extreme left candidates.133 Different features where thus resulting of the 2002’s presidential elections. For Fysh and Wolfers, “one was the blurring of the left-right divide, which itself could be broken into two aspects: firstly, the adherence to the neoliberal consensus was such that it was increasingly difficult for the elector to see any clear blue water between the main left and right groupings.”134 Secondly, the authors state that this crisis of political representation extended to the institutions of the Fifth Republic itself:
“Initially as the phenomenon of cohabitation between a president and a prime minister of opposing tendencies seemed to deprive elections of their function of choosing between alternatives, and later, when the role of the presidency itself, now as a much weaker institution than when it was established in 1958, began to be questioned, giving rise to calls for a new constitution.”135
In fact, for some commentators, the past two decades of multiple cohabitation showed that “cohabitation was not a system of collaboration or cooperation; instead it involved continual competitive coexistence, often at the risk of public conflict.” 136 A conflict,
N. Baygert, Le Clivage Idéologique Gauche-Droite dans le Discours Politique Télévisé, Louvain-laNeuve : UCL, 2002, p. 90. 133 Considering the 16 candidates running for election, the percentage of vote for ‘extreme’ parties was considerable. While Jean Marie Le Pen collected his 16,9%, dissident Bruno Mégret from the Mouvement National Républicain (MNR) gathered 2,3%, which signifies almost 20% for the extremeright. With 4,3% for Olivier Besançenot from the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR), and 5,7% for Lutte Ouvrière’s (LO) Arlette Laguiller, the extreme-left also collected the remarkable amount of 10 %. As indicated by Fysh and Wolters; “France’s leading mainstream parties (the Socialists, Communists, Gaullists and the UDF coalition), once able to command three-quarter of the vote on a regular basis, saw their share of the poll fall below 50 per cent.” Fysh & Wolfers, The Politics of Racism in France, p. 237. 134 Ibid. p. 221. 135 Ibid. 136 H. Machin, Political Leadership, in P.A. Hall et al (eds.), Development in French Politics, London: Macmillan, 1994, p. 107.
which lead to a palpable stagnation in the political debate, both sides of the cleavage participating in the governance of the country. As indicated by Fysh and Wolters, “by the year 2000 […] cohabitation had been identified as a nuisance, preventing effective, government and dissolving the left-right divide.”137 Therefore, during the elections of 2002, several candidates emphasised the importance of avoiding cohabitation – advantaging Chirac’s candidacy.138 The picture is almost identical one year later. The RPR [Rassemblement pour la République] resuscitated in the UMP, a larger assimilationist party created for the support of Jacques Chirac’s candidacy of 2002.139 The Socialist Party, encountering internal struggles between old leaders and ministers of the former legislature and young reformers in defence of a radical change, could not warrant the reorganization of a vibrant cleavage. Furthermore, for the leading right-wing UMP majority, ideology is still seen as an enemy in the daily practice of politics. According to current Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin: “We are not in an ‘I-know-everything’ government, which applies an ideology. We are pragmatics. We take reality into account. I know the ground, I listen to the ground.”140 A “common sense culture” is presently asserted amongst the young UMP governmental guard. “Today, our problem is not to know if a solution is leftist or rightist, but if it is efficient. Since we place ourselves outside any ideological mould, we are freer” summarizes Jean-François Copé, the current government’s spokesman.141 As stated by Lane and Errson, in democracies, “parties want two things, which in the end are contradictory: on the one hand they wish to have stable support from a set of loyal voters, but on the other hand they also wish to attract new voters.”142 As a result, parties such as the right-wing UMP trusted marketing experts for their recent campaigns. For Yves Bordenave, “this call to advertisement experts comes from the
Fysh & J. Wolfers, The Politics of Racism in France, p. 237. For Robert Elgie, “outside ‘cohabitation’ the president will have a considerable personal interest in whether or not the government’s policy decisions are successful, [even if] it is the prime minister whose political future is most immediately associated with the administration’s short-term performance.” R. Elgie (ed.), Semi-Presidentialism in Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 70. 139 Remarkably, whereas during the elections UMP was standing for Union pour la Majorité Présidentielle [Union for a Presidential Majority], nowadays it stands for Union pour un Mouvement Populaire [Union for a Popular Movement]. 140 Jean-Pierre Raffarin in Bienvenue dans un monde sans heurt, Liberation, 8 February 2003. 141 Jean-François Copé in Bienvenue dans un monde sans heurt, Liberation, 8 February 2003. 142 Lane & Errson, Politics and Society in Western Europe, p. 109.
