Marine Le Pen, Vichy and the Holocaust

For reasons I have already discussed, Le Pen is about to get trounced by Macron in the second round of the French presidential election (all the more so because she did a very poor campaign and was very bad during the debate), but the fact that she doesn’t have a chance didn’t prevent a lot of people from pretending that democracy was in danger, that France was threatened by fascism, etc. I have already explained at length in another post that the notion that the National Front was a fascist party which threatened democracy was a myth created by the socialist party in the 1980’s in order to divide the right. In this post, I want to come back on the way in which a statement recently made by Le Pen about the Holocaust had been presented in the media, since a lot of people have been talking about it. In particular, after the first round, The Guardian published this op-ed by Hadley Freeman that many people I know shared, in which she tries to shame people who are hesitant to vote for Macron.

Freeman is either a moron who has no idea what she is talking about but thinks she can nevertheless lecture the rest of the world or a liar who engages in the kind of propaganda one can often find in The Guardian. There is a lot of nonsense in that article, but I have a lot of work, so I will only discuss the main claim (which figures prominently in the headline), namely that Marine Le Pen is a “Holocaust revisionist”. Here is how Freeman supports this accusation in her article:

[Marine Le Pen] insisted that the Vichy regime “was not France”, an approach to history that redefines the term “selective”. She added that the 1942 Vel d’Hiv round-up, when 13,000 Jews were rounded up in Paris, wasn’t the responsibility of France. (Spoiler! It was, and, in fact, the French police rounded up Jewish children, which the Nazis hadn’t even asked them to do.)

While a lot of people believe this, it’s not the case that the French police arrested Jewish children during the Vel’ d’Hiv round-up, even though the nazis hadn’t even asked them to do it, as Alain Michel demonstrated. I will come back to Michel’s work soon, but for the moment, I want to focus on what Freeman is saying about Le Pen. In this passage, she clearly suggests that Le Pen is denying that French cops participated in the Vel’ d’Hiv’, which is a filthy lie.

Neither Marine Le Pen nor anyone else, not even the worst crackpots, deny that the French police arrested Jews for the Germans during the Vel’ d’Hiv’ round-up. Despite what Freeman is trying to suggest, Le Pen was making a political and legal point, not a factual one. She doesn’t deny that French cops rounded up Jews, including children, during the war. What she denies is that the government of Vichy, which controlled France during the Occupation, was the legitimate government of France during that period. She claims that, from the moment the Parliament granted the Cabinet the authority to change the Constitution and made Pétain the head of state, through a vote that she thinks was illegal, the legitimacy was transferred to De Gaulle in exile. Not only is this not a far-right position, but it was actually the official position of every French government until 1995 (before Hollande went even further in 2012), although don’t count on Freeman to explain this to you… In particular, it was the position of De Gaulle and Mitterrand, which should be enough to show how ridiculous the accusations against Le Pen are. It was Chirac in 1995 who reversed the position of the French government on that point and, while today the majority of politicians agree with that change or at least don’t ask for another reversal, there are still people on both the left and the right who disagree. But nobody calls them fascists, because unlike in the case of Le Pen, it doesn’t serve anyone’s political purposes.

Many people think that, although the official position of the French government until 1995 may have been justified immediately after the war and in the years that followed (for reasons that it would take a long time to explain), it no longer makes sense. I actually think they are right about that, but I’m not convinced that, when Chirac made the decision to change the official position in 1995, there weren’t other reasons to maintain the fiction that Vichy wasn’t the legitimate government of France during the Occupation. (I say that it’s a fiction because, although there is probably a good case that, from a strictly legal point of view, the vote of the Parliament that ended the Third Republic was illegal, there is no doubt that both foreign governments and most French people regarded Vichy as the legitimate government of France during the war.) In fact, I’m personally inclined to think that Chirac shouldn’t have made that decision, but I also think that it probably shouldn’t be reversed, which is not the same thing. Indeed, one can think that Chirac’s decision was a mistake, but also that reversing it would do more harm than good at this point. But I can see how someone might disagree and, in any case, Le Pen’s position is perfectly respectable.

