Les Tories sont des patriotes français

A long time ago on this blog, I wrote a post on politics that I’m still pretty happy with: “Every Other Country’s Government Is Too Right Wing”. It’s about how it’s natural to want other countries’ governments to be further left wing than your preference for your own government. The reasoning I gave was this: concern for the disadvantaged is a universalist impulse, whereas the desire to pay low taxes, for example, is particularist. You get absolutely nothing out of the fact someone in another country pays lower taxes. Right wing governments are also frequently more nationalist, and you are less likely to be nationalist for another nation than for your own.

These concerns are often overridden by particular circumstances. For instance, if you were living in Colombia, you had a harsh right-wing government at home, while your neighbor Venezuela’s left-wing government was funding FARC militias to destabilize your country. In this case, I think a normal person would want a further left government at home in Colombia, and a further right government abroad in Venezuela. In general, however, I think the principle holds. We see it in the foreign reaction to Trump and Le Pen, for example.

The situation is changing, though. Politics in the western world is becoming more universalized, and settling into a pro-globalist vs. anti-globalist framework. “All politics is local” goes the quote. But it’s from another era. At this point, national politics is not local. It’s not even altogether national – it’s global to some extent. For instance, here are Canadians’ views, by party, of the French election:

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 8.30.24 AM
As you can see, Canada is more anti-Le Pen than France is, in line with our expectations. However, Canadian Tories are pro-Le Pen. I think a decade ago, this would not have been the case. The Tories are not in any sense French nationalists (ask them about the use of the French language in Canada! Ask them about Quebec!). Instead, they support Le Pen because they see her as an avatar of the anti-globalist and anti-muslim stance.

I think this is a trend, and I think this will continue, and my original post will, in time, come to be wrong.
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3 Responses to Les Tories sont des patriotes français

  1. Insightful, thanks! Although not sold on the “all politics is local” aphorism. Many political questions are inherently global, right? Examples are capitalism (where global spread makes it work better) and communism (which, in opposition to capitalism, had to follow it everywhere), and probably others?. If you asked something about the free market 20-30 years ago do you think you’d have similar polling?

    • zolltan says:

      “All politics is local” was, as far as I know, Tip O’Neill’s quote about how congressional elections worked in the US (in the 80’s) and was basically used to explain why US congress elections don’t necessarily follow national trends (at that point, Reps had presidents for 20 years except for Carter blip, Dems had congress the entire time).

      But I think this is less true now than it was before (and my point in the is that it is *NOT* true here).

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