ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les citoyens refusent la confiscation de la République
by Grégory Marin
Translated Tuesday 26 September 2006, by
Valmy, Marne, 20 September: The people of Valmy protested in their hundreds as Jean-Marie Le Pen launched his presidential campaign last Wednesday. Declaring the “new Battle of Valmy”, the Front National (FN) leader had personally hijacked the anniversary of the historic first battle of the French Revolution, where volunteers of the Revolutionary army − or sans-culottes − routed a Prussian army that had come to support the royal family.
“France must either win or perish”, Le Pen proclaimed, “... She must thrash the hostile forces... of ... savage immigration, and regression.”
[Terms are glossed in the Translator’s Notes below this article]
“The Republic remains an ideal to be defended daily. We must never abandon this struggle.” The gathering on Wednesday in Valmy of nearly 250 people resounded with the words of Adeline Hazan, PS (Socialist Party) MEP. Associations (LICRA, Ras l’Front, ARAC, and Grand Orient de France), trades unions (UNEF, CGT, FSU, and UNSA), political parties and leftist movements (PCF, PS, PRG, MJS, and the French Young Communists) had assembled to protest against the arrival of Jean-Marie Le Pen at the foot of the mill in Valmy that very morning.
For these “true” republicans, the FN leader was “hijacking the memory” of the first battle of a French republican army, on 20 September, 1792. A “manoeuvre in which the National Front − the racist and xenophobic extreme right party − is well versed”, denounced Philippe Comby, of la LICRA: "Jean-Marie le Pen has less right than anyone to seek inspiration in this place. He has more in common with the OAS than the French Republic.”
A few hours earlier, the president of the Front National had let loose a diatribe against the “internationalists” who have “abandoned France to foreign forces of savage liberalism and globalization” and who contest his use of Valmy as an emblem. The “old companions” of the Front National, royalists and ultra-Catholics, “are astonished at that choice”, according to Jean-Marie Le Pen. Dictated by his daughter Marine, the Campaign Director, he personally justified it as paying homage to “the perpetuation of the greatness of our people”. “From Vercingetorix to St Louis via the Napoleonic age, I embrace it all...” No programme, just a single idea: the France of the past. Jean-Marie Le Pen is a man who is considered outdated even by some of his own party: “He needs to modernise ... his views”, an old lady breathed heavily as she climbed the slope towards the mill. In fact, it was the same old refrain that drove on the FN leader as he summarily saw off three opponents: his “caricature” Philippe de Villiers, Ségolène Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy. The candidate who has declared himself for 2007 nevertheless has no compunction in plagiarizing the governing right-wing party (UMP) by asserting: “I alone represent real change.”
GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS
OAS: terrorist Secret Armed Organization
LICRA: Ligue internationale contre le racisme et l’antisemitisme...- league against racism and anti-Semitism
Ras l’Front: an anti-racist movement
ARAC: Association Républicaine des Anciens Combattants et Victimes de Guerre, des Combattants pour l’Amitié, la Solidarité, la Mémoire, l’Antifascisme et la Paix. A multi-faceted movement for peace, friendship, equality, memory, solidarity, war victims, war veterans, and against fascism.
Grand Orient de France: a masonic grand lodge founded in 1736.
UNEF: l’Union Nationale des Étudiants de France – the national university students’ union
CGT: Confédération générale du travail - General Workers’ Union
FSU: Fédération Syndicale Unitaire - the independent Unitary Union Federation, and the largest organisation in the education sector
UNSA: Union nationale des syndicats autonomes (UNSA) : organisation syndicale interprofessionnelle - national Union of autonomous trades Unions
political parties and leftist movements
PCF: the French Communist Party
PS: Socialist Party
PRG: Parti radical de gauche - Radical Left Party
MJS: Mouvement des Jeunes Socialistes – French Young Socialists