Searchlight has gloomily concluded.rnThe FN has been cautious and effective at the local level.rnFor example, the first act of Vitrolles’ new mayor, the Cambridge-rneducated Catherine Megret, was to reduce all councilors’rnsalaries, including her own, by 30 percent. More recently,rnthe council’s rechristening of Vitrolles streets (named byrnleftist councilors after sundrv’ anti-apartheid activists and revolurionaries)rnhas been welcomed as well. For instance, Vitrolles’rnPlace Mandela has been renamed Place de Provence. Althoughrncentralist by instinct, irr the French tradition, the partyisrnkeen on preserving local identities. There is no sign of thernFN’s popularih’ receding at the local level, and this is certain torntranslate sooner or later into national power, either as part of arncoalition or on its own. Prominent Gaullists like ex-PresidentrnGiscard d’Estaing, former government advisor RobertrnPantraud, and political analyst ilain Griotteray are now arguingrnthat “L’ennemi, c’est la gauche,” and that an alliance withrnthe FN is now a necessit)’. The FN might even be able to makernit on its own if it had to and if its present level of support onlyrnslightly increased.rnThe FN is fortunate to have highly intelligent national leaders,rnsuch as the Orientalist Bruno Collnisch (the FN’s Secretar-rnGeneral), former Chirac speechwriter Bruno Megret (husbandrnof the Mayoress of Vitrolles), economist Jean-ClaudernMartinez, and Yvan Blot (formerly head of the academic thinkrntank, Le Club d’Horloge). There are several equally capablernpossible successors to Le Pen (who will be 69 in 1998). Thisrnfact alone shows how broad-based the FN has become.rnIt also has considerable support from both traditionalistrnCatholics and Protestants, as well as a not insignificant paganrnfringe influenced by “New Right” philosophers like Alain dernBenoist. However, the FN emphatically does not enjoy supportrnfrom most Jews or Muslims. On the one hand, many believernthat the FN is anti-Semitic, although several prominent membersrnare Jewish, such as Captain Robert Hemmerdinger, a FreernFrench captain and vice-president of the national committee ofrnFrench Jews. The media tried to blame the FN for the desecrationrnof the Jewish cemeter)’ at Carpentras despite a completernlack of evidence, and their charges of anti-Semitism are lentrncredence, so far as the left is concerned, by Le Pen’s refusal tornapologize for saying that the holocaust was “a detail of history.”rnGreater Jewish support for the FN is likely in the longer term,rngiven Le Pen’s support for Israel and detestation of the largescalernMuslim immigration which has un-Frenched whole urbanrnareas. Jews are understandably disturbed by racial nationalism,rnbut the FN is a cultural nationalist part)’.rnI’he FN’s relations with Muslims are strained because of itsrnposition on immigration and on Muslim mores, such as womenrnwearing the chador in France’s fiercely secular schools.rnEven this aspect of the FN’s philosophy is not as simple as itrnmight seem—the FN has been one of very few Western politicalrnparties willing to speak up for the sanction-hurt Iraqi people,rnin opposition to U.S.-inspired United Nations meddling in thernregion. The FN also has supporters of North African origin,rnsuch as Sid-Ahmed Yahiaoui, an FN councillor in the He dernFrance.rnThe recent political success of parties like the FN was precededrn—and has been accompanied by—an upsurge inrndiscussion of previously forbidden (or at least unfashionable)rntopics, most obviouslv immigration and national identity.rnThere is widespread, if inchoate, dissatisfaction with the conventionalrnpieties. The intellectual climate is changing fast.rnThe national consciousness, long the preserve of taxi-driversrnand road-sweepers, has become respectable again, and foundrnpowerful new champions. The old ideals of the left are at lastrnbeing held up to sustained, penetrating, and devastating criticism.rnTo take just one example, six respected French scholarsrnbrought out a weight)- tome called The Black Book of Communism,rnwhich purports to list all the communist atrocities thatrnWestern liberals do not like to have discussed. Furthermore,rnthe authors accuse Lenin of being equivalent in his brutishnessrnto Stalin. One of the justificatory myths of French communismrn(and other natiorral brands of communism) is that Stalinrnwas a cynical adventurer, not reallv left-wing in fact, who unscrupulouslyrncapitalized on the work of well-meaning idealistsrnlike Lenin and Trotsky.rnThe FN takes this intellectual battie seriously, unlike mostrnAnglo-American rightists, who seem to believe that “freedom ofrnchoice” and market competition are all that a healthy societ)-rnreally needs. The part)’ helps to fund publishing enterprises,rnsuch as the Institute of Social History (which produced ThernBlack Book). Even the FN’s youth wing takes intellectualismrnseriously; the most recent issue of Agfr, the Front National de larn]eunesse’s magazine, featured a perceptive piece on CharlesrnMaurras, atheist leader of the influential Catholic, nationalist,rnand royalist Acft’on Frangaise, founded in 1899, which lastedrnuntil 1945. FN publications are packed full of advertisementsrnfor books, tapes, CDs, videos, arrd even furniture and works ofrnart.rnArguably the most important contributory factor to the FN’srnprogress, however, has been the failure of the establishedrnparties, especially those of the left, to provide civilized and comfortablernlivirrg. Unemployment is 12.7 percent and rising; privatizationrnis causing considerable pain in what is fundamentallyrna corporatist country-; the economic burden of the plannedrnsingle currency gets ever heavier; crime does not decrease;rnFrench power is indubitably on the wane. The cumulativerneffect of the depressing statistics is that the old myths of the leffrnhave become unbelievable, like stories of Santa Glaus to sixyear-rnolds. The collapse in France of the old left-wing ideolog)’rn(if not yet the left-wing political parties—the French CommunistrnParh’ is still the largest and most Marxist in Western Europe)rnhas utterly changed the political landscape for the better.rnEven the FN does not arouse the old leftist spleen; only thernCommunists and various imn-iigrant organizations botherrnto demonstrate these days, and they can only muster smallrnnumbers.rnThe leftist intellectual preeminence of the decades sincernWorld War II is founded on selective memories ofrnwartime. As Rene de Chateaubriand once observed in disgust,rn”They [the French people] must be led by dreams.” ThernFrench left has certainly been led by dreams. Just as in otherrncountries that were occupied by the Nazis during World WarrnII, the posbvar left was long sustained by an heroic myth of resistancernto fascism. The romantic image created by leftist intellectuals,rnof gallant communist maquisards resisting wholernPanzer columns of uncivilized, snarling Teutons, became anrnescapist reverie, serving to disguise the inconvenient fact thatrnmost French people had collaborated in order to eat, just asrnmost British or Americans woifld have just got on with theirrnlives had Britain or America been occupied by the Nazis. Titorngot away with a similar trick in Yugoslavia, taking the credit forrnMARCH 1998/17rnrnrn