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Portrait of the journalist, essayist and writer, Jacques Julliard, posing at his home in Bourg-la-Reine, during an interview with Le Figaro.

THE NOTEBOOKS OF JACQUES JULLIARD – The Head of State and the leader of the Insoumis, so opposed in other respects, have in common the solitary exercise of power, argues the historian and essayist*. The intellectual then examines the concept of totalitarianism and its relevance for analyzing Islamism, both ideology and political regime.


As the French political landscape continues to fragment – ​​it is now the bocage rather than the openfield -, there are however only two on the stage to capture the light: Emmanuel Macron and Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The magnifying glass produced by the media is both simplistic and obsessive. We have seen in less than a year Sarkozy, Fillon, Juppé, Bayrou, on the right, Holland, Valls, Duflot, Laurent, Besancenot, on the left, disappear from radar screens. The media magnification ends up abolishing the most elementary data: because finally the two tenors gathered together on April 23rd less than 44% of the votes cast. As for the parliamentary group of the Insoumis, it is half as large as that of the Socialists. It is true that he makes twice as much noise, to the point of disguising his failure as a torchlight procession. As for Macron, he became President of the Republic: on a given horse one does not look at the bridle.

It is true that everything today, among the stars of politics, is similar to the techniques formerly reserved for actors: the clothing, the haircut, the make-up, the gesture, the voice. What a long way since Jaurès, always dowdy like the ace of spades, Briand, whose costumes seemed to come out of a long siesta under the trees, or even Mendès France, whose unshaven face was more of an anthropometric record than Studio Harcourt!

“Macron is not a team leader. He is a lonely man, who wants to be alone, surrounded by performers. His prime minister is barely his collaborator, it's his hologram."

Jacques Julliard

It would be wrong to see here only the effects of the demands of television. The personalization of power, which is usually attributed to institutions, was a deep-seated trend of the time, and the despotism of the image fundamentally changed the nature of the link between rulers and ruled. Above all, do not believe Macron or Mélenchon when they claim to want to restore power to Parliament. Better to judge by their behavior, which they organize entirely around their person. Thus, the inclination, which Emmanuel Macron had to give up, to give official status to the "first lady of France", a ridiculous expression, fell within the spirit of the Old Regime, not that of the Republic. When he decks out Jean-Yves Le Drian with the strange title of “Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs”, what is he suggesting, if not that the real head of diplomacy is him? When he appoints "Minister of the Armed Forces" the director of "SNCF Voyageurs", what else is he saying, except that he is the real boss of defense? Such a president is not a team leader. He is a lonely man, who wants to be alone, surrounded by performers. His Prime Minister is hardly his collaborator, he is his hologram. Too bad, because Édouard Philippe is an endearing personality.

As for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, he is not to be outdone. He is the only rebel of his band. His designation at the head of his movement is not a matter of election, but of acclamation, as in the Frankish tribes or populist movements. His fascination with the Venezuela of Chavez and Maduro, a country that had never before served as the Promised Land, speaks volumes about his implicit political system: caudillismo. A system where “the political leader has dictatorial power based on personal prestige and the support of his followers” ​​(Le Grand Larousse).

Let's not dream: we will not go back. To do this, it would be necessary to fundamentally change the political system, and first of all the electoral system. God save us from integral proportionality, which is with global warming and modern teaching methods, one of the major calamities threatening France!

So what?

The least you can do, if Parliament, the parties, and perhaps even the unions, are no longer the necessary intermediaries between the people and the leader, would be for the latter to explain himself clearly to the former. De Gaulle knew how to do it wonderfully, his referendums, his press conferences, his televised speeches were the basis of a real dialogue with the population.

“Mélenchon listens to himself speak more than he listens to others”

Jacques Julliard

Today, nothing like it. Emmanuel Macron talks a lot, gives great speeches in front of grandiose settings, from the Pyramid of the Louvre to the Parthenon via Versailles (he has not yet dared the pyramids of Egypt), but he does not speak directly to the French. He does not take them to witness. He does not associate them with his action. In this regard, he fell back into the same trap, the same figure of speech as François Hollande: indirect speech.

As for Mélenchon, he listens to himself talk more than he listens to others. It is a great art to listen while speaking, as Pericles, Roosevelt, Churchill or Gandhi knew how to do. Again I didn't want to quote either Socrates or Christ. If he wants to become a true democratic leader instead of turning into a demagogue, Mélenchon will have to change his method, and perhaps even his ego.

The other responsibility, since it is a question for France of reinventing its political and social model, lies, in the broadest sense of the term, with the intellectuals. Some of the leftist intellectuals, despairing of the mediocrity of their camp, devote themselves essentially to criticizing it. The other party spends its time stigmatizing the former, whom it accuses of the supreme sin, of “sliding to the right”. Between the two camps, no dialogue has become possible, because there is, alas, no need to have preserved the faith to excommunicate those who admit to having lost it. It's all hopelessly classic, narcissistic and sterile. To think is to take risks. Neither the lucid left nor the faithful left take much. To renew our political system, we must put French intelligence back into action.