I’m almost done with this post, but I want to say a word about why I think Chirac’s decision was arguably a mistake, even though I can’t really go into the details because it would take a whole book. The problem with Chirac’s speech in 1995, which was made even worse by what Hollande said in 2012, is that it effectively made it very difficult to have a reasonable debate about the role played by Vichy in the Holocaust, which is far more complicated than what people imagine. In general, the period of the Occupation is extremely complicated and, despite what most people think, history is not in black and white. (Indeed, the history of the Occupation in France would provide a lot of fascinating case studies to moral philosophers, if they cared to read about it.) Mitterrand lived through it and was involved with both Vichy and the Resistance, so he was perfectly aware of that, which is why he never accepted to acknowledge the responsibility of France in the Holocaust, because he knew the people who were pushing for that chance were also promoting a simplistic view of history. Today, the dominant view is that Vichy enthusiastically participated in the Holocaust, which is simply false. There is no doubt that Vichy was antisemitic and committed many crimes, but the brand of antisemitism it promoted was very different from the genocidal kind of antisemitism embraced by the nazis. In particular, Vichy was never interested in the extermination of the Jews, even though it de facto contributed to it.

But this doesn’t mean that it made it worse and, in fact, it probably contributed to save Jews. This is the view defended by the Franco-Israeli historian Alain Michel, whom I already mentioned above, in a book he published a few years ago. (I also know through personal correspondence with him that he is currently working on another book that will focus more specifically on the Vel’ d’Hiv’ round-up. It’s interesting that several of the most original contributions to the history of the role played by Vichy in the genocide have come from Israel. I think it’s not only because people in Israel obviously have a special interest in that issue, but also because they are less constrained by the political correctness that makes it difficult to have a honest debate about this in France, especially since 1995.) He argues that Vichy made the decision to sacrifice the foreign Jews who lived in France during the war in order to save the French ones. (Although it should be noted that, at the beginning, the French government didn’t know that the nazis were murdering the Jews who were being deported.) This probably resulted in lowering the number of victims, if only because there were more Jews who had French citizenship. Indeed, among countries under German occupation that can be compared to it, France is the country where the greatest proportion of Jews survived. (To be clear, Michel doesn’t claim that Vichy’s policy was the only factor, only that it was one of them and probably the most important.) While this is controversial, I think Michel’s case is compelling and, on the other hand, the arguments of his critics are very weak. In fact, in many cases, I wonder if they have even read his book, since they make points that are either irrelevant to his thesis or that he already addressed.

In particular, Robert Paxton criticized Michel’s book in very harsh terms, but his arguments are ridiculous and/or rest on pretty obvious mistakes. For instance, he says that Michel’s thesis can’t be true, since Vichy adopted anti-semitic laws that also targeted French citizens. But Michel never denied that and it’s totally irrelevant to the view he defends in his book. (I will probably write a detailed post in French at some point to debunk Paxton’s argument, but if you’re interested, you can already read Michel’s excellent reply to him. While I think that Paxton did a lot of useful work that enriched our knowledge of this period, I also think that he is biased and routinely engages in a lot of manipulations to paint Vichy in as dark a color as possible, when reality is a lot more complicated. I don’t have time to say more here, but if you’re interested, you can start by reading this website that documents some of the problems with Paxton’s scholarship.) It’s also worth mentioning that, until the 1970’s and 1980’s, Michel’s position was the dominant view among historians of the Holocaust. In particular, it was the position of Raul Hilberg, who is arguably the greatest of them. Michel’s critics pretend that it’s because Hilberg didn’t have access to more recently discovered archives, but the fact is that Hilberg never changed his position on that point, even though he died in 2007 and the last edition of his magnum opus was published in 2003.

Anyway, I can’t really discuss Michel’s thesis in detail here, so you should read his book if you’re interested. I just wanted to give you a sense of how incredibly complicated that period was. On a topic as difficult and painful as the Holocaust, people shouldn’t make simplistic and misleading claims about something they know nothing about just to score a few political points, but when it comes to the National Front it happens all the time. Even if you think that Michel is wrong, what is absolutely clear is that, despite what Freeman is trying to suggest in that op-ed, Le Pen never denied that the French police participated in the genocide of the Jews during the war and it’s outrageous to suggest otherwise. (Of course, I’m not surprised that The Guardian accepted to publish this op-ed, since it’s neither the first nor the last piece of propaganda it publishes.) There are good reasons to oppose Le Pen, some of which I explained in another post, but the claim that she is a fascist and a “Holocaust revisionist” isn’t one, because she is neither.

13 thoughts

  1. I don’t know anything about Hadley Freeman, but I’d bet that she didn’t bother to investigate the historical details of the legitimacy of the Vichy government at all, much less in the detail that you have. We’ve previously discussed the historical ignorance of many journalists and I would not surprise me at all if the editors of the Guardian (who are probably as well educated as any editors in this world) published the article without bothering to check the historical background.