attempt to seduce public opinion by other means than those of traditional discourse, suffering from an audience shortfall.”143 Alfio Mastropaolo argues that the new attributed task of parties “is limited in recruiting and selecting the leadership, and “to maximalise electoral consensus, which became the unique measure of their success.” 144 Consequently Mastropaolo underlines that the image that citizens were having of power and democracy has been totally redefined in the last decades:
“In this image, three elements can be distinguished: the tendency to ignore or to dilute any political conflict, even the left/right distinction; the recurring denunciation of intrigues and useless disputes of politicians as well as their moral decadence; the invocation by politicians of their private life, opposing the latter to their public life.”145
Nevertheless, in addition to the threat represented by alternative attractors such as the FN, desideologisation also results in the extinguishment of a party’s social base. As pointed out by Rose and Mackie; “insofar as a party lacks any social base at all, being dependent upon a catchall appeal to whatever voters are floating loose at the moment, then it is most likely to swing between electoral extremes, with structural change or disappearance the result of an extreme downward turn.”146 Mastropaolo is particularly critical of current political institutions which, instead of “offering new possibilities of association and participation” replace the latter with “various plebiscites and referendum ceremonies”, with “the spectacularisation of political leaders and competition, all of this framed in the ironical rhetoric of self-determination, the latter being supported by pathetic exhortations to ‘civility’, ‘republican solidarity’ and to the ‘respect of authority’.”147 For Lothar Probst, there are perceptible signs for a crisis of modern societies:
“An increasing alienation seems to determine the relationship of many citizens to their polity. Liberal democratic societies with their bureaucratic institutions and complex decision making procedures don’t give the people a feeling of
L’UMP s'offre une campagne de publicité, Le Monde, 6 February 2003. Mastropaolo, Quatre hypothèse sur le succès de la droite antipolitique, p. 55. 145 Ibid. p. 62. 146 R. Rose & T.T. Mackie, Do Parties Persist or Fail? The Big Trade-off Facing Organizations, in K. Lawson & P.H. Merkl, When Parties Fail: Emerging Alternative Organizations, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988, p. 552. 147 Mastropaolo, Quatre hypothèse sur le succès de la droite antipolitique, p. 56.
ANTI-SYSTEM POLITICS identity. They are […] “cold projects”. This seems to be a structural weakness of the liberal democratic system.”148
One can increasingly observe a crisis of political proposition – i.e. the helplessness and oblivion of politicians to formulate concrete and differentiating suggestions. Political discourse remains stereotyped and predicable. The persistent use of polls and surveys gave democrats the illusion of collective participation and measures like the boycott of candidates,149 diminished the possibility to have a political and rhetorical contest, so vital for democracy and for the stability or equilibrium of the system. As a result of this disappearing or homogenising cleavage, a new cleavage may be susceptible to appear between an ‘open society’ and ‘closed society’.150 4.2. The Re-interpretative Dynamic of the Political System Mainstream politics and thus the central attractor of the political system presents the symptoms of a crisis of redefinition in the process of self-organisation. In the language of complexity, the system reveals shortcomings in the autopoietic restoration of the essential elements of the system, i.e. the negentropic features hindering entropy. The crucial oppositional mechanism of the left-right divide, providing ‘meaning’ to the political system, is stagnating. Desideologisation represents therefore a deficiency in the process of self-description engendered by the system. In accordance with Luhmann, as a communicative system, the political system has the possibility to observe and to describe itself. This feature offers more efficiency to the system in the selection of elements and in the process of self-organisation.151 With the phenomenon of desideologisation the self-description becomes inappropriate with regard to autopoiesis, and the elements can thus not be reproduced successfully anymore.
Probst, Political Myths and Symbolic Communication : A Local Case Study of Electoral Mobilization by the German DVU 149 Such as Jacques Chirac’s rejection of the traditional debate with Jean-Marie Le Pen following the first round of the presidential elections. The debate has been replaced “by an intense media campaign persuading all voters, of left and right, to rally round President Chirac and demonstrate their contempt for le Pen.” A. Roxburgh, Preachers of Hate, The Rise of the Far Right, London: Gibson Square Books, 2002, p. 121. 150 For Karl Popper, the open society is synonymous of democracy and the ideals of 1789 whereas a closed society would promote the priority of race, nation or class. See K. Popper, The open society and its enemies: Vol. 1, The spell of Plato, London: Routledge & K. Paul, 1977. 151 In the words of Luhmann, this phenomenon is called ‘re-entry’ and occurs when the system develops a self-description, i.e. a description of the defining distinction between system and environment. Consequently, this distinction re-enters the system as self-description.
