Hamid Dabashi has an excellent article replying to a piece by prominent French philosopher Alain Badiou on the complicity of the celebrated French “intellectuals” such as faux philosopher Bernard Henri Levy in stirring up Islamophobia:
by Hamid Dabashi (AlJazeera English)
New York, NY - In a powerful new essay for Le Monde [Fr], Alain Badiou, arguably the greatest living French philosopher, pinpoints the principal culprit in the success of the far-right in the recent French presidential election that resulted in the presidency of Francois Hollande.
At issue is the evidently not-so-surprising success of the French far-right, anti-immigration, Islamophobe nationalist politician Marine Le Pen – to whom the French electorate handed a handsome 20 per cent and third place prestige.
As Neni Panourgia has recently warned, “the phenomenon of Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi in Greek), the neo-Nazi organisation that received almost seven per cent of the vote in the Greek elections of May 6″ is a clear indication that this rise of the right is not limited to France. The gruesome mass murderer Anders Breivik signalled from Northern Europe a common spectre that hovers over the entirety of the continent - most recently marked by the trial of the Bosnian Serb mass murderer General Ratko Mladic – accused of 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including orchestrating the week-long massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim boys and men at Srebrenica in 1995 during the Bosnian war.
As Refik Hodzic, a justice activist from Bosnia and Herzegovina puts it, the implications of that murderous incident are not to be missed:
“The statement that will haunt the consciousness of Bosnians, Serbs and the world for decades to come was recorded in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Srebrenica, a UN-protected enclave in eastern Bosnia: ‘On this day I give Srebrenica to the Serb people,’ he announced into a TV camera. ‘The time has finally come for revenge against Turks [Bosnian Muslims] who live in this area.’ These chilling words were the prelude to a systematic execution of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys who had sought refuge with the Dutch UN battalion or tried to reach safety through the woods surrounding Srebrenica. Years later, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice would judge the massacre, directed by Mladic and carried out by his subordinates, to be the first act of genocide committed on European soil after World War II.”
Who is responsible?
In this poignant and timely essay, Alain Badiou dismisses the pop sociology of blaming the rise of the right on the poor and the disenfranchised French, supposedly fearful of globalisation. He denounces the blaming of the poor French by the educated elite for all its ills – and instead offers a far more sensible and factual evidence of what seems to be the matter with the French – and, by extension, other Europeans.
Blaming the poor, Alain Badiou retorts, is reminiscent of Berthold Brecht’s famous sarcasm that the French government evidently does not have the people it richly deserves. Turning the table against the French politicians and the French intellectuals, Badiou blames them directly for the rise of the right. Badiou turns to a list of the most recent anti-labour and anti-immigrant statements uttered by socialist politicians and charges them with the responsibility for the rise of the right.
“The succession of restrictive laws, attacking, on the pretext of being foreigners, the freedom and equality of millions of people who live and work here, is not the work of unrestricted ‘populists’.” He accuses Nicolas Sarkozy and his gang of “cultural racism”, of “raising high the banner of ‘superiority’ of Western civilisation” and “an endless succession of discriminatory laws”.
But Badiou does not spare the left and, in fact, accuses them of complacency: “We did not see the left rise forcefully to oppose… such reactionary” laws. Quite to the contrary, this segment of the left maintained that it understood this demand for “security”, and had no qualms about the public space being cleansed of women who opted to veil themselves.
Badiou accuses the French intellectuals of having fomented Islamophobia, as he accuses successive French governments of having been “unable to build a civil society of peace and justice”, and for having Arabs and Muslims abused as the boogymen of French politics.