Has France Given Up on Liberty? | Guest: Alexandre Pesey | Ep 32


– Welcome to Kibbe on Liberty. Today we do something
a little bit different. We’re talking to Alexandre Pesey, and he is the head of
the Free Market Institute based in Paris, France. That’s right, there are
free marketeers in France. We’re gonna talk about
the Yellow Vest protest, where it went right, where it went wrong, free speech codes in France, the worst perhaps in the free world, and we’re gonna talk about the prospects of liberty globally. Check it out. (rock music) Welcome back to America. – Thank you very much. – Pronounce your name, so
that I don’t butcher it. – Alexandre Pesey. – I’m still gonna butcher it. – Just call me Alex. – Alex, okay I’m gonna call you Alex. And you are the head of a free market activist think tank incubator in France. – Exactly, it’s a training institute for young conservatives and
libertarians who want to be educated on ideas and technology in order to be more efficient
in their involvement, whether in the media, in civil
society or even in politics. – So Americans are watching
what’s going on in France and we’ve seen the rise of
the Yellow Vest movement, which was originally a protest
against higher gas taxes, but I think they’d first want to know what’s going on in France, like, is liberty a thing in France today? – Yes, it is, on many subjects, but talking about the Yellow Vest, it’s happened that I attended every event since the
first one, it started. And at the beginning, you
clearly had a movement of hard working people who were done with state regulation and taxes. So this movement really rise, started to become big and then you have the leftists, like the
Black Blocs, start to get in and start to make it very violent. And then you had a second interesting fact that the subjects started to change. It went from, no more tax,
or suppress these taxes, to we want fair tax, and you can imagine how the media start to look at the people
who say, we want fair tax. So the original Yellow
Vests felt like betrayed, or slowly being taken over, and this violence starts. Surprisingly, the government let it happen in order to discourage
clearly the movement. I saw it firsthand in
Paris on the Avenue Kléber, one day, for four hours they
were breaking every car, every shop, this clearly Black
Blocs, very equipped guy. And there was not one
single guy being arrested. And then the President next day say, oh it’s terrible this
Yellow Vest movement, we need to be tough with them. And then they start to arrest them, shoot at them, we had one
of our students lost an eye in her activist, she
has never used violence. So yeah, that’s a clearly a
threat of freedom, of liberty, in the way we want to defend our independence or individual sovereignty. – So tell me more about Black Blocs ’cause it sound a little bit like Antifa. – Yes exactly, it’s kind
of Black Bloc, Antifa that same type of movement. This guy arrived, very well equipped. They have things to fight the tear gas. What a classical Yellow
Vest guy doesn’t have. They have the water to put in your eyes as soon as you get gas. So the technique is one group
break the bank or break a car, then you have more the
suburban type of people, people who live in the suburbs mostly, criminals who come to
steal what is inside, and then the Antifa, Black
Blocs start to burn the things. So it’s very well organized
and they’re very violent. When the Yellow Vest wanted the police and the firemen to come to stop the fire, I saw firsthand how
they could be beaten up by this group that are very well organized that are in groups and suppress
an individual who starts a stance against this
violence and breaking things. – That’s fascinating, ’cause
I don’t know if you know this, but I was one of the original
Tea Party organizers, and the evolution and
devolution of the Tea Party sounds a little bit like
this, and in the early days it was almost libertarian, it was very much about small government, it was all moms and pops and workers, just rising up against
Wall Street bailouts, and various things that
our government had done. It was a protest against
both political parties, it wasn’t partisan, and
that’s devolved today to where protests in the street are really dominated
by violence and Antifa. They’re professionals, their
strategy is to cause chaos, and it sounds like the same
pattern has happened in France. – It’s exactly, when I
looked at it I thought, hey we’re gonna have our Tea Party, and when I see the evolution I obviously thought of you and Terry, and see how effectively
it was taking over, and how the Yellow Vest
didn’t translate it into a politically influential, or where we’re able to
influence the politics in order to get this tax cut. So, very hard to see
that societal movement, people getting organized
and being taken over by some very well organized minorities. – Yes, well let’s talk about
what you guys are doing to take advantage of that
positive populist protest against big government. We’re zero tolerance for violence, and it’s consistent with
our social philosophy. We believe in cooperation. But what are you guys trying
to do, because I know in 2017, you won a prestigious Atlas Network award for your entrepreneurial incubator. You’re trying to create more
classical liberals in France. – Yes exactly, we encourage entrepreneurs in any involvement and
