The flash in the pan of the Zemmour adventure has left deep traces

To analyse. In 1954, a certain Marian Keech assures that a flood will submerge the United States on December 21, and that only her followers will be saved by extraterrestrials. On the eve of the fatal day, everyone spends the night in prayer, but nothing happens, and at dawn they begin to despair. Fortunately, the lady receives a message sent by "automatic writing", who tells him that the cataclysm has been canceled because the small group “shed so much light that God saved the world from destruction”. The faith of his companions was only strengthened and they left to convince the rest of the world.

The episode, analyzed in The Failure of a Prophecy by Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken and Stanley Schachter, in 1956, is a classic of social psychology: to overcome the immense disappointment and reduce this "cognitive dissonance", the group, to exist, must more than ever convince the unbelievers .

The parallel with the adventure of Eric Zemmour is not totally abusive: the columnist left a comfortable situation on television in September 2021 to donate his person to France, in order to avoid The French Suicide (Albin Michel, 2014) and “the disappearance of our civilization”. He tweeted on April 5, a few days before the presidential election: “I will be in the second round. Then I will be either President of the Republic or Leader of the Opposition. » He was not in the second round, only collected 7% of the vote, and not a deputy with 4.24% in the legislative elections, and his allies of the moment are fleeing today one after the other.

Incredible popular fervor

But during his party's summer school, Reconquête!, on September 11, Eric Zemmour still exclaimed in front of his audience: “You are sending a brilliant signal: that of our vitality! », and reduces his “cognitive dissonance” as best he can: “Perhaps we were wrong in the face of the situation of an election, but it is certain that we are right in the face of history! », and finally : “I say this without pride and without blissful optimism, but with intense determination: it is possible to come to power. »

Beyond the comments from the podium, the Zemmourian episode says something about the political and media system of the country. Never has a candidate aroused such fervor, climbed so quickly around 16% or 17% of the voting intentions, built in six months a party which claims 130,000 members – the figure is unverifiable, but it is certainly substantial –, and garnered donations to the point of doing without a loan: the candidacy of Eric Zemmour obviously dominated the presidential campaign.

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