I thought this email from one of my readers was quite insightful:
The French, and perhaps overall European left, is different from the American left. Unless one is a hardcore Marxist in belief (communism in Europe was less about belief so much as it was about allegiance to the USSR), European leftists have for the most part been what you call, accurately, rich people leftists. These allied themselves with the exceedingly powerful unions who were both corrupt internally and took orders from the communist party. This all worked very well with a political culture that looked to the state, rather than private sector dynamism to try to solve societal problems. In essence, the European left is more pragmatic and oriented towards maintaining power, while putting out the right words, than the American left which is much more ideological, based as it is in the intersection of an intellectual class and grievance groups.
That said, the European left is still as blind as the American one to the dangers of radical Islam because of innate, almost “white man's burden” like arrogance. And in that, for them, the state remains the supreme arbiter, as it is meant to be run by our “intellectual betters.” So when you see gays moving to the Front National, you are looking at a fracturing alliance in terms of priorities but not in terms of ideology, as much of the Front National’s economic plans, for example, look incredibly like socialist economist plans, the only difference being the nationalism (all of them highly likely to ruin the country, and thus really hurt the poor).
This has led me to think of another theory for why the left can’t see radical Islam as an enemy. Leftism has become much more about belonging to a “right thinking group” than about solving societal problems. Belonging to a group more often than not requires that another group be the true enemy, be the true evil upon which everything can be blamed. For leftists, it is inherently Western civilization; from pre-Marxists onward the values of Western civilization are always bad and create the world’s suffering; it might as well be a theology, but it most certainly is a definition of identity for the people in it. As result, to find that radical Islam poses a greater threat to the world than Western civilization requires a rejection of the foundational beliefs of that group, and thus a rejection of one’s identity. Might as well ask a Christian to reject the divinity of Jesus for all the good it might do.
Self criticism is likely beyond the great majority of these people since their whole sense of self, of being good people is wrapped in that ideological system. People, especially those who consider themselves intellectually and morally superior, resist fiercely the possibility that they might be wrong, since being wrong is not about making a mistake but rather living a mistake.
Thanks, whoever you are.