    You seem to be a very well-informed person and you must have realized by now that not many people are as well-informed as you are and they never will be.

    1. I’m sure that Freeman hasn’t read much about this, to say nothing of the editor of The Guardian who accepted to publish her op-ed. But you don’t to know a lot about the history of this period to know that, when she suggests that Le Pen was making a factual statement, she is deliberately misleading people. If The Guardian were not a propaganda mouthpiece, it would never have published that.

      1. If the Guardian is a propaganda mouthpiece, what newspapers in English do you consider not to be propaganda mouthpieces?

        In spite of the slogan “all the news that’s fit to print”, I don’t consider the New York Times to be any less of a propaganda mouthpiece nor the Wall St. Journal for that matter. Nor the Economist (which is not a newspaper, I know).

        1. I can’t think of any and I completely agree with you about the NYT, the WSJ, etc. I think one can get a pretty good idea of the facts by cross-checking them and ignoring the spin they try to give them. It’s very common to read a piece in the NYT that presents the fact accurately, but then goes on to argue that it shows the opposite of what it actually shows. As long as the spin is repeated often enough, and by the majority of media, people will believe it.

  2. You neglect to mention that Marine supported the National Front for decades when it was led by outspoken holocaust denier, namely, her father Jean-Marie Le Pen. Here is what Jean-Marie Le Pen has had to say about the holocaust:

    –“I am not saying that gas chambers did not exist. I did not see them myself. I haven’t studied the questions specially. But I believe it is a minor point in the history of the Second World War.”

    –“[I]n France at least the German occupation was not particularly inhumane, even if there were a number of excesses – inevitable in a country of 550,000 sq km… If the Germans had carried out mass executions across the country as the received wisdom would have it, then there wouldn’t have been any need for concentration camps for political deportees.”

    “I have said, and I repeat, at the risk of appearing sacrilegious, that the gas chambers are a detail of the history of the Second World War… If you take a book of a thousand pages on the Second World War, in which 50 million people died, the concentration camps occupy two pages and the gas chambers ten or 15 lines, and that’s what’s called a detail.”

    Here is what Jean-Francois Jalkh, who was interim president of the National Front until earlier this year, has had to say about the holocaust:

    –“Personally, I think that it is impossible from a technical point of view to use [Zyklon B] for mass extermination. Why? Because it takes several days for a place where Zyklon B was used to be decontaminated.”

    Whether or not Marine personally is a holocaust denier, she obviously has no objection to belonging to a party where holocaust denial seeps out of every pore. Anyone of sound mind can see that this immediately disqualifies her from ever holding any political office in France.

    1. I’m glad that you still know how to use Google, but Jean-Marie Le Pen is no more an “outspoken Holocaust denier” than he is a fascist. Not only has he never denied that the Holocaust took place, but he explicitly said that it had on many occasions, although he also made a few ambiguous statements about the number of deaths and/or the methods used by the Germans to murder Jews.

      Indeed, even in the infamous interview he gave in 1987 from which the quote about the “detail” that you gave was taken, what he says when you listen to the full interview clearly implies that he does not deny that a lot of Jews were killed. After he makes the statement you quoted, when a shocked journalist asks him whether he really thinks that “6 millions of Jewish deaths are a detail”, he objected that “the question that was asked is how these people were killed”. It’s true that, just after he says that, upon being asked whether he thinks that there was a genocide of the Jews during the war, he replies that “there were a lot of deaths, hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of Jewish deaths, and also of people who weren’t Jewish”. Obviously, this is very ambiguous, because even though significant revisions of the death toll took place in the 1980’s (mostly about how many people died in Auschwitz), it was already clear that millions of Jews had been murdered. He also doesn’t use the word “genocide”, even though the journalist who asked the question did. Finally, he mentions that a lot of people who weren’t Jewish also died, which is true but irrelevant since the question was about the genocide of the Jews.