We have evoked that the political reinterpretation of conflicts represents an indispensable negentropic feature of the system and the Left-Right divide, its fundamental mechanism – its central attractor. Moreover, according to Luhmann“ the differentiation of a political system can only succeed, if conflicts are authorised within this system.”152 However, in the former legislature, “the collapse of state-enforced ‘socialist morality’, which had excluded all normal debate about human values, left an ethical void.”153 We have seen the current majority does not present a different standpoint, preferring a form of pseudo-pragmatism to ideological confrontation. The term ideology has indeed often been demonised in the past. Nevertheless, for Paul Ricoeur, “the role of ideology is to make possible autonomous politics in creating the needed concepts of authority rendering it intelligible.” 154 In other words, ideology produces a “symbolic system helping to interpret conflicts.”155 Likewise, Clifford Geertz has maintained that we can and should regard ideology as a “map of problematic social reality”, which has the possibility of making an otherwise inconceivable situation both comprehensible and significant.156 Ideologies have often been criticised for their potential in generating conflicts inside the political system. In our view, these conflicts represent a vital element of modern democracies as long as they do not confront the system with external disturbances. In fact, the management of conflicts by the central attractor of the political system – i.e. the left-right cleavage – seems fundamental and implies an axiom of democratic governance. 157 Luhmann subsequently underscores the latter point:
“Conflicts are nearly prescribed by the government/opposition codification. They are systematically reproduced through the left/right scheme. It may often happen that these conflicts are played; but this also signalises the structurally guaranteed continuity willingness of the political systems to lead to resolution socially fostered conflicts of opinions or interests.”158
Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, p. 94. Roxburgh, Preachers of Hate, The Rise of the Far Right, p. 287. 154 P. Ricoeur, L’Idéologie et l’Utopie, Introduction by G.H. Taylor, Paris : Seuil, 1997, p. 32. 155 Ibid. p. 28. 156 C. Geertz, Ideology as a Cultural System, in D.E. Apter, Ideology and Discontent, New York: The Free Press, 1964, p. 64. 157 For Luhmann, “the thematic specification of political conflicts [...] prevents from a social ‘pillarisation’ [Versäulung] of the conflicts with the consequence that certain social groupings recognized themselves as the same opponents in all conflicts.” Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, p. 133. 158 Ibid. p. 132.
What subsist for Luhmann is that “the left/right divide permits to orchestrate political conflicts amid changing themes and therefore to conserve a certain continuity.”159 The political system is thus fundamentally autopoietic but regularly operates through morphogenetic processes. According to Luhmann, morphogenetic processes “rely on external interference or on a lack of possibilities for forming new structures. They cannot terminate themselves because they cannot imagine their end. Instead, they tend toward unanticipated phases of development, toward stagnation, and toward destruction.” 160 Therefore besides the negentropic delimitation and differentiation of conflict-management within this cleavage, it appears also indispensable to integrate the fluctuations emerging in the political system. The integration of these fluctuations – such as diverse social movements – is providing new meaning to the central attractor in a process of interpenetration. As stated by Luhmann, “interpenetration is the condition of possibility for self-referentially closed autopoiesis. It enables the emergence of autopoietic systems by opening up environmental contacts on other levels of reality.”161 Hence, “new information can be interpreted as reconfirming an strengthening or stabilising existing structures.”162 As a result, with regard to the phenomenon of desideologisation, one has to be critical. As emphasised by Wilson, it appears that “the established political parties fail to attract these new participants. Perhaps more critical, they are unwilling or unable to incorporate the issues that concern the newly mobilized citizens.”163 As signalised by Luhmann, “on one side, the parties are not being hindered, but are even stimulated to introduce new variants in politics: new programmes and new actors. On the other side, all the parties have to participate at the same elections, and the comprehension of the prospects cannot therefore deviate too far.”164 Desideologisation results therefore from the unpredictability of democratic politics where partisan orientation can lead to positive as well as to negative consequences. The political correctness and ethical void characterising mainstream parties is therefore a mean to
Ibid. p. 95. Luhmann, Social Systems, pp. 355-356. 161 Ibid. p. 410. 162 De Greene, Field-Theoretic Framework for the Interpretation of the Evolution, Instability, Structural Change, and Management of Complex Systems, p. 288. 163 Wilson, When Parties Refuse to Fail: The Case of France, p. 504. 164 Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, pp. 430-1.
surmount this uncertainty and to maximalise their votes in opting for the smallest common ethical denominator to address their electorate. Nevertheless, we have seen that this maximalising choice appears dangerous with regard to fluctuations and alternative attractors such as the FN in the political system. Politicians thus have to include, ironically, uncertainty in their ‘structures of expectations’ and opt for a reideologisation of their political message. Uncertainty is constitutive of the democratic process considering that “any social outcome can arise from a democratic process, since every outcome can be defeated by some coalition of voters.” 165 Uncertainty is likewise indispensable given that, as put by Shannon and Weaver, total certainty is equivalent to no information.166 As noted by Wilson until recently “the preoccupation with the left-right battle drew attention away from the challenges of alternative organizations at election times.”167 Politicians have to show that they reflect societal issues within their partisanship. The ideological interpretation a party has to undertake is thus synonymous of the conjunctural digestion of a particular societal context, which constitutes no less than the dynamics of democratic politics. Hence, in case of a failure of the central attractor of the system, the way is open for other attractors to provide alternative structures of expectations. Today, actors such as Le Pen and his movement are the first to utilise the void resulting from the process of desideologisation. As indicated by Angus Roxburgh, “in Western Europe political correctness is now used as a pejorative term by far-right parties who blame it for covering up burning issues.” 168 We will now examine how the FN uses this phenomenon to promote his case as unique alternative to the system. 4.3. ‘Neither Right nor Left, French!’ The FN’s Anti-System Stance The desideologisation of the central attractor of the political system has given the Front National the opportunity to differentiate itself from the rest of the system in adopting a homogenising anti-system discourse in which, as a consequence, left-wing and right-
D. Richards, From Individuals to Groups: The Aggregation of Votes and Chaotic Dynamics, in L.D. Kiel & E. Elliott (eds.), Chaos Theory in the Social Sciences, Foundations and Applications, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1997, p. 92. 166 C. Shannon & W. Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1949. 167 Wilson, When Parties Refuse to Fail: The Case of France, pp. 521-2. 168 Roxburgh, Preachers of Hate, The Rise of the Far Right, p. 287.