engagement to create the media, to create non-profit, to create
groups that promote freedom, or conservative principles. We’re trying to bring
together these two sides too that were aside, an I
saw firsthand in the U.S. how they could ally on
some topics together, I’m talking about
libertarian and conservative, for freedom of school, for
less taxes, less government, and we try to duplicate a
little bit of this model, adapted to France obviously. So what’s happened today
and the challenge we have is what political
translation of this movement that clearly is growing against
involvement in the state, in every type of our life,
every place of our lives, and the kind of failure of the Yellow Vest is not to be able to translate
into any political party. Clearly they were a
way of political party, but now how do we implement
politically our principle? I think that’s the main challenge we have. The good news is that we had two parties, kind of a duo-pol that were
running France for 40 years, the Republican Party on the center right, and the Socialist Party, which
is more social democrat party on the center left. And both parties in the
last three years, crashed. The last European election
the Socialist Party got 6%, and the Republican Party they get 8.5%. Imagine in the U.S., the
Republicans and Democrats tomorrow get five and six. The thing is, now we’ve plenty–
– I can dream of that actually – Yeah, (laughs) so we’re dreaming of it. For that we can thanks
clearly Emmanuel Macron. He has plenty of the fault,
but has a quality he was able to check these two parties,
and they will allow us to build something new. Now it’s up to us to succeed. – Yeah, so that sort
of political disruption has to be driven by technology
just like these protests are, just like people googling ideas, and finding sort of that
the values that we share, even though they don’t
come from the universities, they don’t come from the schools, so you see that sort of
left, right, libertarian, in this country we have Donald Trump, we have Bernie Sanders,
we had the Tea Party, of course before that we had Ron Paul, and the one thing that makes them similar is that they’re outsiders. They were raging against
the establishment, the two-party duopoly and all of that. I view that as a, just an
entrepreneurial moment for us. Like there’s this vacuum
and we could fill it with our ideas. – Yes, that’s the challenge–
– That wasn’t a question, by the way.
– Oh, sorry yeah, I was wondering did I understand. – Yeah, what’s the point? I do that, but feel free
to respond if you want. – Yeah, it’s clearly we’re
looking who’s gonna be the, who are gonna be the entrepreneurs. Not that we tend to wait
in France for the savior, the guy who’s gonna save us. But during that time
we’ve got to get ready, both on ideas and on people being trained to be able to take a leading position. So that’s what we’re trying to work at. But clearly yes. The thing is when these
two parties crashed, we’re like, it’s up to us now to be analyzing you to succeed. It’s really a great, great
opportunity we have in France. And I think what you see
in Great Britain, Italy, I know some of our friends
are critical about populist, I think it’s a very good healthy moment, but can go in two directions,
in a bad direction, or in a good direction,
it’s up to us to bring it to the right direction,
or to the individual. – Yeah, I mean I would call
myself a libertarian populist because populism sort
of as any empty vessel just means to be popular. And I would hope that we would
want our ideas to be popular. And there’s good part of who we are, when we sort of rage
against government control, and government oppression,
and government collusion, between business, these
are all sort of righteous, populist, angered sorts of issues, but we also have this
beautiful, peaceful alternative that we probably don’t talk enough about. Like the beautiful things that can happen when people are free to
cooperate, and create, and experiment, and pursue their dreams. I feel like that’s part
of the French ethos. I mean that liberty part of the story. – Yeah it’s really, every
country, every people has their contradiction. It’s one of the big
contradictions of the French. They both want to be
independent, to be left alone, so if there’s a Left Alone
Coalition they join it. But at the same time, they
seems to be able to rely on the state on many things, to let the state do and
grow the way they’re going, until a certain point,
and then they say, stop. That’s why often in French history, when they say stop to the
state, it’s become very violent. – [Matt] Yeah. – And maybe, Yellow Vest
even we stay together, it’s mostly the Antifa that were violent. We could see the Yellow Vest people being more and more mad about the situation too. So what you’re talking about, the freedom of speech and the way for French people to be able to say what they want is key. And this recent law we have in France to constrain and condemn you, or sue you, based on what you say, or
even what you may think, it’s most dangerous and
it’s really contradictory to our French tradition
of speaking loud sometimes to the point that you may think French American we’re rude (chuckles), or we don’t behave well. We tend to say too easily what we think. And we feel that in the U.S.