      But this is the closest he has ever come to Holocaust denial and it still falls way short of something that would make him an “outspoken Holocaust denier”. At worst, you could say that he has flirted with what Deborah Lipstadt calls “soft Holocaust denial”, but it wouldn’t even be accurate that he publicly embraced any view that qualifies as such, since he was always ambiguous. Again, he never said that gas chambers weren’t used to kill Jews, nor has he ever said that the “official” death toll was exaggerated. Indeed, on that issue, he has been pretty much the opposite of “outspoken”. Also, when you actually listen to that interview from 1987, but also to the other statements he made about this over the years (perhaps 4-5 in more than 60 years of politics, which again is peculiar for someone who is supposed to be an “outspoken Holocaust denier”), he always frames it as a matter of freedom of speech, which makes it harder to know if he is defending views he agrees with or just the right to defend them. Similarly, given his taste for provocation, it’s often hard to know what he actually thinks about controversial issues, as several of his biographers — who aren’t his friends — have acknowledged. I should add that, on the issue of freedom of speech, Le Pen is absolutely right. I think it’s outrageous that it’s illegal in France for people to say what they think about the Holocaust, even when they are Holocaust deniers, be it of the soft or hard variety. Not only is this outrageous for principled reasons, because it’s a violation of freedom of speech as it has traditionally been understood, but it didn’t help to prevent the spread of Holocaust denial in France, quite the contrary.

      As for the statement that has been attributed to Jalkh, which is something he is supposed to have said 17 years ago in a conversation with Magali Boumaza, there are several things to note. First, if you had read the full quote as opposed the dishonestly edited passage that you found on Google, you would know that, in the passage you quoted, Jalkh is apparently not talking for himself but paraphrasing the view of Faurisson which he is trying to describe. Even if the conversation was really as Boumaza transcribed it, it’s unclear from the interview whether he was convinced by Faurisson, or if he just thinks that people should read all sides of the debate before they have an opinion. But perhaps more importantly, he denied that he ever said what Boumaza claims he did and, while she insists that she has a recording of the conversation, to my knowledge no journalist ever heard it even though it has been more than 10 days since the story broke. So perhaps he really said that despite his denial, but perhaps this story will eventually join the many dubious revelations about the National Front that miraculously found their way to the media right before a major election but later proved to be fake or at least to rest on very poor evidence, such as the story about Le Pen and torture during the Algerian War that you found on Google the other day and uncritically accepted despite the fact that the 2 best biographies of Le Pen concluded that he’d probably never tortured anyone during the war.

      1. “Not only has he never denied that the Holocaust took place, but he explicitly said that it had on many occasions, although he also made a few ambiguous statements about the number of deaths and/or the methods used by the Germans to murder Jews.”

        Making “ambiguous statements about the number of deaths and/or the methods used by the Germans to murder Jews” is holocaust denial. Despite facing widespread condemnation and censure, Le Pen has not only refused to apologize for his holocaust denial but has repeatedly and publicly doubled down on it, so it is fair to say that he is an outspoken holocaust denier as well.

        Let me add that I strongly recommend that you refrain from using terms like “fascist” and “holocaust denial” until you’ve thoroughly researched their usage in english and are exactly sure of what they mean. I would rather not have to read another lengthy screed where you proclaim yourself sole authority on the english language and start denouncing various dictionaries as incompetent and wrong. Better that you not make the mistake in the first place.

        You do not address the main point, that no one who belonged to the National Front when it was headed by the holocaust-denying, fascist Le Pen has any business participating in french politics, which immediately disqualifies Marine. It is sad that there are 10 million morally and intellectually stunted frenchmen to whom this is not obvious.

        1. 1) In more than 60 years of politics, Jean-Marie Le Pen only made one statement, the one in that interview from 1987 I discussed at length, which really flirted with Holocaust denial and, to use Lipstadt’s terminology, even this statement was only flirting with Holocaust denial of the soft variety. He made a few other statements, which you have never read or heard in your life, that are somewhat ambiguous, but they were more clearly framed as a matter of freedom of speech than in that interview. Indeed, the other statements you quoted, such as the one about the Occupation (which incidentally is quoted out of context, since it doesn’t show that Le Pen was comparing the Occupation in France with what happened in the East), have nothing to do with Holocaust denial. So when you say that he repeatedly engaged in Holocaust denial, you would be incapable of finding any statement to support that claim beside that interview from 1987, which you have not even heard in full and, as I argued at length, falls short of clearly being Holocaust denial anyway. Making repeated assertions about something you evidently know nothing about does not make what you say true.

          2) I didn’t address your claim that Marine Le Pen has no business participating in French politics since she was part of the National Front when it was headed by her father because a) I took it to be obvious that it was ridiculous if only because it’s based on the false premise that Jean-Marie Le Pen is an “outspoken Holocaust denier” and b) nobody cares what some anonymous little shit who clearly doesn’t know the first thing about French politics and history thinks. Rolande Birgy, who was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem because she saved hundreds of Jews during the war was also a member of the National Front when it was headed by Jean-Marie Le Pen. But I’m sure you would have no problem giving her lesson of opposition to antisemitism and explaining that she also had no business participating in French politics… The fact that you think you know better than 10 millions French people even though you would be incapable of naming a single measure on Marine Le Pen’s platform is really a testament to your arrogance and your stupidity.