wing are not distinctive anymore.169 The above-described process of ‘differentiation’ is, for Ivaldi and Swyngedouw, “more than evident from the recurrent attacks on the ‘bande des quatre’ (referring to the PC, PS, UDF and RPR [now UMP]) and the constant attempt at blurring differences between the main parties of the left and the right.”170 According to Le Pen, “the pseudo-democratic system of the decadent Fifth [Republic] is perverted, faked, vitiated”171 Likewise, he argues that “it is the entire political class that, since 1968, has swayed to the Left, to the point where today it reaches conformity on the majority of societal issues. The Right has no ideas.” 172 As a result, The FN condemns all together “the decadent state, the corrupted politicians as well as the leftist and Masonic press”173 Le Pen summarises the particularity of his criticism to the traditional political class in the subsequent lines:
“The establishment, that one has to overthrow through a revolution of public salvation, designs the ruling class imposing today its power. Human Rights are its commandments. It has its gospels by St. Freud and St. Marx. It has its clergy, its architect, and its masons. Its place of worship; the republican Pantheon, its rituals, and it preaches morality. The Front National has a duty to assure the return to power of the true elites, after having stripped French society of the parasites squeezing and asphyxiating the latter.”174
It seems however worthy to notice that when setting up his movement in the seventies and early eighties; Le Pen was claiming his belonging to the right wing. He expressed his view in an article published in 1979 asserting that “the right is the affirmation of responsibility; the left is the affirmation that everybody should receive according to their needs […] Socialism carried to the extreme can lead to the total suffocation of the social and political body that it wants to protect.”175 In the nineties then, Le Pen changed his discourse demonstrating the aim of the Front National to redefine the
From Luhmann’s concept of differentiation [Ausdifferenzierung]. See e.g. Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, p. 71. 170 Ivaldi & Swyngedouw, The Extreme Right Utopia in Belgium and France: The Ideology of the Flemish Vlaams Blok and the French Front National, p. 14. 171 Le Pen, Discours Fête de Jeanne d'Arc du 1er mai 2001 : La bataille de France. 172 Jean-Marie Le Pen quoted in Jean-Marie Le Pen : "Le parti le plus dangereux pour la France, ça peut être la droite raffarinesque", Le Monde, 18 April 2003. 173 Un week-end de haine pour Jean-Marie Le Pen. Le leader du FN était samedi à Marseille, Libération, 16 September 1996. 174 J.-M. Le Pen, Déstabiliser l’établissement, Identité, January 1990. 175 Le Pen, Le Front National, p. 180.
actual left-right cleavage. Taguieff commentated this latter effort in the newspaper Le Monde:
“The objective of the Front National is to establish a new bipolarism, based on the antagonism between a social-democratic pole (a bloc centred on the PS) and a ‘national’ pole dominated by the FN, so that the moderated right-wing parties RPR-UDF become forced to choose one side, and thus decomposing itself and finally disappear with regard to the lack of political space to occupy.”176
Nevertheless, after several attempts to revolutionise the Left-Right cleavage, today the Front National claims to be the only real alternative to the system. In fact, the Front’s discourse changed during the last decade. Le Pen affirmed from then on that his movement “now wants to overcome the old cleavage between the so-called right and the archaic left in order to unify the whole people of France”177 As a result, Le Pen equally attacks both side of the cleavage: “Left and Right, after having unpeeled France of its boarders, of its currency, of its army, of 60% of its laws, agree to dismantle our country and what has been built for more than thousand years, the Monarchy, the Empire, and the Republic.”178 With slogans such as ‘neither right, nor left, French!’ [Ni Droite ni Gauche, Français!] and permanent attacks on the ‘gang of four’ [bandes des quatre] the party systematically tries to semantically place itself outside of the mainstream cleavage.179 The ‘gang of four’ has been one of the favourite idioms of the FN in the recent years. According to Davies, “this phrase is used to describe what the FN views as the corrupt oligarchy of parties at the centre of French politics.” 180 In the words of Le Pen addressing to his followers in 2003:
P.-A. Taguieff in Antiracisme. Un entretien avec M. Pierre-André Taguieff, Le Monde, 10 April 1991. 177 Jean-Marie Le Pen quoted in Ivaldi & Swyngedouw, The Extreme Right Utopia in Belgium and France: The Ideology of the Flemish Vlaams Blok and the French Front National, p. 14. 178 Le Pen, Discours de clôture du Congrès du FN à Nice. Likewise, Jean Dennipierre wrote in the antisemitic and pro-front newspaper Rivarol; “The little left-right ballet is only a procedure which permits changing teams exhausted by power, for another team which appears new. Doubtless, there are a few small differences: a little more or a little less State, a little more or less of dirigisme or of liberalism, but, on essentials, policy remains the same, a policy whose object is the destruction and the installation of a world order directed by the masters of finance.” quoted in Simmons, The French National Front: The Extremist Challenge to Democracy, p. 227. 179 See Fysh & Wolfers, The Politics of Racism in France, p. 137; See also N. Mayer, Ces Français qui votent FN, Paris: Flammarion, 1999, pp. 96-7. 180 Davies, The National Front in France: Ideology, discourse and power, pp. 3-4.
