Saturday Commentary and Review #72
The Zemmourization of France, French Literary Elite Paedos of the 70s/80s, Rene Girard's Coming Apocalypse, 10 Point Irish Industrialization Plan, Scammer Sells a Fake Country
Claude Bessy aka ‘Kickboy Face’ was a French scenester who popped up in the middle of musical movements and trends stretching from the Hardcore Punk scene of Southern California circa 1979 through to ‘Madchester’ in Manchester, UK less than half a decade after. He was immortalized in the brilliant Penelope Spheeris documentary “The Decline of Western Civilization” which presented an intimate snapshot of that punk milieu that Kickboy Face happily threw himself into. Owner and enthusiastic deployer of the most snooty of French waiter accents, in this clip he happily declares to the world that ‘New Wave is fake’.
Bessy was loaded up on speed and who knows what other substances, but he could be profound from time to time. In the documentary, he explained that he really didn’t like the most extreme form of punk that was present during that time and space, but he made an effort to champion it specifically because by adopting the most extreme position, he made the less extreme versions more palatable to the public at large. In short, he was describing how to shift the proverbial Overton Window, a concept that has become rather popular since 2015.
This brings us to another snooty Frenchman (aren’t they all?): Presidential candidate Eric Zemmour. I’ve already lost count as to how many times I have featured articles about him on this Substack, which is a testament to the importance that I have assigned to his campaign. The question that I have struggled with is whether Zemmour is sincere in the positions that he holds, or whether he, like Kickboy Face, is simply trying to move the Overton Window to permit once verboten ideas and policy proposals from being implemented. On a sidenote, I have also shared my concerns that Zemmour’s positions might be entirely of a parochial nature, and that remains to be seen. Thus far he does seem like the real deal: a Jewish man who puts his nation ahead of his religious-tribal affiliation. It’s precisely this that has caused many Jewish intellectuals to denounce him for being a ‘traitor’ to Judaism and Jews in general.
Zemmour most likely will not succeed in becoming the next President of France, but he has scored victories in stretching the parameters of acceptable debate to the point that even a centrist like current President Macron has been forced to adopt many of his ideas just to remain re-electable. Zemmour will most likely be the death-knell for the perpetually-failing Marine Le Pen, and open up a path for her very photogenic niece Marion Marechal, to run in 2027. She has recently refused to endorse her aunt, and has placed herself closer to Zemmour and his platform. France might not be ready for Eric Zemmour, but it is already living in his world.
The argument that France is already Zemmourized:
And yet amid this electoral jockeying, Zemmour’s views are not just popular among the population, but increasingly reflect a turn within the French political establishment itself. This Zemmourization is most evident on the flashpoint issues Zemmour himself calls the “four I’s”: immigration, identity, insecurity, and Islam. France’s politicians, including its current government, are steering sharply to the right to adjust to this new political reality.
What Zemmour asks can be boiled down to the following: What is France and what does it mean to be French? These are collective concepts that resonate strongly, especially on a continent full of ethno-nation-states.
Media in the Anglosphere have already done the job of equating the theory of The Grand Replacement with White Nationalism, and therefore with Nazism and the Holocaust by default. But in France it is rather different:
Zemmour endorses the concept of the “Great Replacement,” developed by the far-right intellectual Renaud Camus. It refers to the argument that political elites are using immigration to progressively substitute native Europeans with immigrants, especially those from the Middle East and Africa. Zemmour believes that France will face a civil war in the near future—or at the very least, some form of profound ethnic and religious partition—if the vast demographic change that has occurred over the past 50 years is not checked.
One of his most ardent beliefs is that Islam will never be compatible with the French culture. Pointing to the rise of France’s Muslim population, which is believed to comprise between 6 and 10% of the country, Zemmour has argued for years that a clash of civilizations exists within France itself. He recently capitalized on a study by France Stratégie, an institution under the authority of the Prime Minister, that showed that the share of non-European immigrants and their children in French cities has been surging in the past decades. The proportion of non-European youths in the Parisian banlieues of Clichy-sous-Bois has risen to 84%, and has become as high as 61% even in the relatively provincial city of Limoges.