          3) I have been very patient with you, but my patience has now run out, so you have overstayed your welcome and this was your last comment here. This has been going on for long enough and I will no longer waste my time with you or let you defame me as you have done repeatedly. Since you started commenting on this blog, you have among other things called me an “alt-Nazi” and a “fascist“, without ever apologizing despite the obvious defamatory character of these accusations. As if this weren’t enough, you aren’t arguing in good faith and are lying through your teeth about what I said. Indeed, as anyone who has read our exchange about Jean-Marie Le Pen’s supposed fascism can tell, I did not denounce “various dictionaries as incompetent and wrong”. On the contrary, I pointed out that according to the very dictionaries you used, it was absolutely clear that Le Pen was not a fascist. I can’t believe that you’re trying to be cute and have the gall to mention that particular exchange, given that in the course of it, I demonstrated that not only you had cherry-picked definitions in the dictionaries in question to make your case but that you even dishonestly edited one of them to make it sound as if you were vindicated by it, which amazingly didn’t phase you one bit when I pointed it out.

          The same pattern keeps repeating itself and, although you seem to have nothing better to do, I don’t have time for this. You write a snarky comment about something you obviously know nothing about, because you found a few things on Google after reading my post and you think it puts you in a position to pontificate about whatever I was talking about. I write a comment in response to you that is systematically 2-3 times longer than yours, in which I explain in detail why the things you found on Google are false or don’t show what you think they show. You go back on Google, find another thing you had never heard about in your life until then which you think shows I’m wrong and write another half-assed comment to share your discovery, to which I reply with another comment in which I explain in detail why it doesn’t. And since you never give up, this goes on for a while, until I finally grow tired of it and decide to ignore you. Anyone who has read these exchanges, such as the one we had about Le Pen or the one we had about Russia, can tell that you don’t know the first thing about what you’re talking about, but you never give up even after it’s clear that you are wrong and just weren’t in a position to opine about this in the first place.

          This was a huge waste of time, but I would have continued to ignore you, were it not for the fact that in addition to pontificating about things you don’t know anything about, you have repeatedly defamed me and have been arguing in bad faith, misrepresenting what I’m saying or completely ignoring it and going as far as editing out part of a definition, as I already noted above. By contrast, when I thought you were making a good point, such as when you criticized the article by Avik Roy I had shared, I was happy to concede it to you. As anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows, I have also had plenty of long and interesting exchanges with other commenters who strongly disagreed with me, but they were not arguing in bad faith and never defamed me as you keep doing. I honestly don’t know why I tolerated this behavior for as long as I did. I guess I was hoping that you would eventually stop, but I’m no longer willing to wait for you to grow up, so I just banned you from commenting here and from now on your comments will automatically go to the trash without me or anyone else even seeing them. So you can go hunt down imaginary fascists while hiding behind your keyboard and your pseudonym somewhere else, because I’m no longer willing to put up with your insults and your nonsense. Feel free to regard this as a victory over the dark forces of fascism if that makes you happy.

  3. Earthly Knight,

    I don’t know what would count more as a shared-resource than Wikipedia. So, after reading the holocaust denial entry, I can now safely conclude that if what Lemoine says about the factual details of Le Pen’s statements are true, then it is patently true that Le Pen was, at the very least, not a hard denier of the holocaust (to be a denier, you need to contend that if there were deaths, there were only 300k-1.5m). This is clearly true, if by ‘hard’ one means “uncontroversially claiming X” where X stands-in for one of the claims collectively believed to represent the community of holocaust deniers. The same point holds for his remark on gas chambers.

    Regarding, fascism as understood by Wikipedia, the best you can argue is that authoritarian nationalism is central to the National Front as it exists, or that its leaders of today used to back someone (like Jean-Marie) who was, whether intentionally or not, an authoritarian nationalist. It is difficult to say that Jean-Marie was an authoritarian nationalist, and extremely difficult to say the National Front currently is. However, this is a minor difficulty compared to the difficulty of showing that Jean-Marie or the National Front satisfied/satisfy the multi-dimensional definition and understanding of facism that Wikipedia presents. Even if you could show that the authoritarian nationalist element is satisfied (highly unlikely, to boot), basically none of the other elements are even relevant to them or are so far removed as to seem irrelevant.

