These things change fast, but it seems that the Éric Zemmour bubble in France has been punctured. The unofficial candidate to the far right, who has yet to run but has been appearing in the media for three months nonstop, is starting to run into obstacles. Last week he traveled to London to address a debate at the Royal Institution that was canceled at the last minute. It seems that the institution was not clear about inviting someone convicted of hate crimes. So Zemmour had to scramble for a plan B that ended up being a lot less chic: talking to a group of supporters in a hotel room on the outskirts. The same thing happened to him in Geneva because the mayor refused to lend him a public space.
At home, however, he has not received doors slammed. On the contrary. Zemmour is a journalist and has been jumping from medium to medium for two decades. In September, he took advantage of the publication of his latest book to walk through the programs with the highest audience. Little by little it has become a current issue in itself (Will Éric Zemmour run for office?). Even when they don’t invite him, they talk about him: he is the omnipresent invisible. And so his radical speech has peppered the conversation. That is striking because it has placed its agenda on the entire French right and has pushed the limits of what is acceptable even for the ultras of Marine Le Pen. The best example is the latest debate of the candidates to lead the right. Zemmour was not there, but they spoke of his theory of the great substitution, which maintains that immigration will end Christian and white Europe. Five years ago it would not have been mentioned because it was considered a pilgrim reasoning, more typical of supremacist and conspiracy forums on the internet.
Zemmour assures that he never imagined presiding over the Republic and that as a child he wanted to become one of the great writers of his country. How did you get where you are? According to the political scientist Frédérique Matonti, because in France the status of the intellectual has changed. Before, there was the one who gave his opinion on everything because he knew, like Sartre, or the one who only spoke about his discipline, like Foucault. Today those figures have been displaced by the media intellectual, a quick essayist who is not dedicated to deep research, but entertains. Zemmour holds unconstitutional and abject ideas, but he knows how to write. In France, the country of sapiophilia, that opens many doors. There would never have been a Trump, who presumes not to read, or a Bolsonaro, who champions anti-intellectualism.
Be careful with the intellectuals of the extreme right. The mistake is to think that a xenophobe does not articulate. You can do it until you dazzle. Zemmour has called an event on December 5, predictably to announce his official candidacy. @anafuentesf