The term “Great Replacement” taps into a larger cultural and physical insecurity in France. Since 2015, hundreds of public figures have been living under close police protection over their criticism of political Islam, a list that includes Instagram influencers, philosophers, Charlie Hebdo journalists, prominent ex-Muslims who have left their religion, and Zemmour himself. Over the past decade, those killed by Islamic fundamentalists include priests, journalists, and teachers. Tactics for these killings have included beheadings, mass shootings, and suicide bombers. The fear of a Lebanonization of France looms large and is no longer unique to the far-right.
The popularization of Zemmourism:
Polls continually identify high levels of support for Zemmourian positions among the French populace. This includes topics like stopping immigration from Muslim-majority countries, perceived judicial lenience, and even support for the “Generals’ Letter” in which 20 retired generals and around 1000 members of the military declared that France faced a threat of civil war.
This convergence between Zemmourian ideas and French public opinion is not confined to the center-right. A recent Harris Interactive poll concluded that 67% of the general population are concerned to some degree about the idea of a “Great Replacement,” including 61% of supporters of La Republique en Marche (LREM), Macron’s political party. When asked whether they believed such a development would actually occur, 61% of the general population and 52% of LREM supporters responded that they did. The mainstream of French society—including the Macronist base—has shifted toward a consensus that, only a few years ago, was too radical even for Marine Le Pen to endorse publicly.
The most successful way of defusing the ‘threat’ of right wing populism in Europe thus far has been to co-opt its policies. The Austrians in particular have been rather successful with this approach, and the French mainstream has shown that is will ape this method as well:
This transformation is most obvious among Zemmour’s opponents on the right. The ultimate winner of the Les Républicains runoff, the “two-thirds Merkel, one-third Thatcher” Valérie Pécresse, wants to restrict the delivery of visas, increase the number of deportations of illegal immigrants, and expel foreigners who served a prison sentence in France. Rather than quarreling with Zemmour on his diagnosis, Pécresse argues that her experience in the Ile-de-France region makes her a better fit to deal with the issue of “separatism.”
Her rivals echoed similar—and sometimes far more inflammatory—rhetoric. Michel Barnier, a quintessential centrist who came back from Brussels and EU politics to campaign in the primary, began making the case for a moratorium on immigration and the restriction of the power of the European judiciary on migratory issues. The turnaround was abrupt enough that Lord Frost, Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiator, gave the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that he might have rubbed off on Barnier during negotiations. The more likely answer seems to be the popularity of Zemmour’s ideas among Barnier’s own voter base. Eric Ciotti, who was runner-up in the primary, proposed amending France’s citizenship laws to become jus sanguinis—by descent—and tentatively agreed when asked whether he believes in the “Great Replacement.”
Even Marine Le Pen is under pressure as a result of Zemmour’s surge. Following years of “detoxification” of her party—now called Le Rassemblement National (RN)—that has caused tension with its old guard, she has made anti-EU rhetoric and “liberty” more central to her campaign. Zemmour has bet on outflanking her from the right, focusing on more traditional far-right targets like immigration and Islam. With Le Pen’s own niece and former party colleague Marion Maréchal now appearing alongside Zemmour to promote this refocus, her latest campaign may have to decide between expanding the RN’s appeal or losing her own base to Zemmour.
The Zemmourization of Macron:
But perhaps the clearest sign of France’s Zemmourization can be found in Zemmour’s foremost political opponent: President Macron himself. Macron ran as a center-left candidate in 2017. He stirred controversy with comments that there is no such thing as “French culture” and that Angela Merkel had saved “Europe’s collective dignity” in 2015 by welcoming over one million migrants to Germany.
In 2018, Macron unveiled a new bill on immigration that sought to place further restrictions on asylum seekers and increase its ability to carry out deportations, both goals he had previously opposed as a candidate. Gérard Collomb, Macron’s then-Minister of the Interior and former Socialist Party Mayor of Lyon, justified the bill by claiming that some French neighborhoods were being “submerged” by asylum-seekers, and asked rhetorically whether France could “build a medium-sized city every year to accommodate these refugees?”
Macron as disciple of The Grand Replacement Theory?
In the fall of 2021, as Zemmour’s rise in polls was underway, Macron decided to slash visas granted to people from the Maghreb, in order to pressure their governments into taking back nationals who live illegally in France. The move, a long-time demand of both Zemmour and Le Pen, was now being carried out by a centrist president.