ANTI-SYSTEM POLITICS “The French, blinded and deafened by the propaganda of the gang of four, have not yet understood, except the courageous and lucid citizens that have voted for my candidature in spite of the vituperations and the menaces from men of the system.”181
Presently, as indicated by Davies, “the FN claims to be the ‘second political force’ in France after the PS and also the only authentic opposition movement. And as if to signal its intent it has published its ‘Programme of Government’ subtitled, ‘300 Measures for the Renaissance of France’.”182 According to Eric Lorio, national secretary for the central comity of the FN: “Le Pen has the ambition to help our movement to become a majoritarian axis.”183 Yet, following the recent results in the presidential elections, the FN appears broad enough to sustain its role as only ‘national alternative’. A perception underscored by Party General Secretary Bruno Gollnisch’s comments on the presidential campaign of 2002:
“The Front National, thanks to his President, and thanks to you, is from now on sufficiently installed, sufficiently identified by the French in its role of national opposition, as the only alternative to the systematic destruction enterprise of our Fatherland […] It is thus time to make the assessment of this Fight for France which, from spring 2001 till the 5 of May 2002, has profoundly modified the national political environment, placing de facto Jean-Marie Le Pen and the Front National in the unique position as an alternative to the current system.”184
While the desideologisation endorsed by the central attractor of the political system allows the Front National to establish itself as the only alternative to the current equilibrium, an argument sometimes made in the past by explaining the success of the FN due to the decline of the communist party; “the latter’s collapse allegedly leaving only the FN as a conduct for anti-system protest.”185 However, while communism has
Le Pen, Discours de clôture du Congrès du FN à Nice. Davies, The National Front in France: Ideology, discourse and power, p. 4. See also 300 Mesures pour la Renaissance de la France: Front National Programme de Gouvernement, Paris : Editions Nationales, 1993. 183 A Nice, les délégués du FN plébiscitent Bruno Gollnisch, Le Monde, 21 April 2003. 184 B. Gollnisch, Bilan Campagne Présidentielle 2002, at http://www.jeanmarielepen.info/bio/8.htm 185 Fysh & Wolfers, The Politics of Racism in France, p. 78. See also J. Jaffré, Front National: la relève protestataire, in E. Dupoirier & G. Grundberg (eds.), Mars 1986 : La Drôle de Défaite de la Gauche, Paris : PUF, 1986, p. 229. Indeed, presidential candidate Robert Hue only gathered 3,4%. Fysh and Wolters also indicate that the PCF is today the “the last of west European Communist parties in not changing their name since the collapse of the iron curtain” Fysh & Wolfers, The Politics of Racism in
always been attractive for workers in the past, the PCF has in the last decades been a part of the central attractor, participating in leftist governments and thus becoming part of the establishment. The FN’s discourse does not therefore differentiate the PCF from the other mainstream parties. With reference to the theoretical field of complexity, we have hypothesised the weakness of the central attractor as ‘meaning-provider’. Conversely, for Alexandre Dorna, the Front National stands for “a producer of meaning in a world lacking in providing a vision of the future.”186 Roxburgh indicates that the successes of the far righ “have also changed the direction of mainstream politics – not by encouraging, as one might have expected, a strong left-wing challenge, but by causing centrist parties to move to the right and adopt more populist policies.”187 An example of this hypothesis is to see how the FN can act as an agenda setter, i.e. import or inject ideas in the political discourse. 4.4. The Lepenisation of Political Discourse The lepenist dissipative dynamic is understandable with regards to an exceptionally favourable context in the political system. According to Markus, “if Left and Right were both at fault in failing to appreciate the nature of the threat posed by Le Pen, they were similarly uncertain about the best means of combating him” 188 We have seen that the desideologisation of political discourse leads to a destabilisation of the central normative attractor in the political system. On the other hand, it appears that making the FN’s revendications the principal electoral objectives of mainstream parties is equally counter-productive, or, in terms of chaos theory, contributes to increase the entropy within the system. As stated by Roxburgh “the risk of infection by far-right ideas is as dangerous, at least, as the rise of the extremists themselves.”189 Nevertheless, one could witness during the last elections a focus on formerly illiberal themes. 190 For Davies, “the mainstream right
