My thoughts on Marine le Pen and populism

marine le pen

Previously I didn’t bother commenting on the French election, mainly because I had far too much assignment work, and didn’t know much about French politics to adequately weigh in. Before the polls closed, I thought that Marine le Pen was the best choice for France, but only because I believed she would be the one to bring France out of the EU, hastening the EU’s demise. In fact, given everything that happened before the election, I thought le Pen’s victory was a certainty. So when Emmanuel Macron became President of France – in a landslide no less – I was undoubtedly shocked.

I absolutely despised the idea of a Macron presidency, mainly because he was the establishment candidate, the man who doesn’t give a damn about Islamic terrorism, such as the kind France experienced throughout last summer. He’s basically France’s Tony Blair, peddling the same “third-way” crap that we fell for back in the 1990’s (Macron is called a “centrist”, but he’s really a neoliberal). Given what we knew about Macron, it should have been easy to defeat Macron. However, I should have known that it would be foolish to assume that the wave of populism that succeeding in Britain and America could succeed everywhere just because that was the trend. If that were true, Geert Wilders would have won in a landslide.

What I should have accounted for is that Marine le Pen’s economic policies might have been her undoing. She is essentially a protectionist who wanted to make business pay more taxes for hiring foreigners, a policy even I as an anti-globalist would oppose because it’s downright ridiculous. The problem with Le Pen was that she was too extreme on economic policy. Frexit and scrapping the euro were fine ideas. In fact, that’s why I would have liked for her to win, but given her overall economic agenda, I think I can come to the conclusion that many of Macron’s voters didn’t actually agree with Macron’s agenda as a whole, but saw him as better for their financial interests than Le Pen.

It also doesn’t help that, despite Le Pen’s attempts to soften the party’s image, it can’t escape the controversial history of the Le Pen name. Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie le Pen, was an out-and-out holocaust denier (if he didn’t deny it, he considered it “a minor detail in history”), and Le Pen herself claimed that French police did not round up French jews in the Vel’ d’Hiv in July 1942. Of course, she was lying. The incident she was talking about was the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, an incident in which, yes, French police officers rounded up and arrested Jews living in Paris and handed them over to the Nazis. The name of the incident comes from the arena where the captured Jews were contained before being shipped off to Auschwitz. The incident lives on as a moment of national shame for the French, and Le Pen’s attempt to gloss it over only made Front National seem more like the radical right wing party the media was portraying them to be.

In other words, Le Pen was a crap candidate, mainly because she failed to liberalise the party’s economic policies, and didn’t do enough to clean up the party’s extremist image. If you want my opinion, the party and its populist cause would be better served if the party were lead by someone other than a Le Pen.

Now that I’ve covered my thoughts of Le Pen, and I think I should talk about populism. I used to have a lot of disdain for the idea of populism, but then, I was a left-wing moron who took his definition of populism from the dying legacy media I was fighting. So first, I should clear up the definition of populism. Populism, in the strictest sense, is the idea of uniting the common people against the elites with the goal of meeting the needs of the common people in a society where their needs are constantly ignored by the mainstream political class. A populist can be left-wing (like Jean-Luc Mélenchon), right-wing (like Donald Trump), or somewhere close to the centre.

The main thing to remember about populists is that they typically thrive when none of the mainstream political parties will listen to the common people. In this situation, many ordinary working people will listen to the populists because they’re the only ones talking about their issues (for example, mass immigration depressing wages for the working class). When that happens, you see the elitists come out of the woodwork and attack them.

The elites try to suppress the influence of populism through use of the mainstream media, which has poisoned the term “populist” by conflating it with demagoguery and bigotry, with some occasional Nazi analogies thrown in. Of course we know the mentality. When the people vote the way the establishment wants, it’s called “democracy”, but when they don’t, it’s called “populism”, and that’s because the populists want to actually change the system, and this threatens the status quo created by the neoliberals, neoconservatives, and their corporate masters. They’re the ones that actually run the show, and the populists are their enemies.

In other words, I am a supporter of populism, though I’m more cautious of the populist candidates after Le Pen’s failure. Why do I support populism? Because regardless their ideological position, I think we need populists right now, because they expose the condition of the society they operate in. In a society in dire need of social change, there will always come a populist reformer, and the longer the state of decline happens, and depending on the condition of society, the more extreme the populists get, and the more people who are willing to turn to a charismatic leader to fix everything. So yes, I believe that populism is part of the life cycle of a society. If they succeed, then there’s a chance that society will improve. But if they fail, the society becomes even worse as the old elite ingratiates itself further at the expense of the common folk, and without any intervention, the society collapses.

In conclusion, the need for populism, even in France, is greater at this stage than at any point in modern history. The problem with Le Pen is that she was doomed from the start, and yet many prominent eurosceptics simply took sides with Le Pen purely because she was the Frexit candidate. For all the good she could have done, we eurosceptics were fools to blindly back the deeply flawed candidate that was Marine le Pen. I don’t think this will change the EU’s fortunes to their favour. They’re still doomed. We’ll simply have to wait a little longer for the EU’s inevitable collapse.

