Photo: Shutterstock

The Macron phenomenon

“The duty of the legislator is to transform men into what he wants them to be.” Louis Antoine Leon de Saint-Just

Photo: Shutterstock

The French President, Emmanuel Macron plans to create an “Islam in France.” This is nothing less than an attempt to subjugate the traditions and moral codes of the people who profess the faith in their homeland. This endeavour has the potential to repeat the fate of Andalusian Muslims, Protestants in France, Scots, and Basques.

Ian Dallas sketches an intellectual landscape of Europe in The Entire City: “After centuries of ruthless control, which included the endless burning of women and heretics by their celibate priesthood, men questioned the price of losing living responsibility for divine forgiveness. And they began to think. Man called this enlightenment. In its fully developed form, which therefore rejected the Roman Catholic doctrine of the incarnation of God in man, and in its exaltation of reason, it oscillated to the equally mendacious opposite. It made man into God. (…) The human command became absolute because it was now divine.”

In other words, the Catholic Church saw its evangelical mission as transforming humanity from the misery of ignorance to the gracious message of “Christ.” As a result, the Vatican strove tirelessly to impose this view. It often used secular dynasties and armies commanded by them to do so. The Inquisition in Andalusia, Muslim Spain, stands as the clearest example of a principle whereby a foreign group, in this case Muslims, was forced by force to follow ecclesiastical norms. In the 16th century, the monopoly usurped by the church was challenged again.

This time by the Protestant movement. By its very name, it yearned to move away from the corrupted teachings of the Holy See to the true teachings of Christ. In response, the Pope founded the Catholic League. This militia was to drive Protestants back to the true faith – by any means available. The ensuing struggle between the two was bloody. Nowhere was the carnage as great as in France. It was in this period of social fragmentation – the French Protestant fighting his Catholic brother – that Queen Mother Katherina de Medici orchestrated a wave of murders of Protestant subjects on 18 August 1572. The massacre became known as St Bartholomew’s Night. Its purpose was to finally bring France under unified control. The death toll today is put at around 30,000 people.

In response to its horrors, thinkers in Europe began to question the legitimacy of a religion that had swept the continent in a bloody tidal wave for centuries. They wrote and multiplied political tracts with the aim of ensuring that this horror would never be repeated. Men from different countries were collectively called “politique” and they put the welfare of the state above everything else. This intellectual school found its fullest expression in the French Revolution.

The revolutionary Louis Antoine Leon de Saint-Just said: “You have no more arguments for restraint against enemies of the new order. And liberty must prevail at any cost… You must punish not only the traitors but also the apathetic.” Even more interesting is this statement by Saint-Just: “The duty of the legislator is to transform men into what he wants them to be.” In other words, the state replaced the Church as an agent in the transformation of man.

This year, the French president argued against ideas other than those dear to the hearts of the French. Namely, the adherence to secularism and the rights of the individual, from which freedom of expression derives. He expressed his intention to assimilate Muslims into France’s society and its methodology. Let us look briefly at the history of assimilation.

When the Highlanders revolted against the political system of England, they were killed. The survivors were driven off their land. They were deported to Tasmania and Novia Scotia against their will. Some of their cultural practices such as the kilt were banned. Any offence could be punished by death. Children who spoke Gaelic were forced by their English teachers to put hot pebbles in their mouths.

This story was repeated in Brittany and even more brutally in the Basque areas of France and Spain. Before Napoleon brought the ideas of the “politiques” to fruition, French was a minority language; surrounded by several rich and dynamic languages. In a short time, it was forced upon the entire citizenry. Assimilation is a doctrinaire term demanding the abandonment of a culture as well as its traditional dress, its superior moral behaviour, and its inherited ancient language.

Later, in the communist states of Russia and China, the alleged foreign groups – the Caucasian Muslims in the former case and the Uighur in the latter – were forced to discard their cultural habits. In most cases, violence was used to persuade them.

What does Macron offer in exchange for the many traditions from West and North Africa and Turkey that are so rich? In three hundred years of the secular state, the moral fabric and its standards were swept away, church marriage abolished, virginity ridiculed and fidelity a nebulous possibility. Adultery, a sin to others, was swept under the carpet. And, most importantly, “God” was pushed away.

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