France, p. 225. 186 Dorna, Le néopopulisme et le charisme, p. 95. 187 Roxburgh, Preachers of Hate, The Rise of the Far Right, p. 17 188 Marcus, The National Front and French Politics: The Resistible Rise of Jean-Marie Le Pen, p. 132. 189 Roxburgh, Preachers of Hate, The Rise of the Far Right, p. 17. 190 In fact, insecurity has been the central argument of the presidential campaign of 2002. Moreover, in his discourse of the 14 July 2001, Jacques Chirac, criticizing the socialist legislature, launched the theme of “zero tolerance”. N. Mayer, Les Hauts et les Bas du Vote Le Pen 2002, Revue Française de
has undergone a process of policy radicalisation – a vain but not altogether unsuccessful attempt at imitating the FN in order to attract voters away from it.” In the nineties intellectuals such as Pierre Bourdieu were already warning about the ‘fascisation of French society’. Yet, the leading right-wing majority tends to address the Front electorate with great empathy:
“Abandoned by everyone, the most modest French have no other choice for expressing their disarray than voting for extreme parties. To blame them does not help […] To denounce the rise of the brown pest or of fascism is an outrage which does not correspond to the situation of France in 2002.”191
This contamination by FN themes – or Lepenisation of political discourse –results once more from the desideologisation of the mainstream parties, which led to an almost blind confidence in the pretended pragmatism of polls and surveys. However, polls and surveys – as tools of mass communication – were reflecting a domain in which the FN was increasingly present, i.e. public opinion. According to socialist MP Julien Dray “even more than the electoral danger of the FN, it’s the manner in which its ideas and themes contaminate and weight on French society as a whole and on all the political parties poisoning us.”192 As we have highlighted, the political system is based on communication. As a result, political competition in democracies often consists in a vocabulary battle, a battle relayed by the media. In the last decades the goal of the Front National has been to act as an agenda-setter in the political system. The media therefore becomes the
Science Politique, Vol. 52, No 5-6, October-December 2002, p. 514. 191 Home-minister Nicolas Sarkosy quoted in L'UMP fête son succès et lance la campagne électorale de 2004, Le Monde, 22 June 2003. 192 Julien Dray in ‘Pour combattre le FN, le PS doit redevenir un parti de masse’, Le Monde, 21 April 2003.
communicative vehicle for the illiberal ideas of the FN. 193 This idea that the FN is an agenda-setter is fundamental for Davies:
“A flick through any national newspaper will confirm the fact that the party has been effective in hoisting its concerns to the top of the national political agenda, and in forcing other political formations to react to, and position themselves on, these particular issues – most notably of course, immigration.”194
The purpose of this vocabulary battle is nothing less than a change of normative paradigm within the political system – in which the equilibrium is constituted by a [liberal] set of norms – and thus, for the FN, to become the new central attractor of the system. In other words, the dissipative role of the Front National as alternative attractor far from the [normative] equilibrium of the political system is to inject – mainly illiberal – talking points within the political system. Consequently, if these ideas are taken over by mainstream parties within the system, the result is the same; the FN still acts as an agenda setter. Prigogine and Stengers comment the systemic repercussions of this phenomenon:
“If the system is ‘structurally stable’ as far as this intrusion is concerned, the new mode of functioning will be unable to establish itself and the ‘innovators’ will not survive. If however the structural fluctuation successfully imposes itself […] the whole system will adopt a new mode of functioning: its activity will be governed by a new ‘syntax’.”195
Giugni and Passy have argued that “the incorporation into mainstream politics of the themes of the extreme right is limited by the fact that mainstream parties cannot publicly
The concept of ‘Agenda-Setting’ has been introduced by Maxwell McCombs: “Through their dayby-day selection and display of the news, the editors of our newspapers and the news directors of our television stations exert a powerful influence on public attention to the issues, problems and opportunities that confront each community. Over time, the priorities reflected in the patterns of news coverage become to a considerable degree the priorities of the public agenda. This influence of the news agenda on the focus of public opinion is called the agenda-setting role of mass communication.” M. McCombs, Building Consensus: The News Media’s Agenda-Setting Roles, Political Communication, Vol 14, No 4, 1997, p. 433; See also M. McCombs, D. Shaw & D. Weaver (eds.), Communication and Democracy: Exploring the Intellectual Frontiers in Agenda-Setting Theory, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997. 194 Davies, The National Front in France: Ideology, discourse and power, p. 1. 195 Prigogine & Stengers, Order out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature, pp. 189-90.