Azure Striker Gunvolt is still horribly delayed in Europe

azure striker gunvolt

A few days ago, Inti Creates announced that Azure Striker Gunvolt, the Mega Man-inspired side-scrolling action game that I’ve been waiting for a long time to play, will get a sequel on the Nintendo 3DS. That’s fine and dandy, but there’s one problem. Azure Striker Gunvolt still hasn’t been released in the UK yet, nor anywhere in Europe.

The game was already released in Japan six and a half months ago, with a US release following shortly afterwards. Since then, no European release date was even announced. We did get a hint that it might be released in the next winter (which, I though meant either December 2014 or January/February 2015). Since October, however, the developers have remained virtually silent, giving no release date whatsoever.

What I’d like to know is what’s taking so long? This isn’t the kind of game that should take long to be released outside Japan and America, but as usual, us European gamers have gotten the short end of the stick. We always get screwed over when it comes to Japanese video games, and it looks as though this game is no exception.

I’ve seen screenshots, footage, and artwork for the game, and I think this is the kind of game I would totally want to buy, even if it was download-only. I’m probably not the only one who feels this way. In fact, as far as I know, there are several gamers out there who are still frustrated by the delayed EU release rate.

Whatever information that is already out there probably implies that an EU release date is coming soon, but how soon that’s going to happen remains a mystery, so for us European gamers, the slow, agonizing wait continues, as does the tradition of us being the last major market to receive Japanese games.

UPDATE: Azure Striker Gunvolt was eventually released in the UK and Europe on April 2nd 2015. As with the USA, we get it as a download-only title, and it costs £8.99 to download on the 3DS eShop. Either way, it was worth the wait.

Why does Europe always get screwed when it comes to Japanese games?

Whenever a game developed in Japan gets released, it usually gets released in Japan first, and then in America, before finally getting released in Europe and worldwide. Because I live in the UK, where I have to wait for the EU release date, I’ve always wondered why this is the case?

Sometimes, for whatever reason, games that were made in Japan often don’t get released in Europe for a long time if they get released at all. For example, many of the newer Shin Megami Tensei games don’t get released in Europe until a few years after they were already released in America. Shin Megami Tensei IV, for instance, was already released in America in July 2013. In Europe, however, we have to wait until some time this month before it gets released on the 3DS eShop. This isn’t the first time we had to wait. The first Devil Survivor game on the DS never came out in Europe. However, it did get an enhanced port on the 3DS, which came out in Japan and America in 2011. Meanwhile, in Europe, we had to wait until March 2013 before it came out. Devil Survivor 2 would later be released in Europe on the old DS a few months later, never mind the fact that it already came out in America a year and a half earlier. Given the fact that the old DS could play imported games, why on Earth would Atlus release Devil Survivor 2 in a region where:

  1. The DS is now obsolete
  2. You could import the American version of the same game anyway
devil survivor 2

There’s Ghostlight trolling UK gamers.

It’s not just the SMT games. Many other JRPGs suffer the same problem with releasing games in Europe. The older Final Fantasy games were never released in Europe until they were remastered for later consoles such as the PS1 and the Game Boy Advance. The first real Final Fantasy game to be released in Europe was Final Fantasy VII, which came out two months after its American release, but the odd thing about it is that they didn’t change the title for the EU release, leaving European gamers to wonder what happened to Final Fantasy I through VI. A lot of JRPGs never got released to Europe at all. One example is the critically acclaimed Chrono Trigger (one of many games I must play before I die), which was released in Japan and America for the SNES in 1995, but to my dismay, the original version never got released in Europe, not even on Virtual Console. It did eventually get released in Europe on the Nintendo DS. There are also tons of other JRPGs that never released in Europe for unknown reasons, such as Xenogears and Lufia & the Fortress of Doom, which never made it to Europe at all, or the Fire Emblem games, which never made it outside Japan until 2003.

It’s not just JRPGs that take longer to get released in Europe. The original Mega Man wasn’t released in Europe until 1990, three years after it was already released in America. Europe would always get the Mega Man games last, and it would always be in the same year as the next Mega Man game had already been released in America, until Mega Man 6, which wasn’t released in Europe at all until it arrived on the 3DS eShop last year. Speaking of Mega Man, the Mega Man-inspired Azure Striker Gunvolt was released in America three days ago, but as of now, no European release date has been confirmed. I’ve read various GameFAQs boards where people express their frustration with the lack of a revealed EU release date.

azure striker gunvolt

I know I can’t wait for this game.

My point is simple. Why does Europe keep getting screwed over when it comes to Japanese games? Seriously, we usually either get them much later than the rest of the world does, or we don’t get them at all. Even worse is the fact that Nintendo still uses that outdated region-locking practice on the Wii U and the 3DS, making the wait even more frustrating. If Pokémon X and Y could get released worldwide and make tons of money, then maybe it’s time to start releasing games worldwide, or at least stop unfairly screwing over us European gamers who always have to wait much longer for games to come out.