For sociologist Jean Viard, “it is a true popular tradition, an institution of the Republic”

Sociologist Jean Viard and Augustin Arrivé wonder what the Huma Festival, which is being held in Essonne until tomorrow evening, September 17, represents today for the left.

Like every year, one of the last musical festivals of the summer, the Fête de l’Huma takes place until tomorrow evening, Sunday September 17, on the former air base 217 in Essonne, between Le Plessis -Pâté and Brétigny-sur-Orge. This evening, for example, concerts by Imany, Acid Arab or Martin Solveig. On the program, numerous debates, numerous meetings and certainly lively discussions. Sociologist Jean Viard wonders what this Huma Festival represents today.

franceinfo: With nearly 450,000 visitors last year, doesn’t La Fête de l’Huma represent – more than the summer universities of the parties – the great meeting of expression of the union of the left in France?

Jean Viard: So, it’s still first and foremost a huge cultural and musical celebration. I think there are a lot of people who are going to attend political debates, it’s the big cultural celebration of the start of the school year. Since 1930, it has been a real popular tradition, it is an institution of the Republic, so to speak, even if we changed location because of the Olympics. The second thing is that Fabien Roussel is still just as good at communications. Each time, the week before, he makes a somewhat extremist statement, so all the media rush to it, and as a result, we only talk about the Festival of Humanity.

There, he spoke of the invasion of the prefectures…

That’s high-level politics, but it works very well, that’s the backdrop. And then it’s a place where there are a lot of groups that have expressed themselves, a lot of new groups. So it’s truly a place of French cultural life. Last year they had 450,000 entries. Look at the Vieilles Charrues festival, for example, they increased from 250 to 340,000. So, this year, there is a huge audience at this type of event. It would be quite logical that it would benefit them too.

Afterwards, it is a popular celebration, obviously supported by the Communist Party, but I don’t know how many people know exactly that it is supported by the Communist Party. What is certain is that there is a very important political part of the debates, the people are there for a long time, the former Prime Minister will debate with Fabien Roussel. So it’s not just the left; it is considered one of the places for the left’s debate with society.

And is this political mixing a richness?

Obviously, it’s an opportunity, it’s an asset, it’s a place for debate. Even I went to the Fête de l’Humanité, a long time ago, when it was in La Courneuve. It’s a bit of a place for staging politics. Is it a place of intellectual development? I’m not sure, but in any case, it’s a place of exchange, of dialogue. There are a lot of people in the debates, so it’s a very lively place in French democratic life. So, it’s a positive place.

Would the right benefit from finding this same type of unifying meeting?

You know, the history of the world of culture is a privileged link with the left, for lots of reasons. But we have always said: the left is the alliance of those who have nothing, and of intellectuals and artists, to put it quickly. The right is the alliance of those who own: the churches, the military, the capitalists. I’m schematizing the point a bit, they don’t have the same connection with the culture, so they could do things. But look, the National Rally does things that are not at all of the same importance. But they don’t have the same empathy with the new music, the music of young people from the suburbs, the rappers, that doesn’t sound very National Rally.

So I think that the cultural link, historically, is fundamentally between the left and cultural circles. So there may be developments. The cultural environment evolves like all of society. But I think it will never have this kind of fusion, which is in the historical soul of the left.

Right-wing culture, with this opposition between two very popular singers from two different generations, was one of the debates of the summer, but wouldn’t that necessarily be expressed through a festival like the Fête de l’Huma?

Yes, it’s not the same thing, it’s not the same atmosphere. There is the extremely popular side, the merguez fries side. Moreover, Fabien Roussel embodies this very well with his speech on meat, etc. Somehow, it’s the people, that doesn’t quite correspond to the Republicans, who still have a bit of a ‘collusion’ side. And the National Rally is on a much more aggressive logic. But look at the Puy du Fou, when people go there, do they really have the impression of supporting the ideology of Mr. de Villiers? It’s not entirely safe. It’s a bit the same thing on the other side.

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