Michel Houellebecq in Berlin

Michel Houellebecq in Berlin

2018-00-00 widgets.001The important thing about Michel Houellebecq is his part in liberating French intellectuals from the New Terror of the socialist media and, since 2012, the governing Parti socialiste: that is, those intellectuals who wished to be freed. What they can practically do with their new freedom remains to be seen, as demographic change in Europe continues to bulldoze nice philosophical categories, precisely as outlined in Houellebecq’s novel, Soumission [Submission].

Houellebecq was recently in Berlin to receive a literary prize. His acceptance speech was delivered in French, but The Europeans, having been unable to locate a transcript, has provided here a translation from the Neue Zürcher Zeitung‘s German version. In other words, the text — an abridged version of the speech — has been laundered twice: with what result, the reader will judge. We learn most, of course, when authors speak for themselves, outside of their writerly personæ, and that is why the present labour has been undertaken.

Submission was, and is, important because it was not to much launched, as detonated. It still reverberates throughout French intellectual and media circles, with little fumaroles of outrage appearing here and there in the landscape. What fun it must have been, to crack so many heads.

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Moral Vanity & The Puritan Spirit

Moral Vanity & The Puritan Spirit

Nothing if not hard-hitting, this interview in Le Figaro with the French social scientist Pierre-André Taguieff brings out the degree to which Anglo-Saxon — worse, Swedish — puritanism has invaded French political life under the mentorship of the Parti socialiste, where it has coalesced with the ever-raging war over “islamophobia”. The now modest “dead white poets” theme of the kaftan-covered Sixties, is followed downwards to the ideological limits of moral vanity. Continue reading “Moral Vanity & The Puritan Spirit”

The Clientelism of The Antiracist Left

The Clientelism of The Antiracist Left

Jean-Pierre Chevènement has been appointed president of the now revived Foundation for Islam, charged with the formidable task of constructing an Islam that is not just in France, but also of France. Here, Laurent Bouvet in Le Figaro defends Chevènement against the charge that he is innocent of all connection with the French muslim community, and therefore unqualified for the job. Continue reading “The Clientelism of The Antiracist Left”

Postmodernism in Action

Postmodernism in Action

FIGAROVOX/INTERVIEW : By no longer fulfilling its traditional function of transmission, the school of the Republic has become a mass producer of zombies and deracinated individuals, explains the philosopher Robert Redeker in The Fantom School, a trenchant essay in which he analyses the causes of this disaster and plots a course for the future. Continue reading “Postmodernism in Action”

Europe’s Auto-Immunity

Europe’s Auto-Immunity

2018-00-00 widgets.001Asked recently whether he thought Brexit was a pivotal moment in European history, the writer Alain Finkielkraut responded: “In order to put an end to the distinction — judged potentially genocidal — between an ‘us’ and a ‘them’, the European Union has sedulously drained Europe of all content. It has replaced civilization with values, it has dissolved identity in rights, norms and procedures. The English have said “no” to these developments: we [the French] don’t need to emulate them, but seize the occasion of Brexit to reconstruct the European Union.”

And thereby “defend our European civilization”. Mathieu Bock-Côté, the québécois sociologist, shares this formula with Finkielkraut, and in the article translated below asks what precisely it is that must be defended. A good question that demands another: that of how European civilization is to be defended, assuming that it can be identified.

❝ This alien therapy has produced a cultural auto-immune reaction, a kind of political lupus eating away at Europe’s prodigious heritage.❞

The “replacement of civilization with values”, and identity with a porridge of “rights, norms and procedures” is the foul work of generations of European politicians and bureaucrats. European “civilizational identity”, to use Bock-Côté’s formula, has been redefined as its own self-abnegation, as the endorsement of everything exotic. This alien therapy, exercised through the education system, has produced a cultural auto-immune reaction, a kind of political lupus eating away at Europe’s prodigious heritage. What is it that we wish to defend? An inconvenient question with an even more inconvenient answer — to which Bock-Côté alludes: thirty centuries of European high culture, the sine qua non of continuity and development through education. Who today would come to the defence of that, apart from Matteo Renzi? In an apparent response to the destruction of the temple at Palmyra, the Italian prime minister announced last year that on attaining his or her majority, every citizen would receive from the state a debit card charged with €500, to be used exclusively to gain entry to institutions where heritage was protected and revered. An exceptional gesture for a politician of the Left, and one that cannot be imagined coming from the islamo-gauche in France.

