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Self-Critical Ramblings Of A Bobo From Toulouse

Text: Françoise Chapuis, Toulouse

What a surprise it was, on the night the presidential election results were announced, to see the shocking heights to which the extreme right had risen and the depths to which the left had fallen. I, like many Bobos (Bohemian bourgeoisie), the name given to well-off leftists—those who are well-born and full of humanist ideals and leftist values yet never go hungry—stood behind an alternative and innovative agenda that seemed leftist, simple, humanist; values no longer reflected in the traditional left.

So it was with satisfaction, a clear conscience and near pride that I turned on my television set that Sunday night, only to watch the bomb drop! Toulouse had barely processed the blasts of last September when the unbelievable verdict was declared. We must have missed something. It must be one big joke that will soon be revealed. We must be dreaming and we’ll soon wake up. It can’t be. This isn’t our country we’re being described. But alas, yes! A malaise set in and many questions came up. How did we get here? How could we not have seen it coming? Who are these people who voted for fascist ideas? What do they hope for? What do they want? Who do they oppose? Then came the answers, somewhat satisfying yet surprising above all else!
We learned, and Le Pen’s speeches should already have alerted us, that the electorate in question, up to now overlooked is upon a closer look made up in large part of the underprivileged—French and immigrant—excluded from society at large, neglected by politics and so, wanting to show its utter dissatisfaction and demanding to be paid more attention. These are the people that we, the “good” defenders of the poor, widows and orphans have failed to notice. We chose to focus on condemning the few rare extreme right electors, the ugly ducklings, the mean Nazi throwbacks, the unhinged racists and xenophobes, and other hooligans—in short, the isolated cases not shown on television, too few in numbers to represent any real danger. We never thought it could include our city inhabitants, the underprivileged whose paths we cross everyday on our way to buy bread. Those same people whose interests we thought we were defending by voting for the left. Those same people whose interests we thought we were defending, without really knowing anything about them or even understanding them. And now the proof! It is precisely this political class, this estrangement of people and lived realities that we reproach. But don’t we share some of the blame? It’s never too late to take a good hard look at oneself.

Dessin : Christoph Schiltz