Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mehdi Belhaj Kacem

As a Tunisian, I was already tired of the haughty contempt of those, always from important bourgeois universities, who have never stepped foot in a dictatorship but nonetheless think, from a distance, that Chinese concentration camps–they’re just great, the same thing as Lacan’s couch. I had had enough of the position typical of seventies’ leftism, the contempt for the Law, this way of saying that when all is said and done capitalist dictatorship is the same everywhere. At best it’s ridiculous, at worst obscene. This “hatred of democracy,” as Rancière puts it, which for the last few years has been eating away at the French intellectual extreme-left and beyond. This haughty contempt, as you put it, for formal “freedoms.” It’s always from within a democracy that one plays the trendy provocateur thumbing his nose at democracy. It’s always when one is protected by the Law that one can say, from the perspective of “the” political truth dreamed up in one’s office or some prestigious academic chair, that Law has no importance. It’s always when one already enjoys formal freedoms that one can scorn them elsewhere. There are no fewer rich on the side of “radical chic” than on the right, and in both cases, as if by chance, all those who make these kinds of remarks come from the grand bourgeoisie, and so give themselves away, even if they brandish the little red book to shock the gallery. Those who make these kinds of remarks are no better than those who, during the Tunisian revolution and now elsewhere, claim to see Islamism everywhere.

That’s what Adorno said to the Frankfurt students when they would quote Mao to him, “just like your grandparent’s quoting the Prince of poets.” He would tell them that he knew “what it was like to have someone ring at your door at six o’clock in the morning, not knowing if it’s the baker or the Gestapo.” The Tunisians have ended twenty years during which every day they knew what Adorno meant....

...If Badiou and Zizek make fools of themselves with their reflections on the event, it’s because they haven’t understood that a crucial event has made it such that Tunisia in 2011 is in a state of philosophical-political awareness and in a more advanced state in general, if I may say so, than post-Maoist China and post-Stalinist Russia are today.

The Tunisian Revolution is an event because the whole Tunisian people, as a people, are experiencing freedom, here and now. All the social barriers are falling away, just like in ’68. Every voice is free. The Russian or Chinese people, in 2011, as a people, have still not experienced freedom. They went directly from a medieval system to an armed dictatorship of equality–what Adorno called “left fascism.” That’s the reason why the Tunisian event is already a historic event: the Tunisians are collectively experiencing freedom and, in the truth of the event, we see that a people that experiences freedom also experiences equality. That’s the hard lesson that the Tunisian event gives to our academic Stalinist dinosaurs.

Kojève said, rather humorously: “They take me for a leftist Hegelian. But I’m a right-wing Marxist.” He said that Fordism was part of Marxist politics and that he’s the one who thought up the Marshall plan. I’d rather be that kind of right-wing Marxist than a postmodern leftist fascist.


Il suffit, même inculte en philosophie, même très peu lettré, d’égrener mon lexique pour savoir quel inconscient forclos travaillait cette philosophie. « Torture ». « Surveillance ». « Persécution ». « Mal ». « Droit ». « Mort ». Et quel « même » inconscient m’a poussé, fatalement, à la brouille subjective avec Alain B. La révolte philosophique, elle, couvait depuis longtemps ; seuls ceux qui ne lisent que du quatrième de couverture ne s’en doutaient pas.

Une grave dépression, de février en juin 2010, fut salutaire, de me pousser à m’avouer ce que je ne supportais plus. L’anti-démocratisme de comptoir gauchiste. Le mépris, très poseur gauchiste aussi, pour la question du Droit. L’anti-féminisme. L’égalitarisme abstrait, c’est-à-dire concrètement tyrannique. L’absence absolue de la question de la liberté, au cœur de ma dialectique propre qui a renversé la manière dont la métaphysique abordait communément le lien unissant transgression et législation. Du scandale obscène que constitue l’héroïsme grand bourgeois abstrait de qui n’a jamais fait la guerre, mais se livre à une agonistique permanente, et administre, à soixante-quinze ans, que la mort n’est rien, qu’il faut y être indifférent, et qu’on doit être prêt à verser autant de sang qu’il faudra pour la bonne cause. Les événements récents, l’héroïsme effectif du peuple tunisien, les sueurs froides que moi et ma compagne tunisienne avons endurées vingt-quatre heures sur vingt-quatre pendant des semaines en songeant à nos familles et à nos amis, ont achevé de ce que cet « héroïsme » universitaire m’apparaisse dans toute son obscénité.


  1. Speaking of praising dictators, there's some Stalin love goin on here:

  2. I think the Losurdo book looks very good.

    I don't think the strengths of MBK's remarks lie there in a critique of "praising dictators" but in hsi noticing bourgeoisie coming up with narrow bourgeois analyses and solutions...for Badiou and Zizek, these people are merely fungbible vessels of greco german spirit. Badiou says let is listen to the "east wind" that are "riots", forces of nature, whose howling can carry the intellectual product of Marat. I love Marat of course but this kind of condescension and dehumanisation does go along with the posture of a man reaching his old age in such comfort and safety contentedly watching what others must endure as if its all just uplifting. isn't that charming how he immolated himself! well if you/we all had, he might not have had to, right?

    MBK is after all himself a product and producer of this left he lacerates; it's sad to see the rejection of Badiou and Zizek seems to require the evocation of other similar authorities (deleuze, foucault); he narrates his annoyance as a palace coup against the current ruling dynasty of his product, not a revolution in intellectual production.

  3. Oh dear, actually I meant to say that there was some Stalin love going on in the comments. The post itself is rather confusing to me.