A century ago, Freud’s double nephew, Edward Bernays, pioneered the field of public relations. He realized that the Average Joe is irrational and subject to a ‘herd instinct‘—which could be controlled by what he called ‘crowd psychology’.
At around the same time, a British geographer, Sir Halford Mackinder, having realized that the Eurasian landmass, linked to Africa, was the world’s most valuable real estate, dubbed it the World Island with Russia as its Heartland. He designated Britain and Japan as Offshore Islands and the Western Hemisphere and Australia as Outlying Islands. In The Heartland Theory, he declared that “He who controls Eastern Europe will control the Heartland, Whoever rules the Heartland, will rule the World Island, and whoever rules the World Island, will rule the world.”
The ‘long twentieth century’ can be seen as a successful Bernaysian campaign by the United States to prove Mackinder wrong by following Bernay’s recipe. If these efforts are ultimately defeated, the twenty-first century will be Mackinder’s Revenge.
Political observers view Europe as a fractious place, whose last series of wars stemmed roughly from the conflict between left and right. Currently, however, theoretical categories may be uniting against ‘outsiders’, as the left-leaning daily Liberation recently posited. It claims that France’s various ‘lefts’ are non-plussed by evidence that prominent Yellow Vesters Facebook pages signal approval of Marine le Pen’s National Front (now known under the less bellicose designation ‘National Rally’). “Libé” says one such leader confessed to having been mistaken, due to his previous apolitical stance, now realizing that all politicians lie.
What if this realization resulted in a drop in support for the far right party, the paper asks? Many people voted for Le Pen out of frustration or solitude; what if they now realize that behind all the xenophobia and identity issues, its still about social conditions, pitting those who can get to the end of the month against those who can’t, whatever their skin color or religious affiliations. According to Libé, early entries in the Cahiers des Doleances (the record of grievances inspired by a feature of the French revolution) would appear to confirm this reading of the Yellow Vest uprising. Finally, in a typical French need to claim exceptionalism,