you don’t have all these laws, but you have more like
a social constraint. I don’t know if you would see the same? Like there is a political correctness that you can’t tell what you want, you wouldn’t be maybe sued
by the state or condemned, based on the law, like in France. But there’s another way
to constrain free speech. – Yeah there’s– – [Alexandre] Can you say that? – It’s interesting and I feel like this is a brand new phenomenon. Perhaps we’ve imported this from France. The idea that speech is violence. Because the American ethos was always, the First Amendment, left, right, center, communist, capitalist, whatever you were, there was a consensus that free speech, even bad speech, even speech
coming from really awful people was something that we tolerated
and we responded in kind by correcting them, by engaging them, by arguing in the public square. That was the American
ethos, but the new thing seems to reflect, and it’s
not of course just France, I mean you have a lot
of speech code emerging just to the north in Canada as well. But I remember all the way back to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and reading my friend
Matt Welch at Reason, very much documented the
Charlie Hebdo legal fights that they had been having
with the French government long before they were
attacked by terrorists. They were being destroyed
by government speech codes. So this is not a brand
new thing for you guys. – No it’s true. And the question is
where it’s coming from? If it’s from France, or the U.S., or whom became a master at doing it. It’s a debate we have in French, American. It seems from the research
that it comes from French professors that came to the U.S. and developed it in university,
from what I understood. People like Derrida,
Foucault, all these people that we send you, and we
were glad to get rid of. You welcomed them maybe
too much in the university, and developed this
concept of being offended. So you can be offended on anything. – This may be one case where
I don’t support free speech, or free flow of labor across borders. (Alexandre chuckles) We don’t need to be importing,
or exporting bad ideas. (Alexandre chuckles) – I agree there with that one. Hans-Hermann Hoppe wrote about that. Libertarian don’t tend
to say it’s open border, then anybody can come, must
be agreeing on who is coming. – Yeah no French socialists. That’s where I draw the line. – [Alexandre] I think that’s safe. – I mean lets talk about speech codes, because it does matter to us now. And I think wherever it originated, this idea of sort of
legislating and codifying what you can and can’t say,
is probably the most dangerous idea I’ve ever heard. Because this of course
would be a tool for tyrants, and speech codes are in fact part of every totalitarian regime. But Mark Zuckerberg, the
founder and CEO of Facebook, about three months ago, came out and begged to be regulated
by our federal government. And he cited the French model
as sort of the ideal type of how you would do that. Tell me, what is the French model today? And I know you oppose it, but what does the French government do if you say certain things? – Yes, they just passed a
law, few days ago actually, so that when you write
something on the internet, or say something, now
it’s not the government who’s gonna tell you to
take it out, it’s a company, Facebook, or Twitter,
will have to suppress this offending, or violent words in the next 24 hours. So yes it’s really interesting. Going to a conference recently,
we heard Tucker Carlson give a speech about how
big business is threatening our liberty, our freedom. And it’s really the impression we have. And it’s really recent to us French people that the idea of these companies who were supposed to be our allies, seems to be the most
oppressive tools today against our freedoms. – You know it’s funny because my read on what Mark Zuckerberg
is trying to accomplish, he likes the fact that the
government has made it a law, because, first of all, he
can blame the government for what they’re doing here anyway. And second of all, imagine
a startup competitor to Facebook trying to comply by policing millions and millions, and I
don’t know how many millions of posts there are globally
on Facebook everyday. But imagine being a
startup and having 24 hours to make sure that whatever the rules are, every single person that’s
participating is complying, it’s impossible, it is
completely impossible. So it’s a barrier to entry. And my response to Tucker
Carlson, of course is that, the reason that we
don’t trust big business is because the businesses that
are effectively monopolies have colluded with government. And the only way to protect your monopoly is to legislate it into
permanent existence. And I think that’s what
Facebook is trying to do. I disagree with Carlson. I think it’s a mistake to
try to regulate Facebook because that means that
the next entrepreneur that comes along with a better idea, and a better platform will not survive. – Yeah we recognize crony
capitalism here, clearly. But to give you another
example of ironical, the irony of history
that happened to France. We kind of fight Soviet
Union for a long time, as an example of countries who don’t ever let
freedom of speech exist. And today, the thing is when
your video is not accepted, or cut off from YouTube, where do you go? You put it on the Russian platform Rutube. So it’s really the irony of
the history you would say on that interesting. We try to find something
to get it out of YouTube, Facebook, but it’s still
really at the beginning of it. – Well let’s talk about strategy as a way to sort of wrap this up, because you brought your whole team. We can’t see them, but
your whole team is here. And you’re interested
in starting a podcast. And do you already do video production and things like that? – In our network there
is some people doing some video production and on YouTube. But we noticed that the podcasts
really explode in the U.S. for three, four years, and
it’s starting in France. And we can see our, the
leftists are very there. Many of the public radio journalists, gave up their job in order
to concentrate on podcasts. And so if we don’t go
quick, being on there, we may see a kind of another
monopoly of the left. So we gonna try to avoid to happen in offering diversity of thought. – Podcasts seem to be far less regulated. I mean there’s all sorts of