frame the immigration issues in racist or xenophobic terms.”196 Nevertheless, as indicated by Davies, this political phenomenon – the rightward shift of the whole political
spectrum – is perhaps the best indicator of the influence of FN discourse and doctrine.197 In fact, the FN’s agenda does not provoke the same tremor than in the past or, as Le Pen puts it himself: “I am normalised.” 198 In the nineties, Bruno Mégret had frequently indicated the FN’s determination to take part in a vocabulary battle emphasising on the importance of language: “language is a form of subtle code. In choosing a word, one’s thoughts are inscribed, sometimes even without wishing it, within a pre-established ideological schema.”199 Jean-Marie Le Pen has therefore often highlighted his lack of compromise with mainstream parties in terms of ideological concord:
“We prefer being elected than defeated, it’s human, but we prefer being defeated on our ideas then on those of the opponents. And I’m not, personally, ready to compromise with politicians that I consider as insufficient, impotent, and sometimes criminal. I believe that the proposition of the Front National is an alternative proposition.”200
We can now conclude that neither the process of desideologisation, nor the overtaking of illiberal themes from the Front’s agenda comprise the necessary negentropic features for the reinforcement of the equilibrium of the political system. On the contrary, they contribute to its further destabilisation and to the increasing empowerment of the alternative [normative] attractor represented by the FN. As indicated by Pascal Perrineau, “the classical right must certainly fight Le Pen on its own themes, but not with the same words.” 201 In fact, as often stated by Jean Marie Le Pen, one always prefers the original to the copy. With reference to the political system as a whole, for Luhmann the actual stance of the central attractor leads to a conclusion often pointed out by populists:
M. Giugni & F. Passy, Cleavages, Opportunities, and Citizenship: Political Claim-making by the Extreme Right in France and Switzerland, at http://www.unil.ch/iepi/pdfs/passy3.pdf 197 Davies, The National Front in France: Ideology, discourse and power, p. 226. 198 Après le 1er tour: Le Pen, le dynamiteur, L'Express, 25 April 2002. 199 Bruno Mégret quoted in Simmons, The French National Front: The Extremist Challenge to Democracy, P. 217. Mégret was famous for his frequent idioms such as ‘Talibanisation’ or ‘Lebanonisation’ or of France [Libanisation]. 200 100 minutes pour convaincre, 5 May 2003, at http://www.frontnational.com/pdf/05052003.pdf 201 P. Perrineau in Le Front National vingt ans après, Le Monde, 12 February 1992.
“A certain number of punctual adjustments to values and normative expectations from the environment seems not to help much, but leads, since it has no consequence on the ‘product’ of the organisation, to the mistrust also in this respect – and to the diagnosis: organisational hypocrisy.”202
Luhmann, Die Politik der Gesellschaft, p. 234.
5. Conclusion: From Metaphor to Prescription?
“There is at least one philosophic problem in which all thinking men are interested. It is the problem of cosmology: the problem of understanding the world – including ourselves, and our knowledge, as part of the world.” Karl Popper.203
Throughout this analysis we persisted in highlighting the liveliness of a political system that many consider as unwavering or sometimes unintelligible. Nevertheless, criticism on the state of the system has been often used at great moments of bifurcations throughout French history:
“In 1799, the parties’ violent disputes were held responsible for l’anarchie which brought Napoleon Bonaparte to power; in 1851, it was le désordre of the parties that led to Louis Napoleon’s ascent; in 1940, the revolt against la decadence of the parties paved the way for the fascist rule of Pétain and Laval; and in 1958, l’immobilisime of the parties brought down the Fourth Republic.”204
Wilson notes that “each time the decay of parties produced a political vacuum, old parties revived and new ones emerged to fill the need for electoral competition as democracy was reinstituted.”205 He further argues that “it may be appropriate to view this as part of a normal process of party decline and regeneration/replacement produced by problems and developments that are country-specific.”206 Yet, we have seen that the FN wants to play a role in this systemic reconfiguration – and if not as an active electoral competitor, than as a normative agenda-setter. For chaos theorists, democratic elections commonly represent a chaotic moment in politics. But with Prigogine’s dissipative structures, we have noted that a political system is in a perpetual state of reconfiguration, in which different attractors enter in competition. We have seen that Anti-System movements such as the FN are attractors, catalysts and amplifiers of societal fluctuations. These political movements tend to recognise that “the dynamism of a mob can be extremely sensitive to slight variations
K. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, London: Hutchinson, 1959, preface. S. Serfaty, France, De Gaulle, and Europe, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1968, p. 91. 205 Wilson, When Parties Refuse to Fail : The Case of France , p. 527. 206 Ibid. p. 528.
