When the word “Chaos” is launched into the debate, you can be sure that the presidential campaign has really begun. This time, it was Marine Le Pen who stuck to it first: she preempted this word which usually targets her, like a kind of preventive strike. After having, on May 1, laid a wreath at the foot of Joan of Arc, Place des Pyramides in Paris, she told the cameras that a second term of Emmanuel Macron would create a “Absolutely general chaos” which she illustrated with a series of paintings, each more dramatic than the next: “Social rampage”, “fiscal purge”, “cut-up sale of France”, “disunity”, “fragmentation”, “Violence, in particular against the French people” (by the way, there would be a lot to say about this ” especially “, but this is not the place).
Five years ago, it was Emmanuel Macron who unsheathed the chaos, targeting the frontist leader: ” There are two solutions [pour tourner la page] : or the chaos that would represent the exit of the European Union and the order of Moscow. Or the real alternation that I carry and which consists in transforming the country in depth ”.
“I leave you in the hands of the anarchists”
The argument “Me or chaos” is rooted in the history of the French presidential election. It was in fact during the first election, in 1965, that it was used. But it is an apocryphal formula: it was never uttered by De Gaulle.
The old general (75 years old, 7 years in power already) appears at the last moment, on November 5, a month exactly before the first round, and without any real program: sure of his victory, disdaining the polls, he simply calls for the confidence of the French. And in his candidacy speech, he explains that he must be granted “A frank and massive membership” because the victory of another candidate would inevitably lead to the collapse of the new Republic: “No one can doubt that it will collapse immediately and that France will have to endure, this time without possible recourse, a state confusion even more disastrous than that which it once experienced”. This passage raises an outcry on the left. It is summarized (by Gaston Defferre the first, it seems) of a mocking formula that the press will use: “Me or chaos”.
DEMON WORDS. “Civilization”, a convenient concept for the far right
Why has this punchline marked so much? No doubt by the ridiculousness of the image: on the one hand, a self-confident human being, on the other a mythological scene whose evocation is powerful. In Hesiod’s theogony, Chaos (Χάος, literally “gap”) precedes the creation of the world and even the gods; Ovid, in his Metamorphosis, sums it up as follows: “A shapeless and confused mass, an inert block, a heap of badly united and discordant elements”.
Public opinion will taste little of the blackmail and chaos exerted by De Gaulle. It gives a plebiscite turn to the presidential election, which brings back memories: in 1851 already, Prince-President Louis-Napoleon declared, before his first plebiscite: “Or you trust me and I save you; or else you say no to me and I leave you in the hands of anarchists and rascals… ”
Party with 70% of the voting intentions, De Gaulle will tumble in the polls. Much to his fury, he will be put on a waiver against the young François Mitterrand: the general will win the second round on December 19, with 54.5% of the vote.