Thursday, November 14, 2002

Battle Royale: The Return of Totalitarianism

And while I’m busy defending the nation and western culture, I should also provide an example of those French thinkers busy tearing it down.

Recently, author Daniel Lindenberg released a book entitled, Le Rappel à l'ordre. Enquête sur les nouveaux réactionnaires. (The Return to Order : A Study of the New Reactionaries). Lindenberg’s task is to expose the new crop of French liberal intellectuals – including Pierre Manent and Marcel Gauchet, two of my own teachers at the Centre Raymond Aron – as racist anti-Islamic reactionaries bent on overturning human rights and the progress of May ’68.

In a recent interview in Le Figaro, well-known French philosopher Alain Finkelkraut – himself counted among the reactionaries – notes that Lindberg’s attempt to resurrect the term “reactionary” is symptomatic of a current return to the old communist and fascist totalitarian categories in which liberal democracy is cast as the oppressor while the utopian militants fill the role of savior of humanity. As Finkelkraut points out, this is an old tactic that avoids reasoned thought by demonizing the enemy. Debate is snuffed out in favor of moralistic dictates.

But whereas this was once the game plan for communists and fascists, Finkelkraut identifies today’s purveyors of double-speak as the post-nationalist, humanitarian, anti-globalization crowd. These contemporary advocates of global justice wrap themselves in the mantle of humanity, while their enemies are none other than the apologists for the Israeli-American empire. As we’ve noted many times on this site, the trans-national organizations have aligned themselves with the latest form of totalitarian oppression in order to undermine reasoned speech and responsible action.

And if one requires evidence of the will to lie in this latest totalitarian movement, I can provide the following. Just yesterday I was in Pierre Manent’s office here in Paris discussing the possibility of a strike on Iraq. One would expect that someone beholden to the Israeli-American empire would be in total agreement with such a strike. Yet Professor Manent expressed his deep concern over the outcome of a military attack, primarily regarding the consequences of having so many American troops present in a part of the world where anti-American feeling was already running high. His doubts should not be taken as those of a knee-jerk French reaction – Professor Manent is not anti-American. He is simply a political philosopher. As such he raises questions about many things, including the wisdom of certain American policies. But he does so with decency and openness to understanding that is exactly the opposite of the reactionary label recently pinned on him. He, along with the others attacked in Lindenberg’s book, are the best thinkers in France today. In the accusations made against them we are witness to the worst of what France has to offer, and we are witness to the real horror of the totalitarian mind as it attempts to squash thought and choice under a moralistic guise of violent conformity.

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