    You’ll say something like “Wikipedia isn’t absolute in being a shared body of knowledge” or “so, that doesn’t mean they can’t be seen as fascist or holocaust deniers.” That may all be true, but what is the point of calling someone a fascist or a holocaust denier or a REAL racist? Presumably, it’s to draw a line in the sand and to claim that in some way such people are outside the bounds of reasonable discourse, should not be taken seriously, and are to be simply opposed and forcefully stopped by whatever means are appropriate. They don’t figure in the activity you are undertaking (in this case, shared political governance).

    The only thing I’ve proved is that at the very least, we have defeasible justification for not placing Jean-Marie or the current National Front in that category nor the 10 million other French citizens you would want to place there as intellectual-enablers.

    The point regarding the 10 million others is particularly salient. You have gone so far off the rails of an accepted central discourse/framework that you have the herculean task of defending the claim that 10 million French citizens are acting and behaving like the citizens of similarly situated and historically recognized fascist regimes. This is PATENTLY ABSURD, but you will no doubt question whether it might make sense to challenge even this.

    You, and others on the left (such as myself) in the West have two ways to accomplish our own political goals: shared discourse or absolute partisan opposition (possibly through force). You seem eager to embrace the latter, which only works if the resolution comes quickly (usually requiring escalating violence) as shared discourse is the only route to not bolstering the ranks of your opponents.

    Any escalating, revolutionary solutions you have in mind regarding these 10 million who very well may grow in number in the coming years? Or do you just want to preen about and get your dopamine fix from outward displays of moral sanctimoniousness?

    1. I agree with everything you say, and tried to explain that to Earthly Knight before, but to no avail… I think I have accurately described Le Pen’s infamous 1987 interview, during which Le Pen came the closest to Holocaust denial, but if you understand French and want to check for yourself, you can listen to the full passage here. It’s very short, so it won’t take you long. As I explained above, I think the most accurate characterization of what he says in that interview is that he is flirting with what Lipstadt calls “soft Holocaust denial”, but no one can honestly say that he is an “outspoken Holocaust denier”. Even if one wants to insist that Le Pen is a Holocaust denier of the soft variety, he is certainly not an “outspoken” one.

      1. Yeah, I was just trying to frame the point you were making in such a way that it would be near impossible to disagree with.

        One of the problems (perhaps symptoms) of a possibly terminally ill political culture is the degree to which ‘substantive’ discussion is taken up by defense and explanation of basic inferences and common sense stances. Stances which end up being agreed to by both parties after (what, in more intellectually healthy times would have been considered) unnecessarily long conversations. This isn’t fully explained by the dumbing down effect information technology has had on social discourse and communication. Rather, polarization is making the standard dialectical-orienting mechanism – that centrism provides for politics – unrecognizable and/or inaccessible.

        I’ve appreciated your corrective accounts on a number of different topics (especially the pain-staking detail showing why large numbes of people shouldn’t drawing the faulty conclusions they do). The sad reality is, and no offense to you, but the substantive discussions on some of these issues merely begin once everyone accepts the conclusions of the arguments you’ve made. This is through no fault of your own. Those substantive discussions can’t take place until basic confusions are dealt with. There’s just so f***ing much of it in the current climate. Which is why absurdities like the Hypatia incident not only pop-up, but take up increasingly more mental energy by everyone affected.

        1. **Didn’t realize there were so many typing errors in my comment. Here is the edited portion.**

          Rather, polarization is making the standard dialectical-orienting mechanism (which centrism usually provides) unrecognizable and / or inaccessible.

          I have appreciated your corrective accounts on a number of different topics (especially the pain-staking detail showing why large numbers of people should not draw the faulty conclusions they do). The sad reality is, and no offense to you, but the substantive discussions on some of these issues merely begin with everyone accepting the conclusions of the arguments you’ve made. This is not a fault of your own. Those substantive discussions can not take place until basic confusions are dealt with. There’s just so much of this crap (basic failure to draw decent inferences) in the current climate. Which is why absurdities like the Hypatia incident not only pop-up, but take up increasingly more mental energy by everyone affected.

          1. Understanding politics is very complicated. It’s like understanding human beings in all their diversity, their conscious and unconscious motivations, their will to power, their need for community and their need for separateness, their intuitions of fairness, etc., etc. What’s more each political society has its culture, its traditions, its implicit and tacit rules which, as Phillipe points out, you need to study some history to understand.

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