This convergence does not seem limited to public political rhetoric or diplomatic chess moves. Over the past few years, Macron himself has publicly engaged the French right’s intellectual circles and media outlets, and has repeatedly acknowledged the legitimacy of many of their concerns and even policy positions. In 2019, Macron gave a 12-page interview to the right-wing magazine Valeurs Actuelles where he criticized Zemmour’s “deadly dialectic,” though he simultaneously argued that “we need to expel all the people who don’t belong here” and denounced a creeping “secession.”
Macron went on to have a private discussion with Zemmour himself in May 2020, after the latter was accosted and spat on by a bystander in the streets of Paris. Zemmour, recounting the discussion in La France n’a pas dit son dernier mot, claimed that Macron suggested he send over a memo on his proposals on immigration. He also asserted that Macron agreed with his diagnosis of French society and on Islam’s mentality of conquest but that if he spoke like Zemmour “we would be heading towards civil war.”
Despite this criticism of Zemmour’s more radical stances, decisions like the restriction of visas to North African states show Macron’s willingness to adopt restrictionist measures on immigration questions. But his engagement with these stances appears to go further than either rhetoric or leverage in diplomatic clashes. The French political journalist Marc Endeweld, author of two biographies of Macron, claims that Macron “thinks exactly like Valeurs Actuelles” on questions of Islam and immigration. Going further, he also reports claims from employees of the Elysée that Macron uses the term “Great Replacement” in private with his aides, and that he is “obsessed” with the concept. While this could be chalked up to the informal and blunt style for which Macron and other LREM aides are known in private, rather than to personal beliefs, it shows a familiarity with and willingness to discuss these views.
A funny episode:
Despite these differences, the existence of a seemingly Zemmourian diagnosis of France’s ills among figures in the Macronist camp has even become visible in public debates. One prominent example occurred in February 2021: Gérald Darmanin, Macron’s Minister of the Interior, sparred with Marine Le Pen in a televised debate on the question of Islam. After Le Pen argued that she would attack “political Islamism and not Islam,” the latter of which she sees “as a religion among others,” Darmanin launched an attack that caught her off-guard: citing Le Pen’s detoxification campaign, he accused her of becoming “a little soft” and suggested that she should take “vitamins.” He also attacked her view that political Islam was only a question of ideology, saying that political Islamism in fact stems from “a sectarian movement of Islam.” By pointing a finger not only at radical Islamist ideology, but at currents within the Islamic religion itself, Darmanin broke with the political norm of framing the debate within the sphere of politics rather than culture and faith.
The downside is that even if he does manage to win the Presidency through some sort of miracle, he will be stymied by the powerful French bureaucracy, just like Trump was blocked by state apparatus in the USA:
This means that Zemmour’s radical plans on immigration would likely be declared unconstitutional if they went through the normal legislative procedure. Short of a constitutional amendment or a referendum on immigration, French and European courts would seriously limit the capacity of a right-wing government to implement a Zemmourist migratory agenda. Within French legal circles, the Union Syndicale des Magistrats, France’s second-largest magistrates’ union, is likewise known for its openly activist stances on political issues and its historic opposition to even more moderate center-right presidents like Nicolas Sarkozy.
The French Establishment itself would have to change for Zemmourian policies and proposals to actually be implemented.
This Substack is named after Michel Foucault, a man who needs no introduction but who was more than happy to write about and rail against Age of Consent laws. His popularlity peaked in a time when libertinism held hands with social liberalism, as it stomped all over tradition in the Cold War West.
Like any great revolution, there will be casualties. The late 1960s saw Acid Casualties (people who fried their own brains through overuse of LSD). The 1970s in particular witnessed trends in sexual relations between adults and teens/pre-teens. Roman Polanski immediately springs to mind, as does Jimmy Savile and the various C-list UK celebs put on trial in the wake of the revelations surrounding him shortly after his death. I have written previously on this Substack about pro-pedophilia activism by the German Green Party of that era, in tandem with the Paedophile Information Exchange in the UK and its ties to the Labour Party. There is no need to mention the grooming of young teen men in the Roman Catholic Church, as it has been constantly broadcast by those opposed to the Faith on full blast for decades now.
Foucault’s France was not immune to this trend either. In fact, it was rampant in certain parts of the French elite during that era and since then as well.
