This article was orignally published in French on Antiraciste de Souche on the 9th of March 2016.
Les Brigandes, which we mentioned before in our January highlights, is an ultra-conservative band made up of seven young women of, shall we say, "unbridled creativity". The group is growing in popularity among all those involved in some way with the world of the fachosphère – the name given in France to all groups or movements perceived as fascist. Under their wolf masks, the group – whose name pays tribute to the Vendean royalist insurgents – spread a fundamentalist, conspiracy message that is fiercely hostile to any kind of difference. A message in which a white, ultra-catholic, Putin-loving France is idealised. The group is led by Marianne, their spokesperson for "alternative" media, supported by Maxime, who posts the young women's numerous musical creations on the Le Comité de Salut Public (Committee of Public Safety) website.
The problem with this latest expression of hate on the internet is the surprising popularity of their videos: 50,000-100,000 views for most of their songs. This sort of makes them stars in the making for the extreme right.
In a "Radio Brigande" interview dating back to July 2015, Les Brigandes attack their enemy through provocative songs. Their enemy being globalisation. This anti-globalism manifests itself as the rejection of technologies, liberalism and the opening of borders. In particular, they consider the United States and "globalist lobby groups" to be the source of all wars and all economic slippages. A certain hypocrisy becomes apparent in this message, since Les Brigandes use tools of globalisation to a great extent, such as social networks. These tools have allowed them to become known at a national and perhaps even European level. From an anti-globalisation perspective, their influence should not have even gone beyond their family environment. This contempt for western culture brings with it an unwavering admiration for the Russian regime of Putin, which they consider to be the "last bastion of Christian Europe". Les Brigandes thus align themselves with the identity shift of the extreme right, advocating a return to the natural order where family, patriotism and religion – Christianity, obviously – would be the pillars. A nauseating throwback to the Vichy regime. Nostalgia for the second-world-war period is also found in their song "Ce Geste" ("The gesture") where the seven artists pay tribute to the Nazi salute. This same song also vindicates the "quenelle" arm gesture.
Inspired by conspiracy delusions, Les Brigandes imagine themselves to be living in a world controlled by lobby groups. The names of these groups certainly cannot be mentioned... yet through their songs, they are revealed to be the famous jewish-zionist-freemasonic coalition. Nothing original here: this are the same clichés that the movement led by Alain Soral refer to in one of their interviews. They accuse the Jewish elite of promoting Muslim immigration with the aim of destroying the European Christian civilisation, thus subscribing to the popular extreme-right theory of "great replacement", the title of their album. Another extreme standpoint of Les Brigandes is that they reject Republican values, promoting a return to the monarchy. In particular, they campaign for the recognition of the Vendean genocide. This same distrust towards the Republican regime is expressed in their song "Seigneur, je ne veux pas devenir Charlie" ("Lord, I don't want to become Charlie"). And finally, they see the Jesuits as traitors of the Church for having modernised the Catholic religion. In the song "Le rat jèze" ("The Jesuit rat"), they call Pope Francis the "plaie de l'Eglise" ("plague of the Church") due to his progressive discourse.
So why have they been so successful? Les Brigandes have an undeniable talent for saying just enough so as not to cross the line into illegality. They also add a touch of feminity to a rather masculine and deeply sexist fachosphère. Facebook comments from users "under their spell", "with nothing but honourable intentions", testify to this breath-of-fresh-air effect that masks their sickening aims. In a fachosphère made up of overly long, egocentric videos, of articles peppered with shocking, violent images, and of incomprehensible conspiracist or negationist blogs, Les Brigandes offer choreographies, alluring outfits (special mention goes to the belly dance in "Tango du Bidasse" ["Soldier's Tango"]) and their "voices of angels". The message, however, remains just as violent and hateful. Finally, this group has managed to achieve symbiosis of all elements of French extremist hate: racism, antisemitism, homophobia, sexism. The clichéd remnants of the most extremist groups of the anti-gay marriage movement, La Manif Pour Tous. Translated extract: "Two men wanted to answer me, I ran away in shame, because now in this lowly world, men get married together".
Their integration in the fachosphère is thus evident, especially since they already understand all of the codes: a talent for marketing with sale of their "products"; a presence on the Russian, English and German social networks; victimisation faced with the "wall of censorship" and other media attacks; as well as the pursuit of creating a buzz. The following is an extract from one of the latest Facebook messages posted on the "Les Brigandes" page on 25 February: "For our part, we doubly rejoice: on the one hand because this pathetic article has enabled more people to discover Les Brigandes, and on the other because this outburst of hate indeed proves that Les Brigandes are starting to worry the crooks who occupy the offices of propaganda that are the subsidised media".
Such creativity to monitor both the hate instilled by the group as well as the popularity it finds. A creativity that need not be overemphasised lest they become the next suffragettes of hate to the French people.