This affair of « parachuting, » the great argument brandished against Ségolène Royal, is becoming downright strange. That certain right-wingers should use it against some of their own is probably to be expected. But that this fetishism of a place, this cult of local spirit, this idea that one must be from La Rochelle to be elected its representative, this obvious statement according to which a good deputy can only be one whose roots there are old and authentic, in short, this regional, if not vernacular, hodgepodge should appear on the left and elicit no complaints is one of the salient events of this election.
From this standpoint, Madame Royal is not completely wrong in saying that the right nailed her. It’s unverifiable, one cannot do the math. But philosophically it’s undisputable.
For this exacerbated parochialism, this race to return to imagined roots, this illusion according to which one must be a « local » to be chosen by one or another of France’s parties, this opposition, in a word, of the « real country » (embodied in a candidate who is « from back home ») and the « legal’ (represented by the candidate who has been « parachuted in ») — all of this is the very spirit of a mindset called Maurrasism that is at the very heart of the old right. And consequently, it defeats the grand republican idea whereby an election is the occasion for the voter, not to return to his sources, but to accede to citizenship and, with it, the universal.
A legislative election is not a local election. A deputy represents not a region of France, but France in its entirety. One refers to each of the deputies of the National Assembly as « the » national representation, because, in the same manner as the pars totalis of the philosophers, he incarnates, identically, uniformly, and quite plainly, the interests and the soul of the nation. Misunderstanding this law is like signifying the defeat of Jaurès against Péguy.
Or that, I repeat, of Péguy against Maurras. And, whether one likes it or not, it implies sinking into the most rank variety of populism — one that turns its back on the spirit of republican laws. Long live the parachuted.
Praise for Ségolène Royal, whose political liquidation (ah! tweetgate) will remain as a shameful moment of these elections and whose integrity, whose daring, whose intellectual and moral courage and regal dignity, moreover, will be missed in this newly elected Assembly. Alas.
The other great victim of this neo-Maurrasism on the left, of chasing down electoral nomadism and, consequently, of the democratic regression that goes along with it is obviously Jack Lang. I wish to pay him tribute here as well.
Mitterrand? Yes, Mitterrand. But the luminous face of Mitterrandism. There were enough sombre aspects of Mitterrandism for one to welcome the occasion to salute Jack Lang as the inheritor of its noble elements. The festive Left? Triumph of the Homo festivus the late lamented Philippe Muray took such glee in making fun of? Yes, of course. Exactly.
I deplore the political assassination of Jack Lang by Muray’s (or Fumaroli’s) moronic epigones that transformed one of the finest ministers of Culture we have had into a gay pride hero, a carnival character granting the people bread and circuses, the king of eyewash and entertainment.
The caviar Left? The Left of strass and sequins. Yes, again, if you like. But with the understanding that the blathering neopopulism that is becoming a knee-jerk reflex in an increasing segment of public opinion thus named — in his case, the very moment he became the eternal minister that, come hell or high water, he has remained to this day — his will to share with the greatest number his taste for Daniel Buren’s columns, for the painting of Pierre Soulages or the theatre of Giorgio Strehler, and his passion for the chateaux of Chambord and of Chenonceau. The will to reconcile grand and great French culture with modernity, they dubbed « the caviar Left. »
The time has not yet come (for I am convinced the man will return — elsewhere, in another capacity, but he will return) to take stock and assess the Lang years. But when we decide to do so, we shall see that this definitive Girondist, this activist for a « cultural State, » meaning first of all « a maximum of beauty available to a maximum of people, » this aristocrat of the mind who believed it in his power to indefinitely displace the invisible border separating, as Condorcet said, the « uncouth part » of « mankind » from his « enlightened part », was directly in line with André Malraux’s « cathedrals of culture » and, before Malraux, with the « Clubs Léo Lagrange » of the 30s that invented the idea of culture for all. The Front Populaire as opposed to the populist front. The dream, not of who knows what foppish party, but of the very best — yes! — to have come out of the Communist party when it affirmed that one could be a labourer and still love Matisse or Picasso.
Recently, in Aragon’s Ecrits sur l’art, I read about the period when the former surrealist directed the weekly Les Lettres françaises. Well, it’s all there. Everything is said about this fine attempt, termed ‘caviarizing’ by the cretins, to make culture available to all. Jack Lang, the man whose defeat a few head choppers, on the left and on the right, are celebrating: an emulator of Aragon, with the power of Malraux.