In January 2020, Le consentement (Consent) by Vanessa Springora was published, a memoir exposé of Gabriel Matzneff, a well-known and much-respected French writer, but also a shameless predator of teen girls and preteen boys. Springora charts her two-year relationship with Matzneff, which began in 1986, when she was 14 and he 49, and critiques the cultural landscape that allowed it to happen, the complicity of her mother, and the intellectual and artistic circles that revolved around the Parisian neighbourhood of Saint-Germain-des-Prés where they lived. A year later, there was another astonishing exposé, La familia grande (2021) by Camille Kouchner – the daughter of France’s former foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner – documenting the incestuous relationship between her stepfather, the academic and politician Olivier Duhamel, and Kouchner’s twin brother, then aged 14.
The psychology of the elites will often lead us to the conclusion that they are permitted certain liberties that should be denied to the masses. The question then becomes: which liberties, if any at all? Despite living in a 21st century where sexual expression and freedom is considered necessary conditions of liberation and freedom, there is still the nagging feeling for many of these social liberals that lines need to be drawn somewhere.
Out in the open and celebrated:
Springora and Kouchner broke years of silence with these testimonies, laying bare the sexual violations these men committed, and landing a bomb right into the centre of the French elite who had allowed them to escape blame for so long. The bomb site is still smoking. Yet, barely two years ago, Matzneff was given safe refuge in his own country, where the authorities chose to turn a blind eye to his unashamed paedophilia – clear to anyone with eyes to see, given that he wrote up his exploits in widely published books. He was a recipient of a writer’s allowance by the Centre national du livre (National Centre of the Book), and in 1995 the minister of culture awarded him the Order of Arts and Letters in recognition of his contribution to the arts and literature. In 2013, he was awarded the Renaudot, one of France’s most prestigious literary awards (his friends were on the panel).
Springora was introduced to Matzneff when she was 13, at a family friend’s dinner party she attended with her mother. She recalls how he seduced the guests with his charisma, but his eyes were always on her. Her mother flirted for his attention and offered to drive him home; despite knowing his preference for young girls, she allowed her just-teen daughter to sit beside him on the backseat where ‘something magnetic passed between us. He had his arm against mine, his eyes on me, and the predatory smile of a large golden wildcat.’
What followed was his grooming of Springora through a series of intensely complimentary letters, sometimes writing twice a day. When she finally wrote back to him (she’d just turned 14) he ‘pounced’. He would wait for her on the street, devising an impromptu encounter, then invited her to his apartment, for pastries, where he kissed her.
Justification and rape:
Matzneff assumed the role of mentor, telling himself perhaps that his actions lay within the traditional Hellenic framework of pederasty, a romantic relationship between a teacher and student, generally considered to be more emotionally driven than sexual. He showed an interest in Springora’s schoolwork, helped her write her essays, let her walk with him through the Luxembourg Gardens, privileging her with his attention, an elegant award-winning literary hero. All the same, he was discreet. He was careful that his predations were seen to be within the law. French law did not legislate an age of consent at this time, but stated that, while a relationship with a minor under the age of 15 was illegal, it was not automatically considered statutory rape. Springora was not protected as were her European sisters. Matzneff was puffed up with self-justification, standing by his belief that his relationships with adolescent girls were helpful to them. We don’t have to look far, though, to detect his self-serving motivations, and his manipulations and abuse of his power.
When lying together in bed surrounded by books, Matzneff relayed the history of literature to the young Vanessa, only this history was conveniently specific to stories of older men with young muses; Edgar Allan Poe who married little Virginia when she was just 13, and Charles Dodgson (better know as Lewis Carroll) and his controversial photographs and obsession with Alice Liddell. One of the most shocking passages in Springora’s book describes the first time Matzneff attempts to make love to her, and her body involuntarily rejects him ‘[w]ith an instinctive reflex, my thighs jammed tight together’ – clearly telling her something that her emotions were not yet fully aware of. Instead of respecting this obvious sign – ‘I howled with pain before he even touched me’ – he turned her over. ‘That is how I lost the first part of my virginity,’ she writes. ‘Just like a little boy, he whispered to me in a soft voice.’
Even now, in his senescence and facing a five-year prison sentence for sexual abuse, he marshals that cynical intellectual cover favoured by predators who target minors, and insists that Gee and Springora were two of the three loves of his life. These predators kindle an erotic storm by corresponding with these girls, then fan the flames by demanding their urgent response, and voilà – here is the proof of the young girl’s love for them. ‘A letter leaves a trace,’ Springora writes, ‘and the recipient feels duty-bound to respond, and when it is composed with passionate lyricism, she must show herself to be worthy of it.’