” READ ALSO – Éric Zemmour: “This too well-known play played by Macron and Mélenchon…”


The time is not so long ago when, at the mere word of "totalitarianism", the partisans of the communist extreme left rose to the plate, armed with this mixture of indignation and intimidation which has become commonplace today. in the intellectual world. Admittedly, there were some analogies, they conceded, but how dare to bring together the pure ideal of the Communists, admittedly misguided, with the intrinsic darkness of Nazism? The remark was correct; but it was all the same comical to hear Marxists relying on a morality of intention, which the author of The German Ideology had, as a bourgeois mystification, riddled a thousand times with its arrows! The same bullying is happening over Islamism. The mere concern about whether Islamism can be considered a form of totalitarianism is enough to make you look askance. Behind the a priori denials hides the famous injunction of President Delegorgue at the trial of Zola, about Dreyfus: “The question will not be asked!”

However, it is important to ask this question: because depending on whether one considers Islamism, either as the work of a handful of unbalanced people, or as an extreme current of Islam, or as the religious form of the doctrines totalitarianism specific to the modern world, the response will have to be of a different nature.

“Depending on whether one considers Islamism either as the work of a handful of unbalanced people, or as an extreme current of Islam, or as the religious form of the totalitarian doctrines specific to the modern world, the response will have to be of a different kind"

Jacques Julliard

Totalitarianism is distinguished from classical forms of dictatorship or despotism by its intrinsic ideological dimension. Dictatorship is the straightforward affirmation of the primacy of force; totalitarianism is the primacy of force justified by an ideology tinged with moralism. Let us add: an ideology which claims an absolute monopoly over the population, thanks to the eradication of all competing forms of thought. It is not for nothing that Raymond Aron or Jules Monnerot spoke of modern totalitarianisms as "secular religions", that is to say adherence to a body of doctrine considered as the pure and unique truth, without recourse to transcendence. The objection which claims to deny any use of the word “totalitarianism” in connection with a religious faith, whereas it ordinarily applies to political doctrines, is therefore without foundation. On the contrary, it is the religious character of the doctrine which characterizes all forms of totalitarianism.

On the other hand, while Nazism and Communism can be held, as Hannah Arendt has shown, to be one of the degenerated forms of democracy, that is to say, in principle, of the power of the people, Islamism proclaims to the contrary to the omnipotence of God: this is in theory an essential difference. Islam means submission, while democracy implies independence, not to say insubordination. But Islamism, like Sunni Islam, insists on the seamless robe constituted by the ummah, that is to say the community of believers, making it the very expression of the will Divine. In the absence of democracy, in the Western sense, the ummah is the entire people gathered around a single religion. Whence the inferior condition imposed on the "infidels" in Muslim regimes (dhimmi) and, among the most radical Islamists, the desire to exterminate them.

” READ ALSO – Jacques Julliard: “with Islamism, intellectuals risk blindness again”

Totalitarianism is the concentration of temporal power and spiritual power in the same hands. Or, if you prefer, political power and religious power, incidentally economic power. This is why Simone Weil does not hesitate, in several of her writings, to denounce the Christianity of its origins, under the influence, in her eyes detestable, of Rome, as the matrix of totalitarianism, because it has the pretension to unite the temporal and the spiritual in the same hands. Contrary to Rousseau, who, in the chapter of the Social Contract devoted to civil religion, sees on the contrary in Christianity the origin of the separation of the spiritual and the temporal, and criticizes it violently: "Christian law is basically more harmful than helpful to the strong constitution of the state.” And to prefer Muhammad, who "had very healthy views" by confusing the two powers. Simone Weil criticizes Christianity for being potentially totalitarian, while Rousseau criticizes it for not being! Nothing like the history of ideas to rid us of ready-made ideas!

Let us add that in his last book (Brief apology for a Catholic moment, Grasset), Jean-Luc Marion considers, like Rousseau, that Christianity is a religion of "separation" between the temporal and the spiritual, but to rejoice in it, of course. Not afraid to see in absolute monotheism a possible matrix of totalitarianism, he is delighted that the trinitarian dimension of Christianity, that is to say the separation within unity itself, calls into question this totalitarian slope of monotheism. .

Let us descend from these conceptual heights to historical reality. There are two forms of totalitarianism: the first as an ideology, the second as a political regime. In the case of Islamism, it is the first that is dominant, the second, in the form of the Islamic State, is disappearing. But it has lived long enough to demonstrate that it is not only a system of absolute despotism over consciences, but also the expression of a primitive savagery without limits. As for the first, it exerts an increasingly strong influence on Muslim countries: absolute domination of Islam, eradication of other religions as the Christians of the East and the Yazidis are victims of, discrimination of all kinds, enslavement of women , intolerant and tyrannical legislation.

This ideology is in constant progress among Muslims in Western countries, especially among young people. So much so that after the disturbing results of a survey by the Institut Montaigne, we are careful not to regularly measure a phenomenon that we fear, or whose existence we deny. The will not to know has become, in part of the elites, the dominant doxa in the country of Voltaire. Decidedly, the race of useful idiots did not die with Stalinism.


The strength of the symbol in democracy, Emmanuel Macron knows it well. It will be nice to plead financial efficiency, exemption from wealth tax for owners of yachts or private planes, but not for a father who has bought an apartment for his daughter, that does not pass , this cannot happen. It's Christmas for the wealthy and Day of the Dead for the middle class. Decidedly, there should be a test of common sense at the entrance to the ENA.

* Editorial writer for the weekly “Marianne”.

This article is published in the Figaro edition of 02/10/2017. Access its PDF version by clicking here



Source: Le Figaro Premium – Jacques Julliard: “Faced with Islamism, the will not to know”

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