It is high culture that teaches values, not the other way around as neoliberal orthodoxy demands. High culture is the criterion, literally the senate, by which values are made true. On the other hand, received ‘values’ such as human rights and the rule of law, while essential for a functioning society, are defenceless against corruption. Only ‘civilizational identity’ has the authority to regulate them. Abuses of the rule of law, as of human rights, are legion. In Germany, one may not insult a foreign dignitary or deny the Shoa. Everywhere in the so-called liberal democracies, freedom of speech is honoured only in the breach. Representative democracy represents only those who own the law and profit from it. The law itself is becoming indistinguishable from a taxonomy of victimhood.

❝ It is high culture that teaches values, not the other way around as neoliberal orthodoxy demands.❞

High culture, by contrast, is the senior authority standing above received values, which are essentially bureaucratic in timbre. It is free of humbug and corruption, because winnowed by time and the force of countless great minds. A piece of ancient architecture might be eroded according to the second law of thermodynamics, or even physically attacked, but it cannot be corrupted in the sense meant here in relation to ‘values’. The Greeks taught Europeans how to think, but that lesson is immune to corruption. The mysterious theme that arrives in the first movement of Mozart’s 40th symphony might be mangled by pop culture, but the original endures and cannot be corrupted. Lilliputian minds dice up the freedom to speak according to the demands of this or that self-referential group of victims, and this is what is served up by western political elites as a received ‘value’. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the reductio ad absurdum of received ‘values’: in this respect it is resistant to improvement. Meanwhile, high culture, ‘civilizational identity’, legislates for taste and discrimination and common sense humanity. Who then are the preferred lawmakers: Mozart and Brahms, who taught us how to feel; Euclid, who taught us how to think; or the mandarins of the European Union, who are showing Europe how to die in the name of ‘universal’ — in truth, ephemeral — values?

That is the essential point. Received values, being corruptible, cannot stand the test of time. ‘Compassion’, raised to Angela Merkel’s geopolitical scale, can lead in time only to resentment or worse, and finally to its own antithesis. As for the defence of our European civilization, the struggle has one primary theatre: education.

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Islamo-Gauchisme Decrypted

Islamo-Gauchisme Decrypted

Islamo-gauchisme is an epithet hurled by the French Right at the far Left and elements of the Centre-Left. It provides a handy label for the sort of relentless political sycophancy towards Islam in France, typified by apologists such as Jack Lang and Edwy Plenel. Lang was former President Mitterrand’s Minister of Culture, and is now President of the Institute of the Arab World, in Paris. Plenel is a prominent French journalist.

Laurent Bouvet is Professor of Political Science at the University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. He published Cultural Insecurity (Fayard) in 2015. In this interview in Le Figaro, he breaks the code behind the use of the term, islamo-gauchisme.

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The Other Inconvenient Truth

The Other Inconvenient Truth

The fate of Europe is now fully engaged, as on so many occasions throughout its thirty or so centuries of prodigious cultural and economic development. Driven to a moral fervour in September 2015 by President Erdoğan’s migratory ‘push’ and Angela Merkel’s complementary ‘pull’, the neoliberals of Germany and Sweden briefly demonstrated their enormous capacity for humanitarian concern. The over-confidence necessary to carry off the first few weeks of mayhem seemed to be induced spontaneously by the enormity of the challenge itself: it could hardly have existed beforehand. Neoliberals have always insisted on diversity they can see; but this was on an altogether new and overwhelming scale.

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Bosnia-on-Rhine

Bosnia-on-Rhine

Human Rights legalism already meets all the criteria of a religion, and the institutions of global capitalism are well on their way to meeting all the criteria of the superstate that the European Union sought unsuccessfully to become. Further, the Church of Human Rights, with its clergy of lawyers and its vast supporting laity both inside and outside national governments, is the established church and jesuitical instrument of the emerging global superstate. Continue reading “Bosnia-on-Rhine”