Telegraphing his predilictions:
Matzneff wrote many books, one a year at the height of his career, and was celebrated for his transgressions, a French symbol of political anti-correctness. In Les moins de seize ans (1974; ‘the under-16s’), he claims: ‘To sleep with a child, it’s a holy experience, a baptismal event, a sacred adventure.’ The book, published in 1974, was republished in 2005. Narcissistically, he continues:
What captivates me is not so much a specific sex, but rather extreme youth, the age between 10 and 16, which seems to me to be – more than what we usually mean by this phrase – to be the real ‘third sex’.
European and French Libertinism in full bloom in the 1970s:
Much in the way that progressive liberal countercultures flourishing in the 1970s, in the United States and the United Kingdom, pushed back against the legacy of postwar mundanity, France was going through its own liberal revolution, on the coat-tails of the May 1968 protests, condemning collective societal conventions in defence of the individual. Suddenly ‘No!’ was a very unsexy word. In France, with liberté as a core value in its cultural fabric, permissiveness perhaps inevitably extended to sexuality, with child sexuality caught up in the mix: any limits on behaviour due to age were considered disrespectful to children as sovereign beings.
In the late 1970s, a wave of opinion pieces in French Left-wing newspapers defended adults accused of having relationships with adolescents. Spurred by the detention of three men awaiting trial for having had sexual relations with two minors, aged 12 and 13, Le Monde published an open letter in 1977 in support of the decriminalisation of sexual relationships between adults and minors under the age of 15. ‘French law recognises in 13- and 14-year-olds a capacity for discernment that it can judge and punish,’ the letter stated. ‘But it rejects such a capacity when the child’s emotional and sexual life is concerned.’ The signatories argued for the right of minors to have a volitional sexual life. Among them were eminent intellectuals, philosophers and psychoanalysts: Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, André Glucksmann and Louis Aragon.
Two years later, Libération published another petition, this time in support of a man who had sexual relations with girls aged between six and 12. ‘The love of children is also the love of their bodies,’ the petition stated, claiming that the girls were happy to be with the man in question. This petition was signed by 63 people, again including well-known intellectuals.
But, as the sociologist Pierre Verdrager explored in his book L’enfant interdit (2013; ‘the forbidden child’), a study of the cultural landscape that allowed paedophilia to grow unchallenged in the 1970s, the mood of liberty was hijacked by pro-paedophilia activists, who gained leverage within intellectual circles. France boasted ‘an aristocracy of sexuality’ according to Verdrager, ‘an elite that was united in putting forth new attitudes and behaviour toward sex’. This aristocracy was not bound by the norms of a moral code; they were superior to ‘ordinary people’ and, in promoting sex between adults and minors, they rebelled against the bourgeois order. Their opponents were considered reactionary and puritan, thereby casting paedophiles as victims of retrograde legislation. This was a time of free sexual expression – whatever the individual’s age.
“Free Expression” i.e. paedophilia as a revolutionary act. Nor was this trend limited to the 1970s:
Such relationships appear to have been far more visible, if not also more common, in the 1970s and ’80s, and were splashed across the tabloids, feeding our strange condoning curiosity. The film director Luc Besson had a relationship with the actress Maïwenn Besco, a 15-year-old when he was 32. By 16, she had had his baby. Serge Gainsbourg had an international hit with his controversial song ‘Lemon Incest’ (1984), about his 12-year-old daughter Charlotte who, in the music video, lies with him on a large white bed, dressed in a shirt and knickers, and sings:
Your kisses are so sweet …
I love you more than anything,
The love we’ll never make together
Is the rarest, the most disturbing,
The purest, the most intoxicating.
Then there’s the popularity of male-directed films that explored the theme of the teenage femme fatale and her sexual awakening. In À nos amours (1983; To Our Loves) a 15-year-old Parisian girl goes on a promiscuous rampage to try to escape her abusive family. Interestingly, the film’s director Maurice Pialat plays her abusive father. Whose sexuality are we exploring here?
Without checks, power will ultimately corrupt man because we are prone to sin. It is easy to point fingers at the Catholic Church for its many sexual abuse and grooming scandals, but all the participants are aware that the acts that they engaged in were prohibited by God. For these godless types, it was an act of liberation that they justified to themselves without pangs of guilty consciences.
