As I write this, I was supposed to be talking about Putin’s Russia on the French station Radio Courtoisie.
That came about a few months ago, when I was contacted by a charming French journalist who had heard me speak on that subject at a conference in England.
The prospect of talking for 90 minutes in French was daunting because my command of that tongue could only charitably be described as uncertain. But I agreed to do it, especially since the musical interludes were to be provided by the sublime pianist Penelope Blackie (aka Mrs Boot).
When we met in Paris, my interviewer said she was envious of Britain, where it was still possible to express conservative views in all media.
The left, she said, had such tight control of the papers, broadcast media and publishing that many conservative books published by les Anglo-Saxons would never see the light of day in France.
As an example, she pointed at her heavily thumbed and bookmarked copy of my Democracy as a Neocon Trick, which she said was brilliant even though she disagreed with some of the points I made. The book, she lamented, ought to be widely read in France, but it would never be published.
Throughout she was using the term ‘right-wing’ where I would have said ‘conservative’, which is understandable. The word ‘conservateur’ isn’t much used in France, for obvious reasons.
A conservative is defined by what he wishes to conserve. Thus a political conservative wants to preserve (conserve) the country’s political system.
But what if the country is a revolutionary republic whose founding, and current, political slogan is liberté, égalité, fraternité? Replace the middle word with aligoté, I often joke to my French friends, and you’ll have a shot at conservatism.
The trouble with the word ‘right-wing’ (droite), which has much currency in France, is that it brings together under the same lexical umbrella people like me and the National Front types, whom I cordially despise.
Since my lovely and intelligent interviewer sounded like a run-of-the-mill British or American conservative, with a slight neo- tilt, I assumed that Radio Courtoisie was roughly in the same political band.
Anyway, the interview was recorded at the end of May and was scheduled to run today at midday, French time, and then again at midnight. I promptly told all my French friends about it, ordering them to listen on pain of death.
They all promised to do so, what with the fierce expression on my face. But, they said, they were surprised that Radio Courtoisie, which they described as ‘extreme right-wing’ and ‘pro-Poutine‘, would run my interview on that subject.
Knowing that I too am extreme right-wing to them, I was surprised. It’s all that political taxonomy, which in France is even more confused than here.
The National Front, which combines nationalism with socialism (a time-proven blend) is supposed to be extreme right-wing, as is someone who believes in upholding the traditional values of Christendom – which in politics means, among other things, a most non-socialist preference for a small state.
Anyway, having abandoned all hope of disentangling the French taxonomic cat’s cradle, I gave the interview, and my new friend insisted, over my objections, that it was very good. I thought my French was just awful, but that was amply offset by the brilliant musical interludes.
Late last night, my interviewer sent me an e-mail specifying the broadcast slots, and I was about to forward it to all and sundry in France. But then, seconds later, another e-mail arrived:
“I’ve just had a phone call from the Radio Courtoisie director and editor-in-chief Madame Dominique Paoli. She has decided to cancel the broadcast because it ‘contains violent libellous accusations against Putin that could draw the ire of the Russian embassy’.”
Now this isn’t the first time I’ve been censored, but never for that reason.
For ‘violent’ though my accusations against Putin might have been, they certainly weren’t libellous – for the simple reason that they were all true.
Read any of my articles on this subject, and you’ll get all the main points I made to Radio Courtoisie. Each one is amply documented in dozens of books and thousands of articles – to a point where they’ve all left the realm of opinion and entered one of hard fact.
One book I’ve just finished reading is Chris Unger’s House of Trump, House of Putin, which cites reams of evidence for every point I’ve been making for years.
Such as that Putin has created a gangster state that uniquely in history represents an organic blend of secret police and organised crime. I call that state kleptofascist, with an accent on the first part.
The real objective of Russia’s ruling elite (82 per cent of which are KGB/FSB – this according to Putin’s favourite sociologist) is to plunder Russia’s natural resources and park the loot in the West, having first laundered it through thousands of shell companies.
Putin, who has been in cahoots with several Russian mafia groups since the time he held the modest post of St Petersburg’s deputy mayor, effectively provides protection (krysha in Russian) for the international gangsters in exchange for their unwavering loyalty and astronomic kickbacks. Those who withhold either end up in prison, exile or six feet under.
That has made Putin the world’s richest man but, for him and his accomplices to be able to keep up the good work, he has to hold on to political power. Should they lose that, they’d also lose their riches – along with their liberty and possibly lives.
Hence the fascistic methods Putin uses to bolster his power. These include naked aggression against neighbours, unprecedented in post-1945 Europe; harassment and assassination of political opponents at home and abroad; suppression of freedom of the press and assembly; a concerted effort to undermine the West by waging hybrid war on our institutions and elections.
This is accompanied by the most nauseating propaganda this side of Dr Goebbels, aimed at highlighting the grandeur of Imperial Russia under both the tsars and the Bolsheviks. Russian TV stations, along with troll and bot factories employing thousands, inundate the West with fake news aimed at destabilising our governments and institutions.
None of this is libellous because all of it is true. But Radio Courtoisie isn’t after truth any more than our own ‘populista Putinistas’ are.
The part of their ruling that I find most telling is their reluctance “to draw the ire of the Russian embassy”. Russian embassies represent a government subjected to severe economic sanctions throughout the West, a government whose top functionaries have been barred from entry into civilised countries.
Whence the fear of upsetting them? This becomes reasonably clear if one looks at the station’s stated editorial policy. That is aimed at bringing together all the strains of France’s political right, from the Gaullists to the National Front.
In English terms, that’s like marrying Mrs May and Nick Griffin, with Tom Robinson acting as best man. Not exactly one of those marriages made in heaven, is it?
In such a cocktail, it’s always the strongest and most virulent taste that ends up dominating all others. That’s why – I’m guessing here, but it’s an educated guess – Radio Courtoisie probably leans towards the NF, which socialist heresy, incidentally, isn’t on the right at all.
And the NF lives securely in Putin’s pocket, with the funding for Marine Le Pen’s latest campaign having come from that bottomless pit. It’s one of those fascisoid groups around the West assiduously cultivated by Russian intelligence that correctly sees them as a disruptive and malevolent presence.
So I suppose my interviewer was right when saying there’s no freedom of speech in France. I should have listened more attentively.