of the context”207 and that within dissipative systems, “microscopical deviations […] might privilege a pattern of evolution versus other patterns.”208 Hence after this journey in the field of complexity and in the study of social systems, one might ask the following question: How does chaos theory provide a metaphor encouraging alternative thinking about politics and, what is chaos theory’s main contribution to political cases as such of the Front National in France? Our answer is that the application of such a metaphorical language to the domain of politics puts the emphasis on the fragility of the systemic equilibrium and thus increases the need of an ethics of responsibility in contrast with any conviction relying on the false evidence of an optimistic and deterministic progress in society – an arrow of time towards systemic annihilation does indeed not sound optimistic. The conception of politics as a system – in which individuals, parties and ideas are interconnected – which consists in an evolutionary dynamic goes also beyond the well-known structure/agency debate. As pointed out by Prigogine and Stengers; “even small fluctuations may grow and change the overall structure. As a result, individual activity is not doomed to insignificance.” 209 In addition, the metaphor indicates that institutional status quo is permanently exposed to the uncertainty of the system, and thus represents a threat since in this panoptic vision of a chaotic universe, “the security of stable, permanent rules are gone forever.”210 The described dynamic relies on communication where, as we have insisted throughout this study, ideology plays a considerable role. As such chaos theory represents a prescriptive model for party politics with regard to autopoietic shortcomings such as desideologisation. Le Pen was one of the first to declare that “politics is firstly and before everything else a language war, a war of signs, a war of models, of symbols.”211 We have thus commented the state of the system and it seems convenient to say that on the both side of the cleavage the parties are in an ideological deadlock, incapable to formulate new vibrant doctrinal orientations, so vital for democracy. Alain Juppé,
Herman, Chaologie Politique et Nationalisme, p. 18. J.-P. Meunier, Théorie Systémique de la Communication, Louvain-la-Neuve: Diffusion Universitaire Ciaco, 2000, p. 28. 209 Prigogine & Stengers, Order out of Chaos: Man’s New Dialogue with Nature, pp. 312-3. 210 Ibid. pp. 313. 211 J.-M. Le Pen, J’accéderai au pouvoir par la voie démocratique, Aspect de la France, 10 October 1991.
arguing against the Left estimates that “we are facing the consequences of elapsed ideologies: a bit of Trotskyism, a bit of Marxism, a bit of sixty-eight ideology [soixante-huitardisme], a bit of social-democracy, the whole in a complete mess, without any vision for the future, without alternative projects.”212 But, on the other hand, we have also noted that the Right, in pretending to ‘listen to the ground’ and ‘being pragmatic’, contributes as well to the ‘de-politicisation of political debates’, and thus presents the same deficiencies.213 We have moreover highlighted the danger of adopting the discourse of Anti-System parties such as the FN. Whereas it might represent a potential remedy to popular disaffection we have seen that it also contributes to the entropy in the system – i.e. the lack of meaning in the political system. As indicated by Roxburgh, one has to be warned “not just against the populists and demagogues themselves, but against those who now masquerade in their clothes while pretending to be liberal.”214 Furthermore, the diagnostic of a political system described throughout this study, in which entropy is dangerously high has been used and fostered by the FN. For Dorna, this systemic crisis of political representation – or as we have suggested, of political proposition – “is linked to the depletion of theoretical models and to the vanishing of the practice of republican principles, and to the presence of a unique ideology in the name of democracy.” 215 As a result, “if political discourses do not put forward any stake, any signs of identity, political integration, i.e. integration to the polis becomes more difficult.”216 A last remark concerns the status of the Front in the political system. Whereas often depicted as mere electoral phenomenon, protest party or relic of archaic authoritarianism and xenophobic resentments, it appears, as stated by Declair, that “the Front is not merely a ‘flash party’ à la the Poujadist phenomenon of the 1950s.” 217 The FN is certainly protesting against the current state of the system but as we have seen, it encompasses a complex worldview in which most of the settled norms to which modern societies adhere are threatened. In addition, Fysh and Wolters formulate the following hypothesis “the Front will proclaim its fidelity to democratic rules for as long as the
L'UMP fête son succès et lance la campagne électorale de 2004, Le Monde, 22 June 2003. Henri Weber, director of the Revue Socialiste, quoted in Bienvenue dans un monde sans heurt, Liberation, 8 February 2003. 214 Roxburgh, Preachers of Hate, The Rise of the Far Right, p. 303. 215 Dorna, Le néopopulisme et le charisme, p. 99. 216 M. Souchard, S.L. Wahnich, I. Cuminal & V. Wathier, Le Pen Les mots, p. 227. 217 Declair, Politics on the Fringe: The People, Policies, and Organization of the French National Front, p. 5.
people it is addressing identify with them, but its ultimate purpose is to impose a totalitarian model of society.”218 This statement embodies a significant warning and underlines a certain irony with regard to electoral behaviour.
oneself in and voting for the FN as a protest party, as a way to underline a certain democratic deficit, considering it as an ‘emotional vote’ or manifesting one’s discontentment or disenchantment pertaining to the political system constitutes a threatening behaviour for the very [liberal] values that one is combating for – liberal values that have explicitly be condemned by the Front National. Hence, if chaos theory implies any prescription, then it is the requirement to live with contingencies and stay permanently conscious of one’s autopoietic role in a dynamic and unpredictable system. A system without normative boundaries in which values are permanently challenged, reconfigured and reinterpreted – an intelligible system in which we cannot take any order for granted. Word Count: 12217
Fysh & Wolfers, The Politics of Racism in France, pp. 243-4. It seems important to note the heterogeneous results of the first ballot of the French presidential elections of 2002 highlighting the existence of an ever-increasing floating electorate. In this floating electorate, Lane and Errson indicate that “the logic of party-voter interaction becomes different, as myopia and opportunism take on a more prominent role.” Lane & Errson, Politics and Society in Western Europe, p. 133.
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