It is important to counterbalance a depressing read like the one above about French literary elite paedophiles with some positivity, this time by way of deceased philosopher Rene Girard. The good news is that we are, thanks to the triumph of secularism in the West, doomed!
Catholicism’s (and Christianity’s) compromises with temporal rulers to protect the faith and erect hierarchies also compromised Jesus’ great sacrifice of himself to save us from our sins. By drawing a thick line between state governance and the Faith, shorn of its weakening governing institutions, all that remains is that sacrifice. And because a Godless world can only devolve into increasing acts of violence, it means that the Apocalypse is soon to come, at least according to Blake Smith’s interpretation of Girard’s work:
Girard saw imitation not only as a fundamental social process, but also as a source of violence that, if unchecked, might unravel society. This is, in some ways, an ancient insight. The poet Hesiod, at the dawn of Greek literature, observed that strife can lead us to imitate and surpass the achievements of our neighbours in socially beneficial cycles of competition — or it can lead to envious rage and violence. In the eighteenth century, the founders of laissez-faire economic thought argued that what they called “emulation”, copying our rivals’ behaviour with the aim of outdoing their success, was the basis of economic growth, but also a source of conflict among individuals and nations.
The originality of Girard’s thinking lies in his argument that societies manage the ambivalence of imitation — its capacity to promote social cohesion or to degenerate into spirals of competitive violence — through “scapegoating”, or the exclusion of some agent identified with imitation’s negative aspects. In his account, scapegoating is a function of religion, and takes the form of sacrifice, the physical destruction of some victim who was understood as responsible for, or in their innocence expiating the sin of, dangerous imitation. The violence of sacrifice precludes the violence of mimetic desire.
According to Girard, the death and resurrection of Christ had freed humanity from the cycle of potentially destructive imitation that scapegoating had been intended to contain. The message of the Gospel was that a perfect man, without any violence in him, had offered himself as the final sacrifice — and as a model for all future imitation. In his death, Christ abolished the need for further scapegoats. In his life, he provided an example for followers — an example that, unlike all previous objects of imitation, could produce no envy or aggression but only love and peace.
The compromise of the Faith:
Unfortunately, for most of the history of Christianity, the radical message of the Gospel was suppressed by the Church. Ever since the late Roman Empire, ecclesiastical leaders worked with politicians to prop up social hierarchies and justify inequality. Christianity was presented as another version of ancient religions, in which priests accepted payment from congregations in return for rituals of blessing and sacrifice. The Church fulfilled the role of what Girard, drawing on an obscure term from the theology of eschatology, calls the katechon, a force that holds back the return of Christ and the destruction of our world.
This is a Protestant vision of religious history. It views the Catholic Church and its compromises — first with the Roman Empire, then with all subsequent political authorities — as an occlusion of the true message of Christianity. But for Girard, a Catholic, this was not a betrayal, but rather a necessary stage in a historical process that is finally coming to an end.
Secularization as heralding the arrival of the Biblical Apocalypse:
In Girard’s vision of history, the secularisation of the West — the decline of the political role of religion, and of religious belief — means, in an apparent paradox, that the Gospel can, for the first time, “become clear”. For centuries, our societies had existed on the basis of a usually unspoken, and philosophically incoherent, compromise between pre-Christian values (of preserving society through rituals of sacrifice) and the message of Christ, who showed that sacrifice is now unnecessary and that the end of the world is at hand.
Secularisation dissolves this compromise. It hastens the apocalypse, and thus the second coming of Christ, by ending the social rituals that had constrained the violence of competition: “all that remains is mimetic rivalry, and it escalates to extremes.” A society without religion, ritual, constraint, or limit, in which atomised individuals compete with each other in steadily worsening spirals of envy and hostility, is the clearing in which Christ will reappear.
Many will automatically equate this analysis to Girard wearing a placard on a street corner screaming “REPENT! THE END IS NIGH!” Fair enough.
Opponents of the prevailing regimes in the liberal west, whether systemic or non-systemic, are often criticized for being unable to offer up workable or feasible policy proposals, satisfying themselves with criticisms, either arcane or populist in nature. This is a rather fair critique. When one factors in the difficulty of obtaining power by way of appealing to the bare minimum of vested interests already in power to have them switch, the compromises made with them might already neuter any concrete proposals for reform that can be effected once in power.
