More thoughts on Abu Faraj. When I can wrench my mind away from the absurd notion of the Leader as jihadist, I find a more realistic cross-reference in Pierre Poujade, the French politician of the mid twentieth century. Poujade, a one-time RAF pilot, commercial traveller, Pétainiste, pied-noir by marriage and sympathy, organized a movement of resistance to big business, tax and socialism called the UDCA. He blossomed briefly, between 1954 and 1956, his political party, Union et Fraternité Française, winning a surprising 12% of the vote at the 1956 elections and then imploding. The Guardian’s 2003 obituary for Poujade has interesting resonances:
The moment of triumph was also, for Poujade himself, the moment of decline. The weakness and inadequacies of his position were only too evident. He had organized a movement of protest. Apart from this he organized nostalgia, regret for the France of the old days with small farms and small shops, a powerful army and a colonial empire. He had always been quarrelsome: now he was at odds with those deputies who had been elected in his name … He had been thought dangerous. Now he was ridiculous, ‘Poujadolf,’ as some called him … rose from obscurity, and after a forceful and emphatic presence, he became less important and retired back to obscurity.