manipulation on Facebook now. And we’ve evolved from
Facebook to YouTube. And our audience is young people, and young people are abandoning Facebook, and migrating to YouTube,
in part because they can seek out the content they want. Instead of being manipulated,
and told what to think. I think there’s a very
libertarian ethos in young people in that sense. But podcasts is still the Wild West. You’re allowed to speak your ideas. And a lot of young people
are saying, you know what, I’m gonna stop listening just
to my Marxist professors, and curate ideas and
curriculum even from podcasts. So I feel like there’s
always a way to reach people in a radically democratized way that just wasn’t there five years ago. – That’s true. That’s great to hear. And to see that’s happening here, and so we’ll try to do that too there. – And by the way, this
is not an American thing, this is a global thing. Technology has been most liberating to young people across the
world where these ideas would never, ever be spoken
on TV, or by politicians, or by professors. So the question is, and I don’t know what
the answer is exactly, but the question is,
how do we organize them? How do we reach them? How do we educate them? How do we find the entrepreneurs
that will change the world? – The thing is we do our
trainings to teach them that. We try to reach them
out of the university. So many students from the big schools, like the French ivy schools, now come to our training institute because they’re tired
to hear the thing that, you have to repeat and
write it in your copies. And so you can see like you
say, yes a libertarian ethos among the young to get
out of the mainstream. The thing is, the main
institution for spreading the monopoly of thought, of
socialist thought mostly, are really de-legitimized, whether university, or journalism. Today there’s an institution the less best rated in France clearly, like there’s no more trust or respect for these institutions
that are seen as they are. A monopoly of ideology called tools. – Explain some of the words that work, and give me the translation, but in our country for instance, capitalism is not a
particularly cool word to use. Young people, for the very
first time in American history, are now saying, at a slight margin, they prefer socialism to capitalism. Interestingly enough,
entrepreneur, a French word, is the coolest word amongst young people, because they like entrepreneurship. They like the fact that they
could start their own business. That they could create something and do something for themselves. But I’m assuming capitalism
is not a particularly effective word to use in France. – No it’s not, capitalism– – It’s a bad word. – Yeah, free market, even
liberalism in a classical sense are not words you can use, or even known. The part of economics
in our political debate is not as strong in the U.S. It’s very low. The key subject today, I
have to underline that, is that 15 years ago, the
main subject would have been economics between the students. Or they would agree mostly on economics, on a more free market economy. Today, after 15 years,
most of the students will talk about the question of immigration and identity. So the same students
really changed their focus on the question because
they feel like some cultural migration are becoming
a threat to our freedom. Let’s talk frankly, the debate about the
Islamization of France. The question of the veil
for example in the U.S. It’s a question of freedom to be dressed, religious freedom to wear a veil. In France, in more and more
areas, it’s an oppressive tool that if as a woman you don’t
wear it, you’re not respected. You can really have problems. So many women, even
non-Muslim start to wear it, you know to be left alone. So you can see how some
subjects, like capitalism, free market economy, really
went low in the subject people talk about, even know about it. So it gave an empty vacuum
for place for socialism ideas, but at the same time in
France the socialist idea was already there for awhile. But the question of
identity, multiculturalism, is a very strong debate there. – Yeah, so identity and
even civil liberties. – [Alexandre] Yes, yes,
include civil liberties. – So what’s the good news? Macron, I know he has
passed some tax reforms, and there are at least some things that are headed in the right direction. From your perspective, what
is France doing right today? – The good thing on Macron
is that he destroyed the two monopoly party, the dual-pol, that’s what I told you
earlier, it’s really good news. After him, he brings this
more new entrepreneur spirit. Like a guy of his generation of startup. But politically what it did concretely, I just asked before the show
to our fellows who are there, no one can quote and tell you one measure that he passed that was really
going into our direction. Not that he passed other
laws that go against so much, but he did little reform,
there is not much to do. The good thing that’s
happening if you look at France, you have some
deep movement happening. Like for example on the freedom of school. You have a lot of schools
being created every year. The state had kind of almost a monopoly on the education in France. But the growing number of really
private independent schools is spreading through the country. That’s a good sign, where
people start to say, I want to take care myself
the way of educating my kids. That you can see also on the media side, how people start to
create their own media. Like we say the podcast,
but on the internet, and things like that. People start to go to their own media and that’s the good things. Politically, we can’t expect with the majority in power, much, but we’re preparing for the next election not to miss the goal in rebuilding the kind of French freedom
conservative movement implementing good things there. – Good, well let’s figure out
ways that we can collaborate and grow the movement
all across the world. – With pleasure and thank you very much for this exchange together. – Yeah thank you. – Bye, bye. – Thanks for watching Kibbe on Liberty. By now you know this is
the most important event of your week. So make sure you subscribe on YouTube. Click the little bell,
so you get notifications. Kibbe on Liberty, mostly
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