That is a subject for a longer piece and for another day. Instead, I will highlight Peter Ryan and Angela Nagle’s 10 Point Program for how to Industrialize Ireland in the 21st Century.
Not all states are created equal, and each has their own specific characteristics that must be taken into account and respected when analyzing their current conditions, or proposing wide-sweeping changes such as those listed here.
Without further ado, their 10 Point Plan:
10 Point Plan to Industrially Develop Ireland:
Leave the Eurozone but stay in the European Union. Emulate the relationships of the 8 other European countries currently in the European Union but outside the Eurozone.
Nationalise Irish central banking and institute a sovereign Irish currency with a free-floating exchange rate. Taxes will be paid in this new currency. The government will spend on goods and services with this new currency. Pre-existing contracts will be paid in the previous currency. Bank deposits will stay Euro-denominated and there will be no forced conversions. Convert all foreign debts to this new currency or otherwise, they will be repudiated. Any future debts will be denominated in the new currency.
Establish a variety of investment funds, supervised by the national central bank, with unique missions to properly finance different aspects of the domestic economy (like high tech startups or long-term development projects) in order to generate tangible societal and individual returns for each Irish citizen.
Organise quantity of credit quotas for private banks to invest in specific sectors that support industrialization, with special consideration given to SMEs, to encourage domestic finance over foreign finance. Areas of focus will be machinery, electronics, and medicine. Continuous and dynamic research will be conducted to evaluate the optimal allocation and thus these sectors could be subject to change. Priority will be given to maximising the verticalization of Irish industry. Credit should be deployed for productive activities and not speculative ones.
Set tariffs on certain imports to foster domestic production and begin the process of import substitution. Manage tariffs to accord to the quality and maturation of industries and remove unproductive ones.
Invest directly from the fiscal budget into critical infrastructure and industry using central bank stimulus with special importance on the wide distribution of industry and full employment.
Emphasise domestic energy generation through nuclear and hydro in the long term while enabling necessary fossil fuel consumption in the short term with a specific focus on facilitating Ireland’s offshore oil and gas fields. Any solar or wind infrastructure used must be manufactured in Ireland with Irish labour.
Encourage the global Irish diaspora to return, invest, and do business in and with Ireland. Incentives will be given to the Irish diaspora to employ their talents in domestic development.
Revitalise the Irish social service system to reorient towards a vocational education model, which will create a more optimal skills base for Irish nationals coupled with high unemployment insurance, state-subsidised skills retraining to adapt to technological change, and state-provided guaranteed employment for anyone willing and able to work.
Generate gains for labour derived from the above in the form of increased wages, employment, and quality of life improvements. The government will maintain a neutral role in negotiating the trade-offs for both labour and capital with the main objective of national wellbeing.
I am not going to delve into these as a) I can write an entire piece on these proposals because Ireland and Croatia have much in common (size, economic history, diaspora, etc.) and b) this week’s Substack is already very, very long.
I will note in response to point #5 that Russia has had great success with import substitution, spurred on by the US-led sanctions regime. Maybe I will turn to this piece in a purposely-written article in the near future.
As we are running very long this week, I’ll leave you all with a fun story about 18th century Gregor MacGregor, a con artist who endears himself to the masses by ripping off the very rich. What was his scam? He sold a fake country to investors.
On March 20, 1823, after 2 grueling months sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, passengers gathered on the deck of the Kennersley Castle for the first glimpse of their new lives in the country of Poyais.
The view was immaculate: Sun glistening in the shallow waters of a blue lagoon. Mahogany trees drooping over sandy beaches.
James Hastie, who was moving to Poyais with his wife and 2 children, thought the country “had a very beautiful appearance from the sea.”
Like many passengers, Hastie had signed a contract with the Poyaisian government to work as a laborer. Others, including doctors and lawyers, had cashed in their belongings in Europe for land in Poyais and the opportunity to establish themselves as a new upper crust in the Caribbean.
Rich or poor, it seemed impossible not to prosper. The myriad Poyais advertisements that circulated through Britain had promised fertile land, rivers stocked with fish, and forests teeming with deer.
But as Hastie and the others soon discovered, Poyais was not a country at all. It was one of the most elaborate — and deadliest — frauds in history.
Read the rest here.
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